*SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!! Hello people of the internet!!! On this blog, I summarize and comment on 10 popular Christmas movies, if you have not seen these movies, the summarizations could ruin the movie for you, because I give away what the endings are.
10) How the Grinch stole Christmas! (1966 cartoon TV special version)
This film (based on the popular Dr. Seuss book) tells the story of the Grinch, and the people of a fictional town called Whoville. The Grinch lives in a cave upon a mountain, which is located directly above Whoville. The Grinch hates Christmas because he has a heart “two sizes two small”, because of this hatred, the Grinch decides that he must stop Christmas from coming. He decides to impersonate Santa Clause, dress his dog as a reindeer, and steal all of the presents from the people of Whovile. When the Grinch goes to the first house, he is almost caught taking the family’s Christmas tree by a small girl named Cindy Lou Who. He tells Cindy that he is taking the tree to his workshop so he can repair it. He and his dog travel back to his mountain with all of the presents and Christmas related items in Whoville. At this point in the movie, it is Christmas Day, and although the Grinch expects to hear the people of Whoville in despair, he instead hears them singing joyously. The Grinch then understands that the true meaning of Christmas isn’t in material gain, but is being with the one’s you love. All of the presents and other items then begin to fall off of a cliff, and the Grinch and his dog save them, and the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes. He and his dog return everything to Whoville, and they all join in on Christmas Day celebration. I really like how this movie doesn’t change the original story, and leaves you with a happy ending. This movie also has a strong theme of love, family, and the importance of having a strong unified community. This is definitely a classic family film.
9) Grandma got run over by a reindeer (2000 TV special)
This film revolves around the lives of Jake Spankenheimer and his family. Jake’s grandma owns a small general store in the town. The general store is the only piece of land that Austin Bucks (the richest man in town) doesn’t own, however Jake’s grandma is adamant in her refusal to sell the store. Jake and his grandmother are very close, because they are the only ones who love the Christmas holiday season. Jake is often at ends with his parents and sister, because of his strong belief in the existence of Santa Clause. Jake’s cousin Mel really wants their grandmother to sell the store, because she wants to be rich. Due to her obsession with wealth, Mel adds a secret ingredient to the grandma’s fruit cake, in hopes that the cake will not sell, and grandma will be forced to sell the store. On Christmas Eve, Grandma forgets her medication, and decides to leave Jake’s family’s home, taking one of her fruitcakes with her. Jake and his Grandpa sees Santa crash into Grandma, and the next day she is missing (Mel finds a letter that Santa left explaining what happened but she hides it). After Grandma has been missing for a year, Mel tries to trick the grandpa into giving her power of attorney over the store, so she can sell the store to Austin Bucks.
Jake intervenes, and writes an email to Santa, asking what happened. The head elf takes Jake to the North Pole, and he discovers that Santa took Grandma to the North Pole so she could receive medical treatment however; she now has amnesia. Jake convinces the head elf, Santa, and Grandma to come home with him however; Mel steals and hides Grandma, and she and her attorney put Santa on trial for the disappearance of Grandma. Jake follows Mel to a secret cabin where she is hiding Grandma. While at the cabin, Jake finds the note that Mel hid, and figures out that the secret ingredient in the fruitcake is ‘Reindeer Nip’. He restores Grandma’s memory by feeding her the fruitcake, and they present the evidence to the judge. The judge frees Santa and arrests Mel and her attorney. Austin Banks then decides to offer grandma the opportunity to franchise her store throughout the country and she accepts. The movie ends with Grandma accidently picking up the tainted fruitcake, which causes her to get hit by the reindeer again however; this time she is ok. What I love about this film is that it is very funny. The film still gives you a strong message of the importance of family however; it delivers this message in a hilarious way that will defiantly grab the attention of children.
8) Santa Clause is Coming to Town (1970 TV special)
This movie begins with mailman ‘S.D’ Kluger’s mail truck breaks down, so he tells the story of Santa Clause to a group of children. The story begins in the fictional town of ‘Sombertown’, where the mean Burgermeister Meisterburger finds a baby on his door step with a name tag with the name ‘Clause’ on it. He orders his assistant to take the baby to the local orphanage, but a large wind blows the baby to the mountain of the ‘Whispering Winds’. The animals find the baby, and take him to a local family of elves (there surname is Kringle) in order to keep him safe from the powerful and dangerous Winter Warlock. The elves adopted the baby, name him Kris, and teach him the art of toy making. When Kris is old enough, he volunteers to take the toys the family makes to Sombertown; however the Burgermeister has outlawed toys, after he had a toy-related accident. Kris meets a friendly penguin named Topper on his way to town, and once he arrives in town, Kris meets some children and their school teacher Miss Jessica, and gives them all toys. The Burgermeister arrives and attempts to arrest Kris however, he escapes.
As Kris and Topper head back to the Kringles, they are captured by the Winter Warlock, and Kris gives him a toy train, which melts the warlock’s heart, causing him to turn into a human. He asks to be called Winter, and makes Kris a magic snowball, which allows him to see into Sombertown. Kris finds Jessica, and finds out that the Burgermeister has destroyed all of the toys, so Kris decides to bring new ones to the children. The Burgermeister hears about this, and orders that every door in the city be locked. Kris uses the houses chimneys to deliver the toys, and he tells the children to hang their stocking on the fireplace, so he can hide the toys in there. The Burgermeister grows frustrated with Kris, and captures him, Topper, the Kringles, and Winter. When Jessica is unable to get the Burgermeister to release her friends, she visits them, and Winter gives her all of the magic he has left with him (which includes magic corn that makes reindeer fly). They all escape, and Kris grows a beard and changes his last name to Clause in order to hide from the Burgermeister. Kris and Jessica get married, and they move to the North Pole. Eventually Meisterburger and his family die, and their laws are taken away. Kris becomes known as Santa Clause, and he decided to dedicate one day a year to delivering presents, because he cannot keep up with all of the orders he gets all year long. S.D then proceeds to take the letters to Santa, as he Topper, Winter, the Kringles, and several of the children sing ‘Santa Clause is Coming to Town’. Santa closes the scene by waving at the audience. I really like the overall tone of this film. The plot is interesting, and even though this is an animated film, there is suspense, action, romance, and of course Santa! (C’mon you have to like this film, it’s too cute to dislike).
7) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964 TV special version)
This film begins when one of Santa Clause’s reindeer and his wife have an offspring that they name Rudolph. The reindeer and his wife discover that Rudolph has a red nose that glows, and the reindeer begins to hide his son’s nose with dirt, after Santa says that Rudolph will never be able to pull his sleigh if this trait remains. Sometime late, Rudolph’s family takes him to the Reindeer games, where he meets a nice reindeer named Fireball and Rudolph falls in love with a young doe named Clarice. However, Rudolph’s nose covering falls off, and he is made fun of and forbidden from participating in the reindeer games. Clarice tells Rudolph that his nose doesn’t bother her however, her father forbids her from talking to Rudolph and Rudolph runs away. When all of this is happening, an elf named Hermey is ridiculed due to his dream of becoming a dentist, and he eventually meets Rudolph, and they bond over being misfits. The pair decides to leave their homes, and along the way, they meet a prospector named Yukon Cornelius, who dreams of discovering silver and gold. The trio bumps into the Abominable Snowman, but escape to the ‘Island of Misfit Toys’.
The island is a place where unwanted toys stay until they can be placed with an owner. Rudolph and his friends are allowed to stay there, after promising that they would convince Santa to deliver the toys to children who need them. That night Rudolph decided to leave without his friends, eventually decided to go home, where he finds that the Abominable Snowman has captured his family and Clarice. Rudolph fights the snowman, and his friends find him and help. The snowman is driven off of a cliff, and everyone apologizes for how they treated Rudolph. Santa agrees to find homes for the misfit toys, and the head elf allows Hermey to open up a dentistry office. Yukon then arrives with the snowman, who is now tamed and nice. A large blizzard arrives, and threatens to cancel Santa’s trip. Santa asks Rudolph to use his nose to guide the sleigh though the storm and they pick up the misfit toys along the way. I really like this film, because it’s action packed, and heartwarming. It is also an animated film however, I think that it’s the kind of movie that will entertain the whole family, and is perfect to watch on or near Christmas.
6) The Polar Express (2004 film)
On Christmas Eve, a young boy begins to lose his faith in Santa Clause, and while he’s sleeping, a train called ‘The Polar Express’ comes to his house and picks him up. While on the train, the boy meets a nerdy boy and a girl. The train stops again to pick up another boy named Billy, but he’s afraid to get on at first, and when he decides to board, he is unsuccessful until the boy pulls the emergency brake so Billy can board. Later the girl and the conductor take Billy a cup of hot chocolate, and she leaves her ticket on her seat. The boy attempts to give it to her, but the wind blows it away. The conductor takes the girl to the roof, and shortly after, the boy finds her ticket and goes to the roof to find her. On the roof, the boy finds a homeless man, who claims to be the owner of the Polar Express. The homeless man helps the boy find the girl, and then the homeless man disappears. The boy discovers that the girl’s driving the train, while the conductor and a few other people attempt to fix a broken headlight. The conductor, the boy, and the girl get stuck in the front of the engine, and the train begins to accelerate too fast, causing the conductor to try and slow it down. The train soon reaches a lake however the train lost an important piece of equipment earlier, causing the ice beneath it to begin to crack.
The train is repaired, and the conductor orders the train to proceed at full speed in order to get away from the dangerous situation. The train gets off of the lake just as the ice cracks, and when they arrive at the North Pole, the boy and the girl find Billy alone in an observation car. The observation car becomes unhooked, and begins to accelerate in the opposite direction of the train. The three children are able to make their way into the city, and make it to the center of the city, just in time to see Santa. While Santa is getting the sleigh ready, a bell falls off of the harness. The boy remembers that he was the only one who couldn’t previously hear the bell, so when he then begins to believe in the spirit of Christmas again, and hears the bell. Santa gives the bell to the boy The children are then all given back their tickets, which has now been inscribed by the conductor, with words that describe characteristics that make each of the children unique. On Christmas morning, the boy wakes up and discovers that Santa found the bell he gave the boy (which the boy lost on his way home). The movie ends with the boy stating that his friends and family eventually could not hear the bell anymore however, he never lost its sound, because he never lost his belief in the true spirit of Christmas. I really love this film because it is so heart-warming. It is the perfect movie to watch with your family, or even alone. The plot is exciting enough to keep adults interested however, still contains all of the elements that make it perfect for kids as well. I definitely recommend that everyone watch this movie around Christmas time, because it is an amazing movie (and Tom Hanks provides the voice of the conductor, so you know that automatically makes this film great).
5) A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965 film)
This movie (which stars the characters of the ‘Peanuts’ comic strips written by Charles M. Schulz), begins with Charlie Brown confiding in his friend Linus that he feels depressed even though Christmas is approaching. His depression deepens when he notices that no one is sending him Christmas cards. Charlie Brown then decides to visit his friend Lucy at her psychiatric booth, and she suggests that he direct the local Christmas play in order to become more involved with the community. Charlie is also very angry at home commercialized Christmas has become, and his feelings intensify when he notices that his dog Snoopy is participating in a neighborhood lights and display contest. Next, Charlie runs into his sister Sally, who asks him to help her write her letter to Santa. When she requests for money from Santa, Charlie becomes even more upset. Charlie has trouble keeping the other kids in line when he arrives to direct the play. He decides to get a Christmas tree in order to set the right “mood” for the play, and when he returns, he is ridiculed because he brings back a small sapling.
Charlie decided to get this tree, because it was the only real tree on the lot. He begins to wonder if he truly knows what Christmas is about, so Linus recites a passage from the King James Version of the Bible (chapter 2 verses 8-14, which is about the impending birth of Jesus Christ). Charlie then takes the tree home with the intension to decorate it, however when he tries, the tree falls over, and he runs away in dismay. Charlie’s friends (the other kids who were in the play) find the tree, and decorate it. They then begin humming the song ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’, and Charlie eventually joins them. I really like that this film is not like your typical Christmas movie. Although there is a happy ending, Charlie Brown struggles through many trials in order to reach his happy ending. I also like that this movie moved away from the typical Santa-centric plot line, and instead emphasized the religious view of what Christmas is about. Charles Schultz was a Lutheran and later taught Sunday school classes in the Methodist religion, so if he was it is nice to see that he was unafraid to express his religious viewpoints in this cartoon (you typical don’t see authors or cartoonist getting this personal, so it’s nice to see that he was willing to put some of his personal beliefs in this film). This is definitely a classic Christmas film, and one that I would suggest you add to your Christmas film list.
4) The Santa Clause (1994 film)
This film centers around the life of a divorced dad named Scott Calvin (Tim Allen), who is an advertising executive for a toy company. One Christmas Eve, Scott’s son Charlie spends the night with him, and the night doesn’t go very well until Scott reads Charlie the story ‘The Night Before Christmas’ as a bed-time story. Shortly after, Scott hears something on the roof; he goes outside and yells at a shadowy figure. The figure falls off the roof, and Scott and Charlie discover that it was Santa Clause. Scott finds a card that says that if something happens to Santa, the person who finds the card should put the suit on. Charlie convinces Scott to follow these instructions, and Scott follows Santa’s route, but has some struggles trying to complete Santa’s tasks. After the deliveries are done, the reindeer take Scott and Charlie to the North Pole. The head elf Bernard tells Scott that he is now the new Santa, and has a few months to get ready before he must return to the North Pole. Scott is unhappy about this, but eventually the elves there take them to a bedroom, where they fall asleep. In the morning, Scott awakens, and he is in his house. His ex-wife arrives to pick up Charlie, and Charlie tells her about what happened the night before. Scott can’t remember anything and tries to say that it was all a dream.
Over the next year Scott begins to gain weight, grow white facial hair, crave Christmas food, and instinctually knows if children are good or bad. After Scott blows up at one of his company’s board meetings when a fellow employee suggests a Santa toy that doesn’t travel on a sleigh, Scott’s boss suggests that he seek professional help. Scott’s doctor says that there is nothing medically wrong with him, and when Scott’s ex-wife sees how Scott looks, she says that he will no longer be able to see Charlie. Scott’s ex-wife and her new husband get a judge to suspend Scott’s visitation rights, so Scott tries to see Charlie one last time at Thanksgiving. Charlie asks Scott to take him back to the North Pole, so he does, and when Charlie’s mother finds out, they report that Charlie has been kidnapped. In their hometown, the police are search far and wide for Scott, while back at the North Pole, the elves and Charlie are preparing Scott’s Christmas Eve travel. While Scott is delivering presents to Charlie’s home, the police arrest him, but some elves form the North Pole come and rescue Scott. Charlie’s mother and step-father finally accept that Scott is Santa, and he gives them toys that they always wanted when they were children, but never received. Scott then rides away on the sleigh, but returns when Charlie shakes a magic snow globe that Bernard gave him. Scott then offers to take Charlie on his route, and the two wave goodbye. I really love that this film is very family-centric, and also truly embracing the magic of Santa and Christmas. At one point of the movie, one of the elves says, “Seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing. Kids don’t need to see this place to know that it’s here. They just know.” I feel that this statement really sums up the point of this and many other Christmas movies, which is that the magic of Christmas is believing in the impossible.
3) Miracle on 34th Street (1994 film)
This remake of the 1947 original film had a few noticeable differences, the major difference was the creation of the fictional department store Cole’s (which was created after Macy’s declined to be involved with the remake. This film surrounds the lives of a single hardworking mother named Dorey Walker, and her overly mature young daughter Susan. When the Cole’s Department Store’s Santa gets drunk before he is suppose to appear in their annual Thanksgiving Day parade, Dorey is sent to find a replacement, and she finds an old man berated the intoxicated Santa, and pleads with him to take over the position. The old man claims that his name is Kris Kringle, and he is later asked by Cole’s to be their main Santa throughout the holiday season. Eventually all of the children that Kris encounters believe he is Santa Clause, except for Susan. One night, Kris is babysitting Susan, and she says that she wants a dad, the house that Cole’s uses in its holiday advertisements, and a baby brother for Christmas. Kris says that if she gets these things, then she needs to start believing in Santa Clause, and she agrees to do so. Everything is going really well for Kris, until he is arrested for assault (which is later revealed to be the drunken Santa, who was jealous of Kris, and set him up to be arrested). Dorey’s boyfriend Bryan tries to get Kris freed, but finds out that in order to do so; he must prove that Kris really is Santa Clause.
It seems that things are not going well for Kris, until Susan comes into court with a $1 bill, and shows that the words “in God we trust” are inscribed in the back. The Judge then realizes that if the U.S. Government can believe in God without proof, then he must give Kris the same benefit of the doubt. After the court hearing Kris helps Dorey and Bryan realize that they love each other, and they get married. He next morning, they all find out that Kris has arranged for them to buy the catalog house, and when they ask Susan what her final wish was, she says that it was to have a baby brother, and Dorey and Bryan just smile at each other. I really enjoyed this film, because the cast is great, and the plot line is interesting, and suspenseful. The film also has a lot of heart, and is the perfect family film for the holiday season.
2) Jack Frost (1998)
This film (not be confused with eh 1997 horror-comedy film) is about a musician who dies and is reincarnated as a snowman. The movie begins when musician Jack Frost (Michael Keaton) returns home from performing at a gig, and builds a snowman with his son Charlie. That night, Jack gives Charlie his best harmonica, and jokes that it is magic. Jack has a habit of missing important family events, because he is constantly working very hard to get his band a record deal. One night, Jack promises to take his family on a camping trip, but instead goes to a gig that could be very important for his career. While on his way to the gig, Jack realizes that he should be with his family, so he uses his friend’s car to travel back, however he is involved in a car accident, and dies on impact. The next year, Charlie (who has become extremely depressed and reclusive) builds a snowman and plays Jack’s harmonica before he goes to sleep. The harmonica causes Jack’s spirit to become embodied in the snowman, and he tries to greet Charlie, but instead frightens him.
The next day, Jack helps Charlie escape from a group of bullies, and realizes that the snowman is his dad, when the snowman calls him ‘Charlie boy’, which was Jack’s nickname for him. Jack begins to spend the quality time with Charlie that he couldn’t when he was alive, and teaches Charlie how to be a better hockey player (which is a sport that Charlie is passionate about), and also gets Charlie to begin to do the things he enjoys, instead of just grieving his loss. While this is occurring, Charlie’s mother does not know that Jack has embodied a snowman, and encourages the family’s friend/Jack’s old band mate Mac to become a father figure for Charlie. At this point, winter is coming to an end, and Charlie decides to take Jack up to the mountains, so he can live longer. On his way there, Charlie runs into the a boy who torment him, but the main boy ends up helping Charlie, after he realizes that he and Charlie share the fact that they both do not have fathers. Jack calls his wife and convinces her that he is Jack Frost, and then he says goodbye to both of them, and goes on into the afterlife.
1) It’s a Wonderful Life (1946 film)
This Christmas classic stars James Stewart as an idealist dreamer named George Bailey. The story begins on Christmas Eve, when a troubled man named George Bailey considers killing himself. In heaven, the head angels Franklin and Joseph narrate George’s life story to an angel in training named Clarence, in order for Clarence to be able to go to Earth and stop George from committing suicide. The film starts with a scene from when George was a young boy, and he jumped into a frozen pond to save his brother Harry, who fell through. This act highlights George’s tendency to put the needs of others before his own, which becomes a major theme in the film. George’s ability to selflessly help others causes him to gain many friends throughout his lifetime; such as the owner of a local drugstore and pharmacy (who George works for as a young boy). Another example of this is when George stops the druggist, named Mr. Goser, from accidently putting poison in a young boy’s capsule of medication. George’s father and uncle run a local business called the ‘Building & Loan’, and George’s father has ambitions of George one day running the business. After George graduates from high school, he works at the Building & Loan, and plans to attend college after Harry graduates high school. George attends Harry’s graduation party, and begins becoming interested in a young woman named Mary, who always had a crush on George. After the party, George finds out that his father has had a stroke, and his father later dies. A local wealthy and greedy man named Mr. Potter decides to use George’s father’s death as an opportunity to buy the Building & Loan however, George is able to save the business, only after agreeing to stay on as head of the company. George must once again put aside his ambitions to become an architect and traveling the world, and thus gives his college money to his brother Harry, with the agreement that once Harry completes college, he will run the business in George’s place.
When Harry comes back from college, he has a wife and a great job opportunity. He tells George that he will not take the job out of respect for George, but George tells him to take the offer even though George knows that this will cause George to have to work at the building & Loan forever. Shortly after this, George weds Mary however, when they are going to leave for their honeymoon, the market crashes and they have to give all of their money to the clients of the Building & Loan, in order prevent the company form going out of business. Gorge and Mary later have four children, and George opens up ‘Bailey Park’, which builds affordable houses for low-income families. When WWII begins, George is unable to enlist because of his bad hearing, and Harry becomes a war hero. On Christmas Eve morning of the present day, Uncle Billy takes a large sum of money to the bank, but due to how absent minded he is, he loses the money and Mr. Potter finds it. When George finds out, he freaks out because the bank examiner is suppose to come, and George knows that if he doesn’t have the money, then the business will go bankrupt, and he will go to jail.
Desperate, George goes to Mr. Potter for the money, but Mr. Potter tells him that he’s better dead than alive. George takes his frustrations out on his family, and goes to a bar where his daughter’s teacher’s angry husband busts his lip (George yelled at the teacher earlier in the movie because his daughter came home sick, and he blamed the teacher). While at the bar, George silently prays for help, but leaves the bar drunk, and tries to jump off of a bridge. Before George can jump, he sees a man jump first, and he dives in to save him. He finds out that the man is his guardian angel Clarence, and he tells Clarence that he wishes that he had never been born. Clarence gives George this wish, and he sees that everyone’s life would be disastrous without him. George eventually wishes that he could live again, and his friend finds him, and tells him that his lip is bleeding. Because of this comment, George knows that he is alive once again, and goes home to tell his family that he loves them. Once he arrives home, the bank examiner and the police are waiting for him, but Mary went all over the neighborhood trying to get money for George. George’s friends and family come to his rescue, and he is able to raise the money that uncle Billy lost. The movie ends with a bell on the family’s Christmas tree ringing, and George’s youngest daughter Zuzu stating that “every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings”. George also notices that he now has the ‘Tom Sawyer’ book that Clarence brought from Heaven with him, and Clarence writes in the book that “…no man is a failure who has friends. P.S. Thanks for the wings!…”. This is certainly my all time favorite Christmas movie, because it highlights the importance of family and friends, as well as the fact that every action we make affects everyone else around us. The film leaves you with a happy feeling, but also causes you too think of how important your life really is, even if you aren’t aware of it. In my opinion, this is the perfect family Christmas movie.
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