Dec 062006
Authors: Jeff Schwartz

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Starring: Steve Martin and John Candy

Running time: 1 hr. 33 min.

Rated: R

Summary: Before he unveiled “Christmas Vacation,” writer/director John Hughes gave us this delightfully hilarious film about two unlikely traveling companions – an arrogant businessman played by Steve Martin, and a good-natured, naive salesman played by John Candy – trying to get home for Thanksgiving. Perhaps a bit more saccharine than “Vacation,” this film is, nonetheless, filled with great, over-the-top scenes between Martin and Candy, as well as some pointed satire about the holiday season, all of which culminates during the funniest scene of the film where Martin goes into an f-word-laden tirade at an airport ticket counter.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Starring: Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore

Running time: 2 hr. 5 min.

Rated: Not rated

Summary: Not just a great Christmas movie, but a great movie in its own right, “Wonderful Life” is the story of George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart in one of his best performances), who gives up a life of adventure and world-traveling to stay in his tiny town of Bedford Falls and run the family business. Though the film’s first half is essentially comedic, it is the darker second half that gives “Wonderful Life” its power and longevity.

The Simpsons – Christmas Volume I

Starring the voices of: Dan Castelleneta, Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer

Running time: 1 hr. 32 min.

Rated: TVPG

Summary: Though more famous for their “Treehouse of Horror” Halloween specials, “The Simpsons” have still offered up some hilarious and irreverent episodes about the holiday season over the years. This volume contains five episodes, including “Grift of the Magi,” “She of Little Faith” and “Mr. Plow,” though probably the best episode here is “Miracle on Evergreen Terrace” which makes several satirical jabs at various Christmas movies including “It’s a Wonderful Life.” This is essential viewing for any “Simpsons” fan, or anybody with a sense of humor.

Staff writer Jeff Schwartz can be reached at The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the individual author and not necessarily those of the Collegian.

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