|"I ain't 'fraid of no ghost....|
past, present or future!"
Richard Donner’s dark comedy adaptation of A Christmas Carol is so wonderfully 80’s with a now young looking Bill Murray playing the Ebenezer Scrooge inspired Frank Cross. Frank is the heartless, penny pinching head of a major broadcast network that will step on anybody if it means better ratings and profits.
This is Bill Murray at his comedic finest as he navigates though his Dickens-esque night with the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. The effects may be a bit dated and the tone a little uneven but there is hardly a dull moment thanks to a great supporting cast and Murray’s deadpan wit. Scrooged is just fun. For that reason alone it earns its spot on our list.
Billy Bob Thornton as a drunken, surly mall Santa? Yes, please! Perhaps the darkest of the Christmas comedies on our list is also one of the very best.
I flat out love this movie. Billy Bob chews up scene after sarcastic scene and the rest of the cast is right there with him. Tony Cox as the elfish sidekick, Marcus is outstanding, as is Lauren Graham as a bartender with a Santa fetish. It’s a little bit of a bummer seeing both Bernie Mac and John Ritter deliver the goods knowing they were taken from us far too soon. But their legacies will always live on in this and other fine comedic works. And if the original release isn’t quite raunchy enough for you there is the unrated Badder Santa version that is sure to meet your holiday needs.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
I’ve always been a big Tim Burton fan. He gave us Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and the first great Batman movie just to name a few. The Nightmare Before Christmas stands tall among his best work. Part gothic fairy tale, part holiday musical and a complete masterpiece of stop-motion animation. This is more than a movie. This is a work of art. Sit back and enjoy the tale of The Pumpkin King, the Lord of Halloweenland, and Jack Skellington as he becomes bored and seeks out more. When he finds a new land called Christmastown, it appears ripe for the taking. The Nightmare before Christmas is 75 minutes of pure magic!
A Christmas Story
Say these six words and odds are people will instantly know what you’re talking about and smile, “You’ll shoot you’re eye out kid”.
For an entire generation I think it’s fair to say that A Christmas Story has become the default holiday movie of choice. The tale of young Ralphie and his unrelenting quest for the cherished Red Rider BB Gun just never seems to get old. So get out your decoder, turn on the leg lamp, put on your pink bunny pajamas and enjoy. It wouldn’t be the holiday season without it. But beware of those damn Bumpas hounds!
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
|"Insert gratuitous booby shot here."|
If you're a fan of the Vacation franchise of movies, odds are Christmas Vacation is at or near the top of your list. Written by the late John Hughes, the third installment of the franchise takes the Griswold clan off the road and back home for a nice family Christmas. What could possibly go wrong? Pretty much everything and we love it. Chevy Chase wears Clark W. Griswold like a glove It wouldn’t be a Vacation flick without Randy Quaid once again as the idiot Cousin Eddie.
Anyone who has had to endure large family Christmas gatherings can probably find something to relate to here. Christmas Vacation is an hour and a half of goofy slapstick fun.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
There aren't a lot of Christmas movies featuring an intelligent and skeptical child star, but a young Natalie Wood pulled it off in 1947's Miracle on 34th Street. A department store Santa Claus claims to be the real Saint Nick, and is subjected to a psychological evaluation. Rival department store owners of Macy's and Gimble's are shocked to find that Santa's honesty and kindness actually improve sales.This movie grabbed me as a kid because it seemed to use logic to prove the existence of Santa where other films urged me to "just believe." The ending is a bit hokey, but that's okay. It's still a Christmas classic.
It's a Wonderful Life
a few too many."
I only came to appreciate "It's a Wonderul Life" a few years ago. I had breezed past it as a kid, thinking it was too old to be any good. It's mostly an agonizing look back on the life of George Bailey, a man who sacrificed his hopes and dreams in order to run the struggling family Savings and Loan business. After decades of setbacks and cruel treatment by his rival Henry F. Potter, (who's one of the most evil characters in film history), George Bailey has had enough. He's on a bridge, ready to commit suicide, feeling like the world would be better if he had never been born. An angel then shows him how wrong he is, taking George on a bleak journey through his hometown as it would have been without him. We're then treated to an ending that has been a source of happy tears for viewers since 1946. I also recommend watching the Saturday Night Live "lost ending" to the movie featuring Dana Carvey as George Bailey. It's hilarious.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
There has never been a Celebration of Christmas like the Charlie Brown classic. Charles Schulz was skeptical of making it at first, worried that his Peanuts characters would come across as cheesy marketing tools. He then made the brilliant decision to have the voices performed by children with no acting experience, giving his characters a unique sense of authenticity. Most cartoon Christmas specials feature a sappy story about kids trying to save Santa or bring the light of the season back. Charlie Brown's plight is against depression, commercialization, and a lack of understanding of what Christmas is all about. Rather than beating us over the head with all kinds of religious talk and symbolism, Schulz used an unforgettable scene with Linus telling the story of the birth of Jesus in less than a minute. I never cared about the religious aspect; it was the beauty of a friend taking a minute to make another friend feel better that stuck with me. I still haven't figured out who turned on the spotlight when Linus says "lights, please?"
In these modern days of cinema, it’s not too often that we get a movie that captures the Christmas spirit in such an outrageous fashion. But, Elf does just that. It’s one of the best holiday movies of the past few years and captures Will Ferrell doing his best to play to a more diverse audience. Yet, the best part of the movie is the pairing of Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel. Her singing voice leads a helping hand to a hilarious movie that is genuine in spirit as it tells the tale of orphaned human Buddy and his journey to find his real father. We watch this one with the kids every year on Christmas eve and actually just picked up the blu ray edition this week. This is a comedy that the whole family can enjoy over and over again.
|"See what happens|
when you leave me
Home AloneHome Alone is not just a holiday movie but a one hit wonder of sorts. The youthful Macaulay Culkin stars as Kevin in this Chris Columbus Christmas miracle of a movie. This is a timeless comedy that my kids still watch to this day. The antics of Kevin vs. Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are perfectly played as is the message of forgiveness during the holiday season. The sub story taking place between Kevin and scary Old Man Marley is a touching one that still resonates to this day. Home Alone is on constant repeat this time of the year. If you’ve never seen it, take the time. Macaulay Culkin was a cute little kid that knew how to manipulate the camera with his facial expressions and mannerisms. Too bad he started doing heroin…….right around Christmas time.