It’s the week before Christmas,
And school just let out.
To feel holiday spirit,
These flicks leave no doubt.
Home Alone: [PG 1990] 20th Century Fox
One of the highest grossing holiday films of all time, this movie is about a smart kid making all the right moves to foil two halfwit burglars. It’s perfect to watch if you’re feeling left out of the family and need a good laugh.
When Kevin McCallister [Macaulay Culkin] is left home alone, he does what every youngster dreams of doing: he eats junk food, watches TV all day and sleds down the stairs. After two dumb robbers [Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci] attempt to break into his family’s house, Kevin plays defense, giving the crooks a fight they’ll never forget.
Christmas Vacation: [PG-13 1989] National Lampoon
Clark [Chevy Chase] and the rest of the Griswolds try to put together the best family Christmas ever. But Clark’s high expectations of holiday cheer are quickly diminished—by a house that doesn’t light up; a jackass cousin who wants to borrow money (if you have one of these, you know exactly how it feels); whiney in-laws; and a Jelly-of-the-Month office holiday bonus. When all is said and done, though, the Griswolds find the true meaning of Christmas and are happy to be with one another.
Gremlins: [PG-13 1984] Warner Bros.
OK, this is not the most spiritual holiday film, but it features the worst Christmas present ever given to anyone (other than a subscription to the Jelly-of-the-Month club). The mysterious present, opened by Billy Peltzer [Zach Galligan], is a Mogwai, and it has three simple rules—no bright lights, no water and no food after midnight. Of course, Billy breaks all three, and when the gremlins appear, all hell breaks loose in the town of Kingston Falls. It’s no wonder the Mogwai are nearly extinct. But like they say, it’s the thought that counts.
A Christmas Story: [PG 1983] Warner Bros.
There’s a reason why this film runs for 24 hours straight on Christmas—it’s that good. How many other movies feature a leg lamp in the front window during the holidays? Everyone can relate to the story, which involves a child wishing for that one special gift that he dreams about—and it’s not a pink bunny suit from Aunt Clara. All Ralphie Parker [Peter Billingsley] wants for Christmas is an official Red Ryder 200-shot model air rifle. Every adult tells him he’ll shoot his eye out, and Ralphie’s hopes dim. But it’s Christmas. Magic can happen. If you’ve never seen this one, prepare to laugh your eyes out.
It’s A Wonderful Life: [PG 1946] Paramount
The name says it all, and this old movie reveals the true meaning of the holiday season. It’s not about getting presents, hanging lights or eating gourmet meals. It’s about the people you share those things with and giving back to those who are needy. When George Bailey [James Stewart] discovers that he’s about to lose his company and turn over the town to the evil Mr. Potter [Lionel Barrymore], he contemplates ending his life, because he believes the town would be better off without him. But his guardian angel, Clarence [Henry Travers], comes down to show him what life would be like if he wasn’t a part of the town, and George quickly realizes his troubles are not as bad as they seem and his life is worth a whole lot to those who love him.