Now that it’s December, it’s officially OK to talk about Christmas. Stores began putting up lighted trees and garlands on Halloween, and “Fred Claus” came out in early November, but now Thanksgiving is over and it’s time to get festive.
For me, and it seems nearly every network on television, it’s time to start watching the endless parade of Christmas-movie marathons that air until the fat man slides his way down the chimney. Everyone’s seen “A Christmas Story” because the TBS network plays the classic as if it’s the only movie ever made about this holiday; and as charming as it is, we really don’t need to watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” for 4,000th time. And don’t get me started on “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
There are the obvious staples of Christmas movie viewing, and then there are those that are much less obvious. Often overlooked in a genre flooded with classics like “Miracle on 34th Street” and disasters like “Deck the Halls,” these films will make even the most sour Scrooge smile.
“The Muppet Christmas Carol” – Speaking of Scrooge, “A Christmas Carol” has been remade, let’s say, 47 times since the original was written by some English guy, let’s say, 300 years ago. The best adaptation, however, stars one Michael Caine and one Kermit the Frog and has the freshest and funniest take on the old classic. Featuring every Muppet ever sculpted out of foam, the film follows Caine’s Ebenezer as he’s visited by the surprisingly creepy Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future in order to understand the true spirit of the season.
“Jingle All the Way” – Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad. In a movie. Together. Amazing. In an exploration of the materialistic side of Christmas, good dad Arnold battles shopping crowds, a postal postal worker and an underground army of ninja Santas in the quest for one “Turbo Man” action figure. But the film goes above and beyond as Arnold transforms into the hero himself by the end as he flies around the Macy’s parade in a jet pack battling his mail-carrying nemesis and making his son proud. On a related note, is Sinbad still alive?
“Love Actually” – I will defend this movie until death. I’ve already earned a number of feminine and homophobic nicknames for my love of this movie, but really it is one of the best Christmas films out there. Featuring every British person who has ever been in a movie during the past 30 years, the movie features about 20 different love stories happening simultaneously – so many that one is bound to apply to your life. It’s terribly cheesy at times, but you’ll only hate it if your heart is three sizes too small.
“Ernest Saves Christmas” – There are an infinite number of screwball Christmas comedies, the most notable being of the National Lampoon variety, but as part lovable goofball, part mental patient, Ernest (played by the underappreciated Jim Varney) must help Santa find his replacement. Ernest movies are amazing; I don’t know why more people don’t know this.
“Die Hard” – Yes, “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie. Think back: Remember all the snow, the Christmas trees, the festive references? “Die Hard” is arguably the best Christmas movie not really about Christmas. (Among others in contention: the “Home Alone” series and “Ghostbusters II.”) And it gives you a chance to watch a violent action movie during Christmastime that isn’t a bastard offspring of the horrifyingly bad “Silent Night, Deadly Night” ’80s slasher series.
Look, I take back what I said about “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I’ll be damned if I don’t tear up every time they start singing at the end. And the made-for-TV version of “Miracle on 34th Street” with that girl who played Matilda did make me want to hug kittens afterward, but it’s just that I like less cuddly alternatives every once in a while. But no more “A Christmas Story,” I really can’t hear “You’ll shoot your eye out . ” one more time.
– E-mail Tassi at firstname.lastname@example.org and watch “Love, Actually” with him.