December 23, 2004

Christmas Films.

Well, the day is nearly here. It's almost time for TNT to start their 24 hours of A Christmas Story. It's almost time to see a holiday parade. It's almost time tear into some gifts from your loved ones. It's almost time to become engorged on turkey and pie and cookies. It's almost time to spend time with your families. It's almost time to be completely sick of the season. Such is life. But one thing we can thank this season for, are some wonderfully themed films. I know that there is currently a poll running for favorite Christmas film, but I want to just have a few words about a few of my favorites, this post will be updated in January when the poll changes.

Elf. A new classic. I saw this on the big screen last year and fell in love it. The high energy, the fun performances, and the sweet nature of the film just won me over. The only stumble it had were the Central Park Rangers, which were a bit much. Will Ferrell just owned this role of a child raised by elves who goes searching for his father. This will definitely get repeated play come Christmas time.

A Christmas Story. Critically panned upon it's original release in the early 80's, this has developed a huge following spawning a lot of merchandise, including a replica of the "major ward." Peter Billingsley, who also appears in Elf, gives a charming performance of a child anticipating Christmas. This movie is absolutely hilarious and stands the test of time as a classic holiday movie.

The Nightmare Before Christmas. The holiday film that lasts two months. Tim Burton created this holiday universe inhabited by stop motion animated ghouls, whose leader seeks to discover the secrets of Christmas. A dark fable with wonderful music and a fun story. Only a mind like Burton's could have come up with this cheerfully dark tale of Halloween invading Christmas. How I would love to see another tale of this world.

Bad Santa. Strictly for the adults in the room. This incredibly vulgar tale has a surprisingly sweet core. Billy Bob Thornton and Tony Cox play a Santa and elf duo who pose as the jolly guy in department stores and then rob them on Christmas Eve. I cannot begin to count how many F bombs litter the surface, but believe me, it is one of the funniest Christmas related movies you will ever see.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. The Chevy Chase classic, and possibly Lampoon's best film is a real trip. Annoying relatives, tree problems, the cooking, the cleaning, the death of the holiday spirit, all wrapped up in a neat little bow. This is probably the first Christmas film that rears it's head each year.

The Santa Clause. One of the few entertaining Tim Allen films around. A fun story about what happens when a new Santa is needed, and the effect it can have on a less then stellar father. Haven't seen the sequel, but this one is always entertaining.

The TV Specials: Charlie Brown, Garfield, Rudolph, Frosty, Little Drummer Boy, Santa Claus is coming to Town, The Year without Santa. How can we not mention the various television specials that air year after year? I admit, they don't hold quite the same charm as they did when I was ten, but they are still an important part of the year, they herald the coming. The day draws near. You can't help but sit down and watch them, they're rather infectious.

The Polar Express. A potential classic? Perhaps. This enjoyable story just appeared this year, but it has a certain magical aura about it that just grabs on and doesn't let go. It's not perfect, but it captures that child like innocence, that age where doubt starts to creep in, this tale attempts to restore that.

It's a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. These are timeless classics, that I enjoy, but don't reach for as often as the ones mentioned above. The reasons are not terribly worthy of discussion, but I would be remiss if I did not mention them as seasonal films that are worth your time.

On the flip side, there are also those films which you should avoid like the plague.

Surviving Christmas. Haven't seen this one, and probably don't want to. I believe it holds the record for fastest film from theatrical release(10/22/04) to DVD release(12/21/04). Stars Ben Affleck as someone who returns to the home he grew up in and proceeds to buy the family, headed by James Gandolfini, to pretend to be his family. Kinda sad.

Christmas with the Kranks. What an unfunny mess this was, I can't believe I actually paid to see this dreck. I found one moment funny, and it was in the trailer. Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis pair up as a couple who scrambles to put Christmas together in one day for their daughter who is returning from the Peace Corps. Avoid at all costs.

I know there are many more Christmas films, good and bad, but these were the ones that came to me. Please feel free to leave comments on your choices for holiday viewing, or what you think of the ones I have mentioned.

Happy Holidays!


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