Christmas is problematic for me. Every year, the stress of the crowds, the shopping, affording the shopping, and trying to work out a way to see family fills me with a sense of dread. Yet I’m always glad when the day finally arrives – I just have to get through everything beforehand. Here are my favorite ten Christmastime comedies that help me do just that.
#10 Trapped in Paradise – Three bumbling brothers rob a small town bank on Christmas Eve, but their escape is foiled by a record snowfall. Through a series of mishaps and the townspeople’s overwhelming kindness, the money is returned and the brothers turn over a new leaf.
#9 The Ref – When a burglar (larceny is not an intentional theme, I swear) is abandoned by his partner mid-heist and is forced to take his victims hostage, he is also forced to act as a referee to help the dysfunctional family work out their issues.
#8 The Nightmare Before Christmas – When the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown grows tired of Halloween, he leads an operation to kidnap Santa and take over Christmas, with Halloween-esque overtones. When things don’t go quite as he planned, though, he saves Santa – and thus Christmas – and returns to Halloweentown with newfound enthusiasm.
#7 Bad Santa – Each year, Willie works as a mall Santa in order to rob the mall’s safe and live on the proceeds until the next Christmas season. This year, Willie will make a new friend that will cause him to change the way he lives.
The description sounds heartwarming, but the first ten minutes of this movie are probably more offensive than the rest of the movies on this list combined (except for possibly the “Fa Ra Ra Ra Ra” scene in A Christmas Story). Do not watch this one with your kids.
#6 Just Friends – A womanizing record executive goes home for Christmas ten years after he left. When he runs into the girl whose rejection made him the man he is today, he begins to reevaluate his life. Hijinks ensue.
#5 Scrooged – A modern (for the late 80’s) take on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with Bill Murray in the Scrooge role as a greedy television exec, the type that would cancel a show like Firefly.
#4 Elf – When Buddy (Will Ferrell), raised among the elves of Santa’s Workshop, finds out that he is not an elf, but an adopted human, he sets out to find his birth father – an overworked children’s book publisher – and save him from being on the “Naughty List” for being a heartless grouch. Hijinks ensue.
#3 Home Alone – Accidentally left behind when his family goes on a Christmas trip to France, a young boy defends his home from two would-be-burglars. You know you’ve seen this one.
Also, thieves really do show up alot on this list, don’t they?
#2 National Lampoons Christmas Vacation – This is the third movie of the “Vacation” series from back when the National Lampoons name actually meant “funny”. If you’ve seen any of the other “Vacation” films, you know what kind of craziness to expect here – kamikaze squirrels, electrocuted cats, redneck family members, flying Santa lawn ornaments, and an eternal classic.
#1 A Christmas Story – This movie is shown repeatedly during the Christmas season, and my dad used to make us watch every single showing. Thus, I have large parts of this movie imprinted in my brain, like the French “fra-GEE-lay” (fragile) leg lamp, the tongue frozen to the flagpole, Ralphie somehow almost managing to almost shoot his eye out with a Red Rider BB Gun (which I actually got for Christmas one year), and the somewhat racist Chinese restaurant Deck The Halls (Fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra ra) rendition.
So there they are, my top ten comedies to help you stay sane during the Christmas season. The best part is, there are easily ten more that could have made this list! Now get out there, buy some presents, and maybe pick up a few of these movies as a present to yourself.