Arguably the most famous line from any Christmas movie and bane of bb gun desirers (is that a word?) everywhere.
Since I already did my Christmas music list, I figured I might as well let you all in on my favorite Christmas movies as well. You’ll notice a certain lack of true holiday ‘classics’… because frankly, I don’t enjoy a lot of those movies. Well, that might be a little strong… they’re ok, but they simply don’t break into the top 10 in my list.
Again, as with the songs, these are in no particular order.
A Christmas Story – 1983
Except for this one. This one is first for a reason… it is by far and away my all time favorite Christmas movie. Actually, this one probably falls into my pure ‘favorite movies’ list as well. Nothing I have ever seen so perfectly captures what it is like to be a kid at Christmas. There is a reason that TNT does its “24 Hours of A Christmas Story” every year. I have been known to watch more than one of those showings consecutively. I’m sure I need not describe the movie. You have all seen it by now. And if you haven’t, or even worse, you didn’t like it, I’m sorry. Just leave now and never talk to me again.
There is one interesting aspect to this movie that I have noticed. Obviously, I have been watching this movie since I was 10 years old. Every year. I remember identifying so strongly with Ralphie as a kid. Knowing what you want and trying to figure out ways to make that happen… then the unbridled joy when it does. But, over the past few years, I now identify more and more with the Old Man. Throughout the whole movie, Darren McGavin is so perfect. The scene when he gives Ralphie the bb gun I now view through different eyes. I love to see the dad’s face when he gives that gift. I get excited for the dad, not the son now! Damn, I’m getting old…
Die Hard – 1988
Yes, this is my kind of Christmas movie. John McClane vs. the terrorists on Christmas eve. I don’t know if I’ve seen a movie with better, more quotable lines in it.
I do know this movie line for line and am probably not very fun to watch it with. (Am I, Jess?) I’ll just point you to all of the quotes… if I tried to list them we’d be here all day.
This movie did set the tone for action movies for years to come… everything was “Die Hard on an airplane” or “Die Hard on a ship” etc. Another one in my all time top 10 favorite movies.
Scrooged – 1988
’88 was a good year for Christmas movies. “Scrooged” is a modern retelling of the classic Dickens tale A Christmas Carol. Bill Murray plays an evil television exec, Frank Cross, who is in the Ebenezer role. Captain of industry, but a complete bastard.
We’ve got wise cracks from Murray. We’ve got time travel with the ghosts, who are all very funny, especially Carol Kane as the corporal-punishing Ghost of Christmas Present. And we still get the feel good story woven in there too.
That final scene when Frank Cross interrupts the live broadcast on Christmas eve with his “I get it” speech is awesome. For a movie that is a pure comedy, it still manages to deliver on the ‘Christmas Spirit’ angle as well. I love this movie.
Trading Places – 1983
Apparently, ’83 was a good year too. This movie is from those years when Eddie Murphy really had his fastball. He was officially the funniest guy in America. This rags to riches and riches to rags story is also chocked full of very quotable lines (isn’t that right, Jason?) for years I have spent an inordinate amount of time quoting this movie. As it stands, this movie’s lines still make it into my everyday speech even without my recognizing that this is where they came from. John, I know you’re with me on this one. “It ain’t cool bein no jive-turkey so close to Thanksgivin… Yeah!”
But its not just the quotes that are so good. The whole movie is terrific. Not to mention, you get a couple bare boob shots including those of Jamie Lee Curtis. I think comedies in the 80’s were required to show breasts. It was a golden age in movie making…
Lethal Weapon – 1987
This movie turned Mel Gibson into a superstar and defined action-comdey buddy flicks for the next 15 years. Mel plays Martin Riggs, a suicidal detective who is depressed over his wife’s death. Danny Glover is his soon-to-be retiring new partner. Oil and water. The holidays are tough for Riggs as they get mixed up in a drug smuggling ring of ex-commandos. Things are tough for Glover as well who has to put up with Riggs, as well as get his daughter back from the gang that kidnapped her. And, as Mel has shown us recently, he does crazy in is every day life just as well as he does it on screen. A bit of a bonus there.
Interesting side note, this movie was directed by Richard Donner, whose very next movie would be “Scrooged”. The only director with 2 flicks on this list. Plus, his last name is the name of a reindeer!
An iconic 80’s action (and Christmas) movie all the way around.
Elf – 2003
A newer movie for this list. Will Ferrell plays Buddy the Elf, a human who was raised in the North Pole by Santa and his elves. Eventually, he is just too damn big and they send him off to find his real dad, James Caan, in New York City.
I love Will Ferrell. In this movie he plays Buddy with almost childlike abandon. He really does seem to capture that general vibe you get from kids who have too much sugar in their system and are all hyped up for Christmas. Caan is the perfect crusty old man which is a staple role in family holiday movies. I like how this movie doesn’t cheat us by having Caan’s character turning overnight into the over the top sappy guy. Instead, some of his ice is melted and he comes out of the shell a little bit, but he is still the same guy. Very well done.
“Buddy the elf… what’s your favorite color?”
How The Grinch Stole Christmas – 1966
I know, this was made for tv. I know its only 30 minutes long (22 if you cut the commercials). But I’m putting it on this list. (However, I’m still pretending that that Jim Carrey abortion “The Grinch” never happened)
When I was a kid, if you got to watch a cartoon in prime time, that was a BIG deal. We had 4 channels. You saw cartoons after school and on Saturday mornings. That’s it. But this was one shown at night. One that your parents would watch with you! When it made its yearly appearance, it was an event. Much like the Charlie Brown Christmas special or Rudolph.
Plus, it was Dr. Seuss… who to us kids was like a god. A good rule of thumb is to not trust anyone who didn’t like Dr. Seuss growing up. They’re just not right.
Plus, it was narrated by Boris Karloff for chrissake! How cool is that?
Love Actually – 2003
A surprise entry on this list, if I do say so myself. But, I figure I better have a film on here for the ladies.
This movie follows the loosely interconnected lives of 8 couples in London the month before Christmas. Some happy. Some, not so much. An amazingly star studded cast, it is practically a whose who for English actors. I’m pleased to point out that this makes Alan Rickman’s second appearance on this list (he was Hans Gruber in Die Hard).
The only thing I didn’t care for was shot taken at the US by portraying the President (Billy Bob Thornton) as a philandering ass-bag, just so the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) could look like a independent hero when he says ‘no’ to the US.
But none the less, still an enjoyable holiday movie, and definitely one you can watch with your women, guys. It is sure to score you some extra points with the old lady that you can use this time of year! (Pssst… guys, there is a little gratuitous nudity in this one too)
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – 1989
Of course, no list would be complete without this movie. I will admit, however, that for years I resisted this movie. It just seemed that everyone loved this movie to the point that it turned me off. I think it might have had something to do with my feelings towards the people I knew who loved it more than anything. Disliking the movie out of spite.
But, in the past few years, I have re-discovered my enjoyment for this movie. Who can’t love the intrepid Clark Griswold who all he wants to do is have the best damn Christmas ever. And much like what happened on his cross-country journey to Wally World, things just don’t work out as planned.
And really, this movie has the best holiday blow-up ever captured on screen. Clark Explodes Listen to it here. “Clark, that’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year…”
No to mention that this movie has given us a new term to describe that house on your block with the 25,000 imported italian twinkle lights… “Griswold-ian”
Well, there you have it. The short list of movies that I watch every year. I know, some of you will be appalled at what I’ve left off my list. Feel free to drop me a comment and lobby for your favorites. Who knows, maybe you can convince me to see them through new eyes and gain a new appreciation for them. Be it “Miracle on 34th St.” or “The Santa Clause” (which was actually pretty good, but has been killed by horrible looking sequels, that I refuse to see).
I’m interested to hear you opinions!
Merry Christmas everyone. Now, go watch a movie tonight!