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Scene’s Christmas Movie Picks

Observer Scene | Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Santa Clause

This movie is classic. We all grew up loving how Tim Allen explained all the secrets of Santa and answered all our great Christmas questions. How does Santa get around the world in one night? Seconds become minutes, minutes become hours, etc. How does Santa fit down the chimney? He magically shrinks until he fits. Plus, who doesn’t love the idea of waking up to find your dad is Santa Claus? This is a classic movie because it is the ultimate Christmas fantasy of our generation. It’s funny, and we can relate to it. Even now, it’s hard to watch and not wonder if Santa really does exist. And maybe someday we’ll get that Weenie Whistle we always dreamed of.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the catch-all Christmas movie. No matter who you are, Charlie Brown has something to teach you about the real Christmas spirit. It’s impossible not to be moved when Linus walks across the stage and asks, “Lights, please.” He then explains the real spirit of Christmas in a simple speech that’s poetic.

The movie was originally made as a television special with music by a little-known jazz composer but this animated movie became Christmas gold. Everyone knows how to dance to “Linus & Lucy.”

Starbucks released the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s soundtrack from the movie a few years ago, and since then we’ve all been able to appreciate what happens when you ask real children to voice child characters and sing Christmas carols. This is the curl-up-by-the-fire-with-your-family film.

Holiday Inn

Most people I know fall in love with “White Christmas” first, only to discover “Holiday Inn” later, if at all. I didn’t see “White Christmas” until middle school, but by that time I was already hopelessly in love with the pairing of crooner Bing Crosby and hoofer Fred Astaire in “Holiday Inn” – the first film featuring Irving Berlin’s classic song “White Christmas.”

Crosby as Jim Hardy and Astaire as Ted Hanover are perfect comic foils as they compete for the affection of rising star Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) and sing and dance their way through Jim’s Holiday Inn, that is open only on holidays. It’s true that “Holiday Inn” can be enjoyed year-round. After all, one of Astaire’s most dazzling solo routines in any of his films is the firecracker number for the Fourth of July. However, “Holiday Inn” is especially enjoyable at Christmas time. You’ll know why as soon as Bing sings “White Christmas” for the first time on film, and the whole world melts around you.

Meet Me in St. Louis

Many don’t consider “Meet Me in St. Louis” a Christmas movie, but here are two hard facts: one-third of the musical takes place during Christmas, and it features Judy Garland’s mesmerizing performance of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” which never fails to be emotional.

The premise is simple; it’s about a Midwestern family and the love they have for each other. Their interactions with each other are the heart of the movie. But there really are three reasons to watch it: “The Trolley Song,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and finally, the Christmas dance. Maybe it’s Judy Garland’s red gown or maybe it’s that single moment when all of her character’s dreams unexpectedly come true, but the Christmas dance scene stands out from other holiday films.

The Muppet Christmas Carol

If you think that nothing says “Christmas” like frog puppets and crazy song-and-dance numbers, then you have to have seen this Jim Henson-fied version of the Charles Dickens classic.

Michael Caine stars as the cold and greedy Ebeneezer Scrooge, whose love of money is only surpassed by his lack of compassion. Scrooge’s best employee, the humble Bob Cratchit, is none other than Kermit the Frog himself. The film is hosted and narrated by Gonzo and Rizzo, his tough-talking rat sidekick, and features a slew of classic Muppet characters. Fozzie Bear plays Old Mr. Fozziewig, Scrooge’s first employer, and Animal even makes an appearance. The film also shines with its original soundtrack – songs like “Bless Us All” and “It Feels Like Christmas” definitely get you in a Christmas mood, while funnier songs like “Scrooge” and “Marley and Marley” add to the Muppet holiday spirit.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Maybe it’s director Frank Capra’s ability to tug at your heart without feeling schmaltzy. Maybe it’s Jimmy Stewart’s sweet and powerful performance as George Bailey, a man who feels like life has passed him by. Or maybe we all just feel like George sometimes.

But whatever it is that keeps us watching, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a classic American film that audiences return to every Christmas season. Watching George grow from a spirited kid, to an optimistic youth, to an older and wiser adult through the eyes of his guardian angel Clarence (Henry Travers) feels like watching bits and pieces of our own lives.

And Clarence’s final message to George – “No man is a failure who has friends” – rings as true to us now as it did when the film came out 60 years ago. So lasso the moon for Mary and sing “Auld Lang Syne” with George Bailey this Christmas season. Maybe you’ll even find Zuzu’s petals in your coat pocket.