DVD REVIEW

Eloise at Christmastime

Eloise at Christmastime
Christmas movies have to be entertaining in some fashion or else there is no point of it even existing. Just because there is a “popular” children’s book doesn’t necessarily mean it will automatically be worth watching when adapted for a different medium. Well, the folks over at Disney have put their Emmy award winning TV movie Eloise at Christmastime, based on the book by Hollywood lyricist and ensemble singer Kay Thompson, out on DVD shelves in time for the Holiday season. Now, is this Christmas movie worth it? No, it’s not, and if it was you would’ve heard of it before reading this review.

The Movie: star rating

New York City during the “jingle bell” season is magical place to be. Eloise at Christmastime takes that magic and tries to harness it for the sake of a Disney Channel TV movie. Already you can tell the enchantment has been diluted. What the Disney folks ended up with was nothing full of joy, warmth, and holiday cheer but eighty-seven minutes that simply offends intelligence....most definitely the intelligence of this New Yorker.

Six year old Eloise (Sofia Vassileva) lives in a penthouse in The Plaza Hotel with her Nanny (Julie Andrews). While Nanny is either sleeping or trying to put up holiday decorations, Eloise runs free in the luxury hotel getting into all sorts of hijinks with various guests and members of the staff. When in the office of The Plaza’s owner, Mr. Peabody (Victor A. Young), she learns of a wedding to be held on Christmas Eve between Peabody’s daughter Rachel (Sarah Topham) and sleazy Harvard alum Brooks Oliver III (Rick Roberts). Eloise decides she must stop at nothing to coax Rachel back into the arms of Bill the waiter (Gavin Creel). When she’s not busy trying play matchmaker, Eloise is playing and singing with Bill or making Nanny’s life a living hell while Christmas shopping, all in anticipation for her mother’s return from Paris.

How is this quality children’s programming? The message sent here is, basically, if you act like a spoiled brat, you’ll get everything you want and have everyone love you because it’s Christmas. Are you friggin’ kidding me? I had zero sympathy for the main character whatsoever. The entire time I wanted to punch that little girl full on in the face. She is annoying as hell. If you live in The Plaza Hotel, which is one of, if not the most expensive Hotels in the city, and have everything you want handed to you then...I’m sorry...shut the hell up and play with your toys. You have nothing to complain about.

The second thing that aggravated me about this movie was that it takes place in modern day New York. How can one tell it’s modern day? Well on a shopping spree with Nanny, Eloise goes crazy in the new Time Square Toys R’ Us rather than go across the street from the Plaza at the now-abandoned FAO Schwartz - made famous through Tom Hanks chopsticks in Big. Since it is modern day New York, I don’t buy Mr. Peabody as the owner of The Plaza. I’m from New York. People who own stuff in New York are famous for owning what they own. Donald Trump owns The Plaza, period. Hell even when Macaulay Culkin ran wild in The Plaza at Christmastime in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York they acknowledged it was Trump’s place. Now this might be my little New Yorker nitpicks that I have with flicks that are based around here (like there is no such subway like in Spider-Man 2), but even if I were to let the whole non-Trump thing slide, the film still is a piece of garbage.

The back of the DVD states “With an all-star cast and an ending that will warm your heart, Eloise at Christmastime is bound to become an instant holiday classic”. Lets dissect that, shall we? An “all-star cast”? What, Julie Andrews and two extended cameos? Gimme a break. An “ending that will warm your heart”? More like boil your blood. The ending is more predictable than a full course meal of Mexican food, prune juice, and laxatives. At the end of the ending, phantomly a piano comes out of nowhere and everyone sings Christmas carols....um...what? Is “bound to be an instant holiday classic”? Did you ever notice that every time a movie that takes place or centers on Christmas there’s always someone who says “bound to be an instant holiday classic”? PR folks throw that term around like it’s a seasonal thing. It’s amazing how every year there is “an instant holiday classic”.

I can’t possibly express how much I really hate this movie. I mean seriously, I really really hate this movie. It’s so frickin’ full of itself it makes me want to puke. I understand that Christmas movies are supposed to be, occasionally, all holly jolly. This Christmas flick was too merry - I’ve seen potheads who smiled less. It’s no wonder people blow their brains out during the holiday season, they have to sit through “wholesome family entertainment” like Eloise at Christmastime.

There is absolutely no reason to watch this flick at all. Spare your children and go out and get the REAL Christmas classics for them to watch. Eloise at Christmastime will only aggravate you into a holiday rage.

The Disc: dvd

The disc offers a couple of features that are specifically designed for the flick’s target demographic. There is a behind the scenes making of featurette and a short bit entitled “Absolutely Kay Thompson”.

“The Making of Eloise at Christmastime” featurette is a collection of interviews from cast and crew talking about...well...the making of Eloise at Christmastime. They yap about their characters, New York, and the crew goes on and on about “getting it right”….which means they had to abandon a lot of the book and go for an “original story”. It’s short and tightly edited, so it’s more like it’s a behind the scenes TV show than a DVD featurette.

“Absolutely Kay Thompson” basically gives a little back story to the author of the Eloise books. It’s nothing more than a series of anecdotes from people who knew her and random drawings from the books. Nothing really fascinating.

There is one other feature, but upon looking at it, it’s really not a feature. The menu says “Read Eloise Books”. That leads you to a menu of the library of Eloise adventures, like Eloise in Paris and Eloise in Moscow. Now I’m thinking, “Oh wow, they actually put the books on here”...well they didn’t. It’s just a worthless menu pimping their own merchandise. Tisk tisk.

Much like the movie, the DVD itself is worthless. Eloise at Chrismastime should be pulled off the shelves and given to skeet shooters for target practice. Like I said before, there is no reason to see this movie just like there is no reason to own, rent, or even come in physical contact with this DVD.

Reviewed By: Bill Beyrer

Release Details
Length: 87 min
Rated: TV-G
Distributor: Disney DVD
Release Date:  2004-11-16
Starring: Julie Andrews, Sofia Vassileva, Kenneth Welsh, Debra Monk, Gavin Creel, Victor A. Young, Sarah Topham, Christine Baranski, Jeffrey Tambor
Directed by: Kevin Lima
Produced by: Christine Sacani, Thomas D. Adelman
Written by: Elizabeth Chandler
Visit the Eloise at Christmastime Official Website
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