Christmas has some really great and really awful movies

My good friend Brian Shoop was a guest on my radio show (Tulsa Beacon Weekend on KCFO AM970 at noon on Saturdays) on Thanksgiving weekend and we talked about Christmas movies.

Brian is a professional actor, someone you would recognize if you saw him because of his work in commercials and movies.

Here are some Christmas movies I like and some I would stay away from.

These are ones I recommend:

White Christmas

This is absolutely my favorite starring Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby. Bing sings White Christmas – arguably the most popular Christmas tune of all time. Holiday Inn is a parallel movie but I don’t like it nearly as much.

Miracle on 34th Street

This black-and-white film doesn’t focus on the real story of Christmas – the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ – but it is very sentimental and it carries some interesting themes about faith and belief (although in Santa).

It’s a Wonderful Life

The importance of family and friends is clearly demonstrated in this movie starring Jimmy Stewart. Be careful of what you wish for. And this classic shows the role of guardian angels – a Biblical concept.

A Christmas Snow

This is a movie based on a book by Tulsa author and Tulsa Beacon contributor Jim Stovall. This is a great family film about reconciliation – a problem faced in so many families during the holidays. See the movie and buy the book.

A Christmas Story

There is no spiritual message in this entertaining Christmas movie. But it has many scenes that relate to those of us born in the 1950s and raised in the 1960s and 1970s. This is a funny, heart-warming story that the whole family can watch without worrying about a lot of sex and violence.

Elf

OK, this movie has nothing to do with the real story of Christmas. And I really don’t care much for Will Farrell, the lead actor (most of his movies are filled with bathroom humor). But this is a sentimental fairy tale connected somewhat to real life. It deals with reconciliation and it has funny and sad moments.

Scrooged

Bill Murray stars in this wacky interpretation of A Christmas Carol. I don’t know that I could recommend this but it is very funny with Murray’s offbeat sense of humor. It tries to be very sentimental at the end but it falls short.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

I first saw this in 1965 when I was a kid and there were only four TV channels. It is true to the genuine “reason for the season.” The late Charles Schultz was a committed Christian and that bleeds through all the Charlie Brown comics and shows.

These movies aren’t too bad:

Home Alone

As Brian Shoop pointed out, the third time a family goes on vacation and forgets their youngest child, it’s probably time to call the Department of Human Services. This is a movie with cartoonish violence but it has some funny scenes and is steeped in sentimentality at the end. The problem is you would never want your own kids to act this way. But it does show the value of love within a family and the bad guys lose in the end.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Here’s another one I probably wouldn’t recommend but it sure has some funny moments. This movie makes fun of a comically dysfunctional family and extended family. There are a lot of bad lessons in this film and it has no connection to the real story of Christmas but at least it is not as dirty as some more recent “Christmas” films.

The Star

This is an animated film in theaters now that tells the Christmas story through the view of the animals connected to the birth of Jesus.

The Santa Claus

This is a mystical comedy about a dad turning into Santa Claus. It’s sentimental but not too edifying.

 

Here are some holiday movies that I would recommend you not watch (especially kids):

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Tim Burton (big surprise) directed this stop-motion animated musical that casts a dark shadow on Christmas. Do you really want to scare kids at Christmas with an animated film? I don’t think so.

Bad Santa

If you want to spit on the spirit of Christmas, create a movie like this one. A despicable con man and his elf partner conspire to rob department stores during the Christmas. This must be aimed at atheists and other cynics who despise the Christmas season. And believe it or not, they made a sequel.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

The Dr. Seuss books were clever but they had no connection to the real meaning of Christmas. But you should not any moral lesson in a movie starring Jim Carrey and directed by Ron Howard (Opie).

A Bad Mom’s Christmas

This is currently playing. It is over-the-top comedy on mother-daughter relationships set at Christmas. This is a good one to skip.

Die Hard

Is this a Christmas movie? I guess so because the cable channels show it over and over in December. I tried to count how many people were killed in this show and I lost count.

Coco

This is the theaters right now. All Pixar movies are entertaining and well crafted but this one promotes Aztec mythology and talking to dead people. And it is particularly insidious because it is an animated film aimed at children.

Do we really want a movie about the “Day of the Dead” at Christmas?