Merry Christmas Everyone!
In general, I want everyone to have a relaxed day and enjoy whomever you are with. And like most Jews on Christmas, I will be enjoying a good movie. My family goes to Christmas mass on Christmas Eve and does most of the family stuff in the morning and early evening. Then we crack out the family movies. Now, I know Korsgaard did a phenomenal job of list Christmas movies, but the article lacked my arrogance. So I will make my assertions of what are the best of the best.
I know that Korsgaard neglected to mention this one, for which he will never be forgiven, but this is the only Christmas movie I watch every year as a tradition. The music is great, with the exception of one song that they cut in the DVD version. Michael Caine is Scrooge and the movie really nails the right notes of the complex Christmas Carol by Dickens. It is made more comedic by the constant breaking of the fourth wall by Gonzo as the omniscient narrator. The movie is amazing, trust me.
I know that 75% of this movie is plot and such, but the 30 minutes of mayhem is incredible. The physical comedy of Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are amazing. The music of a stepped up version of classic Christmas music set a perfect note. The movie plays every year, but I cannot really watch it all every year. The cameo by John Candy is incredible too, who I hear is big in Sheboygan. However, I will watch the build up and action scene of this one and the direct sequel. As far as I can tell, the 3rd and 4th one are dead to me.
National Lampoon has had a lot of misses lately, but back in the golden days of Animal House and the Griswolds, they seemed like they could not miss. In general, I do not like Chevy Chase, but in the right circumstances he can be amazing. He always plays the prick, and what I can tell from Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, I would say that he is pretty close to that in real life. However, here, as the stand-offish father and the nearly emotionally dead character in the midst of chaos; this works. This movie is a classic.
This is not really a Christmas movie in the strongest sense of the word. The shame, perhaps, is in fact how synonymous the movie has become with Christmas. The movie is almost a punchline it is so frequently played. However, this Frank Capra classic is so much more. Much like a Charlie Brown Christmas, there is incredible pain and loss. If I were pitching a Christmas movie about suicide you would throw me on the street. However, the incredible moments of subtle joy here are amazing. The delicate imagery is wonderful from Zuzu’s petals to the terrible group singing at the end. The movie is one of the best ever made.
If I told you that this movie was done by the guy who made Porky’s you may be shocked (if I told you you could visit the house they filmed it in in Cleveland, you would probably not be shocked). However, both of these things are true. The movie is comedic gold at the expense of the tragedies of childhood. There is amazing comedic timing and perfect setup for jokes. The plot is scattered and frankly non-existent, but the flow of events toward Christmas is amazing. If you have never seen this, shame on you.