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Old 12-05-2020, 11:25 AM   #51 (permalink)
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A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas (2011)

Ah, you Americans do love your Harold and Kumar, don’t you? How dare I say a word against them! Well, just like your other icon Pee-Wee Herman, these two stoners are not as well known or liked on this side of the water, though I guess they have something of a following. So in conclusion, suck it.

I always worry about movies that use the dreaded 3D tag. So often, it’s a method of papering over some very large cracks in the film, where things like plot, characterisation, dialogue and message get ridden roughshod over in favour of the ooh-ahh three-dimensional effects. Just check out Jaws 3D to see what I mean, and if you couldn’t be bothered, watch for a review here next year in my Shark Tales feature. Then again you have the likes of Avatar, which apparently is a great movie. Or is it? You talk to anyone who’s see it (I have not) and they’ll burble on endlessly about how great the three-dee was, but is the movie itself sacrificed to the visuals, which are unanimously reported as gorgeous and awe-inspiring. That’s fine, but like they say here, fur coat and no knickers, or to put it another way, a pig with lipstick on is still, you know.

So what’s so 3D about this, the third (oh yeah) instalment in the stoner duo’s adventures? You know, I have no clue. I suppose certain scenes may have been enhanced, but I can’t really see the need for this to have been in 3D. But what do I know? More than you mate. Nah really; stoner comedies don’t do it for me and I have never seen a single Harold and Kumar movie, nor do I wish to. This one apparently has a priceless Christmas tree belonging to Harold’s father-in-law burned down when a giant joint is tossed out the window (oh the hilarity!), Santa getting shot in the head and the Russian mob thrown into the mix, because why not?

Again, I guess you’re either a fan of these guys or you’re not, and the idea of one of their ex-pals coming back from heaven because Jesus kicked him out, and now able to read minds, well, see the opening line again I suppose. You have to give props, one would expect, to a man who has a good job working for Obama in the White House and leaves that job to make this movie. Luckily when the movie was over and Kai Penn asked the President if the White House could take him back he was told (say it with me) “Yes we can!”

Rotten Tomatoes ratings:

Tomatometer: 63%
Audience Score: 58%

IMDB Rating

6.2/10

Metacritic Rating:

44

Again, the critics, who are probably H&K fans or at least familiar with the other movies, are largely appreciative of the movie, so they get no airtime here, while the worst the audience could come up with was this rather weak lambasting:

The first H & K was the best. With each sequel they make, it just goes downhill.

May Harold and Kumar be with you, and may you be high and drunk this festive season. Amen.
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Old 12-06-2020, 10:21 AM   #52 (permalink)
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Santa’s Little Helper (2015)

No, not the charming doggy from The Simpsons: this is a direct-to-DVD-to-dumpster affront to humanity, another of those movies wherein wrestlers (who, I suppose it’s fair to say, can act) try to become movie stars and without exception fail miserably. I refer you to Santa With Muscles. Say no more. However it seems even Hulk Hogan would blush at this. It’s so bad that no critic would talk about it on Rotten Tomatoes, nor are there any audience reviews. Seems to take the basic idea from Ernest Saves Christmas and expand it somewhat, in that Santa is looking, not this time for a replacement, but for a new helper. He chooses Dax, the wrestler known as The Miz (?) and sets him many tasks to see if he is up to the job.

The Miz is a Scrooge-like figure when we meet him, probably closer to Bill Murray’s character in Scrooged than anything Dickens wrote, a corporate hatchet-man who is trying to close down a community centre. With magic balls, (ooer!) obstacle courses to be overcome (of course), an elf who is ostracised because of her freakishly round ears and a soppy love story, this sounds like the sort of thing even Adam Sandler would turn down.

Rotten Tomatoes ratings

Tomatometer: n/a
Audience Score: 24%

IMDB Rating

4.7/10

Metacritic rating

Not available

Oh wait! We have reviews. IMDB to the rescue! Let’s see…

There are a lot of negatives you could bring up about this movie; it's cheesy, the acting and plot are questionable, it drags in the middle, and the humour is way too basic. However it does qualify as a reasonably good Christmas movie and since that is what it is supposed to be then you can generally ignore most of those points. The only thing that might put some people off is the small amount of male-female violence that is present, as well as the assertion that men and women should be treated equally both physically and mentally. Personally I think that makes this film stand out, but it might offend some others (although a lot of the positive steps the film takes in this area is undercut by the lead female character being so taken aback by the man's insistence that she is pretty, because you know, that is all women want out of life.
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Old 12-07-2020, 10:39 AM   #53 (permalink)
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Call Me Claus (2001)

And yet another movie in which Santa decides to, as Homer once put it, run out the clock in Florida (or somewhere warmer than the North Pole anyway) and looks for someone to whom to pass the red suit. You would have thought someone of Whoopi Goldberg’s stature would have known better than to get involved in this, but then, Nigel Hawthorne also chose it as his final performance. Given his many roles, more notably as the mad King George II in The Madness of same, Amistad, his many Shakespearian roles, not to mention being fondly remembered as the machiavellian and loquacious Sir Humphrey Appleby in Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister, it seems doubtful that he would have wanted to have left this as his final contribution to the world of television and cinema, but there it is. Apparently he died less than a month after the movie’s release, on Boxing Day (known to us Irish as St. Stephen’s Day). A sad loss.

Something of a twist on the old story here, with Santa warning Lucy (Goldberg) that if he doesn’t find a replacement the world will be drowned in a great flood. Why? It seems to be a typical feel-good movie where everything works out in the end, though Lucy takes some convincing. Well, you would, wouldn’t you? Is the world ready for a black Santa? I guess in 2001 they thought so. Personally, as long as it keeps her out of Ten Forward with that stupid pizza-delivery hat I’m all for it. Hokum, basically, from what I can see.

Rotten Tomatoes ratings

Tomatometer: n/a
Audience Score: 47%

IMDB rating

5.4/10

Metacritic rating

n/a

You know, I don’t get it. Some of the quotes from critics on Rotten Tomatoes are shown as “not available”. If they’re not available why have they got them there? I understand some of the magazines, blogs etc may wish to keep copyright and so don’t release the quotes, but why even show them if you can’t read them? It’s not like there’s a link so you can go to the website of whomever the critic works for. Anyway, the few who are available say this.

With Brian Stokes Mitchell and Victor Garber also trying a little too hard, according to John Leonard writing in New York Magazine/Vulture, while Andrea Beach of Common Sense Media notes that although it’s a Predictable, dated holiday film is refreshingly multiracial.

Audiences were similarly underwhelmed:

It was okay - one of those movies that's good for background while doing other Christmas activities.

I think it should've been released into cinemas rather than made for TV...instead, this year - we got Elf! What's with that? Although this film is rather slow paced, it's funny in all the right places and without trying too hard.

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Old 12-08-2020, 02:04 PM   #54 (permalink)
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Rudolph and Frosty: Christmas in July (1980)

Uh, what? I don’t… um… should this be subtitled “This time it’s summery!”? Yeah. Words fail me. God bless the Japanese, who never allow logic to stand in the way or making a few million Yen.

Rotten Tomatoes ratings

Tomatometer: 20%
Audience Score: 36%

IMDB rating

6.7/10 (huh?)

Metacritic rating:

n/a

I’ll leave it to the critics.

Like Emily VanderWerff of Vox, who comments, quite reasonably, the attempts to turn these corny stories into some sort of epic strain with flopsweat, and the hoped-for Avengers-style team-up of the company's big two mostly results in scenes where you wonder why Frosty's not melting in the middle of July

Indeed. And Matthew Jackson of SyFyWire is of a similar opinion:
The idea of crossing over Rudolph and Frosty is logical, because they were the company's two most popular character (aside from maybe Santa Claus), but the way it actually happens is just nuts

While Nancy Davis Kho of Common Sense Media was more direct: Dark, creepy story lacks Yuletide spirit.

Those who weren’t paid (so far as I know anyway) to watch it more or less agreed with these assessments:

Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July has its moments, but overall it's a disappointing effort that's kind of lacking the spirit of the season (either one of them).

wha? I didn't quite understand or appreciate this movie. It's long and makes little sense. The idea of having Christmas in July at a big circus parade is very unusual. The songs just aren't very memorable.

And there we’ll leave it I think.
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Old 12-10-2020, 10:21 AM   #55 (permalink)
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Jingle All the Way 2 (2014)

Most people will agree that Jingle All the Way is a terrible movie, and an awful Christmas movie. I don’t. In fact, I very much to my surprise enjoyed it. I’m not saying it’s the best Christmas movie I’ve ever seen - very far from it - but I was pleasantly impressed at Arnie’s comedic turn as a father desperate to track down the only remaining Turboman doll for his kid. But even I, with my minority view of the original, can’t stand over a sequel that, from what I can see, doesn’t even have the decency to try to write a new story, but simply transplants Larry the Cable Guy into Arnie’s shoes, changes the name of the toy and runs the same basic film. Not even a subtitle? The original title doesn’t lend itself well to a sequel, but at least they could have tried, I don’t know, Jingle All the Way Again, Jingle A Somewhat Further Portion of the Way If Not All, or hell, I don’t know, Re-Jingle All the Way? But no: stick a 2 in front and we’re good.

Well no, we’re not. I’m not familiar with LTCG but I couldn’t personally see anyone other than the Governator playing this role, and no matter how good (or bad) Larry is in this, he’s always going to be compared (by those who care) to Arnie’s original, and I believe will always come up short. I mean, let’s be honest: was this a movie anyone needed?

Rotten Tomatoes ratings

Tomatometer: n/a
Audience Score: 30%

IMDB rating

3.8/10

Metacritic rating

n/a

Critics said: well, nothing, and probably just as well. Audiences were scathing.

This is still a bad movie, no question about it. But this one will disappear from the public eye, if it even came close to being on it, by the end of this year. There are far more superior holiday movies than this, so you can clearly do better.

The acting is all pretty terrible, and Larry's comedy stylings are extremely lame. Also, there's really no sense of fun to any of the crazy antics or charades that the two fathers go through. Incredibly bland, Jingle All the Way 2 has nothing really going for it.


And perhaps most damningly and honestly of all

It should've been better. I mean... yes. A lot better.

No. It should have been drowned at birth.
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Old 12-12-2020, 07:43 PM   #56 (permalink)
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Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever (2014)

We all know Grumpy Cat, don’t we? If not from memes and parodies then from YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. This cat has millions of likes and followers! I mean, I like cats but come on. Anyway, some bright spark apparently had the idea to extend Grumpy Cat’s fame into the world of movies, leap from YouTube to the real tube, as it were, with a made-for-TV Christmas movie. Oh, you can just hear the groans, can’t you?

Everyone loves a cat, eh? Except nobody did.

Rotten Tomatoes ratings

Tomatometer: 27%
Audience Score: 39%

IMDB rating

5.0/10

Hank Stuever in the Washington Post quipped Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever could use a whole lot more of Plaza's ad-libbed derision for the entire project and the suckers who find themselves watching it. The claws do come out, but the scratches just aren't deep enough

Gil Pennington of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch believed There's a plot, which any of us could have written in our sleep.

Brian Moylan was not amused in The Guardian: If the people behind Sharknado could make a movie about Santa, it would look something like this.

While Libby Hill of AV Club offered this: The best way to describe the film as a whole would be if Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure, Home Alone, Garfield, icanhascheezburger, product placement, commercial breaks, outdated cultural references, suburban community theater, and acid had a baby.

And Josh Bell in the Las Vegas Weekly called it A cross between a crass piece of holiday marketing and the kind of thing that might air on Adult Swim in the middle of the night.

Audiences were not any kinder:

Half-assed and a quarter. Aubrey Plaza really phoned this one in with her higher whiney vocal range instead of her lower "give no ****s" vocal range. She could have even Janet Snakeholed it up a bit in the dramatic fantasy segments, but nope. Megan Charpentier is pretty natural for a kid actress, and Russell Peters as the inciting incident Santa is the highlight of this weird, embarrassing effort. The metatheatrical jokes are awkward and annoying

Commercial diarrhea. Avoid.


And I would leave it at that, except going back to AV Club, they had the best comment on it, and I can’t close this out without quoting it. Here it is.

the largest turd in [Lifetime's] crap crown of original programming...so unforgiving, so psychologically trying, that the process alone leaves the viewer straining to hear the dialogue over the sound of the soul being crushed wholesale, bone and sinew wrenched apart at the joint

Libby Hill again. You go, girl!
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Old 12-13-2020, 10:53 AM   #57 (permalink)
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The Nutcracker in 3D (2010)

A question I’ve never asked myself is this: is it possible for a movie to score nothing on Rotten Tomatoes? Surely not: I mean, even terrible movies such as the last two got about an average rating of 20-25%, so it would have to be the very worst movie, not even Christmas movie, but movie of all time to score zero percent, right?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, the British-Hungarian collaboration The Nutcracker in 3D, also known as The Nutcracker: The Untold Story. From what I read, it’s a story that should have remained untold. Mixing in Nazi rats, dodgy fairies and a universal panning that LOST the production over SEVENTY MILLION DOLLARS! That’s right: it cost 90 million to make and they only took in 20. Hoo boy! Some nuts were surely cracked over that idea! Oh, and no ballet. You heard me right.

What’s odd about what Wiki says, when you dig into it, is that yes, it has a 0% scores from critics, but despite a single audience review it has somehow got a 67% score from audiences! No idea how that works. Also, the Wiki page gives this consensus from the site, but when I look at it it says “no consensus yet”. Still, it’s amusing to read; maybe it was taken down later. Here it is anyway:

"Misguided, misconceived, and misbegotten on every level, The Nutcracker in 3D is a stunning exercise in astonishing cinematic wrong-headedness."


Rotten Tomatoes ratings

Tomatometer: n/a
Audience Score: 67% (huh?)

IMDB rating

4.2/10

Metacritic rating

18%


Metacritic raise a grin too when they rated it at 18 out of a 100, and even respected film critic Roger Ebert blasted it: "From what dark night of the soul emerged the wretched idea for The Nutcracker in 3D? One of those rare holiday movies that may send children screaming under their seats."

The movie was nominated for, but did not win, the Golden Raspberry for “Most Eye Gouging Misuse of 3D” but did win Metacritic’s own award for “Worst Limited Release Movie of 2010”, so at least it won something. I’m sure the backers forgave and forgot. Mostly forgot.

Hey, Tim Rice was involved in this? I bet he kept that one quiet!
The director (whom I will not embarrass by naming) apparently made a conscious decision not to use any scenes from the ballet as, according to him, “ballet cannot work in cinema very well.” Must have been really pissed off then to see Black Swan, released less than two weeks later, doing just that.

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Old 12-14-2020, 10:26 AM   #58 (permalink)
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Santa Claws (2014)

Oddly enough, this ain’t on Wiki. What is on Wiki is a 1996 horror/slasher film, which, given the content and target audience of this one, I hope nobody ever mixed up and got the wrong movie for. "Ready to settle in to see bimbos shishkebabed by a manic Santa dripping in blood boys? Hey! Where the **** did all these kittens come from??" And on the other side, “Mommy! Has that lady been naughty? Mommy! Where are all the cute little cats? Mommy I don’t like this film! I thought Santa was good!

See what I mean? Poles apart.

Anyhoo, this is apparently another feel-good-sit-down-with-the-kids movie about Santa getting sick and his place having to be taken by, you guessed it, a bunch of kittens. Aah! I’m sure it’s cute, if you’re a six-year old. I haven’t been six for three thousand yea- ah, for some considerable time. Oh look! Seems Glen Miller came back from the dead to direct this! Oh. Wait.

Rotten Tomatoes ratings

Tomatometer: n/a
Audience Score: 20%

IMDB rating

3.1/10

One critic persisted to the end, and had this to say: Animal-centric holiday flick has jumbled plot, bad acting. That was Grace Montgomery at Common Sense Media, while one audience member whined

The only film of 2014 I found myself incapable of finishing. And I watched Transformers 4!

Come on! What did you expect?

You know, they had to go for the obvious with the strapline, didn’t they? “It’s a holiday cat-astrophe!” Oh dear. Couldn’t they at least have said “Kitten out the sleigh for Christmas” or “Many paws make flight work” or yes I know, I’ll stop now.

“Hello Amazon? No, it’s not the slasher movie, it’s about kittens delivering - what do you mean, my credit card was declined??”
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Old 12-15-2020, 06:29 AM   #59 (permalink)
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Last Ounce of Courage (2012)

Subtitled “A film about family, faith and freedom”, it looks like it could just as easily replaced those three alliterative words with “conservatism, corn and crap”. Yeah, shut up: it’s not that easy. Billed as a “Christian Christmas Movie”, you know what you’re in for, and if you somehow didn’t, then the Stars and Stripes waving in your face while one man takes a stand and shakes his fist at assorted nebulous enemies of his religion will convince you. Yes, it’s that old chestnut: “they comin’ over here and takin’ our Christmas!” Or, to put it in more South Park terms: “They took our Christmas! And our jobs!” Yeah.

The plot appears to be wafer-thin, but you can guess it anyway. One man stands up for truth, justice and the American right to celebrate Christmas against the massed hordes of ACLU-inspired liberals who want to take it away. He’s also a soldier, riding around on a motorcycle (probably a Harley, but I can neither confirm nor care) with a big American flag sticking out of its arse. You know, for once I’m going to let an actual reviewer, someone who saw the movie, explain it, as they do it so well.

This movie is a Fox News viewer's wet dream: factually inaccurate, racially insensitive, and wallowing in manufactured Christian persecution and martyrdom. We're so oppressed! We are only allowed to have our Christmas decorations prominently displayed in our homes and places of worship. They are stripping us of our right to force everyone in the country to acknowledge our religion too!

Rotten Tomatoes ratings

Tomatometer: 0%
Audience Score: 69%

IMDB rating

3.7/10

Metacritic rating

11


The guys at God Awful Movies podcast put it best: Will America Freedom Jesus? Will Jesus Freedom America? Will Freedom Freedom Freedom? Find out the Jesus to America Questions and Freedom, when we Jesus back for act Freedom of America America Jesus!

A far cry from IMDB’s own synopsis of the movie, which warbles on, calling it a “heartwarming movie”, “a beautiful story of love and forgiveness” and a movie that “inspire[s] hope, take[s] back the freedoms that are being lost and take[s] a stand for the truth.” Um, yeah. Biased much?

Other critics were more, ah, forthcoming about the movie, and there were a lot of them.

Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter thought This religious-themed drama about a small-town mayor's personal crusade against "the war on Christmas" is about as subtle as the character's name -- Bob Revere

Michael O’Sullivan in The Washington Post remarked that The sheer volume of what I like to call "eyebrow acting" -- in which thespian intensity is directly proportional to the angle and depth of one's forehead furrows -- is staggering.

While Robert Abeale in the Los Angeles Times pointed out that The patriot-packaged "Last Ounce of Courage" has been made with the conviction of true zealots, but also the competence of amateurs.

Living up to her name, the World’s Megan Basham said Though some of the language here mirrors what we often hear from the ACLU and public-school officials, Last Ounce of Courage simplifies and dumbs down their arguments to such a degree that they become ugly stereotypes rather than real people.

KC Active’s Dan Lybarger said It's a call for the faithful to rise up if they, or any heathens who stumble in the audience, can wake from their naps or their fits of helpless unintentional laughter

Peter Sobcznski of EFilmCritic was more direct: America--$%#@ This!!!

The Salt Lake Tribune’s Sean Means noted Politics aside, the hamfisted melodrama, amateurish acting, a tasteless finale and a cameo by either God or a ZZ Top cover-band refugee make "Last Ounce of Courage" laughably awful.

And Todd Jorgenson of Cinemalogue called it like this: It's a bait-and-switch that masquerades as inspirational drama while pushing a political agenda

Hey, at least the movie got Chuck Norris’s vote: "It was an easy choice to endorse this film because its message is consistent with my life principles and core values.

Interestingly, though the movie made a paltry 3 million with a budget of just over one, which is not too bad a return, a court case brought against the marketing department of the movie’s producers alleging that they engaged in a robocall campaign promoting the movie, and falsely posing as a survey, cost them 32 million in damages when they lost. So while the previous movie lost more money in total, in terms of percentages, let’s see. 20 million against 90 is what, a loss of more than four times the outlay, whereas a budget of one million with a return of three is a three-fold profit, but then taking that 3 million and having to give back 32, you’re looking at over ten times the loss. So this movie in the end far outstripped the hugely loss-making Nutcracker 3D in terms of profit to loss ratio.

Hey! Maybe there is a God!
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Old 12-16-2020, 02:17 PM   #60 (permalink)
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Santa Claus (1959)

Ay-yi-yi senor! These hombres could no’ even theenk up a… yeah, sod the terrible Mexican accent. Point is, this movie is rumoured to be absolutely terrible, but even if it wasn’t, they couldn’t even think up a more original title than that? You’d think that would make it harder to Google but no - once you see 1959 after it you know you’ve got your movie. And as for the awful south of the border speech, why? Well, because it was produced in Meh-ico senor! Don’t start that again. OK, OK! I’m going. Sheesh!

Yeah, a production of, well, some long-ass name studio in Mexico, originally, not surprisingly, made in Spanish and then translated (poorly), the movie sees Santa in - wait for it - outer space, battling a demon called Pitch who wants to turn all Earth kids into evil little monsters. Judging by the ones around here, I’d say he’s a little late for that! If that’s not enough for you, we have Merlin, for some reason helping Santa and not Arthur, robotic reindeer (helllloooo Futurama!) and the demon Pitch being defeated by, um, being sprayed with water.

Rotten Tomatoes ratings

Tomatometer: n/a
Audience Score: 27%

IMDB rating

2.7/10

We’ve only got the one critic who would talk about it, and it was short and sweet. Ho ho horrible said Phil Hall of Film Threat.

Audiences more or less agreed, though a sneaking admiration for the brass of the writer and director releasing such a trippy movie can be detected in such quotes as

This was really weird with having the devil in a movie about Santa Claus and also that Santa doesn't live at the North Pole, but a weird cloud floating in space…

This movie is incredibly bad, I really do not recommend watching this one. The story is silly, I mean Santa lives in space and the devil is trying to stop him from bringing toys to kids by making them behave bad? That's crazy.

Santa Claus, The Devil and Merlin. If that doesn't sound like a recipe for a bad film! Okay, it is pretty bad, but such fun when mocking it


And, perhaps taking it a little more seriously than they should

Well, really, the whole thing was put together by people who simply had no clue as to Santa's primary concepts!

Adding Merlin the Magician (direct from King Arthur's Court) and giving him a special place in Santa's heavenly castle might have worked wonders for the screenwriters, but purists of Camelot and its ilk will certainly ask what in thunder Merlin's doing in a movie about Santa Claus. And what is all this business with magical flowers, and even magic cocktails anyway? The idea of getting drunk to be with the ones you love sounds a bit twisted in my book --- but, as they say, to each his own.
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