Ed Elf here! Consider me your very own film guide. Wonder if you can guess what my favourite film is? I’ll tell you later. First it’s cartoons. There are so many absolutely brilliant animations out there. What are your Christmas favourites? Really? I love those, too. Here’s a list of cartoons you might want to watch this Christmas – and for many Christmases to come.
Arthur’s pretty cool in his own geeky way, with his full-on Christmas jumper and a heart of gold. One little girl has asked Father Christmas for a pink bicycle, but is about to wake up to discover she has been forgotten. In Arthur’s book, that’s just not acceptable. Go Arthur! You save Christmas, you crazy sweater man!
Sing along now…”We’re walking in the air! Be-do-be-do-be do…” Imagine making a snowman and it comes to life. Imagine it takes you flying to meet Father Christmas. Well, you don’t have to imagine anymore – just watch this fantastic film. Oh yeah – and have a tissue ready for the end. Not that I cried, you understand. It’s just that you might.
“The Polar Express”
I don’t know how they did it. These filmmakers are very good, you know. The scene at the end of this film, when the children arrive at the North Pole and see Santa and all my elf pals, is so true to life I can hardly believe it. But then belief is what this movie is all about. Believe my friends! Believe!
“A Charlie Brown Christmas”
You know America, right? It’s that big place across the sea where they have Disneyworld and Presidents. Well, they also have Charlie Brown cartoons as well. This is the best. Charlie Brown is a bit down in the mouth. He’s not feeling Christmassy at all. Maybe his friends can help him, including his dog Snoopy. Watch out for the way they all dance. It’s hilarious.
“Disney’s A Christmas Carol”
This was made in 3D and when I first saw it I have to admit it made me a bit giddy. In fact, I thought I might barf. You can watch it in normal-D, though. It’s the best Christmas story ever, written by a genius called Charles Dickens. But it does involve ghosts and, I have to say, this film does have its scary bits. Run it by the grown-ups first, maybe?
“Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas”
Manny and the gang are back and are as funny as ever. This time their adventure takes them to the North Pole. That’s because a certain young mammoth wants to prove a point to Dad. There’s also something called the Christmas rock. Who knew? Watch it – you’ll love it!
“Shrek the Halls”
Oh no! Shrek is not a happy bunny. He’s not even a happy ogre. He wants a nice, quiet family Christmas – but isn’t sure how the whole festive thing works. When he finds the book to help him, his less-than-tactful friend Donkey rather spoils things. And no one wants to face an angry ogre.
“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”
This is incredible. Trust me. The whole story rhymes, the Grinch is green and mean and the Whos down in Whoville are Christmas crazy. And that’s not forgetting Max the dog. He’s a scene-stealer. Christmas isn’t all about presents, you know. Yes, they are great. There’s no denying the fact. But there’s more to Christmas than gifts. Just ask the Grinch.
“Rise of the Guardians”
Rise up you guardians, wherever you are! My good pal the Easter Bunny makes an appearance in this film, so I’m a little biased. But I think I’d like it regardless of that. It’s good! It’s really, really good! Santa is in it, needless to say, and the Sandman puts in a legendary performance. And there’s a mean old baddy who just has to be defeated. Jack Frost holds the key to saving all the guardians and all their holidays.
“The Flight Before Christmas”
This film flew under the radar. Get me! A cheeky play on words. I’ve missed my way, me – I really have. This cartoon deserves to be noticed. It’s seriously good. A young deer believes he can fly because he’s the son of one of Santa’s reindeer. But he might just have to find Dad to make believers of everyone, including his trusty pal the flying squirrel. His selfishness jeopardises the herd. A big bad wolf might just cash in. Oh yes – you’re gonna like this one.
“The First Snow of Winter”
I think I’ve already established that I’m cute. It doesn’t take a genius to work that out. Likewise, it won’t take you long to work out there’s all kinds of cuteness flying around in this wintry tale. Sean the duck is the star, along with Voley and Puffy. And then there’s the Red Fox. He’s a bad ‘un. A happy ending, though, me thinks. By the way, ever seen a duck, a vole and a flock of sheep Irish dancing? No – well you better watch this then.
“The Snowman and the Snowdog”
This is a follow-up to “The Snowman” and has just the best doggy friend anyone could wish for. He’s got socks for ears. That got me hooked right off the bat. Adorable! That said, I know these snow-related stories don’t end well – so brace yourselves. Tissue again anyone?
“Frosty the Snowman”
What was I just saying about snow and tearful endings? Frosty isn’t exactly going to last through spring, let’s be honest. But he is magical, so when he promises he’ll be back again some day you can bet your pocket money he will be. Enjoy him while he lasts.
This is delightful. Angela is a six-year-old girl from Limerick in Ireland and has a heart of gold. She has the odd fight with her pesky brother, even at Christmas. But above all she’s kind and caring. Just ask the baby Jesus. This is a beautiful Netflix original animation, with love, kindness and forgiveness at its core. It has a really magical feel.
“Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas”
There have been few better animations than “Beauty and the Beast”. What joy! This follow-up involves all the original team, from Belle and the Beast to Mrs. Potts and Chip. Belle wants to celebrate Christmas and is winning the master round to her way of thinking. There is a wicked pipe organ called Forte who is intent on getting in her way. Surely he can’t stop Christmas from coming.
Earlier I mentioned Raymond Briggs – the clever man who created “The Snowman”. Well, he is also responsible for this tale of the big man in the red suit. Watch this and you might just get a peak at what Father Christmas gets up to when he isn’t delivering presents. Mind you, he isn’t half a grumpy pants at times. Bloomin’ Santa!
“The Nightmare Before Christmas”
I love Halloween. Do you? Jack Skellington is the king of Halloween in this fabulous film. But one day he stumbles across Christmas and decides this is a perfect change of direction for him. Unfortunately, that’s not how the rest of the world sees it. There’ll be tears before bedtime, but I’ve got a feeling Santa will come good in the end. Now this isn’t strictly a cartoon, but is a stop motion animation. Sorry – didn’t mean to get all ‘technical’ on you.
“A Flintstones Christmas Carol”
There’s a lot of throwing up going on in this cartoon. A stomach bug is doing the rounds. Why does that always seem to happen at Christmas? Fred Flintstone is playing Scrooge in the Bedrock play so hopes he can avoid the puking. Hold it in, Fred!
“Yogi’s First Christmas”
Bears normally hibernate in the winter, which means they miss out on Christmas. It hardly seems fair. Yogi Bear decides enough is enough and plans to stay awake this Christmas to see what all the fuss is about. He might need a little help from his buddies, though.
“Tom & Jerry’s The Night Before Christmas”
This cartoon is just a few minutes long, but I have to say it is one of my all-time favourites. I have watched it so many times I know each small twist and turn of the festive plot and all the music. Tom throws Jerry out into the Christmas Eve snow and cold. But the spirit of the season has a way of mellowing even the worst of enemies. I can’t wait for you all to see this one. It’s a tiny Christmas gem.
This isn’t set at Christmas but it is set in a snowy, wintry land and so makes it on to my list for the festive season. It was inspired by the story “The Snow Queen” and features a fearless princess named Anna on a journey to find her sister Elsa, helped by Kristoff, his pet reindeer Sven and goofy snowman Olaf. “Let it Go” is the song we all now know and love. Frozen warms my heart every time.
“Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas”
Mickey Mouse has made all kinds of Christmas films. He’s pretty old after all (although don’t tell him I said that). Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Goofy and Donald Duck all help him tell his holiday tales in this delightful collection. If you like this, there’s also “Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas”. But let’s take one thing at a time, shall we?
“The Gruffalo’s Child”
The book is brilliant and the cartoon is too. The reason I think this is perfect for Christmas is because it is set in a wintry, snowy woodland. Also, it was shown for the first time in the UK on Christmas Day 2011 so it brings back happy memories. The Gruffalo’s Child is told not to go into the deep dark wood – but the little one doesn’t listen and searches for the big bad mouse. It’s so good, it’s sick! In fact, “The Gruffalo” and “Room on the Broom” – two of the other fantastic stories by Julia Donaldson – were also shown on Christmas Day. I like this new tradition. I might have to watch them all.
“Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year”
This DVD collection includes the Christmas TV special “Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too” from way back in 1991 – alongside the newer creation “Happy Pooh Year”. In “Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too” – which is very funny in parts – Christopher Robin writes a letter to Santa asking for gifts for him and his friends. But oh no! Pooh Bear is left out. So he gets the letter back and writes his wish on it. Problem is, he can’t get the letter to Santa again quite so easily. You’ll love how it all ends.
Like the amazing “The Snowman”, this is based on the book by Raymond Briggs and was made in 1998. It has music but no words (except on the American DVD where there is a narrator). Tilly is parted from her teddy bear on a visit to London Zoo then receives an unexpected visit of her own – from a polar bear. They embark on a Christmassy London adventure and Tilly is introduced to the Star Bear. Quite magical.
I don’t know if you’ve heard of this, but there’s a magical legend that tells of animals being given the power to speak at Christmas. Amazing or what? This TV cartoon film is based on that legend and centres on the young calf Annabelle, whose wish is to learn to fly and become one of Santa’s reindeer. She befriends Billy, the farmer’s grandson, who is unable to talk. Together they discover wishes can come true.
This is a great spin-off from the successful “Madagascar” movie series. It sees Santa and his sleigh blown out of the sky as naughty Julien mistakes him for the ‘red night goblin’, who annually pelts his island with coal. Julien has no idea about Santa Claus, about getting coal for being naughty or about gift giving. Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria show him the error of his ways and then set about fixing Christmas with a delivery service of their own. The battle between the penguins and the reindeer to be the top dogs, as it were, is very funny.
“The Magic Reindeer”
This is the sequel to “The Flight Before Christmas” with more adventures for young reindeer Niko. When his mother finds a new partner, Niko has to share life with a stepbrother Jonni and isn’t happy. But when eagles kidnap Jonni, Niko flies off to rescue him. If you liked the first film starring Niko, you’ll enjoy the follow-up. There’s even an appearance from Santa.
“If You Give a Mouse a Christmas Cookie”
This Amazon original from 2016 is a Christmas spin-off of Laura Numeroff’s children’s book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”, published in 1985 and illustrated by Felicia Bond. In this sweet animation, Mouse and his animal friends try to save a festive pageant and learn about friendship along the way.
“Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas”
Curious George is a right cheeky monkey! In this cartoon, George and The Man with the Yellow Hat struggle to decide what to buy each other for Christmas. Can they solve the problem in time for the big day?
“The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol”
It is Christmastime in Smurf Village and all is meant to be jolly. But Grouchy Smurf struggles with the happiness of the season and is his usual grumpy self. A magic potion and three enchanted Smurfs have to change all that. Fail and the evil Gargamel could get his hands on Christmas.
From the genius of author Roald Dahl, this is a very different take on some classic fairytales and is perfect for Christmas. It was first shown in the festive season in 2016 on BBC One and features a feisty Red Riding Hood in a wolf skin coat and a menacing wolf in women’s clothing. Snow White, Cinderella and Jack and his beanstalk all appear. But their stories are not the ones we are used to hearing.
Elf Helper: Here are a few more favourites you might want to watch – “Peppa Pig: A Christmas Compilation” (2013); “Thomas & Friends: Christmas Express” (2010); “Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas” (2014); “Mr. Men The Christmas Special – The Christmas Letter” (2014); “The Snowy Day” (2016).
Cartoons are great, but there are films with real people in them that are every bit as good, you know. Here’s a selection as delicious as the most stripy candy cane on the Christmas tree…as yummy as all the chocolates in your Advent calendar…as scrummy as…ok. You get the picture. Ha! I’ve done it again. You get the picture! And when people go to the cinema they often say: “We’re going to the pictures.” Some times my funny bone is working and I don’t even know it.
“Does someone need a hug?” asks Elf of the angry Racoon. The next thing you know, the racoon is biting at his throat. That’s the innocence of Buddy Elf that makes this film so magical. I love it when he drinks a whole bottle of coke and burps for an age. I love when he eats cotton wool balls. I love when he lights up all the buttons on the lift of the Empire State Building. Of course, there is some elf-finity going on here. But all that aside, this is one of the great Christmas movies. And did you guess right? This is my number one favourite!
“The Santa Clause”
Santa falling off the roof. My worst nightmare. Thankfully, this is only a film – but a good one at that. If nothing else, it shows the importance in having someone who believes in you. I always have snow-globe envy after watching this.
“Muppets Christmas Carol”
This is my favourite version of the Charles Dickens story and no mistake. Kermit and Miss Piggy are close, personal friends of mine. Well, we did bump into each other in a lift once. Michael Caine is the name of the actor who plays Scrooge. He’s top.
Do you know what slapstick is? Watch this film and you’ll know, 100 percent. Macaulay Culkin strikes a blow for kids everywhere as he battles the stupid robbers. Kevin wishes his family would disappear after he gets in trouble the night before a Christmas holiday to Paris. At first, having the house all to himself seems like the best thing ever. But things take a worrying turn when burglars show up. Kevin bravely and comically shows them: don’t mess with kids at Christmas.
“Home Alone II: Lost in New York”
Not again, Macaulay. All alone again at Christmas. This time, he gets on the wrong flight and meets the bandits once more. But if you can defeat the idiots once, I’m sure you can do it again. Oh yeah – there’s also the trip to the most fantastical toy story in all the land. This is maybe even funnier than the first. The scene where bricks are thrown by young Kevin at the robbers is sure to make you laugh – and some of the hotel scenes are hilarious. New York also looks brilliant at Christmas, so this film is super festive.
“Miracle on 34th Street”
There are two versions of this film. I happen to prefer the more recent one, just because I’m a more modern kinda guy. The mother is pretty harsh. She tells her daughter there is no Santa Claus. But he’s there, right in front of her eyes. Madness! Anyway, the truth will out. Kris Kringle has powers we can only imagine. That’ll show you, Mrs. Mean.
“The Wizard of Oz”
This isn’t a Christmas movie but is shown every year at Christmastime and is simply stupendous. The flying monkeys and the wicked witch are a bit scary, I agree. But Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion have it all in hand, don’t you worry. Well, eventually they do.
Again, this is pretty much always shown at Christmas and is joyous. I like it best when they all jump into the chalk picture and end up being served by penguins and racing on carousel horses. How Mary Poppins fits all that stuff into her bag, I’ll never know. There’s something magical about her. I wonder if she’s ever met Santa?
“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”
Another film that is shown pretty much every Christmas – even though it isn’t set at Christmas. A flying car, a floating car, a kind of talking car – is there nothing Chitty can’t do? If the star is a car, then there is no doubt the meanest old baddy in all of movie history might just be the child-catcher. That long, turned up nose, that long, black hair, that creepy voice and that huge net – he gives me shudders. Don’t worry kids, he gets what’s coming to him – and it isn’t ice cream and lollipops.
What’s this? Santa on the run from the police? Santa in Prison? We can’t have that. The wonderful Jim Broadbent stars as Santa Claus, who needs the help of nine-year-old boy Tom and his Dad Steve to save Christmas after ending up behind bars following a sleigh crash. In the meantime, his reindeer are roaming loose in London. Look out for one reindeer with a wind problem. He trumps everyone.