I’ve never been a fan of doing things simply because of tradition. However I admit that there are a few traditions I enjoy and I think watching this movies around the season falls into that category for a lot of people.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Something about this movie always hit me in the right way. Beyond the underlying moral that certain holidays have become woefully over commercialized. I don;t know how to describe it but if you’re a fan of Peanuts comic strips and specials you probably get what I mean.
Admitted and especially if you include the wealth of mad for TV Christmas movies there is a relatively small number of great Christmas movies. But there are the ones you probably write off then perhaps someday end up seeing inadvertently and really enjoy. This was definitely one of those for me;
This movie came out when I wasn’t a huge fan of Will Ferrell. I didn’t dislike him but at the time SNL, of which he was a cast member wasn’t in there most charming years. I’m pretty sure I ended up watching this movie because I was told Jon Favreau and not only was I a fan of Dinner For Five, Made and Zathura, but I had also heard he was going to direct Iron Man. Anywho, it’s a clever tale that starts almost like a fairy tale of a average boy who grows up with Santa Claus and become a very different person than most. It also stars Zooey Deschanel (whose name I’m proud for spelling right on the first try) and James Caan who for some reason I always like to point out as the guy that played one of my favorite characters from a western movie, Mississippi from the El Dorado.
So, gotta keep this one short dues to the lack of the end of the world.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
This film pretty much reflects and accentuates all the classic family vacation woes with hilarious spectacle. Definitely check it out if you get the chance. It doesn;t even have to be Christmas.
Sometimes entertainment in the Christmas season seems a bit void like. There is the parade, but that typically not something I can watch in it’s entirety. As well, it seemed like growing up there weren’t any decent ‘modern’ Christmas movies that existed. That is until this one came;
The Santa Clause
A scrooge-like character unknowingly makes a deal to become Santa Claus and plot ensues. I recently saw part of this movie and admittedly it doesn’t hold up super well, but it has it’s charms and it’s definitely lighter than a lot of Christmas movies (as in good to have on while doing something like cooking or wrapping presents).
So, this one is a little controversial.
I mean I liked this movie. Is it a classic? No. Is it amazing? No. But I like it. The characters as interesting and fun, and admittedly I like what might be called a chick flick, sue me.
Comedy and Christmas go together pretty much like peanut butter and chocolate. Christmas vacation is a perfect example (and might be seen on this list a little later). But for now I submit a more recent entry to that dance;
A happy couple fails to elude their family and gets caught in the act of attempting to do so. As a result they are summoned to visit each of their immediate families houses and endure… four christmases. Admittedly this movie has a few flaws but it moves and it’s fun in it’s own ways. Plus the cast is chalk full of recognizable faces. Originally this wasn’t part of this list but it came up during a game of Munchkin last night, so it get kudos for being one of the films that was defined as a, “funny dysfunctional family Christmas movie,” that most in the group had seen.
This one could be debated wether or not it’s a Christmas movies or a Halloween movie, it perhaps is something in between so I’m going to put it in the frothy center of this list at #6.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
This one doesn’t need much explanation I’m thinking but it is Tim Burton‘s stop motion classic of hopes, dreams, and perhaps a little optimistic misunderstanding with a fantastic score by Danny Elfman who also sings the parts for Jack Skellington. Random fact, Jack’s speaking voice was performed by Chris Sarandon who played Prince Humperdinck is another favorite The Princess Bride which probably could have used a score by Danny Elfman.
This one I kind of consider a Christmas movie that was an entire genration’s Christmas movie. Although admittedly it has lost significant favor with several people I know mostly due to a cable network’s decision to play it for 48 hours straight over and over for a handful of years (think similarly to a Bond marathon, but just Moonraker).
A Christmas Story
The story of a boy who wants nothing but a Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas and the trials and tribulations of his life leading up to Christmas. Honestly I doubt I need to describe it anymore and instead am just going to thank this movie for giving us such quotables as, “fra-gee-lay, must be Itallian,” and “you’ll shoot yer eye out.” Fun fact the young star of this film Peter Billingsley went on to produce things like Iron Man. Slightly obscure fact the bully character was played by Zack Ward who became one of my favorite character actors. Even more obscure (to the point where most people don’t believe me) this movie spawned a sequel called It Runs In The Family, and apparently even one more after it that I’m just going to say is best not discussed.
This next entry is one that holds a significant soft spot in me. A reminder that Christmas is sometimes not just a holiday for relaxing but also a chance to take action. A reminder that when you feel like you’re trapped perhaps you should strive against those odds and chase those things in life that are worth taking risks for. A true love story, fighting for it even when outnumbered by a Germans with guns, a high tech lakers fan and a guy with a sweet tooth at perhaps an improper moment. Oh yes, the next entry is;
John McClain a solo New York cop is trapped in a sky scraper when a band of criminals takes over holding several hostages including McClain’s wife. Can he overcome the odds? But seriously, there’s a lot of good in this movie. It’s a fairly well thought out action movie that hits all the right plot points to feel “plausible” and it has Alan Rickman for heaven’s sake. It takes place during Christmas, there are several references and moments tied to Christmas, I’m officially calling it a Christmas movie.
This one is a bit of a no brainer. A classic Disney twist on a Dickens’ tale.
Mickey’s Christmas Carol
I genuinely thought this movie was called “Disney’s Christmas Carol” and not “Mickey’s” until I was making this post and it seems odd considering although in the movie Mickey as the character Bob Cratchit is a relatively small part to the star Scrooge McDuck as Ebenezer Scrooge. I am huge fan of the cartoon Ducktales so seeing my personal favorite Disney character in a Dickens based movie was too much for my tiny little child mind. For me this was an instant classic and I watch it when the season arrises if I get the chance. As with many things beloved when younger there is always the test of time, and although the third act seems woefully compressed it’s hard to not be moved by the classic cell animation and superbly performed voice acting.