Away We Go

  • Directors: Sam Mendes
  • Producers:
  • Writers: Dave Eggers, Vendela Vida
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama
  • Actors: John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Jeff Daniels, Carmen Ejogo, Jim Gaffigan, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Josh Hamilton, Allison Janney, Melanie Lynskey, Chris Messina, Catherine O Hara, Paul Schneider

The film opens with a young couple, Verona De Tessant (Maya Rudolph) and Burt Farlander (John Krasinski), in bed and about to engage in oral intercourse. However, Burt soon notices that Verona “tastes” differently, and explains to her that it might be a potential sign that she is pregnant. She promptly slaps him across the face in disbelief, causing him to tumble out of the bed.

About 6 months later, we find Verona well into her pregnancy with a baby girl, and Burt trying to find ways to make himself a good parent for their newcoming baby (trying to take on skills like carpentry and woodcarving, which he mistakes as “cobbling”, the craft of shoemaking). They begin to analyze their lives, wondering if they are “screwups”, as they are both in their early 30’s and still struggling to provide an actual home and demands to meet their daily needs and fulfilling lives (and also unmarried, as Verona fails to see the point in doing so). They then visit their only family in the area, Burt’s parents, Gloria and Jerry (Catherine O’Hara and Jeff Daniels), only to find out that they have decided to move to Antwerp, Belgium for 2 years, leaving a month before the baby is due, since it was one of their lifelong goals. Frustrated at their selfishness and ill-thinking, Verona and Burt decide it’s best to try and find somewhere else to live and to raise their family, as they have no other reason to stay in the area now that Burt’s parents are leaving.

While sitting outside in the yard, Verona then recounts a story about her father trying to grow an orange tree in the yard of their old house, to not much success. So, Verona, her mother, and her sisters went out with pineapples and various other fruits, duct tape, and string, and hung up the fruits on the tree to please their father, making him laugh considerably. She remembers this fondly, causing the couple to then travel to her old home, and realizing that it truly is the place that they should make as their new home. The film closes with Burt and Verona on the patio of the house, overlooking the nearby lake together.

Beetle Juice

  • Directors: Tim Burton
  • Producers: David Geffen, Larry Wilson, Michael Bender, Richard Hashimoto
  • Writers: Story, Michael McDowell, Larry Wilson, Screenplay, Michael McDowell, Warren Skaaren
  • Genres: Comedy, Fantasy
  • Actors: Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Winona Ryder, Catherine O Hara, Jeffrey Jones

Barbara (Geena Davis) and Adam (Alec Baldwin) Maitland decide to spend their vacation decorating their idyllic New England country home. While the young couple is driving back from town, Barbara swerves to avoid a dog wandering the roadway, and crashes through a covered bridge, plunging into the river below. They return home but realize they cannot exactly recall how they got there. When Adam attempts to leave the house to retrace his steps, he finds himself in a strange otherworldly dimension referred to as Saturn, which happens to be covered in sand and populated by enormous sand worms, which he abruptly encounters. Based on the fact they have no visible reflection in the mirror and are unable to leave their house, the Maitlands realize that they might not have survived the crash. A book entitled Handbook for the Recently Deceased confirms the couple’s suspicion that they are, in fact, dead.

The Maitlands’ peace is later disrupted when their house is sold and the obnoxious new residents, the Deetzes, arrive from New York City. The new family consists of Charles (Jeffrey Jones), aspiring sculptor and Charles’ second wife Delia (Catherine O’Hara), and Charles’s goth daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder). Under the guidance of interior designer Otho (Glenn Shadix), the Deetzes transform the house into a gaudy piece of pastel-toned modern art. Although the Maitlands remain invisible to Charles and Delia, their daughter Lydia can see the ghost couple and befriends them.

In an attempt to contact the Maitlands, the Deetzes hold a seance that summons the couple, but begins to visibly harm them. A desperate Lydia summons Betelgeuse, agreeing to marry him if he saves the Maitlands. Betelgeuse disposes of Charles’ co-workers and releases the Maitlands from the spell, but then conjures a ghostly priest to wed him to Lydia. The Maitlands narrowly stop the ceremony before it can be completed, and Betelgeuse is devoured by one of the Saturn sandworms. The Deetzes and the Maitlands decide to live together in harmony and share the home. At the film’s conclusion, Betelgeuse is seen waiting in the afterlife reception waiting room, where he unwisely angers a witch doctor who shrinks his head.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

  • Directors: Henry Selick
  • Producers: Tim Burton, Denise Di Novi, 2006 reissue, Don Hahn
  • Writers: Story, Tim Burton, Lyrics, Danny Elfman, Adaptation, Michael McDowell, Screenplay, Caroline Thompson
  • Genres: Animation, Family, Fantasy, Musical
  • Actors: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O Hara, William Hickey, Glen Shadix, Ken Page

“Halloween Town” is a dream world filled with citizens such as deformed monsters, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, vampires, werewolves, and witches. Jack Skellington (“The Pumpkin King”) leads them in a frightful celebration every Halloween, but he has grown tired of the same routine year after year. Wandering in the forest outside the town center, he accidentally opens a portal to “Christmas Town”. Impressed by the feeling and style of Christmas, Jack presents his findings and his (somewhat limited) understanding of the holiday to the Halloween Town residents. They fail to grasp his meaning and compare everything he says to their idea of Halloween. He reluctantly decides to play along and announces that they will take over Christmas.

Jack’s obsession with Christmas leads him to usurp the role of Santa Claus. Every resident is assigned a task, while Sally, a rag doll woman who is created by the town’s mad scientist, begins to feel a romantic attraction towards Jack. However, she alone fears that his plans will become disastrous. Jack assigns Lock, Shock, and Barrel, a trio of mischievous children, to abduct Santa and bring him back to Halloween Town. Against Jack’s wishes and largely for their amusement, the trio deliver Santa to Oogie Boogie, a gambling-addict bogeyman who plots to play a game with Santa’s life as the stake.

Meanwhile, Sally attempts to free Santa but is captured by Oogie. Jack slips into the lair and frees them, then confronts Oogie and unravels his outer covering to spill out all the bugs that live inside him. With Oogie gone, Santa reprimands Jack before setting off to deliver the right presents to the world’s children. He makes snow fall over Halloween Town to show that there are no hard feelings between himself and Jack; the townspeople are confused by the snow at first, but soon begin to play happily in it. Jack reveals that he is attracted to Sally just as she is to him, and they kiss under the full moon in the cemetery.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

  • Directors: Henry Selick
  • Producers: Tim Burton, Denise Di Novi, 2006 reissue, Don Hahn
  • Writers: Story, Tim Burton, Lyrics, Danny Elfman, Adaptation, Michael McDowell, Screenplay, Caroline Thompson
  • Genres: Animation, Family, Fantasy, Musical
  • Actors: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O Hara, William Hickey, Glen Shadix, Ken Page

“Halloween Town” is a dream world filled with citizens such as deformed monsters, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, vampires, werewolves, and witches. Jack Skellington (“The Pumpkin King”) leads them in a frightful celebration every Halloween, but he has grown tired of the same routine year after year. Wandering in the forest outside the town center, he accidentally opens a portal to “Christmas Town”. Impressed by the feeling and style of Christmas, Jack presents his findings and his (somewhat limited) understanding of the holiday to the Halloween Town residents. They fail to grasp his meaning and compare everything he says to their idea of Halloween. He reluctantly decides to play along and announces that they will take over Christmas.

Jack’s obsession with Christmas leads him to usurp the role of Santa Claus. Every resident is assigned a task, while Sally, a rag doll woman who is created by the town’s mad scientist, begins to feel a romantic attraction towards Jack. However, she alone fears that his plans will become disastrous. Jack assigns Lock, Shock, and Barrel, a trio of mischievous children, to abduct Santa and bring him back to Halloween Town. Against Jack’s wishes and largely for their amusement, the trio deliver Santa to Oogie Boogie, a gambling-addict bogeyman who plots to play a game with Santa’s life as the stake.

Meanwhile, Sally attempts to free Santa but is captured by Oogie. Jack slips into the lair and frees them, then confronts Oogie and unravels his outer covering to spill out all the bugs that live inside him. With Oogie gone, Santa reprimands Jack before setting off to deliver the right presents to the world’s children. He makes snow fall over Halloween Town to show that there are no hard feelings between himself and Jack; the townspeople are confused by the snow at first, but soon begin to play happily in it. Jack reveals that he is attracted to Sally just as she is to him, and they kiss under the full moon in the cemetery.

Home Alone 2 Lost in New York

  • Directors: Chris Columbus
  • Producers: John Hughes
  • Writers: John Hughes
  • Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Crime, Family
  • Actors: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O Hara, John Heard, Tim Curry

Macaulay Culkin stars as Kevin McCallister, who is once again separated from his family during one of their Christmas travels (following the first film). This time, his family plans a trip to Miami, Florida. At O’Hare International Airport, Kevin loses sight of his family while replacing the batteries in his Talkboy (taking his father’s bag in the process). He then boards a flight to LaGuardia Airport in New York City, after accidentally following a man who is wearing the same coat as his father. While in New York, he decides to make the most of, as he puts it, “the greatest excitement of my life”.

While Kevin did not make it to Miami, his luggage did. Kevin’s bag is pulled off the carousel and passed down the line to his cousin, Fuller, who realizes that Kevin did not embark on the flight to Miami. Kevin’s bag is returned to the front of the line to his mother and father (Kate and Peter McCallister), causing Kate to faint. The Miami Airport security staff decides to call O’Hare International Airport, in hopes that Kevin is still in the airport.

The McCallisters are then trying to figure out where Kevin could be since he is not at O’Hare Airport. After being asked to see a photo of their son, Peter realizes that Kevin has his wallet and therefore can be tracked if he uses Peter’s credit card (which he has, to no one’s knowledge).

The next morning, Christmas Day, Mr. Duncan (the owner of Duncan’s Toy Chest) sends a whole truckload of presents to Kevin and his family at the Plaza Hotel as a reward for Kevin getting the thieves arrested. Kevin sees the two turtledoves. He goes to see the “pigeon lady” in Central Park, gives her one of the turtledoves, and reaffirms his promise to be her friend. Then they hug. At the same time, the bellboy (Rob Schneider) comes to the McCallisters’ hotel room with Kevin’s room service bill. Buzz looks at the bill and says, “Merry Christmas, indeed.” Then he sees that they charged a rather high total of $967.43 on the food Kevin had purchased before, causing Kevin’s father to get mad and scream loud enough that Kevin hears this from the park: “Kevin! You spent $967 on room service?!” This causes Kevin to run back to the hotel.

Home Alone

  • Directors: Chris Columbus
  • Producers: John Hughes
  • Writers: John Hughes
  • Genres: Comedy, Crime, Family
  • Actors: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard, Catherine O Hara, Roberts Blossom, John Candy

The extended McCallister family prepares to spend Christmas in France, gathering at Peter and Kate’s home in Chicago the night before their flight. Eight year-old Kevin, Peter and Kate’s son, finds himself the ridicule of the other children, and after getting into a fight with Buzz, his older brother, he is sent to the third floor of the house, wishing his family would disappear. When a power failure causes the McCallister’s to wake up late, they accidentally leave the sleeping Kevin behind as they hastily depart to the airport. On the trans-Atlantic flight, Kate realizes that they have left Kevin behind, and once in Paris, immediately tries to book a return trip back to Chicago. While the rest of the family is set to return two days later, on Christmas, Kate manages to fly into Dallas and then Scranton, but cannot get a flight back to Chicago. She manages to hitch a ride with Gus Polinski and his polka band who are traveling to Milwaukee.

Meanwhile Kevin, waking up to find the house empty, is elated that his wish came true and enjoys doing activities that he was normally not allowed to do. However, Kevin finds himself scared by the appearance of the police, called by his parents to check on Kevin, his next door neighbor “Old Man” Marley who was rumored to have murdered his family back in 1958, and the appearance of the “Wet Bandits”, Harry and Marv, who are raiding other houses along the block with their occupants away on holiday. On Christmas Eve, Kevin manages to overhear Harry and Marv discuss plans for targeting his house that night. After seeing Santa Claus and watching a local choir perform in hopes to have his family return, Kevin runs into Marley, and comes to realize that the man is quite friendly, and none of the rumors about him are true. Kevin finds Marley is estranged from his son, and suggests he reunite with him for Christmas. So that night, Kevin returns home to prepare a series of booby traps about the house. The bandits are initially fooled by Kevin’s illusion that the house is occupied, but realize he is home alone, and attempt to gain entry, running into the various traps. They manage to chase Kevin out of the house, who flees to the vacated, neighboring Murphy home. The Wet Bandits manage to trap Kevin but then Marley is able to subdue the two bandits, who are later arrested by the police. After thanking Marley, Kevin returns home, leaving milk and cookies out for Santa’s arrival while still wishing for his parents to return home.

Kevin wakes up the next morning to find his mother has returned after she finally arrived in Chicago. Shortly afterward, the rest of the McCallisters, having traveled directly to Chicago from Paris, arrive and the extended family celebrates Christmas together, Kevin keeping silent on his encounter with the bandits. Peter finds Harry’s missing gold tooth where he was hit with a paint can the night before, wondering what it is he found on the floor. Kevin discovers Marley took his advice and watches him and his son reunite. However, Buzz angrily shouts at him, “Kevin! What did you do to my room?!”, as his room had not yet been cleared up, so Kevin races away, and the film ends.

Where the Wild Things Are

  • Directors: Spike Jonze
  • Producers: Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, Maurice Sendak, John B Carls, Vincent Landay
  • Writers: Picture book, Maurice Sendak, Screenplay, Dave Eggers, Spike Jonze
  • Genres: Adventure, Drama, Family, Fantasy
  • Actors: Max Records, Catherine Keener, Mark Ruffalo, Lauren Ambrose, Chris Cooper, James Gandolfini, Catherine O Hara, Forest Whitaker

The film concerns the imaginary adventures of a young boy named Max, who is angry when his mother, Connie, invites her boyfriend over. After causing one mischievous antic after another, he is sent to his room without supper. Feeling angry and unloved, he then creates a forest bordering a massive ocean, and sails away to an island inhabited by many large imaginary monsters called the Wild Things, who crown him as their ruler.