Over the last couple of weeks, as usual for this time of year, I’ve found myself watching a long list of classic films over again for the 20th time. Christmas, of course, means watching Christmas films, and luckily for me, since it is unavoidable, this is something I really enjoy! Though Christmas is over now, in light of my last month’s viewing, I have decided to put together a review of the festive films I’ve enjoyed the most this Christmas season.
For the first time ever, this year I saw one popular Christmas film that I had somehow managed to avoid for my whole life so far. ‘The Santa Clause’ was released in 1994, and is a fun family comedy about what happens when Santa dies. When Santa falls off the roof of Scott Calvin (Tim Allen), he must take over the job, due to a legal clause related to the position. This becomes a problem, when he must convince the rest of the family that he really is Father Christmas and is not just going through a strange personality crisis. The story while being primarily a comedy, is also at times quite dark and sad, with Scott’s ex-wife disbelieving his story and trying to keep him away from his son. Because of this, the film should be enjoyable to the whole family, not just the children, and it is a great way to get into the festive mood.
Another film, ‘Elf’ is to many a favourite Christmas film. This might be due to its childlike silliness that is such a key part of Christmastime. Directed by Jon Favreau, the film stars Will Ferrell, James Caan and Zooey Deschanel as lead characters. When an elf working in the North Pole, Buddy, finds out that he is really a human, he must travel to New York to meet his true father and in the process tries to make the people he meets believe in Santa Claus once again. He also meets Jovie, an employee at Gimbel’s department store, who he quickly develops feelings for, but his lack of real world experience, and personal ‘uniqueness’ obviously make it somewhat harder to impress her. There has also been a Broadway musical inspired by the story, and an animated musical special on television. This film is at times very funny, and is filled with the Christmas cheer that makes all good Christmas films so special.
Another very popular Christmas film, particularly for young children is ‘Home Alone’, as well as its series of four sequels. It’s Christmas, and the McCallister family are planning a trip to Paris over their vacation, but Kevin McCallister, a young boy (Macaulay Culkin) accidentally gets left behind. At first he cherishes this chance to be ‘home alone’, but when two burglars attempt to rob his house, things get more complicated. This film suffers from the same issue as many other Christmas films, in that, unlike ‘Elf’ or ‘The Santa Clause’ it is supposed to be set very firmly in the real world, yet it stretches what is possible to unrealistic limits. In this film example, it is unrealistic that a child at this age would possibly get left at home for any extended period of time without authorities stepping in. When an audience knows from the beginning of a film that it will include Santa, elves and the North Pole, they are generally happy to accept the magic that exists in the film world, but when films are set in the real world, we expect a certain level of realism to be maintained. Often Christmas films can ignore this fact, but if you enjoy adventure and a film that makes you feel good, then this is an issue you can probably look past.
Just a small selection, these films are representative of most Christmas films, and there are plenty of lists of popular Christmas films to be found online when it comes around to the festive season again next year. Some Christmas films take the jolliness to a whole other level, being musicals. In my next article, I’m going to look at some of my favourite Christmas films that you can sing along to!
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