Part two of my ambiguous Christmas movie extravaganza finds us on the more traditional end of the spectrum, with two modern holiday classics.
First up, and what many might argue should have been the very first film on my list of Christmas movies:
Christmas Vacation (1989) – Dir. Jeremiah S. Chechik
Of course, were this a traditional list of Christmas movies, Christmas Vacation would most certainly be first up. But being that this list is my own personal mishmash of both traditional and unconventional Christmas fare, I thought a darker opener would help set the overall tone of this list.
For me, the holiday season always begins with the annual viewing of Christmas Vacation, just as it does for so many I know, some whether they like it or not. Now, I’m not one of those who begrudgingly submits to this holiday ritual. I love this movie… still… after more than twenty-seven viewings. In fact, I’m fairly positive that Christmas Vacation is my favorite in the National Lampoon series, in part because this has my favorite cast.
I think Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki were the best of the bunch to play Audrey and Rusty Griswold. The interplay with Todd (Nicholas Guest) and Margot (Julia Louise Dreyfus), the Griswold’s insufferable, yuppie next-door neighbors is hilarious. Any time William Hickey is on screen you’re pretty much ensured a good time. He’s perfect as the acerbic Uncle Lewis. Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo, as always, are in top form as Clark and Ellen Griswold. And like it or not, the “Shitter’s full,” scene just might be Randy Quaid’s most memorable scene ever. Hallelujah! Holy Shit! It just isn’t Christmas without the Griswolds.
And the second part of this double feature, a film that is so revered it gets 24 consecutive hours on the air every Christmas…
A Christmas Story (1983) – Dir. Bob Clark
It was recently brought to my attention that A Christmas Story is a “guy’s movie.” And I was taken aback, as every woman in my immediate vicinity at the time maligned my much-beloved classic. I couldn’t help but feel like Ralphie, the film’s young protagonist, watching in bewilderment as the rest of the world so casually casts scorn upon his hearts desire. All he wants is a BB-gun for Christmas.
But, now that I think about it, it is a guy’s movie. The entire film revolves around a 10-year-old boy’s quest to get a BB-gun for Christmas, and not just any BB-gun, but the “Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!” What 10-year-old boy hasn’t been there?
I, too, wanted a BB-gun for Christmas. I, too, was constantly put upon by the admonishing of my family that BB-guns aren’t safe. It’s totally a guy’s movie. And as a guy, I love it. Love it or hate it, it’s a classic… a classic that inspired The Wonder Years. Bonus.
Also, I eventually got my BB-gun too, and I never shot my eye out.
But what say you? Do you think A Christmas Story is a guy’s movie? Do you find yourself dreading each December, knowing that yet again you’ll be forced to watch Christmas Vacation?