What does it take for a movie to truly be a Christmas movie? Does it have to solely be about the Christmas spirit? Because if that is the case I’d take Disney’s animated version of A Christmas Carol. Is there another version of that? That’s the original, right? Does it have to be feature length? Because if not, I’d take How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Everything you need in a neat little 27 minute package including the Roast Beast. Then of course there are movies that are set during Christmas, but don’t necessarily have anything to do with the holiday in particular. I’m thinking, Trading Places, movies of that nature. I guess everyone has their own criteria, but if I was giving a rundown (leaving out the short and animated classics above), I’d go like this:
1. Christmas Vacation. It’s not even a contest despite me seeing a website this week that ranked it as the 23rd best Christmas movie. If I wasn’t in the holiday spirit, I would have fired off a scathing email. This movie has it all, but first and foremost it remains hilarious every single time. It’s the most quotable holiday movie, it’s the easiest to relate to, and it has an impeccable attention to detail (I’d point your attention to Eddie’s dickey in the Egg Nog scene).
2. Bad Santa. I love Bad Santa. If it means admitting I like Billy Bob Thornton, then so be it. This movie is hilarious, and has perhaps my single favorite line in Christmas movie history, “Sh*t in one hand and wish in the other. See which fills up first.” There’s something about an alcoholic Santa with a heart of gold that really warms me up during the holiday season.
3. A Christmas Story. I don’t have the love for this movie that some people have. I know the marathon that TNT, or whatever station, shows every year is a big hit. But, when I do decide to watch a bit, I always find it incredibly entertaining. I mean, Ralphie is just an all-time, all-timer. I might think about bumping one of the first two, but I fear that this is a movie that will eventually feel just too obsolete.
4. Home Alone. When I was a kid I probably would have ranked Home Alone among my top-5 funniest movies. The physical comedy was right in my wheel house at that age. I’d laugh myself to tears. At this point, there may be one or two instances where the gags feel a little corny, but it’s still a great flick. The huge family, all minor characters are handled so well, and the concept is perfection. John Hughes, two of my top-4. Decent writing career that guy had.
5. Elf. Elf is maybe an every other year Christmas movie for me. There are one or two too many lulls to rank it any higher. But the highs are incredibly high. Will Farrell is hilarious and Zooey Deschanel is great as well. Plus, this movie has given me the fodder for a million “Buddy Elf” jokes every time I see someone with an item slightly too small for their person.
6. Love Actually. BK’s favorite movie of all-time checks in at number 6 on my list. It starts for me with Bill Nighy as Billy Mack and his quest for Christmas number one. But, from there you’ve got Hugh Grant’s hilarity, Keira Knightley being all pretty, a great performance by the familial burdened Laura Linney, on and on. Perhaps the best endorsement, it’s obscenely long and can hold my attention all the way through.
7. Scrooged. Here’s one I need to go back and watch. I remember being entertained by Bill Murray in this one back when it originally came out, but it doesn’t seem to get the replay love on cable that other holiday classics get. I remember it being quite provocative, but these days you could probably be more titillated at a Wawa. For it being slightly ahead of its time, though, number seven.
8. Fred Claus. I don’t know too many people who like Fred Claus, but I actually find it quite entertaining. I guess I’m just a sucker for Vince Vaughn. I know he’s doing the same thing over and over again, but isn’t there something comforting and Christmasy about that? Plus, Elizabeth Banks in her elf costume. The glue that holds the film together.
9. The Muppet’s Christmas Carol. You have to enjoy the entire Muppet’s movie catalog. They take Manhattan, and here they run through their adaptation of the Scrooge story. I’m not sure what my deal is here, but as you can see I’ll take just about any other option over the straight telling of the Dickens classic.
10. The Santa Clause. I think there are some huge fans of this movie out there. Perhaps they feel the same way about Tim Allen that I do about Vince Vaughn. Don’t get me wrong, I watched Home Improvement like everyone else, but this is just an above average flick for me. Also, points deducted for the never-ending line of money grabbing sequels.
There you go. Top 10. I’ve already seen Christmas Vacation this year. And the Grinch. Might be time to dust off that Bad Santa DVD. Who knows?