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The Classics


A Christmas Story
(1983)

Before 1983, most people thought it was impossible to combine a heartwarming message entirely rooted in materialism with absolutely hilarious injuries to a child's eye. Thanks to Jean Shepard, we now know how wrong those people are.

VERDICT
With a script that stays hilarious even on the 23rd hour of the annual full-day marathon and an entire cast that doesn't miss a single beat, it's not just the greatest Christmas comedy ever made—it's hands-down one of the Greatest Movies of All Time, period.

FUN CHRISTMAS FACT
The fact that Darren McGavin didn't win an Oscar, a SAG award, and the Congressional Medal of Freedom for his role as the Old Man is the single greatest tragedy in the history of film.

Christmas Vacation
(1989)

It's rare that a film works so well on multiple levels, but the over-the-top slapstick comedy of John Hughes' script captures both the sheer manic joy of the Christmas spirit and the horrifying realization that you've got to spend time with your family.

VERDICT
The non-stop sequence of gags make this one a great comedy, but it's Randy Quaid's role as Clark's brain-damaged redneck cousin that makes this a movie you're going to want to watch every year to prepare yourself for your own relatives.

FUN CHRISTMAS FACT
There was once a time—before the painkillers, before the talk show, before Karate Dog—when Chevy Chase was a box office draw.

Miracle on 34th Street
(1947)

The All-Time Champion of Christmas Comedies, and for good reason: it’s one of the only “heartwarming” Christmas movies that’s actually heartwarming, and sharp scenes like the scene where William Frawley explains why the judge can’t rule against Kris Kringle (pressure from the teamsters, naturally) are every bit as funny today as they were when this movie was released.

VERDICT
Come on: Edmund Gwenn’s completely earnest portrayal of an institutionalized Santa Claus taking the stand to prove he’s legit with the help of the US Postal Service? That’s the kind of scenario David E. Kelly dreams of coming up with.

FUN CHRISTMAS FACT
Even though it was filmed sixty years ago, this movie stands as the last time the role of a “precocious child” didn’t immediately make you want to strangle someone.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
(1966)

Yes, we know this isn't a feature film, but if there’s anything Ron Howard’s thoroughly unnecessary live-action remake proved, it’s that the Chuck Jones original is pretty much perfect. And since it crams more holiday cheer into 22 minutes than any animated short in recent memory, we’re going to go ahead and include it. If you have a problem with that, then we’ve got three words that best describe you, pal.

VERDICT
Remember the part when his tiny dog Max is forced to pull that heavy sleigh? Or when the Grinch steals that Christmas tree in front of the adorable Cindy Lou Who? Or Thurl Ravenscroft's infectious baritone on "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch"? Of course you do, and it's because this film dominates as much mental real estate as our first sexual experiences. Especially for CRACKED Editor Justin Droms, who, since losing his virginity while watching The Grinch, cannot properly have sex without it being on in the room.

FUN CHRISTMAS FACT
Thurl Ravenscroft was also the voice of Kellogg's Tony the Tiger until his death in May of 2005. So, you know, don't say you've never learned anything from this website.

Love Actually
(2003)

With something like twenty-eight interconnected love stories set at Christmas, it’s hard to pick just one moment to highlight, but trust us: Tim from The Office trying to work up the courage to ask out the girl he’s pretending to have sex with as a stand-in for a porn flick is everything you’ve ever wanted from a holiday picture.

VERDICT
We might be in danger of losing our street cred as the manliest humorists alive by saying this, but that scene where Liam Neeson’s kid looks up at him and goes: “All right, Dad, let’s go get the shit kicked out of us by love” is probably the most badass and inspirational thing we’ve seen since the end of Rocky IV.

FUN CHRISTMAS FACT
Every British person alive was cast in this movie.

The Ref
(1994)

Check out this bold claim: The Ref is the best film starring Dennis Leary. Trust us, people. It took a lot of brave decision-making to write that with all the other movies eligible for that distinction. And we stand by it.

VERDICT
Surely, with all the attempted robbery and bondage, this one’s probably the darkest Christmas comedy of all time, but with a great performance from Kevin Spacey playing against type as a staggeringly dysfunctional suburban husband, that’s to be expected.

FUN CHRISTMAS FACT
Dennis Leary broke into countless Boston apartments to research his role as the thieving Gus.

Underrated


Elf
(2003)

Let's face it: Will Ferrell was born to play a spastic, toymaking elf, and with a cast featuring Bob Newhart, Ed Asner, Kyle Gass, Andy Richter, Amy Sedaris, and The Station Agent's Peter Dinklage, this is the Christmas equivalent of Zoolander.

VERDICT
Not only is it the funniest Christmas movie in ten years, but try putting Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone's cover of "Baby It's Cold Outside" on the stereo, and see if that doesn't get you some Yuletide Nookie.

FUN CHRISTMAS FACT
If you can make it through the scene where Will Ferrell answers the phone with a cheery "Buddy the Elf, what's your favorite color?" without smiling, then you do not have a soul.

Scrooged
(1988)

Even before a single frame of what might be the most awesomely smarmy performance of Bill Murray's career, this movie's got Lee Majors defending Santa's Workshop with a machine gun and Robert Goulet caroling on a gondola in the middle of a swamp. That, friends, is what we like to call "comedy gold."

VERDICT
Since Ghosbusters II is technically a New Year's flick, Scrooged reigns supreme as the single greatest Bill Murray Christmas movie of all time.

FUN CHRISTMAS FACT
To this day, this is the only adaptation of A Christmas Carol that features a copy of the Kama Sutra as a plot element. The one in the Alastair Sim version was cut.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
(1983)

Back before she turned to the worship of Satan in The Craft, a young Fairuza Balk starred in a TV movie that took the cliche of a group of kids learning the true meaning of Christmas by putting on a show and makes it one of the funniest holiday specials ever.

VERDICT
Larry the Cable Guy notwithstanding, there aren’t a whole lot of ideas that write themselves quite like a bunch of white trash delinquents showing up and wrecking a hallowed tradition of Middle America.

FUN CHRISTMAS FACT
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever was based on Barbara Robinson’s novel of the same name. Unlike, say, 2002’s The Christmas Shoes, which was based on a novel that was in turn based on a really, really horrible song.

The Muppet Christmas Carol
(1992)

Like many Americans, our first encounter with Charles Dickens' classic novel was narrated by the inimitable Gonzo the Great. Along with Roots, this movie is one of the rare examples when the whole "the book is way better" claim is total horseshit.

VERDICT
While it's not necessarily the best Muppet movie, The Muppet Christmas Carol is far and away Michael Caine's strongest performance. Of course, the only other films we've seen him in are Jaws: The Revenge and The Swarm, but chances are the rest of his career isn't much more impressive.

FUN CHRISTMAS FACT
When compiling any sort of Christmas movie list, you are mandated under federal law to include at least two adaptations of A Christmas Carol. Thankfully, there are roughly eight billion of them.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
(1991)

With only the addition of a sleepy-looking man and a pair of robots to make fun of it, a nearly-unwatchable 1964 holiday/sci-fi flick that never misses an opportunity to insult the intelligence of its audience becomes a thoroughly enjoyable episode of the television classic. It’s a Christmas Miracle!

VERDICT
It might not be the funniest MST3K episode, but the host segments that feature the Roadhouse-themed song “A Patrick Swayze Christmas” and Tom Servo’s reading of “A Child’s Christmas in Space”—a schmaltzy essay that quickly devolves into Santa and the Reindeer undergoing explosive decompression—are worth the price of the DVD alone.

FUN CHRISTMAS FACT
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is the single greatest movie title ever written.

Overrated


Bad Santa
(2003)

Your opinion of this movie is probably highly influenced by whether or not your definition of Christmas includes sweaty intercourse with Lorelei Gilmore in a parking lot, but how much laugh-out-loud hilarity can you rightfully expect from a movie that opens with Billy Bob Thornton throwing up in a back alley under narration about his abusive father?

VERDICT
Even with a few genuinely funny moments, there just aren't enough laughs in this movie to make up for a wandering, aimless plot that doesn't bother to make any of the characters likeable whatsoever, with the exception of Lauren Graham's Santa-fetishist bartender.

FUN CHRISTMAS FACT
With 147 variations of the word "fuck" in the theatrical release (and 33 more in the home version), Bad Santa contains more profanity than any other Christmas movie. And in this case, "profanity" is not to be confused with "quality."

Home Alone
(1990)

It's not really clear how a movie that revolves around child endangerment and a family completely forgetting the existence of one of their children for a week got to be regarded as a holiday classic, but it still manages to get airtime every Thanksgiving.

VERDICT
Even if you're still stinging from the pain of My Cousin Vinny, there are only so many times you can watch a precocious youngster smack Joe Pesci in the face with a paint bucket.

FUN CHRISTMAS FACT
Home Alone is actually banned in Poland, leading many to believe that the Poles are a lot more film-savvy than previously thought.

The Santa Clause
(1994)

By the time the subgenre of “Grumpy Curmudgeon Becomes Santa” films included both Jim Varney and Whoopi Goldberg, somebody should’ve realized that we needed another one about as much as we needed Cedric the Entertainer’s Honeymooners remake. That said, Tim Allen’s first big Christmas movie is the best of the lot, even if it never bothers to explain why Judge Reinhold never got his weenie whistle in the first place.

VERDICT
Is it funny? Certainly! Is it funny enough to warrant two sequels? Yeah, not so much.

FUN CHRISTMAS FACT
Any movie that contains the line “We’re your worst nightmare: Elves with attitude!” does not, under any circumstances, deserve to be regarded as a holiday classic.

The Nightmare Before Christmas
(1993)

If only the real world had holiday-themed towns like those in The Nightmare Before Christmas. Oh man, we'd pack up shop and move to Mardi Gras-opolis and party all day and all night. And then we'd go fuck shit up in Earth Dayville like it was nobody's business. We're the coolest.

VERDICT
Although habitual point-misser Tim Burton manages to work up clay characters that are slightly spookier than the Heat Miser from “The Christmas Without A Santa Claus,” we’re pretty sure we could’ve gotten along okay if he’d left this one in the basement at the Alamo.

FUN CHRISTMAS FACT
Despite what you may have heard from the folks down at your local Hot Topic, wearing a shirt with Jack Skellington on it to your Vampire: The Masquerade session doesn’t actually make you a unique little snowflake. It just makes it easier to identify you as a misunderstood poet who happens to work part-time down at Orange Julius.

Total Crap


Eight Crazy Nights
(2002)

On the unfathomably tiny chance that you've ever found yourself watching, say, The Waterboy and wished it was a cartoon, less funny, and featured Sandler's ear-splitting baby voice for seventy-six minutes, then Happy Hanukkah, pal. This one's for you.

VERDICT
Coming as a complete surprise to absolutely nobody, an animated movie narrated by Rob Schneider where a young Adam Sandler learns the true meaning of Hanukkah at the expense of a disabled midget is every bit as terrible as it sounds. It is, however, surprisingly well-animated.

FUN CHRISTMAS FACT
If you're Jewish, your choices for holiday-themed entertainment are pretty much limited to this and that one Rugrats special. And that sucks.

Surviving Christmas
(2004)

Right from the mean-spirited opening montage that includes an old lady sticking her head in the oven, this Ben Affleck/James Gandolfini trainwreck manages to be both depressing and obnoxious right to the closing credits. There's a reason it hit video nine weeks after its theatrical release.

VERDICT
When you're watching a movie this heartless and devoid of warmth, you've got to make your own fun. Grab yourself a bottle of bourbon and do a shot every time you want to punch a cast member right in the face. We guarantee you won't wake up until March.

FUN CHRISTMAS FACT
Statistics have shown that the suicide rate goes up during the holidays. In 2004, that was pretty much all Affleck's fault.

Christmas with the Kranks (2004)

In one of the biggest examples of holiday dicketry to ever hit the big screen, the annoyingly spineless Kranks go so far as to aggressively insist that they won’t even respond to cheery greetings before they are forced to learn the True Meaning of Christmas. Which in this case apparently means giving in to Dan Aykroyd’s fascistic neighborhood dictator and lying wholeheartedly to your children.

VERDICT
When the comedic highlight of your movie revolves around brief appearances by Cheech Marin and Jake Busey, there’s probably a lot left to be desired on the comedy front.

FUN CHRISTMAS FACT
Hands down, this is the worst Christmas movie starring a Home Improvement alumnus. Count your blessings, Jonathan Taylor Thomas.

Jingle All the Way
(1996)

If you’ve ever wondered what the opposite of A Charlie Brown Christmas would be like, look no further that a movie where the climax revolves around Arnold Schwarzenegger’s child not being able to tell it’s his own father dressed as a super-hero, despite the fact that he’s built like Conan the Barbarian and speaks with a heavy Austrian accent. And that’s NOT the stupidest thing that happens in this movie.

VERDICT
Owing only to the presence of the late Phil Hartman, this movie is slightly better than The Last Action Hero. Emphasis on “slightly.”

FUN CHRISTMAS FACT
Although it was later overturned, a court ruled in 2001 that 20th Century Fox stole the script for this thing from a high school teacher. That means that there are at least two people who want to claim responsibility for Jingle All The Way, and that just blew your mind.

The Star Wars Holiday Special
(1978)

Although it’s not usually categorized as a comedy, most of this classic of modern television revolves around Han Solo and a coked up Princess Leia helping Chewbacca’s charming relatives Itchy and Lumpy celebrate Wookiee Christmas, so one can pretty much assume it was intended to be funny. The actual result, however, is something a little bit closer to mind-bending horror.

VERDICT
As shocking as it might seem, Bea Arthur’s cantina-themed musical number opposite Art Carney does absolutely nothing to redeem this mess.

FUN CHRISTMAS FACT
Owing to the fact that it’s thoroughly awful, George Lucas has never released this one on video, even going so far as to buy all the master copies to ensure it was never broadcast again. Unfortunately, his policy of not releasing crap was completely abandoned by the time the Star Wars prequels came out.

Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey
(1977)

This 1977 TV special is about a donkey with extraordinarily long ears that gets booted from the stable on account of his freakish appearance. It's set ancient Roman times and we think there's some sort of Jesus allegory at play.

VERDICT
It's one of those movies that you have to watch at least three times if you want to pick up on all the subtle allusions and idiosyncrasies, kind of like The Big Lebowski.

FUN CHRISTMAS FACT
We've never seen it.

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