CHRISTMAS BONUS CONTENT: 53Johnsons’ 25 days of Santa Claus Movies from December 2012

santa is cuming

53Johnsons was originally conceived as the host site for an NFL podcast bearing the same name in 2010. At the beginning of the 2010 season there were 53 active players in the NFL all named Johnson (including Chad Ochocino), which means it was conceivable to have an entire 53 man rooster made up entirely of Johnsons. It also invariable lead to the question: which team has the best Johnson?

For the month of December 2012 we bring you 25 days of Santa Claus movies.  The criteria for selection are movies in which Santa Claus is a character, or in which another character is depicted playing St. Nick.

This list is in no particular order, as we abhor our culture’s need to rank everything. Why must we can declare a superlative that one thing is “#1” or “the best” and something else is “the worst”. Also we’re still watching movies we haven’t seen before throughout the month of December and certainly bad movies will be included, if for nothing else then as a cautionary tale.

wreath-of-khan1.jpgkhan!

#25 – Miracle On 34th Street (1947)

Miracle_on_34th_Street

Miracle On 34th Street (1947) Director: George Seaton. Starring: Natalie Wood, Maureen O’Hara, John Payne and Edmund Gween as Kris Kringle

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039628/

edmund gween

Edmund Gween as Kris Kringle

Trailer:

This is the quintessential Santa Claus movie, with a great cast including a very young and precocious Nathalie Wood. As is central to most Santa Claus movies, it is about belief. Children believe in Santa Claus, while adults no longer do. It is this loss of innocence that drives most films in this genre, and this film handles it adeptly without becoming religious, or playing the baby Jesus card.

The film culminates with a trial, where Kris Kringle’s lawyer, played by John Payne, attempts to prove that his client is in fact the real Santa Claus. His case is helped along by U.S. Postal Office in this delightful one off scene:

If we were ranking all the movies, which we’re not, this would probably be #1. If you have never seen it, you should this Christmas. Be careful to avoid the colorized version, as this is a black and white movie, and above all DO NOT watch the 1994 re-make with Richard Attenborough as S.C., which is truly abysmal. The legal loophole in the 90s  is that since “In God We Trust” is on back of the one dollar bill, this means the U.S. Treasury believes in God. So by extension the rest of us can believe in Santa Claus. Huh? Even Nic Cage would have a problem with that.

nic cage dollar bill

The dollar bill is telling Nic Cage that National Treasure 2 was a bad idea.

The re-make’s legal argument is not nearly as elegant as the original’s U.S. Post Office confirmation of Kris Kringle as the Santa Claus.

Footnote: Edmund Gween is also famous for his quote on acting: “dying is easy; comedy is hard”.

#24 – Call Me Claus (2001)

call me claus (2001)

Call Me Claus (2001) Directed by Peter Werner. Starring Whoopi Goldberg and Nigel Hawthorne as Santa Claus

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0272018/

Nigel-Hawthorne
Sir Nigel Hawthorne as Santa Claus

So we did warn you that we would include some bad movies on this list and certainly Call Me Claus qualifies. Although made for TV, it does feature no less than 5 new songs by Garth Brooks. Now before you stampede to the $5 bin at Walmart to find this DVD gem, perhaps you want the logline:

Every 200 years a new Santa Claus must take over. Nigel Hawthorne is in his final year and the only suitable candidate is… Whoopi Goldberg.

Can’t polish that turd… The trailer gives you more of the broad strokes (and thank you YouTube for that Christmas inappropriate still):

The first five minutes of this movie take place in 1965 where Whoopi, as a young child, returns from the mall to be told that her father has just died in Vietnam. What a downer. While this movie is a disgrace to the institution of the Christmas movie, there are certainly worse offenders. It certainly follows the paradigm that adults don’t believe in Santa Claus, and so by extension they are are miserable, heartless and greedy. It is only through the redemptive power of believing in Santa (and then ultimately becoming Santa) that Whoopi is saved. The Color Purple this is not, although it is better than Jumpin’ Jack Flash:

“It’s dangerously funny”

Unfortunately this was Nigel Hawthorne’s last film. Best known for his portrayal as Sir Humphrey Appleby in the BBC series Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, he is better known to North American audiences for The Madness of King George (1994, a role he originated on stage at the National Theatre) and as the dystopian dictator in Demolition Man (1993) starring Sylvester Stallone and a then unknown Sandra Bullock.

Don’t watch this movie. We suggest instead you watch the series finale and Christmas special of Yes, Minister “Party Games” (1984)  where Jim Hacker finally ascends to Number 10 with help of Sir Humphrey. Available in full on the YouTube:

#23 – A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (2011)

A_Very_Harold_&_Kumar_Christmas

Very Harold And Kumar Christmas (2011) Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson. Starring John Cho, Kal Penn, NPH and Richard Riehle as Santa Claus

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1268799/

richard riehle harold and kumar
Richard Riehle as Santa Claus

Who? Richard Riehle is perhaps best recognized for his role in Mike Judge’s Office Space (1999) where he played the guy who gets hit by a pick-up truck backing out of his driveway. Oddly enough, Richard Reihle had already played Santa Clause the year before in Disney’s direct to video The Search for Santa Paws (2010)

searchforsantapaws-12
Richard Riehle (on the right) as Santa in
The Search for Santa Paws (2010)

It also spawned a sequel: Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups (2012), however Richard and his bolar hat did not reprise their roles.

But we digress…

Originally titled A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas, this was the third outing for the loveable stoners rogues Harold and Kumar. Presented theatrically in stereoscopic 3D, in all it’s ridiculous glory:

This THC fueled trilogy began as a search for munchies in Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle (2004). The highlight of this film is it’s juvenile and ridiculous flatulent Battleshits scene:

footnote: one of the special features on the DVD is a short documentary featurette about the sound designers quest for the perfect diarrhea shit sounds.  Merry Christmas!

H&K’s next journey took a dark political turn in Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008) where after “escaping” they drop in on President George W. and smoke some of his Alabama kush:

But we digress again…

In their third (and hopefully not final) outing, Harold and Kumar are re-united by a mysterious package (Spoiler: it’s a big joint from Santa Claus that accidentally burns down Harold’s father-in-law’s Christmas tree… and hilarity ensues).

No H&K movie would be complete without a cameo appearance by Niel Patrick Harris as NPH, an over the top, straight, and sex-crazed version of himself:

Despite what you see in the trailer, Santa Claus is much more of Deus ex machina, appearing only in the third act when accidentally shot in the face by Harold.

Overall it’s a fun Christmas romp, that like good cheese, will only get better and smellier (but in a good way) with time.

#22 – Trading Places (1983)

Tradingplaces1

Trading Places (1983) Directed by John Landis. Starring Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis and Denholm Elliott.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086465/

We admit this film’s inclusion is a bit of a stretch, however Dan Aykroyd (Louis Winthrop III) does dress up as Santa Claus in order to infiltrate the Dukes party in an attempt to restore his status by planting drugs on Eddie Murphy’s character (Billy Ray Valentine). This ruse fails and so Aykroyd Claus attempts suicide…

Dan-Aykroyd-in-Trading-Pl-007

But is this really a Christmas movie? It was originally released in the summer of 1983, and solidified Eddie Murphy as a genuine box office star, this being his sophomore effort after starring in 48 Hrs. with Nick Nolte the year before. We include it on the list, in the same way that others include both Lethal Weapon and Die Hard on their list of Christmas movies, simply because they take place at Christmas time.

Also it qualifies because of the following gifts. One gets to see Jamie Lee Curtis’s tits (in 1983) twice: first at the one hour mark (1:00) and again at 1:10. And the twin towers of the World Trade Center makes an appearance at 1:40.

There are also a delightful number of cameos from actors in bit roles who went on to big and better things:

Giancarlo Esposito (Gus Fring from Breaking Bad) as Cellmate #2 (in the prison scene at the beginning with Eddie Murphy: “Karate man hurt on the inside”)

Al Franken as Baggage Handler #1 (gorilla wrangler on the trainer)

Jim Belushi as Harvey (the guy in the gorilla suit on the train)

Frank Oz (Yoda) as Corrupt Cop (sort of reprising his role as the Prison Guard at the beginning of The Blues Brothers)

Bo Didley as the Pawnbroker

#21 – Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Santa Claus: The Movie (1985) Directed by Jeannot Szwarc. Starring Dudley Moore, John Lithgow and David Huddleston as Santa Claus

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089961/

From the creative team behind the Christopher Reeve Superman movies and the director of Supergirl comes this confused mess of a film. While it slowly begins as the origin of Santa Claus in the 14th century, the story then shifts to the present where Patch the elf (Dudley Moore) leaves the North Pole to build toys for the evil John Lithgow in New York City.

dudley and lithgow

What’s surprising is titling a movie Santa Claus, where Santa Claus ceases to be the main character mid way through the film. David Huddleston, who plays Santa, is probably best known as Jeffery Lebowski in The Big Lebowksi.

david_huddleston

“The bums always lose!”

david huddleston as Santa

The special effects are laughable, even though Roger Ebert in 1985 thought they were good:

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19851127/REVIEWS/511270302/1023

As you can see from the trailer, they clearly are not good:

How this movie gets a 25 year anniversary release on Blu-ray is incomprehensible:

http://www.amazon.com/Santa-Claus-Anniversary-Edition-Blu-ray/dp/B003YGSLDA

It really should be consigned to the cinematic dust bin of failed Christmas movies along with Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (oh, we will get to that soon).

If you don’t want to spring $11.93 for the Blu-ray you can watch the whole thing for free on the YouTube (but we don’t recommend it):

#20 – Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (1964)

santa-claus-conquers-the-martians-poster

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (1964) Directed by Nicolas Webster. Starring John Call as Santa Claus

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058548/

Falling into the so bad it’s good category, this movie has been featured on Mystery Science Theater. It’s a cult classic favourite to be shammed and ridiculed.

John Call as Santa

Their children becoming despondent, the Martians decide to kidnap Santa Claus since there is no Martian equivalent. And stupidity ensues:

Again, incomprehensible that this movie should be re-released on Blu-ray:

http://www.amazon.ca/Santa-Claus-Conquers-Martians-Blu-ray/dp/B008N2Z1F6

Especially for $24.99, when you can watch it in its entirety for free on the YouTube (But we don’t recommend you do):

We suggest instead you watch the 10 minute condensed Coles notes version (this will save you a lot of time):

#19 – Fred Claus (2007)

Fred Claus poster

Fred Claus (2007) Directed by David Dobkin. Starring Vince Vaughn, Kevin Spacey and Paul Giamatti as Santa Claus

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0486583/

A strange follow up for director David Dobkin and star Vince Vaughn after the success of Wedding Crashers in 2005. Vaughn plays Fred Claus (St. Nick’s older brother) and the film is really a vehicle for him to showcase his usual rapid fire sardonic comedy.

Santa Claus is played by Paul Giamatti, who can do no wrong in any role:

giamattisanta

Positing a sibling rivalry between Santa and his brother may have seemed like a good log line pitch, but in execution it falls flat. The complication of Kevin Spacey as an evil toy consultant sent to the North Pole doesn’t add anything to the story either. It’s also far too long for a kid’s movie at 116 minutes…

The stand out scene of this film is where Fred goes to a meeting of Siblings Anonymous, which features Frank Stallone, Roger Clinton and Stephen Baldwin all venting their feelings about their more famous and successful brothers. Skip ahead to one hour, eleven minutes (01:11) if you decide to abandon viewing before the foregone conclusion.

We much preferred Vaughn’s sophomore Yuletide effort in Four Christmases (2008), where Vaughn and his fiance, played by Reese Witherspoon, visit all four of their divorced parents at Christmas. We especially liked Jon Favreau’s cameo as one of his UFC fighting brothers:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0369436/

#18 – How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

dr_seuss_how_the_grinch_stole_christmas_ver3

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2002) Directed by Ronnie Howard. Starring Taylor Momsen and Jim Carey as The Grinch (who impersonates Santa Claus)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0170016/

The grinch as Santa

Why? Why Ron Howard? Why would you remake a perfect little cartoon based on Dr. Suess book into a feature length film? What were you thinking? This movie misses the mark continually and the back story with the Grinch as young school boy is truly horrible.

We first saw this abomination when it came out 12 years ago and the passage of time has not improved this film at all. Also, far too long for a kids movies at one hour and forty five minutes. Here’s a rule: kid’s movies should be no more than eighty-five minutes in length.

We hate this film so much we refuse to post a trailer. We prefer instead that you watch the original TV special cartoon from 1966 with Boris Karloff narrating and voicing the Grinch. And only twenty-six minutes long!

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xmq9i7_how-the-grinch-stole-christmas-1966_shortfilms#.UMOFd3f4Kge

Or if you prefer you can purchase it on DVD ($9.96) or Blu-ray (for 3 cents more at $9.99): http://www.amazon.com/Grinch-Stole-Christmas-Deluxe-Edition/dp/B002JUFPUE

#17 – Bad Santa (2003)

bad santa japan

Bad Santa (2003) Directed by Terry Zwigoff. Starring Billy Bob Thornton as Willie (Bad Santa)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0307987/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

If we ever played Santa Claus, we would no doubt base our character upon the work of Billy Bob in this film. The likelihood of us ever playing Santa is less likely than us siring a gaggle of elves (and then enslaving them to make toys to sell on ebay to fuel our boozing)

This film gets better every holiday season and also seems to grow in popularity, so much so that a sequel will be released for Christmas 2013. Sadly, this was the last film for John Ritter as the manager of the mall, and also one of Bernie Mac’s final performances (as the mall security chief) before he too, merged with the infinite.

We cannot recommend this film more highly for this holiday season, and look forward to the sequel next year.

#16 – The Polar Express (2004)

polar_express

The Polar Express (2004). Directed by Robert Zemeckis. Starring Tom Hanks in multiple roles including Santa Claus.

Tom-Hanks-Santa

Early motion capture had the adverse effect of making all the human characters appear ghost like and scary. Not a good thing for a kids movie. Also too long at one hundred minutes, this film really drags towards the end (once the kids get off the Polar Express at the North Pole).

Tom Hanks plays Santa and a myriad of other characters including the train conductor who “abducts” children who doubt the existence of Santa Claus and takes them to the North Pole.

This film would have been more successful if it had been done as pure CG animation with a more stylized approach to the human characters (think Pixar’s The Incredibles or Up).

Don’t watch it high on drugs.

(And stay in school, kids):

#15 – Wild At Heart (1990)

wild-heart

Wild At Heart (1990) Directed by David Lynch. Starring Nicolas Cage’s hair, Laura Dern and Crispin Glover as Cousin Dale/Santa Claus

How is this a Santa Claus movie you ask? Thanks to Cripsin Glover as Cousin Dale it qualifies.

Crispin Glover Santa
Crispin Glover as Cousin Dale/Santa Claus

This cameo is a complete non sequitur that Lula (Laura Dern) relates to Ripley (Nicolas Cage) post coital that has no bearing whatsoever to the overall story. Cousin Dale likes to dress up as Santa Claus year round and is scared of men in black rubber gloves. He also makes sandwiches at night and puts cockroaches in his underwear. Thank you David Lynch for not making any sense:

Granted this film makes more sense than most of Lynch’s subsequent work (If you understand Inland Empire then you are clearly on drugs or insane). Wild at Heart is a fun violent road movie that is essentially a warped re-telling of The Wizard of Oz.

Willem Dafoe is particularly hilarious with his scary dental work as Bobby Peru:

Here’s the trailer. Merry Lynchmas!

#14 – The Man in the Santa Claus Suit (1979)

the-man-in-the-santa-claus-suit-fred-astaire-aae5

The Man in the Santa Claus Suit (1979) Directed by Corey Allen. Starring Gary Burghoff, John Byner and Fred Astaire as Santa Claus.   http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077898/

We have fond memories of this 1979 made for TV movie, where Fred Astaire plays multiple roles including Santa. This promo tells you everything you need to know:

Like the Star Wars Holiday Special, this film does not fare well once revisited in the present as an adult. This might also explain why it has never been officially released on DVD, although bootlegs (ripped from the VHS release) can readily be had on the internets for a minimal sum (thus the pathetic bootleg poster for this entry).

Gary Burghoff (Radar O’Reilly from MASH) gets top billing as a math teacher in love with his supermodel neighbor and John Byner (host of Bizzare!) co-stars as a bum down on his luck. Fred Astaire keeps magically popping up, but unfortunately he does not sing and dance. We’d prefer if he did, and recommend instead Holiday Inn (1942):

Co-starring Bing Crosby, this film was the first to feature Irving Berlin’s classic “White Christmas” (not the eponymous sequel from 1954):

It is also officially available on DVD for only $5 at amazon. Enjoy!

http://www.amazon.ca/Holiday-Inn-Bing-Crosby/dp/B000I0QL82/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8qid=1355349532&sr=8-1

#13 – One Magic Christmas (1985)

one-magic-christmas

One Magic Christmas (1985) Directed by Phillip Borsos. Starring Mary Steenburgen, Harry Dean Stanton and Jan Rubes as Santa Claus.

We had never seen this film before this Yuletide season, and are somewhat puzzled by its survival as a holiday classic. Ginny Grainger (Mary Steenburgen) no longer has the spirit of Christmas. Santa, through voice over in the opening scene, sends an angel, Gideon (Harry Dean Stanton) to fix her. So he sends a bank robber to shoot her husband and then drowns her children by driving them off a bridge. Merry Christmas! He then groundhog days her so she re-live the previous day and fix these wrongs by believing in Christmas. Moral of the story: believe in Christmas or else…

Also, Harry Dean Stanton is probably the creepiest guy on the planet and casting him as an angel is a weird choice. Dressing him up in a black trench coat and wide brimmed hat also doesn’t help. Also it’s not creepy at all having him appear in an eight year old’s bedroom in the middle of the night. Oh, and abducting that same eight year old and sending her to the North Pole to meet Santa; that’s not creepy either. He also plays harmonica in the dead of a winter’s night sitting high up in a tree…

Santa Claus is played by Jan Rubes (whose accent is also creepy):

MCDONMA EC006

Here’s a Disney promo. Look carefully for a very young Sarah Polley who just wants a bike for Christmas.

Available for $9 on amazon.ca

http://www.amazon.ca/One-Magic-Christmas-Mary-Steenburgen/dp/B0001I55YM/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1355351300&sr=1-1

#12 – The Santa Clause (1994)

the santa clause

The Santa Clause (1994) Directed by John Pasquin. Starring Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, David Krumholtz and Tim Allen as Santa Claus.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0111070/

This movie is fun for kids and adults alike. Tim Allen plays Scott Calvin, a divorced dad who works as an executive at a toy company who has (obviously) lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas. After witnessing Santa Claus fall off his roof (and die), Scott dons the red suit, and in so doing, is subject to the Santa Clause, and must assume the office. Hilarity, long white facial hair and obesity ensue.

Also features the late great Peter Boyle (from Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein and Raymond’s father on Everyone Loves Raymond) as Scott Calvin’s boss. One odd choice was to cast children as the elves. Fortunately they cast a short adult as the head elf Bernard (David Krumholtz).

PRO: Reindeer farts! (which becomes a leitmotif in the sequels)

CON: ZZ Top montage:

#11 – The Santa Clause 2 (2002)

santa_clause_two_ver2

The Santa Clause 2 (2002) Directed by Michael Lembeck. Starring Elizabeth Mitchell, Judge Rienhold, David Krumholtz and Tim Allen as Santa Claus  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0304669/

Tim Allen returns 8 years later with a $65 million dollar sequel that grossed $140M worldwide! And like Star Wars was to The Empire Strikes Back, it was actually better than the original.

Apparently there is a 2nd Santa Clause that stipulates that Santa needs to get married before Christmas Eve or Christmas will seek to exist! Enter the cougarlicious Elizabeth Mitchell as the future Mrs. Claus. Mitchell has appeared in TV’s Lost and Revolution, but we remember her best from Gia with Angelina Jolie:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xmwltp_angelina-jolie-elizabeth-mitchell-nude-lesbian-scene-movie-gia_sexy#.UMkiGHf4Kgd

While Santa is wooing her, the elves have replaced the real Santa at the north pole with an animatronic version of St. Nick. He turns evil and wants to give all the children coal and replace the elves with robot soldiers. Again, hilarity ensues.

#10 – The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)

santa_clause_3

The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006) Directed by Michael Lembeck. Starring Martin Short as Jack Frost and Tim Allen as Santa Claus.    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0452681/

The third outing for the Tim Allen franchise introduces us to Jack Frost (played by Martin Short) who plots to take over the office of Santa Claus and hijack Christmas for his own commercial purposes. Does he succeed? Spoiler Alert: NO!

This film also features the subplot of Mrs. Claus (the MILF-tastic Elizabeth Mitchell reprising her role from the 2nd installment) being pregnant and wanting her parents to visit and help out. Played by Alan Arkin and Ann-Margaret, they don’t know their son-in-law’s true profession, so they’re told he’s a toy maker in Canada. When they arrive in the North Pole all the elves dress in Roots clothing and start saying “eh”! Hollywood’s cliche depictions of Canada never get stale!

Enjoy! Thus far there are no plans to produce a forth Santa Clause movie….

#09 – Earnest Saves Christmas (1988)

ernest_saves_christmas 1

Earnest Saves Christmas (1988) Directed by John R. Cherry III. Starring Jim Varney and Douglas Seale as Santa Claus.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095107/

Earnest P. Worrell seems to be approaching the dust bin of pop culture history along with Max Headroom and the Rubik’s cube. In the 80s, ubiquitous and popular, but now almost forgotten. The Earnest character actually began as an advertising agency creation used to sell everything from Coca Cola to tacos, and later spawned a TV show Hey Vern, It’s Earnest, and no less than 10 (yes, ten) motion pictures of which this is the third in the decalogy (surprisingly, they never went tropical).

Played with gusto and verve by the late great Jim Varney, his signature catch phrase “KnoWhutimean?” was a household word (yes, I know a phrase is not a word). Earnest would always be speaking directly to the camera to the unseen and unheard Vern, as you can see in this clip from the film:

Certainly Earnest is an acquired taste, but this film is a fun Santa movie. Trotting out “the Santa needs a successor” plot, Earnest gets caught up in the hunt with British character actor Douglas Seale playing Santa Claus:

Douglas Seale as Santa

You can watch the full movie on the YouTube:

#08 – The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

nightmare before Christmas RUSSIAN POSTER

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) Directed by Henry Selick. Produced by Tim Burton.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107688/

A fun musical stop action animation! Since we are not big Tim Burton fans, we must confess that we had not seen this film before this year, but we were pleasantly surprised! Especially by composer Danny Elfman’s singing voice in “What’s This!”

Sheer delight. We will likely re-visit this flick in the coming years.

santa_nightmare

#07 – Prancer (1989)

Prancer_film

Prancer (1989) Directed by John D. Hancock. Starring Sam Elliott, Abe Vigoda, introducing Rebecca Harrell and Michael Constantine as “Santa”.    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098115/

While we don’t dislike this film, it definitely has pacing problems overall. There are several tug at your heart string moments featuring the plucking young Rebecca Harrell, who finds a wounded reindeer in the forest, whom she’s convinced is Santa’s reindeer Prancer.

Michael Constantine plays the department store Santa and news reporter to whom Rebecca gives a letter regarding Prancer.

prancer santa

The real highlight of this film is Abe Vigoda as a curmugdeonly vet, who despite the rumors is still alive. This website is useful if there is any doubt as to his mortal status:  http://www.abevigoda.com/

#06 – Mixed Nuts (1994)

mixed_nuts

Mixed Nuts (1994) Directed by Nora Ephron. Starring Steve Martin, Madelaine Khan, Rita Wilson, Adam Sandler, Leiv Schreiber, Robert Klein, Rob Reiner, Gary Shandling, Juliette Lewis, Anthony LaPaglia, Parker Posey and Jon Stewart   http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110538/

Okay, we admit this one is bit of a stretch, but Anthony LaPaglia does wear a Santa Claus suit throughout the movie. If we can include Trading Places and Wild At Heart on our list of Santa Claus movies, then this film does fit the criteria. Also, the whole film does takes place on Christmas Eve in Venice, California. And it’s our list, so we can do whatever we want…

normal_mixednutshq_005

Too cool for Christmas

The comedic tone of this film is often uncomfortably over the top. Directed by the late Nora Ephron, this does rank as one of her minor works, although it’s not as horrible as Michael with John Travolta. It is one of those films where it seems the cast had more fun making the film, then we the audience have watching the end result.

Still, it’s mildly enjoyable, and it does have a great ensemble cast (watch closely for Parker Posey and The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart as the rollerbladers with the Christmas tree):

#05 – All I Want For Christams (1991)

all-i-want-for-christmas

All I Want For Christmas (1991) Directed by Robert Lieberman. Starring Thora Birch, Ethan Embry, Lauren Bacall, Kevin Nealon and Leslie Neilsen as Santa Claus.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101301/

Ethan Embry and Thora Birch (only 8 years old in this) conspire to get their divorced parents back together for Christmas (with the help of Santa Claus and some white mice).

leslie-neilson_171003

Leslie Neilson and Thora Birch

This film should not be confused with a 2007 TV movie with the name: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1112097/

This is middle of the road family fare; harmless and forgettable as you can see from the trailer:

#04 – The Year Without a Santa Claus (2006)

The-Year-Without-A-Santa-Claus

The Year Without Santa Claus (2006) Directed by Ron Underwood. Starring Chris Kattan, Ethan Suplee, Eddie Griffin, Delta Burke and John Goodman as Santa Claus.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0828465/

This TV movie is a re-make of the 1974 stop action animation TV special of the same name with the voices of Mickey Rooney and Shirley Booth: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072424/

To call this re-make a train wreck is an understatement. We feel sorry for John Goodman, as we would assume he would be perfect as Santa. Him and his beard are not.

john goodman santa claus

This film should be skipped all together. Here’s a taste:

#03 – A Christmas Star (1986)

ed asner a christmas star

A Christmas Star (1986) Directed by Alan Shapiro. Starring Ed Asner as Horace McNickle.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090840/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

We did not realize that Ed Asner was reprising his role as Santa Claus in Elf (2003). Well not quite. Asner plays a con man who escapes from prison by stealing a priest’s Santa Claus outfit. He hides in the boiler room of New York apartment building where two kids are convinced he’s the real deal.

Although Asner has his moments, this is average ’80s made for TV fare by Disney.

#02 – A Christmas Story (1983)

1983-a-christmas-story-poster1A Christmas Story (1983) Directed by Bob Clark. Starring Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillion, Darren McGavin  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085334/

Not really a Santa Claus movie, but we had to include this movie as it is so perfectly delightful. Really just a series of vignettes set in the midwest in the 1930s, it is held together by original author Jean Shepherd’s voice over narration, and tells the tale of Raphie’s quest for a Red Rider BB gun as a Christmas present. He goes so far as to ask the horrible department store Santa (played by Jeff Gillen):

There are so many great moments in this film and it has cemented itself in the culture as a Christmas classic. So much so, that the original house used for the exteriors in Cleveland, Ohio was purchased by a fan and converted into a museum dedicated to the film. The AV Club takes us on a tour with a grown-up Ian Petrella, who played Ralphie’s red snowsuit wearing brother Randy:

http://www.avclub.com/articles/cleveland-a-christmas-story-house,57354/

if you’re ever in the Cleveland area or want to buy a leg lamp here’s the museum’s website:

http://www.achristmasstoryhouse.com/

Incidentally, the interiors were all shot on a soundstage in Toronto, Canada.

If you’ve never seen this film, then you’re in for treat. Enjoy!

#01 – Elf (2003)

Elf smiling

Elf (2003) Directed by Jon Favreau. Starring Will Farrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Bob Newhart and Ed Asner as Santa Claus.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0319343/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

You’re a cotton-headed ninnymuggins if you don’t like this film! Although not even 10 years old, Elf has cemented itself as a must-see Christmas classic, as it only gets better every holiday season.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: