Pop Rocks: Your George Bailey-Free Christmas Viewing List
Christmas, Christmas time is here. Time for ulcers to bleed freely and
the roughly 22 percent of the U.S. population who identify themselves as
"other than Christian" to smile through clenched jaws and wait for the
adult contemporary stations to stop playing Bruce Springsteen's "Santa
Claus is Comin' to Town."
It's also time for family, which -- if you're like most of us -- means spending several days crowded around the TV and watching movies.
Maybe back in the "old days" people used to have meaningful conversations about the past year and your hopes for the future (personally, we think Grandma was full of crap), but this is the 21st century, and honest human interaction can't hold a candle to the wonders of Hollywood. Especially since the latter doesn't usually feature Uncle Joe knifing Aunt Lurleen in the backyard after a night drinking his special "eggnog" consisting of bourbon and bourbon.
Problem is, what they usually pass off as holiday entertainment is the same shit you've seen a thousand times already. It's A Wonderful Life? Sentimentalist bilge, and Pottersville looked like a more swinging place to live in than Bedford Falls anyway. Miracle on 34th Street?
Anyway, it's a new millennium, and that calls for some new Christmas classics. Here are my suggestions.
Invasion, U.S.A. (1985)
The filmmakers put together a rogue's gallery of Reagan-era boogeymen
(Cubans, Russkies, a Gary Hart lookalike), setting them loose on
decent, god-fearing Americans during the holidays, and it's up to
Chuck Norris to save Christmas. Because nothing says "peace on earth,
goodwill towards men" like Norris monotoning, "See you in hell."
Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)
The kids need something to watch too, you know. There's a lot of
Ernest hate out there, which never made much sense to me. Like Barney,
or Elmo, or the Star Wars prequels, he's aimed at children.
And if children can handle the Senate debates and trade disputes from
The Phantom Menace, they can handle Great Uncle Lloyd.
Better Off Dead (1985)
Funny how they don't make comedies about teen suicide anymore. Al
Meyer in the full-body armadillo suit trumps Ralphie the "pink
Lethal Weapon (1987)
Reasons why this is a Christmas movie: 1. Riggs sympathizes with the
jumper because lots of people have problems "during the silly season
like now." 2. Mr. Joshua shooting the TV during the ending of A
Christmas Carol ("It's goddamn Christmas!"). 3. Riggs asking for
a "six-footer" to put the cocaine under. Happy holidays, indeed.
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Frankly, I think we're far too willing to just sort of look the other
way with regard to some bearded Canadian sneaking into our house every
year. Watch it with your children and think of it as a cautionary
A Midnight Clear (1992)
Snark aside, this is one of my favorite movies, Christmas or
otherwise. You've got an oddly beautiful setting for a war movie, Gary
Sinise's film debut, and a surprisingly non-annoying Ethan Hawke,
Also: "Schläft gut, Kraut."
Black Christmas (1974)
Future film historians and medical experts will continue to ponder
what happened to Bob Clark -- the guy who directed this,
Porky's, and Porky's II: The Next Day (and A
Christmas Story, which missed this list thanks to that 24-hour
airing on TNT) -- to make him go on to make Baby Geniuses and
The Karate Dog
Die Hard (1988)
Diamonds? Bah. New Lexus? Pfft. The gold standard for Christmas gifts
has, since 1988, been delivering your estranged wife from Eurotrash
criminals while rocking a wife-beater. And "Yippee ki ay,
motherfucker" has so much more *oomph* than "Attaboy, Clarence."
This Joe Dante effort is so as cinematically significant as White
Christmas: it's credited -- along with Indiana Jones and the
Temple of Doom -- with being so violent that another MPAA rating
between "PG" and "R" was needed. So in a way, Gremlins is
responsible for the watering down of every horror movie since. Thanks
Bad Santa (2003)
Aside from Sling Blade, I never really felt like Billy Bob
Thornton had much range, acting-wise. That's fine, because the role of
Willie is to Thornton's wheelhouse what a high fastball is to Albert
Pujols'. And Lauren Graham is hotter than doughnut grease.
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