#ThrowbackThursday: Christmas Movies

its-a-wonderful-life_1The holiday season is upon us, and with Christmas 2016 just a few days away, I thought it pertinent that this week’s Throwback Thursday cover my favorite Christmas movies. Everybody who even likes the Christmas season a little bit has their favorite movie that just reminds them of Christmas. It doesn’t always have to be a warm sappy movie, or even have to be about Christmas at all, one’s favorite Christmas movie can just be the one they watched with their family every year, for whatever reason they wanted to. With each December comes even more movies, each trying to become somebody’s favorite Christmas movie, and while many come and go, some movies last forever as classic holiday must watch films.

There are always arguments as to what constitutes a Christmas movie, some say that it has to be about Christmas, others say it just needs to be set around Christmas, others still will insist that it just has to be set in the winter, or in a wintry setting. The truth is, there is no right answer, as the beauty of the holiday season is that however you choose to celebrate, and whatever films you want or need to watch, it is completely up to you, and chances are, you will find more than one person willing to sit down and watch it with you. It’s hard to judge somebody for their choice of go-to Christmas movie, because usually, there is a story to go along with it as to why they love it so much. For many it comes down to the movies they saw when they were younger, because Christmas always grabs you when you’re a kid because that is when it seems most magical. The best movies capture that, and they stay with you as you get older, you know that you have seen them time after time, and year after year, but those movies never stop being good because the recapture the magic you felt as a kid. Even the non traditional Christmas movies, or the ones you watch because they are so bad they are good, while lacking in the magic department, still recapture the moments you first saw them, which is a magical feeling all to itself.

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Now I have never been somebody that get swept up in the holiday season, I like it well enough, and it is always nice to see friends and family that you haven’t seen in a while, but I never get overly cheery for Christmas, I don’t really decorate, and I don’t get very festive, the only thing even remotely Christmas-y that I do, is watch Christmas movies. I have a range of movies that I watch around Christmas time, some are ones I always enjoy seeing, but don’t seek them out, I will catch them on TV, or watch them at friends houses, but I don’t own them, and don’t set aside time to watch them. These movies tend to be Elf, the stop motion classics, How the Grinch Stole Christmas( the animated one, not the weird Jim Carrey one), and Charlie Brown. I really like all of these, but each year tend to only catch them halfway through on tv, or watch them if somebody else puts them on. Then there are the must watches, the ones that I know that every year I am going to see, these include Jingle All The Way, which has a me and a group of friends getting together on Christmas Eve to watch the film together, the original Star Wars trilogy, as it is always marathoned on TV each year, and has become the movies I wrap presents to, and I am fairly certain that the first time I ever saw Star Wars was on TV during a Christmas Marathon, and Home Alone 1 and 2, they are only two of the series worth seeing every year, and while they aren’t always watched back to back, there isnt’t a year that goes by where I don’t watch both of these films.

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Then comes my favorite Christmas movie of them all, the one I watch several times each year, the one whose soundtrack I’ll play multiple days in December, and the one I make sure that everybody has seen; that film is The Muppet Christmas Carol. I love the muppets, I love the characters, the way that their films mix family friendly humor, with wordplay and puns, and while there are several Muppet Christmas movies, and tv specials, the retelling of A Christmas Carol has always been my favorite. The story is the same as every adaptation of the Dickens classic, Ebenezer Scrooge must learn to love his fellow-man, and after being visited by three spirits, he does just that, now I don’t mean to spoil A Christmas Carol, but if you don’t know it by now it’s your own fault. Where the Muppet version excels is that it is able to seamlessly integrate established muppet characters, and slide them into roles from the story. The best example of this are Statler and Waldorf as the Marley Ghosts; the ever-present hecklers from the balcony come alive to essentially heckle Scrooge, and their characterization does not feel any different from their inclusion in any other Muppet productions, other than the fact that this scene is probably scarier than anything the Muppets have ever done, that is until the grim reaper, ghost of Christmas future shows up. The narration from Gonzo, as he travels with Rizzo throughout the movie is another added touch, as they break the 4th wall, and give the typical Muppet feel to the whole film. The film uses Kermit and his nephew Robin as Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim, and the pair give the film incredible heart. The casting of Michael Caine as Scrooge showcases the award-winning actor, who is able to interact with the muppets themselves in a way that I have seen many other good actors fail to do. The soundtrack to this move is also fantastic, as it is filled with catchy songs that fit  right into the story, and continue to be enjoyable after all of these times I have listened to them. I know that The Muppet Christmas Carol may not be the best Christmas movie, and some may argue it isn’t even the best telling of the classic story(they would be wrong), but considering my love of Muppets, this film will be one that I will never stop watching, and encourage others to add it to their list of holiday must sees.

I know I didn’t cover every Christmas movie, many love the classics It’s A Wonderful Life, Miracle On 34th St, Holiday Inn, and White Christmas, there are plenty of people who love the Christmas comedies, Christmas Vacation, Scrooged, and even Ernest Saves Christmas, countless people who can’t go a year without the sappy love stories like Love, Actually, and The Holiday, and there will also always be those that prefer the action movies with subtle ties to the season, as I am sure that the Die Hard fans are cursing its lack of inclusion in this article, but despite its Christmas setting, it just never felt like a Christmas movie to me.

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Ultimately though, with Christmas time here again, and the hustle and bustle of the holidays about to come to a head, make sure you take time to gather with friends or family, and watch at least one of you favorite holiday go tos, because no matter how the season is treating you, you can never go wrong with a favorite Christmas film, unless it’s A Christmas Story, I hate a Christmas Story.

So enjoy the Holidays, have a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

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