Joel here… Continuing with part 2 of our guest post from Senor Dayton Ward (you can read part 1 here), I think you’ll find the next five movies on his list just as interesting. And if you’re anything like me, you try and watch Die Hard every year because it just puts you in the holiday spirit to watch John McClane rip Hans and his band of pseudo-terrorists a new one!
One final side note: There won’t be a Movie Trivia Challenge this week, but you better get ready to play come December 28, when the Great Quiz Master, Dale, prepares to defibrillate your brainwaves! I’m also bumping the next “6 Movies You Must See” segment (which is 1984, in case you were keeping count) to December 31, ’cause this Friday’s Christmas Eve, and well, I just feel like bumping it.
But as an early gift from me to you, I’m going to be releasing the second episode of The Forgotten Flix Podcast this Wednesday! This is our first “official” episode and features my co-host Jason. We discussed TRON Legacy vs. TRON and went over our “Forgotten Flix Recommends: 6 Movies That…” segment. Although, I can’t say we’d actually “recommend” any of the movies we discussed…
Well, that’s enough housekeeping. Let’s get on with the show!
by Dayton Ward
Home Alone (1990)
Hang on, hang on, hang on. I see you sharpening pitch forks and readying torches over there, but I figure there should be at least one movie on this list you can—in theory—watch with your kids, right? Young Kevin (played by Macaulay Culkin and all four of his facial expressions) has been accidentally left…wait for it…home alone by his family after they depart for a Christmas vacation in Paris. We’ll set aside the discussions over what kind of brain dead parents lose sight of their own frappin’ kid for longer than five seconds when they’re away from the house, and get on with the good stuff: Kevin, all on his own, is forced to defend his house from a pair of burglars intent on robbing vacant homes all through his neighborhood. What follows is a clinic of improvisation and guerrilla warfare that would bring a tear to the eyes of Angus MacGyver and the entire A-Team. There’s no stopping the resourceful Kevin as he employs all manner of household items to rig booby traps and other infernal anti-personnel gadgets against the pair of hapless crooks. Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are the bad guys, and each has mastered the art of the tortured grimace when pummeled in the onions with a paint can, baseball bat, or other jury-rigged implement. There’s even time for Kevin to convince a curmudgeonly old neighbor to reconcile with his estranged son. Doesn’t that just warm the cockles of your heart? Home Alone has the distinction of being the highest-grossing comedy film in U.S. history. It was followed by three sequels, none of which come close to the original’s wacky yet ultimately harmless fun.
My one exception to the “80s and Beyond!” rule. What? It’s James Bond, people. Though set during Christmas, eggnog, presents and chestnuts roasting over that open fire aren’t enough to keep 007 from facing off against his arch-nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofield. Along the way, he even manages to get married, which of course is the sort of thing that always works out in these types of movies. The sixth Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is, I think, underrated so far as Bond movies go. It would be Lazenby’s only performance as 007, taking over the role from Sean Connery, the original movie Bond (we’re not counting David Niven’s Casino Royale here, okay?). Connery returned for one more at bat in the next film, Diamonds Are Forever, after which Roger Moore would inherit the role.
Lethal Weapon (1987)
Mel Gibson is the cop on the edge who redefined the whole “cop on the edge” trope for a generation of filmmakers. Though I tend to think the first sequel is a bit better, the original Lethal Weapon was still awesome enough to kick-start a multi-film franchise that’s become a corner stone of any learned action movie buff. It has plenty of the AwesomeSauce, filled to the brim with gun fights, fist fights, one-liners, and awesome guitar riffs by Mr. Eric Clapton himself. If Gibson as Detective Martin Riggs shooting a bunch of cocaine dealers in and around a garden of Christmas trees doesn’t stir your yuletide yearnings, I suppose you could fall back on the sight of a stoned prostitute set to the smooth, silky sounds of “Jingle Bell Rock.” Of course, if that’s what gets you in a festive mood, then you and I can’t be friends, because my mother warned me about people like you.
The Ref (1994)
When you’re in marriage counseling on Christmas Eve, you just know the stage is set for all sorts of yuletide cheer, right? Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis are Lloyd and Caroline Chasseur, a married couple trying to work through their problems in the wake of Caroline’s affair. It’s an uphill battle, as the pair has elevated arguing over absolutely nothing into high art (a practice which would gain immortality once the internet became the stomping ground of everyone with opposable thumbs). Enter Denis Leary as Gus, a burglar who kidnaps the Chasseurs and makes them take him to their house while he’s eluding the police after a botched robbery. He’s forced to endure their endless bickering, which continues unabated even as Gus holds them at gunpoint. When members of the Chasseur family begin arriving for Christmas dinner, Gus pretends to be Lloyd and Caroline’s marriage counselor, because that’s exactly what an armed fugitive would do in this situation. Ah, never mind that stuff. The Ref is a showcase of sarcastic observations and biting commentary on the nature of the “dysfunctional family,” and Leary, Spacey and Davis are pitch-perfect in their respective roles, identifiable to anyone who’s ever had to suffer through one of those uncomfortable extended family get-togethers. This is the movie you put on after dinner’s over and you’re trying to make people uneasy enough that they leave without even saying good-bye.
Die Hard (1988)
Bruce Willis has this flick to thank for making him a superstar, starring as John McLane, a New York cop who’s flown to Los Angeles to spend Christmas with his estranged wife and their two kids. He meets her at her company’s towering office building in time for the big Christmas party, which quickly is joined by a band of terrorists, and hijinks ensue. Based on the mostly-forgotten novel Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp, the first of McClane’s onscreen outings is still the best of the bunch. No, we’re not arguing this point, so put your hands down. Simply put, it’s a clinic on how to put together a perfectly-paced action thriller featuring a hero you can root for and a villain you absolutely love to hate. The leader of the terrorists, Hans Gruber, is played with utter perfection by the wonderful Alan Rickman, providing an educated, sophisticated foil to Willis’ blue-collar, foul-mouthed John McLane. Endlessly imitated and yet never surpassed, to this day the original Die Hard continues to serve as inspiration for many a hopeful action movie director. It also features one of the finest tactical uses for Christmas-themed wrapping tape in the history of cinema. Fa-la-la-la-lah, La-la-la-lah!
Joel here (again)… So there you have it folks, Dayton’s ten picks for all you cinematic Scrooges 0ut there. Let us know what you think. Do you watch any of these films as a way to get into the holiday “spirit”? Or do you have another title you think deserves a mention? Let us know in the comments section!
I truly hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, and a fantastic New Year!
So until next time remember, a flick is only forgotten if you’re not talking about it!