The end of the year is usually such a busy time that it's tough to put aside a few hours to just relax in front of the TV. But if you do have a couple of hours to fill, any of these Christmas-themed movies will help lift your spirits and put you in the holiday mood.
One of the best written romantic comedies in decades happens to have a Christmas theme. Eight storylines collide in this touching, funny, and highly entertaining look at love, lust, loss, and relationships. Starring Hugh Grant as the British Prime Minister, Keira Knightley as a new bride, Liam Neeson as a newly widowed father, and Bill Nighy as an aging rock star, Love Actually has a lot of heart and a lot of engaging characters to get into.
"You'll poke your eye out!" Anyone who's hoped and wished and dreamed of that one gift, that one item so special nothing else will do, will absolutely adore A Christmas Story. Ralphie (Peter Billingsley, director of Couples Retreat) wants a Red Ryder BB gun, but his parents keep telling him it's too dangerous. But that doesn't stop Ralphie from driving his poor parents crazy by actively campaigning for the gun.
6'3" Will Ferrell is raised by Santa and thinks he's an elf in this hilarious comedy directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man). After getting kicked out of the North Pole because he's too ungainly to handle elf duties, Buddy sets out to find his real father. But once he meets his biological dad, things don't go smoothly. Being raised by Santa creates a lot of problems in a real world where most people don't believe in the jolly old elf.
Bill Murray hates Christmas and everything associated with the holiday in this modern retelling of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Childhood memories combined with a failed relationship with the love of his life have made this TV producer an unpleasant fellow to be around during the holiday season. But when he's visited by three ghosts, he has a dramatic change of heart.
This is my personal favorite film of all the National Lampoon Griswold family adventures. When the squirrel comes flying out of the Christmas tree, it never fails to send me into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. All Clark wants is for this family (even those members he didn't invite) to have a great holiday, but just about everything that could go wrong, does go wrong.
Like your holiday films a little twisted? Are you into Tim Burton? How about musicals with bite? If you answered yes, then the stop-motion A Nightmare Before Christmas should be right up your alley. Jack Skellington is supposed to be all about Halloween, but he finds himself fascinated with Christmas and wants to take over that holiday by kidnapping Santa.
7. 'Home Alone'
The first film of the series (there have been four all together, and a video game) is still the best, and still deserves a viewing during the winter holidays. Written and produced by John Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Rent), Home Alone introduced us to the dysfunctional McCallister family and their youngest son, Kevin, played by Macaulay Culkin who will forever be remembered for his surprised pose on the film's poster. Kevin's left home (hence the title) at Christmas and after the initial joy of being away from this family wear off, he realizes that even if they get on his nerves, he really does love them all.
8. 'Bad Santa'
Billy Bob Thornton is a bad, bad Santa. He smokes, he drinks, he hits on women, and he has really, really bad hygiene. As far as we know, none of these traits apply to the real Santa... Thornton plays Willie, a seasonal Santa hired on to work in a shopping mall along with his associate, Marcus (Tony Cox). Marcus may fit the physical characteristics of an elf, but he's just as R-rated as Willie. But Willie has a change of heart when he meets a beautiful bartender and a troubled kid who truly believes in him.
I'm guessing the first film that pops into your head when you think of Christmas movies isn't Gremlins, but the 1984 horror comedy from writer Chris Columbus and director Joe Dante actually is Christmas-themed. And quick, don't think about it, what are the rules for raising a gremlin? 1) Don't let them near water, 2) no bright lights, and 3) do not under any circumstances feed them after midnight!