Guest Submission by Spencer Blohm
Some may choose to celebrate Christmas by ice skating in the park, or singing carols, but for the rest of us, we choose to laugh till we cry by revisiting John Hughes’ classic Christmas films.
John Hughes was the king of teen comedies, bringing to the screen some of the best classics of the 80’s and 90’s. He began his career as an advertising copywriter, started writing for National Lampoon’s Magazine, and then, in 1984, began writing high school comedies including Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. He grew up in Chicagoland, likely why most of his movie sets take place in Shermer, Illinois. Throughout his career Hughes was a director, producer and screenwriter for some of the most recognizable films of his time, and even inspired the “Brat Pack” movement of the 1980’s.
While he is most known for his teen movies starring Michael Keaton, Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall, he also made a big mark in many fans’ holiday film collections. John Hughes has a repertoire of holiday classics including the Home Alone films, Miracle on 34th Street, and National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. So, with little time before the holidays, let’s take a look at John Hughes’ top Christmas films, which can thankfully be viewed online, on DirecTV, Netflix, or other streaming outlets this holiday season.
There is something about the Griswold family which reminds us of our own relatives, and also makes us grimace (lovingly) at the thought of spending the upcoming holidays with them. This classic 1989 film, which was based on John Hughes’ short story, “Christmas ‘59,” which was published in National Lampoon’s Magazine December 1980 issue, was the third installment in the National Lampoon’s Vacation series.
We watch Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) pull a pine tree from the ground, shut down the power in his community, and set fires. Anything that could go wrong, does. While planning to celebrate a perfect Christmas, their adventures turn into one big disaster after another – the trademark National Lampoon structure which Hughes masterfully carried out.
The Home Alone Collection
There were four films total in the Home Alone series, with the first film being the most successful, causing Macaulay Culkin to become one of the most recognizable faces of the nineties. Watching the Home Alone films, children get to see all of their childhood dreams come true. We watch Macaulay order as much pizza as he pleases, book a room in the classiest hotel, and roam a toy store while doing serious damage on a credit card.
Home Alone was the top grossing film of 1990, awarding itself a place as a Christmas classic. In fact, the first Home Alone film entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the “Highest Box Office Gross – Comedy” and made over 500 billion internationally.
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, released in 1992, was similar to the first film, only set in New York, and equally as great as the first. Home Alone 3 and Home Alone 4 (a TV movie), released in 1997, and 2002, respectively, did not star Macaulay Culkin, which made the films less noteworthy and dragged out the story plot.
Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
John Hughes wrote the screenplay for the retelling of the 1947 classic starring Mara Wilson (Matilda), Richard Attenborough (Jurassic Park) and Elizabeth Perkins (Big, Weeds). It is a magical tale, veering slightly from the slapstick comedy found in Home Alone and Christmas Vacation. The story tells of a drunk Santa who ruins the Cole’s Thanksgiving Day parade, until Dorey Walker (Perkins) finds an old man who looks like Santa and hires him on as the replacement Cole’s department store Santa. While she may have stereotyped the old man, in the end we find out he is in fact, the real Santa Claus.
Though not as successful as any of his other Christmas films, it still is remembered as one of the great Christmas classics, and without doubt one of my favorites for its ability to capture the Christmas spirit.
The Grisby’s Go Broke (unproduced)
Many may not know that John Hughes, apart from his popular Christmas titles, also had a unproduced screenplay entitled “Grisby’s Go Broke,” a story about a wealthy family who loses their fortune, forcing them to move to Mulletville and experience Christmas in a whole new light. While the screenplay has never been made into a feature film, there were rumors back in February 2013 that Jim Hecht, who wrote the screenplay for the Ice Age: The Meltdown, was going to rewrite Hughes’ script for Paramount. Whether this will happen or not is still up for debate.
From Home Alone to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, John Hughes helped to mold the future holiday traditions of many households worldwide who celebrate Christmas by cuddling up and watching the holiday tales of Susan Walker, Kevin McCallister and Clark Griswold unfold.