News staff holiday DVD picks

By Andrew J. Concatelli - ReminderNews Assistant Editor
Statewide - posted Thu., Dec. 8, 2011
- Contributed Photo

Whether you’re in the mood to laugh, spend time with the family, or get a bit nostalgic, the holidays are a great time to share some memories – or make new ones – as you enjoy entertainment at home.

One of my top DVD picks for this time of year is “Elf,” from 2003. Will Ferrell’s childlike enthusiasm is right at home in the family comedy, which is filled out by a great cast and a surprisingly sweet holiday message.

Below are the favorite holiday films and recommendations from ReminderNews news department staff members:

Managing Editor Joan Hunt – “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946) gets me every time. It points out that what really matters is the people in our lives and how we can be of value to them.

Staff Writer Janice Steinhagen – “The Snowman” (1982) by Raymond Briggs embodies the term “short and sweet.” In a half-hour’s worth of completely wordless animation, it tells the story of a young boy whose snowman magically comes to life and takes him for a night-long romp across the countryside and up to the North Pole to meet Santa. The beautifully-detailed animation, done in a colored-pencil style, and the gentle, haunting musical score gives this film a subtle sophistication that can be enjoyed on many levels, from toddler on up. “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol” (1962) casts the iconic cartoon curmudgeon, Mr. Magoo, in the role of his life as Ebenezer Scrooge. What makes this classic remarkable is the fact that, despite the flat animation, the dialogue is almost verbatim from Charles Dickens. That, and the lively and memorable original songs which punctuate the score, make this perhaps the most accessible introduction to “A Christmas Carol” that exists.

Graphic Designer Jessica Grabowicz – “The Muppet Christmas Carol” (1992) is a hilarious and touching musical retelling of the Charles Dickens classic. Michael Caine is wonderful as Ebenezer Scrooge and a welcomed serious note that stays true to the original story. His character also balances out the wonderful chaos of his Muppet co-stars. The banter between Gonzo’s “Charles Dickens” as narrator and his sidekick Rizzo the Rat, as they take us through Ebenezer’s journey, sets the mood perfectly. Regardless of your age, the Muppets transcend generations.

Staff Writer Lauri Voter – One of my favorite holiday films is “A Christmas Story” (1983). It tackles the commercial aspect of Christmas with a nostalgic flair, and its humor reaches both kids and adults. It can refresh the memory banks of those who were kids in the post-war era, while capturing the thoughts and behaviors of most kids at Christmas during any decade. “A Christmas Story” is entertaining, with its uncomplicated and realistic plot. I like the attention to vintage details, but it stands up in contemporary times. It can remind some and teach others what Christmas used to be like in the days when you actually went to a local, Main Street-type merchant to purchase an actual gift that was probably made in America, which you then wrapped and placed under a real fir tree. The witty, simpler-times, kid-like appeal of it helps offset the barrage of fast-paced, high-tech Christmas hub-bub we face today.

Staff Writer Denise Coffey – When the animated classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1964) starts and Burl Ives’ voice comes out of a little snowman as he narrates the story, all the delicious things about Christmas come back to me: the anticipation of the day with its gifts, but also the true meaning of Christmas when love prevails, and goodness wins, and things are set right with all the world.

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