Five Festive Favourites

Ah Christmas movies. An integral part of the festive season. Picture this – the biscuits are open. A hot cup of coffee, warm to the touch. The rains pelting off the window. The fire’s roaring. Your peripheral vision is filled with cheerful flashing lights. And you’re popping in the DVD(in this scenario, people still use DVDs). But with a plethora of choices available to us, it’s hard to choose the right one. As one of those people who embraces the holiday season with fervor, I’ve seen countless Christmas movies over the last couple of weeks, and so I’ve decided to present you with my top picks.

5. Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas

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I love this movie so much. The first time I saw it was when I was eight years old and my grandmother gifted it to me on VHS. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s a compilation of three stories – one based around Donald and his family, one about Goofy and his son, and one about Mickey and Minnie.

Donald’s story is based around his three nephews, Huey, Dewy and Louie. They make a wish for Christmas every day, and enter into a time loop a la Groundhog Day. Whilst initially delighted at the prospect, they soon find themselves bored and wish for it to end. Along the way they learn that materialism is not the true essence of Christmas, and they come to appreciate the wonderful and loving family they have.

Goofy’s story is based around his son Max’s lack of belief in Santa. Goofy then goes all out in an effort to prove to his son that Santa does believe. But whilst the plot revolves around Max’s belief, the heart of this story is the love between father and son. Two moments in particular really struck a chord with me. Goofy’s snow shovelling message, and his response to Max when asked where his present is.

Mickey and Minnie’s story is based on the classic “Gift of the Magi” tale. Mickey and Minnie are both quite poor and sacrifice what is most dear to each of them to get each other the perfect gift. In doing so they render each other’s gifts useless, but both come away the happier knowing how much they mean to each other.

And to cap it all off, the entire crew come together to give us a few pretty fantastic Christmas carols.

Full of Disney’s charm and sappy Christmas cheer, this one just can’t help but make me feel all festive and cheerful inside.

4. Muppet’s Christmas Carol

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I’ll waste nobody’s time in explaining this tale. The classic from Dickens has been adapted to just about any medium yo ucould imagine, often repeatedly so. It speaks volumes then, that the Muppets lay claim to what I, and I know many others, consider by far the strongest adaptation. Here in Ireland, the national broadcaster airs a family film every Saturday evening. And being the season that it is, the last several weeks have been Christmas movies, and I’ve been tuning in. When I saw that two days ago they had decided upon the animated version released in 2009 with Jim Carrey, I was actually devestated. And, of course, I watched the Muppets version myself later.

I hope you’ve seen it. And if not, make 2015 the year that you do. Michael Caine takes on the mantle of Scrooge, and this is an adaptation well worth watching.

3. It’s a Wonderful Mic

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Alright, I’ll admit I’m a teensy bit biased on this one. I’m a huge fan of the band Walk off the Earth. They made this movie last year but only patrons could see it. This year though, they released it on Youtube. In case the title didn’t give it away, it is of course based on “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Though a lot more silly, playful and cheerful. That might be my favourite thing about the movie actually, and I liked a lot of stuff about the movie. But where other movies ask you to suspend disbelief and buy into it, the band here look like they’re having a blast filming. It’s meant to be fun and that’s what they treat it as. The acting is predictably awful, but you can’t help but feel as you’re watching it that the cast really don’t care – they’re just having festive fun. The star of the show is, of course, the music. The band has adapted several classic Christmas carols, all of which are predictably amazing.

The movie follows Gianni, who feels the band are holding him back and wishes that the badn never existed. He then finds himself in a reality where they didn’t and it’s a blast seeing the band members in the roles they would have had if Walk off the Earth had never taken off.

If you feel like a Christmas musical and like some indie Christmas music, then you’ve found it. And best of all, it’s freely accessible on youtube.

2. The Polar Express

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I have spent an ungodly amount of time analyzing this movie, as have many others. And I still haven’t decided entirely what I think. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, it follows a young boy who desparately wants to believe in Santa but simply can’t get over his doubts. Once he goes to sleep on Christmas Eve, he is woken almost immediately by the arrival of the titular train to take him to the North Pole. His belief is both challenged and encouraged along the way, with the ability to hear a bell acting as a tool to indicate whether or not somebody believes.

There’s several indicators that the boy’s entire trip was a dream, not least of which comes the next morning, when the boy’s dressing gown pocket tears. The same pocket that had supposedly already been torn on the trip. But that leaves the return of the bell entirely unexplained. Logically, it cannot be reasoned. The trip could not have happened if the dressing gown pocket only tore in the morning. The bell could not have been returned had it not been given by Santa at the North Pole. But I think that’s the point. The movie defies logic. The trip happened. We’re not supposed to analyse it. To figure it out. It couldn’t have happened. But it did.

And that’s without even mentioning the hobo, who the conductor really was, what each kid represented. This is the one Christmas movie I know that could be discussed for hours around a pub table. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. If you have seen it, watch it again.

1. Elf

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And my personal favourite. The funniest, most light-hearted, and definitely most quotable Christmas movie I’ve seen to date. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, it follows a human, named Buddy, who was raised in the North Pole as an elf. When he discovers he’s a human, he travels to New York to find his father, who is on the naughty list. And the ensuing hijinks are hilarious. From lighting up elevator buttons, to drinking whiskey(which he mistakenly thought was syrup) and dancing in the mailroom, to accusing an actor of not being Santa Claus, to doing the splits on an escalator, I should probably stop before I just keep going on indefintiely. I’ve seen this film too many times to count, and every time I get some full belly laughs out of it. A modern classic, this one is a must if you’re seeking some Christmas cheer, with an all star cast to boot. Besides, we get to see Tyrion Lannister as a children’s writer. Just let that sink in for a minute.

And so concludes my list! As a sidenote, I’ve seen most Christmas movies with my amazingly festive sister who helps me keep the Christmas cheer repeatedly throughout the merry season, so thanks Emsy! I’ll also concede to co-writer Cian that he was right about our Christmas discussion, as evidenced by the fact that The Muppets Christmas Carol features on this list.

Merry Christmas to our readers, and to all…a good night.

About the Author:

Rumored to have been born with a games controller in his hand, Noel Gleeson works as a Java Developer in Ireland and loves all things pop culture.

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About English Den

Experienced, qualified and professional English teacher working in Warsaw, Poland. Interested in pop culture, and using pop culture to teach languages. Available for private or in-business classes. International classes also available on Skype. Contact Cian.shep@gmail.com for further information.
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One Response to Five Festive Favourites

  1. I have known some folks who “didn’t get” Elf but I thought it was pretty darn good. I have seen so many Christmas films over the years but never have thought up a list of faves. I’ll have to check out your Number 3…never seen. Thanks for the tip!

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