Thursday, November 29, 2012

It’s a Wonderful List: the good, bad and weird of Christmas entertainment

By Rachel Diebel and Camille Adams, A&E Reporters

    As soon as Thanksgiving is over, it becomes standard practice to blast Christmas tunes and play Christmas movies on repeat until the end of December. With a plethora of options to choose from, we thought we’d narrow down the options by pointing out a few of our favorites.

MOVIES

1. “It’s a Wonderful Life”

   
    Love it or hate it, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is the essential Christmas movie.  Made in 1946, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is the black-and-white fairytale story of George Bailey, a man who gets his wish that he had never been born and has to stick around and see the consequences. The movie was not well received when it came out, but it has since become a huge hit, with some holding annual screenings of the movie.


2. “Love Actually”
   
    Far from being not well received, “Love Actually,” another uplifting Christmas movie, became an instant classic.  The film tells 10 intertwined stories, all culminating on Christmas Day.  Featuring every famous British actor ever — Colin Firth, Keira Knightley and Alan Rickman to name a few — the movie has become a staple of heartwarming Christmas movie watching.


3. “The Holiday”

    Continuing with the strain of Christmas rom coms, “The Holiday” is a movie no one should go without viewing. A harried American businesswoman trades places with a broken-hearted Englishwoman for the holidays. This warm, fuzzy-inducing tale includes all the classic elements of a good rom com: an adorable old man, a loveable dog and Jack Black.


4. “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”
   
    The quirky film “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” belongs in the Christmas annals. This low-budget film can possibly be found in your neighborhood Dollar Tree on a good year. Martian parents are concerned because their children are not as happy as the human children they see on TV. There is no Santa to bring them presents. Logically, they kidnap him, and Santa inevitably brings cheer to Martians and humans alike. With character names like Kimar, Voldar and Dropo, you can’t go wrong with this film.


5. “Edward Scissorhands”
   
    If conventional Christmas movies are not for you, there are plenty of films that may not appear to be holiday-themed at first, but upon closer inspection do have all the hallmarks of a classic Christmas movie.  For example, “Edward Scissorhands” doesn’t sound like the kind of film you’d want to watch with family around the fireplace.  However, “Edward Scissorhands” is a kind-hearted fairy tale about growing up, love and the origins of snow.  What’s more seasonal than that?

MUSIC

1. “All I Want for Christmas is You”

       In addition to traditional carols, fireside songs and blues, Christmas music also includes pop love songs. One that seems to appear on the radio every hour during the holidays is “All I Want For Christmas Is You, ” a classic, cutesy and upbeat song that is acceptable as a recently appointed Christmas classic. The message is sweet and almost every love-smitten romantic will dream of it this Christmas.


2. “Last Christmas”

       Another pop love song that seems to play on repeat is “Last Christmas.” This song, however, should have been left behind last Christmas. The somewhat whiny, reptitive lyrics are more likely to inspire eyerolling than tears. We all stopped feeling sympathy for the singer’s unrequited love about five years ago.


3. “Jingle Bell Rock”

       Released in the ‘50s, this song was  a new take off the classic “Jingle Bells.” Today, the mere mention of the song “Jingle Bell Rock” conjures up the image of four teenage girls dressed like scantily clad Santas because of a scene in the hit teen movie “Mean Girls.”  “Jingle Bell Rock,” once an innocent and catchy tune, now carries the weight of that infamous scene — for better or worse.


4. Josh Groban Album

       Every year, some famous pop star, whether it’s Mariah Carey or the kids of “Glee,” has to release a Christmas album. Most of these albums can be easily written off as an uninspired attempt to make money.  Songbird Josh Groban successfully breaks the mold with his holiday album, however.  Groban’s eternally sweet voice soars over the covers of “Little Drummer Boy” and “O Holy Night,” and is sure to warm the heart just as much as eggnog by a roaring fire. 

        

5.  “Elvis Christmas”

       If contemporary Christmas music isn’t your thing, it’s good to know that the classics are still around.  And if you like classics, you’ll love “Elvis Christmas.” No one has swag like Elvis Presley, and it shows in this album.  Some highlights from the album are “Blue Christmas” and his cover of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”  When the Christmas blues hit, you can always pull out this album and be merry for an hour.