6 Movies, 2 Nerds, 1 Decade.
THAT’S SO 80s! gets festive… VHS style. Grab your eggnog, pull up those striped leg warmers, and adjust your tracking – it’s time to get retro.
They won’t necessarily be the holiday films you’re all thinking about either. Rob & Dan get obscure here, folks. These two movie nerds will also briefly set the stage with their Christmas memories of this totally rad era.
THE HOLIDAYS: ROB PICKS 3 FLICKS
Despite being Jewish and not celebrating Christmas, I have lots of fond memories of 80s movies that depict the holiday season and Christmas in particular.
As a kid growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, I recall the way that many of the houses and stores were brightly decorated during this time of the year and learned to appreciate the beauty of the lights and ornaments that adorned the neighborhood.
When trying to choose my three favorite Christmas themed movies from the 80s, the choices really were so numerous because there are so many great movies that feature the winter months – which also means that there will be scenes depicting Christmas.
Instead of choosing movies that had a few small scenes celebrating the holiday, I decided to choose 3 that take place completely around the 24th of December and each have scenes that resonate with the Holiday spirit in look and also in sound.
Ironically, all 3 of my choices came out in 1988 🙂
ROB: FLICK #3
A Very Brady Christmas
The Brady Bunch isn’t really an 80’s show, but as a kid during the 80’s, I used to watch reruns every day after school. In the 80’s they made a few reunion movies and this was always my favorite of the lot especially because of the emotional ending.
Favorite Holiday Song from the Movie – “O’ Come All Ye Faithful” – Carol sings while they all stand vigil waiting for Mike to be rescued from the collapsed building site.
Stay Tuned (a.k.a. keep scrolling)…
Pick #2 after Dan Does The Holidays (80s style) and picks his first flick.
THE HOLIDAYS: DAN PICKS 3 FLICKS
Growing up in the 80s was a privilege. It may be the last decade where kids played outside. Raised in Canada, this meant during the winter we had a whole different set of activities than our warm climate brethren. The holidays were filled with family and friends, as well as sledding, snowmen, and snowball fights.
Christmas was always a time of giving, as well as helping those in need. The younger you are, the more it’s based around holiday decorations and toys. In the 80s this meant ripping opening presents like HE-MAN action figures and the original NINTENDO. After Santa, we all learned the real value of Christmas: spending time with loved ones and spreading the joy.
Holiday movies and TV specials always helped you get in the mood. During the 80s stuff like RUDOLPH and FROSTY would air in late November to get the festive juices flowing.
Here are 3 movies I picked from my childhood. Each meant something different at different stages of my development. As an adult, looking back on these films, the emotions and experiences may have changed. However, this nostalgic holiday provides us with a good excuse to watch movies our families used to enjoy and share them with the next generation.
DAN: FLICK #3
THE DOG WHO STOPPED THE WAR
This 1984 French-Canadian cult classic (LA GUERRE DES TUQUES) captures the spirit and innocence of the decade. Long before children were plugged into the Internet, they played outside – even in the winter. Living in Canada, part of childhood is making snow forts and getting into snowball fights.
This charming story captures all of that. It’s isn’t all boyscout’s honour; however, as there is some edge to the characters. Ultimately, this fun adventure is also a cautionary tale. When the massive battle escalates into mayhem, the scale of the event endangers the lives of these tiny soldiers.
Played in heavy rotation on television during the 80s, this Holiday classic has unfortunately faded in the following decades. Thankfully, with today’s obsession with remakes a 3D computer animated feature adaptation is in the works.
Parents now have a chance to spread their love of this era to their children, specifically playful outdoor traditions. Go outside and get in a snowball fight (once it finally snows).
ROB: FLICK #2
A modern adaptation of the famed Dickens tale with Bill Murray as the title character. This is my favorite adaptation of the story because it still retains the important aspects that make the story so powerful but add in lots of humor. This is also one of my all-time favorite Murray roles because he is so perfect here when portraying both “personalities” of the main character.
Favorite Holiday Song from the Movie – “Put A Little Love in Your Heart” – The cast sings it at the end and even breaks the fourth wall numerous times when speaking directly to the audience.
DAN: FLICK #2
This wonderful 1984 creature feature isn’t your typical cup of holiday cheer. No, someone didn’t spike your eggnog with LSD. Crazy Gremlins really -are- attacking a small town. Steven Spielberg produces this PG-13 horror comedy, ensuring a strange project like this even made it to the silver screen in the first place. The risk paid off, this blockbuster was successful enough to get a self-aware and surprisingly satirical sequel.
The practical FX help sell the emotion early on, as our hero befriends a shy Mogwai named Gizmo. Of course, since this is a horror-themed Christmas movie you know it’s only a matter of time before things take a turn for the worse.
What once was a dozen or so soft and cuddly Mogawai transform into violent tricksters bent on destroying the town. While not for the younger ones, this family movie hides its message underneath all the fun. Despite all the goo, there is a big heart.
Plus, you also get retro 80s actors like Phoebe Cates (from a memorable scene in FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH) and one of the 2 Coreys (Feldman, pre-GOONIES).
GREMLINS is an 80s classic that is worth passing on to the next generation.
ROB: FLICK #1
How can there be Christmas without John McClane there to save the day. The entire film takes place on Christmas Eve and every so often, the script keeps reminding us of the fact despite all of the action going on around us and most of the time, it allows them to cleverly add in interesting plot points like decorations, Christmas miracles and even adding in Santa Claus jokes.
Favorite Holiday Song from the Movie – This movie has tons and even to this day, I associate “Ode to Joy” with Christmas, but I always love how McClane learns about “modern” Christmas songs from his limo driver Argyle when he blasts “Christmas in Hollis” by Run DMC
DAN: FLICK #1
A CHRISTMAS STORY
Set back in the 50s, this 1981 holiday movie is either a Love It or Hate It selection. The hilarious voice-over actually narrates the events that unfold, letting us get inside the mind of a child while he experiences several outlandish scenarios. Despite how ridiculous some of these situations are, they are easy to relate to.
To jog your memory, this is the movie with the kid who wants a BB Gun for Christmas – ‘Nuff Said.
The story really dives into how kids all want to grow up, and adults all want to be like kids – especially during the holidays. There are so many laughs, like the soap in the mouth for swearing, the bundle up in 100 layers to go outside only to have to pee, tongues stuck to metal poles, and the “Fra-gee-lay” long-legged lamp. (Check out my review here.)
Grandparents, parents, and children can all enjoy this holiday flick. It’s a little more saucy than today’s family safe movies, but it’s not like it’s R-rated or anything.
This 80s Christmas movie is my favourite since I was a child. My mom always hated us watching it, but I think my dad always stifled his chuckles. Infinitely re-watchable and severely quotable, check out this cult classic when you feel like you’ve watched enough sappy holiday stories.
Go on, watch it… I “double-dog dare you.”
Looking for more? Check out this Holiday Movie Guide from last Christmas.
90s fan? Check this review. My fav from that decade.
And for something completely different check out my own holiday story that totally has an 80s vibe – HOLY 3D CHRISTMAS!
It’s about an animator who turns cartoons into 3D. Some weird science and a holiday wish actually brings his cartoon squirrel into the real 3-Dimensional world.
What do you think?
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