So if you read my post on holiday music a few weeks back, you already know that I have a weakness for the offbeat and eclectic. So it probably won’t surprise you that my holiday viewing ranges from feel good traditional to tinsel-lit slasher, with a few other genres in between. Believe me, whatever you’re feeling right now, there’s a Christmas themed (or at least a Christmas timed) movie that fits the bill.
Here are a few to consider:
My Top Pick: The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
I love the Muppets. Period. I am a grown woman who cheerfully, unabashedly, proudly adores all things Muppet. Add that to a classic story like A Christmas Carol, and you have a recipe for my all-time favorite Christmas movie. Kermit and Piggy are great as Bob and Emily Cratchit, Gonzo (with Rizzo in tow) narrates as Charles Dickens, and Michael Caine owns the role of Ebeneezer Scrooge. The soundtrack is everything you expect from a great Muppet movie, including “It Feels Like Christmas”, which I think is one of the best Christmas songs ever (check it out here).
Looking for Laughs?
I tried to choose a single Christmas comedy, but there are just so many. I finally narrowed it down to:
It practically goes without saying that this story of a North Pole native who brings the Christmas spirit to the big city is a must watch. It’s chock full of comedy and good feelings, with great performances from Will Farrell, James Caan, and Zooey Deschanel (a personal fave).
The Santa Clause (1994)
In another great “fish out of water” story, Scott, played by Tim Allen, suddenly (and reluctantly) becomes the new Santa Claus. There are a lot of great moments in this film, with the elf rescue being one of the standouts. I honestly wasn’t a big fan of the sequels, but the original is a lot of fun.
A Christmas Story (1983)
Peter Billingsly (who works behind the scenes as a producer these days) will forever be best known as Ralphie, whose quest for a Red Ryder BB gun is framed by a crazy family, a pair of bullies, a cynical Santa, and so much more. I’ve seen it dozens of times and it’s still hilarious. If you’ve seen it, see it again. If you haven’t, watch it. Watch it now.
Seasonal Slapstick: Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)
Maybe I should have put this above with the other comedies, but it’s sort of in a class by itself. I never actually feel guilty about what some would call my “guilty pleasures”, so I’m going to own the fact that I really like the goofy, over the top, cringe-worthy Ernest movies. This is another case of passing the Santa torch, and Jim Varney’s Ernest becomes a bumbling facilitator trying to help the transition happen, before time runs out and Christmas is ruined. There’s a strong positive message woven through the gags and silliness, and I think the film is a whole lot of fun.
Action Movie Fan? Die Hard (1988)
I refuse to engage in the debate over whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie. In my book, it counts. And it’s great. Bruce Willis versus Alan Rickman, a lone wolf taking on a small army, and the difficulties of heroic actions when you aren’t wearing shoes…do I need to say any more?
Wait, I do. “Now I have a machine gun. Ho-ho-ho.”
Ho-Ho-Horror: Gremlins (1984)
Christmas is a crucial element of Gremlins, with an unfortunate gift serving as the catalyst for a classic creature invasion. When a mysterious (and adorable) little creature spawns a host of murderous, nightmare monsters, a small town is plunged into chaos and a few ordinary people have to save the day. The movie became a cultural touchstone, although I’m sure a lot of parents were taken aback by the fear and gore factors once things really got going. If you’re a scary movie fan, it’s definitely worth watching (or watching again).
Black Comedy/Slasher: Santa’s Slay (2005)
Sometimes I’m in the mood for a good horror movie. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a bad horror movie. And once a year, I get together with a few slasher-film enthusiasts for a viewing of Santa’s Slay. Professional wrestler Bill Goldberg stars as Santa, who is anything but jolly. The film’s premise is that Santa has always been evil, but has been forced to do good for the last thousand years. Now that time is up, and Santa’s traded Christmas cheer for murder and mayhem. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it’s a real crowd-pleaser for the right kind of crowd.
Whew! Once again there’s more in my head than I have time to put in the blog, so would you mind taking over for me? Add your personal favorites (traditional or otherwise) in the comments!