For some families, there is no greater holiday tradition than Christmas day at the movies. Perhaps they like to enjoy an activity that, due to everyone's busy schedule during the rest of the year, is not as regular an occurrence as they wish. For some, they probably cannot think of another activity that provides something for everyone.

And then, there are those families who are looking for a dark room to pass some of the agonizing together time that is annually forced upon them. For many, it is likely a combination of the three.

At any rate, Tinseltown is well aware of this tradition and created a yearly Christmas lineup for the December 25 faithful. Included in some combination is a family picture, a bloody flick for the scrooges, a movie that is inanely stupid for those don't like to think on their day off, a film begging for an Oscar, and of course, a movie full of sentiment and mushy humor. This year's Dec. 25 offerings do not disappoint.

Kid Friendly

This year's kid flick also looks like this Christmas' most original and enjoyable storyline: The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep. All about a child who discovers and raises a baby Loch Ness monster, "The Water Horse" hints that there may be more to the story of Nessie than traditionally thought. It takes the bold stance that a sea serpent can love, and what's more Christmas than that? Plus it's got tons of little Scottish children with funny accents, which is something that everyone can enjoy. It's perfect for young families with little children and perhaps a forgiving teenager or two.

Alien Invasion

For the scrooges and the stooges, there is one movie that does it all. If the perfect thing to wash down that Christmas roast beast isn't the Whos down in Whoville, how about an alien invasion and a bunch of cyborg super killers with dreadlocks? Check out Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem. Don't let it's scholarly name fool you, this movie promises to do all the thinking for you.

Though it is technically a sequel, it's really the same movie that was made four years ago. Still, "Requiem" promises to answer all the hanging questions left at the end of the first AVP, such as, "What would ever happen if they fought some more?!" Don't let me spoil the ending for you, but I bet a lot of people get blown up, shot, and/or eaten. So, if you didn't get that Halo 3 video game you were pining for this Christmas, check out "Alien Vs. Predator." In all seriousness, this is gift that promises to give you exactly what you expect when you unwrap, just like it's predecessor. Besides, if it isn't good, then it will probably be hysterically awful, so how can you go wrong?

Oscar Worthy?

If you're trying to get in good with Oscar voters, a good Christmas day opening never hurts. Though there are no pictures opening this Christmas with a significant amount of buzz around them, there are two with an outside chance of getting noticed: Denzel Washington's The Great Debaters and Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman's The Bucket List. The first follows Denzel as he tries to turn Wiley College's debate team into Harvard equals and national contenders.

This movie could go one of two ways: It could end up being surprisingly inspirational and a telling look into our own society as seen through the racially challenged 1930s/Great Depression, or it could be "Remember Titans" gone geek. Though either would make for an entertaining Christmas day, the latter would be unlikely to get any Oscar attention. Perhaps its wild card is last year's acting Oscar winner, Forest Whitaker, who plays a supporting role in the picture.

As for "The Bucket List," Freeman and Nicholson play two terminally ill patients who escape from a cancer ward to try and complete a list of activities before "kicking the bucket." The plot seems to be pretty self explanatory, replacing real depth with the predictable solemnity that surrounds death and the "life is beautiful" humor that counters it. However, there is something Thelma and Louise-ish about the actors' chemistry on screen.

While it's likely just a sentimental comedy for couples and older families, its leads certainly have the acting chops needed to elevate "The Bucket List" to something special. It is also interesting to see these men entering the twilight of their lives and careers (hopefully a very long twilight), and this may end up being to them what Grumpy Old Men was to Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau - the beginning of a glorious end for two wonderful cinematic giants.

Then again, those seeking the real diamond in the rough this Christmas, those who truly want to see an Oscar contender or a really well made film, may want to scour their area looking for Persepolis. A limited Christmas release of an animated foreign feature, "Persepolis" focuses on the coming of age of a young Iranian girl during the Islamic revolution. This is a picture that has gained a good amount of acclaim all over the globe, including here in the United States, as written up by Lisa Nesselson in the May 23 issue of Variety:

"Any stragglers still unconvinced that animation can be an exciting medium for both adults and kids will run out of arguments in the face of 'Persepolis.' ...This autobiographical tour de force is completely accessible and art of a very high order... (It) boasts a bold lyricism spanning great joy and immense sorrow. In both concept and execution, (this) hand-drawn toon is a winner."

So these are the pictures that Santa is delivering in his sleigh this December 25; now it's your turn to pick out the right one. Remember, if you don't like it, you can always yankee swap.


Story by James Fagan
Starpulse contributing writer