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Coffee Break Reviews: Holiday Edition

-by Andrew Goletz and Erich Schoeneweiss

‘Tis the season to review holiday movies! There hasn’t been a really good holiday movie in years. What happened to the classics like ‘Miracle on 34th Street’, ‘White Christmas’, and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’? It’s not like they’re on this list, but that’s not the point. The biggest holiday movie a studio has been released in years was ‘The Grinch’ (which isn’t even worth reviewing) but I don’t think there has even been a good attempt at creating a quality holiday movie.

So in honor of the memories of holiday movies past, we’ve decided to list our Top Five Holiday Movies of all time. Let’s get started.

5. Jingle All the Way. Oh, screw off. Sure the characterization was paper-thin and just about every formulaic cliché was thrown into the mix, but it had a wonderful concept. The idea is classic. A father waits until the last moment to try and get the ‘hottest toy of the season’, Turbo Man, for his son. Of course, there are none to be found and dad must spend the rest of the movie battling crowds, closed toy stores, other aggressive parents and a huge stock of Turbo Man’s faithful sidekick that no one wants. Who can’t related to this type of holiday madness, where commercialism outweighs the true meaning of the holidays?  (Erich: Andrew chose this movie for one reason only…it was the first film the Star Wars: Special Edition trailer was shown on). That was a bonus, yes, but it wasn’t the only reason this is a fun holiday film. Don’t forget, you had everyone in the family scouring Walmart locations looking for your very own Turbo Man.

Erich: Die Hard: “Ho Ho Ho…Now I have a machine gun too”  The perfect shoot’em up action adventure movie for Christmas…and one of Willis’ best flicks to date.  The edited for television version of Die Hard II with Bruce Willis’ overdub done by a very deep throated dude ranks at 5.5.

4. Home for the Holidays. When families get together for the holidays, especially after having not seen each other in awhile, disasters are created. A solid mix of drama, comedy with a holiday heart in the middle, ‘Home for the Holiday’ is a can’t miss for any dysfunctional holiday creation. (Erich: This is what married life does to a man…takes away any testicular fortitude he might have once had.)

When Harry Met Sally: OK, not necessarily a holiday movie; however, the key moments in this film seem to take place around the holidays.  Harry and Sally buying a tree in the snow together (a quintessential New York scene), the awkwardness around them at midnight on New Year’s eve when everyone is kissing, Harry missing her the next year at Christmas, and finally Harry sprinting through the streets to find her and confess how much he truly loves her on New Year’s eve.  I love to watch this film during the holidays, and I usually break the soundtrack out a few times as well. (Andrew: First he has to make room in the CD changer by rearranging the Rosie Christmas, and N’Sync Holiday tunes)

3. Plains, Trains and Automobiles.  A traveling man needs to get home to his family in time for the holidays and meets a friendly (to the point of being annoying) guy who’s looking to do the same. This is the all time classic road trip buddy movie with one of the most emotional endings in holiday films. (Erich: Good choice; however, this is more a Thanksgiving movie) Read the column title, E, no one ever said this was the top 5 Christmas movies. It’s the top five ‘Holiday’ movies.

Gremlins: Aah, getting a Mogwai for Christmas.  This puts the Joe Dante classic at number three on my list.  Gremlins ransacking the kitchen while Billy’s mom is baking gingerbread men, Gremlins hiding in the tree, and a bar full of merry Gremlins getting loaded (best scene ever!).  Murder, mayhem, and looting…perfect to scare away that holiday season stress.

2. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: After going to Wallyworld and Europe for previous ‘Vacations’, the family decides to stay home this year and have the family visit. We get to meet the extended family for the first time (with the exception of Quaid’s character). ‘Christmas Vacation’ takes dysfunction to a new level and provides more laughs than all of the other Vacation movies combined, from the super sliding disk to Clark wanting his boss brought to him with a big red bow tied around him, the movie never slows down.

(Erich: This is where Andrew and I begin to agree on things.  I can’t think of a better use for The Bingster’s Melikalinaka (Spelling?) than the hot chick swimming fantasy.  This is my favorite Chevy Chase film.  There are loads of funny stuff in this one, and a superb supporting cast headlined by Randy Quaid.)

1. A Christmas Story:  Forget the sacrilegious sequel they made like, ten years later. ‘A Christmas Story’ is not only the best holiday movie ever, but it’s one of my favorite films of all time. Ralphie wants nothing more than a Red Ryder rifle for Christmas, to get his Little Orphan Annie secret decoder and avoid the wrath of neighborhood bully, Scott Farcas (so help me God, yellow eyes). A true classic. (Erich: TNT running 24 hours of this movie is justification enough for cable.  Screw that stupid It’s A Wonderful Life.  Ralphie would kick George Bailey’s wimpy ass any day.  Story is loaded with some of the most classic Christmas lines of all time:

“You’ll shoot your eye out!”

“I triple dog dare you”


Every year I look forward to Christmas so I can watch this film another seventeen times.)

Happy Holidays everyone (and ‘The Grinch’ will never, ever, appear on this list).

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