Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Top 10 Christmas Movies and Specials

I love Christmas. This comes as a shock to no one who knows me. I have so much Christmas music I can't get through it all every year. I have boxes of decorations in the garage that I bring out every year. And I have a list of specials and movies that I must watch every year in December.

Okay, so I never make it all the way through my list, but I try. The month is just too busy with Christmas parties and shopping and seeing friends and family. You know, the stuff that makes Christmas so wonderful. But here are the movies and specials that top my list every year.

10. The Star of Christmas
This is the second Christmas special done by the VeggieTales gang. In it, Bob the Tomato plays a music composer who decides that he can teach the world peace by with Christmas musical spectacular. But the little church across town has an attraction he doesn't, the fable Star of Christmas. This was one of the first VeggieTales to be 45 minutes long. The writers weren't quite comfortable with the format yet, so I find the pacing uneven. Yet I still enjoy it every time I stick it in.

9. Mickey's Christmas Carol
Okay, so I love the story of A Christmas Carol period. It will be popping up another couple times on my list. This animated one cast the familiar Disney characters in the roles, with Scrooge McDuck as, well, Scrooge, and Mickey as Bob Cratchit. It's only 30 minutes long, but they manage to hit all the important points. And with Goofy as Marley's Ghost, it really isn't that scary. This is a good way to introduce kids to the classic.

8. Frosty the Snowman
I watched this every year as a kid, and it's still a sentimental favorite. I do find it rather slow while watching it as an adult. But you've got to love the classic tale of a snowman who comes to life thanks to a magician's discarded hat. The show is funny and heartwarming. "Happy Birthday."

7. Miracle on 34th Street
I expect to get in trouble for this one. No, this isn't the 1947 classic with Natalie Wood but the 1994 remake with Mara Wilson. The old one just doesn't do it for me. But this version captures the wonder of childhood innocence and the magic that is Christmas. I take remakes on a case by case basis, but this is one that definitely works.

6. The Toy that Saved Christmas
The Veggie's first Christmas offering is my next selection. While the animation is much cruder (this is 1994 after all), the story about a toy that searches for the real meaning of Christmas is great. And it gets extra points for the silly song. I absolutely love "Oh Santa."

5. Muppet Christmas Carol
If I want to watch the classic story but laugh along the way, I choose this version. Humans and Muppets interact to create a funny version of the Christmas classic. But don't think it isn't faithful to the book. They add and change some things, but it sticks very close to Dickens' story, even having Gonzo narrate parts from the book. This one may frighten the kids in places, but it shouldn't for very long. And most of the original songs are wonderful, too. I wish I had the soundtrack.

4. The Santa Clause
While I enjoyed the sequels, the original is still the best. Tim Allen plays Scott Calvin who is in for a shock when he accidentally becomes the new Santa. While he tries to deny it, changes keep happening to him that he just can't explain away. Funny and touching family comedy.

3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Don't even bother with the live action version. Stick with the classic 1966 animated cartoon. The animation perfectly captures Dr. Seuss's story, which is basically Christmas Carol light. Boris Karloff's voice work balances the sinister with the humor. And you have to love "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch."

2. A Charlie Brown Christmas
It's just not Christmas without this classic. Charlie Brown searches for the true meaning of the season in the midst of all the commercialization. And if he thought things were bad in 1965, he would die if he saw it today. The jazzy soundtrack adds to the charm of this special. This is the one I absolutely must watch every single year.

1. A Christmas Carol
Everyone seems to have their favorite version of this classic story. For me, that version is the 1984 TV movie starring George C. Scott. The acting and special effects are great and the ending is so emotional I cry. Granted, Marley used to scare me all year long and I still tense up just before he appears. Okay, okay, I'm a fraidy cat. My family loves to watch this movie together every year around the Christmas tree.

So there you have it. 10 classic specials and movies guaranteed to spread the Christmas cheer.

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