The holidays have always been a time for copious movie watching in my family. There’s just something about being shut indoors with relatives that screams “Hey, let’s watch some movies!” about this time of year, be it the frigid weather or the need to feel “together” without having to actually talk about awkward things.
Of course, I’m assuming that you’ll be making a stop at the movie theater to ogle – er, admire Olivia Wilde in Tron: Legacy (which opens this weekend), but for home entertainment purposes, I’ve put together a few of the most enduring classics, for you to peruse and enjoy as necessary. Be sure to bring a DVD or two if you’re making the annual “Guess who’s gay at the family party?” rounds, for safety.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
The Gist: The adorable Muppets put on an ultra-faithful presentation of Charles Dickens’ holiday classic A Christmas Carol. With “creative casting” — Kermit in the role of Bob Cratchet, Gonzo and Rizzo as narrators, and Michael Caine as the iconic Scrooge — it’s one of the best Christmas Carol film adaptations around.
Holiday-ness: 10/10. If you celebrate Christmas, or just want to get into the spirit of the season, this will turn you from a grumpy old miser to a singing, dancing, gift-giving kook in 90-minutes flat.
Geek Factor: 8/10. Anything the Muppets appear in has automatic nerd cred.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
The Gist: A wacky, not-entirely PC view of the joys — and pains — of celebrating Christmas with a large extended family. This disc is in such high demand in my own family that my mother routinely watches it in July.
Holiday-ness: 10/10. The entire film is centered on prepping for – and surviving – holidays with well-meaning but obnoxious relatives. And yuppie neighbors. And drooling dogs.
Geek Factor: 7/10. If you watch this like I do with my family, you can quote practically the whole movie. Drinking games are also appropriate.
Star Wars – Original Trilogy
The Gist: The original space adventures! But really, if you need a description, you’re reading the wrong column.
Holiday-ness: 6/10. OK, there’s nothing explicitly about Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve, etc. in the flicks, since, you know, they’re based in a time long ago and a galaxy far away. But they are definitely magical and fun and familiar.
Geek Factor: 10/10. Of course, these are the sacred works that have informed many younglings’ passages into geek hood.
The Gist: An early ’90s sci-fi flick with attitude, a cheese factor of 10.5 and a thoughtful storyline hiding beneath layers and layers of schlocky special effects. Starring a buffed-out Arnold in his prime and Sharon Stone in one of her first major roles, it’s a must-watch classic.
Holiday-ness: 3/10. It’s not a “holiday movie” in the strictest sense, but watching it is such a nostalgic treat that it sits somewhere between candy canes and chocolate-covered cherries in the sugar rush category. It’s also really red (it takes place on Mars), so you can just trim your TV with a little green foil and viola! Instant holiday spirit.
Geek Factor: 8/10. If you can’t quote the film (especially this prized line: “Baby, you make me wish I had three hands”), you may as well give up your nerd card.
Readers, do you have flicks you like to watch around this time of year? List them in the comments!