Not everybody shares the same affinity for "It's A Wonderful Life
" or "Miracle on 34th Street
." It could be the lack of color or the idealistic story. To some, those classics just don't feel real. The turnoff comes from desiring more entertainment, more realism, more creativity or simply something different. There're a few new classics that verge on creepy, dysfunctional and just plain weird that deserve special mention during a time when the idea of the nuclear family celebrating a non-secular holiday is just one of many options.
An old favorite with some creep-value due to the claymation is "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
." It's from '64, and was likely a novel creation at the time. 44 years later, the movie shows its' age…in an endearing way. The way you loved that ratty blanket or disgusting t-shirt for years after it should have been thrown away. The story is a bit clever as well. Aside from the origins of Rudolph, there's a side plot about Hermey the elf who wants to leave the toy-making business to become a dentist. He wants to leave the joy of manufacturing toys in a mythic wonderland to sell out and make dentures….a little progressive in the details, but the conclusion of the kid-friendly classic follows the usual format. Hermey and Rudolph, exiled as misfits, return to save the day and are ultimately accepted.
Now, there are some who love and some who loathe the next movie in question. "A Christmas Story
" runs for 24 hours on TNT from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day. Can you stomach the nostalgic narration? How about the horrendous family dysfunction? If you get that far, after the second or third viewing, it begins to grow on you. The quotes and the scenes become embedded in your memory. The lamp, fra-gi-le, the racist portrayal of Asian-Americans singing "Deck the Halls," and of course, the one moment everybody knows even if they haven't seen the movie. The flagpole scene. With the frozen tongue. Admittedly, this movie took some time to become a favorite. Now, there's no escape from it year after year. After year…
Now, there's little dysfunction and a lot of humor in the next choice. The obligatory shout out to Charles Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol" takes a goofy turn in "A Muppet Christmas Carol
." Normally known for being kid-friendly and adult-friendly with some hidden jokes, the muppets did justice to a continually revamped story. There are versions and adaptations of the Dickens' classic from animated shows to holiday specials to actual films. This is the best. Hands down. Kermit as Bob Cratchit, and Academy Award Winner Michael Caine acting alongside frogs, pigs, rats and weirdos seals the deal. The musical numbers combine the charm of live actors and the silliness of (let's face it) glorified socks and marionettes. It's one of the better muppet creations out there.
" pulls from a few classics and falls in the middle of the spectrum for warm and fuzzies. There are a few nods to the claymation movies of the '60s in the beginning of the film, and enough Scrooges scattered throughout to modernize the feel of the movie. Around the holidays it's common to hear office staff stifle the urge to answer the phone and ask "What's your favorite color?" If you can get away with it, please do. Will Ferrell
isn't at his best, but he is a lovable caricature of all things Christmas. In a ridiculous outfit that just begs to be copied.
Now for those out there that want a strong attempt at going off the chart of warm and fuzzy without losing that realistic feel - resulting in an epic failure to reach even lukewarm fuzzy - there's always "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
." The film's intentions are good, just like the parent that gives you the gift that makes you feel insecure in front of your entire family. It draws directing from the trials of the holidays a hosting family goes through. Accommodating the relatives - cue camper. Preparing the food - enter the driest turkey of the season. Then there are the Christmas lights visible from space. It's like a rite of passage to frustrate yourself with the tangle of lights. You feel like you've suddenly gone from childhood and the blind love for all things Christmas into adulthood. With the "Yule To Do" list growing as you age. It's the perfect therapy to watch as you frantically try to wrap all the presents before the doorbell rings. Please, keep the pets in another room.
Story by Kate Kostal
Starpulse contributing writer