At this time of year, the networks are filling up with holiday specials and movies to help us get in the mood to overspend on items nobody needs but everyone just has to have.
There are two types to choose from. The first have Christmas as a sub-title, the not-so-Christmas classics. For example, Die Hard is a holiday hostage situation and While you Were Sleeping has a woman pretending to be engaged to a guy in a coma at Christmas. And who could forget Lethal Weapon in which a hooker is thrown from a window to the tune of “Jingle Bell Rock”?
Then there are the movies that are all about the holidays. And despite a multitude of Christmas classics to choose from, there’s always new fare on the menu.
Candace Cameron Bure stars in Switched at Christmas as a set of estranged twins. Meanwhile, Glee’s Amber Riley stars as a college student who tries to hire a family for the holidays in My One Christmas Wish.
These are nice little films. Yet, they don’t quite meet the standards that were set by my juvenile heart so many Christmases ago with films like It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. Now, those were magic.
Or were they? My ultimate Christmas classics include a suicide attempt and locking up Santa in a psychiatric ward. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Even the true “children’s classics” are rife with questionable content. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was ostracized by his peers and only accepted after he could prove his value. Charlie Brown’s Christmas focuses on a neurotic kid and his pathetic little tree. And Frosty the Snowman involves theft and a murdered snowman.
In ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Santa holds a grudge against an entire town for the comments of one loudmouth idiot. (Hopefully Kim Jong-un isn’t watching.) And don’t get me started on The Grinch.
Of course, in the last few decades, some new classics have popped up. Everyone loves The Santa Clause. A guy steals a dead man’s red suit and as a result, is blackmailed into giving up his life for this new job. It was followed by The Santa Clause 2 in which the same guy is now forced to find a wife who is then emotionally blackmailed into giving up her life too.
In Home Alone, Macauley Culkin is “accidentally” left behind when the family leaves town for the holidays. But don’t be afraid children. That sound you heard downstairs was actually someone breaking in while the cops ignored your pleas for help.
Elf wears green tights. Should be fun, right? Except he’s sent away from everything he knows by his adoptive family. Then his biological father shuns him too. (Can anyone say DACA?)
And what’s the holiday without National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and an electrocuted cat?
Okay, so perhaps our Christmas classics are as twisted as our tendency to over-shop and complain about it. But at least we’re watching them together.