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The New Christmas Classics, Part I

by on December 10, 2009
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“It’s a Wonderful Life”? “White Christmas”? Old news.

You’re a modern kind of person, and want a new contemporary Christmas classic to go with it, right?

Of course you are. You like your movies made in the past 30 years or so, and don’t have time for all of that black-and-white movie nonsense.

Here, then, are the Christmas classics of the new millenium, those holiday movies that will make every Yuletide season the hap- hap- happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tapdanced with  Danny F**king Kaye.

Gremlins (1984)


It’s easy to forget in all the chaos of this movie that, at its center is a Christmas film. Kindly Rand Pelzer (Hoyt Axton) buys his nerdy son Billy (Zach Galligan) an exotic pet for Christmas, and all hell breaks loose as he proceeds to break each and every rule set up for the poor guys. On the plus side, the green reptilian little buggers did take care of that bitch Mrs. Deagle for Billy, so maybe he owes them one.

Die Hard (1988)

Die Hard

What’s Christmas in LA without a downtown highrise, your wife’s douchebag cokehead co-worker putting the moves on her, and Eurotrash terrorists messing up your evening? For John McClane (Bruce Willis), it’s just another day at the office. I hope he at least got holiday pay. For my money, the best moment not involving an automatic weapon? The beginning, where the dude on the plane tells John the remedy for plane travel: walk around barefoot on the carpet and make fists with your toes. To this day I do that every time I travel. Yippee kye aye, melon farmer.

Bad Santa (2003)

Bad Santa

Gleefully, wickedly, horribly, wonderfully perverse, “Bad Santa” is the annual must-see for the drunk, single, divorced uncle at everyone’s Yuletide  gathering. Billy Bob Thornton stars as the title character, whose contempt for the snot-nosed, pants-peeing rugrats he has to endure every year is as unmistakable as the mess he leaves when he rips off the department store dumb enough to hire him. It’s the movie your mom starts quoting after that third glass of egg nog (at least mine does). Also memorable as John Ritter’s last, and perhaps best, performance.

A Midnight Clear (1992)

a midnight clear

A oft-overlooked gem, this is a member of the obscure Christmas war picture genre. In 1944 France, a group of American soldiers encounter a platoon of German soldiers at Christmas and forge an unlikely bond with them in the middle of a war, and find that they may be forced to fight their new friends. Features a very good cast that includes Ethan Hawke, Gary Sinise, a pre-“Entourage” Kevin Dillon, and Frank Whaley.

Scrooged (1988)


This genre-bending take on “A Christmas Carol” finds bah-humbug TV exec Frank Cross (Bill Murray), on the verge of screening another version of the famous tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge, finds himself visited by those very same ghosts. Soon Frank is confronting his own past, which led him away from love and deep personal relationships and toward the excesses of money and power.

Click here for Part II