BY DAVE GLENEN
For me it was always It’s A Wonderful Life with Jimmy Steward as the everyman hero who wants nothing more than travel the world in search of adventure and ends up finding it wrapped up in the characters of his hometown.
But lately, it is the multi-story Christmastime movie, Love Actually, the creation of Richard Curtis, the writer who brought us Notting Hill.
From the quotes that replay in my head for days after seeing it to its blatant and unapologetic look at love, I find myself drawn to Love Actually more than any other this time of year.
Beyond the stellar cast which includes many of England’s leading actors who can command top billing in any movie they make, it’s the smart dialogue and sympathetic characters that keep my family and me coming back.
From the sister who stands by her troubled brother no matter the cost to her own chances for a relationship, to a man who tries to put the pieces of his life back together after the death of his wife, Love Actually gives you a brief look into everyone’s lives with a sense of respect and acknowledgement that love is all around us if we only want to look.
And perhaps the best scene to take you through this happens at the beginning of the movie where, unscripted, the camera captures the actual meetings of people at the airport as Hugh Grant’s voice, in the opening monologue, introduces you to the movie’s theme:
“It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends.”
This is a Christmas classic without Santa and reindeer, without a Scrooge or even a heroic moment. It’s not one for kids and not one that avoids those cringy corny moments
But it is one with a lot of heart and at this time of year, a lot of heart is just what we need.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
BY SARAH LADIK
THE CENTRAL VOICE
I am going to be very candid with you and tell you I have never gotten through Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Instead, I have The Muppet Christmas Carol.
First off, I am not a very Christmassy person. I have opinions about rampant consumerism and people expecting me to be of good cheer for a whole month. You might even call me a bit of a Scrooge. So, I appreciate Gonzo and Rizzo’s narration that takes you out of the story a bit and allows you to laugh at the whole thing.
Second, the movie does a great job of keeping things funny like you expect in a Muppet movie, but also having truly heartfelt moments. I tear up every time I see the boy/bunny shivering in the trash heap, and the ending does indeed warm the cockles of my otherwise frigid heart.
Third, and this has nothing to do with Christmas but is important all the same, it has one of the best breakup songs ever recorded. We could all take a leaf from Belle’s book and wish our exes well as we indeed leave them now alone.
Lastly, watching the great Michael Caine as Scrooge interact with puppets is never going to get old.
A Christmas Story
BY ADAM RANDELL
THE CENTRAL VOICE
While it doesn’t share the meaningful messages of It’s a Wonderful Life, or feature the fantastic rhyming abilities of Dr. Seuss, the story of a 1940s boy, named Ralphie, trying to get a B.B. gun for Christmas is timeless.
Who hasn’t been there, wanting that one thing in life more than anything, only to find out it just doesn’t live up to the expectation.
A Christmas Story blends a witty narrative with visual comedy that pulls one away from the stress of the holiday season, creating one liners and conversation pieces that are instantly recognizable.
We’ve all said that infamous line, in that teasing voice, “You’ll shoot your eye out, you’ll shoot your eye out,” questioned the science of sticking your tongue to a metal pole, and probably even googled where to purchase a leg shaped lamp.
Why? Because of A Christmas Story.
If you’re looking for the hard facts to support this decision, a way to quantify the staying power of this 35-year-old film is no further than your phone screen.
The International Movie Database (IMDB) has it sitting at number three in its Top 25 Christmas movies list. Further down you’ll find the likes of A Muppet’s Christmas Carol, Love Actually, Home Alone and a good many others that have fallen to Ralphie’s quest for the Red Ryder carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle.
A Christmas Story is only outdone on the IMDB list by It’s a Wonderful Life and Die Hard.
Seeing how one is a touching portrait of self-reflection and the other is a shoot ‘em up action flick, I’ll stick with the comedy for a merry Christmas.