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Reviewed by Anne Phan
17, Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies

I first saw Elf with my best friend during one of our sleepovers. We wrapped ourselves in blankets, clutched our stomachs from laughing uncontrollably, and even quoted lines for the rest of the night, calling ourselves “cotton-headed ninny-muggins!” The movie has become our special Christmas tradition that gets us into the holiday spirit with its family-friendly humor, festive Christmas music and great characters.

Imagine growing up adopted by Santa’s elves in the North Pole and spending 30 years of your life making toys in Santa’s workshop. That’s the life of Buddy, played by Will Ferrell, until he learns he’s human. He walks to New York City to find his birth father. Unfortunately, life in the Big Apple is not filled with gumdrops, candy canes and Christmas spirit, as Buddy expects. His obsession with sweets and candy isn’t satisfied by the gum found on the sidewalk and his father is a workaholic. But Buddy’s optimistic spirit enables him to build a loving relationship with his father, win the heart of Jovie, a department store worker played by Zooey Deschanel, and save Christmas for everyone.

Buddy’s attempts to spread cheer to everyone embody the true essence of Christmas. The combination of laughter, music and family makes Elf the perfect movie to kick off the holidays.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Reviewed by Camille Didelot-Hearn
15, Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies

Every Christmas Eve, it’s a family tradition to watch It’s a Wonderful Life. My dad lights a fire and we flip to the channel that plays it every year.

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you weren’t in the picture? If so, rent It’s a Wonderful Life. Small-town hero George Bailey (played by the great James Stewart) tries to commit suicide on Christmas Eve by jumping off a bridge into a freezing river. But before he can do it, a man falls in and George jumps in and saves his life. The man tells George he’s his guardian angel, Clarence. George doesn’t believe him and bitterly wishes that he had never been born, and Clarence grants his wish.

George begins to see that without him, people’s lives would be much worse: his brother would have died and his uncle would have been put in an insane asylum. And the town became sleazy and dirty. George realizes how many lives he has touched and begs God to let him have been born again. His wish is granted and he is reunited with his family, more appreciative of life than ever.

This is one of my favorite movies because it makes me so happy and appreciative of my life every time I see it. Even though it was made more than 60 years ago, It’s a Wonderful Life will make you realize how big an effect you have on those around you.

Home Alone

Reviewed by Christian Santiago
18, Santa Monica College

When I was in second grade I fell in love with Home Alone. I really wanted to try some of the movie’s pranks, though it wouldn’t be a good idea to throw a hot iron at someone from 20 feet high. The movie also had a great message. The holidays are about appreciating the time you have with one another. That’s why Home Alone is one of my favorite films to watch with my family during Christmas break.

The movie stars Macaulay Culkin, as Kevin, the youngest of five kids who gets pushed around by his family. So the night before his family leaves for Paris he wishes they would disappear. The next morning the family rushes to the airport and they forget Kevin! When he realizes that his familyTis gone he says this is the best Christmas present ever.

While home alone Kevin must stop two men from breaking into his house on Christmas Eve. He comes up with the best pranks and traps to stop them. No matter how many times I’ve seen this movie, I always laugh like it’s the first time.

Even though this movie is hilarious, the ending is what makes it special. Although Kevin may have problems with his family, he’s relieved when they come back from Paris early. At the end of the film, I have a better understanding of what Wfamilyf means to me: appreciating one another and not taking anything for granted.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Reviewed by Kristy Plaza
17, Duarte HS

For the last eight years my younger sister, Samantha, and I have woken up at 8 a.m. every Christmas morning to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas. That’s saying something because every other vacation day even an earthquake couldn’t wake me up before 8. We make our breakfast, she starts the movie, and we spend the rest of the morning singing along to every song.

Jack Skellington is the king of Halloween Town and while all the other ghouls are happy with their fright-filled lives, Jack is bored having the same Halloween parade every year. So after he stumbles upon Christmas Land, he enlists the help of the townspeople, his friend Sally and the Boogey Man’s henchmen (Lock, Shock and Barrel), to kidnap Santa and take over Christmas, adding a Halloween twist.

Unfortunately things don’t work out. Jack’s idea of a kid-friendly toy is a possessed vampire doll that flies (the kid who gets it starts screaming). Eventually though Jack learns to accept that he’s the King of Halloween. He realizes that Santa brings Christmas joy to people, so Jack embraces his scariness and wants to make Halloween super scary.

During the holidays, I love to watch movies with a great message like learning to be true to yourself. Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas does this so well that it’s a holiday tradition every year for me.