Amid holiday season's bustle, many pause to enjoy favorite flicks

Posted: Friday, December 26, 2003

When most people think of holiday traditions, they probably think of things like carolers trooping door to door, mischievous grandmothers hanging mistletoe right where it's least expected, chestnuts roasting over an open fire and even Jack Frost nipping at their nose.

What probably doesn't leap to mind is a new tradition that's only been around as long as video tape: multiple video and DVD renting followed by marathon movie watching.

Business in the movie rental department at Safeway in Soldotna has been brisk this week.

"Most people have been renting at least three," said Jaida Quinn, who works the rental counter. However, some customers have been renting up to six or seven at a time, she said.

The most popular titles have been the new releases "Seabiscuit" and the seasonally appropriate "The Santa Clause 2." Adam Sandler's animated holiday fable "Eight Crazy Nights" has been another popular rental. However, if renting the flick for kids, be warned: Sandler's character "swears and flips people off," Quinn said.

And a lot of parents have been renting movies for their kids.

"Parents have been renting two or three at at time to keep their kids out of their hair, because they're all buzzed up about Christmas and being off school," she said.

Jamie Blake of Kasilof wasn't looking to entertain kids, just herself, with a rental from Blockbuster in Kenai on Wednesday night.

She was looking for the recent release "All I Want," staring Elijah Wood. Blake planned to spend Christmas Day with friends, but was on her own Christmas Eve so decided she'd take it easy with one of her favorite movie stars.

"I'll just curl up in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn or ice cream, whatever's easier to grab out of the freezer or pantry," she said.

Patricia Patterson also was looking for a particular movie at Block-buster, but not a new release.

"I'm jonesing for a classic," she said.

Patterson was on her lunch break from her job in advertising and briskly paced the aisles in search of a version of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."

But not just any of the seemingly countless versions. She wanted "the best Scrooge ever," the computer colorized version of the 1951 original black and white film starring Alistair Simms in the definitive portrayal of the definitive curmudgeon, Ebenezer Scrooge, according to Patterson.

"Some movies are like 'Gone With The Wind,' you just have to watch them," she said.

Patterson planned to watch the movie Christmas Eve with her husband and teenage son, but was having a hard time finding a copy.

"If I was looking for 'The Hulk Celebrates Christmas,' I bet I could find it. We might have to end up with Charlie Brown," she joked.

Blake found "All I Want" after a brief search, but Patterson wasn't so lucky. After consulting manager Elaina Haines, she discovered the version of "Scrooge" she wanted was on back order.

Patterson ended up leaving the store empty-handed.

Even if the film had been in stock, there's no guarantee a copy would have been on the shelf.

"We have a Christmas section, but it's pretty wiped out," Haines said.

Popular rentals from the section this season have ranged from the classics "It's A Wonderful Life" and "White Christmas" to the irreverent contemporary comedies "A Christmas Story" and "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," she said.

The most popular rentals overall this week have been the new releases "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," "Jeepers Creepers 2" and "Pirates of the Caribbean," said Haines.

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