My family loves movies. We L-O-V-E love them! David and I actually studied film in college and we are both members of the Screen Actors Guild, so movies are a pretty big part of our lives. Our family has a little tradition that we only watch holiday movies from Thanksgiving to New Years. When people hear this, they always ask, “Don’t you get bored watching the same movies over and over?” I guess that if we were watching the same movies it would get kind of boring, but after doing this little ritual for years, we have gotten pretty creative about what movies can be classified as “holiday movies.” You have to think outside the box. Take, for example, Die Hard. On the surface it may not seem like a Christmas movie, but you must remember that the film actually takes place on Christmas Eve (bonus points if you knew that Die Hard 2 – Die Harder also takes place on Christmas Eve). What about the Harry Potter? Several of the films have Christmas scenes. Grumpy Old Men takes place at Christmas time and don’t forget that Mean Girls includes a winter talent show scene where girls perform Jingle Bell Rock.
Some years we have taken things a step further and turned it into a game. The rules are simple; each family member takes turns picking a movie. The only conditions are that the movie has to be holiday themed and it has to have one person from the previous movie. That person can be anyone in the from one of the main characters to a very minor character. For example, if you started with the movie Home Alone, the next person could pick Surviving Christmas because Catherine O’Hara, who plays the mom in Home Alonealso plays the mom in Surviving Christmas. The Star of Surviving Christmas was Ben Affleck, who was in Reindeer Games with Danny Trejo who was just in A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas. Also in A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas was David Krumholtz who plays Santa’s head Elf, Bernard, in The Santa Clause and The Santa Clause 2.
The only other catch is that you cannot use the same actor twice in a row. So if the person before you had already used Catherine O’Hara in order to get to Home Alone, you would have to pick a different actor for your next movie. In this scenario, you might pick Joe Pesci who plays Harry in Home Alone. He also plays Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas (which qualifies as a Christmas movie because it not only has Christmas scenes but also Christmas music, and who could forget that artificial white Christmas tree?). Robert DiNero, who plays James Conway in Goodfellas is in Little Fockers (which has Christmas scenes, so it counts). Also in Little Fockers is Ben Stiller who lends his voice to Alex in Merry Madagascar which also features the voice talent of Andy Richter, who plays Morris, one of James Caan’s employees in Elf. The game is a Christmas-y take on Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon and IMDb is a great resource for when you get stuck.
So, to kick of the Christmas Season, here is a quick list of five of our family’s must-see Christmas films:
Elf: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” Elf became an instant classic in our home the first time we saw it. Will Ferrell is comedic genius as Buddy the elf.
A Christmas Story: The misadventures of nine-year-old Ralphie Parker and his quest to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. You can often find a 24-hour marathon of this holiday classic on Christmas Eve.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: Clark Griswold just wants a fun old-fashioned family Christmas. Is that too much to ask?
White Christmas: The singing, the dancing, the dresses. This film mesmerizes me every year and makes me want to be Rosemary Clooney.
It’s a Wonderful Life: It just doesn’t feel like Christmas until you’ve watched It’s a Wonderful Life in your pajamas with the entire family. I still smile every time a bell rings.