Review: Three holiday movies to watch this December. 


Anna Klein

Looking for a movie to watch this holiday season? These three classic Christmas movies are perfect to watch over winter break. Visual credit: Wikipedia

Reporter Mary Carney shares her personal favorite holiday movies. The Cardinal Times would love to hear about and share your suggestions for movies that get you in the winter or holiday spirit, email us at [email protected] to have your suggestion shared in an Instagram post on @thecardinaltimes. 


“A Christmas Story”: 

“A Christmas Story,” released in 1983, follows the events of a short story from Jean Shepherd’s novel “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash.” The movie is directed by Bob Clark and stars Peter Billingsly as nine-year-old Ralphie Parker.

The movie follows Ralphie and his family in the weeks before Christmas, when Ralphie attempts to convince others that his perfect Christmas gift, a Red Ryder BB gun, is not as dangerous as it seems. 

The movie is fun to watch because it captures the wonder of Christmas from a kid’s perspective; wanting a specific gift and going to the mall to visit Santa are familiar experiences. The story is pretty simple, but the fantastical lens the movie is narrated through makes it interesting. Ralphie’s daydreams about his future provide humorous insight into the character’s motivation. “A Christmas Story” has always been my favorite Christmas movie.


“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”: 

The third film in the National Lampoon’s Vacation series, “Christmas Vacation” is a comedy classic. Released in 1989, the movie stars Chevy Chase as an enthusiastic dad navigating the Christmas season with unrealistic expectations and difficult in-laws. The rest of the family is played by stars too, including Beverly D’Angelo as Ellen Girswold, Juliette Lewis as Audrey, the daughter, and Johnny Galecki as the son, Russell.

Hoping for a “fun, old-fashioned, family Christmas,” Griswold goes out of his way to make Christmas perfect for his family, including covering his entire house in lights and digging up a giant tree (roots and all) for his living room. However, when his extended family shows up, things go awry. 

The movie is absurd and features some outdated humor, but overall, the comedy holds up. Everytime one problem is fixed, another pops up, which keeps the pace of the movie strong. The characters are all extensions of the story, and each defined personality adds a layer of comedy. The extreme contrast between Clark Griswold and others shows the absurd measures Griswold goes through to make Christmas perfect, which is both funny and sweet. 

My favorite sequence in the film comes when Clark Griswold gets stuck in his attic and watches old family Christmas home movies. It’s one of the more believable and heartwarming parts of the story.


“A Christmas Carol”(1984): 

In terms of Christmas movies with a message, “A Christmas Carol” is one of the most famous. The proverbial Ebenezer Scrooge remains a staple of popular culture, 177 years after the publication of the original story. Although many movies have been based on the famous story, my personal favorite is the 1984 adaptation.

The plot follows Scrooge through 1840s London on Christmas Eve, accompanied by the three ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. Starting as a greedy and short-tempered businessman, seeing the effects he has had on people slowly changes his attitude.

Although the movie doesn’t have the happy, light-hearted feeling of most Christmas movies and even deals with heavy subject matters like extreme poverty and chronic illness, the message fits the holiday season. The movie is about giving instead of taking, and that in the “season of giving,” everyone could do with a reminder. Amazing performances from George C. Scott as Scrooge, Frank Finlay as Jacob Marley (Scrooge’s ghostly business partner) and Edward Woodward as the enthusiastic ghost of Christmas present set this version apart from others. The tone of the movie is generally somber, but the ending is uplifting and inspiring.