Christmas movies are as much a holiday tradition as mistletoe and Santa.
For some, Christmas just isn’t as merry if they don’t see George Bailey’s grin when Clarence gets his wings in “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
There’s the sight of Santa’s cane left as a girl’s Christmas wish comes true in “A Miracle on 34th Street.” The Grinch’s heart growing three sizes. Buddy the Elf shouting, “I know him!” A young boy getting a sleigh bell.
“People like watching classic Christmas films out of tradition and nostalgia,” said Pauline Arroyo, marketing assistant at Nickelodeon. “It’s wonderful to have a film that you can watch and enjoy across generations. Around this time of year, it’s nice to escape into the warm simplicity of those Christmas movie worlds.”
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And then there are the new movies released every year, the ones hoping to become the next classics – a new tradition for a new generation.
Whether you want to snuggle in with a classic, try out a new holiday movie, or see something completely offbeat on the big screen, we’ve got a few ways for you to enjoy.
The Nickelodeon Theatre offers a slate of four Christmas classics this holiday season: “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946), “Jingle All the Way” (1996), Miracle on 34th Street” (1947) and “Scooged” (1988).
“Christmas classics are a way to bring people together,” Arroyo said. “Whether you go with family, friends, or someone you’ve just met, these are movies anyone can enjoy and always supply a good time with a hopeful message. Not to mention it’s a great way to celebrate the holiday and keep warm at the same time!”
The schedule: “Jingle All the Way” screens on Sunday, Dec. 11; “It’s A Wonderful Life” on Saturday, Dec. 17 and Sunday, Dec. 18; “Miracle on 34th Street” on Monday, Dec. 19; “Scrooged” on Thursday, Dec. 22; and an encore of “Miracle on 34th Street” on Christmas Eve.
Get tickets in advance online, or at the door if available. 1607 Main St. www.nickelodeon.org
S.C. State Museum
Visit the 4-D interactive theater at the South Carolina State Museum to not just watch the beloved classic “Polar Express” but experience it. The 4-D theater provides a 3-D visual experience with the fourth dimension of environmental experiences like blasts of air, vibrating seats and water spray.
“The Polar Express is one of our most popular shows,” said Jared Glover, State Museum spokesman. “People ask about it all year long, so we’re always excited to bring it back for the holidays.”
Glover remembers the first time he saw the State Museum’s 4-D version of the holiday classic.
“I still talk about remembering the smell of hot chocolate,” Glover said.
“The Polar Express” takes you, along with a doubting young boy, on a train ride to the North Pole in a 15-minute version.
“You really get the entire film condensed into a 15-minute thrill ride,” Glover said. “And if you are looking for snow, this is the perfect opportunity to experience it with friends.”
And, while at the State Museum, visit the planetarium to watch “The Star of Bethlehem.” This full-dome planetarium experience takes viewers back in time to Jerusalem and Bethlehem to investigate fascinating ideas about the Christmas star. The show presents historical and scientific facts about this 2,000-year old mystery through a special audiovisual display featuring popular Christmas carols. The 25-minute show can be seen through Friday, Dec. 23.
301 Gervais St. Check the website for show times, costs and details. www.scmuseum.org
Sumter Opera House
A Cinema Series, running November to May, includes a seasonal offering of “Polar Express.” You can enjoy the classic in a beautiful setting.
$5 at the door. 21 N. Main St., Sumter. Showtimes and other films in the series: www.sumtersc.gov/special-events
Several new movies are playing at Columbia movie theaters this season.
“Bad Santa 2” is a sequel to the 2003 “Bad Santa.” A drunk, greedy and hateful Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) teams up with his angry sidekick, Marcus (Tony Cox), to knock off a Chicago charity on Christmas Eve. In theaters now. (R)
“Almost Christmas” is the story of Walter Meyer (Danny Glover), a retired mechanic who lost the love of his life one year earlier. During the holidays, he invites his sons and daughters to his house for a traditional celebration. Walter soon realizes that if his bickering family can spend five days together under the same roof, it will truly be a Christmas miracle. In theaters now. (PG-13)
“Believe” is the story of a small-town business owner (Ryan O’Quinn) going through tough economic times, struggling between his desire for financial success and the responsibility of funding the annual Christmas pageant. He meets Clarence (Issac Ryan Brown), a joyful boy who believes in miracles and faces a choice: Do what’s best for himself, or open his heart to help his community. In theaters now. (PG-13)
“Office Christmas Party” features a hard-partying branch manager (T.J. Miller) whose CEO sister (Jennifer Aniston) is trying to close his branch office. He and his chief technical officer (Jason Bateman) must rally their co-workers and host an epic office Christmas party to impress a potential client and close a sale that will save their jobs. In theaters now. (R)
“Why Him?” features an overprotective but loving dad (Bryan Cranston) who takes his family to visit his daughter at Stanford during the holidays. He meets his daughter’s boyfriend (James Franco), a well-meaning but socially awkward Silicon Valley billionaire. Dad thinks the boyfriend is inappropriate for his daughter. Opens Friday, Dec. 23. (R)