This movie never gets old! You've got an impossibly cute kid, hilarious bumbling criminals, great music, etc. etc. etc. It has heartwarming themes of the true meaning of Christmas...yet it's also pretty damn funny. But I think what makes this one of my favorites is the fact that it's FUN. There's imagination. Wish fulfillment. Details. Minor characters with fun quirks - the polka dudes, the tarantula, the pizza guy who knocks over the statue, the Santa with tic tacs. When you're brainstorming for your next pilot, or spec, or movie - don't forget to have some fun.
BRIDGET JONES' DIARY
I absolutely love this book AND movie. I suppose it's not entirely a Christmas movie, but with the reindeer jumper and all the snow, it's enough for me. Whenever I am thinking about writing a romantic comedy, I always use BJD is always my model because it manages to be unpredictable, and predictability is why I'm often underwhelmed by the romcoms I watch and read. It always seems that you're on page 10, you've met your guy and your girl, and you have to drudge through another 90 pages before they just hook up already. But BJD uses the love triangle, and it works because over the course of the movie you realize that Daniel (Hugh Grant) is an asshole who just seemed like a nice guy, and Mark (Colin Firth) is a nice guy who just seemed like an asshole. And there are so many great little details that complicate things; one of my favorite scenes is the one where they're all in boats on the lake, and Mark jealously watches as Daniel and Bridget let loose and have fun. Mark is stuffy. Daniel and Bridget are more like kindred spirits. Similarly, at the book party, Daniel and Bridget both ask people where the toilets are instead of making intelligent conversation. But Bridget wants more, and the unreliable Daniel will never be able to provide it. Anyway, I love this movie for a zillion reasons...Christmas, attractive Englishmen, the prospect of being eaten by wild dogs... and the fact that it's Bridget's movie, her journey to realizing it's perfectly okay to be her bumbling self.
I think the most impressive thing about this movie is that it pulls of the whole "intersecting lives" structure. I've had to read a bunch of them, and they rarely work...but in LOVE ACTUALLY, each of the many characters have some depth to them, and the stories never become too simple or too complicated. It also offers a lot of different perspectives on love, and manages to be feel-good without everyone living happily-ever-after. And again, it's FUN: the kid in the giant green costume for the Christmas play, Hugh's flamboyant dance down the stairs, Bill Mack the dirty old pop star, the sandwich delivery guy who flies to Wisconsin in search of American ass.