Friday, December 20, 2013

Lazy Movie Weekend: The Garland Family Christmas Eve/Day Movie Marathon

I love hanging out with my family. Some people find that odd but we're generally a pretty fun and entertaining bunch. My two favorite family activities occur during this time of the year: Christmas cookie baking and the annual Christmas Eve/Day Movie Marathon.

When I was little, we always watched the classic Christmas specials on tv: Rudolph (inspired this blog by the way), Frosty, Charlie Brown, and my favorite, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Boris Karloff's narration is outstanding and the animation is just so 1966 it's not even funny. But it's a great telling of one of my favorite Dr. Seuss stories. Max will always be my favorite part of the story. I had Max in mind when I was looking for reindeer antlers for Pumpkin this holiday; I thought she'd look adorable but also sort of Max-like since she's so tiny. Alas, no antlers for Pumpkin (and now she won't kill me in my sleep).

I think these annual viewings were probably the start of our movie marathons (and probably a way my parents kept us occupied while they were getting stuff done and you know, being Santa and all). Over the years, the lineup has changed but the spirit of the movie marathon remains the same. These are the movies we can all watch hundreds of times (and agree on) and they just get better each time.

Without further ado, the Garland Family Christmas Movie Marathon:
  1.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) - the original and the best. In addition to Boris and my love of Max, isn't Thurl Ravenscroft's singing of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" absolutely marvelous? Thurl Ravenscroft is probably best known as the voice of Tony the Tiger. I like that Dr. Seuss was heavily involved in the film and he wrote the lyrics to all of the sounds. We own this on both VHS and DVD and still watch it on VHS most of the time.
  2. A Christmas Story (1983) - This was probably the first movie we added as my brother and I got older. I would like to visit the house that was used for exterior scenes; a fan bought it off of eBay and restored it to look exactly like it did in the movie. That's devotion. He doesn't just watch this one every year like we do; he lives the movie.
  3. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) - Can you believe it's been 20 years since this movie was released? I saw a 20th anniversary edition at Target today and was shocked. My brother and I both like the oddness of this movie and enjoy that it's just a bit macabre while still being holiday themed. I love it when Sally jumps from the window and sews herself together. The songs are wonderfully clever and haunting and there are all these interesting touches throughout. Of course, the amazing voice talent makes it even better (Paul Reubens is Lock y'all).
  4. Christmas Vacation (1989) - I'm not saying my dad is Clark Griswald but he has Clark Griswald tendencies (but only from this movie). This is probably my dad's least favorite movie on the list and that's probably why. He'll watch it but only because the rest of us are and that's the kind of dad my dad is. I truly believe this is Randy Quaid's finest film.
  5. The Santa Clause (1994), The Santa Clause 2 (2002), and The Santa Clause 3 (2006) - These would be my dad's favorite movies on the list (although we all agree that the third film should not have been made). Tim Allen is pretty great as Scott Calvin/Santa Claus and the supporting cast is hilarious particularly David Krumholz as Bernad the Elf (he's what's missing in the third installment). And Judge Reinhold! These movies are just fun and easy to watch. We finally replaced our VHS copy of the first movie. I've always found the dialogue between Santa and Judy a little troubling but it's still charming. 
  6. Elf (2003) - My brother doesn't care for Will Ferrell but I convinced him to give Elf a try because it's hilarious. There are just so many things to love about this movie: James Caan, Ed Asner as Santa, Buddy's enthusiasm, Zooey Deschanel's singing, Bob Newhart, smiling is my favorite. The list just goes on and on. There are only three Christmas movies I will watch throughout the year and this is one of them. It's charming. Also, there's a David Sedaris reference in the movie that I find amusing. I think there should be a sequel and it should involve South Pole elves.
  7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) - I know a lot of people don't like this version of the Grinch because it's so different from the story and the original film. However, it's really well done and incorporates the original text and elements from the both the story and the cartoon really well. If you watch this movie on ABC Family (as I am doing as I type this sentence), it's actually different from the theatrical release. There's even more to the story in version shown on tv and that makes it even better. Molly Shannon and Christine Baranski's decorating competition gets more play which is awesome because they're underused in the theatrical version (Betty Lou wins but the Mayor cheats) and there's more to the Grinch's back story. The only thing I don't love about this version is that it's a little less kid friendly. I get it, Ron Howard, you can't make a movie with Jim Carrey and have it be G rated but there are some things (like some of the Marth May storyline) that are a bit much for a holiday movie.
  8. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964) - My mom added this movie to the marathon a few years ago. I think she bought it as a joke present for my brother. Anyway, we watched it for the first time two years ago (I think) and it's exactly what you would expect from a martian themed Christmas movie from 1964. The best thing about this movie is that it was on an episode of MST3K. It's the perfect movie for Joel and the bots to watch. This also means we can add our own MST3K style commentary to it (which we do). It's just really odd - you really should just watch it to get the full effect. We skipped this one last year so I'm thinking we either need to bring it back or replace it with a new movie (see my suggestions below). 

While I don't want to lose any of our classic lineup, I do think we should consider adding to or swapping out a movie or two this year. Maybe we need to make some movies every other Christmas movies to make room for new editions. My suggestions for new movies include:
  • The Ref
  • The Holiday
  • Love Actually
  • Home Alone 2 
  • The Last Holiday 
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas 
  • Die Hard
I know, I know The Last Holiday isn't technically a Christmas movie but it's a holiday-ish movie and I love Queen Latifah so it gets to be on the list. I'm sure there are tons of other movies we could add; maybe one day we'll see them all

Happy Holidays from the Island! I'll be back next week to wrap up 2013, the leading lady quest, and see what's on the horizon for 2014.

Grinch image
MST3K image

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