RETRO-RANK: The Twelve Flicks of Christmas

Originally Posted December 4, 2008

With only one month left before Christmas, I felt that it was now safe to share this oldie but goodie. Like the animated How The Grinch Stole Christmas, this one seems to get better with time and is one of my faves. So throw another log on the fire, make that nog a little stronger (you can still smell the nutmeg over the rum!), and find your most cozy position because Christmas movies get the full Rankatron treatment.

A friend of mine had asked me a few weeks ago, “Why don’t you rank up a list of best Christmas Movies of all time?”
I thunk to myself…yeah…why not?

Compiling and deliberating on this festive flick list took a lot of time, sacrificed candy canes, and soul searching.

The next question was: Should I include all those TV specials with the actual movies?

Those great and awesome stop-motion classics like Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, or The Year Without Santa. How about the cartoons we all grew up with? Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas, or A Charlie Brown Christmas (poor tree!). Or what about A Muppet’s Family Christmas where all the Muppets hooked up with the Fraggles and the Sesame Street gang at Fozzy’s mom’s house for some festive joy? Or the more recent Shrek the Halls or Colbert Christmas? Or the entertainingly offensive South Park offering Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo?

No…I’ve decided, much like how Santa rules with a velvet red gloved iron fist over the North Pole, to make this list purely movies…ones that have hit theatres at one point and have grown fond in our hearts as we grow older.

Also, as one caveat, I would like to say that I have not seen every Christmas movie in history. So people who will jump on me and say: “Where’s Babes in Toyland???” or “You didn’t include Bad Santa???” or, “Hey, I expected to see Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s To Grandma’s House We Go!”. To them, I say I’m only one man with one pen and one blog. If I do see them between now and then, I will be sure to see if they fit anywhere on this list. So get off my backs, Humbugs! 😛

So here are the TWELVE FLICKS OF CHRISTMAS all Ranked Up (and click on the titles for the trailers and other stuff!):

12. DIE HARD (1988) 7.5 Yippee-ki-ya-yay’s out of 10

Did I mention that this was my list and I’ve got Authorial Dictatorship of this? Besides, name one review that isn’t based on opinion. Regardless, this movie wouldn’t normally be considered a typical Holiday movie but it makes the list because it takes place over the Christmas Season. It’s a kick-ass action movie wrapped up in a gift with a Bruce Willis nougat centre. The original and still the best of the Die Hard series. Not only does this movie hold up after 20 years as an action movie, it actually makes you feel good at the end…and isn’t that what Christmas movies are all about?

11. THE SANTA CLAUSE (1994) – 7.8 Chubby Fat Suits out of 10

Many years ago, during the height of Tim Allen’s popularity, he made this: his first big screen flick. And with the exception of TOY STORY, probably his best. For the uninitiated, Tim Allen takes over as Santa Claus due to a “clause” at the North Pole which states that if the original Santa can no longer do his duties, the first to find him must take over. So Santa happens to slip off Allen’s roof and dies. A dark beginning but the movie does pick up from there with nutcracking laughter and festive cheer as Allen stumbles through a world that he hasn’t believed in since he was a kid. Well, believe in me when I say that it’s worthwhile to sit down and watch this on a nice holiday afternoon.

10. POLAR EXPRESS (2004) – 8 Golden Tickets out of 10

A train that magically rides anywhere and picks up kids…really? That you can really ski down on its roof while it goes down a hill…really? That can somehow lose control and pick up speed on an ice lake and manage to get back on a track perfectly while the ice cracks behind it…really really? Really. The magic about this movie isn’t its fantastically unrealistic sequences (really what movie isn’t unrealistic to some degree). The magic is in the characters as a boy learns to believe in Santa again thanks to a friendly conductor and a cast of wacky friends. This is a classic animated flick that holds up better than the previews give it credit for. Worth the watch. Really.

9. HOME ALONE (1990) – 8 Joe Pesci burning scalps out of 10

So a kid is left home alone for the Holidays while his parents and his Mormon-sized family shuttle off on a plane for Paris. This movie is an ultimate dream-come-true for any kid needing to get away from his family and the ultimate horror movie for any parent. Kevin (MacKaulay Culkin) fends off hunger, loneliness, and the dumbest thieves in the history of cinema in a rollicking sleigh ride for the Holidays. Like DIE HARD, HOME ALONE makes pain funny on Christmas. A nice movie with fun action.

8. THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1993) – 8.2 spooky Santa’s out of 10

Back in 1993, Tim Burton introduced us to the dark morbid world of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King. A world where Jack wants to spruce up Halloweentown and decides that kidnapping Santa would be the best way to figure it out. The cult flick is filled with catchy songs like “What’s This?” that will make you root for Jack as he uncovers the true meaning of the Holidays. If you’ve ever been curious over who’d win in a battle between Halloween and Christmas, sit down and watch this during that cold transition month called November.

7. SCROOGED (1988) – 8.5 spiked eggnogs out of 10

Remember that wonderful Dicken’s classic “A Christmas Carol”? Ever wonder what it would be like in the mind of Bill Murray? If you said “anal-rentative spirits, antlers stapled to mice heads, nuclear explosions, a zombie ex-boss, and Bobcat Goldthwaite carrying a shotgun”, you’d be exactly right. Not only would this movie make you laugh, its light-hearted horror makes you truly feel for Bill Murray’s character even though you think he deserves everything coming to him. Only weakness to this film is the gratuitous yet all too forced singing ending. But I can let it pass.

6. THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL (1992) – 8.7 Cheeses for your Meeses out of 10

The last truly good Muppets Movie and a classic of a classic retold through the eyes of a weirdo named Gonzo and his rat buddy, Rizzo. Kermit and friends try to make ends meet at Christmas while Michael Caine’s Scrooge survives the onslaught of three creepy Muppet ghosts, one of which is probably the single best muppet ever created to this day. We’ve got Muppet comedy that will beckon you back to childhood, an album of some of the best Muppet tunes since THE MUPPET MOVIE, and a warm Fozzy feeling at the end. Sniff…

5. A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951) – 9 tombstones out of 10

Yes, I know I did three versions of the Christmas Carol back to back to back but this is THE definitive version of the story. Alastair Sim shall always and forever be Ebeneezer Scrooge no matter how many other versions come afterwards. Whether you’re watching the original black and white version or the remastered in Technicolour version, you’ll feel the spirit of Christmas flowing through you like a nice festive version of ale. For those of you playing a drinking game at home: version.

4. MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947) -9.3 beard tugs out of 10

I wish more court cases where decided by people’s opinions being mailed via US Postal Service. Think of the OJ trial back in ’95…imagine if the prosecutor, realizing that he has no way to truly win the case received millions of letters all addressed to OJ saying that they know he’s guilty, and imagine the judge saying “Well, if the US Postal Service thinks he’s guilty, then I say he’s guilty,” then we wouldn’t have the second OJ trial today. But I don’t need the US Postal Service to confirm that I’m a guilty sucker for this movie. Right up to the end where you see ol’ Kris Kringle’s cane leaning against a wall in that empty house. You’re left knowing without a doubt that this is a special movie for all ages.

3. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) – 9.5 bailout loans out of 10

This Christmas movie about a banker losing money and faith in life right after the end of the Great Depression speaks volumes in today’s current economic climate. Mark my words, when we see the light of day at the end of this recession, there’s going to be a remake of this movie starring Jim Carrey. A remake of this movie has him all over it. Seriously. The brilliance of this movie is it’s simple story of love, life, and finding true happyness. I swear if Jimmy Stewart came to my door with his puppy dog eyes, I’d give him my home to save his business. A story of how bad things happen to good people and how good people find the strength and faith to carry on. This movie is a must-see at least once a year.

2. NATIONAL LAMPOONS CHRISTMAS VACATION (1989) – 9.8 shorted light circuits out of 10

For as long as I can remember, this here has been my favourite Holiday movie of all time. Chevy’s in his prime, the soundtrack is awesome, the action is hilarious, and you get Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Juliette Lewis, Randy Quaid, and Doris Roberts before they were famous. On any given scene, I could walk in and know exactly where we are in the movie and most often what the next line is going to be. And this movie is one of my staples. It’s over-the-top kitschy humour is what makes this movie so worthwhile and brings me coming back and begging for more dried turkey. And if there’s one scene that sums up this movie, it’s this one. Do yourself a favour and watch it before you end up in the nut house!

But regardless how good this movie is…this one trumps all…

1. A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983) – 10 Red Ryder BB Guns out of 10

I only saw this movie for the first time a couple years ago. I don’t know why it took me so long to see this movie. My friends all have said that this was their favourite Christmas movie. “Better than Christmas Vacation??? Nothing’s better than Christmas Vacation! How can a movie where the trailer looks this cheesy (click here) be any good!!!!” I thought with absurd wonder.

Well, in the past couple years, this movie has grown on me and has tied for Christmas Vacation. The reason I place it above Vacation is simply because this IS the perfect Holiday movie. Fraught with Wonder Years-esque dialogue before there was a Wonder Years, filled with the sweaty, smelly, gritty Christmas cheer that we all experience this time of year at the malls, and teeming with child-like wonder, all Christmas movies should be seen through a child’s eyes like this one. There is no single bad scene and they’re all incredibly quotable:

RALPHIE NARRATING (on seeing he just got a pink bunny pyjamas from his Aunt): Aunt Clara had for years labored under the delusion that I was not only perpetually 4 years old, but also a girl.

And if all that doesn’t sway you, I’ll let Siskel and Ebert try to bring it on home.

Well, that’s it! My top 12 Christmas Movies of all time!!!!

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Freakin’ New Year…

…awww, heck…one more Ralphie clip for the road: Fa-Ra-Ra-Ra-Ra!!!!


2 thoughts on “RETRO-RANK: The Twelve Flicks of Christmas

  1. Pingback: Day 21: Some Christmas Cheer! | The Face Break: A Social Experiment

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