As much as I love Miracle on 34th Street and A Christmas Story, winter is the perfect season for a whole wonderland of underrated non-traditional film options for your viewing pleasure. Here are a few of my favorite selections designed to warm both your heart and your chestnuts.
The Year Without A Santa Claus — The holiday season would not be complete without claymation (more accurately known as stop-motion animation). Created in 1974, this classic tale sends elves to the fictional town of Southtown USA in an attempt to find people who still believe in Santa. What better way to rekindle Christmas spirit than by singing loud for all to hear? Oh, wait, wrong elf movie*. In The Year Without A Santa Claus, the elves must prove Santa’s existence by making it snow in Southtown on Christmas Day. The side plot pits the Heat Miser, who controls the weather of Southtown, against the Snow Miser, as they engage in a meteorological showdown. The title insinuates an emphasis on Christmas, but the real action obviously follows a more secular theme of global warming. Cameo by Mother Nature.
The Muppet Christmas Carol — Arguably the best version of A Christmas Carol out there (though Diva’s Christmas Carol starring Vanessa Williams is SUCH a classic), The Muppet Christmas Carol is Kermit and Miss Piggy’s take on Dickens’ timeless novel. With the new Muppet movie out last week, the creators are just asking you to make it a double feature.
A Rugrats Chanukah — Bet you forgot that the Pickles family was part-Jewish! While not a full feature-length film, A Rugrats Chanukah was the first televised animated Chanukah program ever. The episode, which may require some YouTube reconnaissance to find, features Tommy Pickles as Judah in the battle against King “Antonica” aka Angelica as she threatens to reshape the Jewish kingdom into a Greek empire. Well, a Maccababy’s gotta do what a Maccababy’s gotta do. Donning striking diaper/yarmulke combos, the Rugrats remind us that Chanukah is not only a religious holiday but an awesome a’venture as well.
See Also: A Rugrats Kwanzaa, A Rugrats Passover
Snow Day — Nothing captures the spirit and chutzpah of elementary school kids with cabin fever quite like the movie Snow Day. The snowplowman is the ultimate villain, threatening to clear the roads of fresh powder and send everyone back to school, UGH! Set in nearby Syracuse, this classic battle of good vs. snowplow will make you want to wear your pajamas inside-out for the entirety of study week. Also features a totally rad 90s soundtrack with appearances by Hoku, LFO, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Sixpence None The Richer.
Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire — In the fourth installment of the Harry Potter film series Harry and Co. take on the Triwizard tournament and puberty. Nothing to keep you warm on a cold winter’s night like pre-Twilight Robert Pattinson, who stars as Hogwarts heartthrob Cedric Diggory. The hormonal action culminates in the Yule Ball, magnifying the awkwardness of floor-length dress robes and slow dancing. The Yule Ball is a merry yet nondenominational winter solstice festival – after all, everyone can believe in a little magic.
Love Actually — The only Rated-R film on my list (boobs!), Love Actually follows the relationships of eight couples as they maneuver their way through the holiday season. There are love line segments, triangles, and quadrangles galore and it only takes a few scenes to start connecting the dots. Not to be written off as a lame rom-com, the film avoids being pure chick-flick by weaving comedic relief into the broken hearts and declarations of love. Breaking up the cuddle fest is Colin, a peripheral character who uses his British accent to get laid in America, and Billy Mack, the raunchy rock star with a budding bromance. Voted by me as best to watch with your boyfriend — draw him in with the promise of some boobs and let the action and/or Keira Knightly hold his attention ‘til the heartwarming finale.
Elf — Buddy The Elf (Will Ferrell) meets The Big Apple in THE most quotable of all holiday movies. Buddy, a human who was raised by elves, makes the journey from the North Pole to find his genetic father in New York City. I personally have been waiting for this season for months solely because it is finally relevant, if slightly annoying, to use Elf quotes in everyday life. And guys, you can go back to pretending you still have a chance with indie princess Zooey Deschanel now that she and Death Cab frontman Ben Gibbard have called it quits.
Reviewing the above list, I realize that I have the theatrical taste of a 10-year-old who likes boobs. But isn’t that what the holidays are supposed to do, above all — make you feel like a kid again?
The holidays remind us of latkes and applesauce, wanting to hear the sound of reindeer on the roof sooo badly, or whatever combination of Christmakwanzakah traditions you celebrate.
And regardless of religion or belief, Winter Break bring us back to days of Mom making hot chocolate, snowmen and snow angels, crackling fireplaces. As for me, I thought maybe we could make ginger bread houses, and eat cookie dough, and go ice skating, and maybe even hold hands. Had to do it, the holidays come but once a year!