Every year I like to highlight atypical holiday fare - movies that happen during the holidays but aren't exactly what you'd call "Christmas" films. I specify Christmas not to leave out any of the other holidays that happen in December, but because movies like Die Hard, The Ice Harvest, and Lethal Weapon all feature Christmas as the backdrop. The same goes for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Bad Santa, Batman Returns, Edward Scissorhands, Brazil, Gremlins, The French Connection, In Bruges, and Tales from the Crypt.
Today I thought I'd look instead at five movies that are essential holiday films that I don't think I've ever seen from beginning to end. If, for some reason, you were worried this list would include A Christmas Story, The Nightmare Before Christmas, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, or Reindeer Games, fear not. I've only missed one of those films, and I use the term "missed" loosely.
No, gang, the actual list is much more inexcusable than that. I'd say "let's get the big offenders out of the way first," but there's no smaller slight against Holiday films on the list. Let's jump straight into it, shall we?
1. Miracle on 34th Street - Every year it plays on Thanksgiving. Why? Well, because it starts during the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, I think. I've never seen more than the first ten minutes, and I had to look up the ending to "spoil" it when I was spoiling a movie a day because I don't actually know how it ends. I've never seen it, and never really felt the urge to. Not out of some judgmental reaction, but just because it never struck me as a movie I wanted to watch.
2. White Christmas - To be fair, if there's a movie on this list that I think I'm not alone in having missed, it's this one. Everybody knows the song, to be sure, but I've never encountered the target audience for this movie. Not to speak ill of Bing Crosby and company, but other than my parents I don't think I know anyone else who owns the movie, let alone watched it.
3. The Muppet Christmas Carol - Count me in the bracket that was just a little too old for the "second coming" of the Muppets in the 1990s. I never saw Muppet Treasure Island or The Muppet Christmas Carol or Muppets from Space. I'm sure they're enjoyable in their own right, and I know people just a bit younger than the Cap'n who LOVE this movie, but I haven't seen so much as a second of it. I was more along the lines of the Mickey Mouse Christmas Carol, which I haven't seen in ages.
4. A Charlie Brown Christmas - I know. I HAVE to have seen A Charlie Brown Christmas. It's only thirty minutes long, everybody knows the damn thing, and I can't remember anything about it. Ever. The music? Sure. The pathetic tree? Only because people keep mentioning it. The only conclusion I can come to is that I've never seen the special from beginning to end. It's the only explanation.
5. It's a Wonderful Life -Yep. This occurred to me while watching The Ref, where another character says "I've never seen this movie all the way through" to a group watching It's a Wonderful Life. I am in that same position - I've seen enough of the film in sections to have probably "seen" the whole movie, but I've never watched It's a Wonderful Life in one sitting. I'm probably missing big chunks of the movie because I know the prologue really well, the bridge scene, the flashback where Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart are dancing and fall in the water, and the ending. I even sort of know the parts where George Bailey tries to talk to people in a world where he was never born, but that might just be from innumerable parodies. Someday I'll actually watch It's a Wonderful Life and complete the process of being a human, but for the moment I'm some sort of heartless monster.
Runners up include Love Actually, Holiday Inn, Elf, The Polar Express, The Bishop's Wife, A Christmas Carol, and Christmas Evil. But I have seen Ernest Saves Christmas! And Trapped in Paradise! That has to count for something, doesn't it?