Friday, December 25, 2009

Buzz, your girlfriend -- woof!

Merry Christmas to one and all! And even if you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope you're enjoying having the day off and eating obscene amounts of food like the rest of us. I am in California, celebrating Christmas with my parents and big ol' Irish-Mexican family as usual. It's a short trip, since I am only taking half a day of vacation off work and I have to go back to DC on Sunday. Boo. But at least I get a few days of quality time with the fam in beautiful, sunny San Francisco.

This year's Christmas blog is going to be my top 5 essential Christmas movies. I'm not claiming that all (or any) of these movies are rare or indie or deep or moving. But they are my absolute favorites and essential to my enjoyment of the holiday season, so I want to share them with you. In no particular order:

1. Home Alone

Home Alone came out when I was in second grade and I remember seeing it in the theater. It's kinda weird to think that the late, great John Hughes was still pumping out classics in 1990. I'd say that Home Alone was John Hughes' last great work. Curly Sue and Beethoven were good, I guess, but come on: Home Alone is in a league of its own.

Things I love about this movie: the big, beautiful suburban Chicago houses, Macauley Culkin's insolent cuteness, the blood curdling girl scream that Daniel Stern emits when a tarantula is dropped on his face (see below), the cozy disfunction of the McAllister family, the scene where Kevin asks a salesperson if a certain toothbrush has been approved by the ADA, the John Candy cameo as Gus Polinski, and, of course, the soundtrack. The title of this blog post is an homage to this amazing movie. I am watching it now, actually. It's at the part where Kevin sits in the living room with a huge bowl of ice cream and watches Angels With Filthy Souls. ("Too bad Acey ain't in charge no more.")

2. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

This gem of a movie is a particular favorite of my Dad's. The scene where Clark Griswold flies down the hill on a saucer makes my Dad laugh so hard every time he sees it, I think he is going to have an aneurism. Christmas Vacation came out in 1989: I am starting to think that late 80s, early 90s was the zenith of Christmas filmmaking. Anyway, this movie is unfailingly hilarious. Best things about the movie: the awful yuppie neighbors (Todd and Margo), Cousin Eddie's big-hearted cluelessness (and his classy white sweater-black dicky get-up), Juliette Lewis as a sullen Audrey Griswold, Aunt Bethany and Uncle Lewis, the squirrel, and my favorite quote from any Christmas movie, ever: "Mister, if I had a rubber hose, I would beat you..."

3. A Christmas Story

If you own a TV, you've probably seen this movie many times (today). It runs 24 hours on like six different channels during Christmas, and deservedly so. My favorite part is when Ralphie and Randy are waiting in line to see Santa, and the weird kid behind them in the aviator goggles says, "I like the Wizard of Oz... I like the Tin Man."

In sort of disturbing Christmas Story news, though, I recently found out that Scott Schwartz, the actor who played Flick, the kid who got his tongue stuck to the flagpole, grew up to become an "adult entertainment" actor. This might possibly be the saddest thing I've seen this Christmas season, including those emotionally abusive ASPCA commercials with Sarah McLachlan music and starving puppies and kitties:

Oh, Flick. Why?!

4. Mickey's Christmas Carol

This was my all-time favorite Christmas movie when I was a kid: it came out on my second Christmas (1983) and my parents had the foresight to tape it so that I could watch it, repeatedly, often during the summer, over and over, for the next 10 years or so. Consequently, I am pretty sure I thought that the Dickensian classic, A Christmas Carol, was based on this movie. Which means I thought that Ebenezer Scrooge was modeled off of Scrooge McDuck. Maybe I shouldn't be broadcasting this.

This movie is heartwarming and wonderful, and all of the Disney characters mash up oddly well to their Dickensian counterparts. Jiminy Cricket was the Ghost of Christmas Present, Mickey Mouse was Bob Cratchet, Daisy Duck was Belle, and Scrooge McDuck was, you know, Scrooge. The opening credits kinda sum it all up for me:

It warms the cockles of my cold little heart!

5. A Charlie Brown Christmas

Okay, I'm betting you are all familiar with a Charlie Brown Christmas, but if you haven't seen it recently, please watch it immediately. The cultural impact of this movie can't really be understated: yesterday my mom and I were at Christmas eve mass and the priest was reading Luke 2:8-14, and all I could think of was Linus' speech in a Charlie Brown Christmas:

So sweet.

On that note, I will bid you all a good night. I just ate my weight in London broil and cake, and am not even sure I'm typing in full sentences anymore. Hope you're all watching Christmas movies and enjoying yourselves as much as I have this weekend! Merry Christmas.