My Favourite Christmas Movie: Uncle Buck
Posted on Wednesday December 17, 2008, 10:42 by Ian Freer in Empire States
The best thing about Christmas isn’t the presents. It isn’t the week off work. It isn’t even the time you spend with loved ones.
Nope, the absolute best thing about Yuletide is the movies on television. But I’m not talking about the BBC premieres of the big blockbusters that this year — as the snappily edited montage tells us — include a Pirates sequel, a Narnia flick, Wallace And Gromitt and Singer’s Superman revamp. I’m talking about the films that clog up the schedules in the afternoon, the sandwich filling between the Find A Bargain In Your Attic And See What It’s Worth At Auction programmes and The Highlights Of Bill Oddie’s Year In Nature programmes.
But I’m not even talking about recognised Christmas classics like The Wizard Of Oz or The Great Escape (what says Christmas more than the Nazis building an escape-proof prison camp?). The movies I love to watch on telly over Christmas are mid-range ‘80s to ‘90s movies that seem to gain something by being watched at this time of the year. They are undemanding, incredibly familiar and contain dangerous levels of sentiment or broad comedy. But to my mind these qualities are not only palatable at this Goodwill To All Peeps time of year, they are even desirable, perfect ways to while away two hours when you could be hunting for bargains in the sales, pulling family duties with Auntie Mabel or generally doing something far more constructive.
So, in reverse order, My Favourite Films That Turn Up On Afternoon Telly Over Christmas are…
Spielberg’s exquisitely assembled Peter Pan redo really only makes sense at this time of year.
A lovely little comedy about an overweight teen (Charlie Bethune) who falls for the high school princess, the brilliantly named Melissa Lefevre (played by Jurassic Park’s Ariana Richards). Keep ‘em peeled for a teenage James Van Der Beek as the baddie.
Joe Dante’s odd little fantasy about three kids (River Phoenix, Ethan Hawke and the other one) who construct their own spaceship starts squarely in Spielberg territory but enters a whole new zone of madness when the heroes finally come face-to-face with alien life. Brilliant.
2. Bugsy Malone
Starting out as a story Alan Parker told to amuse his kids, Bugsy Malone is smart funny, cinematically learned gold. An idea that could go either way — a gangster epic with songs played out by kids — is brought fabulously to life by loving details,a pitch-perfect kid cast (isn’t that PC Quinlan off The Bill and Dexter Fletcher rubbing shoulders with Jodie Foster and Scott Baio?) and Parker’s sure handling of tone. But the man of the match is Paul Williams, who delivers clever, catchy, unforgettable songs (Fat Sam’s Grand Slam, My Name Is Tallulah, So You Wanna Be A Boxer, You Give A Little Love) that add to rather than detract from the story. Better than The Snowman any day.
1. Uncle Buck
John Candy is the undisputed king of afternoon Christmas telly — The Great Outdoors is another classic of this genre. Here, he’s the loser uncle ushered in to look after three kids when his brother goes off to look after their ailing father. It has Jean Kelly, who you had a crush on as a kid. It has body odour jokes. It has fat jokes. It has bodily function jokes. It has Macauley Culkin in top precocious brat form. It has Tone Loc on the soundtrack. It has a surfeit of emotion at the end. And it has Candy in probably his most likeable performance. It is the Christmas gift that just keeps on giving.
Oh, and I genuinely do have an Auntie Mabel. She wasn’t a comedy construction for this piece.
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Posted on Wednesday December 17, 2008, 11:03
There is only one family christmas movie for me!
National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. I have to watch it every December at least twice!
Posted on Wednesday December 17, 2008, 11:11
Xmas morning: 1) wake up; 2) open pressies with the missus; 3) stick on Disney's Beauty & The Beast..4) wait all day patiently to stick on National Lampoon's Xmas Vacation. (Other Xmas fav's: Home Alone 1 & 2, Lethal Weapon).
Posted on Wednesday December 17, 2008, 11:50
Posted on Wednesday December 17, 2008, 11:57
Posted on Wednesday December 17, 2008, 12:05
5 - Escape To Victory - Not a Xmas flick but perfect for a Boxing Day afternnon after I've scoffed one too many Turkey & Stuffing cobs.
4 - Love Actually - Again not strictly about Christmas but I do wish I had Keira Knightly in my stocking because she's never looked more perfect than when she's stood at her front door (siiiiiiigh...).
3 - Die Hard - 'I now have a machine gun. Ho-Ho-Ho'
2 - It's a Wonderful Life - Must be watched on Christmas Eve for maximum impact.
1- Scrooged - Bill Murray at his most sardonic but at the same time most charming. Plus Lee Majors!!!
Posted on Wednesday December 17, 2008, 12:48
The Searchers... Dad used to watch it every christmas...
It's a wonderful life...Always.
And every christmas...Goldfinger... on the telly.
Posted on Wednesday December 17, 2008, 12:49
And, I always mean to watch, but never do... Bad Santa.
Posted on Wednesday December 17, 2008, 13:07
I personally love Uncle Buck but am also partial to planes trains and automobiles- ok so its about thanks giving but its a big turkey dinner holiday spirit movie so it fits in my head. Also The muppets christmas carol- nothing beats michael cain beating a dressing gown with a poker whilst wearing pyjamas and a night cap. brilliant. Also love die hard and the snowman- both must be watched at christmas
Posted on Wednesday December 17, 2008, 13:14
YOU GET A WEEK OFF WORK???
5 fav christmas movies
in no order
Scrooged, Home Alone, National Lampoons, Muppet Christmas Carol, Die hard
Posted on Wednesday December 17, 2008, 13:19
What about A Christmas Story from 1983? Little Ralphie's quest to recieve the ultimate Christmas gift...the Red Ryder Carbine Action Two Shot Range Model Air Rifle.......Oh....Fuuuuudge.
Hobin Wan Kenobi
Posted on Wednesday December 17, 2008, 14:11
Gremlins was always one of my Xmas faves, though uncle buck is a good call too!
Posted on Wednesday December 17, 2008, 15:46
Uncle buck is my favourite, john candy was a comedic legend ad still is.
Posted on Wednesday December 17, 2008, 16:11
I supposed Disney's Robin Hood and Bednobs and Broomsticks (Kids), Scooged (family) and Die Hard and Trading Places (grown ups) are too obvious?
How about Ghostbusters 2?
Posted on Wednesday December 17, 2008, 16:45
Uncle Buck also has a shot of a man actually hoovering food off his stomach. That's Christmas right there.
Posted on Wednesday December 17, 2008, 18:23
Surely "Flight of the Navigator" should be on this list somewhere?
Posted on Wednesday December 17, 2008, 18:33
Good article again, i'll need to see if I can find Explorers. One I enjoy watching at this time of year is "Eloise at Christmas time." It can usually be found on Disney Channel, it's fairly mediocre if you're not in the right mindset, but its great fun.
Posted on Thursday December 18, 2008, 09:49
Another movie that's not directly a Christmas movie but works superbly at this time of year is the excellent Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service. It's set around Christmas time and there's plenty of snow.
Posted on Thursday December 18, 2008, 10:51
Agree with you on the Hook issue, appalling on an easter bank holiday, but classic on a crimbo afternoon with a box of roses. Also, Tron, the black hole and any star trek movie (including the final frontier - yep, that's what I said).
Posted on Thursday December 18, 2008, 10:52
The Burbs, Scrooged and Going Under
Posted on Thursday December 18, 2008, 11:27
Posted on Thursday December 18, 2008, 11:27
Nice to see Angus in the list. A truly underrated gem of a film. "You get a boner in your stomach?!", ah, Christmas cheer.
Posted on Thursday December 18, 2008, 12:47
For some reason I always find the need to watch A Night at the Opera around Christmas time. The Burbs is another good one, I usually watch it as a Dante double bill with the more festive Gremlins.
Posted on Thursday December 18, 2008, 14:25
perhaps a bit obvious, but it has to be Home Alone, which also features John Candy.
Posted on Thursday December 18, 2008, 15:06
Yes for sure on Explorers, wonderful Jerry Goldsmith score, genuinely good performances from a young cast. For a cheeky late evening Christmas flick don't forget Trading Places! BBC1 often squeeze it in last thing Xmas Day evening.
Posted on Thursday December 18, 2008, 16:50
But which of these films are actually on over this festive period??? You get my all excited with the tease of possibly being able to watch Uncle Buck and what's the betting it won't actually be on.
Shame on you.
Posted on Thursday December 18, 2008, 21:53
One year I put on "Triumph of the Will" on, when my mum was over. Didn't go down well. This year I think something nice, without Hitler, probably a tv special. Maybe Father Ted or Mr T.
Posted on Friday December 19, 2008, 07:02
A christmas story is fucking awesome. Watched it the other day and laughed my ass off. Everyone must see it. Its £3 in Tescos. What are you waiting for you basterds, go, go!
Posted on Friday December 19, 2008, 10:36
I really am a big kid with movies generally and even more so around Christmas. The must watches for me around this time of year are:
A Muppet Christmas Carol.
A Christmas Carol. (The 1984 version with George C. Scott filmed in my home town.)
Miracle on 34th Street. (The Richard Attenbrough version)
Scrooged. (A wonderful take on the Dicken's classic)
Uncle Buck (I'm a big softie)
It's A Wonderful Life (It is really!)
Die Hard 1 and 2.
and Lethal Weapon.
Yay for this time of year! They should make more movies of this ilk rather than Four Christmases.
Posted on Friday December 19, 2008, 14:09
Home Alone 1 or 2
Muppett Christmas Carol
Back to the Future 1,2 or 3
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
The old stop-motion animated version of Wind in the Willows
The bear who slept through Christmas
Any Indiana film
Explorers was awesome
The Drak Crystal
Posted on Friday December 19, 2008, 14:56
Christmas films i have to watch in no particular order
something by jules Verne (pref original journey to the centre)
Muppet christmas carol
Back to the future
A shot in the Dark
Jason and the Argonauts (Ray Harryhausen)
eat my weight in crimbo goodness
Life of Brian
Die Hard 1 and 2 back to back
Posted on Friday December 19, 2008, 17:10
What!!!! No Little Princess?? I dont know why but it just fits to be watched at xmas watch it and you'll know wat i mean!!!!
Wat else?? The Secret Garden!! Home Alone 2, Miracle on 34th Street, Edward Scissorhands(I mean come on the story of snow for chrissake..amongst other things...)
The there has to be some classics thrown in there!! It's A Wonderful Life, Some Like It Hot( not particulary xmses but always seems to be on!!)
Anything with Bette Davis get rid of the layer of sentmentalioty of the all the others!!! And the finally!!! Christmas just wouldnt be christmas without!!!
MARY POPPINS!!!....now everybody together!!!
JUST A SPOONFUL FULL OF SUGAR.....
Posted on Friday December 19, 2008, 17:32
Im sorry guys! I will take the pelters, but im a sucker for Jingle All The Way
Posted on Friday December 19, 2008, 20:17
even though it's thankgiving-themed, plains, traines, & automobiles with john candy and steve martin is very funny, too. "those aren't pillows!!"
Posted on Saturday December 20, 2008, 16:44
You're right. John Candy is the undisputed King of Christmas TV! The real Santa Claus without the suit. Uncle Buck is a classic christmas treat, and I also love Cool Runnings and Planes, Trains and Automobiles, both perfect funny, feelgood comedies for this time of year. Other favourites are Trading Places, Gremlins, Scrooged, Lethal Weapon and Die Hard. Isn't it a shame that films like this were all so much better in the eighties/early nineties? Why don't we see movies as funny and goodwilled as this anymore?