It’s the most wonderful time of the year.. to stream Christmas movies! Most importantly, Christmas comedies. Making audiences laugh while also spreading holiday cheer is what makes these films great. Some play it safe with their humor, and yet audiences still find their comedic timing memorable. Others are not scared to push boundaries a little bit. Either way, these Christmas comedies have made a lasting impact with their cheerful finales and all the laughs that lead up to them.
10 Jingle All the Way (1996)
In Jingle All the Way, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a salesman who hardly has any time for his family. On Christmas Eve, he sets out to buy the gift that his son really wants this year, the Turbo Man action doll. In his quest to find the doll, he collides with vicious last-minute shoppers who are trying to do the same thing he is. Thus, we all wonder if he can come through in the end with what his son wished to get from Christmas.
Why Does Jingle All the Way Make the List?
Jingle All the Way is loaded with slapstick humor from Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, and a supporting role from Phil Hartman. The humor can be cheesy and over-the-top at times, but that is why these movies work this time of year; everyone is mostly into that kind of thing. Jingle All the Way has a slight dose of satire added to it, as it has some commentary on consumerism in America and what one must do to get someone something for the holidays. There’s a hint of 1990s nostalgia to it with superhero dolls, and Schwarzenegger has never really failed at working in comedy.
9 Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)
Santa Claus is looking for his successor, and he seems to have the right guy. In 1988’s Ernest Saves Christmas, Santa runs into a little bit of trouble traveling over to Florida. It’s up to the oddball himself, Ernest P. Worell (Jim Varney), to swoop in and save Christmas before it’s doomed.
Why is Ernest Saves Christmas on the List?
Ernest Saves Christmas is overlooked for its charm and holiday cheer, and the Ernest franchise as a whole is a real gem of the era that they were produced in. Movies don’t need to be these deep-rooted pieces of emotional art that we all need to feel connected to all the time. Ernest Saves Christmas is just that; it caters to an audience that wants to turn its brain off for some holiday fun. Ernest P. Worell was a character created in the 1980s in a variety of local and national ad campaigns and then made the jump into movies. He fits well into the world of Christmas movies, as he seems like a loveable loser who just wants to do the right thing for people.
8 Bad Santa (2003)
- Release Date
- November 26, 2003
Bad Santa stars Billy Bob Thornton, playing a miserable con man named Willie Soke, who poses as a mall Santa Claus and his associate as an elf. The two plan to rob department stores on Christmas Eve, but run into a bit of trouble when Soke befriends a young kid, thus making him see a different side of life.
Why Do We Love Bad Santa?
Bad Santa may rub people the wrong way these days with its humor. It’s raunchy and, at times, distasteful. But the argument is that it has a heart. Thornton’s character’s appearance reeks of cigarettes and whiskey; you can smell it through whatever screen you are watching the film on. It’s the ultimate anti-Christmas movie for people who can’t stand the run-of-the-mill Christmas movies this time of year. And yet, in its own way, it shows us that even a vile crook like Willie Soke can have some holiday cheer.
7 Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York has the mishap of Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) getting left behind once again by his family. This time he at least makes it to the airport, as he loses his dad at the airport and mistakenly gets on a plane to New York City while his family goes to Florida. While in The Big Apple, Kevin lives the high life but soon encounters his old nemeses, The Wet Bandits.
Why Is Home Alone 2: Lost in New York on the List?
Yeah, maybe Home Alone 2 isn’t as good as the original, and yeah, some people hate seeing the Donald Trump cameo. But the sequel does what a sequel needs to do. Give us the vibe of the original, but give Kevin a bigger playground to work with. So why not New York City? The traps he sets for Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci’s characters are more painful and even more violent, oddly. Lastly, Home Alone 2 also works as a good old-fashioned New York film. Maybe it doesn’t fall in line with some of the classics of that subgenre, but New York City is definitely a major character in it.
6 Trading Places (1983)
Trading Places stars Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd as two men with very different professions who get tied together due to a bet among a group of callous millionaires. Aykroyd plays Louis Winthrope III, a wallstreet snobbish investor who switches lives with Murphy, who plays street hustler Billy Ray Valentine.
Why Does Trading Places Make the List?
Some argue it’s a Christmas movie, some argue it isn’t, but either way, this comedy takes place during the holiday season. It was a project that was originally set to star Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, but all of that fell through. The movie is a comedy classic; maybe Christmas is shoehorned into the plot a little bit, but the drunk Santa scene assists with the holiday cheer of it all.
- Release Date
- November 16, 1990
Home Alone became one of the biggest films of the decade, with bratty kid Kevin McCallister getting accidentally left behind by his family on their Christmas trip to Paris. Left to fend for himself, Kevin takes notice of two strange men looking to rob some homes in his neighborhood during the holidays. And when they decide to come to Kevin’s, he will be ready for them.
Why Home Alone Is an All-Time Christmas Comedy
Home Alone is a film where, despite being a comedy, you feel the stakes of the problem in it. Imagine being a parent to a large family going on a big vacation, where cousins, aunts, and uncles are tagging along, and you forget one of your children behind. Yeah, maybe that sounds unrealistic, but clearly we bought the plot because it is an utter classic. Macaulay Culkin owns every frame he’s in, which also helps. The film reaches a climax on Christmas morning, where we both see Kevin get the wish of reuniting with his family, and we even see some supporting roles get a special Christmas moment too.
4 Scrooged (1988)
Scrooged has Bill Murray playing a successful television executive named Frank Cross. Frank may be a cutthroat businessman who does what needs to be done to hit his numbers and keep his bosses happy, but once he fires a staff member on Christmas Eve, he is then visited by three ghosts that remind him of where he’s been, where he’s at, and where he’s going if he stays stuck in his ways.
Why Scrooged Makes the List
Finally, a new, fun take on A Christmas Carol. Richard Donner directed this film at the height of his and Bill Murray’s careers. Although Murray has stated that he was never a fan of the obnoxious screaming that his character does, we all definitely love him for it. Scrooged is loaded with laughs but also deep messages about what we can all do better in life. It gets dark at times, but it lifts itself back up to some really cheerful moments that never come off cheap. You earn the climactic sing-along at the end of the movie.
3 Elf (2003)
- Release Date
- October 9, 2003
Will Ferrell plays Buddy the Elf in 2003’s Elf. The Christmas comedy, which follows Buddy as a young boy who falls into Santa’s gift sack as a young boy. He is then transported to the North Pole, where he grows up among the elves at Santa’s shop. Realizing he doesn’t fit in with the elves, he leaves to go find his real dad in New York City.
Why Elf Is a Christmas Classic
Elf is now 20 years old, and maybe not just the best Christmas comedy, but the best overall Christmas movie in those last 20 years. It’s a great first look at Jon Favreau’s directing chops. The sequences in The North Pole look like live-action versions of the old Christmas cartoons that were produced by Rankin/Bass Productions. Lastly, this was the perfect movie for Will Ferrell at the perfect time in his career. He was fresh off of Saturday Night Live, and a box office hit was in order for him. Elf is a great Christmas film that captures the essence of the holiday. Elf is the last film since the 2000s to really get that. Lastly, it also has a cameo by a certain child star who starred in the next movie on our list.
2 A Christmas Story (1983)
- Release Date
- November 18, 1983
- Bob Clark
A Christmas Story follows the mishaps and adventures of a young boy in the 1940s named Ralphie. We follow him through the Christmas season as he tries to convince anyone, from his teacher to his parents to Santa himself, that he wants a Red Ryder B.B. Gun for Christmas. He is met with the same answer from all: “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!”
Why A Christmas Story Is One of the Best
A Christmas Story makes just about anyone who has seen it warm and fuzzy about the Christmas season. The opening credits make any viewer feel like they are looking into a crystal ball to remember Christmases of their past. Peter Billingsley is a perfect anchor for the film in the lead role as Ralphie. What makes A Christmas Story funny is its childlike humor that comes from the efforts of the supporting cast, one of which is Ralphie’s little brother Randy, and yet some of the dialogue and physical comedy draw an adult audience to it. There is one famous scene after another, from the leg lamp scene to the tongue on a flagpole sequence. A Christmas Story does not let up; that’s most likely why it plays for twenty-four hours every year on TV.
1 National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
- Release Date
- November 30, 1989
- Jeremiah S. Chechik
Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) and his family have planned the perfect Christmas vacation, or so they think. With annoying neighbors, bickering in-laws, giant Christmas trees, and cousin Eddie arriving at their doorstep unannounced, this vacation may have put Clark and his family in over their heads. Christmas Vacation is the third installment in the National Lampoons ‘Vacation’ franchise.
Why Christmas Vacation Tops This List
There is stiff competition among Christmas Vacation in terms of Christmas comedies, but seriously, name another one that you will go back to more than this one. There isn’t a movie like it. You can watch this film every year for your whole life and never not laugh at it. The reality of what the Griswolds go through is unreal; how ironic to say that. And yet, at times, you think that it is a heightened reality, but then, as a viewer, you realize that you have probably felt that way about the holidays before as well. Christmas Vacation is based on a John Hughes short story titled Christmas 59. It was published in National Lampoon magazine. It makes you wonder what about the Griswolds is true, and what of it is enhanced even beyond fact.
And with that little bit of information, it must be acknowledged that Christmas Vacation is one of the best-written all-around comedies of all time. Every plot point has a payoff, from Clark’s bonus from his boss to Cousin Eddie emptying out the septic tank on his RV. Christmas Vacation is a testament to how to make great comedy while also making it heartfelt, right as the credits roll.
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