essential HOLIDAY viewing

Each year there are so many Holiday movies to choose from. It might be hard to keep track of what to watch. In this day and age, a lot of us can digitally record from our TV. So if you have a library of Christmas movies waiting on your DVR here’s a little article to help you sift through them. You never know there might be one here you’ve never heard of or totally forgot about.

Here are some great movies for the younger audience. These are Holiday staples – necessary viewing…

RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER (1964)

Rudolph has the magical quality of stop motion animation. It also has some classical holiday songs to sing along with. The songs (and story) are delivered by BURL IVES.

FROSTY THE SNOWMAN

Frosty has an important message, and easily transports the adult to the days when they were children. There are various versions of this story, but the best is still the original TV special.

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS

I’m thinking of the original DR. SEUSS story and cartoon, although there was a high quality live-action version starring JIM CARREY. The original is MUST SEE TV for any and all children. There is an important message about caring and giving to go along with the somewhat creepy “villain” turned good guy.

CHARLIE BROWN’S CHRISTMAS

Charlie Brown is highlighted as the best of all these spin-off holiday adaptions. There are SHREK ones, BARBIE, MICKEY MOUSE, etc. Every popular cartoon does a Christmas special. For me, Charlie Brown takes the (fruit)cake.

Aside from GREMLINS, A CHRISTMAS STORY, and THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (which were previously highlighted with reviews), here are some more holiday classics appropriate for the older child (probably around 9 or 10 and up)…

HOME ALONE (1990)

JOHN HUGHES brings us this tale of a young boy left behind when his entire family leaves for Christmas vacation. He must defend himself from some aloof robbers. There are lots of booby traps and slapstick comedy to enjoy, but there is also a good heart and worthwhile message.

ELF

WILL FERRELL stars an over-sized elf working at the North Pole with Santa. He leaves the Winter Wonderland for an American metropolis. This fish-out-of-water story is full of physical comedy. It also has a big heart.

EIGHT CRAZY NIGHTS (2003)

ADAM SANDLER brings us this Holiday cartoon that focuses on the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah. This is a lot more wholesome than Sandler’s previous films. It’s another holiday film with a good message underneath it all. Or even better than the movie, see if you can track down the “Hanukkah Song” by Sandler.

THE POLAR EXPRESS (2004)

ROBERT ZEMECKIS brings us this Computer Animated (new-ish) Holiday classic. Multiple characters are played by TOM HANKS. Once you get past the eerie photo-real animation, you can enjoy the whimsical adventure centered around a big long train and a child’s quest to believe in the magic of Christmas.

Here are some films for the in-between child. They aren’t too cool for Christmas yet, but they don’t want to watch cartoons anymore. These are strong message movies that have withstood the test of time. These are the heavyweight Holiday classics that teach invaluable life lessons.

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1947)

FRANK CAPRA directs this film that has been voted the #1 MOST INSPIRING FILM by the AFI. This endearing classic stars JIMMY STEWART as the everyman who is shown not to take life for granted. The strongest message is “No one is a failure who has friends”. Happiness springs from numerous sources other than commerce. The Black & White version is the only way to see this movie. Watch this as the intended audience saw it – avoid the colourized version.

MIRACLE ON 34th STREET (1947)

NATALIE WOOD is the little girl who meets Santa in this special fable. This film examines the department store Santa and the miracle of Christmas simultaneously. We have the man hired to play Santa, who insists he is Kris Kringle. And the child whose mother insists on raising her to believe there is NO Santa. Everyone’s faith is put on trial just as Kringle is tried for his sanity in (real) court. A special movie that helps you believe again. Again, watch this in the original Black & White if you can.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951)

There a quite a view versions of CHARLES DICKENS classic holiday story. The only one for me is this Black & White one starring ALASTAIR SIM as the “miserable miser Ebenezer SCROOGE.” We all know what it’s about. A man revisits his life, experiencing within a different context, from other points of views. It’s never too late to change your ways. I will let the author himself explain it…

“I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and one wish to lay it.” – their faithful Friend and Servant, Charles Dickens (December, 1843)

Here are some choices that are more appropriate for teenagers and adults to enjoy during the holiday movie watching season.

NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION (1989)

The Griswolds headed by CHEVY CHASE enjoy another vacation, this time it`s the holidays and his family visits. There are tons of jokes and some nice sentiment. It`s not R-rated or too much for younger teens. I feel like they will enjoy this as much as the parents. There are several quotable moments, and several crazy sequences we all can relate too. This is another one from the pen of the legendary JOHN HUGHES.

SCROOGED (1988)

BILL MURRAY stars in this comedic take on DICKENS` classic CAROL. Murray plays a hot-shot TV executive who only cares for himself. He is Scrooge. Most of this unfolds in the familiar manner, but it`s Murray`s performance that makes this so enjoyable. There are quite a few adult jokes, but I enjoyed this as a child.

BAD SANTA

Over the past few years, this cynical BILLY BOB THORNTON movies has gained quiet the following. We get a drunk mall Santa who eventually tones down his abrasive ways and feels the magic of the holidays.

SOUTH PARK: MR. HANKEY THE CHRISTMAS POO (1997)

SOUTH PARK always pushes the boundaries. Their holiday specials are nothing out of their ordinary. There are several quality ones to enjoy from this television series throughout the years. I highlight Mr. Hankey because it does actually have a good message (hidden) within. There also a lot of adult jokes that will have you laughing out loud on a consistent basis.

Oh and you get a few sing-alongs too, like “A Lonely Jew on Christmas” and the titular “Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo”.

I`m sure I may have missed some good ones. These are just some of my personal favourites I wanted to recommend.

What do you think? Am I missing one of your favourites?

Which ones do you watch every year?

What is your all-time favourite Christmas movie? For me it`s A CHRISTMAS STORY, for sure.

Happy holidays, fellow nerds.

Remember to remember…

…and pass on your favourite moments and lessons from these movies to the next generation.

Here’s a bonus video to keep you jolly… Adam Sandler’s “Hannukah Song”…

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