Christmas & Holiday Movies
There's nothing like a Christmas movie to get you in the spirit of the holiday season. It's so much fun to pop some popcorn, snuggle up in front of the fireplace with a loved one, and watch your favorite films. If you're snowed in, it's more comfy yet! Popular movies include the good, old classics and contemporary stories that fit today's world.
The following movies range from traditional to modern and are a must for your holiday video collection. Listed are the original release dates. Most of the older, black and white ones have been colorized so you may have a choice when you shop for DVDs, however, it's sometimes very difficult to find the movie in it's original black and white format. Be aware that these reviews may contain spoilers.
A Christmas Carol (1938)
A favorite all-time Charles Dicken's classic about Scrooge, who is visited by three ghosts; The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present, and The Ghost of Christmas Future. The outcome changes mean-old miserly Scrooge into a generous person. The original Black and White version adds to the movie's charm, in an old-fashioned way.
Babes in Toyland (1961)
A Walt Disney production, this musical, starring Annette Funicello, was low-budget for it's time, but the costumes and special effects were very well done. The mean scoundrel, Barnaby, wants Mary for himself so he hires a couple of cronies to help Tom meet his demise. His scheme fails and Tom returns later to rescue Mary from Barnaby. Tom and Mary then go into the Forest of No Return to seek out Mary's lost siblings. They all end up in Toyland, helping out the toymaker who is in a rush to meet Santa's toy quota. I missed this one when I was a child, but as an adult, this movie just doesn't do it for me.
A baby boy crawls into Santa's toy bag and ends up at the North Pole, reared and raised as an elf. The oversized Will Ferrell does a delightful job of playing the Adult "Elf" named Buddy who returns to New York City to seek out his family. Things aren't as hunky dory as he envisioned with his "bah-humbug" father and stepbrother who doesn't believe that Santa really exists. The film has some funny and awkward moments for Buddy, but he finally wins everyone over after he saves Christmas. The kids and I both enjoyed this one. It's good family fun!
Holiday Inn (1942)
If you like musicals and dancing, you'll love Holiday Inn. This musical stars Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby, who collaborate to run an inn that is open only on major holidays. Classic songs include "Happy Holidays" and "White Christmas," which won an Oscar award for best song. This movie is great for kids, taking them back in time and showing them a piece of the good old days.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
There are now two versions of the story written by Dr. Seuss. The newer film (2000) stars Jim Carrey and is fun to watch, but we'll focus on the original, animated version since it's a beloved favorite. Just about everyone can relate to the Whos, who live in Whoville. They have fun preparing for Christmas and go to sleep on Christmas Eve with great anticipation. Seuss really sets the mood and makes you feel like a kid again. Unfortunately, the mean, jealous Grinch robs the Whos that night, hoping to ruin their Christmas so that they will be miserable, just like him. To his dismay, they're not devastated on Christmas day, but celebrating just like every other year. After changing his mind about dumping their decorations and gifts off the side of the mountain, the Grinch returns them to Whoville and experiences a magnificent transformation. Boris Karloff does and outstanding job as narrator and the voice of the Grinch.
It's a Wonderful Life (1947)
This one's my favorite to watch every year. Jimmy Stewart does a splendid job portraying George Bailey, who attempts to commit suicide on Christmas eve. He is visited by an angel who shows him how life would be for others if he had never been born. Ultimately, George realizes that his life isn't so bad after all, in fact, it's quite wonderful. It's hard to stay dry-eyed at the end of this one, and it will definitely warm your heart. Strangely enough, this movie didn't become popular until the late 1970's because of a copyright problem. If you haven't seen it yet, you really need to. It's well over two hours long, so plan to be occupied.
Prancer is a family film that depicts a girl's attachment for a wounded reindeer. Jessie, played by Rebecca Harrell, rescues the reindeer and hides him from her grieving father, played by Sam Elliot, in a shed at home. She truly believes that this reindeer is Santa's "Prancer" and nurses him back to health so he can help pull his sleigh. The ending gives you all those heartwarming feelings and makes you realize there's more to Christmas than shopping and giving gifts. If you enjoyed Prancer, you'll also like Prancer Returns, which was released in 2001.
Toy Story (1995)
This is an animated film that most children and adults will love. Cowboy Woody (voice by Tom Hanks) becomes jealous when owner, Andy, receives Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen,) a space ranger action figure. Things heat up when Buzz quickly becomes Andy's favorite toy and Woody and the other toys feel forgotten. Soon though, Woody and Buzz will need to join forces to save themselves and reunite with Andy. This movie is big on cuteness with other toys, including Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles,) Slinky Dog (Jim Varney,) Rex (Wallace Shawn,) Hamm (John Ratzenberger,) and Bo Peep (Annie Potts.) The toys have their own distinct personalities and the voices fit them well. Toy Story was Disney's first feature-length, fully computer animated movie.