/Answers: Our Favorite Movies to Watch During the Holidays

Vanessa Bogart: The Muppet Christmas Carol

Every year on December 23, my family used to embark on the seven hour drive to Mawmaw and Pawpaw’s house for Christmas. We were the super cool family that had the conversion van with TV and VCR and on that long drive at Christmas time, full of anticipation for the holiday ahead and the presents that awaited us, there were only two movies that we ever watched: The Nightmare Before Christmas which was a little bit more of a year ’round film (especially in my middle school Hot Topic days) and The Muppet Christmas Carol, which, with its humor, charm, and message of warmth and togetherness, left its merry imprint on me all the way into adulthood. It feels like Christmas.

There are few movies that fill me with such an unbridled feeling of pure, innocent, childlike joy as The Muppet Christmas Carol. The fusion of Charles Dickens and the Muppets made it just modern and funny enough to appeal to the whole family, while still keeping it timeless enough that it holds up 25 years later. Now we’re older and Santa Claus has long since left the building, I find myself looking forward to our yearly viewing of The Muppet Christmas Carol, because it means that we have all finally arrived at Mom and Dad’s house and it is officially Christmas.

All that Christmas joy aside, like the original untampered-with Star Wars VHS trilogy, our video copy of The Muppet Christmas Carol is a coveted possession, for it is the only version that contains the heartbreaking song, “When Love is Gone,” which was mercilessly ripped from the Blu-ray release. If you ever want to know who the real life Grinch is, it is whoever made that decision. Even the vegetables don’t like him. I digress. God bless us, everyone. Merry Christmas.

Jacob Hall: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

From 2001 through 2003, my Decembers were defined by Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Like clockwork, they arrived right before Christmas – a special gift that was projected on a screen rather than left under the tree. As a youngster, they were enthralling adventures, exciting films that got the blood pumping. So, naturally, they entered regular rotation and I made sure to watch them every December like clockwork.

Now that I’m 14 years older, I continue to revisit Jackson’s remarkable trilogy in the weeks before Christmas, but it has taken on a different meaning. It’s no longer just something I watch during the holidays – it has come to represent everything I want from the holidays. Not just because everyone in these movies is always feasting and eating (although that’s nice, too), but because these are movies about decent people coming together to do the right thing in face of overwhelming evil. Young me loved these movies, but always thought Frodo and Gandalf and Aragorn could have used a sharper edge. But current me, older and wiser and more concerned about the horrors of existence then ever, finds comfort in a tale of noble, uncomplicated heroes simply doing the right thing, a tale of even the most forgettable people rising to the occasion because we sometimes must make sacrifices to protect those we love.

For me, coming together with friends and family isn’t just a thing I do out of habit. It’s something I do because it holds off the darkness. Lord of the Rings gets that. I wouldn’t trade my own personal Fellowship for anything in the world.

Matt Donato: Gremlins

Apologies for all the pro-Gremlins talk around these parts in recent days, but what can I say? My favorite holiday horror movie is also my favorite movie to watch around the holidays (surprise). I’ve already stated “why” in my “Rank Off” throwdown against Mr. Rob Hunter – which you’re encouraged to check out – and there’s another nifty present coming your way that’ll echo the same (on a much larger scale). ‘Tis the season for Gizmo, Stripe and all the gang – a merry bout of madness that modern Hollywood will never replicate.

The reasoning is simple: I’m a genre guy through and through. My yearly Top 20 always seems to contain more horror flicks and thrillers than most. Same goes for my holiday watching choices. There’s a time and place for Frosty, Hermey, those types, but when I want to let loose and soak in some (spiked) Christmas joy, a little darkness livens up the joint. Life ain’t all candy canes and sweet coco. Maybe that’s my cynical side talking, but you can’t deny bad guys always have a bit more fun.

The thing is, Gremlins isn’t just a horror story – it’s everything we love about Christmas movies and genre rolled into one movie. Joe Dante finds Kingston Falls in the midst of small-town Christmas jubilance while his puppeteered creatures embody Santa’s very definition of “naughty” without going full savage. You wouldn’t use “terrifying” or “disturbing” to describe any scene, instead words like “mayhem,” “zany” and “mischievous.” It’s responsibility taut, family-forward and has mean-old ladies getting launched out of second story windows. Everything the holidays need!

You can keep your Hallmark love stories where Mr. Wrong’s December is saved when Mrs. Right waltzes into his life. I’ll take Phoebe Cates’ “Worst Christmas” monologue every time. Or Gizmo zoomin’ around in his hot-rod. Or the barroom gremlins gettin’ sloshed and rowdy. That doesn’t mean I’m anti Christmas – praise be family brunch with Italian staples and mimosa pitchers – it’s just that my seasonal escapism mocks commercialism and warped holiday mindsets. Plus Gizmo is just too damned lovable to deny. Another year, another revisit. Happy Creepsmas, y’all!

muppet christmas carol 2

Previous Editions of /Answers

Pages: Previous page 1 2

Cool Posts From Around the Web: