How the Grinch Stole Christmas
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Watching these back-to-back as part of our informal Christmas movie series*, it's hard not to notice that they have the exact same message but choose entirely different ways to go about explaining it. Grinch is fantasy from top to bottom, not least in the manner that some unnamed Christmas spirit manages to be at the heart of all the materialist trappings, only to be revealed once the trappings are taken away.
Charlie Brown is better, obviously. The kids are all realistic: caught up in themselves, easily taken in by trends, more interested in going off to play than in doing work, quick to demonstrate amour propre and criticize those whose performances are lesser. Not all of these are bad things, of course, but they're all very kid-like. Charlie Brown serves as the other side, the one that wonders why these things sometimes seem lesser than they are. The Christmas spirit is there, and wins in the end, but it's an easily battered thing, and easily forgotten. That seems about right.
Of course, because there is no irony that people will not commit in the name of nostalgia, there is an (expensive) Charlie Brown Christmas tree replica that you may purchase.
*A mix of movies about Christmas, and those that happen to be set around Christmas. The latter is a pretty great list--The Thin Man, The Apartment, Die Hard. Also all those movies that have developed into Christmas traditions for us: Black Orpheus, Barcelona, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp.