Like the song says, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! Any holiday that calls for glittery decorations, shopping, cocoa, and spending time with friends and family couldn’t be better! Whether you’re a traditional girl or a modern miss, you’re bound to have a favorite Christmas movie to watch while wrapping gifts and sipping cocoa or egg nog, right? Here’s a list of what I think are the best Christmas movies, with something for everyone.
1 A Christmas Story (1983)
One of my all-time favorite Christmas movies! Narrated from the point-of-view of 9-year-old Ralphie Parker, who wants only one thing for Christmas: a Red Ryder air rifle. While dodging the school bully, Scottie Farkus, and pleading with his parents, a mall Santa, and his teacher for the air rifle, Ralphie and his family are guaranteed to make you laugh like a holiday loon.
Based on the beloved children’s book of the same title, written by Vivian Walsh, this 45-minute movie first aired on FOX, animated by The Simpson’s Matt Groening. Olive, a precocious and sweet-tempered dog, mis-understands a radio broadcast by Santa, and travels to the North Pole to help him deliver gifts. She befriends a cast of hilarious characters, indulging a trash-talking Penguin named Martini and a flightless reindeer named Schnitzel along the way. This movie is funny, sweet, and oddly touching. Voices by Drew Barrymore, Joe Pantiliano, and Ed Asner, among others. I watch this every year as I’m putting the lights on the tree!
If you don’t need an entire box of Kleenex to watch this Christmas classic, then you’re heartless! It’s Christmas Eve and depressed George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) is seriously contemplating suicide. His guardian angel intervenes, and through a series of flashbacks, shows Bailey how important he is, and how wonderful his life actually is.
When the faux Santa hired to star in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade shows up drunk, the real Santa gets indignant and complains to the parade’s director, who hires him as a replacement on the spot. The city falls in love with Santa, including a young and adorable Natalie Wood. A convoluted legal battle ensues, but of course, the REAL Kris Kringle wins — after all, “It’s Christmas Eve!”
This was the third in the National Lampoon series of films, and in my opinion the funniest. It’s a perfect depiction of the frustration and stress that family togetherness, especially at the holidays, can cause. Who hasn’t wrangled with the “perfect” tree, went overboard on the lights, and wishes they could blackmail their boss into giving them a bigger holiday bonus?
This stop-animation show first aired on NBC, and has become a classic, even being used in recent Verizon Wireless commercials. Poor Rudolph is born to a long line of reindeer who have been honored to pull Santa’s sleigh. But whne poor Rudy’s nose starts to glow red, he becomes an outcast… until, of course, the fog rolls in and Santa needs his glowing nose to light the way!
Buddy (played by Will Ferrell) is a full-sized human, raised from infancy at the North Pole by elves. Sent to find and reconcile with his real father in New York City, Buddy is friendly, cheerful, and hilariously helpful. His father thinks he’s crazy (I would have, too), but they eventually become friends, and even manage to save Christmas. I love the small role by Amy Sedaris, and the “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” duet with Zooey Deschanel. Kids will love the Coke-induced burps and bizarre breakfast recipes, adults will love the innocent humor.
A modern retelling of the classic Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol.” Bill Murray plays Frank Cross, a wealthy and cynical TV executive, the typical greedy, callous Scrooge. His old boss returns from beyond the grave to warn him that he’ll be visited by three ghosts, who not only show him the error of his ways, but also delight in terrorizing and bullying him. How does it end? Well, of course Frank reconciles with his ex-wife, makes amends with his brother, and hires his recently fired best employee.
Two World War II buddies become Broadway producers, dress in drag, rescue two sisters, and save a small inn by bringing their show to Vermont. We all know and love the title song, written by Irving Berlin, because we’ve all heard it… if you actually see the film, you’ll love it, too!
My favorite Tim Burton film, this is a combination Halloween and Christmas movie! Jack Skellington, resident of Halloween Town, has long coveted the role of Santa, and hatches a plot to replace him this Christmas. His plan goes awry when the children and their parents are terrified by their gifts, so he releases Santa and helps him set things right. Spooky, icky fun!
Based on the children’s book by Dr. Seuss, this animated classic first aired on CBS. Boris Karloff narrates the film and does the voice of the meanie-weenie Grinch, who tried to steal the holiday cheer from Whoville by disguising himself as Santa and swiping all of the presents. When he sees the town celebrating Christmas anyway, the Grinch learns the true meaning of the holiday. I’ve loved the songs and the rhymes since I was little, and my kids love it now!
Poor Charlie Brown just can’t seem to get into the holiday spirit. He’s depressed — his mailbox is empty of holiday cards and everyone seems to be caught up in the commercial aspect of the season. He sets out to buy an aluminum tree and falls in love with a scrawny, pathetic tree, the only “wooden” tree on the lot. His friends eventually rally around the tree and the true, religious meaning of the holiday. I adore the message, and the soundtrack by piano genius Vince Guaraldi.
13 South Park: Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo (1997)
This is by far the raunchiest holiday special ever aired. It’s South Park, after all, so I knew what to expect. Poor Kyle, who is Jewish, feels excluded from all of the Christmas activities going on in the town, until he’s visited by Mr. Hankey, a talking, dancing poo. No-one else sees him move, so they all think Kyle’s going crazy (and that he’s GROSS)… this special is the best satire I’ve ever seen of political correctness and religious sensitivity. Not for the kids, enjoy this with spiked egg nog and a group of rowdy grown-up friends.
So grab your scotch tape, ribbons and bows, put the kettle on for cocoa, and pop in one of these DVDs and get into the holiday spirit! Or do you have a favorite that’s not on my list? Please let me know, so I can watch it, too… I’ve still got a huge pile of gifts to wrap!