On The 9th Day of Christmas The Snooty Ushers bring to you…The Cage Files: Christmas Special
The Ushers Guide to Christmas Telly, It’s A Wonderful Life Re-Viewed, Christmas Negotiating Netflix, CHRISTMAS FILM OF THE WEEK!, The Ushers’ Favourite Santas, Community Christmas Specials, Scariest’s Christmas Horrors and Dan’s Home Alone Review!
Welcome to the second installment of my Nicolas Cage series, this time, I will have a look at the great man’s festive output. What better way to bring in the festive season than settling down with a film starting the man who has brought so much joy to so many. That man of course is Old St Nic himself, Nicolas Cage…He has starred in 3 festive themed films to date, so pour yourself some mulled wine, tuck into a mince pie and let us begin.
On the face of things, this is a great idea for a film, it is kind of different take on the It’s A Wonderful Life story. We open with Nicolas Cage as Jack Campbell, he is bidding a tearful farewell to his college sweetheart Kate (Tea Leoni) as he leaves for London to take up an internship. She begs him not to go and stay and give their relationship a go. He leaves. We flash forward 13 years and Jack is single and a successful, happy(?) business man on the verge of closing a Billion dollar deal. After he intervenes in a convenience store robbery, he meets the mysterious Cash (Don Cheadle). He wakes up the next morning and things have changed, he is married to Kate, has two kids and lives in the New Jersey suburbs. What has happened, turns out Cash is some kind of angel and he is getting a glimpse of the life he could have had.
As I said, this is a great idea and Nicolas Cage and Tea Leoni are both great, the problem is that the film is just a bit dull. On top of that Jack didn’t seem particularly unhappy in his life as successful business man and didn’t seem that happy with his life as a family man, and what of Cash? is he an angel? If so, what were his motives?
Apart from those issues, the film has pacing issues, no surprise given that it was directed by Brett Ratner. A good performance from Cage and a couple of cute kids is about all this has to offer sadly.
This animated version of classic tale by Charles Dickens takes quite a few liberties with the original story, but it is a visual delight. Beautifully animated, with an exceptional voice cast, including Nicolas Cage as Jacob Marley.
The animation is beautifully basic but really captures the Dickensian world perfectly. We all know the story, Mr Scrooge, who is mean and wicked is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve and warned to change his ways or face eternal damnation like his business partner Jacob Marley. As I said, the voice cast is wonderful, with Simon Callow as Scrooge, Michael Gambon as The Ghost of Christmas Present, Rhys Ifans as Bob Cratchitt and Kate Winslet as Belle, the love of Scrooge’s life.
It is a familiar story and one that is timeless so the changes are unnecessary and aren’t really for the better. Scrooge is younger for one, which take away from the tragic angle of his wasted life, and Belle’s role is increased and her reconciliation with Scrooge at the end just doesnt ring true and don’t get me started in the overly gesticulating mice who act as the viewers way in to the story and are with us through out…
So what of Nicolas Cage, he gives a brief but brilliant vocal performance as Jacob Marley. Conveying the tragedy and regret of the doomed Marley in just a few words. Plus there is a beautiful song performed by Kate Winslet that would bring a tear to the hardest eye.
In conclusion, there are better versions of this story out there, but few better versions of Jacob Marely.
Nicolas Cage plays the straight man in this festive comedy crime caper. Here, he plays Bill, a straight laced restaurant manager whose world is rocked when his two jail bird brothers Dave and Alvin (Jon Lovitz and Dana Carvey) are released early. They talk him into going to a small town called Paradise after a fellow inmate tells them that the bank security is non existent and despite Bill’s pleas decide to rob it. Once they do, due to the weather and other hilarious obstacles, they are unable to leave and are forced to spend Christmas in the friendliest town in America, all the while trying to hide that they have just robbed them. If that isn’t enough, the inmate who gave them the tip breaks out and kidnaps their mother. Hilarity (ish) ensues.
This is daft, in every way. A bit of a mess, but has just enough charm to make it watchable. Cage, as I said plays it (relatively) straight here, leaving it to Lovitz and Carvey to go for the comedy. The laughs are few and far between, but they are there. The town itself, is nice to the point of irritation, but it does feature Madchen Amick from Twin Peaks as Cage’s love interest, which is alway a bonus. I did spend the entire film trying to place the woman who plays the mother, her name is Florence Stanley, turns out she was in 80s sitcom My Two Dads…anyone remember that?
In conclusion, restrained (ish) Cage, a few laughs and nice ending.
So, that is all from me and Nic for now. Hope you join us tomorrow for yet another festive entry in our 12 Days of Christmas series