Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The best, worst Christmas movies of all time

By Dave Herndon & David Scanlan

In honor of the Christmas season ...
We’re making a list, checking it twice
Finding out which films are naughty or nice.
Yes, the movie buffs are recommending them tonight. 
We see them when we’re sleeping
We see them when we’re awake.
We know if they are bad or good, so here’s the list for goodness sake.

So now for some of the best and worst Christmas movies of all time, as decided by two movie buffs.
First the best:
16. A Christmas Story (1983) — Ralphie spends the entire movie fending off bullies and telling everyone that he wants a Red Rider B.B. Gun. Everyone keeps warning that he’ll shoot his eye out, and he ensures them he won’t. When the “old man’” actually gets him one, and he does shoot his eye out, he has to own up to the consequences, or does he?
15. Elf (2003) — Will Ferrell stars as a human that was adopted by the elves when he climbed into Santa’s bag as a child. When his large size and lack of elfly skills finally gets to be too much, he returns from the North Pole to seek out his real father, hijinks ensue.
14. Miracle on 34th Street (1947) — This movie also appeared on the top 10 Thanksgiving movie list at number one, which is part of the reason it is a bit lower here. Yes Santa is a main character, but it’s set at Thanksgiving.
13. A Christmas Carol — There are hundreds of versions of this movie — George C. Scott, Alastair Sim, James Carrey, Disney, Patrick Stewart, Muppets, Kelsey Grammer, Mr. Magoo, Reginald Owens, Flintstones, etc. — most are pretty good, pick your favorite version of Charles Dickens’ classic and enjoy.
12. The Santa Clause (1994) — Tim Allen was a huge TV star at the time, so the movie industry decided to make him huge as well — by turning him into jolly St. Nick. He didn’t read the Santa Clause, and hence he became Santa Claus.
11. Lethal Weapon (1987) — Many don’t remember that this is set as Christmas time, probably because there is no snow, and barely a mention of Christmas throughout, but it most definitely is set during the most wonderful time of the year. The first time Riggs and Murtough got together on film, though certainly not the last.
10. Santa Claus is Coming to Town (1970) — The first of the classic Ranking & Bass stop motion animated films to make this list, but certainly not the last. In this movie a mailman reveals the origin of Santa to some townsfolk.
9. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) — Burl Ives plays Sam the Snowman as the stop motion animated Rudolph and pals search for a place that they can all fit in and not be outcasts.
8. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) — The Griswald family plans to have a spectacular Christmas, but things don’t always turn out just right for Clark, Ellen and the kids. Cousin Eddie and his RV make a memorable visit.
7. Scrooged (1988) — Bill Murray stars as Frank Cross in this modern day telling of the Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol.” Although this is based on the classic tale, it’s a telling all of its own and deserved its own mention on the list.
6. Batman Returns (1992) — Batman battles the Penguin and Catwoman while alter ego Bruce Wayne has to struggle through memories of his murdered parents at Christmastime.
5. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) — Clarence the Angel shows George Bailey what life would be like in Bedford Falls had he never been born.
4. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) — The Peanuts gang celebrates Christmas while Charlie Brown searches for the true meaning of the holiday. The best part is when Charlie rejects the large full trees that represent commercialism and instead seeks out his own personal “perfect” tree.
3. How the Grinch the Stole Christmas! (1966) — A mean spirited being with a heart three sizes too small decides to steal Christmas from all of the jovial residents of Whoville. Can a chance encounter with CindyLou Who be all that the Grinch needs to brighten up?
2.  A Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) — Even if this movie didn’t kick off the stop motion way of film making, it sure as heck is one of the most loved. Delightful music, extraordinary concept and funny to boot, it’s one of the better Christmas films of the past two decades. This movie also made the top ten children’s Halloween movie list.
1. Die Hard (1988) — Alan Rickman blows you away with his performance, Bruce Willis kicks off a great franchise with one of the most beloved action icons and the action itself is gripping. The fact that it is set at Christmas is just icing on the cake. This shouldn’t be that big of a shocker, as it appears on many lists across the land both for Christmas and other occasions.

Now for the worst:
6. A Christmas Story 2 (2012) — All of the bad, and none of the good from the classic 1983 original. Watched this one just last week, at times it’s so bad it made me want to shoot my eye out. Early in the film the actor that played Ralphie had such a bad toupe that you could see his brown hair sticking through the blonde. Those types of mistakes and a poor script make this film one of the worst in years to “celebrate” Christmas.
5. Christmas with the Kranks (2004) — If you hated John Grisham’s novel “Skipping Christmas” that much, why bother to adapt it? I mean, you must have hated it since you’re utterly destroying it, right? Aside from the hideous title (Kranks, because they’re cranky; get it?), the message is twisted and putrid: Christmas is about being materialistic and competitive and you should always conform. I think anyone’s heart would shrink three sizes after seeing this film, disgusted by the heartlessness on display.
4. I’ll Be Home for Christmas (1998) — Tim Allen wasn’t the only cast member of “Home Improvement” to try to and cash in on a movie career due to the popularity of the show, and he wasn’t the only one to try a Christmas movie. Jonathon Taylor Thomas stars in one of the absolute worst Christmas movies ever made, though, as the main character isn’t trying to do anything other than get home so his rich father will give him a sports car for Christmas, not to spend time with his family.
3. Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 (1987) — Here’s a bonus for you — two awful movies for the price for one! That’s right, half the footage was edited into this film from the first movie in the franchise, because they simply couldn’t be bothered to do anymore. Though, on the plus side if you skip past those bits, the movie’s over quicker! And the movie even has the perfect quote to describe its own quality: “Garbage day!”
2. Jingle All the Way (1996) — before he was the “Governator,” Arnold Schwarzenegger was a huge action movie star in the 1980s and 90s. he also tried his hat in a Christmas movie. This movie does have several action scenes, and they aren’t terrible, unfortunately the rest of the casting decisions, the script, the acting and, well, everything else is that terrible. Not even Turbo Man can save this one from the garbage heap.
1. The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006) — As good as the original film in this series was, the second single made more than 12 years later has absolutely none of the same appeal. While most of the original cast returns, that may just be some of the problems as they seem to just phone this one in, and unfortunately it’s on a cellphone with a bad connection. Sadly, this is also the second of Tim Allen’s movies to make the worst movie list, and if the list were to expand, there would be more.

Dave Herndon is the Video Coordinator for Heritage Media and the author of the nerd news blog “Confessions of a 20-Something Manchild.” David Scanlan, one of The News-Herald Newspapers’ blogging partners, authors the blog “I’m Sure I Was Making Some Kind Of Point."

This list has been updated since it was created in 2011.

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