I thought Christmas movies would be a great topic for a blog post. But as I started writing it, I realized I don’t like many of the traditional favorite Christmas flicks. I remember the old A Christmas Carol movie and its remakes; It’s a Wonderful Life; the old Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer of my childhood; Holiday Inn and White Christmas; and I’m bored with all of them. I never made it all the way through the old Miracle on 34th Street. (There is one movie I loved from my childhood that I hadn’t seen in years—but I’m posting about that on Christmas Day. Be sure to check it out.)
A Charlie Brown Christmas came out when I was in high school. For a long time, it was the best Christmas special available. It was super cool in 1965, kind of dated now. But the jazzy piano music of Vince Guaraldi is great.
Greg and I grew up listening to storyteller Jean Shepherd on WOR on the radio. When his A Christmas Story was made into a movie, it was our favorite for a few years. It’s still Greg’s favorite. I’m so over it.
When my kids were little, I loved the Home Alone movies. I’m tired of them now. We watched Gremlins millions of times, but I don’t think of it as a Christmas movie, even though it’s set at Christmastime. I like Die Hard and While You Were Sleeping, but I don’t consider them Christmas movies either, despite their time frames.
The Christmas movie I’ve most liked in recent years is Elf. Buddy grew up at the North Pole, but he’s different from the other elves. It turns out he’s adopted, and his birth father is a businessman in New York City. He goes to meet him, but his dad is less than thrilled to learn of his existence. I just love the goofy innocence of Will Farrell’s character. I love when he answers the phone, “Buddy Elf. What’s your favorite color?” and when he gets so excited that Santa is coming to the department store. And my favorite scene, which I have posted before, is this duet that he sings with Zooey Dechanel:
Anyhow, since I didn’t really have many Christmas movies that I felt I could recommend to others, I had to do some research.
I know many people love the Hallmark Christmas movies, but I just don’t have the patience for them. My fingers itch to change the channel after one minute.
I counted 84 Christmas movies on Netflix, and not one of them looked interesting to me.
So I consulted many online lists of favorite Christmas movies, and selected a bunch to watch. I found these on demand on basic cable (some are also on YouTube):
There are a number of storylines running through this movie set in England. A man is missing his recently deceased wife, and his small stepson has a crush on a girl who will soon be moving to the United States. The boy decides girls love musicians, so devotes himself to learning how to play drums. A man is cheating on his wife, who knows, but wants to believe it’s not serious. A new Prime Minister starts his career, and his catering manager is his biggest fan. A young man decides he has no girlfriend because British girls are stuck up, so he moves to the United States. An aging rock star remakes one of his old hits into a Christmas song, which his long-time manager hopes will rise to number 1. A man secretly loves his friend’s bride. Another man falls in love with a Portuguese woman who is in England on vacation.
Actually, after an hour and a half of this movie, I was bored with the storylines, because they seemed so shallow. But, soon after, the stories merged in surprising ways, and the last 40 minutes were mostly a delight (although not all the threads resolved satisfyingly). I can see, ultimately, the appeal of the movie.
I’ve never seen more than maybe 30 minutes in the middle of this movie, so I had no idea that it’s considered a Christmas movie. Now that I’ve seen it, I disagree with the classification. This could have been set at any time of the year with little or no impact on the story.
It’s a bit of a Frankenstein movie. An inventor put together a young man, but died before he finished. Edward has scissors and blades where his fingers should be, which makes it hard to do simple tasks like dressing and eating, but he learns how to create master topiary. He lives in the inventor’s mansion on the hill. An Avon lady calls and discovers him, and tries to integrate him into her family.
It’s an engaging story, though very sad, and although its message is acceptance of those who are unlike ourselves, it’s really not a Christmas story.
An awkward little girl whose mother has died hangs on to her belief in Santa Claus. When she sees a reindeer in the woods, she decides it’s Prancer, one of Santa’s team. And when the reindeer is shot, she hides it in the shed of her family’s farm, gets a vet to remove the bullet, and nurses it back to health while keeping it a secret from her father, who has no patience with her.
Parts of the story are very sad, but it ends on a positive note. I have not seen the sequel.
The Preacher’s Wife
This movie has Whitney Houston going for it. She plays the wife of the nearly-burnt-out pastor of St Matt’s, who is struggling for the survival of his congregation. She’s also the choir director. Houston grew up singing in church, and if you love gospel music, this is your movie.
Denzel Washington plays an angel, Dudley, sent to help the pastor. Houston’s character loves her husband, but he is so focused on his work that he doesn’t notice how lonely and neglected she is. Dudley is kind and attentive to her.
Of the four movies that I watched this week, The Preacher’s Wife is the one that most appealed to me.
Now it’s your turn. Help me out here. What are some of your favorite Christmas movies? Share in the comments below.