Ah the day is upon us. Joy to the world…and I mean it this time. Unlike yesterday’s list of movies that could have really done without the Christmas context the list of movies I will provide for you today really are Christmas movies in the se
nse that you’d want to watch them every year; and furthermore they just happen to be all around enjoyable movies. If you’re like me, your family gatherings occur around the yuletube so every time you need to stoke that sucker pop in (or pull up) one of these fantastic Christmas classic flicks! These are full of old men pulling pranks, Bobcat Golthwait firing shotguns, and well…more guns that may just shoot your eye out.
Grumpy Old Men
This comedy classic starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon with Ann-Margret is a Christmas movie that you can watch any time of year if for nothing else than for the marvelous chemistry the leading men displayed time and again through the years. John Gustafson and Max Goldman are two grumpy old men, former best friends who had a falling out over a girl back in the year of the flood but still managed to be next door neighbors in the small town of Wabasha, Minnesota. Now both widowers the men find themselves playing pranks on each other like changing the channels across the property line and spraying hoses on the other’s roof to make the snow fall (both great pranks, though I’ve only ever attempted the former). Enter wonderfully refreshing Ann-Margret who is cultured, fun, and beautiful. The men resume their rivalry full force over this woman while their grown and divorced children, Daryl Hannah and Kevin Pollak, embark on their own romance. The movie starts really coming together as the children of the Grumpy Old Men try to get their fathers to make peace for Christmas. After a heart attack, a few more pranks, and some old people nudity we come to an ending that left us aching for more…which we got in the sequel Grumpier Old Men. While you may be thinking that I’m stretching the term “Christmas Movie” to include anything with Christmas and snow I tell you shut up and watch Burgess Merideth say funny stuff. This is a movie that makes you laugh and makes you feel good…and let’s be honest wouldn’t we all just love to watch Walter Matthau call people schmucks for an hour and a half? I’d buy that for a dollar.
There is no denying this as a bona fide Christmas Movie. This adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol starring Bill Murray is without a doubt the best version of the tale I’ve ever seen—including the original. Then again, I’m pretty partial to Bill Murray. The movie follows Frank Cross (Murray) as a terrible person in the role of programming executive—and while playing the role of the terrible person who later gets redeemed is quite a stretch for Bill Murray he manages to pull it off. The special effects are horribly late 80s—in that good way—and we watch as Cross’ past of being a decent guy slowly becomes his horrible present. We watch as while he is losing his mind, disgruntled employee Bobcat Goldthwait shows up trying to kill him like a sort of deranged Bob Cratchet (Bob and Bob, GET IT?) Cross goes through all the motions of Scrooge and even has a fairly scary moment of being in his own coffin while he’s getting cremated. We see a grim spirit with a TV and demons under its cloak, and we get a cab ride that is forever etched into my mind as the cab you’ll never want to get into. All the while Cross is trying to put on a production of a Christmas Carol for live television and win back his college sweetheart (who he apparently met in Animal Farm, and who went on an adventure looking for the Lost Ark shortly after their break up). All in, this movie has tons of Bill Murray carrying the show, which is just fine by me because…let’s be honest, wouldn’t we all just love to watch Bill Murray be a schmuck for an hour and a half? I’d buy that for a dollar.
A Christmas Story
A Christmas Story is one of those undeniable classic flicks that has become totally inextricable from Christmas thanks to the TBS 24 hour Christmas marathon. It’s a story that we can all relate to regardless of our religious affiliations because it is rooted in very human terms—dysfunctional families, childhood manipulation of parents, and the trappings of the American school system. The pop culture impact of this movie cannot be denied as Jean Shepherd’s Ralphie Parker and his misadventures leading into Christmas have treated us all to prestigious awards, Little Orphan Annie decoder rings, fathers battling boilers, kids eating soap, and of course the holy grail the lauded Red Rider BB Gun. As Ralphie starts laying hints left and right for his parents to buy him the much desired weapon/toy of his choice he is stymied at every turn by the famous warning “You’ll shoot your eye out!” Ralphie’s daydreams of his mother and teacher as a wicked witch, himself as a man blinded by soap poisoning, or as a crackshot cowboy protecting his family are balanced by the real goings on of his life: friends getting their tongue stuck to flagpoles in the icy winter, bullies getting their just desserts, the best enunciation of “Fragile” you’ll ever hear, and of course the Pink Bunny Pajamas (he’s like a pink nightmare!). The Parker Family is all a little off their rockers, as all our own families are, but in the end they love each other and enjoy their Christmas. I probably don’t have to tell you to make sure you watch this one as you’ll probably watch it several times (or have already by the time you read this!). Its an All American look at the post-war Christmas in the every-states, and in many ways is the dirt under the fingernails of the Norman Rockwell picture of the season. And let’s be honest…we all have a little dirt under our finger nails. Umm…I’d buy that for a dollar.
Now that you’re all Christmased up go and enjoy your family, enjoy your gifts, and make sure you don’t shoot your eye out! Merry Happy, Cookies and Milk!