Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
If you’re born after 1985 then it’s a good bet that you the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street is your definitive version of that film. While the original is a classic it doesn’t have Richard Attenborough, or Matilda herself, Mara Wilson. It’s a wonderful story of belief in Santa that it will melt away all of your hard-won adult cynicism. Isn’t that what a Christmas movie is supposed to do?
Scrooge won’t be appearing on this list since there are far too many brilliant riffs on Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol that your family would rather watch. The first of these is the Bill Murray film Scrooged which bring 80s greed is bad update to the festive tale. Directed by Richard Donner (who will be appearing again like some kind of Christmas ghost), Scrooged is a brilliant spin on a story that we are all frankly a little sick of. Sorry, Charles.
The Muppet’s Christmas Carol
No family Christmas would be complete without an appearance from The Muppets. I know I’m going to feel the wrath of some Muppet Treasure Island fans, but Christmas Carol may be the best film those magnificent puppets have ever done. Michael Caine is very game as Ebenezer Scrooge, in fact he plays it like a straight drama, as he is visited by three ghosts on Christmas eve. I’ll say this though, if you’re not still freaked out by the Ghost of Christmas Future then you have nerves of steel.
Family Christmas movies don’t all need to be heart-warming tales of the festive season, some can be straight up, balls to the wall action. That’s where Die Hard comes in, as John McClane has the worst office Christmas party of his life. Plus, the family can chip in on the immortal argument of whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie, or a movie that happens to take place at Christmas.
Joe Dante’s Gremlins is a classic for life, not just for Christmas. Gremlins may be the most popular anti-Christmas film, as the little monsters bask in the excess of the festive period with murderous results. Check your tree, check your stalking, because this metaphor for 80s consumerism is also one of the best horror comedies ever made.
National Lampoons Christmas Vacation
Christmas dinner with the family is a joyous occasion (depending on your family, of course) but it takes a lot of hard work to get everything ready for this event. So after you’re anchored to the floor by a food baby watch Chevy Chase go through all of that stress tines a thousand in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Batman is a superhero for every season but there isn’t a Christmas movie quite like Batman Returns. Tim Burton and Michael Keaton’s sequel was all about the freaks and loners of Gotham City, and the masks they wear. Plus, there is no cooler image than a swarm of bats flying out of a Christmas tree. Merry Christmas Alfred.
Will Ferrell’s best role, that’s right, better than Ron Burgundy, is only one reason to watch Elf this Christmas. Not only is it a sweet and hilarious movie, it’s also the best Christmas movie of the 21st Century.
While Die Hard is an easy sell, some families will be a little hesitant about Lethal Weapon. If you’re worried about your grandparents being horrified, consider this: they probably seen it in the cinema. No Christmas is complete without the origin of the greatest buddy cop franchise of them all.
It’s A Wonderful Life
Frank Capra’s classic movie is easily the definitive Christmas movie. Jimmy Stewart starring tale is often copied but never bettered, so gather on the couches with your family and remind yourself HOW DARK THIS MOVIE REALLY IS! Everyone remembers the heartfelt ending to this movie, but it takes some dark turns to get there. It’s A Wonderful Life is still so remarkable because of its darkness as well as its light. It’s about how Christmas can provide rest from the pressures of daily life.
Merry Christmas from all of us at Gumbino.