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'Tis the season

| December 17, 2010 8:00 PM

Not in the Christmas spirit?

Want some help getting there?

Allow us to try.

Some of the staff at the Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls Press offer thoughts on why they like their favorite Christmas movie, plus a few flicks that are sure to have you humming "Here Comes Santa Claus," while decorating the tree if you haven't already.

If not, perhaps there's a little too much Grinch in the air.

Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year, too.

Love Actually

This masterpiece follows eight, count 'em, eight London couples and their love problems during the Christmas season. I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but it involves a prime minister too intimidated to flirt with his secretary (God forbid you have to go to war), a man who loves his best friend's new bride (not allowed) and an ending scene where a 10-year-old English boy chases after his 10-year-old American crush through London Heathrow airport on Christmas Eve night. This right after the girl rips the socks off the audience singing 'All I Want for Christmas is You' during a school Christmas concert. Who cares why the mom booked a trans-Atlantic Christmas Eve flight for the family, high fives all around.

2. A Christmas Story, 3. National Lampoon's, 4. Die Hard. 5. Grinch, the cartoon.

- Reporter Tom Hasslinger

Muppet Christmas Carol

If Charles Dickens had known about muppets in the 19th century, I'm sure that would've been his original direction.

Where to start? You've got your surly rich pigs, you've got Gonzo and Rizzo as narrators throwing in some wit and slapstick. I feel no shame in saying all the songs are catchy and fun, my favorite being "There Goes Mr. Humbug."

Best of all, it's true to the story and translates it into a version kids and adults can both enjoy. If you don't feel some tears welling when Kermit/Bob Cratchit talks about Timmy's grave, you're a soulless automaton.

2. Prancer; 3. Little Women; 4. Elf; 5. Gremlins

- Reporter Alecia Warren

Christmas Vacation and Christmas Story

It's a tie, and I don't mean the kind with a Santa on it whose nose lights up. While I love "It's a Wonderful Life" and the many versions of "A Christmas Carol," the tie is between "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" and "A Christmas Story."

Why? I suppose it's because Chevy Chase and Darren McGavin remind me of my dad - rabid Midwestern sports fans with lusty appetites, colorful vocabularies, ferocious shortcomings and hearts of gold. Like them, my dad managed to screw up just about everything he tried to fix, proving that no matter how badly something's broke, it can always be broken even more.

But also like them, if he fell hard it was only because he aimed so high. He taught all five of us kids that you can be happy in your work even if your boss is an idiot, that a Red Ryder BB gun might seem neat but you can just as easily shoot someone's eye out with a much less expensive slingshot, that an F-bomb can be effectively delivered in virtually any environment, and that no matter how hard you try, somehow, some way, the damn Bumpasses' mangy mutts will make mincemeat of your merriment.

3. It's a Wonderful Life; 4. Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol; 5. A Charlie Brown Christmas

- Managing editor Mike Patrick

White Christmas

Surprisingly enough, my favorite Christmas movie is neither drama nor comedy: It's the famous 1954 musical "White Christmas," starring the incomparable Bing Crosby and his lovable sidekick, Danny Kaye.

If you've never seen the movie, shame. But if you have, you know it's the story of two entertainers who fall in love with a pair of gorgeous women, save the business and integrity of a former Army general, stage a grand television show in podunk Vermont and sing dramatic songs for two hours.

It just has so much to offer - romance, friendship, vindication, triumph!

My mother absolutely loves this movie, and often forced my family to watch it on Christmas Day. It was a tradition I hated, then tolerated, then finally began to appreciate. In time "White Christmas" grew on me, and I daresay it has now become my favorite holiday flick.

2. Home Alone(s); 3. Elf; 4. The Polar Express; 5. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

- Reporter Nick Rotunno

"The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." The mantra of the North Pole Elf. What better way to get into the Christmas spirit than to watch a 6-foot-3-inch Will Ferrell traipsing around New York City in bright yellow tights in search of his biological father after being raised by elves his entire life. In true Ferrell fashion, this movie is sugar plum full of one-liners and ridiculous hilarity. The elf arrives in New York by passing through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then walking through the Lincoln Tunnel. Once in the Big Apple, his journey to win his father's love, Buddy the Elf finds a diner claiming to have the world's best cup of coffee, is fascinated by revolving doors, attacks a mall Santa (impostor!), and meets the beautiful Jovi, played by Zooey Deschanel, another human who shares his affinity of elf culture. My favorite scene is...well, I can't choose one. Just know that you'd be a cotton-headed ninny-muggins not to watch Elf.

- Photographer Shawn Gust

A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas is the ultimate classic Christmas movie. Created in 1965 it was the first animated Peanuts television special, and has remained a holiday tradition. Growing up watching the Peanuts specials holds special memories for me, this one is by far my favorite of Schulz's holiday specials. The spirit of the season is easily felt in the songs of A Charlie Brown Christmas, not a year goes by without hearing the soundtrack in our household.

The cartoon shows that the true meaning of Christmas is finding the joy in our hearts and lives and sharing our good fortunes with others.

After all, as Linus Van Pelt said, "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

- Special Section editor Andrea Kalas

The Polar Express

"The Polar Express" is a touching, 2004 computer-animated movie about a boy who has started to grow out of his belief in Santa until one magical Christmas Eve, when he and other children board the train that takes him to the North Pole to meet the man himself. The animation of the show, featuring Tom Hanks as the conductor, was eerily life-like and, as a result, captivated both adults and kids. What probably made this even more special was seeing it at the IMAX Theater in Spokane right after it came out with family and friends.

2. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; 3. Deck the Halls; 4. Santa Clause; 5. Christmas Vacation.

- Reporter Brian Walker

It's a Wonderful Life

Yep, it's cheesy as heck, but I love "It's a Wonderful Life."

Growing up, I had little tolerance for old movies, probably because they were always what my dad wanted to watch back in the days when families had just one "good" television.

Somehow, in my youthful rebellion against older films, I missed Frank Capra's 1946 classic about small-town banker George Bailey of Bedford Falls.

When I grew up enough to appreciate an old black-and-white flick my dad would approve of, I discovered this movie.

To this day, I love the story of reckoning and redemption, how George gets a second chance and discovers that everything he ever needed is right there with him in Bedford Falls. What a great gift to receive any time of year.

- Reporter Maureen Dolan

Santa Claus, 1985

My all-time favorite Christmas movie would have to be 1985's "Santa Claus" starring Dudley Moore and John Lithgow.

Claus (David Huddleston) and his wife Anya (Judy Cornwell) deliver toys to a certain village. After leaving the village the couple and their two reindeer, Donner and Blitzen, get caught in a snow storm and almost die. They are then transported to the North Pole and saved by the elves. After seeing the elves workshop, Claus is then named Santa Claus and he sets out to deliver toys to the children of the world on Christmas Eve.

"Santa Claus" is a joyous movie that brings the true meaning of Christmas alive. It encompasses everything about Christmas. It's about love and loyalty as well as about helping those who are in need.

2. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation; 3. The Santa Clause; 4. Christmas with the Kranks; 5. Four Christmases

- Copy editor/paginator Hillary Main

Christmas Vacation and Christmas Story

Christmas Vacation and Christmas Story are flat out the best Christmas movies. Both deliver humor and touches of sentiment. If I have to pick, I go with Christmas Story based simply on the magical ending as the camera pans away from the house on Cleveland Street, snow falling at night, Ralphie sleeping with his Red Ryder, brother Randy in his bed, holding his Zepplin. Our narrator tells us it was the best Christmas present he would ever receive. The movie itself is a gift to all of us.

3. It's a Wonderful Life. 4. Home Alone. 5. A Christmas Carol (1951 version with Alastair Sim).

- City editor Bill Buley

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