Thursday, December 17, 2009

We Like Our Christmas Wrapped in Dysfunction

I don't know what it is about this time of year but it seems to bring out the craziness inherent in families. I absolutely love to watch dysfunctional Christmas movies. It makes me laugh and not worry so much about the own bit of dysfunction in my extended family.

The Ref

Denis Leary plays an unfortunate cat burglar, who is abandoned by his partner in the middle of a heist, and is forced to take an irritating Connecticut couple (Kevin Spacey, Judy Davis) hostage. He soon finds that he took more than he bargained for when the couple's blackmailing son (Robert J Steinmiller Jr) and despicable in-laws step into the picture. Before long they're driving him nuts with their petty bickering and family problems. The only way for him to survive is to be their referee and resolve their differences, before he can be nabbed by the police.

The Family Stone

The Stone family unites in common cause when their favorite son (Dermot Mulroney) brings his uptight girlfriend (Sarah Jessica Parker) home for the Christmas holiday, with plans of proposing. Overwhelmed by the hostile reception, she begs her sister (Claire Danes) to join her for emotional support, triggering further complications.

Fred Claus

During childhood, Fred Claus (Vince Vaughn) suffered his younger brother Nick's (Paul Giamatti) saintliness. Jump ahead: Fred is a fast-talking, genial but self-centered guy in Chicago looking for $50,000 to open an off-track-betting shop. When one scam goes awry, he calls Nick at the North Pole for a loan: Nick will give him the money only if Fred comes up to help a few days with the Christmas rush. After his girlfriend (Rachel Weisz) dumps him, Fred heads north. Santa's facing an audit from an efficiency expert (Kevin Spacey), and it's not pleasant. Fred's job is to review charts and determine who's naughty and who's nice. Is there any fraternal feeling left, can either learn from the other, and what about Santa getting fired?

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

It's Christmas time and the Griswolds are preparing for a family seasonal celebration, but things never run smoothly for Clark (Chevy Chase) , his wife Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo)and their two kids (Juliette Lewis & Johnny Galecki). Clark's continual bad luck is worsened by his obnoxious family guests, but he manages to keep going knowing that his Christmas bonus is due soon.

The Holiday

In London, Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet) writes a wedding column in a newspaper and has an unrequited love for her colleague Jasper Bloom (Rufus Sewell). Nearby Christmas, she is informed that Jasper is engaged and will marry another colleague, and her life turns head over heels. In Los Angeles, the movie-trailers maker Amanda Woods (Cameron Diaz) has just broken with her unfaithful boyfriend Ethan (Edward Burns) and wants to forget him. Amanda access a house exchange website, and impulsively swaps her mansion for Iris' cottage in Surrey for the holiday along the next two weeks. While in Surrey, Amanda meets Iris' brother and book editor Graham (Jude Law) and they fall in love for each other. Meanwhile Iris meet her next door neighbor, the ninety year old screenplay writer Arthur (Eli Wallach), who helps her to retrieve her self-esteem, and the film composer Miles (Jack Black), and they fall in love for each other.

The Matador

A chance encounter between a travelling salesman (Greg Kinnear) and a lonely hitman (Pierce Brosnan) triggers a strangely profound relationship which provokes each to act in ways neither would have imagined possible. Fate steps in to form a friendship between two men from irreconcilable worlds that will alter the lives of both forever.

A Christmas Story

Ralphie (Peter Billingsly), a young boy growing up in the '40's, dreams of owning a Red Rider BB gun. He sets out to convince the world this is the perfect gift. But along the way, he runs into opposition from his parents (Darren McGavin & Melinda Dillon), his teacher, and even good 'ol Santa Claus himself.

Home Alone

In this film, Kevin McAllister (Macaulay Culkin) is an eight year old boy left at home by his parents (John Heard & Catherine O'Hara), when they leave with the rest of the family for Christmas holidays to Paris. At first he seems to enjoy living alone, but after a while he understands that things aren't so easy. Especially when two robbers (Joe Pesci & Daniel Stern) decide to break in a particular house. HIS house! Is he able to defend his home?

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

Based on the book by the famous Dr. Seuss. Inside a snowflake exists the magical land of Whoville. In Whoville, live the Who's, an almost mutated sort of munchkinlike people. All the Who's love Christmas, yet just outside of their beloved Whoville lives the Grinch (Jim Carrey). The Grinch is a nasty creature that hates Christmas, and plots to steal it away from the Whos which he equally abhors. Yet a small child, Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen), decides to try befriend the Grinch.

Scrooged

Frank Cross (Bill Murray) runs a US TV station which is planning a live adaptation of Dickens' Christmas Carol. Frank's childhood wasn't a particularly pleasant one, and so he doesn't really appreciate the Christmas spirit. With the help of the ghosts of Christmas past (David Johansen) , present (Carol Kane) and future(Chaz Conner) , Frank realizes he must change.

Elf

Buddy (Will Farrell) was a baby in an orphanage who stowed away in Santa's sack and ended up at the North Pole. Later, as an adult human who happened to be raised by elves, Santa allows him to go to New York City to find his birth father (James Caan), Walter Hobbs. Hobbs, on Santa's naughty list for being a heartless jerk, had no idea that Buddy was even born. Buddy, meanwhile, experiences the delights of New York City (and human culture) as only an elf can. When Walter's relationship with Buddy interferes with his job, he is forced to reevaluate his priorities.

The Santa Claus

Divorcee Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is disgusted to learn that his ex (Wendy Crewson) and her husband (Judge Reinhold) have tried - and failed - to break it easy to their 6-year-old son Charlie (Eric Lloyd) that Santa isn't real. On Christmas Eve, Scott reads The Night Before Christmas... then receives an unexpected visitor on his roof. When he's startled by Scott's calling out and falls, the Santa impersonator disappears, leaving only an 8-reindeer sleigh and a suit with instructions to put it on if he's involved in an accident. Scott does, and is transported around the town dropping gifts through chimneys until he's taken to the North Pole and informed by the head elf (David Krumholtz) who claim they're elves that he is now Santa. Charlie is proud of his dad's new job, though Scott's convinced it's a dream. Until his hair turns white, his beard refuses to stay shaved, he gains weight inexplicably, even for his sudden love of junk food... Now he's accepted it, there's just one problem: how to keep it secret from his disbelieving family?

Die Hard

New York City Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) has just arrived in Los Angeles to spend Christmas with his wife (Bonnie Bedilia). Unfortunatly, it is not going to be a Merry Christmas for everyone. A group of terrorists, led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) is holding everyone in the Nakatomi Plaza building hostage. With no way of anyone getting in or out, it's up to McClane to stop them all. All 12!

Movies on my must see list (hopefully this Christmas season) are...

Four Christmasses

Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) have been together three years, in love, having fun, doing all sorts of things together with no intention of marriage or children. Christmas morning, they're on their way to Fiji, having told their two sets of divorced parents that they're off to do charity work. Through a fluke, they have no choice but to visit each of their four idiosyncratic parents. As the day progresses, Brad and Kate remember growing up, each learns more about the other, and Kate realizes that her life may not be as good as it could be. Do they know each other well enough to weather the storms families bring?

Mixed Nuts

Philip (Steve Martin) runs a crisis hotline with Catherine (Rita Wilson) and Mrs Munchnik (Madeline Kahn). That's the easy part, now it gets tricky... Stanley loves evicting people and he evicts Philip. Philip loves helping people and he is loved by Catherine. Catherine is loved by Louie (Adam Sandler) who loves writing songs. Chris (Liev Schreiber) loves dancing to songs and loves to wear large dresses. Gracie (Juliette Lewis) also loves to wear large dresses because she's pregnant. She loves the baby's father, Felix (Anthony LaPaglia), who loves to paint. That just leaves Mrs. Munchnik who hasn't been loved by anybody in a very long time.

Bad Santa

"Bad Santa" is the story of two conmen (Billy Bob Thornton & Tony Cox) who go on a road trip to malls dressed as Santa and his elf. Rather than spreading good cheer, the duo's motive is to rob each establishment, a strategy that becomes complicated when they encounter an 8-year-old who teaches them the true meaning of Christmas.

What is your favorite dysfunctional Christmas movie?

1 comment:

Kelly@TearingUpHouses said...

I love so many of these movies -- especially Elf, The Grinch, and The Family Stone!

Great list.

Kelly