The Story Geeks blogger Ashley Pauls responds with an additional perspective to the same topic discussed in this week’s special holiday podcast – our favorite Christmas films. Want to share your own take? Join the conversation in The Story Geeks Facebook group!
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5. The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe
So technically, this is probably cheating, because it’s not actually a Christmas movie — it’s an episode of Doctor Who. However, I couldn’t resist including it because A) the annual Christmas special is one of my favorite Doctor Who traditions, and B) the Doctor Who Christmas specials sort of work as mini movies/standalone stories anyway.
This holiday special features Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor in a story that loosely borrows from C.S. Lewis’ beloved classic “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” from the Chronicles of Narnia series.
In the episode, the Doctor travels back in time to WWII and meets a mother and her two children. The children’s father, who is fighting in the war, is now missing in action, but the mother doesn’t want to tell them yet, hoping to keep the Christmas spirit alive for a little while longer.
The Doctor leads the family on an adventure to a magical, snowy forest populated by mysterious creatures (sound familiar?), and ends up saving the day in a genuinely heartwarming way that’s perfect for a Christmas special.
“The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear!”
Buddy the Elf’s enthusiasm for life — and the holidays — is both infectious and endearing. In another person, this loud exuberance might be just a little bit annoying; however, Buddy is so genuine — and hey, it’s Christmas! — that you can’t help feeling excited too (or at least I can’t).
For me, “Elf” is a perfect feel-good holiday movie, featuring Will Ferrell playing a regular human who thinks he’s an elf from Santa’s workshop. There are plenty of funny scenes (one of my favorites is Buddy preparing a special spaghetti “meal,” which consists of noodles piled high with sickeningly sweet ingredients like syrup and sprinkles). The film also has a nice message about reconnecting with family and spreading the Christmas spirit.
3. A Charlie Brown Christmas
It just doesn’t feel like Christmas until I’ve watched the Charlie Brown holiday special at least once.
It’s hard to believe this animated special is more than 50 years old, because it feels just as charming when I watch it today. There are so many great elements — from Snoopy’s holiday decoration hijinks, to the jazzy Christmas score from Vince Guaraldi (which makes me smile whenever I hear it on the radio during the holidays).
Sometimes the themes in Christmas movies can be portrayed in a way that’s a little heavy-handed, but the tone in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is just right.
Although Charlie is mocked for choosing a scraggly-looking tree, it highlights Charlie’s kind heart and his belief that everyone is special and worthy of love. And Linus’ narration of the Christmas story is a quietly powerful moment, as he reminds everyone that the holidays are about more than just commercialism.
2. Christmas Vacation
“Christmas Vacation” may not be on quite the same level as some of the other famous holiday classics (it’s no “White Christmas” or “It’s a Wonderful Life”), but I really do love it, and it’s another one of those movies that I have to watch at least once during the holidays.
It’s even funnier than the original “Vacation,” and revisits the Griswold family during the holidays. Clark Griswold is determined to give his family the perfect Christmas, which includes decorating the house with an insane number of Christmas lights, packing the house with waaay too many relatives, and generally driving his neighbors crazy.
Although Clark creates more problems than he solves, he does succeed in making Christmas memorable, and he’s reminded that family and friendship is what the holidays are really all about.
1. The Muppet Christmas Carol
There are many, many film versions of Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol.” But this one is definitely my favorite, because it combines one of the greatest Christmas stories with the Muppets (and who doesn’t love the Muppets?).
I love seeing all my favorite Muppet characters pop up in this Victorian tale, and the songs are lots of fun too (my husband’s family enjoys watching this movie together and singing along with the characters). Plus, Michael Caine makes a great Scrooge!
Still, even though this is a lighter take on “A Christmas Carol” than some of the other versions, the message about Scrooge and his greed remains an important one. Scrooge glimpses a version of his future where he dies alone, all his wealth meaning nothing in the end. Thankfully, he’s given a chance to change his ways and use his money for a better purpose: helping those in need.