A Jersey Christmas Review

PhotobucketRemember those family gatherings when someone at the dinner table would caution everyone not to discuss politics and religion? Well the 2008 film A Jersey Christmas obviously didn’t heed that warning because its abundant racial and moral commentary spoils this festivus for the rest of us.

My intention is always to give credit to indie filmmakers, not to needlessly rip them like some a-hole critics who know nothing about films anyway. Making an actual film that doesn’t look like it was slapped together accidentally by a 3 year old on his parents iPhone is a huge undertaking, and even if the movie sucks, most young directors and cast deserve an A for effort at the very least. If I was only judging it on effort, A Jersey Christmas would receive and A+ with a possible induction to the National Honor Society. Unfortunately, it boils down to one question for me: Will I ever want to watch it again? The answer is no, although, if some tweaks were made I’d make it part of my annual Christmas viewing tradition.

Clerks influence on indie filmmakers based in New Jersey is apparent since the story centers around a group of Christmas store employees. Kevin Smith would have a field day writing a film about this place because it’s way more diverse than the local Quick Stop. Coincidentally, mostly all of The Xmas-O-Rama employees don’t celebrate Christmas because of their various religious backgrounds. There’s a Jewish guy, a reformed Jewish girl, an Indian girl, an Arab, and a former Christian gay male who graduated from Rutgers with a masters in American Literature because he “likes to read.” The gist of the story focuses on how Christmas is viewed in the eyes of non-Christian twentysomethings. The group discovers that even though they express jealousy and frustration about the holiday, they are all brought together by the Christmas spirit.

As described on IMDB, “degenerate gambler” Mike Malcolm (James Villemaire) is in deep debt (or shit as we say here in Jersey) and owes a couple of thugs a lot of money. He runs a Christmas store to try to recoup some cash to pay his debts, but winds up screwing his employees out of several weeks pay. The action takes place on Christmas Eve when he demands that the store stay open until midnight to intercept last minute shoppers. Malcolm escapes to a poker game to try to win back some of his losses while the diverse crew at the Christmas store works late and hashes out their differences in religion, thoughts on Christmas, and even share some romantic moments.

I guess I was expecting something with a little more wacky hijinks. Often, the film teetered on the verge of being fun, but never officially made the jump. Sadly, the dialogue is so dumbed down and the characters refer to being Jewish and Arabic excessively. A Jersey Christmas would’ve benefited from making the racial/religious differences a minor theme instead of the main attraction. Regardless of these flaws, the cast is surprisingly natural and talented for a bunch of predominantly unknown actors. Anitha Gandhi and James Villemaire’s performances resonated with me.

Villemaire, who seems to be attempting to channel a young Mickey Rourke or Bruce Willis in this film, also co-directs with Eric Weber. Weber wrote the film, but I think it should’ve stayed on paper rather than been brought to life as a movie. This is the type of film that could be shown in college classes studying religious or racial tolerance; not so much the light hearted Christmas movie based in Jersey that I was hoping for. Ultimately, there really aren’t any similarities to Kevin Smith’s Clerks, but there should’ve been. I for one wouldn’t mind seeing a Christmas styled knockoff of Clerks. In that case the racial and religious references would be welcome. Snoogans.

What keeps me from ripping A Jersey Christmas is the fact that the film isn’t necessarily funny, but it’s not heart wrenching or dramatic either. Being middle of the road is it’s best attribute, since it would’ve totally lost my attention if it got bogged down in too much drama. This is one film you should only sink your time into if you just dig indie movies, or you have a serious obsession for all things Jersey like The Sexy Armpit does.

Since the production company, Tenafly Films, is named after a city in New Jersey, they not only filmed  on location in Bergen County, NJ but they also infused plenty of Jersey shout-outs into the movie. Among others there were mentions of Garden State Plaza Mall, Kearny, Hackensack, and the Elmwood Park Diner.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-irEXVALD8]

See Sweet Fix Perform!

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Sweet Fix is Tommy Walker, Ivan Anderson, Marco Santini, Wil Sapanaro

Sweet Fix is performing their infectious brand of pop infused rock tonight at Irving Plaza in NYC at 7:30 PM. They will be giving out FREE copies of their latest single “FM RADIO/Make a Move.” Originally formed in Bergen County, NJ, and now based out of NYC, Sweet Fix’s songs have a fun energy that will make you want to jump around and sing along with their memorable choruses. If their upcoming CD is anywhere near as good as their previously released EP “Sparks in the Dark,” then we’re in for a hell of a treat. Merely listening to their songs doesn’t do them justice, you have to experience their ultra sugarbuzzed live performance. But, if you can’t make tonight’s show, make it a point to check them out on iTunes, Amazon, or CDBaby!

www.SweetFixMusic.com
http://www.reverbnation.com/thesweetfix
Twitter.com/sweetfix

Politan Points Out Casey Anthony’s Puppies

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMGqgPvrKIE?rel=0]

Casey Anthony is being released from jail today. Regardless of being found not guilty, Anthony is still a low life for not reporting her child missing for such a long span of time and judging by how she treated her parents on the phone conversations and how she changed her stories constantly, she’s a scumbag in my book.

And because of her, our yearly 4th of July getaway consisted of being holed up in a hotel room glued to the TV. While the summer was officially in full swing my girlfriend and I deferred the typical activities such as fun in the sun and outdoor barbecues in order to be crazy glued to the old school CRT television in the hotel room. Not sure what we would’ve done if they didn’t have HLN network in the room. Previous to the case, I had no idea that Headline News streamlined to “HLN” for the past several years until Miss Sexy Armpit and her mom got me hooked on watching coverage of the Casey Anthony trial.

It was easy to get sucked into the case, especially when there’s nothing quite as riveting showing elsewhere on TV except for Regular Show on Cartoon Network. So there was a span of nearly 4 days where the most traveling I did was walk over to the bathroom and in an extreme case, down the hallway to get some ice. The rest of the time was spent sacked out on the bed watching live trial coverage and analysis from the various anchors on HLN.

The only good thing about this despicable bitch is that she actually was bestowed with a fairly bountiful chestal region. And should the media have faulted CNN’s Vinnie Politan for pointing that fact out when he was merely stating the truth? During coverage of the case on 5/31, Casey Anthony was asked to stand up in court. Politan commented “Only thing they’re gonna see now are her boobs sticking out today,” and it became a big controversy as if Politan didn’t know he was on mic. I say big f’n deal! Politan didn’t say anything wrong or offensive, he was commenting on the fact that her defense team is letting her dress like the skank that she is and her goods were on display.

Maybe the defense was hoping to get the lonely single guys in the jury on their side? Let’s be honest here, if Casey Anthony was a very masculine, overweight, and unattractive 25 year old female, this case would not be the media blitz it became. Politan was right in pointing out this aspect of the trial since as much as people were trashing her for being slutty, that was part of the cases mass appeal. America loves schlock! It was a soap opera, albeit an unscripted one.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhAxw-ZaR88?rel=0]

One of the shows I enjoyed watching the most was HLN’s Special Report hosted by former attorney and journalist Vinnie Politan. I wasn’t surprised when my girlfriend told me he’s from Jersey. I could smell my own, what can I say? Here’s the run down on Politan:
  • Graduated West Orange High School
  • Law Degree from Seton Hall
  • Former district attorney in Bergen County NJ
  • Former anchor Channel 10 News in NJ

Click HERE to read Vinnie Politan’s official bio at CNN