It’s that time of the year. TV has gone on hiatus and the Christmas movies are starting to run non-stop. We all have our favourites and our most loathed, some have slipped through the cracks of our lives and we baffles friends and family with the statement “I have never seen that.” Dropping jaws and eggnogs. In light of this I figured I would pitch in early and run my list of required viewing for me every year.
I simply have to start with the best version of Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, The Muppet Christmas Carol. I am a sucker for The Muppets in general, the way they adapted this classic was perfect to me. Involving new creations for the 3 ghosts as well as The Great Gonzo narrating on screen as Dickens himself with Rizzo added just the right Muppet flavour to the timeless tale. The live actor element is kept to a minimum with Michael Caine as Scrooge for a welcome departure from the cameo laden Muppet films we had prior.
I have a hard time separating these two films in my mind as which is better. Every year the argument over them starts as to whether or not they are Christmas films so let’s run a list: Christmas Tree? Check. Grinch/Scrooge type antagonist? Check. Christmas music? Check. Feel good ending? Check. Protagonist finds a family to belong in? Check. Meaningful gift giving? Check. So there you have it, indisputable proof that both Die Hard and Lethal Weapon are Christmas films. I also acknowledge Die Hard 2 I just don’t feel the undeniable urge to see it in December.
Jumping ahead in our time line is a relatively recent addition to my favourites Four Christmases with Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon. About the time this came out my parents had split up, I was a single father and had to make arrangements to share my daughters. This modern tale of a couple that can’t escape town as usual and have to make four stops to each other’s divorced parents and endure the modern blended family Christmas with each stop bringing a special dynamic to the table really hit the spot in 2008 and still does. The dry wit of Vaughn weaves in and out of each scenario meshing with the different personal frustrations of each stop.
BFM. All you need to know. The second rehashing of Charles Dickens I must see could only be done with BFM. In Scrooged exist the most terrifying versions of Ghost of Christmas Future and Jacob Marley (Lew Hayward in this film) I love the premise that the three ghosts do their bit yearly and Ebinezer Scrooge was just one of many. If that doesn’t sell you on this Carol Kane blasting Bill F’ing Murray in the face with a toaster should.
Not much needs to be said about my next enteries. They run every year and have for decades. In fact this year marks the 50th anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas, Linus’ speech moistens my eye holes everytime. A Christmas Story, reminds me that nothing is as bad as a pink bunny onsie (I would totally wear one to a Christmas party). These movies deserve “A major award”
“Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he’s gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse.” National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation closes out my required viewing list, how can you not love the efforts of a man to have an amazing holiday with his family only to encounter chaos and disorder along the way, yet he refuses to pack it in. Clark you are my hero.
Now before I go I will confess that there is a glaring omission on my Christmas film list (no not Elf, I didn’t like that one) but the classic It’s A Wonderful Life. For years I have said I will get to it and for years I have not. Sacrilege, I know, maybe this year.