From December 1st until Christmas Eve, here on the LAMB, we’ll be determining what is the BEST Christmas movie of all time. We’ve asked you all which films are the main contenders, and twenty-four of you replied with your choices, which will
bauble battle it out for seasonal supremacy. It’s a head-to-head, single elimination tournament, so whichever film wins today moves onto the next round. However, here is not the only place to vote. No, head to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see the same poll there, and it’ll be the total of all four results that determines the winner.
Today’s tinsel tussle is between the winner of the Family group, Home Alone, and the winner of the Other group, The Muppet Christmas Carol. The winner of this will face off against the other Semi-Final winner in tomorrow’s final, so choose wisely!
Home Alone vs The Muppet Christmas Carol
Home Alone championed by Alex Ramon from Boycotting Trends
With its 30th anniversary – yikes! – on the horizon (and hopefully a spectacular cast reunion in prospect to celebrate that fact), Chris Columbus’s Home Alone remains as enduringly popular now as ever, its glorious mixture of smart quips, sentiment and slapstick seemingly winning over new generations every time. As a Christmas film, it has everything you could want: warmth and wit, a wonderfully schmaltzy John Williams/Leslie Bricusse song with lyrics about “feeling that gingerbread feeling,” and an appreciation of family values that’s nicely tempered by ambivalence and scepticism. 8-year-old Kevin McCallister gets his Christmas wish to have his family disappear, thereby fulfilling the desire of many a kid who’s grown up feeling lost or unappreciated within the hubbub of their own household. Of course, he eventually wants his folks back – but not before he’s proved himself perfectly capable of surviving without them, whether that’s by braving the basement that previously terrified him, going on a coupon-savvy shopping trip, bonding with an unfairly maligned neighbour (in that way the movie advocates seeing beyond the family unit, too), or, most famously, fending off Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern’s “Wet Bandit” burglars with a dazzling display of booby-trap ingenuity that gives kiddie vigilantism a good name.
I and many others who were children when the film came out saw ourselves reflected in Kevin, of course. And Home Alone became a turning point in our movie-going lives, a moment in which films stopped being something you went to just “to pass the time” and instead turned into an all-consuming passion. Watched and re-watched in the cinema, and then at home on video (and not just at Christmas, either), endlessly quoted and acted out, Home Alone delighted, thrilled and empowered us. The film was a turning point for its screenwriter John Hughes, too, marking his move from teen cinema and adult comedies into the realm of family-friendly fun, and for its star, Macaulay Culkin, discovered by Hughes in Uncle Buck, who was catapulted into the big leagues thanks to his performance here. Culkin’s charisma is at the heart of the film’s appeal, but the terrific supporting cast shouldn’t be overlooked, from bro Kieran as the bed-wetting cousin (“Fuller, go easy on the Pepsi!”), to John Candy at his most adorable, to Catherine O’Hara, funny and touching as the mother who – inevitably – feels the guiltiest about leaving Kevin home alone. (For all the comedy it milks from extended-family tensions, the film still feels like a mother/son story at heart.)
The little movie that could, Home Alone‘s phenomenal box office success indicates just how strongly the movie resonated worldwide. I live in Poland these days, where I’m delighted to discover that the film is totally adored, with the traditional TV screening on the Polsat network still regularly pulling in the biggest audience of the season. In our uncertain times, there are few moments more comforting that settling down to the umpteenth screening of Home Alone and the happy reassurance that Culkin and co. will get us laughing, shedding a tear or two, and generally “feeling that gingerbread feeling” all over again.
The Muppet Christmas Carol, championed by Richard Kirkham from Kirkham A Movie A Day
If you are not considering The Muppet Christmas Carol as your choice for the best Christmas movie of all time, you must not have seen the film. Not only is it a great Christmas film, it is in many ways, the greatest telling of one of the most important Christmas themed stories of all time. Charles Dickens’ story has been filmed more than two dozen times, with distinguished Shakespearean actors and American Television Thespians. None of them can hold a candle to this version which succeeds because of two fantastic features. First, look at the title, “Muppets”. I have heard that there are people who do not appreciate The Muppets, I don’t want to know who those people are. The off kilter humor, the manic and deadpan delivery in the same scene, the plethora of weird characters are all things that make even the most mundane material watchable. Kermit the Frog is perfectly cast as Bob Cratchitt. Miss Piggy is surprisingly subdued as his wife and the mother of Tiny Tim. Meanwhile, subverting the proceedings by drawing attention to the narrative explicitly, Gonzo and Rizzo Rat are a Greek Chorus representing Dickens himself. You can’t beat that for creative story structure on this particular tale.
Muppets alone would be enough to elevate this to the status of Christmas classic, but there’s one other secret weapon here that should overwhelm any other objections, Michael Caine. In most versions of the story, Scrooge is ancient and closer to the end of life. Caine is closer to middle age, which means his arc of redemption will span the life of the Cratchit family more. Caine plays crotchety without being particularly old.We can accept that he has an old man disposition with a younger man’s vigor. He also sings. Maybe not the dulcet baritone that would be featured in a stage version of the story, but he has a “talk-singing” style that works perfectly for the amusing Paul Williams penned songs.
“Oh, Scroogey loves his money ’cause he thinks it gives him power,
If he became a flavor you can bet he would be sour.”