If your anything like me, you’ve spent the last few weeks scaling mountains of wrapping paper, swimming in a sea of booze and using careful diplomacy to deal with a horde of distant relatives who show up on your doorstep unannounced.
Christmas comes but once a year and, to be honest, it can be a holly-jolly pain in the ass. But when it comes right down to it, it’s hard not to get caught up in the spirit of the season and even the most hardened misanthrope will find themselves a little cheerier than usual.
With that Christmas cheer in mind, we’ve compiled a list of our five favourite festive flicks to help get you in the mood for the biggest birthday party on the planet.
In no particular order…
Miracle On 34th Street (1947)
Christmas is all about fantasy. It’s about having faith in the inherent goodness of people, despite all evidence to the contrary.
That’s also the central idea behind the first movie on our list.
The film features a young Natalie Wood who plays Susan, a little girl who doesn’t believe in Santa, The Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy or even using her imagination.
But when a department store Santa appears, claiming to be the real Father Christmas, Susan and her pragmatist mother suddenly discover the power of belief.
As a grumpy git, it’s not often that a movie touches me like this one did. It’s pure, unadulterated fun and the scene where Kris Kringle teaches Susan how to pretend to be a monkey is one of the sweetest things you’ll ever see.
Christmas Vacation (1989)
The first of two John Hughes penned films on our list (no prizes for guessing what the other one is), Christmas Vacation was the third instalment of the hit and miss Vacation series. But the holiday theme and some great performances from Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid and others means that Christmas Vacation has a lasting appeal that the other movies don’t.
Dedicated family man and clumsy buffoon, Clark Griswold, is determined to give his family the best Christmas ever. But the unexpected arrival of white trash relatives, faulty Christmas lights and the most unappetising looking turkey you’ve ever seen, threaten to derail his plans and send Clark round the bend.
Hughes was a master of accurately portraying the absurdity of familial relationships and Clark and his long suffering family certainly provide us with enough dysfunction to laugh at. But the movie also has a heart. Clark’s wife and kids support him in whatever crazy scheme he has planned and you find yourself hoping that they finally get the Christmas they all wanted.
The 80s were all about success. Gordon Gekko’s famous mantra, ‘Greed is Good’ was the tagline of the decade and that sentiment is perfectly captured in the character of Frank Cross.
In a reworking of A Christmas Carol, Bill Murray plays Cross, a misanthropic TV executive who is obsessed with his own success and thinks Christmas is hooey. When his old boss returns from the grave to warn him that his mortal soul is in danger, Frank starts to come apart at the seams only to see the error of his ways and embrace the spirit of Christmas.
We had to have a version of Dickens’ classic, right? The movie is a clever po-mo take on the timeless tale, with A Christmas Carol within A Christmas Carol and some killer one-liners. But, for me, it’s the cast that makes the movie so great. Murray is spot on as Cross and he’s ably assisted by an all-star supporting cast and fun cameo appearances. The ending is a little schmaltzy, but in all the right ways. To this day, I still wish ‘The Night The Reindeer Died’ was a real thing.
Die Hard (1988)
The link between Christmas and this action movie is pretty tenuous, but it still smacks of Christmas to me.
New York cop, John McClane, is travelling to L.A. to reconcile with his wife, but he gets more than he bargained for when a gang of international terrorists seize control of his wife’s office building. McClane is the only thing standing in the terrorist’s way and a battle of wits ensues as he takes them out, one by one.
Possibly the best action movie of all time, Die Hard is a delight to watch. It’s filled with thrills and spills. Bruce Willis is excellent as the tough guy cop who cries when no-one is looking and a star turn from the nefarious Alan Rickman make this perfect post-turkey-dinner fayre.
Home Alone (1990)
John Hughes looks at the perils of a family Christmas again with the story of little Kevin McAllister.
The very definition of the middle child, Kevin is sick to death of being ignored by his parents and bullied by his siblings. When he wishes that his family would disappear, his wish comes true. But when a couple of crooks come calling, Kevin soon wishes that he wasn’t Home Alone and comes to realise how much he really cares for his family.
Beautifully written and perfectly executed, this screwball comedy is definitive viewing for anyone born after 1980. The last 30 minutes has some of the best physical comedy you’ll ever see in a Christmas movie. Culkin is great as the impish Kevin, but Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern steal the show as the bungling burglars who fall foul of Kevin’s ingenious traps.
So take your pick, folks. Anyone of these classic festive movies are sure to get you in the mood for the holiday season.
Merry Christmas to you and yours from everyone at BAD HAVEN.Tags: christmas, christmas movies, festive, festive movies