Murphy’s Team-Up, Volume 8: Favorite Movies to Get Us in the Christmas Spirit

This week the team shares their thoughts on what makes their favorite Christmas movies so rewatchable

Mary Maerz: Iron Man 3(2013) Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005)

Kevin Feige Reiterates That 'Iron Man 3' Is Definitely a Christmas Movie -  We Got This Covered

I actually hate Christmas movies, so I’m going to go with two movies set at Christmas time (with little to no other Christmas connection) and hopefully combining the two says “Christmas”. But I’m a big fan of both Iron Man 3 and Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. Clearly, the combination of Shane Black and Robert Downey Jr. speaks to me somehow, and the dry, quippy humor in both is what makes these films for me. Kiss Kiss \, Bang Bang is, to be fair, a comedy, but the similar style of humor in Iron Man 3 completely defines that movie for me. Because of that, combined with action and/or thriller components, these two films are extremely comforting for me and have high rewatch value. Nothing says Christmas more than Val Kilmer’s ‘Gay Perry’: “Merry Christmas, sorry I fucked you over.”

Joao Pinto: Gremlins (1984)

Gremlins-Gizmo-in-Santa-Hat - Stout Heart

I only got to see Gremlins a few years after its initial release (what are you gonna do, things took their time crossing the Atlantic back in the 90s!), but even though, by then, the puppeteering might have seemed a bit outdated given the advances the industry had gone through in terms of visual/special effects, the movie still managed to win me over by its heart. And by heart I mean Gizmo.

A bit like Baby Yoda a.k.a. Grogu captured the hearts of so many in late 2019, Gizmo was that for me back then. But instead of using the Force to save people he cared about, Gizmo inadvertently managed to put everyone who cared about him in jeopardy, before rising to the occasion and saving the day, the entire town of Kingston Falls, the country, and the world! I still remember the song Gizmo hummed by heart and in my mind it’s one of the most beautiful things ever. Just not quite as much as his final line: “Bye Billy”.
Just don’t remind me that was Howie Mandel’s voice.

On a side note, there’s a Scottish post-rock band called Mogwai after Gizmo’s species. A remix of their song Tracy was a faithful companion of mine on many all-nighters throughout college. Check it out, it’s pretty chill. 

Nathan Miller: The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

The Muppet Christmas Carol - Plugged In

The definitive Christmas film is The Muppet Christmas Carol. It is also the best adaptation of Charles Dickens’ source material. Michael Caine embodies Scrooge the miser and the sincerity of the lessons he learns with a touch of cockney charm. The cast of Muppets are brilliant in their chosen roles. Kermit is a brilliant Bob Cratchit. Miss Piggy’s headstrong attitude turns into a fury, matched by the viewer, for Scrooge’s miserly ways. Statler and Waldorf are the definitive portrayal of Marley’s ghosts. Gonzo as the Narrator and Rizzo as the chorus imbue the audience with the spirit of the holidays. The songs are enough to wilt the most cynical of hearts, and the lovable Muppet humour saves any cringe. It’s not only a childhood classic but it holds up incredibly well decades later as the best Christmas film.

Joseph Aberl: The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Is 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' a Halloween or Christmas movie?  Director settles debate once and for all | HelloGiggles

To this day, I keep finding myself rewatching The Nightmare Before Christmas almost every year. While it’s a mish-mash of Halloween and Christmas, there’s something about it that just makes it a perfect Holiday film for me personally. Perhaps it’s the music that I can’t stop listening to throughout the year (especially when Oogie-Boogie makes fun of Santa that always makes me crack a smile) or just the loveable characters in general. The 1993 classic is always the film I fall back on if I don’t know what to watch during the holidays and I don’t see that tradition ending anytime soon.

Dalbin Osorio: The Night Before (2015)

Vudu - The Night Before Jonathan Levine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen,  Anthony Mackie, Watch Movies & TV Online

For me, it’s The Night Before. I’m a sucker for ugly sweaters, so the poster takes the cake out the gate. As a person who has friends spanning decades, I love how it captures that aspect of brotherhood. I love how it mirrors the things most dudes go through, where the person you used to be when you first became friends isn’t who you are as you’re getting older. Seth Rogan is hilarious, Anthony Mackie is the truth, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivers an understated performance. Lizzy Caplan is always a gem, but it’s Michael Shannon as Mr. Green that really takes the cake. It’s hilarious and makes me miss the friends I chose as family, and I always watch it during the Christmas season.

Charles Murphy: Scrooged (1988)

Christmas: Scrooged (1988) — 3 Brothers Film

About a dozen Christmas movies are in the annual Murphy family rotation. The Santa Clause films, Elf, Jim Carrey’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Gremlins and Die Hard (yes, we’re those people) all get a yearly rewatch. And then, there’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, which gets watched about once a week during December. However, as much as I enjoy revisiting all those films, the one that really gets me year after year is Scrooged. Released near the end of Bill Murray’s decade-long run of incredibly rewatchable films, Scrooged gives us a very different Murray. This is probably one of the more nuanced performances of his career. Yes, his Frank Cross is funny, but he’s also angry and sad and an asshole while also being sweet and loveable. Modernizing Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is nothing new, but this one really worked. The ghosts were equal parts terrifying and hilarious-with David Johansen’s cabbie being particularly traumatic- and the way it shined a light on the tragedy of the working class (through Alfre Woodard’s Grace and Bobcat Goldthwait’s Eliot) makes it tough to watch at times. And that’s why the movie is so good: as the audience experiences these things through Frank’s perspective, Murray and legendary director Richard Donner (yes, the director of Superman made this film) make the audience feel them, too. Every scare, laugh, cringe and hug comes through the screen, right up until that amazing ending when Frank leads the crew of his TV show in singing “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.” A great film, a great Christmas film and a great Bill Murray film.

Also, bonus points for Lee Major’s film-within-a-film, The Night the Reindeer Died. Someone should make that, like they did with Machete.

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