If your family is anything like ours, you’re scouring the DVD shelves for solid Christmas movies to throw into the player right about now.
We kick-start the holiday season pretty early in the O’Connell house. Annually, the Friday after Thanksgiving is spent decorating for Christmas… and that process has gone from a one- to three-day excursion into tinsel, lights and kid-made arts and crafts. In the evenings, the kids love to hop into our bed so we can watch a “family movie” before they retire to their own rooms for the night.
So far, we’ve burned through the Rankin-Bass classics for Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Little Drummer Boy. We’ve DVR’d Christmas-themed episodes of “Good Luck Charlie,” and we’ve seen A Charlie Brown Christmas twice.
This weekend’s the last big push before next Tuesday’s holiday. Maybe you are looking for suggestions of great holiday movies that you can share with your kids as Christmas Eve approaches. Here are the five staples in the O’Connell Christmas queue. While not necessarily my favorites (I’m a Miracle on 34th Street kind of Christmas fan), these five connect with our kids, and we watch all of these at least once every Christmas season – often more than once. Tell me some favorites in your family:
Pure joy. That’s what fuels Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell). Well, that and pure sugar. Elf has become the most-watched Christmas movie in our family over the years, thanks to Ferrell’s infectiously endearing performance as a human raised by elves in the North Pole. And like the majority of Ferrell’s movies, Elf improves with repeat viewings. This may be an obvious recommendation. That doesn’t make it any less right.
An offbeat selection, being it's largely a Halloween movie, but a definite favorite with my boys. This year, our kids started checking out Tim Burton’s films, from Frankenweenie
to Edward Scissorhands
. They better appreciate the craft of stop-motion animation thanks to ‘Weenie
and James and the Giant Peach
. Plus, Jack’s first trip to Christmas Town still counts as my favorite holiday scene of all time. It’s just so bright and joyous. “What’s this?” A must-watch at Christmas time.
Do your kids love physical humor as much as ours do? Then dial up Home Alone, an underappreciated gem from the mind of John Hughes (who penned the screenplay). Our nine-year-old sees himself as Kevin (Macaulay Culkin), defending his turf from goofy home invaders. And our youngest – a fan of Tom & Jerry – roars at the torture inflicted on Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci. Brutal? Fuggedaboutit. But also a lot of guilty, giddy fun.
There are several versions of the Dickens Christmas Carol, from the Disney version (with Mickey Mouse as Bob Cratchit) to the traditional Scrooge story with George C. Scott as grouchy old Ebenezer. For our money, though, everything’s better with Muppets. The 1992 comedy, directed by Brian Henson (Jim’s son), casts the great Michael Caine in the lead role, and surrounds him with traditional Muppet merriment that the whole family can enjoy. Bonus points: A Blu-ray version recently hit stores. Give it to your kids as a Christmas gift!
Not my favorite – I prefer Robert Zemeckis’ live-action efforts to his recent mo-cap experiments – but there’s no denying my boys dig on this digital adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg’s classic holiday novel. And yes, every time I watch it with them, I develop more appreciation for the various roles played by “Everyman” Tom Hanks. Except the Conductor, during that creepy “Hot Chocolate” musical number. So bizarre.
If you’d like to read previous entries in the "When Can I Watch That with My Kids?" series, click right here. Some of the films covered: Star Wars, Back to the Future, The Goonies, Hugo, The Princess Bride, The Monster Squad and Elf, to name just a few.