The Entertainment Chuckwagon: Ho-Ho-Holiday Edition

Christmas-Tree-Clip-Art_08This edition’s installment of The Entertainment Chuckwagon focuses on that special time of year, when chestnuts are roasting, trees are being trimmed and on a cold day, you can sit inside and relax with a cup of hot cocoa.

In celebration of the season, I put together my top two picks for Christmas viewing fun. Maybe you’ve seen them before, but they’re both worth a rewatch. If you haven’t seen them, the holidays are the perfect time to check them out.

First up is the modern classic, Scrooged. There have been many retellings of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but none quite like this great film.

Directed by Richard Donner, this 1988 comedy set in New York features Bill Murray in the Ebenezer Scrooge role of network president Frank Cross, who’s spearheaded the production of a live broadcast of A Christmas Carol set to air on Christmas Eve.

Accused by his brother of not liking Christmas, Frank retorts, “Like it? I love it. It’s col. People stay home and watch television. Ad revenues go up 30 percent. All these idiots are gonna be home watching the boob tube for me tonight. I’m the biggest fan Christmas ever had.”

What makes this adaptation different from others it it’s not a direct retelling of the story. Murray plays a Scrooge like character but the setting is contemporary and A Christmas Carol is already a known, beloved tradition. It’s more of a satire with a fresh spin on the tale.

A crass cab driver, an abusive pixie and a mysterious cloaked figure with bony hands reprise the roles of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.

While revisiting the past, Frank encounters his long lost love, Claire, who is portrayed by actress Karen Allen. Murray and Allen have a sweet chemistry together, leading the audience to root for a romantic reconciliation. Murray himself is masterful in the role of Frank, occasionally revealing a vulnerability long suppressed on his climb to the top of the television industry.

The film also contains a number of clever jabs at the industry.

Give Scrooged a watch this Christmas. Yule love it!

Next up is a film most of you, unless you’ve been living under a rock on Jupiter, have probably seen at least once, It’s a Wonderful Life. For a while it seemed you couldn’t escape this film at Christmas time as it was shown during all of December on various channels. In the 90s however, NBC bought the exclusive rights, and now the movie only airs once before Christmas.

This classic film is not only one of my favorite Christmas movies but also ranks high on my list of top ten favorite films of all time. First released in 1946, the movie tells the tale of George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), a dreamer with big ideas who’s never quite made it out of his hometown of Bedford Falls.

Though George has a beautiful wife, Mary (Donna Reed) and loving children, he feels he’s never truly accomplished anything, unlike his brother Harry, the war hero.

On Christmas Eve, faced with going to jail on charges trumped up by the greedy town miser, Mr. Potter, George contemplates ending his life.

However, he is saved by his guardian angel, Clarence.

Clarence offers George a glimpse of what life would’ve been like had George never been born, giving him new insight into the importance of his existence to his family and friends.

Stewart gives a stellar performance in the lead role and the rest of the cast is top notch. The film is a wonderful mix of humor and drama with an uplifting message many need to hear during the holidays. I defy you to finish this film with dry eye.

Simply put, It’s a Wonderful Movie!
Written by Chuck Brutz for Pennsylvania Bridges