Luke’s List: Classic Holiday Movies

A Christmas Story (1983)

Poor Ralphie. The kid just can’t catch a break and every year we all sit around and watch him suffer as he tries to get someone to understand exactly how much he wants that BB Gun. But no movie gives me more of that true “warm tummy” feeling than this one. It’s like a perfect bite of mac and cheese – pure comfort.

So many great scenes in this one but a few that stand out are anytime Ralphie’s father (one of he movie’s most consistently funny characters) is on screen with the neighbor’s dogs, Ralphie’s visit with Santa and of course Ralphie going apeshit and pounding the neighborhood bully into submission. The narrator, an adult Ralphie’s voice, adds a really wonderful element and is played by Jean Sheppard, the author of the short stories upon which the film was based.

A Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Perhaps the most unique of the annual Xmas flicks and definitely the most imaginative, Tim Burton weaves a fantastical tale about Halloween Town’s Pumpkin King Jake Skellington, voiced by the amazingly musical Danny Elfman, becoming bored with own holiday and stumbling onto the amazing discovery of the portal to Christmas Town. Jack becomes a little obsessed with Christmas and turns himself into a pseudo Santa but gets a little carried away with his plan.

When released, Burton’s movie received mixed reviews but the masses seem to have come around on it. For a movie made in 1993, the animation holds up tremendously well and the twisted characters present a much different take on the holidays and the whole “the grass is always greener” concept. The movie was based on a poem that Burton wrote while working as an animator at Disney. And in typical Disney fashion, they wanted to do a sequel. But Burton convinced the suits to leave well enough alone.

Elf (2003)

Will Ferrell’s character Buddy the Elf is not quite as funny as his roles as Ron Burgundy (Anchorman), Frank the Tank (Old School) or Mugatu (Zoolander) but as a whole, Elf is damn enjoyable. After stowing away in Santa’s (Ed Asner) gift sack and ending up at the North Pole, baby Buddy becomes increasingly destructive as a grown man living among elves. Eventually, Buddy’s Papa Elf (the superb Bob Newhart) allows him to go to New York City to find his birth father Walter Hobbs, played deviously by James Caan. Hobbs, who is on Santa’s naughty list for being a major asshole, was unaware of Buddy’s existence but eventually, like with most holiday movies, sees the light and changes his ways.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

With a solid Christmas song and the best “cheesy old school” Christmas movie around, Rudolph is a Christmas Double Threat. He made his television debut on NBC in 1964, and remains the longest-running Christmas special in terms of consecutive years. In 1972, the special switched networks to CBS, which aired a digitally remastered version in three years ago.The flick, narrated by talking snowman Burl Ives, is done in wonderfully horrible claymation and introduces us not only to Rudolph, his family and those asshole reindeers who busted Rudolph’s chops, but also The Island of the Misfit Toys, Hermey the Misfit Elf who wants to be a dentist, the Abominable Snowman and Clarice, the sweet Reindeer who refuses to tease Rudolph because of his shining nose. A true classic for all ages.

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11 Responses

  1. i know it is more a thanksgiving movie, but I always love watching Planes, Trains, and Automobiles from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I think most John Hughes movies seem to go well with this time of year, always set in late fall/winter, always in chicago. etc. i dont know what it is about them…

  2. Luke – you’re a man after my own heart. Christmas Vacation gets watched by my family EVERY year for the holidays. It’s what my siblings and I grew up with. Also, Charlie Brown Christmas is now on my list as I look forward to doing the Peanut’s Dance with my nieces and nephews every year. Gotta love those family traditions!

  3. you nailed it luke…Elf has surpassed Christmas Vacation in frequency played in the recent years…but I’m on board with all 5…I’d have to agree with Jennifer and put Chuck Brown at #6…

  4. I’m a video store owner and I’d have to say you hit the nail on the head with your choices. These movies are pretty much the biggest renters for me during the holiday season. Christmas Story is number one at my store, but it’s a family oriented store.

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