Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Memorable Christmas Gifts

People may tell you - foolish, ridiculous people - that Christmas is all about love and peace and goodwill to men. But I say it's all about getting stuff. Things you can desire, unwrap, and own. So here is a list of some memorable Christmas gifts in cinema.

I'm not including the gift of life, or the gift of getting a second chance, so you wont be seeing It's a Wonderful Life or one of the 900 adaptations of A Christmas Carol here. Instead it should be a more tangible present like the bell from The Polar Express, or the turtledoves from Home Alone 2 for example. Also, I've not bothered with Christmas specials or made-for-TV movies.

5. Turboman Action Figure (Jingle All the Way, 1996)
You want the real meaning of Christmas? Look no further than a movie all about one father's vicious pursuit of a popular toy so he may win his son's love. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a busy dad who has forgotten to buy a toy for his son, Anakin Skywalker, and now must do anything and everything imaginable to acquire the sold out action figure.

I know this movie is far from great. The last thing we needed was Arnold to put down his guns and pick up a shopping cart to battle angry moms at the mall, and face off against a postal worker played by Sinbad. However, it is a guilty pleasure for me because of a handful of funny scenes. Arnold may be doing a lame family film, but he still manages to kick a flaming wise-man head out a window and punch a reindeer in the face.

The film makes the list because it is all about the quest for one gift and reminds us of real life shopping mayhem over stupid toys. I'm looking at you, Cabbage Patch Kids. And you, Furby. And especially you, Tickle Me Elmo, you miserable excuse for a muppet.

4. Christmas Bonus (National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, 1989)
This movie is definitely a holiday classic. Who would have thought that 90 minutes of everything going wrong could be so enjoyable and hilarious to watch. When Clark Griswold's dreams of having a perfect old fashioned family Christmas are shattered at every turn, the only thing keeping him sane is the hope of finally receiving his Christmas bonus check. Whether it be annoying family, aggravating decorations, a ruined dinner, or animals destroying his home, Clark can keep a smile on his face because of that bonus on the horizon.

So it comes as no surprise that when he finds out there is no bonus, the man snaps and unleashes a spectacular tirade of insults that go down in comedy history. In the end it all works out for the Griswold family, but it was the gift of a Christmas bonus that kept one man's sanity together ... then destroyed it ... and then saved it again!

3. Sled (Citizen Kane, 1941)
Many people consider this to be the greatest movie ever made. I would disagree. But it is hands down the most memorable sled in Hollywood. Way to go, Orson. Given to a young Charles Kane for Christmas, the sled would eventually become the answer to his mysterious last words. I know I'm spoiling the secret here, but you've had 70 years to find out for yourself. Guess what else? The planet of the apes was actually earth.

Anyway, it's a memorable Christmas gift because it starts and finishes one of the most famous movies ever made. It represents Kane's childhood and innocence, and supports the idea that no matter how old you get you'll still long for the simpler days of screwing around in the snow with a new toy.

2. Gizmo (Gremlins, 1984)
You're in Chinatown. You find an unidentifiable creature in a box in a creepy store. What do you do? You buy/steal it and give it to your son as a present, of course. Sure, he's already got a dog for a pet, but nothing says I love you like a strange animal that may carry exotic diseases, and comes with a mess of warnings.

Billy Peltzer's mogwai turns out to be much more involved than your average pet. One spilled glass of water and a plate of food later, you have murderous mutants running all over the place. Everyone dreams of having a pet as a kid, but we hardly ever worry about a pet that might give birth to goblins that hide around the house and attack your mom. In any case, Gizmo is an unforgettable Christmas present. Seriously, what is more memorable than a gift that nearly ends up destroying a whole town?

1. Red Rider BB Gun (A Christmas Story, 1983)
I don't think this entry should come as a surprise to anyone. I'm not saying this is the best Christmas movie ever made, but it feels like watching a genuine Christmas experience. I think anyone can relate to Ralphie's longing for a specific gift and waiting with anxiety and excitement for Christmas morning.

Also the gift Ralphie can't stop thinking about is a dangerous weapon and all the adults around him are constantly reminding him of that fact. Again, everyone can recall a time in their childhood when they wanted to go up on the roof or get their hands on some fireworks. Children are naturally attracted to danger, because danger = fun.

Ralphie's BB gun is number one because it's the gift that reminds us of our Christmas memories; good or bad. The highs and lows leading up to Christmas, the yearning for the perfect toy, and the grim reality that you just may shoot your eye out.


Brenda said...

I'm fairly certain that in the first paragraph of #5, you meant "vicious." Although a viscous pursuit sounds potentially entertaining too.

Shane Patenaude said...

I blame my error on sleepiness and a rushed effort to complete my Christmas list before December ends. Procrastination really is the gift that keeps giving.

Hope the list was interesting even if it really wasn't about Arnold running around in thick liquid.

Cole D'Arc said...

brenda> i handle the editing duties on this blog so maybe from now on you could kindly leave them to me.

shane> very satisfying list. it made me think of other examples that could've made it.
sorry, but i just don't have a christmas list in me. ive tried all month to come up with one.

RyHo said...

Jingle All The Way is one of my guilty, holiday pleasures.

Great list, monsieur. I wish you a very viscous New Year.