12 Movies of Christmas with OTK

Image via: Mr Leon Taylor

Ahhh the traditional Kiwi Christmas! It’s a wonderful time of the year! You’re either; squished tight into an over-packed car travelling hilly, winding distances to see relatives that you can barely remember, to settle in for a two week stint of awkward communal bathroom times. Or perhaps you’re squished into an over-packed lounge room wondering just who the hell all these people are, and exactly who invited them all? Whatever scenario you’re faced with when you peep your head up from this post, you love them; and you tolerate them because the Christmas retail ads on TV tell you you’re supposed too. Plus you do love a good feed on all that Christmas kai. Then at some point you know you’re going to nap out with one of your favourite Christmas movies. Winking kindly at you from the screen like some beloved old friend; coming to silent your night and jingle your bells, these Christmas flicks will help you weather any squabbles, entertain squealing-cranky children or fill the ‘we’ve talked about everything already’ gap at your family Christmas gathering. Whatever you do – arm yourself with these movies, plenty of snacks and have a safe and very Merry Christmas!

12. Nightmare before Christmas (1993).

‘Ooh! This will look great on Pinterest’ thought Jack.

Confession time. I’ve never actually seen Nightmare before Christmas so this is definitely a flick that’s on my Christmas list this year! I’ve always been enchanted by the adventures of Jack Skellington, Sally and the residents of Halloweentown and I think this Christmas is the one I’ll watch this little stop-motion masterpiece by Tim Burton. Cinematic music genius Danny Elfman, OTK fave Catherine O’Hara (keep your eyes out for her later in this list) and Greg Proops bring the vocal talents to this magical, spooky Christmas story and I can’t wait to see it!

11. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010).

After thousands of children being seated on his lap this Christmas, Santa was feeling not so fresh.

Another new to OTK Christmas movie is Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. I’ve had this Finnish Christmas/Horror/Thriller recommended to me time and time again so this year, I’ll definitely be unwrapping this one. Sorry…it is a Christmas movie post after all. You didn’t think there wouldn’t be puns…did you?! Rare Exports is the story of an archaeological dig gone wrong, where the true story of Santa is revealed to shock and dismay the citizens of the world. Can’t wait to see this tongue in cheek look at the commercialization of Christmas.

10. Mixed Nuts (1994).

Steve looks bemused as he attempts to make a pizza order that will satisfy all assembled cast members.

This is the year that Mixed Nuts will shine as a Christmas movie. 20 years since its release, it’s been ample time for its stars to age, move onto bigger careers or perhaps fade into the background. It’s kitschy and a step out of time with our digital age; but still carries a lot of traditional Christmas morals and ideals, that make it a fun watch…even now. It’s cheesy, it’s hokey but it’s also a throwback to the screwball comedies of the 30s and 40s. Crammed with acting talent such as Steve Martin, Adam Sandler, Jon Stewart, Juliette Lewis, Parker Posey, Anthony LaPaglia and a delicious in drag Live Schreiber it’s a real bingo game of spotting actors as they careen through this L.A. Christmas story set around one of the sobering facts of the season…that sometimes, no everyone’s that happy. Looking forward to unearthing this one again.

9. Elf (2003).

Will felt confident that his visibility in class would attain excellent grades.

Elf is just bloody delightful! Will Ferrell is spot on as Buddy in this heart-warming Christmas story, set where most of the best Christmas movies take place…New York City! A bemused and naïve Buddy ambles through NYC in the search of his real Dad (James Caan) and bumps into Zooey Deschanel and Peter Dinklage on the way! Boss. Most of all, Elf is about being true to the authentic you and not compromising what you know to be right in the pursuit of happiness and your ideal life. Whoa. Heavy, but truthfully, this is a movie that you’re going to find yourself smiling about and that will push you to try and make your dreams come true in the coming year.

8. Lethal Weapon (1987).

Always be polite in your Christmas Cards

Ahhh…Lethal Weapon. Travel back with me now, to a time when Gibson wasn’t a dirty word. When ‘I’m too old for this shit’ was so popular it was uttered by every worn-out Dad doing something he didn’t want to be doing. It made derelict motor homes on the beach look sexy, especially if Mel was doing a famed, ‘butt in the moonlight’ walk. It may have spurned another 3 films in the Lethal Weapon franchise but this ladies and gentlemen is the original and best. Featuring the total madness of Gary Busey as bad guy Joshua, Lethal Weapon is a template of cop and crime dramedies and nothing will soothe an over-full, grumpy Dad, Uncle or Grandpa faster this Christmas. Cleverly weaving Christmas cheer, drug smuggling and Chinese water torture all together for one uplifting, shoot ‘em up Christmas tale, you’ll be adding this to your Christmas viewing list every year for sure. Riggs! Riggs!

7. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989).

All eyes on him, Chevy proceeded to discuss why he felt he’s not as big a star as he should be

Clark Griswold is the one man that can melt away any Christmas fears you may have that your family celebration didn’t live up to the November dreams you envisioned. Clark and Co. always fail so spectacularly that no matter what happened on your Christmas day, you can rest safe in the knowledge that it was better than Clark’s Christmas. Packed with American 80s Christmas-isms, it magnifies all the pressures parents and upstanding citizens feel to keep up with the neighbours and portray the life they feel they deserve, to others. It’s delightful, cringe-worthy slapstick that will have you glancing at your assembled friends and family and think…’Awwww, they aren’t that bad are they?

6. Love, Actually (2003).

One should always be seen with seven Santa wives, darling.

There’s not many romance films that totally swoon me away on a cloud of feel good vibes as easily as the delightful Love, Actually does. It has a magical, sort of timeless quality about it and that’s thanks I think to it being set during the hectic, silly season just prior to Christmas in London…and abroad. British comedy heavyweight Richard Curtis (Blackadder, Notting Hill, About Time) weaves a beautiful Christmas tale of eight couples all at different stages in their respective relationships; yet all look into the nature of love and what’s truly important at Christmas. With such a large ensemble cast there’s an actor in here for all of your family members to say ‘Oh, I like them!’ at the screen. Especially when they see; Liam Neeson, Martin Freeman, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, ALan Rickman and Bill Nighy adding to this wonderful film – a sure-fire crowd pleaser.

5. Trading Places (1983).

Dan Aykroyd went all method actor on his Dirty Santa role in Trading Places, sleeping in rubbish dumpsters for days.

Christmas-scapes? Check. NYC? Check. Slapstick comedy? Romance? Feel good transformations? Checkitty check-check check. Perhaps you’d forgotten of the true Christmas movie joy that Trading Places is, but this 80s modern day ‘Prince and the Pauper’ story is hilarious and silly; featuring classic 80s stereotyped characters in a fun romp through New York City. Directed by the incredible John Landis (Blues Brothers, Coming to America, An American Werewolf in London); Trading Places features so many prominent actors of our time in some of their first roles – looking all young and wrinkle free, giving you a chance to get all reminiscent and warm-fuzzy feeling. Big names such as Dan Akyroyd, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Lee Curtis all feature in this cheeky tale of a con-artist made big thanks to a last minute bet by two rich geezers, with raucous results as the old blokes get double crossed in the most delightful way.

4. Gremlins (1984).

DJ Gizmo’s catalogue has really taken off with the rise of bedroom producers.

Director Joe Dante (The `Burbs, Innerspace) creates the perfect blend of Christmas fantasy fairy tale meets comedy and horror thrills in the suburbs; in the kind of stuff that is really done well in the 80s. Billy (Zach Galligan), the subject of many a first crush through cinema history; receives a mysterious creature to care for and when things go awry, his sleepy little American town is near destroyed. When I was growing up I always wanted to watch Gremlins because of the Christmas quality but also because it’s one of those unique kind of horrors for kids that things like Goosebumps and the Point Horror fiction series capitalized so well on in the 90s. Plus I don’t know about you but I wanted a Mogwai damnit…all my life, I’ve wanted a Gizmo to call my own – despite the strict rules of care, which usually end up putting me off!

3. Home Alone 1 and 2 (1990 and 1992).

Damn those McCallister’s and their, gorgeous, impossibly attainable home!

Ok, this is kind of a cheat I’ll admit, but I defy you to watch one of these movies and not the other, it’s nigh on impossible. So don’t fight it, just go with is and enjoy all the hilarious Culkin action in one big blonde go. It shouldn’t be funny, it shouldn’t be relatable…a richer than rich family forgetting about their youngest, scrappiest member not only once at home, but again in New York City: again with the awesome New York scenery at Christmas! But yet here we are, year after year, still loving the exploits of Kevin McCallister as his cute and inspirational booby traps trip up not just the Wet Bandits in 1 but also Dr. Frank-N-Furter…ah Tim Curry and Rob Schneider in 2. Christmas just hasn’t felt like it’s really kicked off every year until I’ve watched these gems, they are heart-warming and packed with stars and a good length of time to have on TV, before you feel like round two on the leftovers. Enjoy!

2. Die Hard (1988).

No witty caption…just young Bruce. Ahh young Bruce.

Oooh yeah! You didn’t think I’d forget about Die Hard did you?! No way! The most kick-arse Christmas movie that time has ever known has to be Die Hard. This all round room pleaser will have everyone cheering along ‘Yippee Ki-yay Mother fugger’ with the strangely handsome John McClane (Willis), a hard boiled New York cop in L.A. to spend Christmas with his wife. The catchphrases, the action, the shoot-outs, this is what Christmas action is all about. Featuring Alan Rickman in perhaps his most famous pre-Snape role; Willis creates his iconic character in McClane, spurring thousands of facsimile characters across film forever onwards. Trust me, absolutely no one will complain when you put Die Hard on at your family gathering, especially if the Christmas twinkle is starting to fade. If anyone does complain though, that’s your chance to turn to them, give it your best Bruce Willis and say…’Welcome to the party, pal’.

1. Scrooged (1988).

Bill’s ready for the mistletoe pash-fest thanks to his handy hat.

Drum roll! It’s OTK’s number one favourite Christmas movie – Scrooged. Based on the classic Christmas tale by Charles Dickens, ‘ A Christmas Carol’ this modernized version starring the incomparable Bill Murray lays bare the 80s world of TV execs, their lack of scruples and the signs of the times. There’s been a Murr-naissance of late for Bill. Stories of him paying for people’s meals, sneaking into urban homes on location and making people breakfast or having raucous nights at airport hotel piano bars; have Bill ascending to the cinematic pedestal of number one dude we’d all love to meet. Bill was the ugly-handsome lead of so many big flicks in the 80s, enchanting hot brunette ladies with his witty, yet kind of asshole-y charm. In Scrooged it’s no different, taking his character from brash douchebag to loveable douchebag that’s learned a lesson by the end of the film. The best part about Christmas movies is all the twinkling Christmas lights, trees, decorations and sets so you can fill your eye holes with all the tinsely glory of Christmas. So a Christmas movie that crams in not only one Christmas setting but also Christmasses of past and future too – then that’s real Christmas cinema bang for your buck. Packed with loads of acting talent you’ll spot out when you watch, it’s a lovely version of the classic and probably only has a few more years of relevancy so get it while the getting’s good. If nothing else it has a message like this at its end and it’s one I think we can all live by…

If you believe in this spirit thing, the miracle will happen and then you’ll want it to happen again tomorrow. You won’t be one of these bastards who says ‘Christmas is once a year and it’s a fraud’, it’s NOT! It can happen every day; you’ve just got to want that feeling. And if you like it and you want it; you’ll get greedy for it! You’ll want it every day of your life and it can happen to you. I believe in it now! I believe it’s going to happen to me now! I’m ready for it! And it’s great! It’s a good feeling, it’s really better than I’ve felt in a long time. I, I, I’m ready. Have a Merry Christmas!” – Frank Cross (Bill Murray), Scrooged (1988).



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