So, I was thinking to myself that people’s choice of holiday movie can be very illuminating as to their personality. That and I’m nosy and interested in what movies people consider ‘traditional’. For example, my lovely wife’s family primarily watched older MGM films and musicals. So, for them, there was no Christmas without “White Christmas“. I, on the other hand, did not see that movie until I was an adult…though I enjoy it thoroughly. For us, there was no Christmas without “A Christmas Story“…which Amy did not experience until spending entirely too much time under my warped influence. I think this indicates the fundamental differences in our respective upbringings.
So, here is a list of the “official” holiday films in my household. You may see some familiar standards here as well as some “head-scratchers”. What do you watch? What films bring the warm-fuzzies of the season to you?
A Christmas Story: I love everything about this movie. Everything. Over-the-top yet incredibly realistic. A true classic.
White Christmas: Really a great movie. Highly entertaining in its own right and really makes the season for me now.
The Ref: A true indication of how warped my wife and I are. This one was introduced into the Christmas Canon (…fire!…) within the past few years. Showcases one of my favorite lines: “You know what I’m going to get you next Christmas, Mom? A big wooden cross, so that every time you feel unappreciated for your sacrifices, you can climb on up and nail yourself to it.” Ah…family…
Scrooged: Bill Murray. Solid Gold Dancers. Carol Kane as a sado-masochistic fairy. Need I say more? And don’t let it scare the Dickens out of you…
Muppet Christmas Carol: Who doesn’t love the Muppets? And this really is one of the better adaptions of the usually over-done Dickens story. I could watch Michael Caine in anything but this one really is a joy to watch.
It’s A Very Muppet Christmas Movie: This is a new addition to our collection and one that grows on me every year. My new favorite character is Pepe the King Prawn who has one of my favorite lines: “Helping your friends and getting revenge on your enemies..isn’t this what Christmas is about?”.
A Miracle on 34th Street: Accept no substitutes…only watch the original!
Elf: Sometimes Will Ferrel can be a bit grating. But this movie not only has great comedy but a lot of sweetness as well. And Zooey Deschanel’s voice is really nice.
It’s a Wonderful Life: Yes it’s a cliche, but this movie is watched over and over for a reason.
Rankin/Bass Christmas Specials: If you don’t sit and watch these, you have to at least have them playing in the background while you wrap presents or sip eggnog…
- Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer: A chilling expose of the conservative utopia of Christmastown and the price young non-conformists pay for daring to buck both the social and genetic homogeneity of Santa’s work-farm. And Burl Ives!
- Frosty the Snowman: Not a great special, but fun nevertheless.
- Frosty’s Winter Wonderland: Not as fun as the original, but the only true sequel to Frosty the Snowman. Avoid at all costs the abysmal “Frosty Returns“…ugh!
- The Year Without a Santa Claus: A very odd story…but with great music. Introduces the iconic Heat Miser and Cold Miser…they’re too much!
- Santa Claus is Coming to Town: A noble effort to explain the origins of Santa Claus. Another bit of trivia…this is the first Rankin/Bass production with Mickey Rooney portraying Santa Claus. The second was “The Year Without a Santa Claus”.
- The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus: A folkloric take on the origins of the venerable old elf. Based on a novel by L. Frank Baum (“The Wizard of Oz”).
How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Not to be confused with the Jim Carrey ham-fest, this Chuck Jones-animated special features the great Boris Karloff as narrator. The scenes with the Grinch preparing his dog Max for their midnight ride are really my favorite.
A Christmas Carol: This version features the great George C. Scott as Scrooge. It also features one of the darkest visions of the Ghost of Christmas Future that I’ve seen. One of my favorite bits is watching the Ghost of Christmas Present (the late Edward Woodward) really relish throwing the old miser’s words back at him. Very good.
The He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special: Yes…this is every bit as cheezy as you fear. But fun to watch and laugh with/at nevertheless. No child of the 1980s should be without it.
Santa Claus: The Movie: OK…this one is bad. Really bad. But still, who can resist watching John Lithgow chew up scenery as an evil toy maker?
Holiday Inn: This is pretty good movie that technically covers all of the holidays. However, it showcases that classic tune from a previous Bing Crosby movie, so it’s all good. It is kinda difficult to wrap your head around the fact that Fred Astaire is really playing a jerk. Please try not to cringe too much during February’s blackface number (shudder). That’s what the fast-forward is for.
The Nightmare Before Christmas: I’m always torn between deciding if this is a Christmas movie or a Halloween movie. So I just watch it twice!
Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo: This original Christmas episode of South Park is very, very wrong…but very funny nevertheless.
Hopefully this list hasn’t scared you too badly…sometimes staring into the abyss of my mind has me observing that the abyss is indeed staring back while going cross-eyed and making turkey noises.
Whether you enjoy any of these or snag some others of your own, have a great holiday!