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Christmas movies to put people in the holiday spirit

Rocking around the Christmas tree can be tiring, so take a break, kick your feet up and enjoy some holiday favorites gathered around the flat-screen with some Christmas movie recommendations that are (almost) guaranteed to put people in the Christmas spirit.

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Brainerd Dispatch movie reviewer Frank Lee sits down with an assortment of his holiday movie favorites Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, while holding his Grinch-like cat. Contributed / Frank Lee
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It’s a gift to spend time with friends and family during the holiday season.

And for me, there is no better way than gathering around the flat-screen watching movies with a roaring fire or — for those without a fireplace — a laptop with a video of a yule log “burning.”

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Not just any films will do, however, oh, no … ho, ho, ho. “‘Tis the season” and at our modest abode we make a concerted effort to get in the Christmas spirit with Christmas movies.

Not the countless (and arguably schmaltzy) Hallmark movies offered up on your Roku, Apple TV or other streaming devices but the tried-and-true Christmas pictures for us “Die Hard”(s).

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Our family watches and re-watches these holiday-themed motion pictures every year in the weeks before Christmas and even during the days left in the year before New Year’s Day.

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Much like family and friends, these films never fail to make us laugh or make us cry. And like the ones we love, these movies are always there for us albeit on the shelves of our DVD cabinet.

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These Christmas-themed movies in Brainerd Dispatch reporter Frank Lee's DVD collection stand up to repeated viewing and are on his must-watch list during the holidays. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

Here are my recommendations for what to watch while you are wrapping presents, untangling Christmas lights or frantically doing last-minute shopping online for a Dispatch movie reviewer:

“Toy Story” — Nothing makes you feel like a kid again like this 1995 computer-animated comedy by Pixar Animation Studios that was released by Walt Disney Pictures. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are perfectly cast as a pair of bickering Christmas toys vying for a child’s affection.

“Christmas with the Kranks” — I can’t stand “Santa Clause” — the Tim Allen movie franchise where he embodies ol’ St. Nick. The 2004 live-action comedy “Christmas with the Kranks,” based on the novel “Skipping Christmas,” however, is innocuous with a heart-warming ending.

“Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” — The most famous sourpuss of the holidays is, of course, the green fur-covered Grinch, but Benedict Cumberbatch lends his voice as the title character of the 2018 computer-animated movie to provide a never-before-told empathetic backstory to the character.

“The Muppet Christmas Carol” — If there ever was a story re-imagined countless times it’s the Charles Dickens classic. But throw in the likes of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy into the mix along with Michael Caine, and you’ll learn the true meaning of Christmas in this 1992 movie.

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“While You Were Sleeping” — Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman shine in the 1995 romantic comedy that begins before Christmas and continues through New Year’s. Bullock’s character is all alone during the holidays when she discovers her love again for family and friends.

“When Harry Met Sally” — The Rob Reiner romantic comedy stars Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in a holiday classic about the ups-and-downs of dating and finding true love during the holidays. The deli scene alone in the 1989 movie, with Ryan “faking it,” is pure comic gold for adults.

“Die Hard” — Yes, that “Die Hard” — the 1988 action movie starring Bruce Willis as a New York cop at his estranged wife’s Christmas office party. It’s got fighting and takes place during the holidays — like a real family reunion — so Christmas movie purists, you can just keep quiet.

“Love Actually” — Love this 2003 Christmas-themed romantic comedy written and directed by Richard Curtis that has a talented ensemble cast with various subplots that overlap at times or that intertwines the 10 separate stories by the end of the funny and touching motion picture.

“National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation” — No Christmas movie recommendation list would be complete without this hilarious 1989 comedy. Chevy Chase stars as a hapless family man who wants to have the perfect Christmas. But it doesn’t go well when relatives are invited.

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bdfilmforum .

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These Christmas-themed movies in Brainerd Dispatch reporter Frank Lee's DVD collection stand up to repeated viewing and are on his must-watch list during the holidays. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

122221.F.BD.ChristmasDVDs.JPG
These Christmas-themed movies in Brainerd Dispatch reporter Frank Lee's DVD collection stand up to repeated viewing and are on his must-watch list during the holidays. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

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I cover arts and entertainment, and write feature stories, for the Brainerd Dispatch newspaper. As a professional journalist with years of experience, I have won awards for my fact-based reporting. And my articles have also appeared in other publications, including USA Today. 📰
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