Tis the season for holiday movies! Netflix, the popular online DVD rental agency, has announced the titles of their top most rented holiday movies. Let's see if you agree with their results.
Number one on the Netflix holiday lineup is the 2004 theatrical release, The Polar Express. Declared by critics as an instant holiday classic, The Polar Express, an all-digital fantasy based upon the treasured Chris Van Allsburg book of the same title, "starred" Tom Hanks. Not even the unique voice of Tom Hanks could make this film appealing to me. Contrary to popular opinion, I found the digital characters eerie, and devoid of the "magic" vital to holiday classics. But if you enjoy Hollywood's latest digital twist in film production, go for it.
Number Two: "It's a Wonderful Life," the Jimmy Stewart/Donna Reed favorite. While I have seen countless television versions of the Frank Capra classic, I must admit that I have not seen the original. I am that rare individual who is not a Jimmy Stewart fan. I have, however, caught clips of the movie here and there, such as the scene with Stewart running through the street as the snow falls. Meant to move the viewer to holiday tears, all I can think of when I watch this scene is how fake the set looks! And I wonder. How would Hollywood make that movie today? Who would play the Jimmy Stewart role? I can see it now…Will Smith running through the street as the snow falls…or Denzel Washington…or Harrison Ford…STOP! Even I know that this Jimmy Stewart classic could never, and should never, be remade.
In Netflix's number three position is Will Ferrell's "Elf." I love this movie. Will Ferrell perfectly captures the childlike wonder of Christmas that we lose when we no longer write letters to Santa Claus, or leave him cookies on Christmas Eve. This is a movie all generations can view and enjoy together, one of the few films I purchased for my meager private collection of DVDs.
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Last on the Netflix list, but never least, is "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Mention "Charlie Brown," or "Snoopy," to an adult, and we all experience flashbacks to childhood days when there were only a few television channels, no such thing as video tapes, and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" aired only once a year. Who could forget hurrying through the evening's homework, or dinner, to plop down in front of the television to watch Charlie Brown and the gang discover the meaning of Christmas? This is perfection gift wrapped in a cartoon!
If none of these movies appeals to you, allow me to suggest my personal favorite that didn't make the Netflix list of most popular rentals: "A Muppet Christmas Carol." Released in 1992, directed by Jim Henson, and starring Michael Caine as Scrooge, "A Muppet Christmas Carol" is a fun, colorful romp through Charles Dickins' classic novel. Complete with lively music and the most adorable muppets around, this film is number one on my list of favorites. Who could resist Kermit skating at the annual penguin Christmas party? Who could resist joining in song as Scrooge and the "Ghost of Christmas Present" tour the streets of merry, old England? You don't need to have children to enjoy this selection, which will make you sing out loud. You might even dance a little, too.
Happy viewing to all! And to all, a good-night!
Anne Mikolay, a former pre-kindergarten teacher, is a free-lance writer and artist residing in Middletown with her husband, her two teenage sons, and her little chihuahua. Her books, Christmas at Stone Creek, historical fiction set in pre-civil war Pennsylvania, and Santa Eats Pizza for Breakfast, written for children, are available on amazon.com, or through her website, www.annemikolay.com.