The best part of the holiday season is all the special shows on TV that are Christmas traditions. Charlie Brown’s Sad Assed Little Christmas Tree, Rudolph’s Tortured Nose, and Miracle on 34th Street have all been tossed aside by me. I really laugh every time Elf is on, which is every five minutes, but other than that, I seldom take the time to watch much of the Christmas fare. I once had a bad reaction to Frosty the Snowman melting and cried so hard because I was never aware that he actually would come back to life some day. Little kids are often theatrical. Either way, settle in and I’ll try to save you a couple of hours of time by reviewing the most classic of the classics.

I’m speaking, of course, about It’s a Wonderful Life. I used to have a bit of an obsession with this movie. It’s a lovely story about a man who finds out how special of a person he is and how many lives he has affected. This all happens when he tries to kill himself and is shown what the world would be like without him by an angel. His world would be full of despair, we learn, if he hadn’t been around. Frank Capra directed it, but with a couple of tweaks and a less happy ending, it could have easily been Lars Von Trier.

The film begins with George Bailey, who is played by Jimmy Stewart. He’s a fine sort of fellow who really tries to help others. This sort of works out for him, but for the most part, it really doesn’t. Jimmy Stewart is a beloved actor, and he is very comfortable in this role. He is married to Donna Reed, who is totally bangable in this vehicle. She’s the kind of hot where a guy would watch the whole movie, even if it sucked, just to look at her. She plays a devoted wife who should have slapped some sense into her sucker assed husband a long time ago.

Anyway, George runs a savings and loan company. It appears he mostly loans instead of saves, but whatever. He’s in trouble, and the prayers of his friends and family manage to reach heaven, where they are heard by a couple of angels who decide to help George out by giving his case to Clarence, the angel. Clarence strikes me as stunningly incompetent for an angel. If you go by this movie, the staff of heaven is only slightly more tolerable than the Department of Motor Vehicles. Anyway, they give him a review of George’s life so far.

As a child, he fell through the ice to save his younger brother and as a result lost hearing in one of his ears. He worked at a pharmacy and kept his old rat bastard boss from sending poison to one of his customers. For his trouble, the old man smacked the shit out of him. He longed to travel but couldn’t because he had to take over the Building and Loan. As you can see, a better title would have been, “Holy Jesus, That’s One Craptastic Life.”

George’s uncle Billy is a complete dipshit who couldn’t remember his freaking name if it was tattooed on the inside of his eyelids. I know we’re supposed to feel compassion for him, but the guy drives me freaking crazy. I truly want to beat the piss out of him every time he comes on the screen. There are always crows following him around, which is never a good sign. Regardless, the jagoff uncle loses George’s deposit, and now George is in a world of financial hurt.

With his entire world going to hell in a hand basket, George decides that the only sensible thing to do is take his own life. Actually, the only sensible thing to do would be to knock the holy hell out of Uncle Billy and then pimp his ass out to deviants until the debt was paid off, but hey, it’s not that sort of movie. Before George can kill himself, he is given a suicide respite by the angel named Clarence.

Clarence shows George how much sadder the world would be without his sacrifice. At this point, a sensible man would have said, “Screw this, man. I’m tired of kissing everyone’s ass.” Instead, he returns home where the community comes together and gives him money to avoid foreclosure for another month. No one mentions what happens when the January payment comes due and the neighbors aren’t feeling quite as generous, but for the time being, it’s all good. Clarence gets his wings, I assume Jimmy Stewart gets all up on Donna Reed, and Uncle Billy lives to dick something up again. I usually end up crying and then later feel good about everything. This lasts roughly as long as it takes for me to encounter an actual person.

So there you have it, the Cliff Notes version of what I can remember. Honestly, it’s a great movie, and just thinking about it makes me really want to watch it again. It’s just that I’m older and probably far more cynical now, so it’d be interesting to see how I react to it these days. I bet it’d still make me feel all warm inside — you know, after it had made me feel terrible about everything.

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