It’s been a while since I fired up the old blog so I figured I’d ease back into it before I actually move forward with my promised series on Exegesis in 140 Characters or Less. So I figured I would go light with a top five list. The only thing that fascinates me more than the Bible is pop culture and one of my guilty pleasures are top whatever lists. So I figure I’ll give it a whirl. I may even do these from time to time to break up the constant seriousness of always talking about more weighty issues. It might even help me be more consistent with my blog in the future… might. Spoiler alert: my new years resolution will be to put more effort into this thing I call Fallow Grounds. Anyway, on to the top five Christmas movies according to me! (In descending order of course.)
5. The Ref (1994)
This movie is amazing! It was released in 1994 as a vehicle for Denis Leary’s brand of comedy. He became popular in the early 90’s with short vignettes on MTV in which he would go off on a prolonged rant about his current annoyance. The first one I remember seeing was about R.E.M. … I was instantly a fan. Although Leary’s acting in the film isn’t very refined and his character stays well within the comfort of his standard comedic schtick, the supporting actors carry the film wonderfully. Most notably Kevin Spacey, Judy Davis and Christine Baranski.
This film is definitely not for everyone. It can get pretty crass and dark which many people do not like in a Christmas movie. So if you start to watch and cannot get through the first scene then just turn it off. The first scene brilliantly, or offensively (depending on your sensibilities), sets the table for what you’re in store for in the rest of the movie.
Favorite quote: “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.” -Lloyd Chasseur
4. Elf (2003)
The whole improv/ad-lib thing has been pretty popular in comedy and Will Ferrel is one of the ones on the forefront of it. But honestly is gets old. Ad-libing seems to mean keep doing stupid things until one of the 50 things is funny. The thing I hate about it the most is that the gag becomes more important that the over all story. In this film however, Will Ferrel seems to bring it together and keep consistent enough with the plot and character without going too far. Granted, it’s not a mind blowing plot, but the movie comes together well for what it is. It is definitely destined to be a Christmas classic due to the wide appeal to all ages.
Favorite quote: “Don’t tell him what you want, he’s a liar. … You disgust me! How can you live with yourself? … You sit on a throne of lies. … You stink. … You smell like beef and cheese, you don’t smell like Santa.” -Buddy the Elf
3. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
The last good vacation movie and probably the best. I am honestly not a huge Chevy Chase fan normally, with the exception of The Three Amigos and his current work on the television show Community. Although he certainly can have his moments, and this movie is one of his best. I love this movie because it is just a straight forward comedy about all the things that can go wrong when trying to make the holidays nice for the entire family. From Cousin Eddie to the deaf old lady that pledges allegiance to the flag during prayer and sings the Star Spangled Banner after an explosion I think we can all relate to at least one of the family member types represented in this movie.
Favorite Quote: “Merry Christmas. Sh*tter was full.” -Cousin Eddie
2. A Christmas Story (1983)
Every time I watch this movie I lament that I am no longer 7 years old. That is when Christmas was awesome. It was before I was aware of family drama, before the days of having to wade through status update after status update about leaving Christ out of Christmas, and before I became too self aware to show any outward signs of excitement. Christmas was two things: Presents and no school. It was that simple. A Christmas Story reminds me of all those things. For 93 minutes every year I get taken back to a simple time when Christmas wasn’t cluttered with everyone’s baggage.
Favorite Quote: “Only one thing in the world could’ve dragged me away from the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window.” -Adult Ralphie
1. Die Hard (1988)
I find that I always have to defend my choice for best Christmas movie ever. So before anyone begins to argue whether this should be considered a Christmas movie let me lay out my case for why it is. Most Christmas movies have a few common elements.
First and foremost, it must take place during the Christmas season. Really the only difference from the Christmas movie formula and the regular movie formula is the time of year it takes place.
Second, there is a problem that needs to be resolved before Christmas, typically revolving around family. Whether it is convincing your parents to get you the coveted Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle (see #2) or wanting a relationship with your father (see #4), there is always a problem that needs resolving. In the case of Die Hard, John McClane is earnestly attempting to reconcile with his wife and family during the holidays.
Third, the problem can never be resolved easily. Something is always standing in the way of the pending happy ending. Sometimes it’s a manipulative matriarch (see #5) or a crazy, but well meaning, cousin (see #3). In John’s case it is a a group of bank robbers posing as terrorist lead by the infamous Hans Gruber.
And finally, everything is resolved and happiness reigns just in time for Christmas. Of course there are numerous examples of this: Little Kevin being reunited with is mom, a dad finally getting the Turboman toy his kid wanted or even all the little monsters terrorizing your town finally being blown up in a movie theater while watching Snow White (see Honorable Mentions below). For John, he finally rids the Nakatomi building of all it’s bad guys, reunites with his wife and even helps Sgt. Al Powell find the courage to kill again.
So the question to debate is not, “How is Die Hard a Christmas movie?” The real question is “How is Die Hard NOT a Christmas movie?” Yippee-ki-yay mother… and a happy New Year.
Favorite Quote: “Now I have a machine gun. Ho. ho. ho.” -Read by Hans Gruber from the bloody message left on Tony’s shirt
Honorable Mentions: Gremlins, Scrooged, Mixed Nuts, Trapped in Paradise, Home Alone 1 & 2, Four Christmases, Jingle All The Way… and some other ones I am sure I forgot