Have you been enjoying a few of your favorite holiday movies this season, but are in the mood for more? Not sure what to choose next? Here are a few underrated holiday films to consider during this festive time of the year.
Jingle All the Way
Arnold Schwarzenegger can’t bench press his way out of the fact that he’s forgotten to buy his son’s favorite action figure, Turbo Man, for Christmas. So, on Christmas eve the Terminator goes on an epic crusade to procure the toy of the year. Along the way, he encounters a determined enemy in Myron Larabee, played by Sinbad, who’s gradually going postal; a lecherous womanizer in the smarmy and duplicitous Ted Maltin played by a deliciously disgusting Phil Hartman; as well as a host of concerned parents, bumbling police officers, and obnoxious store clerks. The insanity of Christmas shopping is in full effect when Ah-nold goes Christmas shopping–just check out the Santa brawl!
Home Alone 2
It may seem blasphemous to rate Home Alone 2 as worthy Christmas faire given its predecessor’s monumental reputation, and the fact that the plot is pretty much exactly the same as the first incarnation. But, the sequel to the Home Alone mega-hit has its own charm and peculiar appeal. Once again we find poor defenseless Kevin battling the Wet Bandits and it seems the rest of New York City, but this time he’s holed up in a posh NYC Plaza hotel room, and he’s macking out like a boss! Haven’t we all dreamed of eating ice cream sundaes and chocolate cake while watching cheese-ball gangster films on a stolen credit card? If not, well, this film is not for you! Favorite exchange is when Kevin’s mom asks the woman at the front desk, “What kind of idiots do you have working here?” to which the proud attendant replies, “The finest in New York.”
Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens’ novella A Christmas Carol, published in 1843, has been adapted for the stage and screen with so many different interpretations it’s hard to keep track of its theatrical oeuvre. Indeed, the sad tale of a life wasted on miserly greed and enduring compunction has struck such a chord in human consciousness that the story and phraseology has become part of the very fabric of our collective existence. And there have been many wonderful adaptations along the way, including Alastair Sim’s strange and frightening turn as the old miser; the musical Scrooge in 1970 with a frail and pathetic Albert Finney; George C. Scott cutting a cantankerous and menacing Bah-Humbug; and of course Bill Murray’s unhinged but lovable take on the classic which seems to play every December. But it is Mr. Magoo’s A Christmas Carol which captures the poignant and terrifying essence of a lonely and abandoned boy who found laconic refuge from his suffering in the pursuit of personal wealth. The musical numbers are lively and wonderful, and young Magoo’s “All Alone in the World” just might bring a lonely tear to your eye.
There are so few Christmas horror films out there that Christmas horror can hardly be considered a genre, or even a sub genre. But regardless, Krampus does Christmas horror, and does it right. The film revolves around a little boy, Max, who has lost faith in Christmas and unwittingly unleashes the ancient evil of the Krampus on his extended family. What follows is a breakneck battle with Krampus and his demonic elves and malevolent toys. The film itself is unique in that it is funny, heartwarming, and truly horrifying! If you’re in the mood for a different kind of Christmas movie this holiday season, and you can brave the Christmas nightmares, Krampus is a joyful and wildly imaginative romp through hell!
In some circles, Trading Places is not considered a holiday movie. But check out Dan Ackroyd as the beleaguered Louis Winthorpe the Third drunk out of his gourd and brandishing a pistol while wearing a Santa Claus outfit; it’s Christmas time in the city! Trading Places follows Louis (a perfect snob and unapologetic one percenter) and Billy Ray Valentine played by Eddie Murphy (a grifter with a heart for the streets, and a mind for business). Both Ackroyd and Murphy give spot-on performances in this farcical tale of class warfare and holiday insanity. And Jamie Lee Curtis gives a breath of fresh air to the hooker with a heart-of-gold cliche. Yes, Trading Places is a bit dated with its 80s jokes and over-the-top situations, but it’s nonetheless hilarious and heartfelt.
What are your favorite underrated holiday films?