Chances are you’ve seen this movie at least once, if not a hundred times. “Elf” has quickly become a favorite, must-see Christmas movie since its release in 2003. Will Ferrell plays Buddy, a human raised at the North Pole by elves, who travels to New York City in search of his real father. Scene after scene will leave you laughing out loud as Buddy discovers the world around him and ultimately discovers himself. “Elf” centers on the themes of family, friendship, love and acceptance, with heartwarming sincerity and, at times, hilarity. This film is sure to bring a smile almost a large as Buddy’s: “I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite.”
It’s a Wonderful Life
It’s become a tradition in many homes to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” every Christmas season. George Bailey, played by James Stewart, is a compassionate, yet frustrated and depressed man who had big dreams that he never achieved. After a series of events and a visit from an angel, George is given the opportunity to see what life would have been like if he had never been born. “It’s a Wonderful Life” captures the audience’s sympathies and leaves the viewers with a deep appreciation for life, family and purpose. Bringing laughter as well as tears, this film is one each person should see at least once, if only to be reminded of the value of every life.
I’ll Be Home for Christmas
While it may not be the most popular Christmas movie, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is a simple, entertaining Disney production that is well worth watching. Starring Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Jessica Biel, the movie involves a college student’s frantic race to get home for Christmas in spite of a parade of humorous obstacles. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is an enjoyable film about growing up, going after what you want and discovering the importance of family.
The Nativity Story
This visually stunning and emotionally affecting 2006 release is undoubtedly one of the best representations of the birth of Christ, lending humanity to what can often become just the story we read each year before tearing into presents. Its exploration of the lives of Mary and Joseph before and during that fateful trip to Bethlehem gives modern viewers a taste of the truly shameful circumstances surrounding the Savior’s birth, and the strength and faith required of His earthly parents. Well-acted and beautifully rendered, it’s an excellent film for escaping the holiday madness and remembering the reason we celebrate.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
In all its vintage animation glory, this blast from the past tells the familiar story of the ultimate Christmas curmudgeon (other than Scrooge), who mistakenly believes he can stop the celebration of Christmas simply by making off with the trappings. But of course in the end, the indomitable community spirit of the pointy-noised townspeople warms the Grinch’s two-sizes-too-small heart with a message about as altruistic as you can get without overt reference to the Bethlehem story. Re-watching this holiday classic provides all the fun of Dr. Seuss’s linguistic magic without the white-knuckled terror incurred by the Jim Carrey-helmed live-action version. Unfortunately, some things just can’t be unseen.