The Twelve Days of Christmas (Movies)
You may have gathered by now that we take our movies very seriously here at Reign Man.
With the holidays bearing down, there is a collection of season-themed gems that we traditionally celebrate this time of year. ‘Tis the season to embrace the scenes of reindeer, Santa suits, eggnog and cousins from Kansas who often turn Yuletide into anything but the most ideal merriment.
Here are our dirty dozen films to ring in the holidays while preparing you for Murphy’s Law come December.
The truth of the matter is that we could watch this any time of year. The Ref is a brutally honest look at not judging a book by its cover. Denis Leary plays a burglar on the run who unknowingly “kidnaps” the most dysfunctional couple in Connecticut with Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis. It’s a comedy that never lets up and has introduced us to one of the great, detestable “villains” of cinema in an unbelievable mother/mother-in-law role played by Glynis Johns. There are so many quotable lines in this film that it’s sure to be an unsuspecting holiday gift for first time viewers.
This whole series that helped launch Bruce Willis as an action hero started at an office Christmas party. Between the “Ho, ho, hos” and the “Yippee Ki Yays,” the original Die Hard stresses that old holiday message of how it’s better to give than to receive, especially when explosives and automatic weapons are involved.
We find Four Christmases as vastly underrated when it comes to holiday comedies. Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon have a brilliant plan to ditch their families on December 25th only to have everything backfire and then find themselves obligated to visit each of their four parents all on Christmas (they’re both children of broken marriages.) From satellite tvs and bouncy houses to Taboo board games and puking babies, the likes of Robert Duvall, Mary Steenburgen, Jon Favreau, Jon Voight and Sissy Spacek remind us all of how messed up family and the holidays can truly be.
We’re not even sure Will Ferrell is acting in Elf. His unfathomable size as one of Santa’s helpers forces his deportation from the North Pole to America to search for his identity. If you can imagine a gregarious child trapped in a man’s body fixated on the practice of celebrating the holidays complete with a grown-up elf costume then you know why this a seasonal go-to.
Hey Santa, can I bum a smoke from you? If the Kris Kringle is Billy Bob Thornton then you’re in luck. He might even share a swig from his flask. Bad Santa remains that holiday movie that no one else had the guts to produce and, as a result, allows those nativity naysayers the chance to bond over the misery of the season. Where else are you going to find a foul-mouthed “elf,” a derelict St. Nick and a weight-challenged punching bag of a boy all in one flic? Throw in the late Bernie Mac AND the late John Ritter and you’ll come away from this laughing and feeling better about your Noel.
Reliving the hapless Griswold family’s Christmas each and every year is a sound tradition with us. The house alone inspires what we hope is a momentary lapse in reason every December to overcompensate with the lights. We always look forward to Ray Charles’ That Spirit of Christmas, Clark doing some holiday shopping and “blousing” at the mall, Julia Louis-Dreyfus next door and, of course, everybody’s favorite cousin with the metal plate in his head.
The holiday we’re most prone to associate Bill Murray with is Groundhog Day but thank goodness for Scrooged this time of year. The modern day version of A Christmas Carol poses Murray as the curmudgeonly, cold-hearted scrooge of the 20th century but the film centers on Murray’s legacy in comedy with some fine-tuned updates to the classic Charles Dickens tale.
If you’re more of a traditionalist and like your Ebenezer Scrooge sans laughter and glee, our staple is the George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol. There’s no compromise on this. The late, great Scott is surrounded by talent in this rendition and is the perfect viewing for the entire family.
Our boy Vaughn reappears on this list as Santa’s average, underwhelming, corner cutting, wayward brother Fred. While this character isn’t a stretch for Vince to embody, the cast including Paul Giamatti, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins and Kevin Spacey delivers a nice message about what’s truly important this time of year. The inclusion of Elvis Presley’s Rubberneckin’ is a contagious scene that shows what could go horribly wrong in Santa’s workshop without proper supervision. Granted, we’re a sucker for most of Vaughn’s work but you can also look at it this way…he’s about to get much creepier in his next role in HBO’s True Detective so enjoy him here as an overgrown oaf in an elf’s bunk bed while you can.
Want to get a little more animated than Scrooge renditions, an alcoholic Santa, family friction and delinquent elves? Then Tim Burton has something different for you. Former Oingo Boingo frontman-turned-cinematic composing genius Danny Elfman (another “elf”) leads the way in The Nightmare Before Christmas as Jack Skellington. The plot has Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloween Town, bored with doing the same thing every year for Halloween. One day he stumbles into Christmas Town, and is so taken with the idea of Christmas that he tries to get the resident bats, ghouls, and goblins of Halloween town to help him put on Christmas instead of Halloween — but alas, they can’t get it quite right. Sounds intriguing and immensely original, doesn’t it?
We never tire of this classic. A Christmas Story captures a little bit of everything seen through the eyes of a 9-year old boy. Anxiety of getting the present you want more than anything…Check. Picking out the perfect tree…Check. Witnessing your father treating himself to an inappropriate lamp that can be seen from the street…Check. Being too loose with your language and swearing in front of your dad…Check. Throw in a couple of bullies who end up getting what’s coming to them, a school yard “double dog dare” that teaches everyone a lesson about tongues and frozen poles, an epic trip to the mall to see Santa and how a BB gun can nearly ruin Christmas morning and you’ve got yourself 94 minutes of pure bliss.
Finally, on the 12th day of Christmas your Reign Man gave to you…a variant for this season that isn’t entirely about the holidays but there’s a Christmas segment to Better Off Dead that we’ll promote anytime of year.
When the tree is bearing gifts like frozen tv dinners and aardvark jackets, you know you’ve landed in the right (or wrong?) living room on December 25th. It’s one of John Cusack’s earliest works and we’re confident he hasn’t experienced a holiday atmosphere quite like this one since.
So in between shopping, taking the kids to see St. Nick, holiday parties and the season’s array of concerts and events, here’s hoping you can break away for a few hours and sneak in some cinema. There are still some good viewing days left.