OC Sound Off: Classic V. Modern Christmas Movies


Katie Caccavale and Sadrac Rainey


Hindered only by the progression of time, classics, in any medium, offer a more grounded presentation. By being set in values held in place by time the Christmas season offers this sense of tradition in tandem with a more nostalgic perspective, even without experiencing the era first-hand.

Animation has changed throughout the 20th century all for the convenience of both sides of the screen. More definite line-work, and comprehensible speech add to the experience of the viewer all while in a reduction in costs to produce.

Produced by Videocraft International, Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer had given way to a market not yet truly explored before it. They focused on a patented form of stop motion animation, known as “Animagic”, and utilizing an iconic story has only added to historic fame that the film possess. ,,

Sharing many techniques used by Videocraft, Santa Claus Comin’ to Town is based on the same Japanese “Animagic” technique. Although, unlike the former, it bases itself off of nothing before it, a story completely original. This subsequently has led to the release of the story in other mediums, such as a novelization.  

These films based themselves on time honored work, as timeless hours were spent in their production. A certain sense of pride could be taken in such work, but without substance to them, a worthwhile story they become worthless. This isn’t a case here though as the story rivals the prevention itself on more than one occasion, which is what gave rise to the art form in the first place.

Another pivotal film although more traditional in technique has absurdity in its entirety. How the Grinch Stole Christmas, while having no real specialty, the movie focused more with the adaptation of book to animation, with the director having worked hand-in-hand with Dr. Seuss. Though with revision, fundamental alteration occurs from the process. This film debuts the Grinch with his now infamous green color, and scenes were added to extend he runtime, such as the Grinch’s descent into Whoville.

The start of a noticeable difference in live-action Christmas movies has reared into the spotlight; as they’ve turned from upbeat drama pieces all for the lackadaisical whimsy of the season. Basing themselves more for comedy than drama, and while this isn’t necessarily bad in-of-itself, there is a certain lack of writing when coming into a genre based on it. While classic comedies offer timeless singers the past is needed to be dug up year after year, as subsequently the later releases lack the same spark from their predecessors.

Films such as Santa Clause, Home Alone, and Scrooged offer a more mature sense of humor as the movies themselves have ripened to match. While humor tends to be subjective in taste, Christmas movies are designed to market towards the largest common denominator of consumers, leaving these classics in a somewhat pristine condition. As they age they don’t grow stale which could usually be said about many comedy films from the era, yet the Christmas coat of paint has kept them in place.

With new Christmas movies being introduced to the public, some viewers begin to see the same plot over and over again. Along with storylines, challenges begin to repeat themselves in different movies, making these films repetitive.


“Arthur Christmas (2011)” featuring James McAvoy, is a self discovery film about a boy named Arthur, whose father is the one and only Santa Claus. In the movie as well, Santa shows a new way to deliver presents, which is sort of unnatural. But then again, it’s all about saving Christmas.

In a Christmas staple, “The Polar Express (2004)” featuring Tom Hanks, follows the adventures of a young boy on Christmas Eve as he journeys to see Santa, on a magical train. Santa is seen with his elves as helpers rather than “spies”. Even though, many people see this as a Christmas classic, some may see it as a confusing movie, seeing as many kids are on a train traveling a great distance to see Santa with no parents.

All together, both of these movies are just so different but end with the same plot that Christmas is saved and all the kids of the world get their presents for Christmas Day. Seeing these plots/endings happening in almost every animated Christmas movie, it tends to get too dull to even watch. Without any interesting changes being applied to new movies, people might stop going to the movies.

“The Grinch (2018)” featuring Benedict Cumberbatch, is about a grumpy Grinch trying to ruin Christmas for everyone in the village of Whoville. Along with the first section, this movie keeps to the same plot and challenges as all the other Grinch movies do.

With the writers trying to put a new twist on this old classic, some believe the changes should have never happened, basically saying that the movie was better before all the revisions took place.

These post 2000’s live action movies are more superior than the animated films because these types of movies have deeper plots and challenges to them, making every movie different than the next one.

“Elf (2003)” featuring Will Ferrell, shows Buddy the elf is great representation of pure humor. As this plot contains a variety of issues for the main character to face, rather than having just one challenge for him/her to overcome. Having more blocks in the road makes the movie definitely rise above animated films.

“Christmas with the Kranks (2004)” featuring Tim Allen, is about how the holidays are seen as a crazy adventure for this family. With a last minute Christmas, many problems begin to rise about, it begins to test the bond of the family. Everyone can relate to this movie,especially the summary. Almost every family gets a bit crazy during the Christmas season, having this movie to relate back to, brings laughter into the movie world.

The two movies that are being featured for non animated christmas movies are surely different when compared to one another. With different challenges and storylines, these changes make these films better than animated movies in more ways than one.