Tried and True Christmas Classics

16 12 2009

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

This one, at least the cartoon version from 1966, is a must-see for any age during the holiday season. The animation is first-class as the crudely drawn Grinch juxtaposes the smooth lines of the Whos of Whoville. Dr. Seuss’ story is a classic in and of itself, but paired with the lovable Cindy Lou Who and great songs like “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch” this should be a staple of any family’s Christmas Eve traditions.

As an added bonus you can close your eyes when Thurl Ravenscroft sings “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and pretend Tony the Tiger is singing to you as Ravenscroft voiced the cereal mascot for over 50 years.

Home Alone 1 & 2

I choose to believe that the third and fourth installments of this series, which don’t star McAuley Culkin as Kevin McCallister, were never made.

That being said, the first two are an excellent addition to any holiday movie library. Some may say that lightening never strikes the same place twice, but they haven’t met the McCallister’s — an incredibly dysfunctional family that makes it highly believable that they forgot their youngest son at home while they went to France one year, and then managed to not realize he got on a plane to New York instead of the family tip to Miami a few years later. Each has its own gems of Kevin’s antics as he tries to thwart two burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) in their attempts to ruin Christmas, but the real magic comes from him realizing just how much he misses his family while befriending adults who seemed as though they were outcasts from society – the “South Bend Shovel Slayer” in Chicago and the Bird Lady in New York.

White Christmas

A wonderful story of love with a Christmas theme, White Christmas delivers great music and relatable characters. Who isn’t rooting for Betty to realize that Bob only has eyes for her, and for Judy to accept Phil’s love. The wartime back story and idea of giving back to General Tom Waverly, the boys’ former commanding officer in WWII, whose inn is in danger of going bankrupt, is commendable as we remember that the United States is actively involved in two wars and some soldiers won’t be home for Christmas. The songs and dancing are what really makes this movie special, though, as each set is reminiscent of days gone by when musicals like this were the norm in entertainment. Plus, it gave us Bing Crosby’s amazing rendition of “White Christmas.”

A Christmas Story

Soap poisoning, an evil Santa who throws children down slides, a Red Ryder BB Gun, a kid in a full-body pink bunny suit and a kid sticking his tongue to a flag pole. This 1983 classic is so good that TNT devotes 24-hours to playing it on Christmas. The script, based off of Jean Shephard’s semi-fictional works, is cynical and straightforward – which are two aspects that make for a different kind of Christmas movie. It’s a wonderful glimpse back in time to how families celebrated the season in the late 1930s and early 1940s, but with a dysfunctional twist that introduces scandalous leg lamps and comedic one liners such as “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out.” Christmas isn’t really Christmas until you see Ralphie beat the crap out of Scot Farkus, get Robb in trouble for “teaching” him the f-word, and Schwartz getting his tongue stuck to a flagpole.

Love Actually

The newest film on this list, but one of the best. Love Actually is an example of an elaborately interwoven cast of characters with their own trials, tribulations and stories done excellently. The stories of love and loss tear at your heartstrings as we watch characters lose wives, gain spouses, deal with family issues and adultery, the pain of first loves and the budding of romances. These characters become like family in the short hour and a half that we are wit them. We hate Harry for cheating on Karen. We love Mark for finally finding a way to tell Juliet he loves her, even as she’s married to his best friend. We pray that Joanna notices Sam. And Billy Mack is like our dirty uncle who only comes round at the holidays. The examination of the different types of love and their push and pull with each other is done admirably well. And any time you have an octopus screaming “We’re Here!” as he fights his way over Hugh Grant’s lap to get to a school play in which he’ll be next to the manger at Jesus’ birth deserves to be on this list.

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