Holiday Christmas Movies + The 80′s= Totally Awesome Santa! By Erik Gratton
I submitted a review of a violent, dark, angry character-study as my first column, but maybe itâ€™s just not the right day for that. (later this week) Much as I hate this to be our formal introduction, Iâ€™m going to write a bit about Christmas movies. Holiday specials, if you will. There have been some amazing ones over the years, but Iâ€™m honestly less interested in parsing the whole genre than narrowing the list to a manageable few gems. Seems to me the yearâ€™s end is a time for memories leading to nostalgia and arriving finally at scotch. There is, in my opinion, a go-to time-frame for Christmas movies; a magical and forgotten decade of films terrific, unbelievable and oh-so-terrible. It was a mysterious time that remains mocked and horrifying, perhaps best forgotten. But you and I canâ€™t forget. Weâ€™re Royals fans. For better or worse, we will always remember the â€˜80s.
In 1983 Hollywood, muscles and a cleft chin seemed to matter less than talent and likeability. Names like Dabney Coleman, John Ritter, Danny Glover, Molly Ringwald and Steve Guttenberg could headline mainstream action/romance/comedy hits. And oh sweet baby Jesus, the Christmas movies were everywhere. The following is a short-but-handy guide to navigating the next two days over basic cable and your own collection while avoiding some of the clichÃ©d pitfalls of the season.
Die Hard. Duh. BestestÂ Christmas actionerÂ ever. â€œNow I heffÂ a mah-shin-gun. Ho ho ho.â€
A Christmas Story. Peter Billingsley gave the performance of a generation. Now he produces and directs some pretty ok stuff. Havenâ€™t seen this one? The Superstation shows nothing else all month, Iâ€™m pretty sure.
Scroogedâ€”Bobscratch Goldfarb, Karen Allen, the always-brilliant Alfre Woodard and the best rock-star-actor of all time (a bold statement, but defensible, I think). Also, it contains a trailer of what would have beenÂ the best Christmas actioner of all time.
Lethal Weaponâ€”Barely qualifies as Christmas fare, but this is a really just a present to me. The final fight between Riggs and JoshuaÂ is even more fun when one recasts the actors with their future insane selves. Seriously, even Glenn Beck thinks Mel Gibson is nuts. Thatâ€™s a lot of crazy, right there. (That last link contains words I like but which may offend your delicate sensibilities. What the heck, itâ€™s about Busey: caveat emptor.)
Santa Claus: The Movieâ€”Really not a great flick. However: nobody but nobody does over-the-top like the Lithgow. Worth a watch, as is everything with Dudley Moore as an elf and The Big Lebowski as Santa.
Trading Placesâ€”The story goes something like this: Ralph Bellamy says â€œIâ€™ve been in 99 movies.â€ Don Ameche replies â€œIâ€™ve been in 49.â€ They look at Eddie Murphy. â€œWow, between the three of us weâ€™ve been in 150 movies!â€
Blackadderâ€™s Christmas Carolâ€”For those who disagree with me that Mr. Bean is one of the great comedic creations of the last 40 years, can we at least agree that The Black Adder is up near the top?
Mickeyâ€™s Christmas Carolâ€”I saw this one with my dad at a tiny movie theatre in downtown Olathe. Or maybe my lizard brain is messing with me.
And, finally, my Holiday Recommendation: Christmas Vacationâ€”What can you say about this one. Itâ€™s perfect. That rarest of Hollywood finds: the satisfying PG-13 comedy. Watch with the whole family. But not on basic cable. Splurge a little.
Special Netflix Streaming Bonus: You’re welcome.
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