LAMBracket: Best Christmas Movie – Quarter-Final 3

by Jay Cluitt · December 17, 2018 · Featured, LAMBracket, LAMBracket Christmas, Periodic Features · No Comments

From December 1st until Christmas Eve, here on the LAMB, we’ll be determining what is the BEST Christmas movie of all time. We’ve asked you all which films are the main contenders, and twenty-four of you replied with your choices, which will bauble battle it out for seasonal supremacy. It’s a head-to-head, single elimination tournament, so whichever film wins today moves onto the next round. However, here is not the only place to vote. No, head to FacebookTwitter and Instagram to see the same poll there, and it’ll be the total of all four results that determines the winner.

Today’s tinsel tussle is the third quarter-final, and the decider for the overall winner of the Family group. The Family group has proven anything can happen, as the two top seeds, A Christmas Story and Millions, have both been knocked out in the previous round, so let’s see what happens in the house-bound battle between National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Home Alone:

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation vs Home Alone

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, championed by Matthew Stewart from Simplistic Reviews

Honestly, I’ve never really gotten the devoted fandom of the National Lampoon films, namely the Vacation series, but when it comes to the holiday season, nothing tops Christmas Vacation.

Maybe it’s the time of year, the fact that it takes places in one static location instead of all over the country, Europe or Las Vegas, or the idea that Christmas is a time where we can all get nostalgic, be around family and have the highest of hi-jinks, simply… works. I remember seeing this as a kid in the theater and loving every minute of it, and seeing it as a “full grown man” I still get the warm and fuzzies when the lights finally kick on at the Griswald house, Clark gets his bonus, and when Eddie proclaims, “Shitter’s Full!”

Home Alone championed by Alex Ramon from Boycotting Trends

With its 30th anniversary – yikes! – on the horizon (and hopefully a spectacular cast reunion in prospect to celebrate that fact), Chris Columbus’s Home Alone remains as enduringly popular now as ever, its glorious mixture of smart quips, sentiment and slapstick seemingly winning over new generations every time. As a Christmas film, it has everything you could want: warmth and wit, a wonderfully schmaltzy John Williams/Leslie Bricusse song with lyrics about “feeling that gingerbread feeling,” and an appreciation of family values that’s nicely tempered by ambivalence and scepticism. 8-year-old Kevin McCallister gets his Christmas wish to have his family disappear, thereby fulfilling the desire of many a kid who’s grown up feeling lost or unappreciated within the hubbub of their own household. Of course, he eventually wants his folks back – but not before he’s proved himself perfectly capable of surviving without them, whether that’s by braving the basement that previously terrified him, going on a coupon-savvy shopping trip, bonding with an unfairly maligned neighbour (in that way the movie advocates seeing beyond the family unit, too), or, most famously, fending off Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern’s “Wet Bandit” burglars with a dazzling display of booby-trap ingenuity that gives kiddie vigilantism a good name.

I and many others who were children when the film came out saw ourselves reflected in Kevin, of course. And Home Alone became a turning point in our movie-going lives, a moment in which films stopped being something you went to just “to pass the time” and instead turned into an all-consuming passion. Watched and re-watched in the cinema, and then at home on video (and not just at Christmas, either), endlessly quoted and acted out, Home Alone delighted, thrilled and empowered us. The film was a turning point for its screenwriter John Hughes, too, marking his move from teen cinema and adult comedies into the realm of family-friendly fun, and for its star, Macaulay Culkin, discovered by Hughes in Uncle Buck, who was catapulted into the big leagues thanks to his performance here. Culkin’s charisma is at the heart of the film’s appeal, but the terrific supporting cast shouldn’t be overlooked, from bro Kieran as the bed-wetting cousin (“Fuller, go easy on the Pepsi!”), to John Candy at his most adorable, to Catherine O’Hara, funny and touching as the mother who – inevitably – feels the guiltiest about leaving Kevin home alone. (For all the comedy it milks from extended-family tensions, the film still feels like a mother/son story at heart.)

The little movie that could, Home Alone‘s phenomenal box office success indicates just how strongly the movie resonated worldwide. I live in Poland these days, where I’m delighted to discover that the film is totally adored, with the traditional TV screening on the Polsat network still regularly pulling in the biggest audience of the season. In our uncertain times, there are few moments more comforting that settling down to the umpteenth screening of Home Alone and the happy reassurance that Culkin and co. will get us laughing, shedding a tear or two, and generally “feeling that gingerbread feeling” all over again.

Which is the better Christmas movie?

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