Because Hollywood won't stop forcing crap into our busy holiday schedules. The ingredients for a modern Christmas film - one worth remembering, at least - may surprise you. (To read more Hollywood coverage from Esquire, click here.)
By S.T. VanAirsdale
As you find yourself boozily immersed in awkward conversation at holiday parties this month, try an experiment: Ask your new acquaintances what their favorite Christmas films are. I'll bet farthings to fruitcakes that you'll get a list no longer than a handful of predictable standards: It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street, Scrooged, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and maybe Elf or Bad Santa from folks who haven't seen any or all of the first five. Then, once that topic is exhausted (it won't take long), ask the same strangers to name the worst Christmas movie they've ever seen. (Speaking of movies, here's how you should entertain kids this holiday season.)
And watch the list expand. Exponentially.
For what's reputed to be an essential subgenre of cinema, the Christmas film may in fact suffer from the wildest inconsistency of quality of any movie category known to Hollywood. This year's slate alone is particularly underwhelming, with Disney's $200 million A Christmas Carol pronounced dead by Thanksgiving and Robert De Niro's mediocre holiday dramedy Everybody's Fine featuring little more than a Christmas tree before the last ten minutes. Even Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas - which isn't even really a Christmas movie so much as a Halloween fantasia - couldn't crack half a million dollars in this fall's umpteenth re-release. Sure, last year's Vince Vaughn/Reese Witherspoon combo Four Christmases pulled in $160 million worldwide, but come on: You and your family will watch a high-definition Yule log loop before you crack open that DVD for group viewing anywhere near December 25.
It's just another sign of the dark ages of holiday movie-going, adrift in a roiling tide of middling dramas and pseudo-screwball kitsch, both as temporary as tinsel - and not much more valuable, either. It's like this year after year in theaters and especially on television, where the straight-to-video racket has yielded a bumper crop of dross - Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus, Holiday in Handcuffs, A Hobo's Christmas - that makes the twenty-five years since George C. Scott's superb made-for-TV Christmas Carol seem like eons ago and can even make one long for a Lucas-approved reissue of the gloriously ill-conceived, and even more gloriously entertaining Star Wars Christmas Special.
Of course, it's not enough to simply gripe about the deterioration of the genre, so keep the party chatter going by extrapolating the qualities that really define holiday classics...
...So what, exactly, makes for a great Christmas flick? Continue reading the article here at Esquire.com.