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Ten Throwback Holiday Movies

Nov 18, 2013 11:47PM ● By Erin Frisch

It seems like Halloween was just yesterday, but the winter holidays are already right around the corner. There is nothing better during the holiday season than whipping up some hot chocolate, curling up by the fireplace with your loved ones, and getting into the spirit with a classic holiday film. Check out our list of ten throwback holiday movies that are worth a movie night with your family and friends.

Gremlins (1984) While this horror-comedy may not come to mind as a holiday movie, it takes place during the Christmas season. On his search for a Christmas present for his son Billy, Randall Peltzer finds a small, curious creature in the backroom of a Chinatown store. Randall decides to buy the creature, called a Mogwai, as a gift for Billy. When he purchases the Mogwai, he is given three rules for caring for the creature: don’t expose it to bright light (which will kill it); don’t get it wet; and never feed it after midnight. The rules seem easy enough, but after Billy receives his gift, each in turn is broken, leading to a crazy string of events and the birth of the gremlins!

Eight Crazy Nights (2002) In an underrepresented film genre (Hanukkah movies), Davey (voiced by Adam Sandler), the town delinquent and an alcoholic, gets a chance to do some community service instead of jail time. Davey’s problems revolve around a Hanukkah card he received from his late parents a number of years ago and whose deaths he never dealt with. As a referee in training for a youth basketball league, Davey gets to know Whitey Duvall, who tries to help him turn his life around. As Davey stumbles through a series of setbacks, he finally realizes the importance of helping others. Keep in mind that, although it’s animated, Eight Crazy Nights is a PG-13 movie and contains adult themes including alcoholism, depression, and bereavement.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987) Steve Martin and John Candy co-star in this comedy about traveling home for Thanksgiving. Neal Page is trying to return home to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family in Chicago after a business trip to New York. Through a couple of mishaps, he meets Del Griffith, a traveling shower-ring salesman who is the complete antithesis to Neal’s type A personality. This hilarious film follows their three-day misadventure as they try to make sure Neal gets home to his family in time for the holiday.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) This short, made-for-TV movie follows Charles Schultz’s beloved character Charlie Brown. Repulsed by the over-commercialization and secularization of the Christmas holiday, Charlie Brown goes on a search for the true meaning of Christmas.

A Christmas Carol (1951) Scrooge was the original title for this movie based on Charles Dickens’ classic tale. In nineteenth century London, Ebenezer Scrooge is a bitter, greedy old man who hates people in general as well as the Christmas season. He is visited by the ghost of his now-deceased former partner (Jacob Marley), who lived his life much the way Scrooge lives his. He warns Scrooge to change his ways or face the consequences in the afterlife. Scrooge is visited by three ghosts—the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come—who together convince him that he must change his ways while he still has time.

Frosty the Snowman (1969) In this Christmas classic, the battle is on for a special top hat that some children find discarded. They use it to put the finishing touches on their snowman, who magically comes to life. Frosty and his young companions go searching for a way to keep him cold throughout the spring so that he doesn’t melt, all the while being chased by a devious magician who wants to steal Frosty’s magic top hat.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1964) George Bailey is a generous man who forfeited his dreams of traveling the world and doing big things to stay in his hometown of Bedford Falls and keep it safe from the evil Henry Potter. Potter is a wealthy man who owns most of the town and charges its residents exorbitant fees for rents, loans, and other necessities of life. He’s also been trying to put George’s father’s building and loan company out of business for years. Just when it looks like Potter will succeed, George—at the end of his rope—meets an angel who intervenes to show George what the town would have been like if he had never existed.

Home Alone (1990) Macauley Culkin plays Kevin McCallister, an 8-year-old boy who is accidentally left behind at home while his family travels to Paris to celebrate Christmas. Most kids think it would be fun to be left home alone with no rules to follow, and Kevin is no exception. He jumps on his parents’ bed, eats lots of pizza, and runs amok in the house. It’s all fun and games until Kevin realizes that two burglars are trying to rob his house on Christmas Eve. The fearless boy gets creative and sets up a series of booby traps to catch the burglars in the act and bring them to justice.

A Christmas Story (1983) In 1940s Indiana, Ralphie Parker wants only one thing for Christmas—a Red Rider BB gun. Ralphie works hard to set things in motion to ensure that he’ll receive the BB gun by asking his mother, writing an assignment about it for his teacher, and telling Santa about his heart’s desire. Everyone responds with the same classic line, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” Throughout the movie, classic scenes abound (a child with his tongue stuck to a flagpole, the infamous leg lamp), while Ralphie continues his mission to get the perfect Christmas gift. Does he find a Red Rider BB gun under the tree on Christmas morning? Watch to find out!

The Nightmare Before Christmas (2003) Jack Skellington, the king of Halloween Town, is starting to get bored doing the same things every year to celebrate Halloween. This Halloween, Jack follows his dog Zero into the woods and stumbles upon Christmas Town, which he completely falls in love with. Jack decides that Halloween Town must have its own version of Christmas, with himself as Santa, but he doesn’t quite understand the whole concept of Christmas. When unsuspecting children start receiving Jack’s not-so-merry gifts, we find out that the world may not be ready for Jack Skellington’s version of this holiday.

Share your favorite holiday movies with us in the comments.

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