Ambiguous Christmas – Part 2: Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Naughty… nice… these are the Christmas movies that are fun.

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?

Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6


8 responses to “Ambiguous Christmas – Part 2: Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

  1. Seen Christmas vacation once.

    Story was the staple at my house.

    I can see the guy movie argument. For me it wasn’t the BB gun, but the thrashing of the bully scene. I think I must have done that at least 3 times.

  2. A Christmas Story is NOT a guy’s movie. It is the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas Vacation is funny in a crazy, slapstick, you’d-never-really-kidnap-your-boss kind of way, but Ralphie’s family is every family. They play with their meatloaf-feetloaf and get bullied and have parents who passive-aggressively fight over ugly furniture. I may not have wanted a Red Ryder BB gun, but I sure as hell imagined my family grief-stricken and wailing because they punished me for something. The adult Ralphie narrator keeps everything from being too childlike without resorting to “it’s a bit nipply in here” jokes. The whole thing is awesome.

    I contend that Christmas Vacation is the guy’s movie. Boob jokes, full shitters, dead cats, slobbery dogs…these are the things that make men laugh. Protagonist vs. protagonist, Clark’s overriding need is to provide for his family; Ralphie just wants something really bad. Trade the BB gun for Manolos and you’ve got six seasons of Sex and the City.

    All the girls in your vicinity were wrong. Merry Christmas.

  3. I don’t think you can argue with that.

    I’d be afraid to even try.

  4. Yeah, apparently I have strong feelings about the subject. You’re either very brave or very stupid to unearth them. Because I love you, I will say very brave.

  5. Pingback: Ambiguous Christmas – Part 1: Tidings of Great Joy | Shooting the Script

  6. Pingback: Ambiguous Christmas – Part 3: Noir Before Christmas | Shooting the Script

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