It's the holiday season! Time to put up the tree, wrap the presents, and sit down to watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas." But after your thirty minutes of watching Charlie Brown destroy the joy of all who come before him, what are you left with? Santa Baby? Call Me Claus? Christmas Do-Over? Err... Santa Baby 2?
We know it can be rough finding a good Christmas movie. There's out there that can crush the holiday spirit out of you like a sprig of mistletoe wrapped around a sledgehammer. So the Kids on the Street Film put together a curated list.
Now, this is a list of "Great" movies, not "Best" movies. For one thing, we want to leave some room for us to do another six movies next year, and if we declared these the absolute best, there wouldn't be much point in returning to the same subject later, would there? That said, we welcome your suggestions for next year's list in our comments!
A Great Classic Christmas Movie - A Christmas Carol (1951)
It's on blu-ray. It looks great.
There are so many different movies that could be considered Christmas classics, but anybody can snap up It's a Wonderful Life
or Miracle on 34th Street.
Choosing a version of A Christmas Carol?
That's wading into the deep end of the pool. We're talking about a story where the main character has been portrayed by Albert Finney, Patrick Stewart, Jim Carrey, Tim Curry, and Sir Seymour Hicks (twice) -- and that's not even a quarter of the list.
Yes, Mr. Dickens' novel has been very, very good to the holiday season, and in particular to theater companies and film producers. It might have something to do with that whole "in the public domain" thing.
In 1951's A Christmas Carol,
however, you'll see a lot more of the story than you're used to seeing adapted. The Cratchits may seem like a smaller part of the movie than usual, but it means there's more time to devote to scenes that have rarely made it into a film adaptation since. Don't be fooled by the budget price tag -- the blu-ray of this 1951 Christmas movie
A Great Christmas Movie From a Lousy Subgenre - Scrooged (1988)
Bill Murray as Frank Cross in Scrooged
Christmas movies have spawned some of the worst subgenres. There's the "Somebody has to replace Santa Claus" movie, the "Only one person can save Christmas now" movie, and the increasingly-popular "Santa Claus has a mercenary, business-like child" movie.Scrooged
is from the pretty-lousy subgenre of Dickens rewrites, and -- botched blu-ray cover art aside -- it remains a true modern classic.
This movie is over 20 years old? Maybe we're not allowed to call it a "modern" classic, then....
Nah, we'll call it a modern classic, since failure to do so would make some of the Kids feel very, very
What really sets this Christmas movie apart is that it clings to the spirit of A Christmas Carol without the slavish devotion to the text that kills so many other rewrites. It's all about digging deep to find what's important about the original story -- and being damned funny in the process.
Also, it opens with Lee Majors rescuing Santa from terrorists. How can you beat that?
A Great Christmas Movie That is Actually For A Different Holiday - The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas
Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas
is one of the best movies out there about finding the Christmas spirit. It's funny, heartwarming, and filled with toe-tapping tunes about the holidays.
It's also not a movie about Christmas.
Yeah, I said it. One of the best Christmas movies from the 1990's is actually not a Christmas movie. Maybe a lot of it is focused on Christmas, and there's a specific jolly fat man in a red suit who plays an important role, but this is a Halloween movie through and through, bouncing giddily from demented to twisted.
More than that, we see the folly of Christmas turned into Halloween -- not through some horrible plot to destroy the holiday, but by the hands of people who just don't know any better.
It's not just
a movie about the Christmas spirit, it's a movie about the Halloween spirit and how the two differ from each other, making it not just a movie about the importance of keeping Christmas as Christmas, but also of keeping Halloween as Halloween.
A Great Christmas Movie Starring Muppets - A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)
For 80's kids, this was our extended family.
Hell to the yeah the Muppets get their own subgenre of Christmas movies. Once we include the made-for-TV Muppet Christmas movies, Henson's fine felt fellows would completely overrun this list. Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas
has to qualify as a classic, both The Muppets' Christmas Carol
and It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie
are great movies from lousy subgenres (Dickens rewrites and It's a Wonderful Life
remakes, respectively) -- the Muppets are just that good.A Muppet Family Christmas
is a made-for-tv special that stands out from such an impressive body of work by tying together the entire world of Jim Henson. It's not just the Muppets who are present in this holiday celebration, but the Fraggles and the gang from Sesame Street, too. It manages to be touching, pleasant, and sweet without ever being maudlin or treacly, and while keeping all of the sharp humor and slapstick the Muppets are known for.
And you want to know something criminal? It's not in print! And the out-of-print DVDs will cost you a princely (eep!) $69.99!
Not only that, but it's likely not to come back into print any time soon, considering that the Muppets, the Fraggles, and Sesame Street are all completely separate entities owned by completely separate companies. So rare DVD scalpers are your only (legal
) option until somebody works out a deal and gets this baby back on shelves.
A Great Tangentially-Related-To-Christmas Movie - Ghostbusters II (1989)
Bill Murray makes a second appearance in the Christmas A-Go-Go list, this time as Dr. Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters II
. A movie that climaxes at New Years, which means that at least part of it takes place during Christmas. A fact illustrated by a split-second shot of the Ghostbusters topped with dapper Santa caps.
It's filled with supernatural suspense and slapstick, and shows New York City overrun by the dead-eyed grim specters of lost humanity. And then the ghosts start arriving. Ha!
I kid. Kinda.
Sure, the movie isn't as good as the first Ghostbusters
. But then, few movies are.
And holy crap
is it becoming obvious we're kids of the 80's.
A Great Movie for People Who are Sick of Christmas Movies - The Princess Bride (1987)
Greatest movie... of all time?
Well, if we're kids of the 80's, we might as well embrace it.
Every now and then, the holiday season just gets to be just a little bit much
. It's not that you're sick of the spirit, so much as you're sick of the endless productions of A Christmas Carol
, the parade of Santa replacements and cloying candy cane-covered claptrap. You just want to step back for a moment and enjoy something that isn't quite so red-and-green. But you still want that warm glow of the holidays.
That's why we've picked The Princess Bride
. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Glen and Elizabeth happen to think of it as possibly the best movie ever
, but man -- the only way this movie could have more of the holiday spirit is if it were actually a Christmas movie. It's romantic, infused with family togetherness, and filled with adventure.
And it features the single greatest action comedy sequence of all time.