Dad’s Christmas Watch List

The holiday season is upon us, and with it will come a flurry of Hallmark Channel movies, Rankin Bass specials, and enough bubbly, dancing, carol singing animals to choke a Grinch with.  Let’s face it, holiday programming doesn’t exactly skew towards the Dad demographic.  Still, if you’re a good boy (and the wife and kids have gone off to sleep), there are still some silver screen gems that will help you get into the spirit of the season.

With that I present to you the ultimate Christmas Watch List for Dads.  Movies that will make you laugh, pump your fist in the air, and fill your heart with the joy of the holidays.  Each one of these gems has an important holiday lesson for all of us, with nary a mutant reindeer or contrived romantic subplot in site!

  • Gremlins


Now before you start, yes, I realize that there is an adorable, furry animal thing in the form of Gizmo the Mogwai.  However, that is offset by the fact that once he gets hit with a splash of water, his cuteness is drowned out by the horrible reptilian monsters that result.  This holiday gem has aged beautifully, still as funny and scary as it was when it was first released in 1984.  If you start to feel a bit of a shudder when the little monsters start popping out of their cocoons, just remember to flip the light switch.  They can’t stand bright light.

Christmas Lesson Learned:  That Christmas pet that your little ones went ga-ga over can quickly become a real problem if they aren’t properly cared for.

  • Trading Places

trading places

Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy in their absolute comedic prime, providing a savage bit of social commentary on what happens when the haves and have-nots find themselves in each other’s shoes during the most joyous of seasons.  Jamie Lee Curtis’s turn as a prostitute with a heart of gold had absolutely nothing to do with my decision to include this John Landis classic.

Christmas Lesson Learned:  We can all find it within each other to embrace our fellow-man, especially if we come together to thwart the 1%’s evil plan to create a stranglehold on frozen, concentrated orange juice.

  • Batman Returns


Tim Burton’s follow-up to his original smash hit sees Michael Keaton reprise his role as the Dark Knight to pound the naughty out of Danny DeVito’s Penguin and Christopher Walken’s nefarious business tycoon, Max Shreck.  He isn’t quite as quick to do the same to Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman, though….

Christmas Lesson Learned:  Mistletoe can kill you if you eat it, but a kiss can be even deadlier if you mean it.

  • Lethal Weapon

lethal weapon christmas

It’s important to remember that the holidays can also be a very hard time for many.  This holds true for Danny Glover’s Roger Murtaugh, who really starts to feel his age when he’s partnered up with Mel Gibson’s more-than-a-little-unhinged Martin Riggs, an undercover cop unable to get past the death of his wife.  Together, they find catharsis through endless gunplay, massive explosions, and bare-knuckle brawling with Gary Busey.

Christmas Lesson Learned:  Through the power of friendship and the opening of your heart and home to others, all wounds can be healed.

And finally, last but by no means least:

  • Die Hard

die hard christmas

Why yes, Virginia, “Die Hard” is a Christmas Movie.  In fact, it’s the ULTIMATE Christmas Movie!  Don’t believe me?  It checks off every box you can think of for a feel good holiday extravaganza:

– Set during the holiday season? Check
– Starts out with a family in turmoil, who seem to have lost each other AND the Christmas  spirit? Check
– Miserly villain who cares more for money than people? Check
– Classic Christmas songs played throughout the soundtrack? Check
– Down on his luck hero who gets just the gift he needs from Santa to turn everything around? Check (“Now I have a machine gun – ho, ho, ho)
– Tortured sidekick who learns to forgive himself while helping the aforementioned hero do the same? Check
– Open fires? Check
– Villains who learn the hard way what happens when you end up on the “Naughty” list? Check
– Happy ending that sees the hero’s family reunited and embracing the holiday spirit? Check
– Leaves the viewer smiling, with a renewed faith in his fellow-man as well as the spirit of the holidays? CHECK.

As the old Christmas saying goes, “It’s not Christmas until I see Hans Gruber fall off of Nakatomi Plaza”.

Christmas Lesson Learned:  You may feel like you’re the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time, but you may also be just the gift your family needs to come together in the spirit of the holiday.

So there you have it.  The ultimate Christmas Watch-List for Dad.  Honorable mentions also include A Christmas Story (we all started out as Ralphie before becoming “The Old Man”), Home Alone (because seeing Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern get Rube Goldberg’ed to death by a 10-year-old Macaulay Culkin never gets old), and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (It’s not about the size of your tree, the number of lights on the house, or the endless horde of relatives who lay siege to your home.  It’s about survival.  ‘Tis the Season To Be Merry”.  No shit.)

Merry Viewing To All! Best Watch All At Night!

Any classic Christmas Movies for Dad that I missed?  Sound off in the comments!

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