Below find TMWA's Very Special Holiday Movie Guide, being a guide to things that I have found on my television during that Holiest of Shopping Seasons. I love the Christmas season. (Yes, I'm an atheist and don't celebrate anything religious. But check out the post "Next you’ll be telling me the 'War on Christmas' is a myth designed to make the religious majority go on a pity trip" by Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon for more.)
I love to sit around eating cookies, drinking hot chocolate or egg nog, and watching festive movies. Seriously. And during this time of year, they can be holiday themed movies.
So here they are, the good, the bad, and the weird:
Arnold's Christmas: I love "Hey, Arnold!", and am forever dissapointed it's gone and never to return. That said, the Christmas episode is good, but not one of their best.
Call Me Claus: Silly made-for-TV movie from a few years back featuring Whoopi Goldberg as a cynical producer who gets tapped to be the next Santa Claus. It's cheesy and it's fun.
A Christmas Carol: The Patrick Stewart version, of course. This is fantastic; my favorite version. It really is true: I just might pay to listen to this man read from a phone book.
Franklin's Magical Christmas: I love Franklin (children's TV show with a turtle as the main character), so I thought I'd like the Christmas special. Unfortunately, in what is normally a very down-to-earth and reality based show (albeit with talking animals), the main plot centered around real flying reindeer who shuttle people back and forth near the end of the show. It left me sort of cold.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas: Classic; you sort of have to love the cartoon, and I get such a hoot (or is that "Who"-t?) out of the new Ron Howard version.
It's a Wonderful Life: I love this movie. You have to feel better about your life when you watch George suffer. Family tradition: Yell contrary advice every time George decides to stay in Bedford Falls. Just recently bought my own copy of this. (Interestingly, I remember the first time I saw the movie, it was a re-make which featured Mary Bailey as the main character, but I haven't seen anything about that in years.) When I saw it in college with friends, I remember when Mary tells Violet "You like all the boys", and Violet responds "What's wrong with that?" all my friends turned at looked at me. Fun fact from the DVD: Did you know that the main street of Bedford Falls is a large set? I always assumed this was an actual street somewhere.
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus: Up for something weird and haven't seen this before? This is based on a story by L. Frank Baum (who wrote the Oz books), and we all know what freaky stuff he wrote. (If you haven't already actually read some of the original Oz books, you owe it to yourself. It's worth bearing in mind that Opium was still in vogue around the same time.) I've seen two versions of this: a stop-motion and a traditionally animated version. They're similar, and both fun.
Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas: Very cute stories with the Disney characters; I like this a lot. Unfortunately, can't see it this year, as my local cable does not carry Disney channel. I thought about getting the DVD, but despite being a few years old and running on the Disney channel multiple times, they still want $20; so far I've decided not to spring for it.
Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas: Everything I said for Once Upon a Christmas, except I have trouble getting past the "new" 3D computer animated Mickey and pals.
Miracle on 34th Street: Love this, even though I dislike the premise of "believing things that aren't true is good for you." I like the original much better than the remake. It's sort of an interesting Rorschach test of a movie, too; there's nothing in the movie that actually suggests that Kris really is Santa Claus (even within the confines of the movie), but I've seen reviews that mention he really is Santa Claus, as though that had been established. Just bought my own copy, which includes both the original and the colorized versions in one set.
A Muppet Christmas Carol: Fabulous, and a lot of fun. And hey, here's a review. (If you like the review, it's part of a 40-part series covering every version of A Christmas Carol that the guy could find.)
Olive, the Other Reindeer: How can you not like all the name puns, starting with the title and continuing through "Round John Virgin" and "Richard Stands" (he's in the Pledge of Allegiance)? I'm with Olive on loving Christmas "the best of them all." And for some reason I have a tendency to hum "We're Not so Bad" all the time.
The Polar Express: Finally saw this on TV. A little long, not all that interesting, and kind of weird looking. I'm with the critics who said the North Pole had a creepy fascist vibe, but it's not completely overpowering while you watch it at least. This one gets an office "Meh" rating.
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and the Island fo Misfit Toys: Watch the dates on these, kiddies! This is a new Rudolph, using the old characters, but done with "3D" computer animation. It's official: Computer animation has gotten cheap enough that anyone can produce off-the-shelf drek on a moment's notice, and this is a case in point. (Not that the original Rankin-Bass works were masterpieces or anything, but I think they were cute.) This is almost painful, and a poorly done rehash of parts of Toy Story II.
The Santa Clause: Very cute. I haven't gotten around to the second one; I would have caught it this year, but it was running opposite the Simpsons, and there are some principles I won't compromise.
Santa Claus: The Movie Seriously, what were they thinking?
A Very Merry Muppet Christmas: Pretty mediocre version of It's a Wonderful Life with Kermit as George Bailey and Whoopi Golberg as God. Doesn't go anywhere. Meh.
Walt Disney World Holidays: Hosted by Samantha Brown. Have you seen Samantha Brown? She did the "Great Hotels" and "Passport to Europe" series for the Travel Channel, and I absolutely love her. She has a great sense of fun and wonder, and you feel like you get to go right along with her. Combine this with Disney World and Christmas and what could be better? (Note: Not to be confused with Holidays at Walt Disney World on the food network hosted by Raven Symone which focuses on the food at Disney World, which is also cool.)
Hmm... now what have I missed?