Every year at this season changes come in many forms--days get shorter, nights get longer, and primetime television goes from sex and violence to tidings of comfort and joy... which may actually include sex and violence for some of you. (You know who you are--and you sick puppies need help).
It is during this time that we curl up in front of glowing nostalgia and let the warm embrace of television fill our heads and hearts with characters embodied by real people and stop-motion lumps of clay alike. Some may be endearing and funny, others weird and perhaps a little bit scary, but at the end of the show you know that everyone will eventually come to appreciate the holidays for what they are: a time of sharing, appreciating friends, helping those in need, maxing our your credit cards, gorging on fattening foods, waiting in long lines while screaming children get candy canes stuck to your coat, and avoiding awkward family situations where your relatives keep asking when you're going to find a nice young man and settle down because grandkids just aren't going to make themselves you know! Sometimes you need more than a little eggnog to help you through the holiday season--these quirky characters are just the trick to keep in the season's spirit without losing your own sanity.
6-Wham! "Last Christmas"
Okay, okay, I know "Last Christmas" is a music video and not technically a movie. But once you check out this little gem you'll agree that to not include those Wham!-boys on this list would be a travesty of epic proportions. For those of you unlucky souls who have yet to see this VH1 holiday favorite, the video starts out with a group of people wearing spandex and big hair waiting at the bottom of a snowy mountain. George Michael shows up sporting not only the biggest hair of them all, but also a new girlfriend! The catch? His EX, to whom he supposedly gave his heart--wait for it--Last Christmas, is there too! With her new boyfriend! It's genius! Just sit back and watch the calamity ensue! As the group climb aboard the tram to take them up the mountain one can only assume the "other guy" from Wham! is already there, but we really have no idea for sure because no one actually knows what he looks like. We know he existed, but we just can't prove it. Kind of like Atlantis. Or a gay Republican. Or the sock-monster that lives in the dryer. But I digress. So the group arrives at a giant log cabin (that one writes itself) where George and his ex proceed to trade meaningful glances while decorating the tree. After dinner the party heads outside to frolic about in the snow and the two ex-lovers engage in a playful snowball fight while shifting back and forth between the present and a montage of snowball fights past. The whole thing ends when everyone takes the tram back down the mountain and says goodbye at the bottom. The ex and her guy leave together, but what about George? All I know is that he seems to be exiting by himself with no girlfriend in sight. I personally think this is a bit scary. Was she left behind? Killed by a bear? Did they have to eat her and burn her bones to stay alive? Believe what you want, but I think THIS Christmas George gave his heart to someone special--his band mate...in a bathroom...in a park.
5-Linus, "A Charlie Brown Christmas"
So I feel like I should be honest here and let you all know that Linus isn't exactly a favorite of mine and I originally included him on this list at Dave's (the OMGLists editor) behest. But after spending more time analyzing the blanketed little rugrat I came to realize that he really is a perfect candidate for this group, at least when you compare him to the rest of the Peanut's gang. The story is a simple one--the group wants to put on a pageant to celebrate the holidays but the affair seems pretty disconnected and plagued by superficial infighting. Lucy wants to be Christmas queen, Snoopy is focused on winning the best-decorated house award, and Pigpen's dust won't stop ruining the curls of the little red-haired girl's naturally curly hair. Throughout the discord Linus tries to impart bits of wisdom, but is eventually tossed out with Charlie Brown to bring back a Christmas tree, preferably one made of pink aluminum. When the group rails against Charlie Brown's "Charlie Brown tree" Linus comes to his defense and literally steals the spotlight to quote Christian dogma in the form of biblical scripture about the birth of Jebus. Properly shamed, the gang rallies to Charlie Brown's pitiful tree and using Snoopy's ornaments they turn it into a shining beacon of Yuletide perfection. Linus's relatively non-conformist quest to quash Christmas commercialism has shown one and all the true meaning of Christmas and the movie comes to a warm and fuzzy end with everyone oooing "Hark The Herald Angels Sing." Merry Christmas Charlie Brown, indeed, but only because Linus makes it so.
4-Cousin Eddie, "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation"
Everyone has a "Cousin Eddie" in their family, and everyone dreads that unexpected visit. He's crude, he's rude, and he's stuck in the 70's. And he's brought his family (including his Mississippi Leg-Hound "Snots") to stay at the Griswold's during the holiday season and then some. He may not be welcome, but the laughs he brings along with him in that crap-shack of an RV are priceless. So are the clothes--vinyl leisure suits, hunting caps with those flappy things, and the bathrobe. Oh that bathrobe. The perfect little accoutrement to emptying out "the shitter." Whether he's kidnapping your boss or warning you of his son's lip fungus, he's a holiday freak we love, so long as we can love him from afar. True to misfit form, Eddie served as a great foil for his cousin Clark, while completely faltering on his own in the TV-movie "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure," which is every bit as bad as the title makes it seem. Let us put that travesty behind us, however, and bask in his wonderful performance in the original. Here's few memorable quotations showing Cousin Eddie at his finest:
About his daughter: "That's something, ain't it? She falls into a well and eyes go crossed. She gets kicked by a mule, they go back to normal. I don't know!"
Snots, the dog: "Oh he's just yackin' up a bone. He's got it up! He's all right now."
The metal plate in his head: "Every time Katherine revved up the microwave I'd piss my pants and forget who I was for a half-hour or so."
3-Hermey the misfit elf, "Rudolph The Red-Nose Reindeer"
Ah yes, you knew someone from the stop-motion world of "Animagic" was going to have to make this list. And what better place to look than the longest running, highest rated Christmas special in television history? (Eat that, Linus!) Hermey is an obvious choice: "Misfit" is in the little dude's name. But really, his impishness goes much deeper than just a silly title. You see, Hermey doesn't want to make toys--Hermey wants to be a dentist. While for you and I this might not seem like a big deal, the rest of the elves are pretty pissed off about it. The head elf--Hank--is not shy about relaying his disappointment and disbelief to young Hermey. "Now listen, you, you're an elf and elves make toys..You'll never fit in. You come to elf practice, learn how to wiggle your ears and chuckle warmly and go "hee-hee" and "ho-ho" and important stuff like that! A dentist. Good grief!" But Hermey decides the elf-life isn't for him so he runs off with the eponymous Rudolph to the Island of Misfit toys where they revel in their collective uniqueness. If Hermey's desire to "stick-it-to-the-elf" doesn't persuade you he's fit for this list, just consider for a moment his unusual wavy blond bangs and creepy old-man voice. The two just don't fit outside of San Francisco. How many elves do you that can achieve that level of hair performance in arctic conditions? That's what I thought. As for his voice, I want my foppish, blonde, dentist-elves to have higher, little-kid voices, dammit. Hermey breaks all the elf-molds, so he deserves this place in list history.
2-Damian Claus, "The Hebrew Hammer"
If you're like me, you've never seen this movie--but you really REALLY want to. Good luck beating me to the rental store (or that crazy "Netflicks" thing all the kids are talking about) to pick it up, because I'm willing to bet money they won't have more than one copy. The basic plot is that Santa Claus is killed by his only child, Damian (as in THAT Damian) because he preaches tolerance of all winter holidays. Damian, played by the inimitable Andy Dick, wants to make Christmas the only holiday celebrated in December with the help of his evil sidekick, Tiny Tim. In an attempt to save the other holidays, Chief Bloomenbergansteinenthal of the Jewish Justice League (JJL), convinces the aggressive Mordechai Jefferson Carver (Adam Goldberg) aka "The Hebrew Hammer" to join forces with Mohammed Ali Paula Abdul Rahiem, the head of the Kwanzaa Liberation Front (KLF). At this point Damian launches his evil plan which involves pushing bootleg copies of "It's A Wonderful Life" to Jewish children to make them crave Christmas. After appearing at a local Kmart, Damian reveals that he will drain the power from the Jewish Atomic Clock in Jerusalem, though I'm not really sure what this would actually do...Anyway, just as Mordechai and his girlfriend, Esther, are about to stop Damian, Shabbat begins and they must rest. As they're doing that "resting thing" Damian kidnaps Esther and Mordechai must travel to the North Pole to save her and defeat Damian using "the most powerful weapon in Judaism--complaining and guilt." (You can't make this stuff up). Damian kills Santa, has a crazy sidekick, and pushes bad videos like they're drugs onto unsuspecting children. Plus it's Andy Dick! CLEARLY number 2 on this list is locked down. "Shabbat Shalom, motherfuckers!"
1-Randy, "A Christmas Story"
The kid basically has four lines in this entire movie (say them with me now):
"C'mon guys, wait up!" :
"I can't put my arms down!" :
"Daddy's gonna kill Ralphie!" :
And my personal favorite: "Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double-beatloaf, I hate meatloaf!" :
It may only be four lines, but that's all he needs to stand above all other holiday movie oddballs. The guy puts little brothers (and all the others on this list) to shame. He's dressed like a bloated tick, lives under the sink, snorts meatloaf and mashed potatoes and couldn't be happier about it. Enough said--you just can't get any better than that.