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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Another Look at Holiday Favorites
by Betty Jo Tucker

Merely thinking about certain movies can boost my holiday spirit. No,  I don’t mean It’s a Wonderful Life. I know I’m being sacrilegious, but that’s not one of my favorites. I’m talking about movies like the original Miracle on 34th Street with Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn. Or Meet Me in St. Louis with Judy Garland. Or A Christmas Story with Darren McGavin. Or The Muppet Christmas Carol with Kermit, Miss Piggy and Michael Caine. Those are the old traditional ones. But get I the same feeling when recalling some off-beat flicks like Scrooged, Trapped in Paradise and Stuart Saves His Family as well as a few newer movies like The Grinch, Elf, Santa Clause 2, It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, The Polar Express, Noel, Love Actually and Christmas in the Clouds.

What do these films have in common? Most of them deliver stories filled with humor and messages of hope -- all wrapped up in an entertaining cinematic package. Miracle on 34th Street, Elf, Santa Claus 2 and The Polar Express tell us we shouldn’t stop believing in the spirit of Christmas, no matter how old we are. Meet Me in St. Louis, A Christmas Story, Noel, Love Actually and Christmas in the Clouds celebrate the importance of love, family and friends during the holidays, while Stuart Saves His Family emphasizes why someone from a dysfunctional family is also “good enough and smart enough” to deserve a Merry Christmas. Trapped in Paradise highlights the way kindness can change even the most highly motivated robbers (Nicolas Cage, Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz); The Grinch illustrates the power of a child’s innate goodness to bring about redemption; Scrooged depicts a modern-day Scrooge’s (Bill Murray) change of heart; and The Muppet Christmas Carol gives that classic Dickens tale an amusing Muppet spin -- with expert help from Michael Caine as Scrooge. The other Muppet movie? Well, it’s just plain fun.

Wonderful scenes from many of these films pop into my mind during the holiday season -- including Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) daydreaming about how impressed the teacher will be with his essay describing what he wants for (A Christmas Story), Stuart Smalley (Al Franken) telling his good friend he’ll be her father when she needs one and she can be his mother when he needs one (Stuart Saves His Family), Judy Garland warbling  “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (Meet Me in St. Louis), Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel singing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (Elf ), Jim Carrey's Grinch trying to turn his dog Max into Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer, the surprising faculty Christmas party in Santa Clause 2, and most touching of all -- Robin the Frog, as Tiny Tim in The Muppet Christmas Carol, shouting “God bless us, everyone!”

In addition to echoing Tiny Tim’s blessing, here’s wishing movie fans everywhere a Happy Holiday Season.   

(This is an updated version of last year’s “Holiday Favorites Revisited” feature.)

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