Not Your Ordinary Christmas Flicks

By December 9, 2008 culture No Comments

My hubby and I were discussing Christmas movies that we wanted to watch over the next few weekends. The list contains the usual classics: Charlie Brown, The Grinch (we like both versions), Claymations, Sleepless in Seattle . . .

Yes, that’s right. Sleepless in Seattle is a Christmas favorite of mine (my hubby doesn’t claim it, but I bet he secretly likes it). It’s not the typical Christmas flick, but Christmas is the backdrop to a pivotal part of the storyline, when Sam finds himself talking on a radio call-in show describing how much he misses his deceased wife. [sigh.]

Christmastime movie favorites came to mind after reading curlywurlygurly’s post on how the traditional Christmas specials were traumatizing to her when she was a child. She analyzes with great humor the emotional distress caused by most Christmas movies. [I had the same reaction to The Wizard of Oz when I was a child—why is it touted as a kids’ flick? Little ones should not be subject to it. (But I digress.)]

All this fueled the discussion with my hubby. Why do so many nonseasonal movies use Christmas as a backdrop?

We decided that when a movie references Christmas, the heartstrings are plucked and memories are stirred, producing the desired emotional reaction in the viewing audience. It’s sort of like taking a shortcut—no drawn-out explanation or cumbersome dialogue is needed to carry the viewer along.

Soon we were listing as many movies as we could remember that featured a Christmas storyline. It brought lots of laughs!

Here’s the list we developed so far. [Note all the “man movies” from the ’80s—you can guess who brought those to the table.] I also found lists here and here of all movies with a Christmas cameo.

Can you think of any others?

While You Were Sleeping (no one should be alone at Christmas)
Die Hard (Christmas music and terrorists—a winning combination)
Sleepless in Seattle (gotta love call-in radio shows)
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (an anxiety inducing tale about Christmas deferred)
Trading Places (a reminder that Santa could be a grimy drunk guy in a red suit)
You’ve Got Mail (sentimentality at its peak—makes me cry every time)
Scrooged (proof that Christmas can melt even the hardest of hearts)
Christmas Vacation (putting the fun in dysfunctional family gatherings)
Lethal Weapon (painfully old school but sad)
The Long Kiss Goodnight (quite disturbing, and I’ve only watched a few scenes—that was more than enough)
Better Off Dead (classic ’80s John Cusac)
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (gives a picture of how I think Santa should be)
Miss Potter (sweet romance lost—another crier)

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