Bruce Willis had a decent run in the 1980s, and I enjoy every installment of this particular series. But the first one is in its own category, I think, much like Rocky IV: you can talk about Ivan Drago with respect to the other Rocky flicks, but it's like talking about Willie Mays as just another baseball player. Bruce Willis, I love your smart mouth.Yippie-ki-yay, mofo. And a Happy New Year.
NUMBER FOUR: ELF
NUMBER THREE: IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE
Jimmy Stewart is truly one of the last great actors of the 20th century, hands down. I still get chills when I see him climb on the desk in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. And say what you will about pap, this film deserves to be watched annually, if only because it is a really thick triumph of joy over despair, that riches are to be found not in where one's bank account is, but in where one's heart is. Where you treasure is, and all that stuff.
My favorite scene is, of course, the one at the end of the movie when George comes racing into the house to embrace his wife and children, with friends surrounding him, playing that song that no one knows the words to. It's an emblematic moment of the rich pageant of life, where all of the loved ones from all corners of life are gathered together, and the world is perfect for a minute or three. My engagement party felt this way; the wedding will be more so--when all the pockets of my friends can be in one place, if only for a few hours.
NUMBER TWO: LOVE ACTUALLY
This film nails the story behind the postcard of Christmas, that families are messy and that people are grosy, stingy, and selfish all the way down. People, Augustine says, love badly, and this love is what we call 'sin': the right pursuits in all the wrong ways. It is hardly done in a more comical and perfect way than in this one. I watch this in the middle of June.
NUMBER ONE: NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION
THIS MOVIE above all other movies is the one that puts me in the Christmas spirit. I don't really care that much for the other National Lampoon flicks: Family Vacation is kind of worn, and European Vacation is just stupid. Don't get me going on Vegas Vacation. But this one hits all the right spots. You have Chevy Chase in the prime of his funny, Randy Quaid in all his dickie-wearing glory, burning cats, septic tanks, passive aggression, and snooty neighbors.
It. Is. Fantastic. Like Love Actually, I watch this one irrespective of season, but don't feel like I have to hide out for fear of someone thinking I'm watching a chick flick. If you're looking to win points with me, this is always a great suggestion with a mug of hot chocolate. There are a few movies that are always funny, no matter how many times I see them--Jackass, Grosse Point Blank, Bill Cosby Himself, Sean of the Dead, Tombstone--and this one. Chevy Chase is of the old school of comic timing, where it's about 15% what is being said, and about 99% how he's delivering the line.
Staple my head to the carpet, Martha. It's Christmas time.
See you in the New Year.