So, I know it’s slightly out of date now, what with Christmas having passed, but I often think it’s never a bad time of year to watch a Christmas movie. Well, ok, maybe the summer months are the wrong time; it’s hot outside, you’re enjoying a bit of cash because all the major holidays are done, and it’s a whole 6 months before you even have to think about what gifts to get your parents.
HOWEVER, summer is hot and annoying. I find that watching a film that has snow in it is a good way to cool down without air conditioning and, let’s be honest; do you really want to watch The Empire Strikes Back/The Thing/The Day After Tomorrow again? Most Christmas films are likely to have snow in them.
Still with me? OK, let’s get started (these are in no particular order by the way):
1. THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL
A retelling of a classic story with all our favourite muppets in their prime (imho). Michael Caine is perhaps the only person I can think of to play Scrooge; perhaps Michael Gambon might make a good replacement?
Whenever anyone mentions A Christmas Carol or Scrooge, or Tiny Tim, I immediately picture this version. Screw the original book, the various film versions before and after – this is the definitive version of this story. OK, OK, I might be persuaded to talk about Scrooged with Peter Venkman, but I couldn’t find my copy of the DVD this year and for that annoyance alone, I’m discounting it.
Kermit is, as always, the lead character in the film (Bob Cratchet), but Gonzo and Rizzo are the real stars for me. The comedy duo act as “Charles Dickens” and sidekick, the narrators to guide us through the film. The other thing that I love about this film, is that Miss Piggy doesn’t get too much screen time. I feel she’s often overused in Muppet films and, whilst I don’t hate her character, I think she can get annoying sometimes. Her screentime in this film , however, is just about right.
2. HOME ALONE/HOME ALONE 2
I can’t do these as separate films and I can’t leave either out. The original Home Alone is (to me) a better film, but the second one has Tim Curry in it and is set in New York, one of my favourite places on earth.
The Wet Bandits played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are backed up by what is already a perfect supporting cast (Catherine O’Hara, John Heard, Gerry Bamman et al) and Macaulay Culkin plays Kevin with such innocence and intelligence, that you just believe him. The real stars of this film though are the winning combination of John Hughes as Writer and Chris Colombus as Director, both of whom return for the sequel.
Without the return of everyone for the second film, it wouldn’t have worked. The addition of Tim Curry as the Concierge at the Plaza hotel is some genius casting. And Brenda Fricker, as the bird lady, plays a trampy woman really well (well she does).
The only downside to these films is that they end with the family reuniting and you kinda feel sorry for Kevin. I mean, his mum and dad are nice enough, but you get the impression that his brothers and sisters are just plain mean! Even his aunts and uncles are horrible people. I mean really, would you want to be reunited with ALL of them?
3. BAD SANTA
Well, what can I say about this? It’s just such a horrible film that it’s beautiful. You can’t help but realise that Billy Bob Thornton’s character is just as much of a sucker when it comes to little fat kids as anyone else. I can’t really go into too much detail here without spoiling plots, but suffice to say that Billy Bob and Co. get what they deserve and THEN they get what they REALLY deserve.
4. SANTA CLAUS
This is probably the first real Christmas movie I remember. Dudley Moore stars in what is now a classic “it’s always on some channel” film. Everything about this – including the terrible animatronics – just make you want it to be Christmas already. I was never a huge fan of Dudley Moore, but somehow I got over that in this film. Perhaps it’s Rose Tinted Glasses, perhaps it’s just a reminder of how Christmas was when I was a kid; who cares – just a must-watch every year.
Here’s a hot bit of trivia – I know the guy who edited this film rather well! (That’s hot – Ed)
5. MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET
Not the old one, but the remake with Richard Attenborough. Chris Cringle has to defend himself in court when he gets sued for claiming he’s Santa. It all gets sorted when the Judge arbitrarily decides to make up the law of “Merry Christmas” when presented with evidence that the entire USA is built upon a belief in another fictional being: God (cue controversy).
But honestly, I could watch this film over and over again all year. The entire cast (Leads and Supporting) is made up of such solid actors that I really am transported into that exact time and place and belief. And what’s Christmas all about if you don’t believe? Socks and shortbread – that’s what!
Honourable Mention: JINGLE ALL THE WAY
Sinbad, Arnie, Jake Lloyd (before the “midichlorians” incident). There’s not much more to say.
Merry Christmas, everyone!