Newest Review: ... to put him straight. Its one of those Christmas films you can watch over and over again and still not remember all the jokes and what ha... more
My Top Christmas movies!
Obselete Opinions level 3
Member Name: thedevilinme
Obselete Opinions level 3
Advantages: Good time to watch films
Disadvantages: Not the strongest genre
Good Christmas movies are easy to make. Pretty much any Hollywood star, however awful, can have a hit with one because of exactly that, and often do, playing one of only three main roles these films offer. Even Vince Vaughan made the All Time Top 100 with Fred Clause! You just need the classic ingredients of single or separated dad seeking personal redemption through keeping our belief in Christmas through his cute kids relationship improving and you have a hit. If you don't have those three elements then you just won't have a hit. The Americans seem to have the Christmas movie formula down to a fine art although less about the need for Christmas spirit and more about making money as they know Christmas movies will make a certain return, however good or bad. Even the most anti-Christmas spirit movie of all-time, Home Alone, made a record $500 million dollars for a Christmas movie. They do the same thing for Halloween.
My first of the top five would have to be Scrooged and believe it or not but Bill Murray actually made great films once, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, Caddyshack and Quick Change brilliant vehicles for his obnoxious but sharp style of humor. But once he got involved with oddball director Wes Anderson he went all laconic and serious and that was the end of screwball Murray we all loved. Now he is almost unwatchable. Will we ever get over Lost in Translation?
Scrooged was a sharp and clever witted double send up of the famous Dickens classic 'A Christmas Carol' and very funny too as cynical TV executive Frank Cross encounters the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future to put him straight. Its one of those Christmas films you can watch over and over again and still not remember all the jokes and what happens at the start, middle and end, a proper grown ups Christmas movie.
If you loved Scrooged then The Family Man with Nicholas Cage would also be a recommendation in that wake up to a new existence scenario, as would Bad Santa with the rather naughty Billy Bob Thornton, also falling into that grown up dark and funny Christmas film category.
Like British sports films, good British Christmas movies are few and far between. We tend to dust down the old thespians and handout the sideburns and tall hats at this time of the year and leave it up to the performer's personal appeal to get an audience. Nativity with Martin Freeman and Love Actually broke that trend and a thoroughly modern take on the genre and the most notable successes of late. The final nativity school play scene in Nativity is one of the best twenty minutes in seasonal British film I can remember and what Christmas films are supposed to be about, that of family and children, and its hard not for Love Actually to grow on you every time you see it, a similar improv style delivered. Richard Curtiss knows how to work your heart strings and chimes our Christmas tickers better than any a peel of seasonal bell ringers ever could.
Elf is my second choice and whether you like Will Ferrell or not this movie is very funny and ticks all those Christmas clichés you demand from a Christmas movie, although the son a little older and less cute to estranged father James Caan.
The premise is a baby Ferrell is somehow adopted by Elves and lives at the North Pole and grows up thinking he is an Elf, before he decides to head south and find his real father. As he is three foot taller than the Elves it's not a bad idea he does stretch his wings for all concerned. He just doesn't have elf potential. In Manhattan he falls for a pretty shop girl and brings Christmas love to all in a city that has stopped believing in the Christmas spirit. Again it's another movie you can watch over and over again and puts you right in the mood for the season. Once Elf is on Channel Four you know Christmas is here.
Romantic yuletide films are always popular and Serendipity with John Cusak one of my favorites, the third of my top five. It has that essential special Christmas warmth around the chance meeting with the girl of your dreams at the most romantic part of the year and the journey to get the girl. The girl in question is sexy Kate Beckensale, who trusts to luck and fete when meeting men, serendipity ruling her life, and to see if they are indeed ideal for each other she will only take his number if they meet again by chance in the big city. Like in Die Hard (technically a Christmas film), our hero will win the girl if fete lets him complete the task, in Cusack's case returning a lost glove to Beckensale, if he can find her in New York City, a sort of anti statement to the sexually permissive nineties.
I must admit I never thought I would mention Tim Allen in any of my favorite lists but 'The Santa Clause' is almost the perfect Christmas trilogy and makes my top five. The films have the perfunctory ingredients of the modern day Christmas story, that of estranged hard working dad trying to win back the attentions of his young son from his manipulative divorced wife - with new partner - as old dad tries to explain to mum and son both that they cant have the perfect suburban American house, car and family without dad working all hours at Christmas. That contradiction is a head scratcher for American men and why it features in nearly all Christmas movies there.
The basic premise here is Tim Allen kills Santa Clause on Christmas Eve by knocking him off his roof whilst having his kid round for the night, and by killing Santa he activates the 'Santa Clause' and has to become the new Santa there and then by putting on the suit and driving the reindeer to finish the present's delivery. After achieving this fete with his kid on board the sleigh a better bond forms with his lad and although he writes it off as a dream the next day the kid knows it was real and dad is now Santa, soon growing a bog tummy and beard as the following December nears. It's a surprisingly sweet movie and just seems to hit every target.
As good as they say 'It's a Wonderful Life' is it doesn't make my list and I prefer the Miracle on 34th Street as my oldest film in my top five, the 1980s version with Richard Attenborough as Chris Pringle my chosen version. Again it gets to grip with the point of Christmas, that of children and the need to keep the fantasy of Santa Clause alive for all as we are all big kids at heart and if Chris Pringles lawyer can prove Dickie Attenborough is the real father Christmas then he will not only get the pretty girl to be his wife (again working long hours so estranged from her) but keep the spirit of Christmas alive, that of giving and hugging (or capitalism and greed a sits known now).
Summary: Christmas film season!