Today I’m joined by the lovely Marc Wild, an all round gent and pop culture guru who is relatively new to the blogosphere. His new blog Mr Wild Times is launching on WordPress soon (see the list of blogs I link to sign up NOW!). Till then, he’s very kindly hijacked mine for the day. His bid for online domination is well timed with a post about Christmas. Hey, back off with the “Bah, humbags”, check out these five awesome Christmas flicks for the festive season!
I have been reliably informed via the mass media that it is now the most wonderful time of the year, and let’s be honest, when has the media ever lied to us?… erm…. Apparently, it is the time when the kids can often be seen jingle belling (whatever that is) and everyone telling me to ‘be of good cheer’ (to whom I will tell to f*ck off!). All kidding aside, I am a fan of Christmas as I can think of few things I’d pick to do over self indulgence and presents. Add to that the number of wonderful movies on show and you have yourself a cracker of a time! (sorry for that terrible pun. I just couldn’t help myself).
Therefore, I have chosen to pull together a short list of my festive favourites should anyone need inspiring when choosing what to put on while wrapping their presents or snuggling up in front of a roaring fire. Of course, a favourites list is a very subjective thing and you may not agree with my choices, but in that instance I need to inform you that you are wrong. Plain and simple.
An honourable mention must go out to a few movies which although I do love, just didn’t quite make the cut: Miracle On 34th Street (1994) as it is a lovely and utterly charming film starring the lovely Mara Wilson; Scrooged, an amusing twist on a classic tale with Bill Murray at his comedy best; National Lampoons Christmas Vacation as I do love spending time with the family Griswald; Edward Scissorhands; and finally, Gremlins.
So, without any further ado, in reverse order, my top 5 Christmas movies are:
5.(GOOOOOLD RIIIIIINGS). Trading Places
Although not your typical, standard Christmas movie, it is set during the holiday period so will allow it. Additionally, it ticks the genre conventions of a Christmas movie in that it covers the themes of kindness (bonus points for it being shown to a less fortunate stranger) and redemption during the holiday period.
The pairing of Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd is not to be missed, nor is the image of Aykroyd dressed in the grottiest Santa outfit you are ever likely to see, while attempting to eat salmon through his furry beard (a struggle I can empathise with given the state of my hairy face) while drunker than a skunk on Christmas morn. The pair, comic genius’ in their own right, combine to form a gigantic Godzilla-esque monster of comedy playing our funny bones like a banjo (weird image there!).
Plus you get to see Jamie Lee Curtis’ boobies! Nuff said.
4. It’s a Wonderful Life
No greats list can be truly trusted without the inclusion of this classic. As depressing as it can be to watch all these bad things happening to this lovely, kind man, it all adds up to make the pay off at the end that much sweeter. Although I do sometimes struggle with black and white movies, the colour version of this movie is an abomination and should not be viewed when the original version is on offer.
3. Die Hard 2: Die Harder – ‘They say lightning never strikes twice… They were wrong’
I will forgive readers should they believe that the original Die Hard is the superior film. I did take a moment to think about it. However, I had to go for number 2 because it is the one which I can watch and watch without getting bored. Plus its title is bad ass – just try reading it out loud without it sounding hardcore!
This films quotes do fall slightly short of those in the first film as it tries maybe a little too hard to be as quoteable. Notably, the quote “what sets off a metal detector first? The lead in your ass or the shit in your brains?”, while sounds good at first, once digested it confuses as (to my knowledge) shitty brains do not regularly set off metal detectors… unless you have a diet that’s high in iron (oh dear). Were this the case, queues at UK airports would be considerably worse!
The set pieces in this film are action film gold, improvements on those in McClane’s previous outing. The shoot out and subsequent skidoo chase scene is an epic thrill ride, while the massacre at the annex skywalk is pure brutal badassery (plus his magic bottomless clip is amazing). There is something strangely appealing about both violence and the spirit of Christmas coming together in the same film.
2. The Nightmare Before Christmas
How can you not love this charming sing along treat of a movie about the toast of the Halloween getting tired of the freightfest and being attracted to the joy and bright lights of Christmas? That question is rhetorical as I would have to question the character of any person that does not fall in love with this film by the time they hear Jack’s Lament.
The design of the characters and (in particular) the sets are a masterstroke of design. Their unique look has somewhat been diluted through their repeated use in films such as Alice in Wonderland and pretty much anything by Tim Burton. I must confess to being a bit of a nut when it comes to collecting pieces of memorabilia for this film, having acquired an ‘exciting’ collection of mugs, a number of Jacks as well as a funny pair of oogie boogie slippers (thankfully sans bugs and creepy crawlies).
1. Home Alone – ‘…He Cooks. He Cleans. He Kicks Some Butt’
I will go out on a limb and say that if you are reading this blog, the chances are that you are over the age of 1 and therefore will have seen this film AT LEAST once (but likely every Christmas for the last couple of decades). Therefore, I will not waste your time by giving you a synopsis of the film. Plus what are you doing reading this if you haven’t seen Home Alone yet?! Get yourself to a TV now and watch it!
For me, this film represents a more innocent time before smelly chavs, before kids killing each other with automatic rifles, and before The X-Factor. Home Alone is a film that enjoys a bit of physical comedy and is entirely unapologetic about it, and neither should it be.
Having come to this film back in the early 90s, I was a young chap yet to be spoiled by the cynicism that comes with age. Now, an older and (somewhat) wiser gentleman who has seen too much, like a Vietnam war vet (you weren’t there man, you weren’t there!), whenever I watch this film I am transformed back into that young lad that enjoys nothing more than seeing someone lit on fire with a blow torch.
Home Alone is a beautiful live action cartoon filled to overflowing with physical comedy which, were it real life, would almost certainly end up in some form of serious bodily harm! Its film-within-a-film Angels With Filthy Souls (itself a parody of Angels With Dirty Wings) is the highlight for me. Every year I can be heard calling everyone a filthy animal or telling family members to get their yella, no-good keisters off my property. I even spent a long while trying to find this movie on Amazon only to (eventually) find out that it wasn’t real. That was a dark time in my life.
Not everything about this film is a gift to the world though. As good as his performance was in this film, Home Alone was the masterpiece which introduced the world to the monster that is Macaulay Culkin, an act that I will never truly forgive the film for. I will flip reverse it though by saying that it also made me aware of the genius that is Joe Pesci, an actor with whom I have gone on to have a wonderful cinematic love affair with. The guys performance here was a flawless 90 minutes of comedy genius that still makes me smile today. Even the way he swears without actually swearing is brilliant, reminding me of Mutley from Wacky Races.
Last but not least, there is the music. I have recently found myself associating all my favourite Christmas songs with the Home Alone movie and I cannot help doing the Culkin dance whenever I hear Rockin Around The Christmas Tree. Then there is that John Williams theme tune. A classic piece that is iconic and instantly recognisable, it is as catchy today as it was on release, in fact, it’s going round my head right now and I love it.
So there you have it. The DEFINITIVE list of must-see Christmas movies this year. Accept no substitutes. If you have any cinematic suggestions I would love to hear them (maybe it will mean that I have to update my list). Let me know in the comments. Alternatively you can Follow me on Twitter @Wild_Times
“Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight”
About Marc Wild
A gentleman and a rogue, a scholar of pop culture, an armchair socio-economic activist and zombie whisperer blah blah
Coming Soon…. http://mrwildtimes.wordpress.com/