So you may be thinking that a better title for this blog would have been "Favorite Christmas Movies", but the problem with that is that some of the things I'm about to list aren't actually Christmas movies, and one is a television episode. Sure, there are some Christmas movies on this list, but other things I have here are movies that I associate with the Christmas season for one reason or another. Christmas is easily my favorite time of the year, and I've been trying my hardest to convince my wife to let me open a present, but she's holding it down better this year than in years past.
Let us begin.
With the exception of Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day is quite possibly my favorite Bill Murray film. Obviously, since the movie is titled after a completely separate holiday, it's not a Christmas movie at all, but it does take place in the winter, and it has all the fixings of what make a great Christmas movie: guy is a jerk, he learns lessons, has a change of heart, gets the girl, and saves the day. And by "saves the day" I mean "gets out of that weird time loop."
It's not known exactly how long the character of Phil is trapped in this loop, but several outlets have made guesses, and they range anywhere from 8 to 34 years, and when the original script was written, the writer had it in mind that it would actually be around 10,000 years. However, according to director Harold Ramis (R.I.P.), it's in the vicinity of 10 years. And ever since I first saw this movie, I've often sat and wondered what I would do in a similar situation. What would I do if I had all of eternity to waste away on earth with no repercussions? I'm almost afraid to imagine just what kind of person that kind of madness would drive me to be. But, in all likeliness, I would probably just sit down and master all of the ridiculously hard videogames from my childhood.
But if you're looking for a Bill Murray movie about Christmas, you can't go wrong with Scrooged, a modern retelling of the classic Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol, but with more Bobcat Goldthwait.
Scott Pilgrim gets a spot on my Christmas viewing list for a few different reasons, but the main one being that the first time I watched it was on Christmas Eve when I received it as a gift. I'm not sure how everyone else feels about the film, but it's one of my favorite movies ever, and I find something new to love every time I watch it. I felt like the casting was great, and it wasn't until I watched it just recently that I realized that Captain America, Superman, and Punisher are all in the film, which seems fitting seeing as how the Scott Pilgrim franchise began as a comic-style graphic novel.
Speaking of the graphic novels, don't be that guy who says things like "the graphic novels are better." Yes, I agree with you, they're fantastic, but this is a 90-minute movie and not a six part book series, so some concessions needed to be made. There's also some neat trivia hidden throughout, which goes to show that a great deal of thought went into the making of this movie.
I also feel like the character of Scott Pilgrim is an easy person to recognize with for any guy who grew up in the gaming culture and struggled to be cool. But I think my favorite part of the movie is the world. I love the way Toronto is portrayed. Personally, I hate the winter, I can't deal with the cold, but this movie makes a winterized Toronto seem like a magical place. But for all I know, it's always winter in Canada, and I just wouldn't be able to handle that.
I love the majority of the Vacation films, and while there's an argument to be made for the original, I feel Christmas Vacation is the king of the series. The great thing about it is that I get more and more of the jokes as I get older. It's still kid-friendly enough that I would feel comfortable watching it with my 7 year old nephew (the TV version, at least), but with enough adult humor to still be enjoyable for all ages. It straddles that line better than most films, not just Christmas films. It's not A Charlie Brown Christmas, and it's not Bad Santa, it's right in the middle.
For some of you younger folks, you may not be able to appreciate just how great of a comedic actor Chevy Chase is, but if you ever get curious, Christmas Vacation is a great film to help you understand. In all of the Vacation movies, he plays the role of an out-of-touch father perfectly, and I see a lot of how my own dad gets around Christmas time when I watch Christmas Vacation.
The Simpsons played a great part in shaping the personalities of my generation. There's a reason the show just won't go away even when it hasn't been good for a decade. Actually, that's not fair, the show is still good by modern television standards, but it's not as good when compared to its early-to-mid 90s heyday. But no television show takes me back to my childhood the way early episodes of The Simpsons do. It's easily my all-time favorite show, and I would likely crush most people who would dare challenge me to a game of Simpsons trivia. While the first couple of seasons are a little rough, as the show was still trying to find its voice, I consider this episode to be an essential one.
This is actually the first episode of the show after making the jump from The Tracey Ullman Show shorts to its own series. It wasn't supposed to be the first, but due to some problems with the animation of what was supposed to be the first one ("Some Enchanted Evening"), this episode took its place, and I'm glad it did. It's hard to imagine another episode that better conveys who the Simpsons are as a family. Sure, they aren't perfect, but they love each other. Homer isn't the All-American father, but he loves his children, and will do whatever it takes to give them a great Christmas.
There are some really great Christmas episodes of The Simpsons, but I still feel like this one is the definitive one.
I'm just going to get this out of the way: Die Hard is not a Christmas movie, and TNT has ruined A Christmas Story for me by showing it for 24 straight hours every Christmas. I love Christmas movies, and I had other titles like Elf, Ernest Saves Christmas, one of the Boy Meets World Christmas specials, and Jingle All the Way all vying for a position on this list, but Home Alone was never in danger of not taking the top spot. It's the alpha male of Christmas movies, and it still holds up just as well now as it did 23 years ago.
For my wife and I, this will be our third Christmas together, and we already have a Christmas morning tradition. I wake up early, make peanut butter pancakes with a side of bacon, brew some coffee, pop Home Alone into the blu ray player, and we open our presents after we finish breakfast. I've never been a big fan of the Christmas classics like It's a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street, but I think at this point Home Alone should be mentioned right alongside them.
I even enjoy the sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. It's basically the exact same movie except they swapped out the creepy old man for a homeless pigeon lady, but it still puts the warm fuzzies in my heart. I'm glad they stopped making Home Alone movies after that, it would have been a shame if they milked one of the greatest films of all-time for all it's worth.