I will not watch It’s a Wonderful Life, and I will not watch Miracle on 34th Street, and I will not watch any animated special urging me to celebrate the holiday season in Technicolor (that means no Grinch, no red-nosed reindeer, no Charlie Brown, and no grandma roadkill).
I will not watch any version of A Christmas Carol (except one, which I’ll get to), and I will not watch anything that ends with a puppy decked out in a red bow. Or Home Alone, but I won’t watch Home Alone mostly because I don’t like Macaulay Culkin in anything but Party Monster, and then, just barely.
Artificially sweet holiday fare doesn’t deck my halls or mistle my toe, but before you add me to your naughty list, know that I do get into the holiday season via cinematic escape; I just do it through movies without a peace-on-earth shiny happy people message.
Like Gremlins. Gizmo is a Christmas gift for Bill, and at least one of the after-midnight monsters sport a Santa hat. A snowman is decapitated; a woman is given a ride in a stair lift; a movie house is blown up. Yippee ki yay, mofos.
Speaking of, I very much enjoy spending Christmas in New York with Detective John McClane and Hans Gruber in Nakatomi Plaza.
Bill Murray sleighs me (see what I did there?) every time in Scrooged. Then again, nothing gets “lost in translation” with this retelling of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Because of Scrooged, no other retelling will do.
My friends and I turn Jingle All the Way (that classic Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad film) into a drinking game. Try it.
Elf has to make the list too. You’ll laugh; you’ll cry (but only from laughing); and you’ll never look at raccoons the same again.
You know what else I won’t watch? Jim Carey’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Reese Witherspoon’s Four Christmases, or A Christmas Story. Nothing about those films appeal. Nothing about the actors in those films appeals to me. Except Witherspoon in Legally Blonde. And in Cruel Intentions. And in… OK. Maybe I’ll give Four Christmases another try.
But let’s not forget Nightmare Before Christmas, for which I lift my fatwa on animated holiday movies. But Nightmare is unlike other holiday movies. A plot is hatched to kidnap Sandy Claws. And Jack Skellington courts Sally. And there are pumpkins. Not to mention a killer soundtrack. Plus Nightmare makes me smile.
Life of Brian over Bad Santa any day. I think December would be better spent celebrating Brianmas than Christmas. That’s just me.
But my hands-down favorite Christmas movie? Batman Returns. Mostly because of one scene. Batman, as Bruce Wayne, dancing with Catwoman, as Selina Kyle, neither in masks, though they are at a masquerade. And Siouxsie Sioux is singing Face to Face in the background. And mistletoe becomes a key plot point. And something about that moment of recognition, of realizing what’s right in front of you, says everything I want Christmas to say, which is that a kiss under the mistletoe can be deadly, but a kiss that you mean can be even deadlier.