The good thing about holiday movies is that there’s something for everybody. Do you love Christmas? You’re covered. Loathe the holiday season? Got that covered, too. Somewhere out there is a movie that fits your mood. Rent It Today has picked out some of the essential classics that cover a variety of genres but all have a common theme–Christmas. Check out your Netflix for rental copies of these holiday favorites.
Die Hard (1988)
A majority of today’s best selling action movies are loaded with giant transforming robots and super-heroes battling for the future of the universe, so, it’s good to revisit one of those classics that only dad can introduce you to. You know the drill: movies where the good guy is an average dude with an attitude problem, smokes regularly and throws four letter words around like they’re commas in a sentence.
That’s what Die Hard is, in addition to being the the best non-traditional Christmas movie. Die Hard introduces us to a young Bruce Willis, fresh off the set of Moonlighting. Willis beats the living hell out of muscular German terrorists for two of the most explosive and gritty hours caught on Hollywood film. John McClane (Willis) flies from New York to Los Angeles to be with his wife on the holidays. Off-duty, out if his jurisdiction and without a gun, McClane is the only person in the locked down Nakotomi building with enough balls and aggression to save the employee hostages (which includes his wife, Holly) and foil the scheme of mega-80s villain, Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman).
Christmas Vacation (1989)
Sequels rarely outdo the original. National Lampoon’s Vacation is the quintessential comedy about traveling across the country with your family. John Hughes’ films in the 80s were not high art, but they did have a finger on the pulse of white, suburban America. The Griswold family is the nuclear family on steroids and we’re all grateful for it. In the role that allowed him to shine the brightest, Chevy Chase totally owns the role as a goofy, amiable working stiff, Clark Griswold.
Christmas Vacation, the third film in the series, has become a modern holiday classic since its release 25 years ago. What it did different, and right–was centralize the family to one location for the majority of the film. There’s plenty of hijinks to be had at the Griswold family with the attendance of cantankerous relatives, yuppie neighbors, a Rottweiler, squirrel and Cousin Eddie.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
Growing up is hard for everyone and the older you get, the more hardened you become to the joys of childhood. No matter what life has thrown at me, there’s something majestic about watching this movie fifty years after its release. The stop-motion animation is still effective and allows the viewer to use their imagination–especially children. There’s several classic songs to fill out the soundtrack of this one, as well. Watching Rudolph makes me imagine my parents as little kids, sitting in front of their family’s tube television watching this with delight.
All That Heaven Allows (1955)
Feeling sappy and want a classic love story that takes place during the holiday season? Go with the technicolor splendor of this 50s melodrama starring Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman. The older, widowed Cary Scott (Wyman) falls in love with the younger landscaper (Hudson) during the late fall/early winter season. Their ill-fated romance plays against social norms of mid-century America, where it was looked down upon for older women to have relationships with young men. The two face social criticism from family for their May-December romance. Beautifully photographed and a perfect time capsule for middle-class America at the time.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
It’s a tired inclusion but any Christmas movie list that doesn’t include this one is missing the point. It’s a Wonderful Life has been replicated countless times–faithfully and satirically. When you look at the movie without pretenses and no frame of reference, it can be an emotionally moving experience. Frank Capra’s directing style was masterful at eliciting joyous emotions from stories with down on their luck characters. James Stewart was blessed with many great film roles and this role as lovable George Bailey is at the top of the heap. For younger people afraid of black and white movies, the blu-ray release as the colorized version. If you like Forrest Gump, you’ll love this.