Yeah yeah, so the holidays are over and this is a Christmas list, but it’s being done for a reason. My sporadic column is now going to be done on a weekly basis and you’ll be seeing me here every single Friday. A lot of my favorite holiday films didn’t make so many of the “Top Christmas Films” lists I saw throughout the month of December and that bugged me so it’s only right that I stand up for them. It’s probably because some of them don’t fit the criteria of a Christmas, but I know they at least put me in the spirit.
Some people consider a Christmas movie to be one that has everything to do with the holiday season. Trees need to be decorated and stockings hung by the chimneys. Wreaths must be hung on every door while lights surround the house roofs. The plot must have something to do with people coming together for Christmas and explaining the spirit of the season so that everything has a happy ending. My opinion is that there is no need to have total happiness and sweetness in a film just to classify it as a Christmas flick. That is why the films I’m about to look at for you all have the theme of Christmas somewhere in them and actually show a lot of spirit. But they don’t tell the tales that A Wonderful Life or White Christmas do because they include violence, action, and some truly mean spirits.
I think everyone has seen and probably fallen in love with A Christmas Carol where we see mean old Mr. Scrooge be a cruel and unruly miser. Things happen, he’s visited by three spirits, shown the error of his ways and bing-bada-boom…he LOVES everyone on Christmas morning. Well, it’s played out and there have been tons of renovations and versions of that story making it almost impossible to remember what the original was all about, but Scrooged can easily jog your memory. The original story is retold very well but with a modern (modern for 1988) twist that made it hilarious and much more interesting so that it was easier to pay full attention to it.
The three spirits are hilarious, nutty, and scary. Bill Murray is perfect in the role of Frank Cross (Scrooge) generating enough meanness for everyone to completely detest him. It’s what you’re supposed to do and he pulls it off to the point where you despise him instead of just being annoyed with him like most Scrooges end up doing. It will make you remember the feelings of Christmas, eat at your soul when a certain someone ends up frozen to death, and make you crack up when Cross gives his ranting and raving speech while walking into the mission.
Alright so this is one of the films that usually makes the Christmas rounds for everyone, but it still isn’t appreciated for the true value that it brings forth. Home Alone is seen for the joy it brings when families are reunited and how important it is to not fight and be friendly to everyone during the holidays because you never really know when they may be gone. Blah blah blacksheep…I love the hilarity and violence and one liners that this film brings to the table and keeps my father red-faced laughing for almost two hours.
How can you not like seeing the Wet Bandits get the ever loving shit beat out of them for thirty minutes? Some of those traps are incredibly ingenious (the blowtorch attached to the doorway) while others are simple in nature (the ornaments on the floor inside the window) and still damn funny. Watching my dad clutch his chest and laugh silently as his face turns red while he sees two paint cans slam grown men in the face is a memory I’ll have for the rest of my life. It’s a great way of sitting us together in one room for a long time no matter what time of year it is because we love it and laugh at it. I love sharing moments like that as a father and son enjoying themselves instead of watching some heartfelt film that no-one says a single word throughout.
Enemy Of The State
Weird right? Ok, so it takes place at Christmas time and the first major event in the film involving Will Smith’s main character, Robert Dean, sees him shopping for a gift for his wife. That’s Christmassy isn’t it? It sure as hell is and that is why this is classified as one of my favorite holiday time films because it always reminds me of the season and makes me wish it wasn’t friggin summer or something like that. It helps a lot that the flick is just awesome and shows exactly what could happen in the world if we’re not careful. Hell, everything that happens in it likely is going down right now to some people and could affect anyone at any time.
Smith delivers the little bit of humor needed every now and again, but has help from bigger names today playing bit parts then. See: Seth Green and Jack Black. Listening to them and watching them play these technical geniuses while stealing information and being low-down criminals is perfect for them because they pull off the roles flawlessly. Gene Hackman is in it. Jon Voight is in it. Hell, Jake Busey is even in it. Enemy Of The State has a little touch of every actor imaginable in it and uses them a lot instead of just giving them two minutes on screen in some cameo role. Oh yeah…and there are Christmas trees everywhere you look so there’s your holiday spirit.
A Christmas Story
Yet another film you’ll find on most of the holiday lists and one that probably all people the world over have seen and can recite verbatim. It’s easy to remember such great dialogue when you hear a kid with goggles saying things like “I like the Wizard Of Oz. I like the Tin Man!” There’s a little piggy eating from his trough. You’ve got dogs destroying a kitchen forcing a family to listen to (obviously racial and incredibly funny) Chinese Christmas carols. And then there is the subject of the overly sexual leg lamp prize that comes in a crate marked in Italian. You almost have to believe that stuff like that can’t be scripted because it’s so good.
Every year you can watch A Christmas Story for twenty-four hours straight on TNT. People think that they do that so that everyone gets a chance to watch it no matter when they have free time during the day. I say they do it so that people such as myself can watch it as many times as possible and enjoy another dysfunctional family at Christmas time that isn’t my own. It’s a way to learn that families aren’t all happy and full of smiles just because some ornaments hang on a tree or they end up baking cookies. The kids are greedy, the dad is a glutton, and the mom would have a good swift drink every five minutes if she could. Christmas doesn’t have to be all commercialized because it ruins the season of torment and craziness that it should be.
A crummy commercial? Sunuva bitch!
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Speaking of dysfunctional families; there may not be a better example then the Griswolds. Clark, Ellen, Rusty, and Audrey have gone to Wally World and Europe together, but spending the holidays together at home goes to show you that they get into the same problems there too. Throw in cousin Eddie, his wife Katherine, some of their fifty kids, and both sets of in-laws…and well, we’ve got ourselves a regular insane asylum. “Shitter was full!’ I would pay money to have a member of my family outside in their bathrobe and scream that to a neighbor.
One of the main things that Christmas Vacation truly portrays is the greed that comes with the holiday season. The main problem isn’t that the lights work only at certain times or the whole family is trashing the house or even that Clark gets stuck in the attic. No, it’s when Clark doesn’t get a Christmas bonus he was counting on that causes all the trouble and sends the holiday into a frantic frenzy. It’s a bonus people. You should never “count on it” because you’re not guaranteed to get it. Hence the term…BONUS! But not receiving said bonus sends Clark off the deep end and eventually brings a SWAT team to his house and guns pointed at his family.
That shit right there…is funny and why we need to learn to laugh at ourselves during the Christmas season because it’s all something we take part in. The greed I’m talking about, not the SWAT teams infiltrating our homes. Well, maybe some of us do get that.
Well, this may surprise many of you, but it really is a fantastically awesome Christmas flick. Die Hard always gets me in the mood for the holidays and makes me wonder what it would be like to actually be John McClane. The guy is just cool beyond all belief and runs around barefoot all the time. I get one single piece of glass in my foot and I’m laid up for the day. McClane has a frickin windshield amount of glass in his feet and he’s trying to kick in plate glass windows after jumping off the roof. Awesome stuff.
One of the things that Die Hard does, like Christmas Vacation, is show how greedy people are during the holidays. Hans Gruber and the rest of his group came on the scene to become filthy rich on money that doesn’t belong to them. Hmmpphh, it’s the holiday season and all they could think of was me, me, me! Greedy bastards! John McClane though hits the ground running and wants to remind every single one of them that Christmas is the season for family and that is who he wants to stay alive to see. Merry Christmas and Yippie-Ki-Yay…mutha f*ckers!”
Oh, and if you don’t think it is a holiday film based off of the lessons it teaches us then perhaps you’ll notice the trees and decorations. Maybe you’ll pay attention to Sergeant Al Powell as he sings that timeless Christmas classic, “The weather outside is frightful. Dum-de-dum-delightful.” And a lot of you may miss it, but McClane himself gets into the Christmas spirit when he has holiday tape holding the gun on his back that would eventually shoot Hans Gruber knocking him out the window and eventually leading to his gruesome death fall. I know that makes me feel like having cookies and cocoa while singing carols.
What a great holiday mood I’m in now and Christmas just ended. I guess I’ll have to wait an entire year to showcase my festive spirit to everyone, but I’m sure it will fade before that time rolls around again. No matter though because all that needs to be done is to pop in one of these favorites and enjoy Christmas in unique storytelling ways that don’t have to be aimed at togetherness, family, and happy endings. Ahhh…I’ll relish in the violence, greed, action, cruelty, and hilarity that just screams MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!
Tags: A Christmas Story, Die Hard, Making Movie History