25 December 2009
Because the Morning Calls For it: Christmas Movies
Good morning boys and girls. Hope you're having a tremendous little morning with piles upon piles of Transformers toys and other charming Hasbro products under your Christmas tree. Whether ye be Christian, Jew or Wiccan or what have you, Christmas morning is a time when all must come together and worship the birth of Santa. Magical time by all. For many families, this necessitates some kind of Christmas Special Viewing, whether it be CBS-funded arbitrary Rudolph mythology creating, commercializing Grinch tunes or 24 hours of A Christmas Story (1983) on TBS the Superstation.
Whatever you watch is pretty important, you're going to have a lot of family over and talking to them beyond a simple "What's up" is going to get awkward and painful. Thus, let us let magical Mother Television fill the void in our holiday. The following are my picks for the greatest Christmas Movies to Watch Instead of Talking to your Family:
#5: Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
First of all, the first Home Alone film is probably superior only because it was a uniquely original idea. The sequel is one of the most sequel-y movies of all time. The basic plot is identical, down to the creepy old person that scares, then befriends starchild Kevin McCallister (Shovel-killer neighbor in the first one, Wacky Pidgeon Hobo in the second). It successfully ups the ante in every way, putting this small vulnerable child in the Big City while keeping all the heart of the original. It really adds nothing new to the mythos, but neither does it detract. Pesci and that guy from Bushwhacked (1995) are brilliantly on their game and a movie that could have easily given in to gimmicks and traps retains a lot of the spirit of the original (this kind of shit was exactly why the third and fourth installments failed so miserably). Great movie with a lot of Christmas Spirit, best watched with a cool glass of 12-year Glenfidditch by a light fire.
#4: Die Hard (1988)
By and large the greatest Christmas movie that isn't really focused on Christmas. Perfectly capturing that awkward spirit of Office Christmas parties that are so often interrupted by German terrorists, Die Hard is a landmark action film as well as a well-done Christmas story of family, heroism and helicopter crashes. I've already talked about McClane's immortal line a bit here, but it's really incredible. The sequel works like Home Alone 2, raising all the stakes (this time focusing on troublesome Holiday travel) whilst not losing any of the heart. Adorable. Best enjoyed with minimum 13 Coors Originals. Cans.
#3: ELF (2003)
Elf is the kind of film that every part of is awesome. Infinitely quotable and even more infinitely aired on the USA Network, Elf was Ferrell at his least overexposed and most earnest. Exposing on the proudest of CBS Christmas Traditions, the film is all about the natural expressions of love the Season entails and notes the kind of positivity that should be year-round. Okay, maybe not but it's pretty damn funny. Despite a classic "Dad-works-too-hard" trope the film swings on by its cuteness, honesty and Ferrel's classic man-child naivity. Best enjoyed with spaghetti, Kahlua and syrup served over a smattering of Pop Tarts.
#2: A Christmas Story
Everything about this movie is iconic. The lamp, the bunny pajamas, the swearing. Every moment is pretty legendary, from Scut Farkus to Fa Ra Ra Ra Ra. It's also a great testament to what the true meaning of Christmas really is, getting presents. It's great to notice the little things, like how Ralphie's father is the only one not to warn him he'll poke his eye out, naturally subsequently buying him the air rifle. It's such a perfect movie that captures the spirit of the Season for every kid who ever wanted a gift that would hurt them. It's perfect that Ralphie actually does shoot his eye out, perhaps a grim reminder that our cruel parents probably actually know what they're talking about. Of course if we were to do that we'd never have any dumb fun. This indelible classic is best served with a host of vodka cranberries, pork loin and mashed potatoes.
#1: Bad Santa (2003)
This should be a contender for best movie of the year, if not decade. Maybe. The movie doesn't pull any punches ever and retains a sentimental Christmas message while upholding its laconic ending. It's the redemption of an unredeemable Santa, the best sort of character played brilliantly by Billy Bob Thornton. The kid is pathetic, that chick from the Gilmore Girls is still hot, swearing and inappropiate drinking galore, every part of this movie rules. It's also incredibly hilarious in a dark and troubled way, which gels perfectly with the miserable portions of the Holiday Season. For this film you need to clean out the rest of the liquor cabinet you had left from the other four movies and finish the asses of all the scraps you have leftover. Optional additon of children's cough medicine and flame to round out the evening.
Honourable Mentions: I get a lot of guilty pleasure out of Jingle All the Way (1996), as well as The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs Clause (2002). The most exceptional facet of The Santa Clause movies has got to be its consistent casting. It's absurd. Naturally, the last movie I will mention, probably a strong #6 has got to be National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989), which is currently to AMC as Elf is to USA and A Christmas Story is to TBS. Oh wonderful television. Happy Watching everybody!