by Jimmy Lee King

It’s Christmastime and if you haven’t started watching Christmas movies already, then perhaps you should consider it. Although there is a plethora of Christmas movies from which to choose, here are my recommendations. See these 5 movies and you’ll be downright jolly.

1. The Polar Express, 2004.  This Warner Bros. movie is not only great because it’s an amazing Christmas movie; it’s also amazing because of it’s story. The film takes place in the 1950s when a boy who is on the fence about believing in Santa Claus embarks on a magical Christmas eve train ride. He climbs aboard a magical train called “The Polar Express” which takes him to the North Pole where he gets to decide for himself if he should or should not believe in Santa. Director Robert Zemeckis nails the essence of the North Pole and Santa Claus in this unique, epic movie. The gorgeous animation and effects give it a quality few other movies have. This is a great movie to watch with your PJ’s on and your cell phones and lights off. Make a big bowl of popcorn, sit down with your family and enjoy the ride. Trust me, it is a ride! You can’t help but have some kind of Christmas spirit after watching this movie.
Grade: A+. Recommended for adults and children 3 and up.

2. It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946.  Although this is the oldest of the Christmas movies on the list, don’t let the older black and white standard format keep you from enjoying it. I still can’t watch this one without getting choked up at the end. It’s just that good; it hits the mark. Directed by Frank Capra, this film was initially considered a box office disappointment, in part due to high production costs. Still, it was nominated for 5 Academy Awards, and is likely a movie that most families sit down and enjoy as a holiday tradition. After watching this movie, it’s easy to understand it’s magic even though you won’t see Santa Claus, the North Pole, or children’s toys. This movie is about human generosity and the hope that we may all have a rich life, full of friends and love for one another. It teaches us to put friends and family above money or material things. Our lives are gifts, and we get to ponder vicariously how life might be if we had never existed. It’s a great story and a fine film, even without all of the hollywood CGI effects that fill today’s movies.
Grade: A+. Recommended for adults and children 7 and up.

3. A Christmas Carol, 2009.  Director Robert Zemeckis offers another amazing visual treat with this Disney adaptation of the Charles Dickens story by the same name. Jim Carrey has multiple roles in this movie: in addition to portraying a ghost, Carrey plays a young, middle-aged, and old Ebenezer Scrooge. I know what you’re thinking — Jim Carrey?! Trust me, when you see the movie you will know that there was no one who would have been a better choice for the part! Like The Polar Express, this movie has its own look and feel. It is very different than animated Pixar movies; its characters look like real humans, only animated. It was released in IMAX 3-D and digital 3-D, so this movie can have some seriously startling moments. If your TV is large and your surround-sound system is pumping, it can make you jump out of your seat at times. This Zemeckis movie is one that can be watched every year as a tradition and never get old.
Grade: A+. Recommended for adults and children 7 and up.

4. Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 2000. Directed by Ron Howard, this Universal Pictures/Imagine Entertainment film is not animated. Rather, it shows actual humans wearing costumes and crazy makeup. It is a fantasy to see what the real Who-ville is like at Christmastime! Jim Carrey delivers exactly what is expected of him in bringing the Grinch to life. Delivering a masterful performance, Carrey is the Grinch and I will say there is no other actor who could do what Carrey does. Like Carrey or not, you will forget it’s him very quickly after you see him pulling off some of the exact shots from the cartoon with which we’re all familiar. It encapsulates everything the classic cartoon has, but adds a lot more back-story to who the Grinch is and what turned him into such a dastardly creature. It’s fun and it’s scary at times. The Grinch’s rocket sled is mind blowing. All of the detail that went into making a real-life Who-ville is easily taken for granted, given that every scene is beautiful. Even though it’s a Christmas film, I think this is one of Howard’s best directing performances.
Grade: A. Recommended for adults and children 7 and up.

5. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, 1964. Released in 1964 by Rankin/Bass Productions, this stop-action animation still holds up today. It’s gorgeous to look at and Burl Ives narrates with a voice that works just right. This movie is only 55 minutes long, so if the next family movie night finds you short on time, this may be a good choice. It’s amazing how the story resonates with certain issues we have in the present day, most notably, tolerance. Rudolph, who was born with a red nose, is different from all of the other reindeer. He is ridiculed and made fun of for his non-conformity. However, this turns out to be the very thing that puts him at the front of Santa’s team during a particularly big snow storm one Christmas eve. It’s sweet, it’s cute, it’s fun and there is something about this movie that makes it feel like Christmas has arrived.
Grade: A. Recommended for adults and children 3 and up.

One final note: please remember to always turn off your cell phone when you attend a movie at a theater.

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Categories: Entertainment

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