While I’ve enjoyed watching these on Netflix, next week I anticipate viewing more of my favorites (and getting more into movies actually tied to the holiday rather than just a convenient excuse for gatherings).
THE FAMILY STONE (2005) is one of my sister’s Christmas perennials, and it does hold up well. Sarah Jessica Parker plays the uptight executive accompanying boyfriend Dermot Mulroney to his family home where she has to cope with smartass Rachel McAdams, stoner Owen Wilson, dying mother Diane Keaton and the arrival of Parker’s sister (Clare Danes) who has her own interest in Mulroney). Just a very well-executed family film—one I’d choose to watch even if it wasn’t tied to Christmas. “You have a freak flag—you just don’t fly it.”
In NOTHING LIKE THE HOLIDAYS (2008) it’s a Chicago Puerto Rican family coming together to work out its problems, which include patriarch Alf Molina secretly struggling with cancer, mom Elizabeth Peña wanting a divorce and an even more uptight guest in the form of whitebread Debra Messing accompanying John Leguizamo home. Not as much to my taste as Family Stone (I think primarily it’s the everyone-having-a-crisis story), but that aside, nicely done. “Google is a search engine.”Getting away from family get-togethers, IT HAPPENED ON FIFTH AVENUE (1947) has hobo Victor Moore slip into a millionaire’s mansion while he’s away for Christmas, then discover his squat is turning into a mini-community that includes homeless veteran Don DeFore, the mansion owner’s daughter (Gale Storm), and eventually the owner himself (Charles Ruggles). This never rises above amiable, but if that’s good enough … This would double-bill well with Come September (for Rock Hudson as a mansion owner with an unwanted guest problem) or Devil and Miss Jones (another where a rich man passes himself off as poor), though both are superior.“Marriage is a great thing—no family should be without it.”When I needed to stream something while cooking, the most convenient thing was 12 DATES OF CHRISTMAS (2011) even though it’s quite familiar to me from being in Now and Then We Time Travel. A pleasant rom-com with a time loop twist, this has Amy Smart trying to figure out why she’s reliving Christmas Eve over and over, at first assuming it’s so she can get her old boyfriend back, then wondering if destiny is steering her towards blind date Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Not bad. “In my life, ‘weird’ has a very very high bar.”