We’re officially in the holiday season—which means there’s secular Christmas pop music on every radio station, families hugging, good food being made (hopefully), weeping elf-slaves meeting the demands of online shopping, and, of course, holiday movies on every TV channel.
For family viewing, there are the obvious staples: Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life basically gets all the airtime in the world as Christmas approaches. Animated Disney and Pixar movies do well on TV this time of year. Charlie Brown, Kevin McCallister, and National Lampoon are also ubiquitous options.
Here are six family movies for the holidays that you might have overlooked—and another five holiday-ready flicks that you might want to watch without the kids:
Fantastic Mr. Fox: In 2009, director Wes Anderson took a critically acclaimed stab at stop-motion animation, and adapted Roald Dahl’s (Scarlett Johansson-endorsed) children’s book from 1970. George Clooney and Meryl Streep voice a married fox couple who go up against three mean-spirited farmers. The film’s soundtrack also includes the Bobby Fuller Four, the Beach Boys, and “Street Fighting Man” by The Rolling Stones:
Meet Me in St. Louis: The 1944 classic, with Judy Garland being Judy Garland:
The Muppets: This came out last year, and featured a bunch of new original songs by Flight of the Conchords member Bret McKenzie. It is arguably the best Muppet movie ever. The film also provoked a depressingly hilarious conservative backlash. (Muppets have a long-running left-wing bias.)
Bolt: This 2008 computer-animated film is easy to write off as a Pixar knock-off. But it’s actually got a lot of heart and visual oomph. Also, one of the main characters is a lovably delusional and insane hamster named Rhino, who does things like suggest snapping a security guard’s neck:
The Last Waltz: It’s never too early to introduce your small children to amazing music. Martin Scorsese’s documentary captures The Band‘s star-studded farewell concert, which took place on Thanksgiving 1976. The film is rated PG and it’s family-friendly, mostly because all the cocaine involved in the concert was edited-out. Here’s a clip, this one of Eric Clapton jamming with The Band before a giddy audience:
The Absent-Minded Professor: This 1961 Disney picture provided the basis for the 1997 Robin Williams comedy Flubber. Here’s the film in its entirety:
And now, here’s the R-rated section of this list. After the kids finish gorging on turkey and conk out decisively, here are five holiday movies that fall squarely into the category of NSFW. They are five films—filled with sex, naughty language, gore, and crude humor—that have Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and crisp winter written all over them:
The Hebrew Hammer: A blaxploitation flick, but with stereotypical Jews with guns. (The end credits read, “No Animals or Gentiles were harmed in the making of this Motion Picture.”)
This classic scene—vengeance, booze, neo-Nazis—says it all:
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas: Dolly Parton (as Miss Mona) leads the girls in singing “Hard Candy Christmas,” one of the all-time great non-Christmas-y Christmas songs that came directly out of musical theater:
Die Hard: Quite simply, the ultimate Christmas movie.
ThanksKilling: Yes, this movie exists. It’s about an evil turkey who murders college kids while they’re trying to enjoy Thanksgiving vacation. Click here for the trailer, and here for a delightful write-up from Forbes. Here’s the poster:
Go ahead and put your holiday movie suggestions in the comments below.
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