Pssst: At the end of this post, you can find a link to Good Stuff Rox, where I'm giving away three copies of a new Christmas movie! See details below.
Movies are one of my favorite gifts to give and to receive, especially if they're good and can be watched over and over and over again. I've been fortunate to review a host of movies this year for various companies, and that's always a fun task. Oftentimes, on Friday nights, I pop a big bowl of popcorn, and the whole family snuggles up on the couch to watch (and to review) a movie. It's a nice way to end a week of running around. Below is my list of picks for this year's holidays. When I've reviewed a movie or it's been suggested for inclusion in the guide, I've noted a disclaimer; I've also added in some of my all-time favorites.
Before I give you this year's gift picks, though, I offer the general suggestion of pairing your movie thoughtfully with a movie-inspired gift. For example, if you're gifting Slumdog Millionaire (one of my favorites, mentioned below), think about pairing it with chai and chai cups, and Indian cookbook, or takeout. Remember Lucy's chocolate factory scene? How about pairing the Lucy series with a big box of chocolates? The movie "Date Night" (also referenced below) is an awesome gift paired with a date-night kit: Baker's chocolate fondue (in the supermarket baking aisle - ready to go, just microwave!), candles, wine... Think about the movie you're gifting and what might go well with it to create a special gift of in-home entertainment this year.
Without further ado, here are my suggested movie gifts this year:
Adult films and TV series:
- Date Night: Over the summer, I reviewed this movie for Fox, and, though far-fetched, it's pretty darned funny -- how could it not be with Tina Fey and Steve Carell?! It's the story of some "old marrieds" trying to break the mold and how far afield their attempt at "something different" went. This is the perfect movie to give to some "old marrieds" along with a "rekindling" gift basket.
- Slumdog Millionaire: It's a movie from 2008, but it's on racks at the "big box" stores for around $5 this year and is one of my favorite films. I picked up a copy to watch again and to lend to friends who haven't seen it. About a kid from the slums who competes on India's version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and the life that surrounds him, its a story of hope, and love, and loss that sticks with you for a long, long time.
- Modern Family: The Guv and I are having a blast reviewing the Modern Family TV series, which I recently gave away on this blog. It's a fantastic comedy show about a family that puts the "fun" in "dysfunctional." I don't think it's a show for kids (maybe teens and up), but it's great to curl up on the couch and watch with your spouse. Season One is out on DVD, and Season Two is airing now on ABC.
Family films and TV series:
- Avatar: I reviewed this movie for Fox early in the summer, and it's one of my all-time favorites; it's a prolific commentary on the environment and on how we treat those different from us. It is not appropriate for very young children but is probably fine for about 4th grade and up. Petunia cites it as her favorite movie, as it would be for any extremely empathetic, environmentally-engaged person. The extended collector's edition just came out last month on DVD and Blu-ray.
- Marmaduke: Our family reviewed Marmaduke for Fox this fall, and it's another of Petunia's favorite movies -- so much so that she chose to air it at her 10th birthday sleepover. It's a great tale of how dogs (and people) can struggle but still overcome obstacles to end up in a happy place. It's appropriate for all ages. Other favorite dog movies: The Beethoven Pooch Pack, The Adventures of Milo & Otis, and Santa Buddies (and so many more...).
- The Garfield Show: Odie-Oh!*: Petunia's my dog lover, and Dash is my cat lover; sadly for him, cat allergies run in my extended family, so, while we have a dog, Dash's cats have to be on DVD or in books or stuffed animal form! We received a copy of The Garfield Show for review, and he didn't watch anything else for weeks -- just watched it over and over again, laughing non-stop at Garfield's, Odie's, and John Arbuckle's antics. This show is currently airing on the Cartoon Network, and, surely, it'll never get old. It started as a cartoon strip in 1978 and just keeps getting better in its new incarnations! This is appropriate for all ages, especially for families where the parents grew up with Garfield, like I did. Other favorite cat movies: The Adventures of Milo & Otis and The Cat in the Hat TV series.
- The Sound of Music 45th Anniversary Edition*: I've owned the original 1965 Sound of Music movie for years, so I was excited to review the updated anniversary edition for Fox to see how it might be made better -- and all I can say is "wow." The way both picture and music have been updated (sounding fantastic through my surround-sound) is incredible! There are sing-along and interactivity options that enhance the viewing experience -- fun for the whole family, especially for those of us who grew up with the movie and know all of the words to all of the songs to teach our kids! In addition to the DVD, there is a whole collection available (I found it online at Costco) that includes a music box, a scrapbook, souvenir program, and more -- a great gift for the Julie Andrews fan in your life!
- Harriet the Spy: The Blog Wars*: Petunia reviewed this movie for me, and I'll be watching it with her over the holiday break. She says that I'll love it because it's about two kinds of competition: a mean-girls' style popularity contest and a blogging contest. She really enjoyed it, and, now, she wants to launch her own blog. I like that it connected her with one of my favorite childhood characters, Harriet the Spy, and like that the movie updated Harriet for the modern age. This is a great gift for a girl in 4th grade through middle school.
- The Andy Griffith Show 50th Anniversary: Best of Mayberry Collection*: (Not yet released: Coming 12/21) One of my favorite songs these days is "Mayberry" by Rascal Flatts, hearkening back to the times when we all knew how to slow down, knew our neighbors and appreciated small-town life. I'm now in a more urban setting, far from my roots in the West Virginian countryside -- and now, more than ever, I want to watch shows like Andy Griffith, especially with my kids, so that they can get a taste of what life in fictitious (but real to me) Mayberry might've been like. Plus, this show is funny! I think this is a great gift both for grandparents who watched the show way-back-when and also for any family who seeks an alternative to modern shows like iCarly ... about as far removed from Mayberry as one can get.
- Toy Story 3: Frankly, it feels silly to recommend this movie; everyone knows of the success of the Toy Story franchise. This movie, like the first two, is simply great. My kids have watched the first two about a hundred times a piece -- and even Petunia, who's 10, isn't tired of it. If you haven't gone down the Toy Story path yet, pick up the trio and some of the classic toys from the movie (Potato Head, slinky dog, and more!).
Holiday-themed films and TV shows:
- The Original Television Christmas Classics: From 1969, this DVD set includes Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town, Frosty the Snowman, Frosty Returns, and the Little Drummer Boy. I bought it a few years ago for my kids, and we all watch it over and over as the holidays approach. Since I don't let them sit around and flip through channels, there's little chance of us catching these when they air on TV, so it's nice to have them handy.
- Christmas Treats*: This DVD included eight holiday-themed TV episodes from Happy Days, Cheers, the Lucy Show, the Beverley Hillbillies, and more. I think it'd be great fun to have on hand for family viewing, especially as many of us will remember the episodes from different times in our lives. This would make a great gift for grandparents!
- Christmas in Canaan*: This Hallmark Channel original movie, starring Billy Ray Cyrus, starts in 1964, where a conflict in Texas between two boys of different races launches a beautiful tale of how to find happiness and peace in life no matter what cards you're dealt. We received a copy of this movie to review, and, though I was skeptical at first, our whole family (even the Guv!) agreed that this movie is a very special one, a reminder of "the reason for the season," so to speak. We've watched it a couple of times since and enjoy it quite a bit. For this reason, I'm sharing it with you!
Viviendi Entertainment and RHI Entertainment have provided me with three copies of Christmas in Canaan to give away to my readers. To enter, please leave a comment on my product review and giveaway site, Good Stuff Rox. You'll get a bonus entry for sharing your favorite holiday movie, and another entry if you tweet this contest using the hashtag #goodstuffrox. The deadline to enter is next Tuesday, December 7 at midnight PST; winners will be drawn and notified by noon the following day and must respond by end of day on Thursday, December 9 to claim their movies, else other winners will be chosen. Good luck! And remember: comments are welcome here, but the only eligible entries into the giveaway must be made on Good Stuff Rox!
* All movies marked with an asterik (*) were suggested by companies for inclusion in my gift guide. While I accepted the suggestion, I've only received review copies where noted; and I've included them of my own free will because I do believe they'd make good gifts. I have not been compensated otherwise for their inclusion in my list. Most of my reviews come about through my relationship with Bender/Helper Impact. I'm grateful to them for the opportunities they send my way!
P.S. As always, I promote Blog With Integrity.
Next up: Holiday Gift Guide, Part Two: Gifts of In-Home Entertainment, Part C: Games.
Cross-posted on Good Stuff Rox