It’s time to snuggle up in your footie pajamas with hot cocoa and popcorn! Schools out, most offices will be closed and nothing calms an arguing family like a classic holiday movie. But you gotta know which ones are okay for the kids, which one makes your mom cry and why your grandfather refuses to watch the colorized version of Miracle on 34th Street.
Everyone’s got a favorite. But there are just some that you should have seen by now. Like if you actually admit to someone that you’ve never seen A Christmas Story expect shock, awe, horror and an immediate viewing. Also, a bar of Lifeboy in your mouth for good measure (you’ll get it when you see the movie).
Here are eight fun facts, thoughts and strong opinions about holiday classics old and new. These will get you through the hippest of hipster ugly sweater parties or Griswold levels of disastrous family gatherings. Plus two bonus comments, “because it’s Christmas and at Christmas you tell the truth”.
1. It’s so crazy that the guy that played Keira Knightley’s husband in Love Actually is probably going to win an Oscar this year.
That’s right folks, if you are looking at the awards nominations so far, Chiwetel Ejifor is leading the pack for his turn in 12 Years A Slave. But prior to that, he was being surprised on his wedding day with a symphony by his best friend Andrew Lincoln (aka The Walking Dead’s Sheriff Rick Grimes). Love Actually is one of those amazing rom com’s set during the holidays like The Holiday, The Family Stone and if you think about it, Bridget Jones’ Diary.
2. Finally! Die Hard is being recognized for the Christmas classic it is.
Another Love Actually alum, Alan Rickman, plays the villain in this 1988 classic that finds our hero, John McClane (Bruce Willis), saving his wife in a high rise taken over by terrorists… during the company Christmas party. You’ll feel the holiday cheer when Willis utters the famous line, “Yippee ki yay, motherf**ker”.
3. I love White Christmas, but Vera Ellen’s waist is so distractingly small that I almost can’t sing along to “Sisters” because I’m staring at it.
Vera Ellen reportedly had the smallest waist in Hollywood at one point, measuring a shocking 17 inches. And the movie of war buddies, sisters and Christmas magic is almost marred for me by the other woman that isn’t Rosemary Clooney’s freakishly small waist. But even that can’t ruin the end of the movie, when all the soldiers are there at the show in Vermont. I cry so hard every time. Plus it’s got some non-Christmas songs in it that become Christmas songs by association like the aforementioned “Sisters” and “Count Your Blessings”.
4. Just hearing the theme music to Home Alone gets me choked up.
You know the “da da DA da da da da da”? I just start to envision little Kevin alone in the church and the old man and I lose it. The thing that makes it a classic is that it’s a movie that grownups now are nostalgic about, but that kids generations from now will love because Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern make great stooges and kids love that physical comedy. And for a sequel Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is pretty good. I mean, it’s got Tim Curry in it so, how bad could it be?
5. Which A Christmas Carol should we watch, the original from 1938, the TV movie with George C. Scott or The Muppets?
This is a debate in my house every year. My father likes the original in black and white (ONLY) and me and the kids want to watch The Muppets. There is also a 2009 version with Jim Carey that is kind of half animated, it creeps me out. And then there is Billy Murray’s Scrooged, the modern 80’s retelling that is so hilarious and nails 80’s greed and TV exec sliminess.
6. Ya know, It’s A Wonderful Life was actually a big flop when it was released in theaters.
Fact. Although it was critically acclaimed and Oscar nominated. Because of some complicated rights issues, it is only shown once a year, on Christmas Eve…it is always right in the middle of when we go to Christmas Eve service and my parents refusal to get a DVR has me at my breaking point this year.
7. “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 f**king Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white a** down that chimney tonight, he’s gonna find the jolliest bunch of assh**les this side of the nuthouse.”
You should be able to quote at least one holiday classic. Personally, if I could quote one Christmas movie forever, it would be National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It features so many good lines and Julie Louis-Dreyfus in a metallic jogging suit. Although Elf and A Christmas Story run a very close quotable second. I mean, who hasn’t answered their phone “Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?!” at least once during the holidays….right?
8. I love all the Rankin/Bass TV movies, but The Year Without Santa Claus always freaked me out as a kid.
You know those movies…the claymation ones. It started with Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer and continues on from there. Elf gives a nod to those movies of the 60’s and 70’s with the snowman and Mr. Norwahl “Bye Buddy! Hope you find your dad!”. They usually run these close to Christmas and kids either love them or have nightmares because of them. I’ve got a little of both.
9. Did you know that the kid that plays Ralphie in A Christmas Story produces movies with Vince Vaughn now?
His name is Peter Billingsley. He met Vince Vaughn as a teenager doing a made-for-TV movie and now he produces movies like The Break Up and Iron Man. Not too bad for someone who’s main goal in life was to get a Red Rider BB gun with a compass and a stock.
10. There are very few remakes or re-tellings that are as good as the original…The Preacher’s Wife is one.
Whitney Houston pre-crack breakdown and Denzel? Yes, please. While the original, The Bishop’s Wife, has Cary Grant in it, it doesn’t have the passion and well, the soul that the remake does. Man, this makes me miss Whitney.
This is a drop in the bucket of holidays movies. These are just some required viewing and personal faves. What are some of your holiday staples?
Check your local listings for the cheesy Hallmark movies too. And go to Netflix for all the films mentioned above and much, much more!