Friday, November 25, 2011

A (Somewhat) Alternative 25 Days to Christmas Movie List

Well, it is officially that time of the year, time for Christmas movies. Around this time of year is when you start seeing TV stations play A Christmas Story on repeat. Well, I have a confession to make; I am not a fan of A Christmas Story. I don’t think it’s entertaining, I don’t think it’s funny and I am constantly baffled by why so many people seem to love it so much. It seems to me that this time of year you can either watch A Christmas Story or stuff like A Charlie Brown Christmas, which is fine, but I like a different brand of Christmas movie.

So here it is: my (somewhat) Alternative 25 Days Till Christmas Movie Watch List:

25. Ernest Saves Christmas

This is the only Ernest movie that holds up. I will admit, this is a very cheesy and corny movie, but overall it is pretty entertaining and funny movie to watch this time of year.

24. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale


This odd and entertaining Finnish movie is about a group of archeologists who uncover Santa Claus, buried deep in the mountains. Children start to disappear soon and the residents of a local town discover that Santa isn’t the jolly man that everybody thinks he is. If you are looking for the darker side of Christmas, this is the movie for you. Scary yet hilarious, this movie is a nice new edition to the Christmas genre.

23. Serendipity


John and Sarah are two strangers who meet by chance in a department store in New York a couple days before Christmas. Sarah has a strong belief in fate and the two decide to take a risk and see if they meet again, if they do then they are meant to be together. Years later they do meet again, but both are engaged to other people. I really enjoy this movie. It is fun, sweet, romantic and funny. John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale have great chemistry together and the supporting cast is great.

22. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (MST3K version)


In this strange movie from 1964, Santa is kidnapped by Martians and taken back to Mars, where their kids have become obsessed with the Earthly fascination with the man. When they get to Mars, Santa, with the help of two Earth children, conquer the Martians with joy and Christmas cheer. Yes, this is a terrible movie but I have to recommend watching the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of this movie, it is hilarious and tons of fun to watch with a group of friends.

21. Mixed Nuts


This is one of the most underrated Steve Martin movies. In it, Martin plays Phillip, who runs a crisis hotline with some friends. Around Christmas, Phillip is evicted by the building manager and he and a group of people fight to stay. This movie has many interlocking stories that all comes to a great conclusion and has a wonderful message. It is very funny and is loaded with a great cast that makes this movie well worth watching.

20. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang


Robert Downey Jr. plays a thief posing as an actor in Los Angeles. Val Kilmer plays a private eye who runs into RDJs character and they work together to solve a murder mystery. An amazing movie that is hilarious to boot. What does it have to do with Christmas? The movie starts with RDJ robing a toy store for gifts for his kid and all of the events take place around Christmas.

19. The Santa Clause


Yes, this movie is more on the traditional side of Christmas movies and this won’t be the last one on this list, I did say “somewhat” alternative. Either way, this movie is great and a lot of fun to watch. Taking a more “legal” approach to the man in red, The Santa Clause stars Tim Allen as a man who accidentally kills Santa Claus and ends up donning the suit himself. It is a very charming and funny movie that the whole family can enjoy. I do have to recommend skipping the sequels.

18. Love Actually


One of the few movies that focuses on a dozen or more characters and actually works. This is Valentine’s Day if that movie took place on Christmas and was good. Love Actually follows eight different couples in intriguing interconnecting stories set during the month leading up to Christmas. One of the best romantic comedies of all time and loaded with an amazing cast.

17. Just Friends


Chris and Jamie were best friends in high school. However, Chris was in love with Jamie and wanted to have a more involved relationship with her but she put him in the “friend zone” and would not advance their friendship. Years later, Chris looks much better and comes home to Jersey for Christmas (with a crazy pop star in tow) and tries to win her over again. Ryan Reynolds and Amy Smart are great together but Anna Farris steals the show in many of the scenes. Hilarious good times with some really great moments.

16. Jingle All the Way


Howard is a busy man and a bit of a workaholic. When he forgets to get the number 1 toy of the year for his son he spends all of Christmas Eve going from toy store to toy store, fighting all manner of people, in order to try to find the toy and win his sons affections. This is a great satire about modern consumerism and how it is more important to just spend time with your family than trying to buy things for them because you think that is what will make them happy. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad are hilarious in this movie and Phil Hartman steals all of the scenes he’s in.

15. A Christmas Carol (2009)


There have been about a million different Christmas Carol movies but this is one of the best. Robert Zemeckis directs this motion capture animation retelling of Charles Dickens classic tale. I believe this to be one of the most accurate versions of the story. The animation is great and the story is properly scary, funny and inspiring. Jim Carrey does a great job as Scrooge AND the three ghosts.

14. Home Alone


When 8 year old Kevin’s family accidently leaves him behind when they go on vacation to New York for Christmas, Kevin decides that it is great living on your own. That is, until two burglars decide to target his family’s house. Macaulay Culkin stars in this ridiculous yet fun family holiday comedy. I would like to say that easily the best parts of the movie are with John Candy as the leader of a Chicago based polka band.

13. Batman Returns


Yeah, that’s right. When you think Christmas, who doesn’t think Batman? Yes, this movie, directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton, takes place around Christmas in Gotham. It just might be better than Burton’s original Batman. This one has Christopher Walken as a corrupt business man, Danny DeVito as the Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. An exciting and entertaining movie with Gotham City in Christmas as the backdrop.

12. The Holiday


Amanda lives in Hollywood. Iris lives outside of London. The two both have been having problems with love lately and decide to escape by swapping houses for the holiday season. Starring Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Jack Black, this movie was surprisingly charming. I really enjoy watching this and while all the characters and their romances are entertaining, my favorite moment is when Kate Winslet has a Hanukah dinner with an actor, played by Eli Wallach and a group of actors and writers from the golden age of Hollywood.

11. A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas


Yes, a very new edition to my watch list as this movie is still currently playing in theaters. I will admit, this movie is absolutely not for everybody. I however enjoy the first two movies and I think this just might be the best Harold and Kumar movie. In it, Harold and Kumar are reunited after years of not talking to each other but they band together to find the perfect Christmas tree in order to win over Harold’s father-in-law, played by Danny Trejo. This movie is much funnier than I thought it would be and Neil Patrick Harris’ part in the movie is one of the funniest things I’ve seen him do yet. Not to mention, this movie introduces the greatest Christmas gift ever, The Wafflebot!

10. The Ref


When a house robbery goes wrong, the burglar decides to hide out in an unsuspecting couple’s house in Connecticut on Christmas Eve. However, the couple bickers to no end and their family is coming over for dinner so they all have to play ball and act like this man is a family friend for the night. This movie is Denis Leary at his finest. It is a laugh a minute watching him fight with Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis. The movie takes a couple of interesting twists but it is absolutely worth watching.

9. The Nightmare Before Christmas


Written by Tim Burton, this movie is a classic that you can watch either for Halloween or Christmas. In it, Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town. One day he discovers Christmas Town and is mesmerized by their decorations and the head of that town, dear old Santa Claus. He tries to take some of Christmas Town’s concept back to Halloween Town but he doesn’t completely get it. A strange movie about what would happen if Christmas and Halloween combined into one bizarre event.

8. Bad Santa


This has turned into an almost instant anti-Christmas classic. Billy Bob Thornton is perfect as a drunk who plays mall Santa’s during the holiday season in order to plan to rob the store on Christmas Eve. When he befriends a troubled young boy, things begin to fall apart. This is a great dark comedy and I watch it every year around Christmas time.

7. A Muppet Christmas Carol


What happens when you combine Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and the Muppets? Pure awesomeness, that’s what. This version of the classic tale is fantastic and highly entertaining. Not to mention that Michael Caine does a genuinely great job at playing Ebenezer Scrooge. It’s interesting seeing an actor put so much effort into a performance when he’s acting across from a bunch of characters made of cloth and string.

6. Gremlins


A boy is given a strange creature called a Mogwai as a gift for Christmas. However, when he accidently breaks the three strict rules of owning the animal, it manages to multiply then metamorphose into green scaly creatures that wreak havoc on the small town. Written by Chris Columbus and directed by Joe Dante, this is actually one of my favorite horror/comedies of all time.

5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas


Ron Howard did a great job bringing this classic Dr. Seuss tale to life in this movie. Jim Carrey is perfect as the Grinch who has been outcast by the Whos in Whoville so he comes up with a scheme to literally steal Christmas. This movie keeps the laughs coming and does a great job interpreting the story. The rest of the cast is amazing too and includes William H. Macy, Molly Shannon, Jeffrey Tambor, Taylor Momsen and more. The classic cartoon is worth watching too.

4. Die Hard


John McClane is a New York cop who has just flown to LA to surprise is distant wife and kids. Her company is having their Christmas part in their office in the building at Nakatomi Plaza. However, a group of terrorists break into the building and hold everybody hostage and it’s up to McClane to stop them. One of Bruce Willis’ best movies and one of my favorite Christmas movies, Die Hard has it all; action, humor, explosions and so much more. Loaded with classic moments like “Now I’ve got a machine gun Ho Ho Ho” you will not be disappointed by this movie. The follow up, Die Hard 2: Die Harder, also takes place on Christmas and is worth watching as well.

3. Elf


This movie ended up really surprising to me the first time I saw it. I like Will Ferrell but his movies rarely work for me and the premise of this sounded insane, but it works. Ferrell plays a man who, when he was a baby, was accidentally taken to the North Pole by Santa, he is then raised as an elf. However, when he’s much older, he finds out he’s not a real elf and ventures off to New York in order to find his real father. This movie has my sides splitting from start to finish. Ferrell’s over the top performance is actually just what the movie calls for. James Caan plays is father and is a great contradiction to Ferrell’s insane antics.

2. Scrooged


Easily one of Bill Murray’s best movies and funniest performances, Scrooged is a fun twist on the classic A Christmas Carol. Murray plays a cynical and selfish TV executive, Frank Cross, who is visited by three ghosts to make him realize that he needs to change. One of the better and more subtle jokes is in Frank’s office, he has a banner on the wall that says “Cross; n (noun); a thing they nail people to.” My absolute favorite part of the movie is Carol Kane as the Ghost of Christmas Present. She is hilarious and she just keeps beating Murray’s character. Just a great movie and Murray is amazing in it and he has some hilarious rants in it.

1. Christmas Vacation


As I stated at the beginning of all of this, I can’t believe that they play A Christmas Story for 24 hours straight on TV around this time of year. However, I could easily watch Christmas Vacation on repeat, and sometimes I do. I watch this movie easily 5 times every December. This movie is absolutely hilarious and is definitely my favorite Christmas movie. Chevy Chase is at his best in this movie and keeps me laughing throughout. The family hijinks are hilarious and surprisingly relatable. Loaded with so many great one liners and Clark goes on two hilarious rants that I just can’t get enough of. Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid, Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galecki, Doris Roberts, Brian Doyle-Murphy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and everybody else in the movie will keep you in stitches as well. I cannot get enough of this movie and is an absolute must watch Christmas movie. I will never tire of this movie, no matter how many times I’ve seen it, I still laugh as if it’s the first.

Merry Christmas everyone and I hope you enjoy this list.

I would like to add some honorable mentions: These are some TV shows that have had amazing Christmas specials.

1. It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia: It's A Very Sunny Christmas

2. Community season 2: Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas

3. Futurama season 2: Xmas Story

4. Futurama: All of their Christmas specials are great.

5. A Colbert Christmas

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