Christmas is supposed to be a joyous and happy time, but in reality that’s not always the case. If you’re like me, Christmas can feel like a chore, or at best just plain underwhelming. Sometimes you need a bit of coaxing to get yourself into the holiday spirit and chase away the blues. Here’s a list of movies to get you into the Christmas spirit, or at least make you laugh!
It’s a Wonderful Life – 1946
Definitely one of the all time classics, starring James Stewart as George Bailey. George is the pillar in his community and gives selflessly to ensure the well-being of friends and family, until a turn of events leads him to a desperate act. His guardian angel shows up just in time to help get things back on track and make George realize what’s really important in life.
Miracle on 34th Street – 1947
Another great classic, this story takes place in New York, where Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) is incensed to find that the man hired to play Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade is drunk. When he complains to the event director, he is promptly asked to step in as a replacement, after which he is offered the position as Macy’s full time Santa. Things get complicated for Kris as the people around him start to see that he truly believes he is Santa.
Scrooged – 1988
Francis “Frank” Xavier Cross (Bill Murray) is an ambitious and ruthless television executive in this modern interpretation of A Christmas Carol. In his unscrupulous push to succeed in business, Frank has managed to alienate everyone in his life including his family and his true love Claire (Karen Allen). He endures the agonizing reality of his ways as he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future before he finally realizes his mistake and begs for a second chance.
The Nightmare Before Christmas – 1993
This Tim Burton movie is about a group of monsters who live in a dreamworld called Halloween Town and put on a frightful celebration each year. Their leader Jack the “Pumpkin King” gets bored with Halloween and decides to make a play on “Christmas Town”, kidnapping Santa in the process. Of course, the plan falls apart in a disastrous way and Jack find himself in a tough predicament, until he regains his inner spirit and tries to make things right again.
Bad Santa – 2003
Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) is a degenerate drunk who works as a mall Santa with his dwarf sidekick Marcus (Tony Cox). Their real gig however is to burglarize unsuspecting shop owners using their Santa cover as a way to get in. Eventually suspicion arises from the mall security, Marcus meets a woman, takes a young protégé under his wing, and a hilarious backstabbing game of cat and mouse ensues.
Elf – 2003
When Santa unwittingly brings home an orphan baby who climbed into his sack, it is decided that Papa Elf (Bob Newhart) will raise him as his own. Buddy (Will Farrell) is raised amongst the elves not realizing he is human, until he eventually his father is forced to reveal his true origin. Buddy then leaves on a hilarious quest to find his biological family in New York City where he ends up standing out event more than at the North Pole.
Love Actually – 2003
Love Actually is a tapestry of stories involving seemingly unconnected people at various stages of their lives taking place in London around Christmas time. From a newly elected bachelor Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) who falls for one of his staffers (Martine McCutcheon) to a new bride (Kiera Knightly) who is confused by her husband’s best friend’s cold attitude. From a comfortable married woman (Emma Thompson) who suspect that her husband may be having thoughts of infidelity, to a widowed father (Liam Neeson) who is trying to re-connect with his young stepson. Their lives eventually come together in a series of funny, romantic and bittersweet events culminating to Christmas Eve.
Surviving Christmas – 2004
Drew (Ben Affleck) is a wealthy advertising executive leading a hallow existence with only his wealth to comfort him. Finding himself alone for Christmas he tries to rekindle the joy of his youth by returning to his childhood home. With a generous cash offer, he convinces the current owners to let him celebrate Christmas with their family. Drew quickly becomes overbearing as he puts the already dysfunctional family beyond their tolerance for chaos.
The Holiday – 2006
Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet) is a writer in London who is in love with one of her colleagues, who doesn’t reciprocate her affections. When she is the last to find out about his engagement to another colleague, she decides she needs a change in scenery. Meanwhile, Amanda Woods (Cameron Diaz) is a movie-trailer producer in Los Angeles who has just broken up with her unfaithful boyfriend and decides to take a break from her usual life. Impulsively, the two women meet on a house exchange website and decide to trade houses for the Christmas break, Amanda’s Los Angeles mansion for Iris’s idyllic English cottage.
Four Christmases – 2008
Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) are a happily married couple without kids and are about to leave on their usual Christmas holiday tropical retreat to Fiji, lying to their respective families about their plans to avoid family obligations. Bad weather causes their flights to be canceled, and by a twist of fate, their predicament is discovered by their families, who now expect them to visit. One by one, they make the dreaded visits facing increasingly uncomfortable situations at the hands of their unruly families.