Tag Archives: christmas films

Laughing All the Way: Padre Steve’s Favorite Christmas Films and TV Shows

christmas-vacation

Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny Kaye.”

This is the time of year that a lot of Christmas movies are shown on almost every television outlet known to humanity.  Of course there are many that are absolutely timeless such as Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and its derivatives and It’s a Wonderful Life.

There are also ones of various religious themes, usually involving the birth of Jesus, like no duh, it’s Christmas. Unfortunately most of these films as classic as they are bore me to tears.  Yes they have nice messages and tug at the heartstrings but without wanting to sound too much like Scrooge I get bored by them, frightfully bored.

I guess part of this is a generational thing.  The ones set in the 1930s and 1940s are from a different era, an era that I know from history books and family members but not something that is a part of my life.  It’s like the film The Bell’s of Saint Mary’s is about the Roman Catholic Church of a half century ago, not the one that I know or that exists now.  They are fictional and while touching are indelibly tied to their time.  The religious themed films tended often to be major productions of the Hollywood Gospel genre, not very faithful to Scripture or the teachings of the church, not that there is anything wrong with that.  But it is certain to me that Cecil B. De Mille did not write the 5th Gospel, or the 6th Book of Moses (You have to know your Luther Bible for that one) thus I have a hard time with films that use the nativity or for that matter the passion of Christ for a quick buck.

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However, every year, there are several Christmas movies and television shows that I cannot live without seeing.  Of the television shows my all time favorite is A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  As a kid I had a deep affinity for both Charlie Brown and Linus. The frustration of Charlie Brown with the commercialization of Christmas was something that resonated in me at a young age and still does today. If you want to see this just look at my articles on Black Friday.  Likewise Linus’ reading of the Luke’s account of the Angel’s message to the shepherds always brings tears to my eyes.  There is something about the sensitivity of Linus to the actual Gospel message that resonates in my heart.

grinch-1

As for the Grinch, and I mean the television Grinch where Boris Karloff voiced the part of the Grinch not the Jim Carey movie version, it has always been a favorite of mine.  I find the plot of the Grinch to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville to be a masterful account of how the message of Christmas can touch even the smallest and coldest of hearts.  Of course I absolutely loved the Grinch’s dog “Max” a dog whose loyalty to the Grinch reminds me of my dog Molly.

As far as movies are concerned I watch Scrooged staring Bill Murray and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation staring Chevy Chase with almost a religious reverence every year.

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I relate to the main characters in both movies.  That’s not necessarily a compliment to me. Bill Murray’s Character in Scrooged pricks my cynical nature and there are times that I almost need to cover my eyes when in Christmas Vacation where Clark Griswold kicks the decorative reindeer and sleigh across the lawn when he can’t get his house lights on.  His rants when his Christmas Tree goes up in flames and when his family tries to leave the house are so close to the way that I can act under the stress of the holidays that is scary.  Since Judy says this is the case I know that I am not imagining this.

trading-places

Three other films that get me are Home Alone and A Christmas Story and though it is not really a Christmas story Trading Places staring Dan Aykroyd whose Christmas season meltdown is at the center of a film about the greed of certain parts of the American financial sector.

These are what I grew up with and which were the films about Christmas as it takes place in the United States that I became an adult in that typify my era, not that of my grandparents.  I think that is why they are my favorites and not the classics of a bygone time.

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Of course there is the Festivus episode of Seinfeld that is almost scary because of how close to home it hits. There are times that I think we only lacked the “feats of strength” and the Festivus Pole to complete the picture.  Sticking to Seinfeld I always feel a twinge of sympathy for George when makes up a fake charity called “The Human Fund: Money for People” to give to his co-workers at Kruger Industrial Smoothing. There are times that I am tempted, but thankfully never will do something similar.

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Finally I like the X-Files Christmas episode How the Ghosts Stole Christmas where Ed Asner and Lilly Tomlin played ghosts in a haunted house that Agents Scully and Mulder get trapped in while investigating a case. When I go shopping anywhere this time of year I am quite fond of Agent Scully’s comment to Mulder: “Sorry. Checkout lines were worse than rush-hour on the 95. If I heard “Silent Night” one more time, I was gonna start taking hostages.” 

Okay, so these are not the classics of a bygone era, but they are my classics and I will enjoy Charlie Brown, Linus, the Grinch, Clark Griswold, Frank Cross, the Costanzas Agents Mudler and Scully and the rest of my warped favorites as I continue to rediscover the joy and hilarity of Christmas as we celebrate it in the United States. After all, to quote Clark Griswold “We’re all in this together.”

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s Favorite Christmas Comedies

“It’s Christmas Eve! It’s… it’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we… we… we smile a little easier, we… w-w-we… we… we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be!” Frank Cross (Bill Murray) in Scrooged

Why you shouldn’t miss Christmas: http://movieclips.com/PCaT4-scrooged-movie-marketing-with-terror/

I have a blast watching the more comical views of Christmas in America presented in great comedies. Now I like the more sentimental films like White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life and classics such the various renditions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol but my favorites are the comedies.  Part of the reason for this is that I see myself in so many of them. I can’t say that these are in any particular order and some are only listed because they are set during Christmas versus actually being “Christmas” films but even so they make my list favorites. So sit back, click on a link or two and enjoy Padre Steve’s favorite Christmas films.

I think that my absolute favorite is Scrooged starring Bill Murray as a bitter and cynical television network President in a humorous take on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol http://movieclips.com/ZTcn-scrooged-movie-a-christmas-miracle/ Bill Murray plays the part with aplomb and Judy says that I would like to be him and in some ways I can see that.

Not to be forgotten is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation starring Chevy Chase who is the everyman of Christmas film and the Griswold’s the scarily typical American family at Christmas.  How can anyone forget some of the trouble that he gets himself into in trying to do the right thing for his family?  I think one of the great scenes in the film is Clark’s attempt to light the Christmas decorations that festoon his house. http://www.spike.com/video/national-lampoons/2483049

I think a lot of us have loved A Christmas Story and the adventures of young Ralphie as he battles bullies and tries desperately to get his Red Rider BB Gun.  One of the classic scenes is the Santa Claus visit which is the nightmare of every kid. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtwVgOmPNPE If you don’t have the film, buy a leg lamp and watch it during the 24 hour Christmas Story Marathon on TBS beginning Christmas Eve.

Home Alone is a holiday riot as Kevin McAllister (Macaulay Culkin) gets left behind when his family takes a European vacation. Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern star as bungling burglars who expect that Culkin’s house is unoccupied.  One of the funniest scenes is where the young Kevin McAllister scares them to death with a gangster movie. http://www.hulu.com/watch/12863/home-alone-filthy-animalhttp://www.hulu.com/watch/12863/home-alone-filthy-animal It was followed by several sequels only one of which Home Alone 2 is worth the time to watch.

While it is not expressly a Christmas movie 1983’s Trading Places starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy sees a up and coming commodities broker (Aykroyd) and a con man (Murphy) http://movieclips.com/VMFc2-trading-places-movie-i-can-see/ being used by Akroyd’s employers played by Don Amiche and Ralph Bellamy who bet against each other over the issue of heredity versus environment and which matters more to success. Aykroyd who ends up losing everything sets out to bring Murphy down dressin up as Santa Claus and sneaking into the firm’s Christmas party. http://movieclips.com/BXzgL-trading-places-movie-very-bad-santa/

Speaking of “Bad Santa’s” Billy Bob Thornton’s Bad Santa is pretty good.  Thornton plays a Santa that robs the department store where he works but learns something about the meaning of Christmas from a young boy that invites “Santa” and his Elf into his home at Christmas.

Rounding out my picks are The Ref where Dennis Leary plays a unwitting robber who gets stuck with a horrible family that he is forced to take hostage and then try to solve their problems before he gets caught by the police and Jim Carey’s version of the Grinch.

As a bonus while not a movie there is Merry Christmas Mr. Bean which was part of the BBC series Mr. Bean staring Rowan Atkinson. Probably my favorite short Christmas show ever made. The three links here provide the episode in its entirety.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWtbJ1Uf-90

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JmBaCgcgMY&feature=relatedhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JmBaCgcgMY&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShF6wrqvB08&feature=relatedhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShF6wrqvB08&feature=related

So enjoy my friends,

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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