DVD Obscura for the Holidays

DVD Obscura for the Holidays

Nov 20, 2017

Home Alone 2 / Miracle on 34th St

Whatever kind of entertainment gets you – or your guests -- in the mood for the holidays, there’s an overflowing stocking-full of new Blu-ray and DVD releases that will make your home theater the most festive spot in town.

 

Don’t Forget Thanksgiving

Before Christmas takes over, check out these two holiday favorites that revolve around the holiday season’s November warm-up, Thanksgiving. Director Jodie Foster offers a commentary track on the new Blu-ray for Home for the Holidays (Shout Factory), a merry dysfunctional-family comedy whose impressive ensemble cast includes Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr., Anne Bancroft, Claire Danes, Charles Durning, Geraldine Chaplin, Dylan McDermott, Steve Guttenberg and Cynthia Stevenson. And I know plenty of households where it’s just not Thanksgiving until they road-trip with Steve Martin and John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles (Paramount Home Media); the new Blu-ray edition includes tributes to Candy and to writer-director John Hughes.

 

The Classics

While you’re in Thanksgiving mode, you can pop in the gorgeous new 4K version of Peanuts Holiday Collection: Deluxe Edition (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment), which will take you from Turkey Day to Christmas with the adventures of Charlie Brown and his frenemies.

Three very different holiday favorites celebrate anniversaries this year: Holiday Inn (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment), the movie that spawned the hit single “White Christmas,” marks its 75th birthday this year with an expansive Blu-ray that includes a colorized version and the Broadway musical adaptation. (When watching the original movie, which is otherwise great, best to skip the Lincoln’s Birthday number where Bing Crosby performs in blackface.) Meanwhile, Miracle on 34th Street turns 70, and relative whipper-snapper Home Alone 2: Lost in New York hits its quarter century, and both have handsome new editions from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Kid’s cult favorite Prancer (Shout Factory) retains its lovely good cheer in a brand new Blu-ray edition, and 1944’s I'll Be Seeing You (Kino Lorber) remains both hard-hitting (Ginger Rogers as a female convict on holiday leave falls for PTSD-suffering G.I. Joseph Cotten) and poignant all these years later. The heartbreaking All Mine to Give (Warner Archive Collection) follows a family of orphans looking for new homes on Christmas Eve; for some levity, follow it with the absurd Dickensian antics of Bill Murray in Scrooged (Paramount Home Entertainment).

 

Let’s Get Cozy

The cozy, comforting Christmas movie has become a staple on cable in recent years, and every year sees plenty of sweet and homespun new editions to the ever-growing canon. Some of my favorites of the class of 2016 are the romance Operation Christmas and the comedy Broadcasting Christmas (both Hallmark/Cinedigm), but there are plenty more to suit your holiday mood. Favorites from the Hallmark Channel (distributed by Cinedigm) include Debbie Macomber’s Mr. Miracle, A December Bride, A Heavenly Christmas (co-starring Shirley MacLaine), The Christmas Note, Finding Father Christmas, and November Christmas, as well as One Christmas Eve (Hallmark Hall of Fame – available November 28).

But there’s more! The folks at Monarch Home Entertainment offer Christmas with the Andersons, A Puppy for Christmas, Married by Christmas, and A Cinderella Christmas, and if you liked Ed Asner as Santa Claus in Elf, he fills the red suit once again in the family comedy Saving Christmas (Lionsgate Home Entertainment – available November 21).

 

Some Horror for Your Holiday

Granted, sweetness and sentimentality aren’t for everyone, and if you prefer your Christmas movies to be blood red, you’ve got several spooky options. This year’s very witty and terrifying Christmas horror-comedy Better Watch Out (Well Go USA Entertainment – available December 5) marks an impressive addition to the holiday horror sub-genre. There’s also an extras-packed new Blu-ray of the legendarily controversial slasher saga Silent Night, Deadly Night (Scream Factory), including an additional, unrated edit of the film.

Dee Wallace Stone plays the matriarch of a family besieged by sins of the past in the new Australian thriller Red Christmas (Artsploitation), while police find themselves trying to track down a pair of serial killers who might or might not be Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus in the chilling Once Upon a Time at Christmas (Lionsgate Home Entertainment – available December 12).

 

Small-Screen Favorites

The legendary Carol Burnett Show celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Lost Christmas (Time Life) includes three uncut episodes that have been unseen for 40 years in reruns or syndication. This collection features a sketch written by Neil Simon, as well as guest appearances by Barbara Eden, Jonathan Winters, Steve Lawrence, and Burnett’s old boss, Garry Moore.

Reruns pop up on a seemingly infinite number of cable channels, but these collections put all the holiday episodes of your favorite shows together in one handy collection. Sitcom fans of several generations will enjoy The Honeymooners: Christmas Laughter, Frasier: Christmas Episodes and Sabrina, The Teenage Witch: The Christmas Episodes (all CBS/Paramount), and lovers of a good holiday whodunit can curl up with Murdoch Mysteries: Once Upon a Murdoch Christmas (Acorn TV).

And hey, Christmas is all about family, so when the lady met this fellow and knew that it was much more than a hunch, they would all get together for A Very Brady Christmas (CBS/Paramount).

 

For the Kids

It’s got one of the most poignant endings this side of “Gift of the Magi,” but Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas: 40th Anniversary (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) remains a holiday staple; for the first time in years, the original narration by Kermit the Frog has been restored. Get your comb out: Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Deluxe Edition (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment) comes in packaging that’s covered in green fur.

She’s known as “the queen of Christmas,” and Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment) spins a full-length animated feature from the pop diva’s children’s book about a young girl who wants nothing more under the tree than a new puppy. Elmo learns all about Yuletide traditions in the award-winning Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment); this DVD release also includes the Elmo Saves Christmas special.

The littlest little ones can sing, dance, and laugh along with a variety of DVDs aimed right at them, including Mickey Mouse: Merry & Scary (Walt Disney Home Entertainment); The Wiggles: Go Santa Go! (Kino Lorber); and Mouse and Mole at Christmas Time and Happy Holidays, Garfield! (both PBS).

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