Thursday, December 08, 2011

Holiday Film Treats

Merely thinking about certain movies can boost my holiday spirit. No, I don’t mean IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. I know I’m being sacrilegious, but that’s not one of my favorites. I’m talking about movies like the original MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET with Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn. Or MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS with Judy Garland. Or A CHRISTMAS STORY with Darren McGavin. Or THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL with Kermit, Miss Piggy and Michael Caine. Those are the old traditional ones. But get I the same feeling when recalling some off-beat flicks like SCRPPGED, TRAPPED IN PARADISE, STUART SAVES HIS FAMILY, THE GRINCH, ELF and THE POLAR EXPRESS.

What do these films have in common? Most of them deliver stories filled with humor and messages of hope -– all wrapped up in an entertaining cinematic package. MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, ELF, and THE POLAR EXPRESS tell us we shouldn’t stop believing in the spirit of Christmas, no matter how old we are. MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS and A CHRISTMAS STORY celebrate the importance of love, family and friends during the holidays, while STUART SAVES HIS FAMILY emphasizes why someone from a dysfunctional family is also “good enough and smart enough” to deserve a Merry Christmas. TRAPPED IN PARADISE highlights the way kindness can change even the most highly motivated robbers (Nicolas Cage, Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz); THE GRINCH illustrates the power of a child’s innate goodness to bring about redemption; SCROOGED depicts a modern-day Scrooge’s (Bill Murray) change of heart; and THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL gives that classic Dickens tale an amusing Muppet spin – with expert help from Michael Caine as Scrooge.

Wonderful scenes from many of these films pop into my mind during the holiday season: Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) daydreaming about how impressed the teacher will be with his essay describing what he wants for Christmas (A CHRISTMAS as STORY); Stuart Smalley (Al Franken) telling his good friend he’ll be her father when she needs one, and she can be his mother when he needs one (STUART SAVES HIS FAMILY); Judy Garland warbling “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS); Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel singing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (ELF); Jim Carrey, as THE GRINCH, trying to turn his dog Max into Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer; and most touching of all –- Robin the Frog, as Tiny Tim in THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL, shouting “God bless us, everyone!”

Fortunately, most of these films are available on DVD and can be enjoyed over and over again.

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