Mike’s Top Ten Christmas Movies

1. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1994): Many movie critics (with exceedingly poor taste) believe that Michael Caine’s greatest role was Alfred in the recently released Batman series. But those of us who are cultured enough to have experienced the masterpiece that is The Muppets Christmas Carol aren’t fooled. Surrounded by an all star cast, Caine laughs, cries, sings and dances as he plays Ebenezer Scrooge in Hollywood’s greatest rendition of Charles Dickens’ greatest play. Dickens, expertly portrayed by Gonzo, guides the viewer through the streets of London, accompanied by Rizzo the rat, who plays himself. Gonzo and Rizzo are gracious hosts, whose tour of London goes off without a hitch, with the notable exception of the lamp incident. As Rizzo so poignantly exclaimed, “light the lamp, not the rat!” Following Scrooge into his London office, Gonzo and Rizzo meet Bob Cratchit, played by Kermit the Frog with unrivaled professionalism. Other notable performances include Fozzie Bear as Fozziewig and Beaker as the Charity worker. Dedicated to the late, great, Jim Henson, The Muppets Christmas Carol is an absolute holiday must.

2. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946): Sixty years after it was filmed, It’s a Wonderful Life is the quintessential holiday classic. George Bailey, played by James Stewart, lives the American dream until his business falls on difficult times. George contemplates suicide, but is saved at the last second by his guardian angel Clarence, who shows him what his town would be like without him. And when George runs back to his home, he finds the whole town gathered in his living room, raising money for his sunken loan business. Dozens of movies and shows have paid homage to one of Christmas’s greatest movies and the famed Christmas miracle. And while It’s a Wonderful Life is wonderful enough on it’s own, check out The Simpsons Christmas episode sampling of the 1946 classic featuring Gary Coleman.

3. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989): For some people, It’s a Wonderful Life is too perfect. George gets the perfect holiday, and Clarence gets his wings. It’s great, but in reality, when the TV gets turned off, most families are more like the Griswolds than the Baileys. Clark Griswold (played by Chevy Chase) wanted to set his family aside, and create the perfect Christmas. Armed with enough colored lights to guide the three kings, Clark’s mission is to turn his humble home into a winter wonderland that will turn heads and blind the neighbors. Of course, he can’t get the lights to work. But they prove to be only the beginning of his problem, as unwanted guests and strange relatives turn the perfect Christmas into another Griswold family nightmare. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is great because families can relate to it. Chevy Chase’s rant when he discovers that he won’t be getting a Christmas bonus is an unforgettably hilarious expression of holiday stress and frustration.

4. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992): A tough choice, but ultimately the sequel wins out. Mucaulay Culkin (Kevin McCallister), Joe Pesci (Harry) and Daniel Stern (Marv) are great in both movies (although Marv’s best line comes in Home Alone 2: “Suck brick kid!”), but the hotel staff sets this movie apart. Tim Curry (Mr. Hector) and Rob Schneider (Cedric) are outrageously funny, and Kevin’s escape from them at the Marriot hotel is the best scene in either movie. So, “Merry Christmas, you filthy animal!”

5. Home Alone (1990): When the wet bandits strike, Kevin is ready. After he made his family “disappear,” Kevin declares that he needs to protect his home turf. Remember, Underarmour came up with their, “we must protect this house,” slogan after Home Alone was released. Coincidence? I think not.

6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966): This cartoon adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s book takes less than an hour to watch, and is worth it every time. The song, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” has become a holiday classic. Second only to Oscar the Grouch in the “greenest and meanest” category, the Grinch is the perfect holiday villain, and his sidekick dog Max is the best character in all of holiday cinema. Most people who wear their antler headbands out this weekend will think they are dressed as a reindeer, but, in actuality, Max was the first creature to rock the fake antlers, when the Grinch dressed him up as a reindeer.

7. Miracle on 34th Street (1947) (1994): This is a case where it’s too difficult to decide between the original and the remake. Yet, the moral of the story is simple. Kris Kringle is real, so don’t stop believin’.

8. Rudolph (1964): Okay sure, the voices are a little annoying, and the cartoon isn’t great, but Rudolph is Rudolph. Reindeer games may not be his thing, but his clutch nose could guide Santa through even the worst of a Hamilton storm.

9. A Christmas Story (1983): I triple dog dare you. Serious breach in etiquette, but Flick stuck his tongue to the freezing pole anyways.

10. A Charlie Brown Christmas: Soundtrack is amazing. If you don’t own A Charlie Brown Christmas by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, you should. And come on, bad Christmas trees need lovin’ too.

Those Who Get Coal: The Santa Clause: Tim Allen, the only white stuff under Santa’s nose should be a beard; Bad Santa: Great movie, but certainly deserves coal; The Grinch (Jim Carrey): Disaster; Any Home Alone movies after 2: As far as I’m concerned, they don’t exist.

Honorable Mention: Scrooged: Bill Murray is always great; Trapped in Paradise: Nothing like a bank robbery on Christmas; Jingle All the Way: Prime example of Arnold’s acting versatility.