Merry Christmas morn. I trust you slept well?
That got me thinking about some holiday favorites. I pinged a few movie buddies, and here is the list of both non-traditional xmas movies and good old fashioned family fare.
I don’t know what your plans might be for today — the only places that are open will be Chinese Restaurants and Movie theaters — but I plan on firing up the DVD player for some seasonal amusement.
My holiday movie list, form top to bottom, is as follows:
• Elf: The movie: Will Farrell plays a man child raised as an elf at the North Pole. He is sent to the US to “find himself.” The casting is also inspired: James Caan, Bob Newhart, Edward Asner, Mary Steenburgen, Zooey Deschanel, Amy Sedaris, Andy Richter, Kyle Gass, Artie Lange, Leon Redbone.
Its Farrell at his hysterical, “committed performance” best.
• A Christmas Story – Formerly a cult classic, a gentle, satirical look at the early the late 1930s or early 1940s Christmas — long before irony was hip. Its amusing that this has become a modern classic, as it was overlooked for so long. Released in the era before Irony was ubiquitous, it now seems as traditional as they come, with just a hint of subversiveness. (Its 2nd only because I have seen it so many times . . . )
• Bad Santa – Depravity of a hilarious kind, one of many great xmas caper films. Billy Bob Thornton plays a miserable conman who with his partner, pose as Santa and his Little Helper to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. But they run into problems when the conman befriends a troubled kid . . . Bonus flick: The Ice Harvest – Billy Bob and John Cusack in another caper comedy that’s more more noir than noel.)
• Gremlins – Joe Dante’s 1984 American black comedy/horror film. I loved Phoebe Cates’ terrible Christmas memory told completely deadpan. No wonder critics didn’t get it. (Read the film criticism 25 years later for laughs).
Never forget the film’s most heartfelt holiday lesson: RTFM!
• Home Alone – You have to love a holiday comedy that revels in sheer physical abuse of its antagonists, 3 Stooges style. The middle of the film — a 30 minute sequence of brutality where the bad guys — Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern — get demolished by 8 year old Macaulay Culkin.
Written by John Hughs, its his 2nd best film after Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
• The Nightmare Before Christmas – A stop motion fantasy film conceived and directed by Tim Burton Xmas Xraziness
• The Ref – Another Xmas caper comedy, with a twist: Denis Leary (accidentally) takes a dysfunctional married couple hostage on Christmas Eve. The couple –played wonderfully by Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis — argue incessantly, and Leary becomes the accidental ref between them. A Christmas movie that reminds us its really all about family . . .
• Scrooged – A funny, dark take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. David Johansen is the ghost of Christmas past, and Carol Kane plays the ghost of Christmas present. Cameos include Robert Goulet, John Houseman, Lee Majors, along with “street musicians” Miles Davis, Larry Carlton, David Sanborn and Paul Shaffer. Al Green and Annie Lennox sing “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.”
• The Muppet Christmas Carol – one of the better adaptations of the Dickens story
• Santa Clause – ’cause every top 10 list requires a 10th item . . .
Lets not forget the top 10 classics:
It’s a Wonderful Life
Bells of St Marys
Miracle on 34th St
Christmas Carol (1951 version is best)
Babes in Toyland (March of the Wooden Soldiers)
We’re No Angels
Christmas in Connecticut