With the Christmas season beginning quicker and quicker every year, it can be down right impossible to make it to the 25th of December with any joy left in you after being bombarded for weeks with TV specials, ads and sacharine Christmas music. That extends to the movies too, and though most folks have one or two classics they can watch every year, all that cheer and good will toward men can be exhausting.
So, are you tired of hearing about Ralphie's official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle? Want Tiny Tim to put a stocking in it? Wish George Bailey would take a flying leap? Well we here at Player Affinity have the cure for you, in the form of our favorite holiday movies that'll keep you in the festive spirit without brow-beating you with sentimentality or raising your blood sugar with sickening sweetness.
Sam says: Those looking to transition their way out of the traditional Christmas crop of movies will find it no easier than with The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, which merges the implied magic of the holidays with the real magic in C. S. Lewis' beloved novels. Narnia's gorgeous snowy vistas and the charming band of talking animals that inhabit them will warm the cockles of any curmudgeons who enjoy the Christmas movie aesthetics more than the messages. There is one particularly strong reference to the Christmas season, but it happens to be one of the most badass. Father Christmas pays a visit to the Pevensie children at the heart of the story, and rather than baring toys and trinkets, the jolly old man gives each kid the tools (ie; weapons!) they'll need in the approaching battle for Narnia. It's a great adaptation of the novel and an enjoyable family film for the uninitiated. Just don't be surprised if the young ones are disappointed that their stocking stuffers include dental floss instead of daggers.
Kieran says: I find there is no better way to celebrate than watching a movie featuring Halloween characters who want take over the holiday. The Nightmare Before Christmas is a delightful family movie, filled with colorful characters and some truly great songs. The Nightmare Before Christmas is also one of the true highlights of stop-motion animation. Combining the two holidays shows surprising difficulty, despite Jack Skeleton’s noble intentions of getting Halloween Town into the Christmas spirit by kidnapping Santa to help him in his duties. It’s fun and gives Christmas iconography a comic, dark twist. It's also one of the few Christmas movies you could watch all year round.
Kieran says: To me, Batman Returns is the best of the pre-Nolan films and it works well as a Christmas movie too. Tim Burton was able to make the Batman movie he wanted and Christmas plays an important part to setting the wintry landscape. The Penguin's abandonment on that day and Batman being framed during the Christmas tree lighting ceremony are two of such festive set pieces. Batman Returns is a lot less goofy than its predecessor, with much darker imagery and plotting. The villains are stronger and there's an even bolder visual approach. Gotham becomes a more fantastical place with Burton being allowed to make the movie even more dark and gothic. Batman Returns even has a religious parallel, admittedly not related to Christmas or Christianity, but it's there. Anything get your blood roaring like the fireplace channel, Sam?
Sam says: Well, considering its my favorite action movie ever, it shouldn't surprise you I'm going with Die Hard. There's really not that much to say about Die Hard that hasn't already been said. It's one of the defining and genre-progressing action movies of the '80s, and had breakout roles for both Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman. It practically created a sub-genre in and of itself, with the phrase "Die Hard on a ____" providing the blue-print for future action movies that focused on tight, defined locations instead of sprawling globe-trotting. And it's also the best incidental Christmas movie ever made, with the holidays giving just the bare justification needed to get the plot in motion and set up some festive one-liners. But hey, depending on how you look at it, all the shoot-outs and explosions are really just an entertaining way of getting the McClane family back together for Christmas. Who'd have thought the best action movie ever would also secretly be one of the best Christmas movies?
Kieran says: Lethal Weapon came at a time when the buddy-cop genre was growing, and the series is considered one of the benchmarks of action-comedy. Unlike Batman Returns, which plays on Christmas in the plot, Lethal Weapon treats the holiday a background issue. As well as providing strong action, Lethal Weapon offers a good crime plot, drama and most of all, excellent comedy that mixes verbal and physical humor. Riggs and Murtaugh are one of the definitive buddy-cop teams and the ultimate example of a chalk-and-cheese relationship. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover have a great chemistry together, enhancing the comic interplay. The whole idea of Christmas is juxtaposed with the manic and depressive Riggs on a trip towards self-destruction. And of course, director Richard Donner delivers on the action front.
Sam says: Speaking of Lethal Weapon, you can't undersell Shane Black's script that turned what was destined to be a great action movie into a great action-comedy. Incidentally, Black wrote and made his directing debut with my pick, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, a noir crime-comedy that doesn't let the Christmas season get in the way of a bitingly funny look at Hollywood's underbelly. Robert Downey Jr. is the perfect outlet for Black's rapid-fire dialogue as a crook-turned gumshoe who's all crass wit and no class, and his motor-mouth peppers the details of an involved murder mystery with plenty of quotable barbs. Its another film that gets more mileage out of Christmas aesthetics than themes (case in a point: an LA party that's a grotesque and hilarious pastiche of holiday symbolism and resembles a sex dungeon's Christmas calendar), but Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a charmingly irreverent middle finger to the sanctity of the holidays.
Sam says: If this DiaBlog is indicative of anything, it's that Christmas really has the monopoly on quality holiday films, so there was never a movie that was to one side of my family what A Christmas Story was to the other. That's probably why I'm still fond of The Hebrew Hammer, an admittedly not super great jewsploitation parody from 2003 that, while by no means a classic, still makes for an enjoyably twisted take on the holidays. When it comes to sheer goofiness, The Hebrew Hammer gets it done, parodying everything from film noir tropes to the PC-ifying of Christmas. It has enough energy and silliness to make up for its often lazy stereotype jokes that fall well below the likes of a South Park, but should satisfy anyone looking for a decent ribbing at as many holiday targets as possible.
Kieran says: There is no better way to celebrate Christmas then with crass commercialism, because lord knows we do not want to have a holiday about Jesus. Jingle All the Way is a bad movie, but it is an enjoyable type of bad as we can laugh at Arnold Schwarzenegger selling out and watch him get up to a series of stupid antics. It follows typical Hollywood clichés and does not actually celebrate any of the positive aspects of Christmas. It takes a father nearly killing himself to earn his son’s love, but the over-the-top slapstick and the unrealistic way people act to try and buy a toy makes this an enjoyable movie for all the wrong reasons. And make sure to watch the scene at the end of the credits.