Think Outside Christmas – A Festive Advert Special

Ho, ho, fucking-ho. It’s Christmas time, isn’t it? You can tell because every other advert on television is trying to make us cry in an attempt to convince us to buy things.

It was back in 2007 that John Lewis launched their first ‘Christmas advert’. Fast-forward to 2016 and high-end retailer after high-end retailer are falling over themselves to outdo each other in their rampant, saccharine consumerism.

Suitably filled with festive joy, let’s take a look at the ads that will be encouraging us to part with our money this year.

M&S – Christmas with Love, from Mrs Claus

You can’t rely on a woman to do much right, but you can rely on her to buy shoes. This isn’t just any brand of feminism, this is M&S feminism.

It’s fair to say that the internet has lost its shit over the latest M&S Christmas advert, with many observers claiming that the retailer has comfortably beaten John Lewis’ effort this year (we’ll come to that shortly).

The ad follows the exploits of Mrs Claus who, immediately after wishing her husband well on his trip around the world delivering presents, embarks on her own journey – answering the call of a young boy who wants to make amends for ruining his sister’s trainers.

She’s stylish, attractive and sophisticated, and one can only imagine this is what passes for empowerment at M&S Towers.

In fairness, she does do a great job, as the young girl seems to be very happy with her shoes, but then it sort of pales into comparison against providing the entire world with gifts – but then I suppose she can’t be expected to achieve as much as her husband, can she.

John Lewis – Buster the Boxer

It might have been John Lewis that pioneered the concept of epic festive tales supplemented by slowed down pop covers, but the department store have gone with a bit of a different tack for 2016.

It’s fair to say this year has sucked pretty hard, so it’s nice to see that John Lewis has decided to try and elicit an emotion other than cloying sadness with their latest Christmas advert.

Buster the Boxer is a tried-and-tested combination of cute animals and humour, but it works, and actually feels Christmassy, compared with previous efforts that have arguably been a bit cynical.

It’s a shame, therefore, that so many people are disappointed with it. Having said that, maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised? After all, Brexit and Trump were very much self-inflicted disasters. Perhaps Western society isn’t largely made up of frothing-at-the-mouth, hate-filled racists, but frothing-at-the-mouth, self-hating masochists.

We’ll only have ourselves to blame if next year’s John Lewis advert features a young boy left orphaned when his entire family is wiped out in a Christmas tree fire, right after his precocious, talking teddy bear is diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Waitrose – Home for Christmas

The secret to an affective Christmas ad, at least from where we’re standing, seems to be the combination of some sort of journey (whether it’s literal or emotional), a melancholic soundtrack and, more often than not, CGI animals.

Waitrose’s festive offering certainly utilises all three of those ingredients – a courageous robin travelling across land and sea, encouraged on his way by rousing orchestral music. How very pleasant.

So why does the whole thing fall a bit flat?

The problem is a lack of context. Is the little girl able to discern individual robins by sight and knows her old friend hasn’t been back all winter? Do the little birds know each other and are engaging in a Christmas reunion? Maybe he just really likes mince pies.

It’s also neither sad or funny, and while there is certainly an element of jeopardy, the robin really has no one to blame but himself if he gets eaten, drowned or stepped on all in the name of pastry. I know it’s from Waitrose, but for fuck’s sake. The pretentious arse.

Sainsbury’s – The Greatest Gift

Sainsbury’s found themselves in a spot of trouble two years ago when they cashed in on the horror of war to sell products. Since then they’ve gone no where near the John Lewis-style of Christmas advert, and have followed up last year’s ‘Mog’s Christmas Calamity’ with ‘The Greatest Gift’, which follows the stop-motion exploits of Dave as he… I dunno, tries to get home for Christmas or something. To be honest it got boring half way through. It’s three and half minutes long for God’s sake, and after mainlining festive cheer into my eyeballs all day I got distracted.

The message is kind of nice I guess, but then that’s spoiled by James Corden’s awful voice permeating the whole thing.

There’s plenty more where all of that came from – even budget supermarket Lidl is getting in on the act this year – but if we have to sit through any more vacuous, gooey sentiment we might shut down Think Outside the Box for good and spend all Christmas throwing puppy parties for dying children. And we can’t have that.

Think Outside the News: Back to the Future Part II to be reclassified from satire to political biopic

Biff Tannen as Trump

Popular sci-fi sequel Back to the Future Part II — in which a wild-haired megalomaniac seizes power and transforms America into a lawless dystopia — is to be reconsidered by film critics as a historical biopic.

The plot follows Marty McFly and Doc Brown as they attempt to thwart the wealthy and corrupt womaniser Biff Tannen, who was acquired his undeserved wealth by stealing the DeLorean. Biff proceeds to use his money exclusively for quenching his own thirst for despotic power and hot pieces of ass.

For a long time thought to be a lighthearted and satirical family film, the second instalment of the BTTF trilogy will instead be placed alongside Schindler’s List, Hotel Rwanda and The Killing Fields as a dark and disturbing depiction of real life events.

Biff portrait

“I used to love watching Back to the Future Part II as the fantastical piece of escapism I thought it was but, now it turns out to have been true all along, I feel like I need to go back and consider it with the seriousness it deserves,” said Rebecca Dudley, a human woman from Northampton.

The movie’s director Robert Zemeckis said: “I was surprised when we were overlooked for the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar in 1990 — they usually lap this biography stuff up.

“I mean for God’s sake, that was the year Dead Poet’s Society got nominated, and that was bloody awful.’

Historians are now planning to scour the history books to double-check whether or not William Wallace was actually an anti-semitic Australian, and that the entire Jurassic era wasn’t actually just a theme park.

Trailer Trash – Office Christmas Party, Rogue One, Passengers & Assassin’s Creed

As we emerge from our 18 month slumber, crawling out from the warm and safe womb of inactivity and straining our eyes against the bright and cold of 2016, it’s safe to say that we wish we hadn’t.

Waking nightmares and the almost systematic genocide of our nation’s most loved TV and film personalities aside (thanks, cancer), it’s nice to see that the relentless conveyor belt of sex, violence, hyperviolence, high concepts, jump scares, belly laughs and tears continues unabated.

Ahh, oh how we’ve missed you. Here’s some stuff that’s happening over an indeterminate period of time.

Office Christmas Party

UK Release – 7th December 2016

If we ever have The Hangover franchise to thank for anything, it’ll be the oh-so-longed for backlash against the deluge of midlife crisis porn those films coughed up like a vodka, blood and shame-soaked hairball.

In the meantime we’ve got Office Christmas Party, starring Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman and a whole host of other actors who are of course in this film.

It’s written by Jon Lucas – the creator of the aforementioned trilogy. We can only assume that his life is so suffocatingly repressed that he needs to live vicariously through these obnoxious, self-indulgent bro-fests, grinning like a frat boy while his cast drink and grope away decades of gender politics like they’re in a Donald Trump wet dream.

So, yeah. Merry Christmas.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

UK Release – 14th December 2016

If you’re one of the five people to have read Think Outside the Box regularly in the past you may well have noticed that we struggle to be sincere about anything, instead favouring sardonic disdain and swearing. Mainly because it’s both big and clever.

However, we’re simply unable to muster anything other than wide-eyed, childlike wonder at the Rogue One trailer.

Though narratively similar to A New Hope, The Force Awakens was a huge departure tonally, especially when compared with the Rancor-sized catastrophe that was the prequels. Significantly darker and boasting an approach to special effects that demonstrated just how much the franchise had grown up since the CGI-heavy second trilogy, J.J. Abrams’ contribution to the saga seemed to acknowledge the advanced years of the original Star Wars fanbase.

Judging by the trailer, Rogue One is following suit, combining that more mature tone with all the joy of the originals. Go on, try to deny that you’re anything other than feverishly excited about this.

Passengers

UK Release – 21st December 2016

Passengers follows on exactly one week from Rogue One in what will probably prove to be either Box Office suicide or a smart move, capitalising on the world’s sci-fi hype.

It’s got a lot going for it in its attempts to be the latter though: the always fantastic Jennifer Lawrence; the hugely likeable Chris Pratt (who was so great in Guardians of the Galaxy); and Michael Sheen, who’s never in anything rubbish (almost).

It’s riffing on that lost in space theme that has been done so many times before, but with that cast, as well as the director of The Imitation Game at the helm, this could very well be excellent.

Assassin’s Creed

UK Release – 1st January 2017

You know that feeling of frustration – nay, betrayal – when a film has flat out failed to meet the expectations built up by its trailer? Don’t you just hate that?

Us too.

It’s refreshing therefore that the makers of Assassin’s Creed have decided to forego that facade, instead making it clear from the off just how fucking terrible this film is.

Based on the popular video game franchise of the same name, Assassin’s Creed’s plot is ridiculous, albeit in keeping with the original mechanics of the game’s narrative. It’s one saving grace could be an unfathomably excellent cast, considering it looks for all the world like it is going to be filed away alongside Super Mario Bros., Max Payne and Mortal Kombat as a dreadful video game movie adaption.

A line-up of Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Brendan Gleeson and Charlotte Rampling would often be cause for optimism, and yet… well, just watch that trailer and try to feel optimistic.

Think Outside the News Special: Potential Jeremy Clarkson replacements revealed

Clarkson, May, Hammond

Following the decision to not review Jeremy Clarkson’s contract when it expires at the end of next month, the BBC are preparing for an exhaustive talent search to seek out the next presenters of their most successful export, Top Gear.

Here at Think Outside the Box we have had a sneak peak at the list of potential replacements, and we are now able to bring you a world exclusive – yes, WORLD EXCLUSIVE – having thoroughly checked our information with absolutely nobody.

Jonathan Ross & Russell Brand

Do they know anything about cars? Probably not, but then Top Gear hasn’t offered anything resembling intelligent and thoughtful automotive conversation for years.

What Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand do offer however is guaranteed lad-bants, something which might otherwise be in short supply when the trio of Clarkson, May and Hammond departs. Possible features of the show if fronted by the two former BBC stars would include laughing hysterically at the expense of audience members wearing trainers with Go-Faster stripes and calling up pensioners to tell them that their loved ones have died in a car crash.

Gordon Ramsey

Possibly best known for Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares in which he aggressively swears at and intimidates humble seaside café owners whenever he’s annoyed, confused or hungry, Ramsey would appear to be the perfect replacement for Jeremy Clarkson. He may lack the humour, wit or Jack-the-Lad like-ability of Clarkson and Co., but at least he’s perhaps the most likely to give the Top Gear producers the beating that the show’s fans think they deserve.

The Test Card Girl and her terrifying, quadriplegic clown

Test Card Girl

Emotionless & dead-eyed car reviews from 2-6am

It’s been a few years since they were on the TV, but this bizarre late night double act represent traditional BBC values. Whether those values involve casual racism and spontaneous violence is unclear, but the pair should at least remind viewers of a simpler time, when you could drive a car without wearing a seat belt, leave your doors unlocked at night and walk down the street without being blown up by a terrorist or raped by a radio DJ.

Joe Swash

This hasn’t been officially rumoured – he’s just on fucking everything.

The Ghost of Enoch Powell

A left-field choice certainly, but the restless spirit of the former Conservative MP would at least provide that “Doesn’t Give a Shit” character trait that made Clarkson so popular. If his infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech taught us anything about Enoch Powell, it’s that he isn’t afraid to say what he thinks, and that’s exactly the sort of quality that would come in handy when reviewing the design and manufacture of a shoddy family hatchback by some lazy Spic or slitty-eyed Chinaman.

His salary shouldn’t be too expensive, although the BBC would have to stump up for a team of witch doctors and Shaman to capture his demonic soul in a glass orb.

Think Outside the News: Survey reveals 86% would let Jeremy Clarkson shag their mum

More than four-fifths of the British public would still want the BBC to reinstate Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson even if he shagged their mum, a new study has found.

Despite indulging in casual racism, punching people in the face and generally acting like an arsehole for years, a petition in support of Clarkson has garnered one million signatures.

Jeremy-Clarkson

Jeremy Clarkson: Probably doing your mum.

Rob Vicars, a Tonka Truck collector and Jeremy Clarkson fan said: “So what if he punched someone in the face? He’s bloody hilarious. Like when he calls Mexicans lazy or recites racist nursery rhymes. What has this country come to if we can’t give the freedom to do whatever the fuck you like to the richest and most influential people in society?”

Other celebrities that respondents considered to be above the law included Terry Wogan, Bez from the Happy Mondays and former Match of the Day presenter Des Lynam.

“It’s political correctness gone mad,” said Rebecca Dudley, a casual racist from Northampton, before wandering off to throw rocks at other rocks.

The study also found that 52% would let Jeremy Clarkson spit on their shoes, and that 24% would let him kick their nan in the shins.

REVIEW: Still Alice

Usually when you come out of a cinema planning how you’ll kill yourself it’s because the film you’ve just put yourself through hasn’t done a particularly good job of keeping you entertained. Here at TOTB we’ve lost count of the number of existential crises that have been brought on by that very unique feeling of having had a few hours of your life essentially stolen from you. Not wasted, no, but stolen; stolen by broken cinematic promises that leave you feeling empty and betrayed.

It’s the sort of feeling you get if you’re dumped by the person you love, or if you’ve ever seen an Adam Sandler movie.

As we all emerged from the screening of Still Alice, the entirety of the audience blinking through tears as we wondered how old we’d be when we finally needed to book our Dignitas consultation, we felt very much the same – except this time it’s exactly what they wanted. The sick bastards.

It feels somewhat redundant reviewing Still Alice when it has been in the public consciousness for so long. After all, Julianne Moore had won the Oscar for Best Actress before the film was even released in the UK, but Think Outside the Box has never shied away from being redundant.

For those of you who don’t know, Alice Howland (Moore) is a well respected Linguistics professor who, after finding herself forgetting simple things and even getting lost while jogging around the university campus where she works, is diagnosed with Early On-set Alzheimer’s Disease. From here, the narrative plays out much as you’d expect, with both Alice and her family struggling to come to terms with the rapid and debilitating effects of the condition.

The drama is quite televisual at times, however it is elevated hugely by the performances of Julianne Moore and, to lesser extents, Kristen Stewart and Alec Baldwin. Dialogue that would sound prosaic in lesser hands is brought to life by a performance that is every bit an Oscar winner. A lot credit needs to go to the directors too (the late Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland), as the framing of the shots is key in developing that sense of isolation and disorientation that our main protagonist is experiencing. During Alice’s first conversation with her neurologist the camera remains fixed on her, and it is little moments like this that help to create such a personal story.

Still Alice certainly isn’t flawless, and if it hadn’t been for Julianne Moore’s performance then it may be that we’d be seeing it in five years time on the True Movies channel. The supporting cast are barely fleshed out beyond surface details (in fairness, perhaps a deliberate mechanic to ensure the viewer is very much alone with Alice) however such is the magnitude of her portrayal that it is actually one of the most moving things you’ll see all year.

Just don’t expect to enjoy it.

Trailer Trash: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Let’s face it – this time of year for movies is fucking shit. Awards season is gone, it’s still too early for the spring/summer blockbusters and the Valentines Day Rom-Com dross is still clinging on in multiplexes everywhere, causing even the most devoted of couples question whether it’s really worth it.

It’s not all bad news though, as it’s around about now that the year’s most exciting trailers start coming thick and fast, so what better time for another edition of Trailer Trash? A long awaited Marvel sequel; George Clooney; The Rock in a helicopter; Finland. What more could you possibly want?

Avengers: Age of Ultron, released 23rd April

Whenever a new Marvel film is released it’s about as close to a box office sure thing as you can get – little wonder then that the Avengers Assemble sequel will be the 11th Marvel Studios release in 7 years. The Marvel executives are so cocksure and delirious as they roll around on their piles of cash that they’re even releasing something called Ant Man, just for a fucking laugh.

Recent output from the studio (the terrifically fun Guardians of the Galaxy notwithstanding) has been a little disappointing if we’re honest with ourselves, even given the orgasms of explosions and CGI they are always chock-full of.

Avengers Assemble though, helmed brilliantly by Joss Whedon, was an exception, and so it is with more than a degree of excitement that this preview smashes us in the face like a huge cyborg dildo. With AI.

The whole gang is back together – this time with the addition of none other than Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany and Idris Elba to name just a few – and Ultron looks like it has the potential to be a great villain.

San Andreas, released 29th May

Speaking of humanity getting a hammering, San Andreas will arrive kicking, screaming and generally making a right old fuss in May.

We’ve seen a few films here at TOTB that have made us wish the ground would open up and swallow Hollywood whole, and in this latest offering from Brad Peyton – a director whose previous output includes Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, and not much else – looks to do just that.

It’s more than a little reminiscent of 2012, the movie that bored the infamous Mayan prophecy into not happening, except this one’s got Dwayne Johnson in it! The bloody Rock, flying a helicopter, dragging women out of rubble, dodging earthquakes and punching tsunamis square in the face.

It probably won’t take itself too seriously, but then these big budget disaster movies rarely do, and it’s still typically not enough to stop them from being as dull as they are loud. Stay in and watch Sharknado instead.

Tomorrowland: A World Beyond, released 22nd May

“What if there was a place. A secret place – where NOTHING was impossible?”

If that line isn’t enough to make you want to reach inside your brain and take out whichever bit is responsible for hearing before you are subjected to anymore of it, then the fact that Tomorrowland: A World Beyond is based on one of Disney World’s five theme parks just might tip you over the edge.

This of course isn’t the first time Disney has based a film around one of their attractions – the fifth instalment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is due in 2017 – and we probably have a certain Ms. Everdeen to thank, at least in part, for spawning this George Clooney vehicle. An unlikely young heroine chosen to fight against… something or other. It’s the sort of narrative that Hollywood has been gorging itself on recently, and a full franchise is no doubt planned if this becomes a commercial success.

Big Game, released 8th May

Absolutely everything about Big Game looks completely, intelligence-insultingly ridiculous – from the leather-attired bad guy to Samuel L. Jackson being the President – so how come we’re sort of looking forward to it?

It debuted at last year’s Toronto film festival and was reasonably well received by critics – considering how low it’s aiming – who embraced its over-the-top entertainment value.

Big Game may well hit that particular ‘So-good-it’s-bad’ sweet spot which made Snakes on a Plane such a cult favourite.