TGI editorial staff shares top Christmas movie picks

Everyone, well almost everyone, has a favorite Christmas movie. Some of the staff at The Garden Island share their selections here, and encourage you to sit down with family and popcorn, and enjoy an evening together.

Merry Christmas!

The Homecoming: A Christmas Story.

As a child in the days before DVD or even VHS, there were three network stations and we watched the same top holiday movies every year, from Rudolf to Frosty and 34th Street. My favorite memory was the 1971 pilot episode of The Waltons, titled, “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story.” The show takes place in rural Virginia in 1933, and the father of the family is on the way home on a bus that gets stuck in a snow storm. He makes his way across the mountain named after his forefathers, taking shelter for a brief period at the old homestead, and walks in the door at the end of the show with the family not knowing whether he had lived or died.

A favorite motion picture on Christmas is “The Bishop’s Wife,” both the 1947 version starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, David Niven, and the 1996 remake starring Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston, Courtney B. Vance and Gregory Hines.

— Tom LaVenture

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Clark Griswold and his looney, loving family always make my holiday season full of laughter over and over again every Christmas.

This is my favorite holiday movie because for many years it has been creating humorous family memories. Each year my family and I always make it a point to sit down together and watch this movie. Clark some how manages to work hard in his management position and also is able to keep so much patience to make sure his family’s Christmas is perfect. The movie really gets your laughter going. Christmas Eve all the Griswold family members come over for a Christmas dinner, and everything goes down hill. It all starts when Aunt Bethany brings her famous Jell-O Mold and her cat wrapped up as Christmas gifts. Aunt Bethany really strikes up the crazies in the film, she has a bad case of dementia and during dinner, Clark asks her to say the Christmas prayer and instead she cranks up, ‘The Pledge of Allegiance.’ This movie is really a good way to make anyone in your family spark a smile. It reminds me of how important Christmas is and that no matter what happens, how looney and crazy things get, family can get you through everything.

Mele Kalikimaka Kauai!

— Chloe Marchant

Love Actually

This is my favorite movie mainly because it’s so corny. It follows the lives of eight couples dealing with their relationships in London over the holiday season. It features Hugh Grant as prime minister too timid to talk to a girl, and an insane ending where the whole city goes to a elementary school Christmas play on Christmas Eve night. Is there any worse place to be on Christmas Eve than a school gym? I loved it.

— Tom Hasslinger

A Charlie Brown Christmas

A timeless classic, first aired in 1965, which reminds us not to get wrapped up in the over-commercialization of the holiday. There is lots to like about this one. Big, shiny aluminum trees. Poor, scrawny saplings. Holiday depression. The beautiful sound of cold, hard cash. Climacaphobia (fear of staircases), thalassophobia (fear of the ocean), gephyrobia (fear of crossing bridges) and pantophobia … THE FEAR OF EVERYTHING! Catching ripe snowflakes on your tongue. “I never eat December snowflakes. I always wait until January.” 

— Chris D’Angelo

Four Christmases

While there are many Christmas movies that I love based solely on their message, here is one that I believe has both entertaining and emotional value: Four Christmases.

The romantic-comedy, starring Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon and directed by Seth Gordon, follows the adventures of Brad and Kate, a couple of three years, who are forced to stay in San Francisco for Christmas after their Christmas morning flight to Fiji is cancelled. After their family finds out the couple are unable to do their planned “charity work,” the movie follows the couple as they make their whirlwind Christmas Day visits to their four divorced parents. As the day progresses, Brad and Kate relive childhood memories and learn more about each other.

Without giving much more away, I believe the movies speaks to the roles that our families play in our life — none are perfect and some are a little odd or weird at times in their own way but they are an integral part of our lives. But, more importantly, the movie teaches an important relationship lesson — watch the movie and you’ll see what I mean. I would caution, however, that some parts of this movie are not for younger children, so it’s best to watch this after you’ve put them to bed and visions of sugar plums are dancing in their heads.

— Darin Moriki

A Christmas Story

From the opening scene of joyous kids running to see the big department store Christmas display to the closing see of snow falling outside the home on Cleveland Street in Indiana, this 1983 film based on the book “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash,” is brilliant. Don’t miss it. Full of laughs, love and memories, just makes you feel good to watch it. I chuckle each time I watch the scene of the fishnet stocking leg lamp arriving at the home and the dad admiring it from across the street, neighbors gathering around, as the embarrassed mom adjusts in the living room window to his instructions (“It’s a major award!”). And, of course, after all his plotting and hints to his parents, oldest son Ralphie overcomes mom’s objections (“You’ll shoot your eye out.”) and gets his beloved Red Ryder BB gun and yes, he almost shoots his eye out! The father (Darren McGavin), by the way, steals the film from the kids. He’s a fearless furnace fighter, crafty Christmas tree haggler, fast flat-tire changer, master of weaving obscenities together, newspaper reader, nemesis of the neighbor’s hound dogs (“Bumpuses!”) and finally, a loving dad who surprises his son with a precious gift.

— Bill Buley

Die Hard

It has everything one can hope from a Christmas movie. Good overcomes evil with a strong dose of personal growth and family redemption. Throw in terrorists, explosions and bullets and you have a classic must-see during the holiday season.

Tough New Yorker John McClane (Bruce Willis) arrives in Los Angeles to spend time with his family, but finds himself going head to head with international terrorists hellbent on ruining everyone’s holiday for $640 million in bearer bonds.

This feel-good family adventure is more than just an action-packed thrill ride. In the end, McClane’s heroism in the face of certain death, reminds Holly why she loves him, bringing their family back together.

Yippie ki-yay Merry Christmas.

— Richard Stein


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