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December 25, 2011
Review - " Christmas Movies "  -  (on DVD) By Roland Hansen
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I probably should have written this the beginning of December as it will be too late now for you to catch these.

Every year starting on Thanksgiving I pull out my collection of Holiday movies and try to watch them all by Christmas. This
can be a daunting task as I now have over 40 movies in this group. I always start with "Home For the Holidays" because it is
actually a Thanksgiving movie. Some, like "The Apartment", "Desk Set" & "Serendipity," are not really Christmas movies.
Some are old classics ("It's a Wonderful Life" & "Miracle on 34th Street"), some are Christmas classics we grew up with on
TV ("Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" & "Santa Clause is Coming to Town") and some new classics ("Home Alone" & "The
Santa Clause"). Most are heartwarming, uplifting, and try to jerk a few tears - a few actually succeed. I'm not going to add
any star rating to these. I debated about that for a while but decided to just let each viewer choose for themselves. I may,
however, make positive or derogatory comments about some or all of the flix. Listed Alphabetically - here are the movies I
watch every year around this time.
All She Wants For Christmas (2006)
An American Christmas Carol (1979)
The Apartment (1960)
Bad Santa (2003)
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
The Christmas Card (2006)
A Christmas Carol (2009)
The Christmas Clause (2008)
The Christmas Cottage (2008)
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (2007)
The Christmas Shoes (2002)
A Christmas Story (1983)
Desk Set (1957)
Elf   (2003)
Four Christmases (2008)
Fred Claus (2007)
The Gathering (1977)
The Holiday (2006)
Home Alone (1990)
Home Alone 2 (1992)
Home For the Holidays (1995)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947)
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Joyeux Noel (2005)
Mr Krueger's Christmas (1980)
Love, Actually (2003)
Lovely, Still (2008)
Mr Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962)
The Man From Earth (2007)
Mrs Miracle (2009)
Miracle on 34th Street (1934)
The Most Wonderful Time of the year (2008)
The Nativity Story (2006)
The Polar Express (2004)
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
Santa Claus is Coming to Town (1970)
The Santa Clause (1994)
Scrooge (1970)
Scrooged (1988)
Serendipity (2001)
Surviving Christmas (2004)
The Ultimate Gift (2006)
Unaccompanied Minors (2006)
The Christmas spirit Noelle's town is built on is
threatened when the owner of its primary business,
a Christmas-ornament company, decides to shut its
doors. As the company's efficiency evaluator, Noelle
gets a double whammy: Not only is her job in jeopardy,
but the new guy she's seeing turns out to be a
corporate mole! Now it's up to her to use her ingenuity
to save the business -- and the town. Will she
succeed?

The perky Noelle, meets hunky stranger Justin
because the gigantic blow-up snowman balloon she
accidentally loosened in the town square comes
crashing down on Justin's SUV. But no harm done, as
this gently comic romance cues the viewer early on
that there will be no heavy mental lifting in the film,
which is a sweet valentine to the holidays, for the
whole family. If there's not much real mystery in what
will happen to Forest City, the ornament company, and
Noelle and Justin, it's completely OK, as the cheer of
the cast, and the season, will surely lift the Scroogiest
spirits. The acting is terrible but the story is cute.
The Fonz, Henry Winkler, plays the scrooge-like
businessman Bendict Slade in this depression era
interpretation of the Charles Dicken's classic A
Christmas Carol. It is Christmas Eve 1933, and the
townspeople of Concord, New Hampshire, are trying to
hold onto their Christmas spirit in the face of the Great
Depression. But old Mr. Benedict Slade is ruining what
Christmas hope the town has left by mercilessly
repossessing their prized goods. Alone in his
apartment, Slade is visited by three ghosts - Christmas
Past, Present, and Future - who take him on a
fantastic journey through time that will show him the
tragic consequences of his actions if he doesn't mend
his ways.

Henry Winkler proves his acting ability in this American
version. You will actually be amazed at his
transformation from nice guy to mean guy back to nice
guy. The general feel of this movie, though, is grey.
That's the best way to describe it. But then, it was a
bleak grey time in American history. When Dickens
originally wrote the book, it was a grey time in
England's history as well, so the subdued feeling one
gets while watching this 'modern' version fits in well
with the spirit of the original story.
The Apartment is not really a Christmas movie. The
story takes place between November 1st and New
years Eve, and Christmas plays heavily into the story.

An ordinary office shlub C.C. "Bud" Baxter (Jack
Lemon) is a man who just can't say no - not to girls but
to the philandering men in the office who want to
borrow his apartment for their illicit trysts. That is until
Jeff Sheldrake, the Director of Personnel, calls him to
his office and confronts him. Baxter swears no-one will
ever use his apartment again but Sheldrake has other
plans - he wants to use it for his own conquests.
Buddy Baxter is now a man on his way up in the
company as Mr Sheldrake uses promotions as payola
for the use of his bachelor pad. Mr Baxter falls in love
with Miss Kuberlik (The adorable Shirley MacLaine) an
elevator operator at Consolidated Life - but guess who
just happens to be Sheldrake's latest mistress?

It’s a bittersweet love story that condemns human
weakness and celebrates strength of character in the
same man, and makes you care about him all the way
through. It’s brilliant.
Bad Santa is as nasty as it wants to be, and there's
something to be said for comedy without compromise.  
Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton), a hard-drinking,
chain-smoking, foul-mouthed sexaholic safe-cracker
who targets a different department store every holiday
season, playing Santa while he cases the joint with his
dwarf elf-partner Marcus (Tony Cox). With comedic
support from Bernie Mac, Lauren Graham, Cloris
Leachman, and John Ritter in his final film, Thornton
milks the lowbrow laughs with a slovenly lack of
sentiment, warming Bad Santa's pickled heart just
enough to please a chubby misfit (Brett Kelly,
hilariously deadpan) who may or may not be mentally
challenged. As dry as an arid martini and blacker than
morning-after coffee, Bad Santa is an instant cure for
yuletide schmaltz, and if you think this appropriately
R-rated comedy is suitable for kids, your parenting
skills are no better than Willie's.
Perhaps the most endearing of all the Charlie Brown
specials is "A Charlie Brown Christmas", the first in a
long series of made for t.v. half hour films portraying
the famous Peanuts Gang.

For almost forty years, watching "A Charlie Brown
Christmas" has been an eagerly anticipated event for
millions of households. I recall watching it as far back
as I can remember, and have watched it every
Christmas since.

"A Charlie Brown Christmas" was made in a time when
commercialism was running rampant all over the
country. Stores advertising to shoppers what they
ought to buy, long before Thanksgiving had come and
gone. Unfortunately, we still see this blatant
commercialism today, which makes this short film so
very poignant and all the more special. "A Charlie
Brown Christmas" ends with newfound meaning for
Christmas, hopefully not soon forgotten by either the
Peanuts Gang, or, more importantly - us.
In the midst of war in Afghanistan, Captain Cody
Cullen (John Newton) is touched by lovely card sent
by Faith Spelman (Alice Evans) from the small
picturesque town of Nevada City, California. As
months pass, the card never leaves his side, giving
him the strength to survive and setting him on a
mission to find her. When a fellow soldier is killed in an
attack, he returns to the States to notify and comfort
the widow. While there, he also searches for and
meets Faith, but never tells her how he knows her.
Through a series of events he becomes like a
member of Faith's family. When his time is up, he
leaves the Christmas Card with a special gift for
Faith's family and disappears without saying goodbye.
Faith then realizes her feelings for him and tries to
catch up with him. Naturally, it is a happily-ever-after
fairytale story. A clean, family movie. A Christmas
movie to see every year.
The latest iteration of Charles Dickens' classic tale, A
Christmas Carol. As usual, the plot centers on
Ebenezer Scrooge, the tightfisted crank who
bah-humbugs through the holidays and on Christmas
Eve learns the error of his ways. In this latest
interpretation, the great, rubber-mugged Jim Carrey
embodies Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas Past
and Christmas Present. He's also credited with the
voice of the third, but the bony-fingered Ghost of
Christmas Yet to Come isn't all that talkative. Gary
Oldman does triple duty as Marley, Scrooge's clerk
Bob Cratchit and the hobbled, angelic Tiny Tim.

In 3D, Disney made the story come to life with vigor.
The movie keeps you focused throughout, even
though you know the ending. All the characters are
extremely alive and the scenes are picture perfect. Jim
Carrey, as Ebenezer Scrooge, played his role
flawlessly. He presented the part so well bringing out
your emotions portraying Scrooge as a cold hearted
person who disliked Christmas and charities.
A fairly obvious take-off on It's a Wonderful Life. Lea
Thompson is a harried working mom, passed over for
promotion at work because she's got a family, bratty
overbearing kids, she tries to be super-mom and do
everything herself.

All of her family and work stress comes to a chaotic
halt at the shopping mall, days before Christmas, she
meets up with an old college girlfriend who seemingly
has it all - money, great job, great body. When she sits
on Santa's lap and wishes for a different life - "her" life.
However, the grass is not always greener as a single,
successful lawyer with her own firm and the most
eligible bachelor vying for her attention. Freedom has
its price as she realizes the sweet life is not so sweet
and must race against time to find the true meaning of
family and love before Christmas Day.
Young Thomas Kincaid is an uninspired artist, still in
college, unable to find that special something to make
his paintings into "art". Thomas is dismayed to learn
that attempts to promote local tourism have failed and
his mother (Marcia Gay Harden) is dangerously close
to losing the family cottage to foreclosure. Inspired by
his mentor, Glen (Peter O'Toole), a famous artist who
lives next door, Tom accepts a job painting a mural of
his small, idyllic hometown. With Glen's help, Tom not
only discovers his calling as the "Painter of Light" but
also helps the town rediscover the true spirit of
Christmas in this nostalgic, humorous and
heartwarming true story destined to become a holiday
classic.

Kept raw as real life tends to be, it is a sad and yet
very uplifting film. Topics are deep and moving. This is
not meant to be a young children's film, but more a
teenage and adult film. Deals with motivations, the
things that shape us, those who mold our lives.
When a broken hearted boy loses the treasured
wooden nativity set that links him to his dead father,
his worried mother persuades a lonely ill-tempered
woodcarver to create a replacement, and to allow her
son to watch him work on it. The commission takes
their relationship to unexpected places as the young
client makes greater and more difficult demands of the
woodcarver’s ability, and as Christmas approaches,
the three struggle to come to terms with each other,
their painful memories and the process of putting their
unhappiness behind them.

An excellent family Christmas film. The "judge not that
ye be not judged" principle is very evident, also a
touching storyline involving the simple youthful
perspective of right and wrong. The Christmas Miracle
of Jonathan Toomey is a story of love, redemption and
above all, hope.
The Christmas Shoes bounces between two families -
the Layton household, where father Robert (Rob
Lowe) is so consumed with his work that he misses his
daughter's recital; and the Andrews home, where
mother Maggie (Kimberly Williams) has been
diagnosed with a fatal heart ailment. Desperate to
make his mother's last moments happy, Maggie's son
Nathan struggles to buy a pair of red dancing shoes
that seem like a pair Maggie remembers from her
childhood. Naturally, the lives of these families
become intertwined, particularly when Robert's wife
takes over Maggie's choral program--which topples
the already troubled balance between Kate and
Robert. The story originated in the famously sappy
country song of the same name, and movies based on
songs rarely feel anything but plastic and contrived.
There are certainly moments when The Christmas
Shoes lays on the sentiment woefully thick, but you'd
have to be an ogre not to be touched when Maggie
and her husband have one last dance. It brings our
attention to the things in life that are truly important
The story is set at some indefinite time around 1940
in an Indiana town approaching the holidays. Young
Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) wants only one thing for
Christmas, the Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action
200-Shot Lightning Loader Range Model Air Rifle
with a compass in the stock. (That is, a BB gun, a
very particular one.) He plans carefully well in
advance how to lay the groundwork for this while
avoiding the dreaded rebuff, but almost everyone
says it anyway: "You'll put your eye out!" The
relentless struggle for the one true gift develops
alongside several other small stories and amusing
details, a tongue-on-frozen-pole triple-dog dare,
facing the local bully, the notorious leg lamp, the
Santa slide, Peking Duck for Christmas, and several
others, each memorable in itself. The actors aren't
very well known, but they're all just right. There is
narration throughout, representing an older Ralphie,
done by the originator of the story, Jean Shepard,
also just right.
Bunny Watson (Katharine Hepburn) heads up the
research department at the Federal Broadcasting
Company, a major TV network. And she does her job
very well, thank you very much. Assigned by the
network president to computerize some of the
department's functions, efficency expert Richard
Sumner (Spencer Tracy) arrives at Bunny's well-run
division to observe daily activities. Unfortunately,
however, Sumner is ordered to keep his mission
secret. As a result, the whole staff believes they are
being replaced. Gig Young appears as Bunny's beau,
Mike, an ambitious network executive who strings her
along and becomes apoplectic at the idea that she
doesn't need him. To make matters worse, there
appears to be more than a little electricity between
Bunny and Sumner, which upsets Bunny's boyfriend
Mike. As the tension mounts in the office, so do the
laughs in this classic romantic comedy. While
technically not a Christmas movie the holiday does
play a big part in the story.
It’s the magical movie for all ages. You’ve got a
grown man dressed as an elf who’s on the search for
his father, a true Scrooge living and working in New
York City. They couldn’t have picked a better Elf
when they cast Will Ferrell to play the innocent and
loving Buddy. Elf is a smartly written, skillfully
directed, and deftly acted story of a human being
adopted by Christmas elves who returns to the
human world to find his father. And because the
writing, directing, and acting are all genuinely good,
Elf is also genuinely funny.  James Caan, as his
rediscovered father, executes his surly
dumbfoundedness with perfect aplomb. Zooey
Deschanel, as a department store worker with whom
Buddy falls in love, is adorably sardonic. The movie
moves through all the obligatory Christmas cliches
and focuses on material that's sometimes subtle and
consistently surprising.  
No one enjoys the holidays more than Brad and Kate.
Every December 25th, this happily unmarried,
upscale couple embark on a holiday tradition they
have shared every year since they met - ditching their
crazy families for a relaxing, fun-filled vacation in
some sunny exotic locale. But not this year. Shorts
and sunglasses packed, Brad and Kate are trapped
at the San Francisco airport by a fogbank that
cancels every outbound flight. Worse yet, they are
caught on camera by a local news crew, revealing
their whereabouts to the whole city…and to their
families. With no escape and no excuses, they are
now expected home by Brad’s father. And Kate’s
mother. And Brad’s mother. And Kate’s father. Four
Christmases in one day. The film works because of
some genuinely funny setups, a pace that never
dwells on one gag (or one family) too long and a
careful mix of slapstick and bawdy humor. But mostly,
the film works because of the astonishing acting
talent the filmmakers brought together to make it.
Fred Claus (Vince Vaughn) has lived almost his entire
life in his little brother’s very large shadow. Fred tried,
but he could never live up to the example set by the
younger Nicholas, who was just a perfect, well, Saint.
True to form, Nicholas grew up to be the model of
giving, while Fred became the polar opposite: a repo
man who then steals what he repossesses. Fred
needs money to finance one of his schemes. Brother
Santa (Paul Giamatti) agrees to give him the cash if
Fred works for him at the North Pole until Christmas
Eve. The headaches mount for St. Nick, who not only
must deal with his troublemaking brother, but also an
efficiency expert (Kevin Spacey) who has come to
evaluate Santa's operation. Corporate greed rears it's
ugly head, "The Organization" is going to dump the
Easter Bunny and limit the Tooth Fairy to one kid one
tooth. Fred of course makes a mess of things with the
elves, the factory, the naughty/nice list and especially
the efficiency expert. They're going to shut down
Santa's whole operation if they can't make and deliver
enough toys. What's worse, St Nick is laid up with a
bad back. Can Fred step up and save Christmas?
This is my personal favorite of all my Christmas
movies. It isn't necessarilly the best, just my favorite.
The Gathering stars Ed Asner as Adam Thonton, an
ill-tempered executive who long ago walked out on his
family. Just before Christmas, Adam is told that he has
only a few weeks to live. His desire to mend the
broken relationships of his life is sincere, which is why
he refuses to disclose his illness to anyone. A pity
party is the last thing he wants. So Adam asks his
estranged wife Kate (Maureen Stapleton) where the
children are so he can see them. Sensing something’s
wrong, she puts the pieces together, agrees not to tell
the children and arranges to bring together the four
winds of the family for one last Christmas at home.

Set to a lovely, understated score, what follows is
essentially a single-location play that expertly avoids
mawkish sentiment and presents real people who stay
true to themselves while reconciling their differences.
An unforgettably tender and quiet story that captures
the essence of the holiday: faith, family and the ability
to give and receive the gift of forgiveness.
In London, Iris Simpkins writes a wedding column in a
newspaper and has an unrequited love for her
colleague Jasper Bloom. She is informed that Jasper
is engaged and will marry another colleague, and her
life turns head over heels. In Los Angeles, the
movie-trailers maker Amanda Woods has just broken
with her unfaithful boyfriend Ethan and wants to forget
him. Amanda accesses a house exchange website,
and impulsively swaps her mansion for Iris' cottage in
Surrey for Christmas. While in Surrey, Amanda meets
Iris' brother and book editor Graham and they fall in
love. Meanwhile Iris meets her next door neighbor, the
ninety year old screenplay writer Arthur, who helps her
to retrieve her self-esteem, and film composer Miles,
and they fall in love. The Holiday contains warm,
natural dialogue and heartfelt chemistry. Diaz, Law
and Winslet are a joy to watch, filling their parts with
love and light. There is an overall honesty to the
performances. Jack Black struggles to get out of his
music-and-silly-faces typecasting but just manages.
With more Christmas songs than you can shake a
piece of tinsel at, The Holiday is a warm, snuggly
romance to lose yourself in.
It is Christmas Time and the McAllister family is
preparing for a vacation in Paris, France. But, the
youngest in the family named Kevin got into a scuffle
with his older brother Buzz and was sent to his room
which is on the third floor of his house. Then, the next
morning, while the rest of the family were in a rush to
make it to the airport on time, they completely forgot
about Kevin who now has the house all to himself.
Being home alone was fun for Kevin, having a pizza all
to himself, jumping on his parents’ bed and making a
mess. Then, Kevin discovers two burglars, Harry and
Marv, about to rob his house on Christmas eve. Kevin
acts quickly by wiring his own house with makeshift
booby traps to stop the burglars and to bring them to
justice. Though the film's slapstick ending may be
somewhat violent, Culkin's charming presence helped
the film become one of the most successful ever. A
feel-good holiday favorite if there ever was one.
The McCallister family is at it again. This time instead
of leaving the littlest one at home, Kevin boards the
wrong plane. With the rest of the family in Florida he’s
in New York City with enough cash and credit cards to
turn the Big Apple into his very own playground. But
Kevin won’t be alone for long. The notorious Wet
Bandits, Harry and Marv, still smarting from their last
encounter with Kevin, have broken out of jail and are
bound for New York too, plotting a huge holiday heist!
Kevin sets up shop in his uncle Rob’s townhouse, torn
apart and under major renovations, he uses the
equipment inside to defeat the Wet Bandits once and
for all. This time the punishment is even bigger and
inflicts more pain and misery. Foolish burglars just
never learn. There's also a heartwarming subplot
about making new friends in the unlikeliest of places
and doing good deeds.
This Thanksgiving flick always kicks off my holiday
movie viewing. Holly Hunter plays a Chicago-based
single mom who - on the day before Thanksgiving -
loses her job and is informed by her daughter of the
latter's intention to surrender her virginity while on a
weekend-long affair. If that's not enough, Hunter's
character then has to fly to Baltimore to join her
fractious family for another difficult Thanksgiving.
Robert Downey Jr. is terrifically charming as her
prankish, gay brother, and Anne Bancroft and
Charles Durning show plenty of comic resilience
during the predictably interesting Thanksgiving
dinner scene. The film avoids the usual clichés in
family dramas - the deepest, darkest secret revealed
here involves the painfully sweet revelation of a
40-year-old crush.  focused instead on the inevitable
softening of old grudges and disappointments with
time. This is a wise as well as wonderfully fun movie.
Boris Karloff narrates and stars as the odious Mr.
Grinch, the sinister green monster who plots to steal
all the Christmas presents in the town of Whoville. All
goes well with his dastardly plan until little Cindy Loo
Who (who was no more than two) gums up the works
with her innocent Christmas spirit. Jones directed,
with Karloff supplying the sweetly sinister narration
and voice of the Grinch. The story is from the book
by Dr. Seuss.

Thurl Ravenscroft (of "Tony the Tiger" breakfast
commercial fame) provides the memorable bass
singing voice for the tune "You're a Mean One, Mister
Grinch." Filled with close attention to comic detail,
memorable characterizations, and delightful wordplay,
this is essential holiday viewing for the whole family.
A light-hearted romantic comedy. A Christmastime
story about a bum, Aloysius T. McKeever, that
occupies the New York mansion of the second
wealthiest man in the world while he’s away. This year
his plans go a bit awry because he decides to take in
a recently evicted G.I., Bullock, who brings along his
war buddies and their families. O’Connor’s unhappy
daughter Trudy (Gale Storm), who’s run away from
college, happens upon McKeever and Bullock in her
father’s home, but pretends to be someone else in
order to escape her situation for a while. Shortly
thereafter, she and Bullock fall in love. Some former
service mates of Bullock, their wives and kids join the
‘party’ at the once vacant mansion. Eventually,
O’Connor himself and his ex-wife Mary come to live
under their own roof incognito in order to meet their
daughter’s prospective fiancé. The love in the air
rekindles their long lost romance.
George Bailey, the eternally-in-debt guiding force of a
bank in the typical American small town of Bedford
Falls. As the film opens, it's Christmas Eve, 1946, and
George, who has long considered himself a failure,
faces financial ruin and arrest and is seriously
contemplating suicide. High above Bedford Falls, two
celestial voices discuss Bailey's dilemma and decide to
send down eternally bumbling angel Clarence
Oddbody, who after 200 years has yet to earn his
wings, to help George out. George declares that he
wishes that he had never been born, and Clarence,
hoping to teach George a lesson, shows him how
different life would have been had he in fact never
existed. After a nightmarish odyssey through a George
Bailey-less Bedford Falls (now a glorified slum called
Potterville), wherein none of his friends or family
recognize him, George is made to realize how many
lives he has touched, and helped, through his
existence; and, just as Clarence had planned, George
awakens to the fact that, despite all its deprivations, he
has truly had a wonderful life.
This movie is inspired by a true story, which occurred
in the trenches of the World War I battlefield on
Christmas Eve in 1914. When war breaks out in the lull
of summer 1914, it surprises and pulls millions of men
in its wake. Christmas arrives, with its snow and
multitude of family and army presents. But the surprise
won’t come from inside the generous parcels which lie
in the French, Scottish, and German trenches. That
night, a momentous event will turn the destinies of four
characters : an Anglican priest, a French lieutenant, an
exceptional German tenor and the one he loves, a
soprano and singing partner. During this Christmas
Eve,  the unthinkable will happen: soldiers come out of
their trenches, leaving their rifles behind, candle in
hand, to meet their enemies, shake their hands,
exchange gifts of cigarettes, Champagne, and
chocolate, wish them "Merry Christmas" - all due to a
German Tenor singing Silent Night. Joyeux Noel is a
French film but it is spoken in a mixture of three
languages: French, German & English - plus a little
Latin thrown in for good measure.
A simple 25 minute film featuring Jimmy Stewart as a
lonely old man on Christmas Eve. Mr. Krueger’s
Christmas begins with the title character working as a
custodian of an apartment building. It being Christmas
Eve, he sets out for a tree to put up in his basement
apartment. Attempts to interact with people on the
street are ignored or barely acknowledged. It is cold
outside in more ways than one. Along the way, he
looks at a suit in a shop window, much like a child
looking at toys would. In no time he is lost in a fantasy
of being fitted with a new suit and being treated like a
man of status. It is only the beginning of his Walter
Mitty-like fantasies which Willie Krueger succumbs to
out of loneliness. But it is his contemplating the
Nativity Scene on a small table that leads to a
surprisingly powerful scene where Willie finds himself
at the Nativity. The heartfelt words of the simple and
devout man as he sees the Savior are perfectly
portrayed by Stewart.

Personally I think the ending of the film is awful and
ridiculous. That one wonderful scene with Mr Krueger
talking to the baby Jesus is the reason I watch this
Christmas special.
If any movie is totally about love this one is it. Love
Actually captures the lives of 8 couples in the five
weeks leading up to Christmas in London. It beautifully
weaves multiple stories of blossoming love during the
Holiday season using a first-rate all-star cast. This
holiday film is laced with all different stories of love:
puppy love, lost love, unrequited love, and great big
declarations of feelings. The most romantic scene
(for us) is perhaps also the most heartbreaking. Mark
(Andrew Lincoln), long smitten with his best friend's girl
(Keira Knightley), appears at her door with a series of
hand written posters expressing what he's always
wanted to say: "To me, you are perfect." He gets us
every time. You’d have to be a curmudgeon to dislike
“Love Actually,” one of the most entertaining and
romantic holiday-movies ever. Warning - not all the
story lines have a happy ending.
It's Christmastime in a small snowy town, and Robert
Malone is all alone and set in his daily routine. He lives
by himself in a house with no pictures on the walls and
barely any furniture, and even puts a solitary gift
under his Christmas tree for himself. He shuffles off
each day to a job in an Omaha supermarket, where he
appears to do little but sketch and yet is treated with
affection by the over-enthusiastic manager. A widow
named Mary and her daughter have just moved in
across the street, and Mary, who has been noticing
Robert since she first saw him in the grocery store,
invites Robert out to dinner. Robert, who it seems
hasn't had a date since the early 1950's, finally has a
reason to put a smile on his face. The two start dating,
and Robert is a changed man. He can't believe that
he's finally found love, especially so late in his life, and
he doesn't want to let her go.  The exceptionally sweet
story with its subtle beauty is one that is a must-see,
and will touch (and perhaps break) your heart
regardless. Not your conventional romance, but one
that is beautiful enough to make you cry.
Our favorite nearsighted nebbish, Mr. Magoo is an
actor, and starring in a version of  A Christmas Carol
as Ebenezer Scrooge. As the movie starts, Mr. Magoo
is on the way to the theater, and of course has all
kinds of issues getting there. He ends up in a Chinese
Restaurant and thinks he’s backstage. But eventually
he gets there just as the curtain rises. Then Magoo is
no stooge! He plays Scrooge to the hilt, in fine fashion.
We see the show from the audience, and at the breaks
we get reminded that Magoo is NOT Ebenezer
Scrooge, but an actor playing the role. This gives this
version of the story a special feel to it that is missing in
the other versions.  This is a musical version and the
songs are very memorable. Scrooge meets his
deceased partner Jacob Marley who teaches him of
the fate that’s awaiting him if he doesn’t change.  Then
each of the 3 ghosts visits him and he gets to view his
youth to remember where he came from, the present to
remind him of how badly off the Cratchit’s are, and the
future to see the eventual end of his as an unloved
and unwanted old miser.  In the end the audience
gives Magoo a standing ovation.
This movie is not a Christmas film. It doesn't take place
at Christmastime, it never even mentions the yuletide.
The film takes place almost entirely in one room. A
group of college professors gets together at a sort of
impromptu goodbye party for their friend, history
Professor John Oldman, who is leaving after 10 years.  
On the spur of the moment John decides to share his
secret with them and comes forth with the news he is
an ageless, 14,000 year old Cro-Magnon. The
recounting of his journey through the history of
humankind is mesmerizing, and proves to be a tale
with implications for all in his company provoking
reactions from fascination to outrage, violence and
disbelief to emotionally shattered. Initially all of John's
fellow colleagues challenge him, but his arguments are
solid and disturbing. But is John for real? Or does he
need psychotherapy? I don't want to give anything
away - if you watch this fantastically understated film
You'll understand why I count it in my Holiday viewing.
This movie falls under romance, fantasy and comedy.
This movie is about a single man named Seth Webster
who has two twin boys.. he lost his wife awhile ago and
needs help raising his two boys! Nanny after nanny, no
one could handle the rowdy boys until one day, a
miracle happened, Mrs. Merkle (Mrs. Miracle) came to
the rescue. Strange thing was that she wasn't from the
employment center that Webster requested! She got a
long with the kids so well, helped cook, clean she even
was a matchmaker for lonely Webster! The kids had a
school Christmas play and the one in charge Reba who
is also alone and depressed because of her past
relationship. What a great matchmaker Mrs. Merkle
planned. Watch the movie to see how she works her
magic.  People just love this kind of movie. When it
gets to that season, it's fun to just kind of curl up and
enter a little fantasyland and forget about your day for
an hour or two.
Yes, Natalie, there IS a Santa Claus. The original
classic Miracle on 34th Street follows the
misadventures of a kindly old man, Kris Kringle, as he
gets a job playing Santa Claus at Macy's department
store in New York City. Natalie Wood is the precocious
little girl, Susan, who tells him she doesn't believe in
Santa, Maureen O'Hara her level headed business
executive mother and John Payne is the Junior Lawyer
next door neighbor, Fred Gailey.  Kris is put on trial to
be institutionalized as insane - "Anyone who believes
himself to be Santa Claus is obviously insane!". Gailey
must help Kris through a trial in which he must prove
he's the real jolly fellow from the North Pole.

"Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to.
Don't you see? It's not just Kris that's on trial, it's
everything he stands for. It's kindness and joy and love
and all the other intangibles."

Generations have come to love this heart-warming tale,
and no holiday season would be complete without
seeing this perennial favorite come to life.
The over-organized business woman and mom to little
Brian, Jennifer must prepare the Christmas Dinner. His
dad left after his birth. Jen's mother - normally
prepares the turkey for Christmas day - has suddenly
cancelled the visit. That pushes Jen into a disaster not
knowing how to cook. But retired cop Uncle Ralph is
coming. Jen's fiancé, from a rich and snobby family, is
not happy about that fact as he does not like this
easygoing and humorous ex-cop at all. Uncle Ralph is
played by fabulous Henry Winkler - and he really
makes this movie something special! Uncle Ralph
having a "perfect nose" for good or bad guys picks up
a very good looking but little bit of a "rolling stone"
chef, Morgan, from the benches of the airport. With a
bit of trickery Morgan gets them upgraded to First
Class and after some hours on the plane they become
good friends. After he finds out that preparing a turkey
is one of his specialities Uncle Ralph has a plan ..... a
slightly mischievious but good hearted uncle works a
little Christmas magic in his niece's life.
The Nativity Story is just about as perfunctory and old-
fashioned as can be. This is partly by design. It's
obviously meant to appeal to the widest possible
audience without causing offense. Keisha Castle-
Hughes makes a thoughtful Mary and Oscar Isaac is a
stalwart, unassuming Joseph, but Irish actor Ciarán
Hinds steals the show as evil King Herod, eager to slay
all the children of Bethelehem in order that prophecy
not come to pass. This film's idea of comic relief is a
trio of droll magi who joke about maps and camels on
their way to Bethlehem. The one shot that had the
power to take my breath away, and that’s the
overhead view of all the shepherds outside Bethlehem
making their way down the slope into town, each in his
own isolation, following after the angels heard on high
in puzzlement and wonder. It’s straight out of scripture,
of course, but it somehow summons up the spirit of the
Bible stories, in all their simultaneous grandeur and
weirdness. One doesn't have to be a believer to enjoy
this film. Religion isn't pushed down our throats and
events are left open to individual interpretation.
Let me get this out of the way right now: I'm pretty sure
kids will love The Polar Express. While I like to think
that I still have an inner child, Robert Zemeckis's latest
cinematic stunt just rubbed me the wrong way.

A young boy (billed as Hero Boy) who has ceased to
believe in Santa Claus, On Christmas Eve, he awakes
- or does he? - to the thundering sound of the Polar
Express, which pulls up right outside his door. Invited
on by a conductor, the boy meets some new chums,
has video-game-styled adventures, and learns to
believe again. The Polar Express has a bland doll in
Hero Boy and repetitive roller-coaster theatrics for its
adventure.

The Polar Express succeeds in fits and starts - some
excitement is generated in the pursuit of a golden
ticket - but only finds itself in its half-hour-long ending,
in which the children infiltrate the secret machinery of
Christmas. My biggest problem: Hero Boy boards a
magical train to the North Pole, sees thousands of
elves, a wonderous village, the toy workshop, a HUGE
sleigh absolutely stuffed to the gills with presents.
After seeing all this he still HAS to SEE Santa Claus
with his own eyes before he can believe? This kid's
got some serious trust issues
No one does Christmas magic like the puppeteers at
Rankin-Bass. Rudolph, of course, is our hero, son of
Donner, who's embarrassed by his "special" son and
says horrible things like "There are more important
things than comfort" and tries to cover up Rudolph's
red nose with a mud pack. But Rudolph's got a whole
troop of wonderful misfits along on his adventure:
Hermey, the elf who doesn't want to be a cooperative
cog, who refuses to join in "elf practice," who wants to
be a dentist - the prospector Yukon Cornelius, a loner
and adventurer; the poor, misunderstood Abominable
Snow Monster of the North; and an entire island of
misfit toys that Santa Claus gives away to unsuspecting
boys and girls. Who wouldn't want a bird that swims or
a cowboy riding an ostrich? Rudolph benefits from
some fine vocal performances. The show offers likable,
charming characters. As with most Christmas specials,
Rudolph comes with a basic moral, but it doesn’t pound
us over the head with it. Instead, it packages its
message with a lot of humor and charm. The show
definitely merits its status as a Christmas classic.
The story of how Santa Claus came to be is brought to
life through the magic of Rankin-Bass in this Christmas-
themed production for the family. A friendly postman
(Fred Astaire) explains how friendly Kris Kringle
(Mickey Rooney), a foundling taken in by a family of
toymakers, took it upon himself to bring some
happiness to the children of Sombertown, despite the
grumpy opposition of Burgermeister Meisterburger
(voice of Paul Frees) and the Winter Warlock (voice of
Keenan Wynn).  This movie answers a lot of the
questions Santa gets emailed to him every year…  
where he came from, why he wears a red suit, why he
lives at the North Pole, and why he comes down the
chimney and leaves presents in stockings. In the end
the postman shows a montage of people hating on
Christmas. Ebenezer Scrooge, retail workers, and
cynics are shown to be the only ones to dislike Santa
Claus. The postman calls these people misguided and
acknowledges that there is unhappiness in the world.
However, he and myself, both see Christmas as a time
for people to set aside the problems of the world for
one day and celebrate joy and life.
A unique take on the Santa Claus mythology which
explains how the jolly old guy manages to continue his
benevolent works for centuries. When Santa falls off
the roof of toy executive Scott Calvin's house Christmas
seems to be doomed. His ten year old son Charlie
convinces him to put on the suit and finish making the
deliveries. At the end of a long grueling night the
reindeer take the sleigh back to the North Pole with
Scott & son aboard. The Head elf, Bernard, explains to
Calvin that by putting on the suit and entering the
sleigh he became subject to the "Santa Clause" -
legalese where Scott relinquishes the right to his own
identity and is now the new Santa - whether he likes it
or not. He wakes up the next morning convinced it was
all a dream - but Charlie knows the truth. Over the next
year he grows fatter, his hair turns white and he grows
a long beard - no matter how much he shaves. Will he
remember in time to deliver next Christmas's gifts?
My personal favorite version of Dickens's A Christmas
Carol. In this musical tale Albert Finney plays the
irascible miser Ebenezer Scrooge. In 1860, the stingy
and cranky Ebenezer Scrooge that hates Christmas;
loathes people and defends the decrease of the
surplus of poor population runs his bank exploiting his
employee Bob Cratchit and clients, giving a bitter
treatment to his own nephew and acquaintances.
However, on Christmas Eve, he is visited by the
doomed ghost of his former partner Jacob Marley who
tells him that three spirits would visit him that night.
The first one, the spirit of past Christmas, recalls his
miserable youth when he lost his only love due to his
greed (try not to tear up when old Scrooge sings "You
were good to me"); the spirit of the present Christmas
shows him the poor situation of Bob's family and how
joyful life may be; and the spirit of future Christmas
shows his fate. Scrooge finds that life is good and time
is too short and suddenly you are not there anymore,
changing his behavior toward Christmas, Bob, his
nephew and people in general.
The Bill Murray comedy updates a lot about the story
of A Christmas Carol - the miser in need of spiritual
redemption is snarky TV executive Frank Cross, not a
grumpy old man, for example. But while the Ghost of
Christmas Past is an uproarious, cigar-chomping dead
New York Taxi driver (with a time-traveling vehicle), he
still manages to get a tear or two our of Cross as he
witnesses his joyless, TV-obsessed childhood. He's
also a lot more fun than most ghouls. The Ghost of
Christmas Present is a sweet little winged fairy with an
S&M fetish, and the Ghost of Christmas future - a ten
foot tall black rag robbed skeleton with major digestive
issues.

Scrooged is one of the most memorable and
entertaining adaptations of the famous Christmas tale
I have watched.
While not strictly a Christmas Movie, Serendipity does
start and end on Christmas Eve - Starring John
Cusack and Kate Beckinsale, is about two people
living on different sides of the country who start
searching for each other only days before their
individual weddings because they both had the most
wonderful night of their lives together several years in
the past. Jonathan and Sarah meet while Christmas
shopping as they each grab the last pair of Black
cashmere gloves off the display rack. They decide to
spend the evening together but must part because
each already has a significant other. The movie is
about fate's sense of humor, as the two hopelessly
search for each other and several times cross paths,
only to miss each other by mere seconds. It is
frustrating yet funny, and, like I said, probably wouldn't
be as great except for that is the point of the movie.

Serendipity probably gets away with a few more
coincidences than other romance comedies do for
name's sake, but going in expecting a quirky comedy
like this, I don't really think you can be disappointed. It
isn't hilarious, but it is amusing, entertaining and
romantic, and fits well with John Cusack's other hits.
Do you want to see Ben Affleck get beaned with a
shovel by Tony Soprano? Then this is the movie for
you. Successful ad executive Drew Latham is alone
this Christmas. No family, no friends, he doesn't get
why his girlfriend would prefer to be with her family
during the holiday rather than spend it with him in Fiji.
He rents the family living in his childhood home in
order to try to recapture the magic of Christmases
past. He then drives the family crazy but in order for
them to collect the $250,000 fee they must put up with
his ridiculous overindulgence for Christmas cheer. The
addition of daughter Alicia (Christina Applegate) into
the story brings a delightful romantic angle, and why
not in a Christmas film? Of course its corny and
contrived; he's rich and handsome, she's beautiful and
single, and so inevitably her and Affleck end up falling
over together in the snow and finding themselves face
to face. Surviving Christmas is by no means a great
film, but it is certainly not as bad as it has been
labelled. An offbeat comedy that when given the
chance to shine in its own right, works quite well. Take
it for what is it, a Christmas comedy with a love twist.
Once again The Ultimate Gift is not a Christmas story
but, as the title suggests, it fits with the season of
giving. Also Christmas does play an important role in
the film. Jason Stevens is a spoiled rich kid - never had
to work a day in his life. He's got everything he could
possibly want, great apartment, fast car, big trust fund,
beautiful girlfriend. His grandfather and patriarch of the
Stevens family dies. During the reading of the will each
member of the family gets a big inheritance but each
comes with a catch. Jason had a very simple
relationship with his impossibly wealthy Grandfather,
Howard "Red" Stevens. He hated him. No heart-to-
heart talks, no warm and fuzzies, just cold hard cash.
So of course he figured that when Red died, the whole
"reading of the will" thing would be another simple cash
transaction, that his Grandfather's money would allow
him to continue living in the lifestyle to which he had
become accustomed. But what Red left him was
anything but simple. Red instead devised a plan for
Jason to experience a crash course on life. A series of
gifts culminating in the ultimate gift - a must see movie
for any time of the year.
A tween romp that gets off to a grating start, the film
nevertheless settles into a blandly formulaic groove as
soothingly predictable as a grade-school pageant or a
cable Christmas special. The frantic, high-decibel
opening introduces the main characters via their
manner of interacting with mall Santas: Brainiac
Charlie Goldfinch (Tyler James Williams) faints,
spoiled rich-girl Grace Conrad (Gina Mantegna) flirts,
hostile tomboy Donna Malone (Quinn Shephard) slugs
him, and awkward Spencer Davenport (Dyllan
Christopher) clambers onto St. Nick's lap to reassure
his bratty little sister, Katherine (Dominique Saldana),
and is instantly labeled a dork. All are traveling without
adult supervision on Christmas Eve - modern family
complications, you know - and they all get snowed in
at Midwestern Hoover Airport, along with cranky
supervisor Oliver Porter (Lewis Black), who was about
to leave for his first Christmas vacation in 15 years
and is instead trapped with throngs of disgruntled
passengers - and mischievous unaccompanied minors.