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Christmas Classics

Looking for Christmas movies to enjoy this Christmas season? Light the fire, grab a DVD (or turn on your streaming service), pop some popcorn, mix up some hot chocolate, and settle down to enjoy these festive film favorites.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966). Grade: A

This television special has long been considered an integral part of many families’ Christmas traditions. The story of the hard-hearted Grinch who plots to steal Christmas from the residents of Whoville is a funny and touching tale of the transformative power of the holiday. With the unbeatable vocal talents of Boris Karloff and Thurl Ravenscroft, brilliant animation by Chuck Jones, and the quirky visual design of the Seuss universe, this animated classic has something for everyone.

A Charlie Brown Christmas. Grade: A

Feeling overwhelmed by the chaos of Christmas? Want to get the family focused on what Christmas is really about? Settle down with the kids and enjoy Charles M Schulz’s first animated Peanuts special. Charlie Brown, exasperated by his friends’ wholesale embrace of a commercialized Christmas, buys a pathetic little Christmas tree to try to bring them back to the reason for the season. A nativity play and an unforgettable musical score keep this TV special on the must-watch list for many families.

Blizzard. Grade: A

A talking reindeer named Blizzard (voiced by Whoopi Goldberg) befriends a lonely little girl named Katie in this overlooked Christmas classic. Forced to move away from her beloved skating rink and coach, Katie is so despondent that Blizzard senses her emotions far away at the North Pole. Blizzard befriends Katie and is willing to break all of the North Pole’s rules to help her. This wonderful family film is particularly good for any child who is struggling with loneliness, moving to a new home, or dealing with any other kind of loss. It treats children’s feelings with empathy and respect and has an unusual level of warmth and compassion. Add some gentle humor and lovely winter scenes (shot in Canada) and you have a new family classic.

The Muppet Christmas Carol: Grade: A-

This production adheres reasonably closely to Dickens’ famous tale but adds the Muppets’ trademark zany antics. The film features Kermit as Bob Cratchitt, Miss Piggy as his wife, Gonzo as the narrator, and Fozzie Bear as Mr. Fezziwig. With a buoyant musical score and a game performance by Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge, this movie will be enjoyed by family members of all ages.

The Snowman. Grade: A

If you are looking for a film to calm your kids from their sugar high, look no further. This animated movie tells the story of a boy and his snowman to a dreamy musical soundtrack – and no dialogue at all. This is a great option to soothe kids at bedtime. Be careful: you just might drift off as well.

Arthur Christmas. Grade: A-

Produced by Aardman Animation, this quirky little movie adds some dry British wit to the traditional Santa story. In this tale, Santa isn’t a person; it’s a job handed down from father to son. The current Santa is nearing retirement and his oldest son, who has organized the North Pole into a hyper-efficient, high-tech operation, is champing to take over. Younger son, Arthur, a true believer in Christmas, is hopelessly clumsy and has been exiled to the mail room. But when Arthur learns that a child’s gift has been left behind, he embarks on a madcap adventure to ensure that no child is forgotten at Christmas.

It’s a Wonderful Life. Grade: A

Frank Capra’s masterpiece, It’s a Wonderful Life, is considered one of the greatest American films ever made. Caught in a scandal not of his making, George Bailey (James Stewart) is found by an angel who shows him what the world would have been like had he never been born. A celebration of individual human worth and the strength of friendship and family, this film should not be missed. Free of objectionable content, its plot is over the heads of young children but will be enjoyed by older kids and their parents.

Joyeux Noel. Grade: B+

From the mud and blood of the trenches of World War I comes this unlikely and inspiring French film. It tells the moving story of the Christmas Eve ceasefire where soldiers from both sides laid down their guns and met between their trenches to share Christmas cheer. There is some wartime violence (no more than is necessary for the plot) and a sexual scene involving some nudity (grab your remote control and skip over it). For these reasons, the movie is only suitable for older teens and their parents. Nonetheless, we recommend this film due to its aspirational Christmas message of “On earth peace, good will toward men.”

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