Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunday Best: Christmas Movies of All Time #6 and #5

#6 Elf

What this movie gets right is that it captures the fun and heart of the old TV Christmas specials like Rudolph and Frosty, all the while setting it in our modern, cynical world.  Director Jon Favreau, hits just the right tone between sincere and ironic.  Our cool and sophisticated side want to laugh at Buddy the Elf's "gee-golly" attitude.  But more than that, we would rather be Buddy in his boundless enthusiasm and love.

It is a movie that works because we want to give into the magic.  This is one of Will Ferrel's best performances because he is completely open like a child.  The rest of the supporting cast is also fantastic.  James Caan is a great father/foil, with his Sonny Corleone exterior.  And up until this point Zooey Deschainel had been known mostly for her sardonic indie movie characters.  And who can forget Peter Dinklage's awesomely frosty children's book author?

And yet you need that heavy shadow for the bright festive holiday lights that come through with Buddy.  The laughs are big and it will leave you with a desire to spread Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear!

#5  The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

This is, hands down, the best portrayal of Santa Claus I have ever seen.  He was big and beefy, with grey hair, but he was not slothful and slow.  He was a Santa Claus who was up to doing his yearly heroic mission.

One could argue that this is not a Christmas movie.  I would argue it is nothing but a Christmas movie.  The entrance of the Penvensie Children into Narnia ends the spell of "always winter, but Never Christmas."  Because of them, Aslan, who is Jesus, comes into this world.  While most focus on how the Passion narrative plays out, it is important to note that this is foreshadowed in the coming of Christmas.  It is all connected.  Christmas should always be a reminder that Christ came into the world to do battle with the forces of evil.  The gifts Santa Claus brings serve as a clarion call to fight on the side of the King of Christmas.

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