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Christmas Movie Reviews

Jonathan Dauterman, Online Editor

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Tis the season folks, and do you know what that means? It’s time to review some of the best Christmas movies, both old and new!

The Grinch (2018): 8.3-8.4/10

Released on November 9, 2018, The Grinch is an animated feature made by Illumination Entertainment, which many will recognize for their work in creating the Despicable Me trilogy. Similar to these earlier works, The Grinch features slapstick humor, dynamic voice acting, and an entertaining story of a cold-hearted, bitter protagonist turning a new leaf and becoming a more likeable individual.

Say what you will about anything beyond 2010’s Despicable Me (and the critics seem to have quite a bit to say indeed about the two sequels and the Minions spin-off/prequel), but the original film that set the entire franchise in motion was definitely an innovative, comedic, fresh take on a popular but relatively untapped concept. Similarly, with a fresh new world to work with and new creative minds on the project, The Grinch (also advertised as Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch) delivers a fresh new story that will surely entertain many of its viewers.

The third take on Dr. Seuss’ children’s book, The Grinch rises above the adaptions before it, helping to bleach Jim Carrey from my mind completely in a way that will surely reduce the amount of therapy I’ll need as an adult in order to completely recover from that film.

Despite this, it didn’t really add much more new material to The Grinch story, but it is probably weird to debate about the lore and adaption differences of a Dr. Seuss book from 1957. Hey, maybe I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would because I’m a 16-year old talking about a movie made for Elementary School students, so I probably shouldn’t have been expecting too much.

Overall, the movie was quite enjoyable, if a bit average and unoriginal, with Benedict Cumberbatch’s unexpectedly but nonetheless greatly appreciated voice acting adding to the quality of the film. I give The Grinch somewhere around an 8.3/10 or 8.4/10.

Polar Express: 9.0/10

Overall, the entirety of Polar Express is an extremely nostalgic movie for me that I feel I can only truly, genuinely appreciate now that I’ve grown older. Featuring the final performance of beloved actor Michael Jeter (who is perhaps best known for his work on this film), Polar Express also contains the beloved Tom Hanks in six varied, unique performances help to make the film stand out.

Based on the 1985 children’s book of the same name, Polar Express is also quite tonally different than many other Christmas movies: it has a creepy atmosphere to it and a more mysterious unraveling of the narrative, but these only add to the enjoyment of the film and its potential for rewatching for years that follow. Even though Polar Express came out in 2004, it nonetheless manages to stay fresh and fun for the whole family. I award it a solid 9.0/10.

A Charlie Brown Christmas: 9.2/10

Admittedly, I am a sucker for all things related to and based on Charlie Brown, so I am a bit biased in reviewing this movie, but I think that many will agree with me when I say it is definitely one of the funnier, well-made Christmas movies out there. Based on Charles M. Schulz’s legendary Peanuts comic, A Charlie Brown Christmas is arguably the finest animated program featuring the beloved cast of the comic.

Some research into the program I conducted while writing this piece led me to learn that A Charlie Brown Christmas won both an Emmy and a Peabody Award since its release; and I’m certainly not going to argue. While writing this (because, on top of the comics, he apparently also wrote all of the adaptions of his work), Schulz sought out to explore in this television special what the meaning of Christmas, and he certainly succeeded on all counts, at least in my eyes. Despite the fact that this 1965 story is older than most of my family and over triple my age, it still holds up today. I award A Charlie Brown Christmas a 9.2/10.

Home Alone: 8.4/10

Released almost three decades ago and nearly twice my age, 1990’s Home Alone possesses a number of unique characteristics that help it to stand out from other Christmas movies on this list. For one, it managed to spark a successful yet critically mixed franchise that contained four sequels. By comparison, Polar Express is a standalone story, Charlie Brown Christmas was one of many installments in a series of shorts based around the titular character, and The Grinch, despite being the third adaption of the story, is also a standalone story. Furthermore, three of the sequels to Home Alone featured original characters, meaning that less than half of the series (including the first film) actually feature the elements that made the original film so iconic.

Narratively speaking, Home Alone is definitely one of the stranger Christmas movies on the list in that it focuses more on this semi-sociopathic child than the actual holiday itself. Whereas many others try to base their story around the essence of Christmas in some way or another, Home Alone is, at its core, about an eight-year old boy that outwits, disorients and injures two criminals using a variety of traps.

I’m not sure what kind of childhoods any of you guys had, but that doesn’t sound like the essence of Christmas.

In spite of this weirdness, Home Alone nonetheless remains an entertaining film that has held up over time. I give it Home Alone an 8.4/10.

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