Christmas Countdown: Holiday Movie Guide

It’s so cold! Sounds like the perfect excuse to me to stay indoors with a good movie, my baby and our two fat warm kitties, and some hot coffee! (Put a dollop of Peppermint Mocha Coffee-Mate in it – tastes good in hot cocoa too!) Here are my recommendations, as well as some I’d recommend against!

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Lovable Charlie Brown becomes frustrated with the over-commercialism of Christmas and goes looking for its real meaning. Leave it to Linus to weigh in with a timely speech like he always does. If you didn’t catch this one on TV, pick it up on DVD or Blu-ray. I bought mine in a three pack of Charlie Brown holiday DVDs (with six TV specials total – two on each disc).
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A Garfield Christmas

Back in the good old days, this special came on right after Charlie Brown’s. Garfield, Jon, and Odie pack up to visit Jon’s family on the farm and hang with Grandma and crew. I love old school Garfield so much. I don’t think you can watch this on TV anymore, but currently, this is found as one of three specials on the Garfield Holiday Celebrations DVD.
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The Muppet Christmas Carol

Gonzo pretends to be Charles Dickens long enough to take viewers through a fabulous musical version of the classic story. Michael Caine is one of my favorite Scrooges ever, and Kermit the Frog plays the perfectly affable Bob Cratchit! And in what other movie can you find a cart of vegetables singing about how terrible Scrooge is?
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Christmas Eve on Sesame Street

Why do I not own this? Make fun of me all you want; I ADORE this special! Big Bird worries over Santa Claus in his typical neurotic fashion, Bert and Ernie unintentionally re-enact The Gift of the Magi, Oscar gleefully wrecks people’s Christmases and Cookie Monster eats everything in sight.
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How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Well, I couldn’t not put this brief special in here. It’s not one of my absolute favorites, but I enjoy it nonetheless. I’m talking about the original, not the remake with Jim Carrey, which looks horrendous. (I think I might’ve actually watched it at some point and blocked it out of my memory because it was too painful to retain)
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Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer

This is one of my absolute favorites – the Rudolph story in stop-motion animation complete with an abominable snow monster! But watching this movie as an adult does make one take notice of some things. For starters, gee, thanks Donner for saying searching for your son is “man’s work”. Secondly, don’t you think it’s a little messed up to introduce a “misfit” bird who can’t fly, and THEN show us a scene of Santa tossing him out of his sleigh from 10,000 feet? And WOW – the reindeer (including Rudolph’s parents and coach), Santa, and all the elves are SO MEAN! The adults even encourage the kids to make fun of Rudolph and ostracize him! OHHH but what’s that, his nose can help guide a sleigh? Guess those who are different are only acceptable when you can use ’em for something, huh Santa? You don’t fool me, you jolly old oaf!
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Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas

I doubt this one comes on TV any more, but please try to catch this cute comedy if you can! Dinosaurs Rex and Herb take you through a selection of favorite Christmas carols; Rex gives you the history while Herb wanders off eating everything. The California Raisins even make an appearance!
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Frosty the Snowman

Okay, so I had never seen this Rankin/Bass classic until a few years ago and Eric and I just about died laughing. A big doofy snowman runs around talking in a dopey voice while some equally dopey kids chase him around …. what more do you want? HEY HEY KIDS! Man, Rankin/Bass specials are so weird. I grew up thinking they were fabulous when I’d only seen Rudolph. Now I start watching more of them and find that many of the others seem to be awful. I’ll let you know for sure when I’ve seen them all. The Cricket on the Hearth was the most recent one I saw, and I wouldn’t wish that one on my worst enemy, if I had a worst enemy, which thankfully I do not (and I’m not taking any applications either). I wouldn’t show it to any kids who are of course the intended audience. I think they’d be bored by the storyline and terrible songs, and then probably traumatized when someone pulls a gun and shoots two of the animal characters out of nowhere FOR NO REASON. The utter butchering of this Charles Dickens Christmas story annoys me to no end, but for the sake of both your sanity and my own I’m going to stop thinking about it now.
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Elf

This is such a funny and cute Christmas movie; I was surprised by how much I liked it when I first saw it. It parodies other Christmas specials while introducing Buddy, a man raised as an elf and sent off to New York City to find his real dad – a workaholic who has no clue Buddy exists. I thought it was going to be dumb, but it made me laugh and yes, warmed my heart.
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A Christmas Carol

There are tons and tons of Christmas Carol movies out there, but this one is my personal favorite (aside from the Muppet one)! George C. Scott is a most excellent Scrooge and does Dickens justice! So if you’re going to rent a Carol, make it this one!
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White Christmas

This is a very well-made musical from 1954 starring Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney. Out of the Army and enjoying post-World War II life, a pair of professional entertainer friends find a way to save the inn run by their beloved former general. And although it does make an appearance, the song “White Christmas” is not actually from this movie – Bing Crosby sang it in a prior movie, 1942’s Holiday Inn.
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Little Women

I love this movie version of the Louisa May Alcott novel with its all-star cast, including one of my favorites, Winona Ryder. My sister and I make it a point to watch this together every year.
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It's a Wonderful Life

Guess what? I somehow managed to not see this classic until I was in my early 20s. Frank Capra is a down-on-his-luck businessman ready to off himself on Christmas Eve, when an angel appears to show him how much better the world is with him in it. It made me bawl, which is probably why I haven’t watched it again since, but it’s a good film!
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Bad Santa

If you are looking for something a little less feel-good but a lot more hysterical, have a good laugh at this Billy Bob Thornton film that is decidedly not for kids. Thornton stars as the worst low-down alcoholic mall Santa Claus you have ever seen … it’s a classic all right.
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Scrooged

If you want a more modern take on Carol you can’t go wrong with this Bill Murray hilarity. It’s been far too long since I took the time to watch this. Murray is a modern-day Scrooge-ish executive who is the biggest jerk imaginable, but don’t worry, the three ghosts we all know and love aren’t going to let him get away with that!
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Black Christmas (remake)

Would you rather scream than laugh or cry this Christmas? Try Black Christmas (the original or the remake). Personally speaking, the remake makes me laugh rather than scream (despite some disgusting moments) but I’m weird like that. Enjoyable either way!
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Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

I could never leave out the Home Alone movies about Kevin McAllister battling some bumbling robbers! They are both great if you ask me, with all kinds of silly slapstick humor. You get a creepy tarantula in the first one, a perfect Tim Curry in the second, and a parody of old gangster films in both! Now I hope I don’t have to tell anyone this, but do yourself a favor and stay away from any other sequels if you can help it because they’re awful and a cheap attempt to cash in on the success of the originals. They’ll try to fool you into buying a set of all four movies together – take it from me, RUN FOREST, RUN and just buy the set of the first two!

Those are some of my recommendations! I have plenty more, like The Hebrew Hammer (Jewish superhero saves Hanukkah from Santa’s evil son) and Nothing Like the Holidays (Puerto Rican family reunites for Christmas) and of course my recently re-discovered She-Ra & He-Man Christmas special! But I’m tired of writing already. Haha! What are your favorites?

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5 responses to “Christmas Countdown: Holiday Movie Guide

  1. My favorites are Charlie Brown Christmas and Garfield Christmas. I even have the soundtrack from the Charlie Brown one; its a jazz classic. A Christmas Carol is of course great. George Scott is probably the modern favorite (I’m curious about the new Jim Carrey rendition however). I’ve recently gotten the old English version starring Alistair Sims and made in the 1930s. It has the reputation of being the all time best, so will have to check that out over the holidays. (My movie pile is growing as fast as my books-to-be-read pile!).

  2. my family watches national lampoon’s christmas vacation every christmas eve and i never get tired of it, especially since it makes my dad laugh until tears are rolling down his cheeks. 🙂 i LOVE scrooged and it’s been way too long since i watched it! i liked elf too.

    • Oh yeah, that’s a classic! We missed that one this year 😦

      I also wanted to put The Nightmare Before Christmas, but I already put that one on the Halloween list … Eric and I usually watch it right at Halloween.

  3. I had totally forgotten about that Claymation Christmas movie. I remember watching it on TV in the 80s. I thought it was kind of strange — some clay thingies were out wassailing and then suddenly the California Raisins popped up — whaaa?? I love that you put Elf on this list — such a great movie and so underappreciated!!

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