The first, Christmas Vacation, comes via National Lampoons who first introduced us to the Griswald family – with noble patriarch Clark played by Chevy Chase, his wife Ellen, played by the stunning Beverly D’Angelo, and their two children Audry and Rusty who are played by different people in every iteration of the franchise – with their original “Vacation” movie; an amazing comedy that put the family on a road trip from Chicago to Wally World, a Disney-like theme park in California, only for everything that could go wrong, going wrong on their journey. Unlike the original, Christmas Vacation has the Griswalds staying home and everyone else coming to them. That includes the worst brother-in-law in the history of brother-in-laws, Eddie, played by Randy Quaid in his second appearance in this list. Trying to make the perfect Christmas for his family, Clark goes over and above in every respect: Christmas lights, turkey dinner, etc., and all of it ends in disaster.
Like yesterday’s film The Ref, what contributes to the laugh out loud nature of the film are all the side characters, primarily all of the visiting family members which include senile Aunt Bethany and the horrible Uncle Lewis. Much of the credit can go toward screen-writer and 80s icon John Hughes who produced and wrote the film. He has always had a knack for writing both great primary and secondary characters and he is in top form with Christmas Vacation
The Second film is also written by John Hughes and is definitely the most family friendly of all the films on this list: Home Alone. I kind of want to include both the first two Home Alone films in this list as they both really do Christmas well. While the second simply takes the formula of the first film and puts it in New York, the beauty of Christmas in New York, as depicted in this film, has kept tourists flooding to the big apple non-stop every Christmas season.
Starring a young Macauley Culkin supported by a host of great comedy actors, including Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O’Hara, John Herd, and John Candy (only 4 years before his death), Home Alone is a standout of comedy acting.
Directed by Chris Columbus (who was the writer of Gremlins – another earlier entry), Home Alone is like watching a live action Merry Melodies/Looney Toons cartoon. When two burglars (Pesci and Stern) try to break into young Kevin McCallister (Culkin)’s house when he is mistakenly left home alone over Christmas, he sets up a series of violently outrageous traps that would have Wile E Coyote giving up.
As previously mentioned, both these films were written by John Hughes who seemed to have a great nostalgia for the holidays in his screen writing. It has not been included in this list because it is more of a Thanksgiving film, but Hughes’ Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, also follows a fight against horrible realities in an attempt to ensure a joyful holiday season. Hughes never was able to top the awesome heights he hit in the 80s , and he would die early at the age of 59 in 2009, but his impact is one of the most profound in modern Hollywood, and it is certainly felt every holiday season as we gather around and watch his movies for the 18 millionth time.
On the first day of Christmas, my true love made me see: The Ice Harvest
On the second day of Christmas, my true love made me see:Scrooged
On the third day of Christmas, my true love made me see: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love made me see:Batman Returns
On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love made me see: Rare Exports
On the sixth day of Chirstmas, my true love made me see: Eyes Wide Shut
On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love made me see: Gremlins
On the eight day of Christmas, my true love made me see: Bad Santa
On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love made me see: The Ref
On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love made me see: Christmas Vacation
On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love made me see: Home Alone