It seems that we now have every Christmas movie imaginable. What with Hollywood re-doing every classic story with modern twists, and the Hallmark Channel giving us a zillion movies about Santa falling in love. It’s easy to get lost in the blizzard of holiday entertainment. If the storm is overwhelming you and you’re ready to say “enough is enough, let’s get back to our usual fair of hopeless, excessive, big-budget movies”, then let me remind you of some of the Christmas movies that are still worth seeing. Here are my favorites.
1. The Muppet Christmas Carol
This movie has all the elements of a great Christmas movie. It’s lots of fun with humor added all along the way, keeping it from ever getting too heavy. At the same time, Dicken’s message of redemption is still loud and clear. The songs are catchy. The movie looks and feels old-fashioned, charming, and magical.
2. Home Alone
Besides being a clever story about a boy who is left alone in his home to fend off a couple of bumbling crooks, this is one of the great Christmas stories of our time. What better way for a boy Scrooge to learn what’s important in life than to be suddenly without a family during Christmas. The music in this movie alone is heart-warming and brings me into the Christmas spirit every time.
3. Christmas Vacation
I don’t recommend this one for the kids due to off-color jokes and crass words, but for laugh-out-loud comedy coupled with a great story, you can’t beat this classic. Many other Christmas and non-Christmas movies have tried to duplicate the success of the over-enthusiastic-dad storyline made popular in the vacation movies. Chevy Chase, however, is still the king of that character. His loveable goofiness, coupled with the writing of the National Lampoon wrapped in a family Christmas tale, makes for timeless entertainment.
4. How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Technically, this is not a movie. It’s actually a 26 minute animated Christmas Special from 1966. I had to include it, because it’s my all-time favorite Christmas story. I looked forward to it’s airing every year as a child and teenager. It was and still is funny, creative, and it teaches a wonderful lesson. The live-action version with Jim Carrey didn’t have quite the same magic for me. Dr. Seuss’s original is still one of the best of all time.
5. The Christmas Carol (2009)
I included this version, mostly because it sticks closer to Charles Dickens’ original story. It’s a much darker, and even more frightening telling of the story then, the Muppet version mentioned above. That’s probably how Dickens meant for his story to be taken, as a ghost story. I don’t recommend this adaptation for smaller kids, but for older crowds it’s great entertainment. The computer animated characters and heavy special effects are visually stunning. Because of the darker nature of this movie, the change-your-ways-or-go-to-hell storyline is center stage from start to finish. That’s one of my favorite things about this version of the Christmas Carol. I just wish Dickens hadn’t left out the most important part of the story; salvation only happens through Jesus Christ. Oh well. This story certainly brings us close to that truth. Maybe an occasional viewer will reach that conclusion on their own after seeing this powerful movie.