5) One Magic Christmas
Call it nostalgia. Call it cheesy. Call it not very man-like: I like this sappy piece of Christmas syrup, which was made in 1985. Worth it just to see Harry Dean Stanton play an angel, this movie has Mary Steenburgen playing a mother who just lacks the Christmas spirit, and harmonica playing Gideon the Angel’s (Stanton) efforts to show her what the spirit of what Christmas is really about. Don’t go in expecting a killer Santa, and if you have kids, they would love it.
Seeing Bill Murray play a Scrooge-type character who learns the meaning of Christmas is the comedy equivalent of opening up a Christmas gift in the shape of a video game as a youngster. I love this movie, and everything from Bill Murray’s modern day (for 1988) bah-humbug, to Carol Kane’s punching Ghost of Christmas Present to David Johansen’s Ghost of Christmas Past make director Richard Donner’s film, cheesy final song notwithstanding, a joy to watch every Christmas season.
If you had told me in 1984 that Steven Spielberg was going to produce a film based around the holiday season, I would have asked you how many cute little aliens would learn about the joys and meaning of Christmas. Little did we the general public know that most of the green that splattered across the screen was going to be the result of a gremlin being spun around in a blender. This movie was so unusual, and the darkest of the dark comedies that it had parents who took their kids expecting a film full of Gizmo making the Peltzer house more joyous enraged at the final result.
Originally written as a Jim Carrey vehicle, director Jon Favreau wanted to make a Christmas movie that was rotated around the holidays as much as his friend, Ralphie himself, Peter Billingsley’s film A Christmas Story. Mission accomplished, as it is played in marathons that match A Christmas Story, and I would lie if I said I didn’t catch myself watching it two or three times a year. Featuring hysterical casting like Bob Newhart as an elf, Edward Asner as Santa Claus, and James Caan as the bah-humbug grouchy father, along with star of One Magic Christmas Mary Steenburgen as his nice as can be wife. Don’t think for one minute that the fact Steenburgen was in that earlier film was a coincidence in casting by Favreau. Elf makes for some hearty laughs and, yes, cheesy Christmas spirit talk. But, it is worth it just to see him sling snowballs and how much joy he takes in decorating for the holidays, much to love interest Jovie’s (Zooey Deschanel) delight
1) Die Hard
When I think of Christmas, I think of John McClane running across broken glass and Sgt. Powell eating Twinkies. That’s right; it’s time for Die Hard. Bruce Willis brings his mojo as John McClane, a cop from New York visiting L.A. to attend his wife’s company Christmas party. Needless to say, terrorists put these plans in jeopardy. Maybe not a Christmas party on the outside, when looked at more closely, all McClane wants is to put his family back together for the holidays, and the way he handles head terrorist Hans Gruber (a film debuting Alan Rickman) and his henchmen was all in the name of his family using guns and wit to cause violence. And, that my friends, is a Christmas movie all guys can identify with.