What's Your Favorite Holiday Movie?
[LATE-BREAKING CORRECTION: We misunderstood where the 24 hours of Elf was being planned. We thought it was USA, but it's actually Starz. Sorry, Starz!]
Over the weekend, Tanya Ballard Brown and Jen Chaney laid out the case for and against loving Love Actually (for some reason, this seems to be the year we debate that film in full). I've spoken often in the past about my tremendous love of Die Hard, which some folks deny is a Christmas movie in outright defiance of not only a Christmas tree and a critical quantity of wrapping supplies but — more important — Run-D.M.C.'s "Christmas In Hollis."
Morning Edition also recently asked listeners to weigh in on their favorite holiday movies, and on Monday morning, David Greene and I discussed the results. Are you a Ralphie person? A George Bailey person? Do you embrace what one listener told David is the cavity-forming quality of the aforementioned Love Actually?
The comments are open. You can tell us.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
Now we've reached the time of year where you can't turn on the TV without coming across three or four holiday movies. This year, we seem to have reached that point right after Halloween.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
So a few weeks ago, we asked for your favorites. And I actually went out on the limb with an unconventional choice that got a lot of responses. "Love Actually" was my favorite. Now the votes are in. There are some surprises including the holiday movie that got the most votes. Here it is.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "LOVE ACTUALLY")
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around.
GREENE: OK, a scene from a movie I love "Love Actually."
And to talk about holiday movies and some of our listeners' picks, we've brought in Linda Holmes who is the editor of NPR's pop-culture blog, Monkey See. Linda, thanks for coming by.
LINDA HOLMES, BYLINE: Oh, thank you.
GREENE: So "Love Actually," how do you feel about this flick?
HOLMES: I like "Love Actually" a lot. I understand why it's not for everyone. Its corn level is fairly high. But that seems appropriate for the holidays. I like "Love Actually."
GREENE: I had one listener who tweeted and said that she was feeling tooth decay because it was so sappy. A mean is a license to be a little sappier when you're making a holiday movie?
HOLMES: Well, there is license to be a little bit sappier and "Love Actually" certainly has a measure of that. But it's easy to forget that there are some very sad stories in that movie about betrayal, and a sacrifice and things of that nature.
GREENE: Is that what people are looking for around the holidays, sort of sad stories but may be - I don't know - a happy ending, redemption at the end?
HOLMES: There is often I think a push poll in holiday movies where you get some genuine sadness and darkness, and that tends to be what supports an ending that means something to people; an ending that feels like it has a little bit of heft, as opposed to kind of the TV movie approach to Christmas movies where they tend to be very, very sweet all the way through. If you look at a movie like "It's a Wonderful Life" is like that.
GREENE: I know, it's a classic.
HOLMES: It's a Christmas classic for a lot of people. But for much of the way through, that's a really sad movie about a man who is giving up everything to make everybody else's life better.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE")
JAMES STEWART: (as George Bailey) Must she keep playing that?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: I have to practice it for the party tonight, daddy.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: Mom said that we could stay up till midnight and sing Christmas carols.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: Can you sing daddy?
GREENE: "It's a Wonderful Life" is a movie that we've seen over and over again for some time. I was a little surprised that not more people mentioned it as a favorite. Is there a concerned about saturation when some of these networks show a movie too much, maybe people will start to turn away?
HOLMES: I think there is. I think that for while it was on all the time. It was on in all different formats and chopped up in different ways, and they colorized it and it was everywhere. Now they've pulled back. You have little more restraint in how many times you see it and I think that has done it some good.
GREENE: A lot of our listeners could not get enough of "A Christmas Story." They pick that as a favorite. They just want to see it every single year without fail.
HOLMES: Well, it's funny 'cause on the one hand you have the issue of saturation. But on the other hand, "A Christmas Story" for several years now, has been shown for 24 consecutive hours over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and that doesn't seem to be hurting it any so far. "A Christmas Story" follows Ralphie, this little kid through this Christmas season where he desperately wants this BB gun that he's been lusting after.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "A CHRISTMAS STORY")
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Ralphie, what would you like for Christmas?
JEAN SHEPHERD: (as Ralphie as an adult) Horrified, I heard myself blurt it out.
PETER BILLINGSLEY: (as Ralphie) I want an official Red Ryder, Carbine Action, 200-Shot Range Ranger Model Air Rifle.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Ooh, no. Shoot your eye out.
HOLMES: It is a warm movie even it also has some great, silly set pieces and things like that. There's a lamp that looks like a leg, if you remember that, or the family going out for Chinese food for Christmas dinner. There's a lot of, kind of, fun little bits interspersed with this kind of sweet story.
GREENE: You mentioned that "A Christmas Story" was shown for 24 hours a day in some years. This year, it sounds like the USA Network is planning to show "Elf," the Will Farrell movie -which was a huge movie for him, as an actor - they're going to show that for 24 hours, a marathon. That seems crazy.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ELF")
WILL FARRELL: (as Buddy) I traveled through seven levels of the forest, past the sea of swirly, twirly gumdrops. And then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel.
GREENE: What - what -
HOLMES: I, you know, I feel "Elf" sort of evolving into for a lot of people who are a bit younger than I am, what may be a Christmas story or some of the Christmas specials that those old Rankin Bass Christmas specials were for me. I think "Elf" is getting a lot of that sentimental play from people who are, you know, were little kids when they first saw it and still remember and love it.
GREENE: OK, drumroll...
(SOUNDBITE OF DRUMMING)
GREENE: ...your favorite, given to us and kind of surprised a little bit.
HOLMES: Oh, my favorite is clearly "Die Hard," absolutely.
GREENE: The Bruce Willis movie where he's basically rescuing people when a horrible Christmas party is overrun by terrorists.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "DIE HARD")
BRUCE WILLIS: (as Officer John McClane) Yippee-ki-yay, mother...
HOLMES: Everybody has had bad experiences with office Christmas parties, but nobody quite like the people who worked in Nakatomi Plaza. And he comes in and saves the day. And there are some cameos by Christmas wrapping supplies and...
GREENE: Yeah, tapes a gun to his back with Christmas wrapping. That's really uplifting of the holiday season.
HOLMES: He does. He does. It's absolutely -like it's covered with blood. What is better on the holidays than that? And that movie features a heavily prominent use of "Christmas in Hollis" Run DMC, which is a Christmas song that everyone should have in their repertoire of holiday music.
GREENE: Got to be the son we go out on here.
HOLMES: You bet.
GREENE: Linda, thanks so much.
HOLMES: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CHRISTMAS IN HOLLIS")
GREENE: That's NPR pop culture blogger Linda Holmes. And you can find your own Twitter @nprmonkeysee. And while you're there, you can follow this program @nprgreene, @nprinskeep and the program is @morningedition.
It is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
WERTHEIMER: And I'm Linda Wertheimer.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CHRISTMAS IN HOLLIS")
RUN D.M.C.: (Rapping) It was December 24th on Hollis Ave in the dark, when I seen a man chilling with his dog in the park. I approached him very...
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.