Who doesn’t love “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “Miracle on 34 th Street” and “Elf”? If you find that you need to spike your eggnog just to stay awake during those classics, your holiday viewing could probably use a little freshening up. Don’t go the traditional route. What interests you and your family? What about an uplifting sports story? Whether classic, comic, soul stirring or romantic, look for movies that convey the positive spirit of the season; that lift us and give us hope that anything is possible as we look forward to the new year. As long as your movie brings your family together, it works. And if there are some scenes with snow and a Christmas tree thrown in, all the better. Light a fire, grab some hot chocolate and gather around the T.V. to sample from this mix of holiday movies suggestions.
Black and White Is Merry and Bright
There is no time like the holidays to introduce kids and teens to a few classic, black and white comedies and the stars who made them great. In the 1947 classic “The Bishop’s Wife” (movies.yahoo.com/the bishop’s wife), Cary Grant plays Dudley, a dashing angel sent to earth to help a bishop (David Nivens ) raise money to build a new church. Dudley’s mission is really to guide the Bishop, his family and his congregation through much more than church construction. Dudley charms everyone he meets, including, much to the Bishop’s chagrin, the Bishop’s wife (Irene Dunn). Dudley has a Christmas deadline for carrying out his duties, and those duties definitely convey the spirit of the season. Director Richard Koster received an Academy Award nomination for the film.
Now that you’ve introduced the kids to Cary Grant, watch him paired with Katherine Hepburn in the quirky and charming “Holiday” (movies.yahoo.com). Don’t be thrown by the title, which refers not to Christmas but to the choice Grant’s character has to make. Should he conform to society’s expectations or live out his dreams and take a holiday before he buckles down to work? Grant plays Johnny Case, a self-made, free spirit who meets his fiancé’s family and discovers that she is rich. As he contemplates the pressures and expectations of that lifestyle, he gets to know his fiancé’s independent-minded sister Linda (Katherine Hepburn) and must choose what and whom he really wants in his life before he rings in the New Year. That life-changing theme makes “Holiday” a great choice for New Year’s viewing.
My True Love Watches TV
Romance is even sweeter at the holidays. Grab your sweetheart and watch “Love Actually”, an ensemble romantic comedy from director Richard Curtis (“Four Weddings and a Funeral”, “Bridget Jones’ Diary”) This post 9-11 film delivers the message that no matter how rough life gets, love prevails. The movie follows ten separate but intertwined stories of Londoners – from the Prime Minster to an aging rocker – in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The star-studded, predominantly British cast (Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Alan Rickman , Bill Nighy , Liam Neeson , Hugh Grant and Keira Knightley ) makes surprising discoveries about love, whether platonic, forbidden, romantic, unrequited, and even puppy love. The stories, at turns poignant, funny and uplifting, culminate on Christmas day. This movie is rated “R” and is definitely not for kids.
We can all relate to Sandra Bullock, alone with her Chinese take-out food at Christmastime, before she falls in love with Bill Pullman in “While You Were Sleeping” (movies.yahoo.com/while you were sleeping). A case of mistaken identity leads lonely tollbooth worker Lucy to pretend she is the fiancé of a man she rescues from the train tracks. Chaos and conflict ensue when Lucy realizes she’s fallen for this man’s family and most especially his brother. Christmas in Chicago never looked so good.
Deck The Halls With Skates and Footballs
Sports movies are great for families any time of year. So why not bond over the holidays with some life lessons told through sports stories? Cuba Gooding Jr. is Radio (movies.yahoo.com), a developmentally challenged young man who pushes his shopping cart through town listening to the radio. This is the story of the relationship that develops between Radio and local high school football coach Harold Jones (Ed Harris) and what both men gain from the friendship. Before he met Radio, Jones had little room for anything in his life besides football. Through Radio, he learns to value family and friendship. Radio runs into some trouble during the holiday season that ties into the movie’s overall message about respecting and caring for others.
“Miracle” (movies.yahoo.com) isn’t about a Christmas miracle. It’s based on the true story of the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team and their triumphant gold medal win. Kurt Russell stars as Herb Brooks, the coach who led his team to beat the unstoppable Soviets at the Olympics. It was a miracle on the ice and off, transforming not only the players who achieved an improbable dream but also the inspired Americans who watched them. It’ll make you feel like having a whole hockey team over for a holiday meal, just like Herb’s wife does in the movie.
While you’re watching movies about believing in your dreams, why not pull out “Rudy”? Every kid has to see this 1993 classic, the true-story of working-class hero Daniel “Rudy” Ruettinger , his dream of playing football for Notre Dame and the hurdles he must overcome to get there. Directed by David Anspaugh and starring Sean Astin as Rudy, this movie is perfect for the holidays because of its positive message of perseverance. You’ll feel as good as Rudy does by the time he’s carried off the field by his cheering teammates.