Of all the tinsel-draped, sleigh-bell jingling movies that have been made, none capture the fun and adventure of Christmas quite like The Grinch, The Santa Clause, Elf, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and A Muppet Christmas Carol, all available on DVD and ideal for a white Christmas family night in.
The Grinch (How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 2000)
Jim Carrey seems to enjoy wearing green and pulling faces and so, Dr. Seuss’s The Grinch suits him perfectly. The Grinch is a likable villain living just outside Whoville, a village inside a snowflake. He is lonely and bitter, having been rejected by the Whos, and as a result he hates the Whos and he hates Christmas. He is befriended by Cindy Lou Who, but is humiliated when trying to rejoin Who society. Angrily the Grinch decides to steal Christmas from them.
A remake of the 1966 film, Dr. Seuss’s wonderfully vivid imagination of a brightly coloured world is beautifully brought to life on screen. Carrey is back on the big screen nine years on in A Christmas Carol which is already a box office hit and will only increase in popularity as we head into advent. Carey can never be criticised for putting in a lifeless performance and watching the Grinch as a warm up in anticipation for A Christmas Carol comes highly recommended.
Running Time: 104 mins
The Santa Clause (1994)
Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) accidentally kills Santa. He does the only natural thing in this situation and dons Santa’s suit to complete the night’s rounds. That seems to be that, but as the year goes on, Calvin has numerous hints that he must take responsibility for the happiness of all the children in the world – starting with his own son.
Playing with traditional Christmas ideas and injecting a little magic into everyday situations, The Santa Clause is funny and enjoyable, but also emotively deals a father-son relationship that has been damaged by the father’s over-involvement in work. The only problem with The Santa Clause is that it has a terrible sequel. The Santa Clause 2, like too many sequels, does not have as compelling a storyline and fails to live up to the original.
Running Time: 97 mins
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
From writer, Tim Burton and director, Henry Selick (Coraline), The Nightmare Before Christmas takes a different angle on Christmas, exploring what happens when Christmas and Halloween mix. Jack Skellington the pumpkin-headed prince of the poltergeists discovers Christmas for the first time and is fascinated by it. He hears about Santa and sets in place a plan to create a monstrous parody of Christmas, which culminates in the kidnap of Father Christmas himself.
Throughout the film, Danny Elfman’s exceptional music adds spark and horror to a fantastical, well-crafted visual treat. This movie may not be suited to a younger audience.
Running Time: 76 mins
A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Charles Dickens’ Christmas Classic has brought back to screen time and again, not least in Jim Carrey’s latest adaptation which has been amusing audiences this year. With memorable heart warming lines as “Boy, what day is it?” “Why, today is Christmas day!” and Tiny Tim’s “God Bless Us, Everyone” this is a fable which has the giving, loving, good-humoured side of Christmas in view throughout.
Jim Henson’s Muppets take the story and infuse it with life, character, humour and upbeat songs to get the everyone singing. Narrated by the delightful repartee of Gonzo and Rizzo and with Michael Caine playing Ebenezer Scrooge excellently, this is an under-rated Christmas film and deserves any praise it receives. Hopefully Jim Carrey’s Scrooge will put the Muppets and Caine back on the radar.
Running Time: 85 min
No more incentive to watch this film is needed than this – it is an opportunity to see Will Ferrell mess around and put his own spin on Christmas. The best-selling and most popular Christmas film of recent times, Elf tells the story of an oversized elf (or, human raised by elves) called Buddy, as he grows up. He is clumsy and causes havoc and Santa lets him go to New York to find his father – who is on Santa’s naughty list. Obviously, moving from Santa’s Magical world in Lapland to the metropolis comes with some element of culture shock, not least that Christmas is entirely commercial, and no one believes in Santa.
The charm of the film lies in Ferrell’s eccentricities and superb performance, while also being another film about the thawing of a harsh father figure towards Christmas.
Running Time: 97 min
Whichever film you choose, it is more the chance to spend time together which makes it a Merry Christmas!