By Alison Wood, Contributing Writer
Christmas just isn’t Christmas without a good movie! And this year, that feel-good factor might be needed more than ever. COVID-19 means that many of us won’t be able to visit with family and friends this year, and there are far fewer places to head out to for entertainment.
However, we can still settle down on the couch with a nice bowl of popcorn and watch all those favorite Christmas movies. Today, we are heading back to the 1980s and 1990s to take a peek at five box office hits of the time. There are some very funny films in this list, plus one film that perhaps will be more of a surprise.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
After the success of National Lampoon’s Vacation in 1983, it was inevitable that a Christmas vacation would follow. However, it took until 1989 before the Griswolds got to celebrate the Holidays on screen. As always with this family though, you just know that a few disasters are going to unfold. Is it possible to forget the squirrel in the Christmas tree? This film was a hit at the box office and many now view it as a Christmas favorite, definitely one to watch.
Scrooged headed to the box office in 1988 and was a retelling of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. If you are a fan of Bill Murray, who plays Frank Cross (and his character certainly had a fitting last name), you will love this film. In some ways, it echoes his previous film Ghostbusters, as they both deal with otherworldly visitations.
Karen Allen plays his on-off love interest, Alfre Woodward is his long-suffering secretary, and John Murray (the real-life brother of Bill Murray) plays his much nicer on-screen brother. One of the delights is Carol Kane who plays the Ghost of Christmas Present, complete with fairy wings and a mean right hook. What makes this a favorite is the feel-good ending that vaguely mirrors Dicken’s original story.
The year 1990 saw the arrival of Home Alone in our cinemas. Directed by Christopher Columbus, who would later bring the first Harry Potter film to our screens, it stars Macaulay Culkin in perhaps his best-known role. Culkin plays Kevin, an eight-year-old boy who is mistakenly left alone on Christmas Eve. Kevin then has to defend his home from two burglars, played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. Plenty of hilarious escapades follow and with the number of injuries inflicted we ultimately start to feel a little sorry for those dastardly robbers.
Home Alone was a huge success, taking nearly $500 million at the box office, and it held the record for highest-grossing live-action comedy right through until 2011 when it was overtaken by The Hangover Part II. So big was Home Alone’s success that Home Alone 2: Lost in New York quickly followed in 1992. Many people find it hard to pick between the two as their favorite.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Perhaps a little less well known, The Muppet Christmas Carol is another film that revisits the Dicken’s tale. This time Ebenezer Scrooge is played by Michael Caine, alongside a stellar cast of all our favorite muppets. The film was released in 1992 and while it was a modest success at the box office, it has gone on to acquire more of a cult following.
Michael Caine said when he accepted the role, “I’m going to play this movie like I’m working with the Royal Shakespeare Company. I will never wink, I will never do anything Muppety. I am going to play Scrooge as if it is an utterly dramatic role and there are no puppets around me.” He certainly achieved his aim.
Many don’t initially think of Die Hard when they picture a Christmas movie, but this 1988 film features character John McClane, played by Bruce Willis, heading home for the holidays and hoping to reconcile with Holly, his estranged wife.
Set at the Nakatomi Plaza, McClane has to foil a plot by Hans Gruber to steal $640 million from the vault. Gruber is played by Alan Rickman, who was already in his early 40s before he made this, his screen debut. The film, a success at the box office, was followed by a host of sequels and made Bruce Willis a star. If you could use a little action this Christmas, then add this to your must-watch list.