The time for gifts and fun are upon us. The Holidays are here. It is also the time to enjoy all those Christmas movies on TV. Sometimes it seems you cannot escape them; you try but you just cannot seem to look away. They are so heartfelt, and induces in us a bit of Christmas Spirit. However, there are some Christmas movies, in my opinion that stand above the rest. Let’s begin with the list:
1- A Christmas Story (1983)
This movie is of course an obvious choice. TBS normally plays this movie for 24 hours on Christmas Eve to Christmas Day. But who can resist at least watching the movie at least once on that day. Ralphie is on a mission- to get the official Red Rider carbine-action 200-shot-range model air rifle.
Many people in the film shoot down Ralphie’s dreams by continually telling him “You’ll shoot your eye out kid.” Of course Ralphie gets his gun, and shoots his eye out, but for him it was worth it. Ralphie did get a good story out of it through. There are so many memorable scenes to enjoy in this Christmas movie. So in order to not miss that moment when Ralphie shoots his eye out; it is a must watch movie on Christmas Day.
2-National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
I never miss this one. The Vacation movies are funny enough, but this movie takes the cake. Chevy Chase is at his best as Clark Griswold; it is just one funny antic after another.
One of my favorite moments is when Clark gets so frustrated, he cuts down a tree outside his house, breaking his neighbors upper window, and shoves it into his house to replace the tree that one of his family members burned down while lighting his cigar. Then the whole family finally sits down to eat their Christmas dinner, when they hear a noise at the new tree, Clark goes near, and out jumps a squirrel in his face. Everyone runs for their lives from the little tree creature, creating even more havoc in the house. This is a must see movie.
3- Scrooged (1988)
Bill Murray is hilarious as a modern day Scrooge. Murray is Frank Cross, a highly successful executive of a television network, who has grown to be cold and heartless.
At Christmas-time Cross fires an employee, tells another employee to staple antlers on top of a mouse’s head, and celebrates when someone has a heart attack from watching a commercial he developed to promote his Christmas TV line up. You know just your average holiday preparations. So, of course Frank has to be taught a lesson; he is visited by the ghost of his mentor who then tells him he will be visited by 3 more ghosts.
The three ghost take him back and forth through time, play tricks on him, raspberry his belly, and of course scare him into becoming a better person. So watch it. It’s all in good fun. And how can you miss Gymnast Mary Lou Retton as Tiny Tim.
4-Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
Plains, Trains, and Automobiles is a delightful road buddy comedy movie. I know that this is a Thanksgiving movie, but since Christmas and Thanksgiving are so close together it reminds us of all Christmastime, so I thought I put it in the list. Neal Page (Steve Martin) is trying to get home to Chicago from NY after a business meeting when his taxi was stolen by Dell Griffith (John Candy) a shower curtain ring salesman.
The two meet up later, and both are stuck; there are cancellations and delays with all the types of transportation they need in order to get home. It’s a feel good John Hughes comedy that not many people can resist. Also, it’s worth seeing for that famous line “Those aren’t pillows!”
5- Scrooge (1970)
This is a delightful 1970 film adaptation of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The movie stars Albert Finney, he plays the role of Ebenezer Scrooge very well. Finney plays the character with a pretty high pitched voice which I thought was funny. Funny voice or not, this is one of my favorite Christmas movies.
The musical score is wonderful. The songs will have you singing them in your head all season long. Be sure to enjoy the big musical number at the end, it really will put you in the Christmas spirit.
One of my favorite and funny scenes is when Scrooge travels to his future, and one of his debtors start bursting out into a song called, “Thank You Very Much. That’s the Nicest Thing That Anyone Has Ever Done For Me.” Scrooge thinks they’re are singing to his kindness; until Scrooge’s coffin comes out the door of his business. Scrooge does not see the coffin, and starts singing and dance along with everyone else. This is a great movie. I recommend it.
6- It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Who could forget this classic? It may not have done as well at the box office when it first opened, but it has become a must see classic ever since. It is as American as it can get.
We all know the Story of George Baily (James Stewart) and his struggle to get away from his little town of Bedford Falls. George is eager for more excitement; yet is drawn back into what he considers a humdrum life. We can all relate to George Bailey; and it has a great moral about how it is important to appreciate what you have.
It is a fun move with a lot of heart. The characters, even though it is set in a different time it is a story that is still relatable and likeable; we connect with George’s feeling of wanting more than the small town life, but being held back by responsibilities to family and friends. It has a great message that when all the chips are down that you should realize that your friends and family are your strength. Maybe we all have a wonderful life after all.
7- Elf (2003)
Elf is perhaps one of Will Ferrell‘s best films. It’s directed by Iron-Man director Jon Favreau. This is a movie that will remind you of those Rankin and Bass animated Christmas films, but in live action. Ferrell is very funny as Buddy the human-elf adopted by Santa and his elves when baby Buddy sneaks into Santa’s bag, and is brought to the North Pole.
This is a delightful fish out of water story, Buddy leaves the North Pole to find his real father played by James Caan. Caan is a little stiff in this one but everything works well in this film. It might make you want to pour syrup on your spaghetti.
8- The Polar Express (2004)
I may be an adult, but I just cannot resist seeing this movie during the holidays. Tom Hanks plays five roles in this movie; the boy, the father, the conductor, the ghost, and Santa Clause. I don’t know if many people will notice, but his Bosom Buddy, Peter Scolari plays the little blond boy Billy. This is a great movie. The animation is very realistic. And it is a great little adventure. It’s a heart warming fun movie.
9- Four Christmases (2008)
This is a fun Christmas comedy. Every Year Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) make an excuse as to not visit their families on Christmas in order to have their own Christmas getaway in a tropical exotic place. Their plans are foiled when a terrible fog bank cancels their flight, and a local news reporter tries to interview them about the bad weather. Their families see them on TV, and now knowing that they cannot make their trip, Brad and Kate are stuck going to Four Christmases.
This movie reminds me of my own experiences with visiting family at Christmastime. For the whole year we barely contact one another, so on this one day of the year we spend a nice time together. In the movie just like in many of our lives, going through the same situation; we feel all good after spending this time with family, and think to ourselves maybe we should keep in touch more. Of course it does not happen; and this movie reflects those type of moments we all have.
10- Fred Claus (2007)
I did not think I would like this movie so much, but I did. This is a sibling rivalry movie, but with Santa Claus and his brother. The story is about Fred (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Paul Giamatti); two brothers from the Middle Ages. In the beginning Fred was excited to have a new little brother until little St. Nick started to outshine him by becoming the favorite in the family. Nick was so good that he was granted immortality, and he became Santa Clause; this immortality also extended to his immediate family.
Fred grew so much resentment of his brother, and family that he tries his best to stay away from them any chance he gets (does this remind you of another Vince Vaughn movie? Hmmm…). Until Fred is drawn back into his brother, Nick’s life; Fred is forced to call him in order to bail him out of jail after having getting in trouble with some Salvation Army Santa’s.
Fred also needs $50,000 to open a small Casino business. Santa takes advantage of the situation to get closer to his brother. Santa Claus makes a deal with Fred to go up to the North Pole, and work for the $50,000 in his workshop. A bureaucrat (Kevin Spacey) tries to close down Santa’s factory, and now Fred must help to save Santa’s workshop and Christmas. Vince Vaughn and everyone else is very funny in the film. I think you’ll enjoy it.
11- The Santa Clause (1994)
Of course, a timely classic from the year 1994 that has to be viewed each Christmastime. It is a unique Christmas tale that focuses on important topics such as death and divorce. The previous Santa dies due to an accident, Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) (notice how he has the same initials as Santa Clause) yells out to St. Nick when he sees him on his roof. Santa falls down to his death; a little morbid for a kids film, but I guess we all have to deal with death sometime.
Scott Calvin’s son is staying with him for the holidays; Calvin puts on the Santa suit and they’re off on the adventure of their lives. After Calvin delivers Santa’s toys, they are whisked to the North Pole where Calvin is told he is the new Santa due to The Santa Cause. Calvin puts on the suit, and now he is the new Santa Claus.
During the movie, Scott Calvin tries his best to not believe even ashe is going through his amazing transformation. This movie is fun but deals with some tough issues concerning divorce, and the pull of a child between each parent.
Scott Calvin’s transformation becomes an issue, and almost becomes the cause for losing any rights to his son. But hey, dramatic issues aside; this is a Christmas film- things of course turn out well in the end (sorry for the spoiler); the movie provides many laughs while touching your heart at the same time. It is surely a must see.
12- Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Of course this movie has to be on any Christmas movie list. The timeless classic of Santa Claus coming into the lives of a single mother and her daughter- both of whom have no Christmas spirit. This is a movie can make a believer out of anyone- that there really is a Santa Claus. There are so many wonderful moments in this film, it just brings joy to the anyone who sees this film. I even recommend the remake. It’s also worth it to see the U.S. Post Office be efficient for a change.
13- Home Alone (1990)
Little Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) has to deal with a chaotic house full of his relatives getting ready to go to Paris for Christmastime. With Kevin’s older brother razzing him, Kevin gets frustrated, and attacks him while bumping things and making a mess in the kitchen. With Kevin’s family angry at him, Kevin’s mother sends him to be by himself in the attic.
A frustrated Kevin wishes his family away. Little Kevin gets his wish as an electrical outage makes the whole family late for the plane. With all the rushing and mix ups little Kevin is left behind. Leading to all kinds of shenanigans that little Kevin gets into; as well as defending his house from some inept robbers. It is a fun movie that has John Hughes written all of it. It is a must see every Christmas.
14- White Christmas (1954)
Need I say more? Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen make up the perfect cast for this Christmas Classic. It is a funny movie with outstanding singing and dancing. The final performance at the inn in Vermont is worth the wait of the whole film. The film is truly a part of Americana, the performance at the end celebrating the 151 World War II U.S. Army division , and saluting the characters Bob and Phil’s former Major General will have you feeling patriotic up until Independence Day.
15- Krampus (2015)
Yes, I know that this is a horror movie; and it does not fit into the happy peppy type of Christmas movies. However, I think this may be one of the movies we will habitually see each and every year. Many people in this modern era can relate to the trials and tribulations of having family over for the Holidays.Sometimes we forget the real meaning of Christmastime.
Young Max becomes frustrated at the lack of closeness and disputes that are revealed at his holiday family gathering. Max turns his back on his faith in Santa Claus and rips up his letter Santa. This lack of holiday spirit of course unleashes Krampus to teach them all a lesson of family togetherness by striking fear into their hearts.
It is a funny and exciting movie; some of the best scenes are when the toys attack the family. There is a lesson to be learned in this story; maybe it takes Santa’s evil brother to remind us to have a better attitude and enjoy our families at Christmastime, or risk getting attacked by a ferocious gingerbread-man.