We’re in the final few days before Christmas… Where the hell did all the time go?! What films will get you in the festive spirit? There’s loads to choose from and you need to pick wisely. For every The Muppets Christmas Carol (1992), there’s Beverly Hills Christmas (2015) with Dean Cain.
Here’s our recommendations to get you in the mood and some for the big day itself, when you’re in a booze and turkey filled coma.
Scrooged (1988) (Available on Netflix. Also showing on Channel 4 – Christmas Day 2.35pm) A postmodern spin on the classic Dickens story, which follows a horrible TV producer struggling to launch a live TV broadcast of Scrooge. In the process, he is faced with his own ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.
Bill Murray is on top form as the lovably loathsome Frank Cross, with some fine support from Carol Kane (the abusive Ghost of Christmas present), the lovely Karen Allen and Bobcat Goldthwaite (aka Zed from Police Academy) doing his manic screechy thing. Cinematic legend Richard Donner delivers on the laughs, Christmas cheer and even an action packed opening with Lee Majors and Santa taking on terrorists – what’s not to love?
Jingle All The Way (1996) (Available on Netflix) Hard-working businessman and man mountain Howard Langston (Arnie) faces his toughest challenge yet – Christmas shopping for that must-have toy on Christmas Eve. All the way, he must navigate the desperate crowds, psychotic mailmen, con artists and cops with mildly amusing consequences.
Arguably Schwarznegger’s least successful comedy vehicle (and that’s including Junior), this one is for Arnie completists only. I recently watched this on a hangover and it was just bearable. Arnie is surrounded by annoying characters like Sinbad or the little shit from The Phantom Menace. The only real highlight is Phil Hartman (you may remember him as the voice of Troy McClure in The Simpsons) as Arnie’s cheerfully smug neighbour. “Put the cookie down! Now!”
Alan Partridge: Knowing me, Knowing Yule (1995) (Available on Netflix) The Christmas Special where everything goes wrong, paving the way for Alan’s exodus in a static home. You’ll laugh/cringe as he struggles to keep his guests happy, impress the commissioner of the BBC, or awkwardly banter with a transvestite chef. All of which leads to a meltdown on live telly.
A classic comedy special which despite it’s age, is still a lot of fun and a perfect palate cleanser for any other Christmas schmaltz.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) (Amazon Prime) The grandaddy of Christmas films that’s another play on the “what if…” plot. Almost like a Christmas Carol in reverse. After a particularly bad turn of events, town hero and all -round nice guy, George Bailey is contemplating suicide. An angel intervenesis shown what people’s lives would be like, if he was never born. The movie is packed with old school charm (courtesy of them.legendary and lovable Jimmy Stewart) that stands up to repeat viewings. One for all the family, that makes you think what you should be thankful for.
Gremlins (Amazon Prime) Basically It’s A Wonderful Life, with mischievously murderous little monsters. A cult classic with laughs, scares and heart – courtesy of Spielberg, Joe Dante and Home Alone’s Chris Columbus – see my full review or check out our latest podcast.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) (Amazon Prime, Also showing on ITV – Christmas Day 9.25am) Walking calamity Clark Griswold has his entire family staying for the holidays and is determined to host the perfect Christmas. What could go wrong?
Chevy Chase is on top form as the eternally optimistic fool, though Randy Quaid steals the show as cousin Eddy, “a beastly man in a blue leisure suit!”. A McGhee family favourite that usually gets a viewing every year.
Home Alone (Channel 4 – Christmas Day 5.50pm) From Chris Columbus, the writer of Gremlins, comes another twisted Christmas tale . This time the hero is an abandoned child, forced to protect his home from thieves at all costs.
In reality, it’s safe to say, those hapless burglars would likely to be killed very early on in the proceedings, but this film gleefully plays out like a live action cartoon. A quotable classic that turned Macauley Culkin into a household name (pun intended) and Michael Jackson’s best friend.
Santa Claus The Movie (1985) (ITV – Christmas Day 12.50pm)
Santa’s top elf (Dudley Moore) leaves the North Pole and falls under the influence of a greedy business men. There’s a rich girl and a wise talking street kid in it… uh that’s all I can remember apart from some Coke product placement.
It’s very Eighties, bizarrely borrowing a lot from Superman (1978). It’s terribly mawkish but John Lithgow is on fine form as the hammy bad guy. A classic for those of a certain age.
All films are available on Netflix and Amazon Prime at the time of writing.
Merry Christmas ya filthy animals!
George & Charlie