One of my favorite holiday traditions is snuggling up to a nice warm fire with a blanket and hot cocoa to watch a beloved Christmas movie. Something about the glow of the Christmas Tree lit up and the crackling fire in the background make the movie watching experience more magical. Everyone can agree that some of their best memories come from watching the same beloved classic holiday movies year after year. While I do have some favorites from an assortment of decades, the Christmas movies from the 80s have a special place in my heart. Why you ask? Not only did I grow up watching them, the Christmas movies from the 80s have a relatable humor in them unlike feature films from any other holiday season. Not familiar with many of them? Don’t know where to start your holiday movie binge? Look no further. I’ve compiled The Ultimate Watch Guide for 80s Christmas Movies that will give you everything you need to know.
5. SCROOGED | 1988
A sometimes tasteless, yet hysterical, adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol where Bill Murray plays a Frank Cross, a ruthless, uncaring television executive who will stop at nothing to boost network ratings until he is visited by three spirits who show him the errors of his ways.
Most Iconic Quote:
James Cross: “You know what they say about people who treat other people bad on the way up?”
Frank Cross: “Yeah, you get to treat ‘em bad on the way down, too. It’s great, you get two chances to to rough ‘em up.”
Anyone that doesn’t love Bill Murray, didn’t truly grow up in the 80s. Any character he plays comes with a fair but of sarcasm, but his portrayal of Frank Cross takes it to a whole new level. If you’re a fan of Monty Python or Mel Brooks movies, Scrooged is right up your alley. It takes all the classic characters of Dickens’ novel pokes fun at their sometimes hokey and exaggerated personalities. A classic scene is with Frank Cross and the Ghost of Christmas Present, where the Ghost (played by a delightful Carol Kane) savagely, but sweetly beats up on Cross as she introduces herself to him. When he gives her pushback, she tells him, “Sometimes the truth is painful, Frank.” Besides the irreverent comedy, this flick is jam-packed with cameos! Mary Lou Retten, Jamie Farr and Al Green (just to name a few). Although dark, you can’t deny that this is a unique and hysterical take on a common Christmas tale.
4. DIE HARD | 1988
John McClane (Bruce Willis), a New York Police Officer, basically single-handedly thwarts a terrorist attack on a company holiday party that his estranged wife happens to be attending.
Most Iconic Quote:
John McClane: “Yippee-ki-yay, motherf***er.”
Before you start questioning why in the world this Bruce Willis action movie is on the Ultimate Watch Guide for 80s Christmas Movies, hear me out. No, it doesn’t have Santa or a snowman, but it DOES have Bruce Willis in his first action movie kicking a whole bunch of bad guy butt during Christmas time in Los Angeles. If that isn’t goodwill toward men I don’t know what is. This is the perfect holiday movie for when you need a break from the mushy, heart-warming storylines and just want to see some totally rad fights and explosions. It’s got it all, gunfire, helicopters, explosives, hand to hand combat. Definitely not a conventional Christmas movie, but that is what made it such a success when it opened. Also, John McClane delivers that decisive kiss-off line, “Yippee-ki-yay, mother***er.” One can only hope they have an opportunity to use that line in their lifetime.
3. MICKEY’S CHRISTMAS CAROL | 1983
All of your favorite Disney friends portray the classic characters from Charles Dickens’ holiday novel, A Christmas Carol.
Most Iconic Quote:
Marley: “Ebenezer? Remember when I was alive I robbed from widows and swindled the poor?”
Scrooge: “Yes, and all in the same day. Oh, you had class, Jacob.”
Marley: “Ha-yuk, yup!… Er, no, no! I was wrong. And so, as punishment, I’m forced to carry these heavy chains for eternity! Maybe even longer.”
If you need a more traditional story than Scrooged, this Disney gem is it. A Christmas Carol is timeless and always a great reminder of what the holidays are truly about. This version is particularly wonderful because it stars the cherished characters we were all introduced to as kids. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, even Goofy. It’s a great way to share Dickens’ tale with your younger family and friends. Scrooge McDuck is obviously Ebenezer Scrooge, no surprise there, but a surprising casting is Donald Duck as Fred, Scrooge’s nephew, whose optimistic cheer is a far cry from Donald’s usual disgruntled self. A masterful piece of theater, Donald. Bravo, bravo! Few things instantly transform you into your younger self, but a Disney cartoon can always do that for me. #thankswalt
2. NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION | 1989
The Griswold family’s failed attempts at spending, or should I say surviving, the holiday season with their crazy, quirky and delusional family.
Most Iconic Quote:
Clark W. Griswold: “When Santa squeezes his fat a** down that chimney, he’s gonna find the jolliest bunch of a**holes this side of the nuthouse!”
We’ve made it to, by far, the MOST quotable holiday movie ever made. So many things that happen over the holidays can quickly be supplemented by a good Christmas Vacation quote. Last year, when my husband and I hung our Christmas lights on our house for the first time, we both started singing “Joyyyyyyy to the Worlddddddd…” the minute they were plugged in. Without rehearsal, without a second thought. That’s what this movie did; it permeated our Christmas culture in a way that even complete strangers can connect over. The Griswold family tells the relatable story each of us live through every year – how to make it through the holidays with our nutty family. Through all of the follies, missteps and misplaced focus, Clark and his family manage to salvage, and even cherish, their Christmas with each other and their wacky in-laws. Wanna have some fun at the dinner table this year? Offer to say grace and then recite the Pledge of Allegiance. If those around you don’t respond with a simple, “Amen,” you’ve got some movie-watching to do, my friend. #classicjoke
1. A CHRISTMAS STORY | 1983
Narrated by an older version of himself, a young boy named Ralphie makes it his holiday mission to obtain his coveted Christmas gift, only to run into obstacle after obstacle.
Most Iconic Quote:
Retail Store Santa: “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”
Even though this movie debuted in the 80s, it actually takes place in the 1940s. The quest of the main character, Ralphie, is one that transcends time for children from any era. Procurement of that must-have toy for Christmas. For me, it was a Barbie Power Wheels Jeep. What was it for you? That ONE gift you just HAD to have. P.S. No, I never got a Barbie Jeep. #stillbitter Who can’t relate to the roadblocks Ralphie faces when putting in his requests for his desired gift, a Red Ryder B.B. Gun? Or, more specifically, an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle. Whew, that was a mouthful. Wondering why this movie tops the Ultimate Watch Guide for 80s Christmas Movies? Remember, this blog is all about reminiscing and this movie is narrated by an adult Ralphie looking back on this iconic Christmas from his childhood. One that he can still recall with vivid detail and nostalgic appreciation. When you look back at some of the holidays you lived through as a youngster, certainly some of them could be made into incredibly awesome feature films. If Ralphie can do it, so can you!
I hope this watch guide is helpful in planning your Christmas movie binge-watching. Did I miss any of your favorite 80s Christmas flicks? What is on your Ultimate Watch Guide? Let me know in the comments below and subscribe to the Miss Reminisce newsletter for more Ultimate Watch Guides. Want to know my picks for 90s Christmas movies? Click here to view The Ultimate Watch Guide for 90s Christmas Movies. Happy Holidays!