Christmas Movie Countdown: Week 3 – Laughing All the Way

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.

10 comments

  1. My wife and I are huge fans of Jingle All The Way. It’s the only Christmas movie we watch year-round. Not sure why it gets as much hate as it does, yeah it’s silly but it’s supposed to be. Arnold, Sinbad and Phil Hartman in particular are just plain perfect in this movie.

    • Chris B

      I actually caught that movie on tv last weekend. Not as bad as everybody makes it out to be, Arnie was pretty funny and Rita Wilson is such a fox in it. Plus it co-stars the late, great Phil Hartman. I totally forgot that Jake Lloyd played the obnoxious little kid.I wonder what it was about his performance made George Lucas think to himself: “oh yeah, that’s clearly Darth Vader as a child.”

    • Junie

      That’s a good one I forgot about, I will have to put it on my watch again list – anything with Phil Hartman deserves a re-watch.

      • C.C. 95

        Just had to second ANYTHING WITH PHIL HARTMAN. Soooo miss that guy. One of the funniest men in history. Do yourself a favor and buy and binge NEWSRADIO. R.I.P. Phil.

  2. C.C. 95

    ….oh! And Christmas movies…
    29th STREET
    HUDSUCKER PROXY
    JOYEUX NOËL
    A MIDNIGHT CLEAR
    TRAPPED IN PARADISE
    TRADING PLACES

    **and PLANES, TRAINS, & AUTOMOBILES is a THANKSGIVING movie. And LOVE, ACTUALLY is the most contrived, cliched movie EVER! Blechhh!!
    MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

  3. William Henley

    You know, I am not a huge Christmas Comedy fan. I got burnt out on Home Alone a long time ago, I think Elf is overrated (I like the movie, I just think that people make it out to be more than it is).

    I don’t care at all for Planes, Trains & Automobiles – not saying its bad, but it’s not my cup of tea.

    Also don’t like hte National Lampoon movies.

    But, probably the one that will generate the most hate toward me, I HATE HATE HATE A Christmas Story. I would rather watch Barney or Twilight or Titanic or Avatar than A Christmas Story. I would rather watch Santa Claus and the Ice Cream Bunny without the Rifftrax than A Christmas Story.

    • Junie

      Wow, so you’re saying you don’t like A Christmas Story then? It was an acquired taste for me. Bad Santa might just be for you, or perhaps the Christmas horror genre? Silent Night, Deadly Night?

      • William Henley

        I will admit I have not seen Bad Santa yet.

        I tend to like movies such as Its A Wonderful Life, White Christmas, The Santa Clause (oh, hey, there is a comedy I like!), Santa Clause The Movie, Miracle on 34th Street, most of the A Christmas Carol remakes, and then your kiddy shows like Rudolf and Frosty and Santa Clause is Coming to Town and Jack Frost and The Christmas Toy and stuff like that.

        There was one I remember that Iliked really well as a kid, and haven’t seen since, I cannot even remember the name of it. Some oil company was drilling up in the Artic Circle, and their drilling was causing tremors at Santa’s workshop.

  4. Opinionhaver

    “Surviving Christmas” with Ben Affleck is a favorite of mine. Great cast. My all-time Christmas favorite, “Die Hard,” has some humorous moments as well.

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