Editor’s note: Very happy to have roped Josh from Mousterpiece Cinema into writing another Holiday Movie Guide! Two years in a row equals tradition right? I think so…
Now that the holiday season is fully here (and almost over if you’re celebrating Hanukkah), there are a few vital questions each of us has to answer; chief among them, typically, is, “What am I going to buy my brother/sister/cousin/wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend /parents/etc.?” Depending on how big your family is, that’s a wide-ranging question and one that can cause way too much stress. This year’s Holiday Gift Guide can’t claim to alleviate all your tension, but if your family is full of Disney fanatics who’ve been holding out on this year’s Blu-ray and DVD releases from the House of Mouse, read on! You may be able to shorten that gift list just a bit.
The Muppet Movie: It took far too long, but one of the great family films of all time finally made its way to Blu-ray back in August. And let’s be clear: even if this Blu-ray had a weak transfer or meager special features (which, OK, it does), it would be worth buying at the holidays. Sometimes, a movie is too good to pass up on any home video format. The Muppet Movie is one such movie, the most delightful and witty of all Muppet stories. If you haven’t seen this film since you were a kid, don’t worry. It holds up amazingly well. It’s not holiday-specific, but there may be no better way to spend your Christmas Eve or Christmas Day than by getting the whole family together and watching this film on a pristine new Blu-ray. Everyone will thank you.
The Little Mermaid: Here’s a fun way to remember that you’re old: this movie is now just over 24 years old. Twenty-four! Has it really been that long since the Disney Renaissance began, changing feature animation in the process? Indeed, and now, finally, it’s on Blu-ray. Sadly, the originally planned 3D re-release fell by the wayside, but who cares? This Blu-ray release is excellent, full of interesting new features, including clips from a speech the late Howard Ashman gave to Disney’s animators about how important songs can be to telling any story. And where would this film be without such iconic songs as “Under the Sea” or “Part of Your World”? This is another perfect film to watch and rewatch over the holidays with the whole family, so if you haven’t grabbed it yet, don’t wait any longer to add it to your collection.
My Neighbor Totoro: Let’s say you and your family have watched movies like The Little Mermaid too many times, to the point where you’re—gasp!—getting tired of Ariel’s exploits. You want something new, or something you’ve maybe seen once. This is the film for you: Hayao Miyazaki’s exquisite fable My Neighbor Totoro, on Blu-ray since late summer via Disney and Studio Ghibli. Miyazaki devotees are likely aware that he’s said his most recent film, The Wind Rises, will be his last; instead of mourning over the loss of one of our great animation filmmakers, why not remind yourself why he’s so lauded to begin with? And if you or your kids have some budding interest in animation, check out the special feature in which the entire film is presented with storyboards only.
Peter Pan: One thing you can rely on each year these days is for Disney to dig deep into its vaults and give one of its older films the Blu-ray treatment. Way back in February, the lucky film was Peter Pan, one of the most popular, influential films in Disney’s animated canon. (Just think—the film is short enough that you could watch it all on your smartphone or tablet waiting in a particularly long line for Peter Pan’s Flight at the Magic Kingdom!) Though some people—OK, including yours truly—are maybe not as hot on the film as others, this much is true: it looks amazing on Blu-ray and there are a couple of cool new special features, such as a look into the lives of the children of the famed Nine Old Men at Disney Animation. So if you have a Lost Boy or a Captain Hook wannabe in your family looking for some high-flying adventure over the holidays, this is your best bet.
What movies do you think are worth adding to your shopping list this year? Let us know!
The great thing about movies: great recommendations never expire. Be sure to check out Josh’s post from last year too!