Editor’s Note: This article was first published as “Your VodkaPundit Christmas Movie Guide” in 2013 and is now resurrected and republished as part of the Ghost-Lists of Christmas Past Series.
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Tis almost the night before Christmas — but there’s still plenty of time to load up the DVD player or stream from Netflix. So make lovely adult beverages for you and yours, and mugs of hot cocoa for the kids.
I should also mention that I’ve never once been able to sit through all of It’s a Wonderful Life, so there’s a good chance I’m a terrible person with retrograde taste in holiday entertainment. So with that out of the way, let’s look at what we do watch every year here at Casa Verde.
Apparently there’s some kind of bitter feud amongst the Love Actually-haters and the Love Actually-lovers, but I’m here to resolve those differences by gently reminding you that the Love Actually-haters are possibly less than human, almost certainly dead inside, and at the very least are incapable of simple human emotion.
Here we have every love story crammed into one breezy and perfectly paced gem of a movie. There’s romantic love, new love, young love, lost love, love that bridges the language barrier, brotherly love, lustful love, the love between a sister and her institutionalized brother, and perhaps the most touching of all, the love between a step-father and the son he finds himself caring for alone. The scenes between Liam Neeson and young Thomas Sangster are by themselves worth the price of admission. And every Anglophile will love Rowan Atkinson’s two pitch-perfect cameos.
There’s some language and some comical nudity, so this one might not be for the kiddos — but prove to me you aren’t dead inside and learn to love Love Actually.
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I don’t mean the overblown, overlong, unnecessary, and completely unentertaining Ron Howard mess from 2000 staring Jim Carrey. I do mean the delightfully charming 1966 TV special. So maybe technically this one isn’t a movie, but it might be the best 26 minutes you’ll spend on the sofa each Christmas. You get Dr. Seuss’s timeless story, Boris Karloff’s just-this-side-of-spooky narration, Chuck Jones’s classic animation, and perhaps best of all, Thurl Ravenscroft singing You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.
If you can’t find half an hour to spend watching this one with the kids or grandkids, then you’re heart’s probably a dead tomato splotched with moldy, purple spots. But after just one viewing, you may find your heart grows three sizes that day.
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Again with my horrible taste. I’ve never cared much for Bing Crosby’s sleepy singing style, and I’ve always found Danny Kaye to be much more annoying than entertaining. But you put those two together with Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen in a movie as breezy and touching as the wartime Irving Berlin song on which it’s loosely based? Count me in, every year. There’s a story here, I suppose, but it’s really just an excuse for the musical numbers, with the title song serving as the film’s bookends.
They just don’t make ’em like this anymore, and sometimes when I look around the crass stew that American popular music has become, I wonder how they ever made ’em like this in the first place.
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4. About a Boy
Yes, I have two Hugh Grant movies in my list. I’m not proud of that, but there it is. In this one Grant plays a womanizing man-child living a do-nothing life on his inheritance. The story takes place between two Christmases, with Grant discovering single moms are easy prey — and letting a young boy enter his life and complicate his easy existence. Nicholas Hoult plays the boy, Marcus, with such ease that he makes you wonder (again) how the British produce so many wonderful child actors and we can hardly produce a one. Toni Collette is his neurotic, bipolar hippie mother, and Rachel Weisz is as delectable as ever as the love interest.
There’s not a socialist screed to be heard against inherited wealth, just disdainful looks that Grant doesn’t do anything with his life. And there’s a lot of good to be found on the importance of family. There is one f-bomb, but someday I’m looking forward to explaining to my sons why it’s so funny when Grant shouts, “You daft, f****** hippie!”
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5. Die Hard, AKA, How Bruce Willis Saved Christmas
Yes, a lot of people die of bullets and falling off of high rise building and such. Yes, there are enough f-bombs to level the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Yes, there’s a little cocaine and a lot of gunfire.
But even more lives are saved. An estranged husband and wife are brought back together. A soulless mainstream media hack is humiliated on live, national television. A good cop is redeemed. A lot of stuff gets blowed up real good. And Willis rains down $600,000,000 in untraceable bearer bonds over the streets of Los Angeles like so many white fluffy snowflakes.
It’s dum-dee-dum delightful.
And that’s your VodkaPundit Christmas Movie Guide. As a bonus, one evening between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, treat yourself and your spouse to When Harry Met Sally. But before you do, don’t take down the mistletoe.