Steve Eighinger

Some early tips on holiday movie viewing

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 15, 2017 9:15 am

It's almost that time of year.

I know, I know ... you think I'm about to take off on a piece concerning a Thanksgiving meal, Black Friday or Christmas shopping.


Well, you're close. You've got the correct season, just not the right subject matter.

What it's almost time for is the avalanche of holiday-themed movies.

I thought I'd save you the problem of deciding which offerings to DVR or rent. I broke the films down into five categories, with my pick for the best (or, in one case, the worst) of the bunch.

Happy viewing!

º Traditional: This category starts and ends with "It's a Wonderful Life," a 1946 film that remains as meaningful and entertaining as it was more than 70 years ago.

I'm not one to repeat watching many movies, but I make it a point to take in Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, Ward Bond and Lionel Barrymore at least once each Christmas season.

The ending seems to get better every year.

º "Modern" traditional: For those who were growing up in the late 1950s or early 1960s, "A Christmas Story" (1983) is the perfect holiday movie.

This film may rekindle more memories about the childhoods of baby boomers than any movie ever made, holiday or otherwise. Much like "It's a Wonderful Life," there are parts of this film that never grow old, starting with the cursing father figure portrayed by Darren McGavin (although we never know exactly what he is saying). This, too, is must-see TV every Christmas season.

º Modern: "Love Actually" (2003) has been described by one critic as "the best modern Christmas romance movie you could possibly find." Before I continue, this film needs a disclaimer. Unless you are watching the PG-13 version, there are a few scenes that would not be appropriate for younger children, so if you are renting or paying on demand, beware of that warning.

There are about eight love stories -- all set against the backdrop of a modern-day English Christmas -- that help make this such a masterful film. One of the best parts of the movie is how closure is brought to these different tales.

While Hugh Grant is the central figure, the actor who steals the show is Bill Nighy in his now-famous role of an aging rock star. Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes from "The Walking Dead") and the late, great Alan Rickman all add tremendous depth.

º Comical: Sometimes we need some laughs along the holiday way. "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" (1989) provides them and features Chevy Chase when he was actually funny.

To know Clark Griswold is to love Clark Griswold.

º Worst: Do not waste your time on "Fred Claus" (2007). Vince Vaughn portrayed Santa's brother, Fred.

If that sounds incredibly stupid, it was -- and still is.

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