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Here are 7 family-friendly alternatives to the major Christmas movie classics

By Jeff Peterson

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Dec. 21 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

Mara Wilson (“Matilda”) stars as a precocious young girl who doesn’t believe in Christmas — that is, until she meets a department store Santa legally named Kris Kringle who claims, to the dismay of some adults, to be the real thing.

Of course, the real star of the movie is Richard Attenborough as the daffy old Kris Kringle. The British actor, whom many will recognize as the eccentric billionaire John Hammond from “Jurassic Park,” shines in his role, bringing a magical quality to the film.

“The Shop Around the Corner” — If you’re looking for a fitting stand-in for “It’s a Wonderful Life” this year, try Jimmy Stewart’s other Christmas movie, the unfairly obscure 1940 flick “The Shop Around the Corner.”

Stewart and Margaret Sullavan star as co-workers at a gift shop in Budapest. Although they detest each other in real life, without realizing it, they are falling in love as anonymous pen pals.

If the plot sounds familiar, it’s because it was later remade by Nora Ephron as the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan vehicle for “You’ve Got Mail.”

Ernst Lubitsch’s original film, however, has all the ingredients to become a holiday classic in its own right.

“The Hudsucker Proxy” — A satirical homage to Capra-esque Christmas movies, “The Hudsucker Proxy” stars Tim Robbins as Norville Barnes, a mailroom worker who is promoted to president of a large manufacturing company as part of a stock scam.

To the surprise of the conniving board of executives fronted by Sidney Mussburger (the great Paul Newman), Barnes ends up creating the must-have toy of that Christmas season, threatening their plans.

As with all Coen Bros. comedies, including their surprise 2000 hit “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” this one is probably best saved for slightly older kids who can appreciate its oddball sense of humor. For a different kind of Christmas movie that eschews some of the more treacly elements of the season, though, this could be a great choice.

A native of Utah Valley and a devoted cinephile, Jeff is currently studying humanities and history at Brigham Young University.

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