Courtesy of Disney
With winter break right around the corner, it is time for the annual holiday movie binge. Along with traditional holiday classics, these recent releases are worthy watches that add a spin on seasonal television.
1. “Dash & Lily” (Netflix)
This short holiday series follows the adventures of Christmas enthusiast Lily and loner Dash in New York City. Communicating through a red notebook Lily leaves in a bookshop, the two teenagers leave a series of dares for one another in exchange for revealing pieces of information about each other.
The strangers soon form a relationship and try to help each other through their problems. Lily helps Dash make new holiday memories in the wake of previous bad ones, and Dash helps Lily overcome her fear of expressing herself in front of a crowd. Over time, the characters learn how to balance love, family, friends, and their own desires amid the stress and bustle of Christmas washing over their lives.
The effect is a heartwarming, comical piece that plays on the joys and melancholies of the holiday season. The series does not follow all the usual clichés of holiday films, making it all the more exciting and an easy watch.
2. “Godmothered” (Disney+)
Fairy-godmother-in-training Eleanor travels to the human world to prove that people still need fairy godmothers to get their happily ever afters and save her home of the Motherland in this Cinderella retelling. Eleanor soon inserts herself into the life of single mother Mackenzie Walsh working as a local newscaster in Boston.
Eleanor’s magical lifestyle is at odds with the modern world, making for some laughable moments such as when she hires a raccoon named Garry to clean Mackenzie’s house. Although Eleanor’s presence is initially unwanted, she is able to help Mackenzie take time for herself amid her stressful life and divided time as a mother, eventually enabling her to find happiness in the love she already has for her family. Eleanor learns some lessons along the way as well that make her realize that reality is not always a fairytale, and it does not have to be.
Fairytales do not have to have a formula, and love can take form in numerous other ways than falling for a prince. “Godmothered” is a lighthearted movie that will leave you believing in the magic of “happily” without the “ever after,” showing you that stories never end, and life is never exactly perfect.
3. “The Holiday Movies that Made Us” (Netflix)
Holiday classics can make you feel like a kid again, but do you ever wonder how the magic happens? This documentary miniseries takes a look behind two very different classics and how their fame came from humble beginnings.
“The Holiday Movies that Made Us” explores the worlds of “Elf” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas” with interviews from their creators telling the drama behind the scenes and the process of the films’ productions. “Elf,” for example, was inspired by an inexperienced David Berenbaum at the time and his love of holiday movies such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Berenbaum’s idea for Buddy the Elf’s search for his father came from the loss of his own at a young age. The film was a way of remembering the holiday memories they had had together. Berenbaum’s big dreams were hard in the making, and many of the scenes took a broad imagination to create such as the forced perspectives and animation of the North Pole scenes, the real reactions of people walking around New York City, and shooting some scenes in an abandoned mental institution.
Opposite the family favorite is Tim Burton’s “Nightmare before Christmas.” The episode focuses on the film’s team working to meet the demands of the famous creator even while he was more focused on the project of “Batman Returns.” With little guidance from Burton, the team worked tirelessly to create his vision, failing from time to time. Burton reportedly demanded that Halloweentown only have black, white, and orange colors in its setting with no right angles after dismissing original sketches. Another time, he kicked a hole in the wall after the writer proposed an alternate ending, and the team framed the spot in the wall. Eventually, the misfit film would earn its fame with a unique audience and secure itself in holiday movie history.
The docuseries is a great watch for film buffs and documentary lovers alike, offering a break from the clichés of holiday Hallmark fluff and filling you with nostalgia.