Follow me as I watch 50+ of the best (and worst) holiday films! I will blog mini-reviews as I go and then rank them when I’m done watching them all.
Ernest Saves Christmas
While Googling for this image, I found that the common search was for the cast. No wonder, really. Having been the first time I’ve watched this movie since I was a kid, one of the major things that struck me about this installment in the P. Worrel library was the quality of the relatively unknown cast, especially Noelle Parker (Harmony) and Douglas Seale (Santa).
This is the second (and second best) Ernest movie. It introduced Chuck’s (Gailard Sartain) new (and from then, constant) sidekick, Bobby. (Billy Burge). It added the Ernest disguises, which gave Jim Varney a chance to explore other characters, and it is the only one that used the “Hey, Vern!” element that originally shot the character into the spotlight in the countless classic ’80s commercials Jim Varney and John R. Cherry III created.
A lot of people have “saved” Christmas. Kirk Cameron was the worst at it, but Ernest was always the best.
Mickey’s Christmas Carol
Made in 1983, this short film is a walk through classic Disney nostalgia. Everyone from Mickey Mouse to the Three Little Pigs and The Big Bad Wolf are laid over on the classic Dickens tale of redemption. Some roles fit (Uncle Scrooge McDuck as Ebeneezer Scrooge) and some do not (Goofy as Jacob Marley), but the story is true to the source, funny, and a joy to watch.
If you haven’t seen this classic and you are a fan of Roger Rabbit, you are in for a Christmas treat.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
The 50th anniversary of this film, and it’s still an enduring Christmas film. The stop-go animation, the Island of Misfit Toys, and the elf that longs to be a dentist are certainly memorable icons of the holiday.
Looking at this movie critically, I’d have to say that there are two major issues with this story. First, aside from the title song, “Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas,” and “Silver and Gold,” the music isn’t particularly great. Second – and this is the most glaring fault (like a light bulb!) is that Santa is kind of a douche. He didn’t want Rudolph on his team based solely on his being different and doesn’t add the reindeer to the team until he needs him. The story doesn’t do a particularly good job of teaching anyone a lesson about appreciating and celebrating differences that don’t immediately benefit them.
Incidentally, there’s a bit of old fashioned “this is man’s work, woman!” going on in this flick.
Other than those two points, I don’t see why this classic TV special won’t still be a classic TV special in another fifty years.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
This is basically what sci-fi looked like before Star Trek. Instead of conceiving what martians might actually use, the art department was simply set to the task of making things look spacey. Put the martians in tights, give them silly hats, and paint ’em green. Awesome!
This is possibly the worst Christmas movie ever made, and that’s no surprise really. That’s why it’s on the list! It’s the Plan 9 from the North Pole, and I didn’t even watch the MST3K version.
The Family Stone
This story is about how tragedy can breed truth and about how truth can lead to the most sentimental Christmas a family will ever share, even as they judge and bicker and chase each other around the house.
The cast wear their character’s flesh with natural poise, and while there may be too many characters for every story arc to hang nicely on the tree, the fact this family is dealing with so much that a lot is left to linger in the background is part of what makes this home feel real and familiar. This is a family that truly wants what’s best for their loved ones, even if it means acting out inappropriately to make their case.
If you’re from an imperfect family yourself, there will likely be some catharsis in sharing a part of your holiday with The Family Stone.