It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
What: On Christmas, a troubled George Bailey attempts to end his life, but ends up rescuing his guardian angel, Clarence, from the river instead. In return, Clarence shows George what his life without George would’ve been like for the people of Bedford Falls.
Why we love it: It has been voted the most inspirational film in the USA, and it’s not hard to see why. It’ll make you laugh, cry, but most of all, make you feel thankful for everyone around you. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
Fun fact: Upon its release in 1946, it was a box office flop.
Home Alone (1990)
What: 8-year-old Kevin McAllister feels misunderstood by his whole family and wishes that his family would disappear. So when they accidentally leave him behind in the chaos of getting everyone ready for a vacation to Paris, Kevin thinks his dreams have come true.
Why we love it: A Christmas classic, Home Alone’s premise is a winner. There’s nothing funnier than watching spunky Kevin outsmart the two ‘Wet bandits’. It’s the type of comedy that transcends generations- truly a tale for the whole family. Probably worth watching for the first movie’s iconic scene featuring Kevin cleverly using a clip from Angels with Filthy Souls to conceal the fact that he’s home alone in an interaction with the Pizza delivery boy.
Fun fact: The person doing all of Kevin McAllister’s stunts was, in fact, a 30-year-old man.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
What: The Whos, from the magical land of Whoville, love Christmas. A creature called the Grinch, who lives just outside Whoville, hates the holiday and plots to ruin Christmas for Whoville by posing as Santa Claus and stealing all the presents. The plot goes awry when he is befriended by Cindy Lou Who, an innocent little girl who warms his heart.
Why we love it: With a reboot hitting screens later this month, with Benedict Cumberbatch voicing the titular Grinch, I can’t help but feel sceptical. In my mind, the best Grinch will always be Jim Carrey’s take in this 2000 adaptation of the classic Dr Seuss tale. His comic timing and facial expressions are so believable and make for an excellent take on the familiar tale of the Grinch. Ultimately, How the Grinch Stole Christmas reminds us that Christmas is such a powerful force that it can bring out the best in anyone.
Fun fact: The prosthetic makeup Jim Carrey had to wear was so uncomfortable that producers enlisted the help of a person trained to teach CIA operatives to endure torture. Talk about committing to a role!
Love Actually (2003)
What: Love Actually follows the tale of different couples and families as they navigate the ups and downs of life in the most hectic of seasons – the run-up to Christmas.
Why we love it: Adorable little kids singing All I Want for Christmas is You? Check. Hugh Grant as Prime Minister? Check. Someone confessing their love for their best friend’s spouse using only cue cards? Check and check. This feel-good festive rom-com has something for all couples to enjoy, encompassing various types of love, from family relations to innocent, young love. With a stellar cast, Love Actually has managed to avoid fading into obscurity like so many Christmas-themed rom-coms before it and remain timeless.
Fun fact: The film has been remade thrice. Hindi, Polish and Japanese versions are all available to watch.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
What: Jack Skellington, the King of Halloweentown, grows tired of organising Halloween festivities year after year. After stumbling upon Christmastown, he decides to kidnap Santa Claus and take over the staging of Christmas festivities instead.
Why we love it: A combination of what are arguably kids’ favourite holidays (who doesn’t love candy and presents?), The Nightmare Before Christmas is a tale perfect for families with teens who are bored of the usual reluctant-hero-forced-to-save-Christmas type tale. The stop-motion animation is excellent and the songs are catchy. Despite its slightly scary packaging, it has a sweet message of never doubting yourself. Plus, that a failure isn’t really a failure if you were brave enough to try.
Fun fact: One minute of the movie took a week to film, resulting in the entire stop-motion process taking three years to complete.
A Christmas Carol (2009)
What: In the latest take on this classic Christmas tale, Jim Carrey voices Ebenezer Scrooge, who is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. They take him on a journey of a lifetime in the hopes that Scrooge will change his mean ways and redeem himself for his past misdeeds.
Why we love it: A classic. Despite there being countless other versions of it, I always find myself coming back to this one as it’s very true to the original Dickens tale. It’s also stylish. The fact that its animated allows for some great special effects, and the setting is exactly how I’d picture 19th century London to look like. A bit frightening for the young ones. However, it’s got a truly good moral of being kind to others – with tons of entertainment – for the older kids.
Fun fact: Jim Carrey voices Scrooge and all Three Spirits. In foreign dubbed versions of the film, all four characters are voiced by different actors.
What: Buddy, a human-sized elf discovers that he is indeed, a human and not an elf. He travels to New York City to find his biological father. In the process, he brings Christmas cheer to the cynical residents, including his father, of NYC.
Why we love it: It’s an original premise – an orphan crawling into Santa’s sack and being accidentally brought to the North Pole? Nothing says Christmas like the North Pole and Santa’s elves, so Elf will get you in the Christmas spirit proper. Buddy is also such a wholesome character and the humour is for everyone. So you won’t get bored and the jokes aren’t too inappropriate for the little ones.
Fun fact: Will Ferrell (Buddy) turned down USD 29 million for an Elf sequel. What a shame 🙁
Deck the Halls (2006)
What: When Buddy Hall and family move in next door to Christmas enthusiast Steve Finch, Steve thinks nothing of it. However, when Buddy unveils in plans to decorate his house with enough Christmas lights to make it visible from space, Steve comes up with ways to one-up Buddy, with disastrous and hilarious results.
Why we love it: Despite being panned by critics, I think adults and kids alike can appreciate the humour in this simple tale of how Christmas can turn enemies into friends. Plus, the Christmas lights display is pretty spectacular. It will no doubt put you in the mood to do some holiday decoration of your own.
Fun fact: Matthew Broderick (Steve) trained at Chelsea Piers in New York City in preparation for the speed-skating race scene.
There you have it! A list of feel-good movies to really get you ready to rock’ around the Christmas tree. If we missed any, give us your faves at our closed FamTech community and join us as we:
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