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The Family Stone

the-family-stone

Image credit: The Family Stone, 2005

It happened again this year-  I found myself getting sucked down the Hallmark Christmas movie wormhole. I tell myself I’ll just watch this one about a single mom who has sworn off men but then meets the love of her life working at a soup kitchen (it’s always a soup kitchen), until 6 hours later I’m wrapped up in a blanket cocoon, cookie crumbs everywhere, weeping as fake snow falls around yet another happy couple in chunky sweaters (it’s always a chunky sweater). Clearly, I’m in need of something to wean me off of this TV movie crack. To that end, I’ll be watching The Family Stone (DVD/Download). It’s got the lighthearted romance I crave, mixed with the gravitas of a cancer-subplot that tugs at the heartstrings. But also, it includes some intelligent conversations about world cultures and gay rights. I like to think of this one as Hallmark for the liberal elite.

The Family Stone stars Sarah Jessica Parker as an uptight career gal who is brought home to meet her boyfriend’s family at Christmas.  From the NPR-tote bag-carrying little sister played by Rachel McAdams, to the funky jewelry/Coldwater Creek-wearing mom played by Diane Keaton, The Family Stone is full of lofty ideals and snarky judgement. To be fair, Parker’s character says some pretty abominable things when she gets nervous and backed into a corner, but still- tough crowd. Luckily Luke Wilson is around to lighten up the mood, as well as Craig T. Nelson in his typical gentle giant patriarch role. There are some fun moments where SJP finally lets her “freak flag fly”, but then- cancer (it’s always cancer).

The house in this film is meant to evoke all the warm fuzzies.  It’s messy, full of love, and big enough for a crowd.   And what is the perfect thing to drink at a New England holiday gathering?  Pumpkin Spice Lattes of course! I’m making mine a little boozy because family get-togethers can be rough. While watching The Family Stone, I recommend drinking a Spiked Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Spiked Pumpkin Spice Latte

5 cups strong brewed coffee

3 cups milk

½ cup heavy whipping cream

½ cup Bourbon

½ cup Bailey’s Irish Cream

¼ cup canned pure pumpkin

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Whipped cream topping

In a slow cooker, mix all ingredients except the whipped cream topping. Stir with a whisk until well combined. Cover and cook on High setting 2 hours, stirring once after an hour. Serve in mugs, and top with whipped cream and additional pumpkin pie spice.

spiked-psl

This would be a great drink to serve on Christmas morning when you’re opening gifts and settling in for a lazy day with food and family.  Or, you could be like me and make a whole pot for yourself, not realizing until you’re 3 Hallmark movies in that you’ve consumed a week’s worth of heavy cream and alcohol.  Whatever works for you and yours.  Cheers!

Flight of the Navigator

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Flight of the Navigator

Image credit: Flight of the Navigator, 1986.

As kids across America flock to see what passes for entertaining children’s movies these days, I can’t help but reminisce about some of my own summer favorites from childhood. All month long on Cinema Sips, I’ll be featuring kids movies that are near and dear to my heart, along with a cocktail pairing to make it just that much more fun. Because let’s admit, as much as we tell kids to cherish their youth, sometimes it’s pretty great to be an adult.

Kicking things off is that Fourth of July classic, Flight of the Navigator (DVD/Download).  Oh how my brother and I loved to shout “compliance!” at each other in the late 1980’s, in that weird pseudo Pee-wee Herman voice.  The story of a boy who gets abducted by aliens, then returned 8 years later having not aged a day, is the stuff of bad sci-fi, but somehow it works here.  Maybe it’s because of the Disney Soarin’ music, or the creepy puppets, or just the bad 80’s hair (ahem Sarah Jessica Parker).  But whatever it is, I loved it then and my feelings have not faded.  If anything, my appreciation for Twisted Sister has only deepened.

Inexplicably, the 1980’s technology in this film includes the R.A.L.F., or Robotic Assistant Labor Facilitator.  It’s basically a big cardboard box that delivers papers and food.  A prehistoric Amazon drone if you will.  This acronym, and the movie’s Florida setting inspired my cocktail this week, the R.A.L.F. (or, Rum And Lime Flip).

R.A.L.F.

2 oz Dark Rum

1 oz Lime Juice

1/2 oz Pineapple Juice

1/2 oz simple syrup

1 whole raw egg (yolk included)

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Shake vigorously until chilled, and the egg has emulsified.  Strain into a coupe glass.

RALF

Sculptures by Chris Bathgate

No, your eyes do not deceive you- that is not a time-traveling Bruiser, come to visit us in 2016.  In fact it’s my look-a-like dog Peaches, who was very excited to see her doppelgänger on screen this week.  She thought the frisbee scene was aces, but she’s still not sure about the scary giant eyeball on the ship.  Really, neither am I.  Cheers, and Happy Fourth of July!

Honeymoon in Vegas

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Image Credit: Castle Rock Entertainment, Honeymoon in Vegas, 1992

Image Credit: Castle Rock Entertainment, Honeymoon in Vegas, 1992

A recent trip to Las Vegas has prompted me to re-watch some of the better movies set in Sin City, including Casino, Oceans Eleven, The Hangover, 21, and my personal favorite (and this week’s Cinema Sips pick), Honeymoon in Vegas (DVD/Download). This film gives a bit of an outdated view of The Strip (prompting my mother and I both to wonder- Is Bally’s even there anymore?) but even without Cirque du Soleil ads and trendy restaurants, it’s still a delightful romp about the dangers of gambling, the dry heat of the desert, and the timeless hilarity of Elvis impersonators.

Honeymoon In Vegas is one of the better films to come out of Nicholas Cage’s weird-n-wild oeuvre, only because in this one, his intense, slightly insane mannerisms really work for the character. He plays private investigator Jack Singer, a man terrified of marriage who nevertheless proposes to his longtime girlfriend Betsy (played by Sarah Jessica Parker). They run off to Vegas to elope, but before they can get to the chapel, he enters a rigged poker game set up by mobster Tommy Korman (played by James Caan). Of course Jack loses, and instead of paying money that he doesn’t have, he agrees to let his girlfriend spend the weekend with the mobster. James Caan takes SJP to Hawaii while Nicholas Cages runs around like a chicken with its head cut off, and hijinks ensue. Some great cameos to look for are Pat Morita (aka Mr. Miyagi) as the Hawaiian taxi driver, as well as little baby Bruno Mars singing his heart out as a child Elvis impersonator. The story is ridiculous, but it always gets me excited for Las Vegas, and hopeful that one day I’ll actually spot an Indian Elvis wearing a turban. It’s like seeing a Yeti.

On the cocktail front, I had the good fortune of attending some great Texas Tiki Week events last week. I always look forward to the last week of June because it means Austin becomes a sea of rum drinks in commemorative tiki glasses. How appropriate then to mix up a classic tiki drink to enjoy while watching Sarah Jessica Parker flaunt her perfect body on the beaches of Hawaii. When watching Honeymoon in Vegas, I recommend drinking a Mai Tai.

Mai Tai

1oz light rum

1oz dark rum

½ oz lime juice

½ oz orange curacao

½ oz orgeat syrup

Maraschino cherry and fresh lime for garnish

Pour all of the ingredients except the dark rum into a shaker filled with ice cubes. Shake well, then strain into an old-fashioned glass (or Tiki mug if you have it) half filled with ice. Top with more chipped ice, then add the dark rum.  Garnish with a cherry, lime, and a drink umbrella.

mai-tai

As much as I love Vegas, my favorite parts of this film are definitely the Hawaii scenes. Watching Nicholas Cage shout Kapa’aa into a pay phone just makes my year. And let’s not forget the South Pacific sing-along with Peter Boyle’s island chief. As a child I often wondered how the parakeet brandy they drink was made- crushed feathers? Beaks? Even knowing the actual alcohol mix now, it’s still not much more appetizing. So I would say, stick with the Mai Tai, and never forget- if you’re about to jump out of an airplane dressed as Elvis, it’s yellow, then red. Kabluna, and Cheers!