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Must See Christmas Movies
I have always been a movie fan who watches movies around the holiday season. Christmas is a wonderful time of year to revisit some of my favorite movies from the past, and to discover some new gems. When I was younger I used to spend hours enjoying classics such as It's A Wonderful Life, which has a great life lesson for anyone who takes the great things in their life for granted. A Christmas Story and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation were new movies when I was a kid, but these are newer classics over the last two decades. For romance lovers there are movies such as Love Actually and The Holiday, which have now become two of my favorite romantic comedies around Christmas. There are many must see movies around the Christmas season, but in this hub I will be discussing only a few of my favorites. In the comments section you are welcome to share some of your own favorite Christmas classics.
A Christmas Story
A Christmas Story was one of my favorites as a child. Between the ages of four and seven I was not allowed to celebrate Christmas because we were part of a rigid religious group that thought this holiday was evil, so I used to live vicariously through kids on movies. We used to get Christmas presents from our grandparents and opened these on Christmas day, but we were not allowed to have a Christmas tree or call this Christmas. Thus, during those years I was in awe of movies such as A Christmas Story where characters such as Ralphie were able to pine over their hoped for Christmas present. Although I have always hated guns myself, even the toy ones creep me out, I could always sympathize with Ralphie wanting something people told him was not good for him. How do adults know what is always good for kids anyway? The answer: they pretend to do, but are often clueless.
During the years when we were Jehovah's Witnesses I kept telling my mom I wanted a Christmas tree and to go on field trips caroling, but I always had a group of adults to tell me I was wrong. Eventually my mom began to realize this group was ridiculous and we left, but not before I had a chance encounter to tell a JW at the grocery store I thought Christmas a fun and innocent holiday. She got very flustered and tried to tell me people did not have to celebrate Christmas because they could drink hot coco with their family instead.
That afternoon driving home my mom was really upset I had spoken up to an adult in such a fashion, but later on she realized I was just being a kid expressing my opinion. I never said that other people could not be Jehovah's Witnesses, I simply expressed the desire to be able to have a Christmas tree and go caroling with our school choir. As a child I did have a tendency to tell adults my opinion and I know this is not always socially acceptable, but looking back I am happy I stood up for myself. A Christmas Story was somewhat of an inspiration for me speaking my mind because Ralphie was never afraid to let silly adults know that sometimes kids are right about things.
It's A Wonderful Life
It's A Wonderful Life is a Christmas classic that I am sure pretty much everyone has seen it on television at least once a year. Has there ever been a time in your life when you ponder if you had made another choice, and if this fork in the road would have lead you to a better set of circumstances? We all tend to dream about what might have been, but It's A Wonderful Life is a great movie for reminding us of all the things for which we can be truly thankful.
James Stewart plays George Bailey in this movie, and he just happens to be one of my favorite actors and cute in a very stable/family guy sort of way. He does not have the rugged good looks of Clark Gable or the pretty boyish looks of Frank Sinatra, but Stewart reminds me of a handsome and secure man you would love to take home to mom. I have always felt this way when watching James Stewart and he is still one of my favorite actors to this day. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when George and Mary (Donna Reed) fall into the pool because they do not notice the dance hall is opening up. Maybe another reason I always like the It's A Wonderful Life was because the Donna Reed Show was one of my favorites on Nick at Nite as a child.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Now we are getting to my absolute childhood favorite because Chevy Chase has always been one of my favorite comedic actors, and I thoroughly love the National Lampoon's series ranging from Animal House, Vacation, European Vacation, Christmas Vacation, and Vegas Vacation. All of these movies are silly and zany in the true National Lampoon's fashion, but Christmas Vacation is a favorite because it brings a new and fun spin to the Christmas season.
Unlike the perfectly marketed family that always says and does the right things in Christmas movies, the Griswolds actually argue and the kids do not always get along. Not that kids should fight all the time, but it is highly unrealistic to expect that siblings will always agree. Watching Russ and Audrey argue about the mundane brings back some of the funny arguments I had with my sisters around Christmas.
One thing I always find humorous is Clark Griswold's (Chevy Chase) obsession with having the perfect family Christmas no matter how much bickering and chaos occurs. Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) makes me chuckle with his silly dog and his guilbility to do exactly what Clark asked, such as bringing his boss to to the house tied up in a big red bow. Yes Cousin Eddie is very much out there, but his character made the Vacation films highly watchable.
I like National Lampoon's European Vacation to some extent, but it lacked a little je ne sais quoi because Cousin Eddie was not there. The National Lampoon's movies are not for those who are sensitive or easily offended, but it is fun fare for those who like a laugh and try not to take everything so seriously. I will definitely be watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation this season.
Love Actually is a British comedy-drama for adults who can be cynical and even jaded about love. However, the wonderful thing about this film is it shows how love can be in real life, not just how romance is in a fantasy fairy tale. I appreciate the humor and characters in Love Actually because they are believable, which is a comfort to know around the holiday season when many movies take on a fakedy fakey happy facade. For example, my favorite character Colin (Kris Marshall) appears to be dorky and socially awkward when it comes to approaching women, but I like his faith in himself and his ability to take a chance by going to America to find romance.
Hugh Grant is also one of my all time favorite actors and in this movie he plays the British prime minister in love with his assistant, which shows how politics can be a sordid and very mixed up affair, but this movie does it in a very entertaining way. Daniel (Liam Neeson) plays a touching man who has just lost his wife, but he is able to renew his belief in love by giving his step-son tips on how to woo a new crush. Karen (Emma Thompson) is a faithful and dedicated wife/mother who always does the right thing for her family, even when it means her husband is forgetful and is contemplating having an affair.
However, what I find most true about this movie is sometimes love is not reciprocated, loved ones die, loved ones cheat, but this does not mean we stop believing in love. The Christmas season is a time when we can renew our conviction that love will come into our life one day in one form or another, and it is better to have loved than to be afraid to love. Love Actually is a great film for adults who want comedy with a bit of realism in the mix. Unfortunately my wonky noodle DVD player ate my Love Actually DVD, so I will have to be replacing it in the near future.
Last, but not least, is one of my new Christmas favorites called The Holiday. This movie features to of my favorite actresses, Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, who respectively play a British and an American woman who have been jilted in love. I have never had a boyfriend cheat on me in a relationship, but I can completely identify with being taken for granted as Kate Winslet's character was in this movie. The ladies decide to get away from their surrounding and house swap for the Christmas season, which results in comedy and new romance in their journeys.
When I first watched this movie it vaguely reminded me of the novel Tara Road by Maeve Binchy, which is a story of an American and an Irish women who house swap to take a breather from some life changing circumstances. However, this movie is much different, but for some reason I always think of the book Tara Road when I watch it, which is a good read if you are looking for a new novel. The Holiday is not a complicated film, but it is enjoyable to watch over a cup of hot coco during the Christmas season. I hope everyone has fun watching Christmas movies and feel free to share some of your favorites below.