Maybe it’s because it’s a tradition to gather round the TV with your friends and family and laugh. Maybe you want to make the best out of grandma giving you a $5 Blockbuster (RIP) gift card for the umpteenth Christmas in a row. Maybe some tension needs to be diffused after your uncle’s weird political commentary at dinner..Whatever the case may be, the holidays are undoubtedly a time where laughter is necessary. So instead of sobbing your way through It’s A Wonderful Life or Love Actually again, why not take your cue from these hilarious Christmas movie characters? Trust us…After watching these 10 movies you might just end up “laughing all the way.” No? All right, there’s a reason we’re making the list and not on it.
This motor-mouthed, boundlessly enthusiastic limo driver played by De’voreaux White makes even John McClane crack a weary smile. Later in the movie, as McClane deals with terrorists and bloody feet, we cut back to Argyle, still waiting in his limo, hanging with a teddy bear, cracking wise like it’s his job. He even gets a genuinely badass action moment when he knocks one of Hans Gruber’s thugs unconscious.
While the joys of this movie are perhaps best experienced under a certain influence (eggnog, obviously), even the most sober of minds can appreciate Thomas Lennon and Amir Blumenfeld’s eager-to-please new best friends to Harold and Kumar, who open the film in a tiff that only the Christmas spirit can solve. The flick has some huge set pieces (including Santa Claus getting capped in the head), but the smaller adventures it’s the smaller adventures of Todd and Adrian that bring the most laughs.
Let’s get this out of the way first: Jingle All The Way 100% holds up almost 20 years later. It’s a busy, funny and even manages to draw some tender moments out of Arnold. Phil Hartman straight man of Ted Maltin predictably steals the show, however, playing a passive-aggressively slime ball neighbor who would very much like to steal Arnold’s wife. His superficial smile makes me laugh every time.
In the face of adversity, stress and hopelessness, you can count on the eternally boisterous Yukon Cornelius to lead the way without fear. Sporting a big, bushy beard to go along with a big, bushy vocal performance by Larry D. Mann, Cornelius simply can’t keep his optimism, his fearlessness or his joy to himself. Even when talking about his work, Cornelius can’t help but shout, “This is my land and you know, it’s rich with gold. GOOOOLD!” He’s the perfectly funny foil to the more soft-spoken Rudolph and Hermey.
Forget Abbott & Costello, Laurel & Hardy or Martin & Lewis. For countless kids growing up in the ‘90s, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern were the premiere comedy duo, especially around Christmas time. Beyond the cartoonish pranks that would kill them in real life, Harry and Marv have a great schtick and rapport that is actually endearing. While Pesci’s Harry is rough, grumbly and concerned only with business, Stern’s Marv is goofier, more whimsical and prone to silly calling cards like the Wet and Sticky Bandits. If anyone in Hollywood is reading, I’d love to pitch a reboot where they win.
For much of this 24-hour basic cable marathon classic, Darren McGavin’s performance is vintage gruff 1950s masculinity at its finest. The Old Man is a Father with a capital F, a man who swears around the clock, tinkers with a busted furnace and finally buys his son the BB gun he wanted so badly. Yet his funniest moment comes when he expresses his sensitive, artistic side. Watching his genuine love of the infamous fra-gee-lay leg lamp is simply priceless, and when it “accidentally” breaks, his genuine heartbreak and denial is truly surprising and truly hilarious.
Say what you will about Randy Quaid’s real life shenanigans, his spirited shenanigans in this ‘80s classic are more than enough to put him on the list. A perfect foil to Chevy Chase’s buttoned-up straight man just trying to do right, Eddie gives the movie a rock and roll burst of unfiltered energy. He’s outrageous, and yet, I’m willing to bet everyone has a Cousin Eddie in their family—or maybe even someone who makes Cousin Eddie look downright Zen.
We learn all we need to know from Bill Murray’s modern day Ebeneezer in his introduction: After viewing the latest promos for his television network, Frank opens his desk drawer, catches his reflection in a small mirror, smiles, fixes his hair and then closes it. In case it’s not clear: Frank Cross has a drawer in his desk devoted to a vanity mirror. While the rest of the film sometimes devolves into over-the-top nonsense, and his transformation into a Christmas-loving good guy feels a little forced, it’s Murray’s committed touches like these that make Frank Cross so memorable.
To write a full list of “bad” things Billy Bob Thornton’s mall santa does in this movie would take up this entire article and then some. We see him pee himself, get wasted, swear at kids, disrespect authority and plan on robbing the very mall he works at. That he works as a genuinely funny character and not just a vulgar caricature is testament to Thornton’s brilliant, these-are-the-facts deadpan work, countered by two brilliant supporting performances from the late greats John Ritter and Bernie Mac. His interactions with innocent cherub Thurman Murman make us cry every time.
In a sense, making Christmas “funny” can be as easy as responding to something meant to be sincere and joyful with cynicism and darkness. Is there any comedic Christmas character that embodies a genuine love of Christmas? Thankfully, we have Will Ferrell’s fearlessly committed performance as the titular elf to answer this question with a resounding yes. Ferrell wrings a ton of comedy out of responding to everything with wide-eyed, childlike wonder. Arguably our generation’s classic Christmas movie, watching Buddy the Elf makes you laugh, makes you smile and, to paraphrase from the Grinch, makes your heart grow three sizes bigger.