This is the first half of that list.
Christmas is an awkward time for a lot of people, you have some that believe that it has become to commercialized with the search for the perfect gift becoming more prevalent every year, the need to search for some token that will prove your love for family and friends, because if you don’t give them ‘just the right thing’ they might be upset. To me Christmas (without dwelling on the obvious church related connections…) has always been about spending time with your family and getting to see them. Being able to take a minute to catch your breath, eat some food and have some fun while spending time with the one’s that you love.
I’m funny about movies as to make them believable or watchable they have to strike a certain tone and look. Christmas movies doubly so, if there is too much fake cheer and it comes off like a commercial and too little and you’re wondering just what it is that you’re watching. Just bear in mind that when I made this list, I’m not putting them in any real order and that the only prerequisite for getting onto the list in the first place is to be a ‘Christmas’ movie.
With that said, I give you my top 10 Christmas movie list….
Diehard: Few people realize that Diehard is a Christmas movie. Set firmly during the Christmas holidays the movie is about a New York cop going out to the west coast to spend time with his estranged wife and children while fighting off a gang of high-tech thieves. You might have caught this one on cable a couple of times and probably recognize the fact that Bruce Willis is not only in this movie, but it is the movie that launched his career, which up until its release consisted of yelling at Sybil Shepherd and slamming doors on ‘Moonlighting’. Diehard doesn’t have a hardcore religious or holiday message to it, it gets by with humor and style by reintroducing ‘Yippie-ki-Yay’ back into the local parlance and giving us the ever colorful ‘Ho-ho-ho, now I have a machine gun…’.
A Charlie Brown Christmas: This is one of my all time favorite Christmas movies in that not only does it contain a message about the over-commercialization of Christmas, but it also speaks to the secularism that pervades the holiday even to this day. Christmas, while a celebration intended to honor the birth of Christ is all too often greedily lorded over by certain religious organizations as a way to point to this time of year and holiday and claim it for not only their personal ownership and to the exclusion to all other races, creeds and religions. The movie explains, using Linus, the most humble and beloved of all ‘Peanuts’ characters, that Christmas is for everyone not just one group of people and that everyone should take the time of year and holiday as a moment of reflection and to share in the spirit of giving.
Lethal Weapon: Like ‘Diehard’, ‘Lethal Weapon’ is a Christmas related movie that most people don’t seem to recollect being a holiday movie at all. The movie actually starts off to ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ and takes us through the meeting of police detectives Murtaugh and Riggs as they investigate the apparent suicide of one of Murtaugh’s friend’s children. Despite the fact that this is an action flick with some heavy language at times, you get a decent holiday message with Murtaugh opening his home and family to Riggs, who just lost his wife and who was dealing with depression and suicide and Riggs giving his partner his continued presence over the next three movies. While both Danny Glover and Mel Gibson had careers before ‘Lethal Weapon’, this set them up and established them as actors to follow. After watching ‘Lethal Weapon’ you’ll never look at buying a Christmas tree the same way again and when someone asks if you really like their wife’s cooking you’ll probably answer it the same way Mel Gibson did in this movie.
Miracle on 34th Street: Now this is a timeless classic about a man who shows up claiming to be Santa Claus and after getting a job at Macys in New York, he turns the store on its head by sending customers to nearby stores when Macys doesn’t have what it is that they’re looking for. This is classic tale set at Christmas with the idea that despite what we think as adults, Santa is alive and well in the hearts and minds of children everywhere. Wonderfully cast, beautifully filmed and sprinkled with just enough Christmas cheer that the audience in the end is rooting for Kris Kringle, who is put on trial to prove that he is the ‘real’ Santa Claus. The movie is a good example of the old adage that sometimes, Christmas wishes do come true with a little help.
Reindeer Games: I know what you’re thinking, this list is filled with just action related Christmas movies…well you’re wrong. I do have a couple of classic movies on the list, but there are some action movies too and this one falls into the former, rather than the latter. So ‘Reindeer Games’ not only ties directly into the holidays by having thieves dressed up as Santas, but the movie actually follows the lyrics from ‘Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer’ by having Nick (St. Nick) plan the crime and Rudy (Rudolph) lead the way. The movie is about a small time thief played by a young Ben Affleck (The Town) who gets out of prison and impersonates his former cellmate to meet a girl. Hi-jinks ensure when the girl’s brother forces Affleck to go along on a robbery he’s planning, using knowledge the cellmate would have had. Is it a solid, clean family movie? No, not really considering there is a line in the movie regarding Affleck’s opinion of Charlize Theron’s prowess, however it does bring home the idea that sometimes more than anything else we all just want to be home for Christmas to share food with our family.
< Keith Kilburn and his wife, Dawn, live in Leesburg with two cats and dog named Godzilla. He’s written for Herorealm.com before they were bought out by corporate interests and has written a novel that he’s working on publishing. It’s rumored that he’s seen more movies than Blockbuster rents in a year and knows more about comic books than Stan Lee himself!/span>