Christmas Treats (Other Than Your Aunt Mildred’s Gingersnaps)

Christmas Treats: Introduction

Posted by on Jan 2, 2012 in Christmas Treats (Other Than Your Aunt Mildred's Gingersnaps) | 0 comments

Christmas Treats: Introduction

“Merry Christmas, movie house!” – George Bailey You may have noticed I labeled this chapter in violation of political correctness and with full knowledge of religious denomination. The fact is, quite simply, I’ve yet to see a single Hanukkah, Kwanza, or Festivus film that’s any good. If you have one to suggest, by all means I’d love to see it and include it in this volume. Besides that fact, the holiday season rarely injects the spirit of Jesus or Godliness into me, but the spirit of...

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The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

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The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Disclaimer: Some young ones may find some of the creatures a tad freaky. While the Grinch and Rudolph have been holiday standards for decades, the highly eccentric mind of Tim Burton unleashed this uniquely satisfying blend of both and introduced us to the most visually stunning cinematic space of the decade. It is, in fact, the first film fully animated through the stop-motion technique, taking the filmmakers three years to complete and leading to an Oscar nomination for visual effects, only...

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Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

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Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Disclaimer: Sweeter than a dozen candy canes. Santa Claus is alive and well and living at a nursing home in Long Island; that is, when he’s not working at Macy’s in New York. Such is the premise of this holiday classic that remains a timeless slice of holiday spirit and manages to speak to audiences as poignantly today as it did originally during the post-war era of consumerism. For the scrooges or grinches who have grown weary and no longer believe in Kris Kringle, I implore them to watch...

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Elf (2003)

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Elf (2003)

Disclaimer: Intoxicatingly humorous, including one scene where the elf is, in fact, intoxicated. Elf is an instant holiday classic and one of the best festive releases in recent years. When boiled down, Elf is a clever blend of familiar elements from other holiday favorites including a plot from Miracle on 34th Street, a cameo by Peter Billingsley (Ralphie from A Christmas Story), and several characters from claymation specials such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. David Berenbaum’s story...

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A Christmas Story (1983)

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A Christmas Story (1983)

Disclaimer: Mumbled swearing (that isn’t the word “fudge”), beating up bullies, triple dog dares, and – as if you didn’t know – shooting eyes out. A Christmas Story’s appeal is obvious and almost rectifies the 24-hour marathons we gleefully entertain each December. It’s an accurate portrayal of a middle class Midwestern childhood – at least it mirrors a lot of things I encountered – and simultaneously a nostalgic venture for middle-aged adults because childhoods of this generation mean...

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A Christmas Carol (1938 to 2009)

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A Christmas Carol (1938 to 2009)

Disclaimer: Some content that’ll scare little ones, and some parents will find much of Scrooged inappropriate for pre-teens, but an otherwise harmless morality tale. I know it can’t possibly be the most adapted story of all time, but A Christmas Carol has got to be up there. Filmmakers have told it (and retold it) more than 80 times, for god’s sake – and there’s no sign of stopping. Hell, even The Flintstones, Jetsons, Looney Tunes, Barbie, and Mickey Mouse have gotten in on the act. So why...

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Home Alone (1990)

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Home Alone (1990)

Disclaimer: A few ripe words and some cartoonish violence. The rapid, record-breaking success at the box office ($533 million worldwide) quickly made this mindless holiday flick ripe for parody. And there’s plenty to mock (like most John Hughes films), starting with the image of Macaulay Culkin holding his hands to his cheeks and making like Edvard Munch (that would be a reference to “The Scream”) after putting on aftershave – shown not once, but twice during the movie and shamelessly used for...

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The Santa Clause (1994)

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The Santa Clause (1994)

Disclaimer: Those children with good reasoning may feel compelled to kill Santa. Whether the idea for The Santa Clause sprouted from an unintentional misspelling or a direct reference to Chico Marx’s “sanity clause” bit, writers Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick (the team behind Space Jam and Kicking & Screaming) obviously and fleetingly took pride in discovering a new meaning for Santa Claus by the simple addition of an “E.” Thanks to that little vowel, the duo penned three holiday...

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Prancer (1989)

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Prancer (1989)

Disclaimer: Just like real 9 year-olds, a fictional one has to grapple with religion, economic status, and the existence of Santa Claus. Filmmakers often entice families to theaters around the holidays with the promise of enough cheer to take them clear through the winter’s harsh weather and mounting bills. The films almost always begin with something bleak that poses a challenge to a family or holiday spirit. The main character or characters must then overcome those challenges to restore...

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Christmas Treats: Other Recommended Titles

Posted by on Jan 1, 2012 in Christmas Treats (Other Than Your Aunt Mildred's Gingersnaps) | 0 comments

Christmas Treats: Other Recommended Titles

Arthur Christmas (2011): Another movie that uses its own rubric for explaining how Santa gets it done, and has the exact same “what’s really important” message, but the way in which it does it is too fun to ignore. Multiple generations of Santa clash (because the methods they employ to deliver presents vary wildly) and lose focus of the meaning of Christmas. The breakneck pace and nods to action filmography require slightly older viewership, but everyone will agree that...

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Christmas Treats: For Adults Only

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Christmas Treats: For Adults Only

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946): Like eating apple pie, playing baseball, and hanging Norman Rockwell art, watching Frank Capra movies like this one means celebrating America. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010): Those who have actually read Grimm’s Fairy Tales and works of Hans Christian Anderson (and haven’t just seen the tame adaptations) know that there’s some seriously dark and creepy stuff going on. Scandinavian folklore has some similarly crazy stories about gift-bringers on Christmas...

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