It’s the most wonderful time of the year… erm…well, maybe not specifically this year, but it’s almost time for Christmas! Like many, the way I prepare for the holiday season is by decorating the Christmas tree, putting lights up outside of the house, and watching my favorite Christmas movies. You know, the ones you’ve seen hundreds of times that you can recite all the lines and annoy anyone else watching with you? There is just something about certain Christmas movies that bring up comforting memories and get you into the spirit. This year especially, I’ve had a lot of time to watch and re-watch some of my favorites, like the ones below.
Babes in Toyland (1934)
Directed by Charley Rogers and Gus Meins, Babes in Toyland also known as March of the Wooden Soldiers, is a classic Laurel and Hardy title. This film is certainly an oldie but goodie. Based on the 1903 operetta Babes in Toyland, the film takes place in Toyland and follows Stannie Dum (Stan Laurel) and Ollie Dee (Oliver Hardy) who rent rooms in Mother Peep’s shoe. When villain, Silas Barnaby (Harry Kleinbach) coerces Little Bo-Peep into marrying him after Mother Peep fails to make a mortgage payment to him, Stannie and Ollie team up with Mother Peep, Bo-Peep and Tom-Tom Piper to take down Barnaby and his evil bogeymen.
Here’s what I love about this film. It has that old-school comedy that often falls short in new films. It also showcases many well-known fairy tale characters, which we’ve all grown up reading. The film exudes a sense of familiarity and light-heartedness which does its part to get you into the holiday spirit. Granted the film does not reference Christmas at all, it’s typically broadcasted on or around Thanksgiving, in a way, setting the stage for the holiday season.
Babes in Toyland can be streamed free on Tubi
Directed by Richard Donner, Scrooged is a modern take on the classic A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. The film follows Frank Cross (Bill Murray), who is an accomplished television executive. Like the typical ‘Scrooge’ character, Frank is hostile and cruel. On Christmas Eve, he is visited by ghosts who allow him to glance into his past in order to change his future, before it’s too late.
I love Bill Murray. Ever since I saw Ghostbusters for the first time, and the hundreds of times thereafter, I’ve been a huge Bill Murray fan. I appreciated how he put his own contemporary, quirky spin on ‘Scrooge’, without losing the integrity of the written character.
Scrooged can be streamed on most media platforms
Home Alone (1990)
Directed by Chris Columbus, Home Alone tells the story of Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) who is accidentally left home alone when his family takes a trip to Paris for Christmas. When the ‘Wet Bandits’ target his street to rob the vacant homes, Kevin sets up elaborate booby-traps to ward off the bandits.
Home Alone is a classic. I’ve watched this film countless times, and every time I still find myself laughing out loud at the outrageous mishaps of Marv (Daniel Stern) and Harry (Joe Pesci). This is just one of those feel-good movies that show, albeit in a humorous, unrealistic means, the value of family and the spirit of Christmas.
Home Alone can be streamed on Disney+
The Santa Clause (1994)
Directed by John Pasquin, The Santa Clause follows the story of divorced dad Scott (Tim Allen) who is forced to become Santa Clause. After the former Santa slips and falls off of Scott’s roof, subsequently dying and vanishing into thin air, Scott and his son are transported to the North Pole where Bernard the Elf (David Krumholtz) explains that Scott now holds the title and must fulfill the duties of Santa Clause.
The Santa Clause definitely affected me in a personal way the first time I viewed it. Coming from divorced parents, it was extremely relatable watching Charlie, Scott’s son, try to navigate the holiday season having to be apart from one parent and being with one who wasn’t entirely up for the challenge of bringing Christmas cheer to the atmosphere. The way the film handled this very relevant reality in a comical way really comforted me as a child.
The Santa Clause can be streamed on Disney+
Directed by Jon Favreau, Elf tells the story of Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell) who snuck into Santa Clause’s magical gift bag as an infant in an orphanage and is raised by elves in the North Pole. When Buddy finally realizes he isn’t an elf, he travels to New York City to meet his biological father.
Elf is silly, it’s entertaining and it takes place in New York City, which in my opinion, although perhaps biased, is the best city to celebrate Christmas. The film really delves into the sometimes lack of Christmas spirit and how we tend to get too busy and forget what the season is all about. It demonstrates how we should embrace our child-like innocence and joy of Christmas in a big way. Elf definitely aged well, as it is still broadcasted on many stations during the month of December and spans across generations as I find myself reciting famous lines from the film with my 14-year-old twin cousins and giggling.