It’s the most stressful time of the year. Malls must be braved, cookies must be made, and elves must be moved daily and photographed for Facebook. For the week before Christmas, I like to pull out the Christmas comedies to refill my cup of good cheer.
- ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation‘ – Another movie featuring the wacky Griswold family, this one inspired thousands of people to cover their entire houses in lights powered by a few daisy chained extension cords. It’s ridiculous, corny and dumb, which are all good things in a comedy as far as I’m concerned.
- ‘A Christmas Story‘ – This one seems to keep gaining popularity every year. The leg lamp is now available at CVS and “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid” is said whenever anyone mentions a BB gun. The movie aptly captures the family dynamic at Christmas, when everyone has their distracted agendas and lovable dysfunction.
- ‘Scrooged‘ – Nobody brings it like Bill Murray in a holiday movie. In this must-watch 1980s version of ‘A Christmas Carol’, Murray is a ruthless TV executive who gets haunted by ghostly visitors on Christmas Eve. With John Forsythe as Marley, David Johansen as Christmas Past and Carol Kane as an abusive Christmas Present, the movie has an amazing cast. Lots of other great supporting cameos show up too, including Mary Lou Retton as Tiny Tim, and frankly she does a much better job playing a boy than Allison Williams did in ‘Peter Pan Live!’.
- ‘Elf‘ – Buddy the Elf travels to New York in search of his real dad. Will Ferrell takes it really far over the top, and James Caan is a great foil as his Scrooge of a dad. For me, this is best Christmas movie to come out so far in the 21st Century. It’s silly, appropriate for all ages, and leaves you feeling a bit warm and fuzzy.
- ‘Bad Santa‘ – Whoa boy, what a howl. If you like inappropriate humor and profanity, this is the movie for you. Willie (Billy Bob Thorton) is a drunken safe cracker who does an annual job with his buddy Marcus the elf (Tony Cox). And does Bad Santa make good? Kinda, but a few people might die in the process. For me, it’s a bit of Auld Lang Syne watching the scenes with John Ritter and Bernie Mac. Can I get a copy of the unedited takes of their office scenes to watch over and over?
Of course, there are a lot more second-tier Christmas comedies out there, like ‘The Santa Clause’, ‘Christmas with the Kranks’ and (entering this year) even a Grumpy Cat Christmas special. If you can’t face a Christmas movie head-on, you could watch ‘Home Alone‘, ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles‘ or ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian‘.
Anything else I should add to the list of Christmas comedies?
Following up from last week’s rom-com list, I finally watched ‘Love Actually‘. I liked it enough to try watching it again next year, but I’m not sure it was love, actually. I liked some of the plot lines, I liked some of the performances, I liked some of the soundtrack choices (at least it ended with “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys), but the movie kept teetering into overly contrived situations and clichéd characters for me.
Next week, we’ll put on the yule log and talk about the absolute Christmas classics.