Some movies are released and straight away become bona fide classics. A good amount of these are Christmas films and with Christmas just around the corner (and the fact I did a list last week of Christmas flops), I thought it was best to list out some great Christmas movies. Here are five of my favourites.
1. Santa Clause (1994)
Credit: Showbiz Cheatsheet
At the height of his Home Improvement fame, Tim Allen stars in this now Christmas classic. Needless to say, this film’s a completely different beast to Allen’s TV show as Tim ‘The Tool Man’ Taylor swaps his tool belt out for the red suit and sleigh of Santa Claus.
The story begins with toy salesman Scott Calvin (Allen) trying to keep his son believing in Santa Claus despite his ex-wife (Wendy Crewson) and her new psychiatrist husband (Judge Reinhold) believing Charlie needs to grow up. This plays out for a bit until it’s Christmas Eve and Scott and Charlie are woken up by a noise on their roof. Scott startles him and within seconds he’s dead, his body has disappeared and all that’s left is a red suit and a business card. Scott ends up donning the suit and before he knows it Scott’s the new Santa and is given eleven months to get his affairs in order.
This movie isn’t exactly ground-breaking. In fact, it’s quite aggressively undemanding but it’s comforting in an old school way that is just what people need at this time. The movie was actually re-released in 2020 in theatres due to the bottleneck of new releases. Personally, I think the movie is enjoyable and there’s a nice family-centric theme even if the comedy does feel a little dated in the current day.
2. Home Alone (1990)
This next one’s such a bona fide Christmas movie that multiple governments have probably passed laws stating the movie must be broadcast during the Christmas period. Responsible for launching Macaulay Culkin’s career as a child star, Home Alone (not so much the sequels) is a fun holiday romp that is a great inspiration for your home defence systems.
Through a series of wacky 90s antics, Kevin McCallister (Culkin) is left at home alone while his family is stuck over in Paris on their Christmas holiday. Unbeknownst to him, but knownst to us, Kevin’s house has been cased by the “Wet Bandits” as they look for vacant houses to break into and loot. The two robbers, Marv and Harry - played wonderfully by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern - expect an empty house with a scared kid. They couldn’t have imagined this kid is every robber’s worst nightmare.
Like with Santa Clause, this movie is a lot of fun with a wonderfully sweet theme that’s perfect for holiday watching with your extended family. A lot of the comedy comes from the slapstick school of comedy, which I find can become grating and annoying after a while if handled poorly. Luckily, the slapstick in this move is inventive and a joy to watch, mainly aided by Pesci and Stern’s excellent comedic timing and commitment to their roles.
3. Christmas Chronicles (2018)
Credit: Radio Times
As you might have guessed from my Big Trouble in Little China review (if you haven’t read it the link is at the bottom of this page) I really enjoy watching Kurt Russell on the big screen. Now imagine my surprise when I’m scrolling through Netflix and see Kurt Russell as Santa. Now of course as soon as I saw this, I just had to watch it.
The plot follows two children, Kate and Teddy, who hitch a ride on Santa’s sleigh after they realise he’s in their house. While they’re in the air the sleigh malfunctions and crashes, scattering presents to the wind. With Christmas morning fast approaching, it’s up to Santa and the children to find the presents and save Christmas.
Obviously, I’m biased in this scenario because the movie’s got Kurt Russell. Aside from that, the film’s a bit of fun with a light-hearted plot and the supporting cast is decent enough that I don’t start hating them as I do with most child actors. It's an enjoyable movie and I will probably watch the sequel when it comes out.
4. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Credit: The Telegraph
Who doesn’t love the Muppets? Jim Henson’s classic characters are charming and endlessly entertaining time and time again. So, who better to haunt Michael Caine in a reimagining of Charles Dickens’ classic novella?
The movie is a faithful remake of the 1843 original work. Caine plays Ebenezer Scrooge with a clear enthusiasm as he ‘bah humbug’s’ his way through the film, chasing carollers away, rejecting dinner invitations, and generally just being a grumpy sod. Throughout the film, Scrooge is visited by Muppet versions of the three Christmas ghosts and by the end has had a change of heart and becomes Kris Kringle himself.
The Muppets are easily the best part of this movie. They picked the best characters for each role and the writing quality is right up there with the best episodes of the original Muppets Show. After watching this once, I can say I will be having this film on high rotation during Christmas periods from now on.
5. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
From felt puppets to the wonderful world of stop motion animation, we have Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas – a perfect foil to the cheery Christmas movies on the rest of this list.
The movie follows the king of Halloween Town, Jack Skellington, as he stumbles through a portal and discovers Christmas Town and becomes obsessed with everyone back home celebrating the Christmas holiday. Jack makes plans to take over Christmas Town by getting his flunkies to kidnap Santa and replace him in order to spread the holiday cheer to other towns rather than just keeping it confined to Christmas Town. Needless to say, this is a bad idea and everything falls apart as quickly as the biscuit life raft. Now with everything ruined, Jack has to step up and save Christmas.
I absolutely love the animation in this movie. It’s so cool to watch the level of detail that the animation team put into the figures when animating this film and it leads to moments where I just had to sit back and marvel at what was going on the screen. Tim Burton’s gothic style is a perfect pairing with the plot’s dark overtones and Henry Selick’s direction is perfect in conveying Burton’s vision. I would recommend this movie for everyone to watch at least once.
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