It never fails that as soon as Halloween ends, the Christmas spirit rapidly picks up momentum. Holiday tunes flood the radio and Starbucks begins serving their signature drinks in red cups. This all begins before the month of December officially begins, but that doesn’t stop seasonal enthusiasts from hanging up lights and watching holiday themed films.
To many, Christmas movies are a beloved form of entertainment. Rightfully so, there is an array of holiday film genres. From comedy to drama, Hollywood strives to capture the essence of the winter days. However, despite the thrill of watching a favorite film, there are many holiday pictures that have become extremely overplayed. During December, a Christmas movie can be found on almost every channel. And more often than not, it’s always the same film that is playing.
Whether it’s a classic or a modern flick, there are specific holiday films that see their fair share of screen time. It’s to the point where lines can be delivered right along with the actors in various scenes. While these movies are considered infamous pictures of the season, there comes a point where enough is enough. Often times, the extreme amount of run time is leading to the loss of appeal to the films, but on the other hand, the multiple plays are boosting the movie’s favoritism.
So warm up some hot chocolate to enjoy while taking a look at these 15 most overplayed holiday films.
15. Bad Santa
To many children, it’s a rite of passage to visit Santa Claus at the local mall during each holiday season. However, not all Santas are jolly and rosy-cheeked. Sometimes, they can be straight up criminals such as Billy Bob Thornton’s character in the 2003 film Bad Santa. The Christmas comedy crime film, focuses on two professional thieves who disguise themselves as the department store Santa and Elf combo in order to rob the unsuspecting mall after hours. With the characters’ inappropriate behaviors and vices, this particular holiday film is not suitable for a family movie night. However, that doesn’t hinder the fact that the raunchy comedy can be found on multiple mature television networks during the holiday season. This year, fans of Thornton’s film can catch the next installment of the story as Bad Santa 2 hits theaters at the end of November. The multiple runs of the movie on television appears to not have affected the reception of the film.
14. Four Christmases
Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon may seem as an unlikely duo on paper, but in the 2008 film, Four Christmases, the two prominent Hollywood actors were able to deliver a dynamic holiday film. While both come from dysfunctional families, the couple decides they are going to skip Christmas and enjoy a tropical vacation. But in the end, they end up having to visit both sets of families when their plans derail. The comedic approach and Vaughn’s ability to deliver quick-witted lines, makes this film a fan favorite during the time of jubilee. Its well-received praise plays a large role in the fact that the flick makes several appearances on television. Furthermore, this film is often times delivered as a double feature on some networks where it will replay immediately following the first showing. Airing the holiday movie throughout the week may not be a cry for alarm, but the encore performance stands out to be a little too much.
13. Love, Actually
With an array of Christmas comedies being enjoyed by holiday enthusiasts during the season, Love Actually, takes on a romantic Christmas-themed approach. The 2013 film illustrates ten individual stories with completely different people as they navigate their way through life and love just five weeks before Christmas day. As the stories progress, it becomes clear that the tales are interlinked with one another. The film received an overflowing amount of positive reception in both the United States and Britain. While the holiday romantic-comedy isn’t as dominate on television as some other Christmas films during the season, it still does receive its fair share of airtime. Many critics view the film as the worst Christmas movie following its release, but the female audiences of the flick have dubbed it their favorite movie of the holiday season in comparison to other seasonal comedies and dramas.
12. The Polar Express
While Christmas may represent many different things in varying age groups, the thrill of Santa among children is a component of the season that will never fade. In order to continue addressing the appeal of the younger generation, The Polar Express offered children a fantasy escape in the 2004 film. The animated Christmas movie takes young viewers on a journey to the North Pole aboard the Polar Express for only those who truly believe. Following its release, the film received an abundant amount of positive feedback and the revenue far surpassed the movie’s initial budget. Along with the widely receptive response, the holiday animation was listed as the first all-digital capture film in the Guinness World Book of Records just two years after it premiered in theaters. Throughout the holiday season, the beloved picture can be found airing on several children and family-friendly television networks, as well as in local theaters.
11. The Santa Clause
In 1994, Tim Allen graced the big screen as Scott Calvin, who unintentionally becomes Santa Claus on Christmas Eve night. That night, he and his son, Charlie, set out to deliver gifts around the world and end up in the North Pole where he learns of his new identity. As the movie progresses, so does his transition into St. Nick. Since The Santa Clause premiered in theaters, it did well at the box office. Now over twenty years old, the movie is considered to be a Christmas classic. The movie still continues to receive high ratings when aired on television networks, such as ABC Family and AMC, during the holiday season. On the heels of its success, two sequels were released in 2002 and 2006 to form a trilogy of Scott’s story of now living his life as Santa Claus. While the processors didn’t receive the same positive praise as the first film, they still continue to get their fair share of air time on television.
10. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
It goes without saying that Rudolph is the favorite amongst Santa’s reindeer. No one can deny that the small deer with the red, blinking nose has a special place within our hearts. While Rudolph happens to be well received by all, its short film, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, is quite overplayed during the holiday season. Watching Rudolph make his rise as Santa’s lead reindeer can easily be considered a Christmas classic, and making his appearance each year on television is a tradition that shows no evidence of disappearing anytime soon. While the 55-minute feature was originally distributed by NBC in 1964, it switched networks and began airing on CBS in 1972. To this day, the classic stop motion animation special can still be found on that network. Prior to Christmas Day, the infamous film of how Rudolph saves Christmas can be on several other channels in order to build the hype of the rapidly approaching holiday season.
9. Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town
During each holiday season, children anticipate the moment when Santa Claus arrives in their town while they sleep in order to deliver presents under their tree. In order to convey Santa’s journey prior to Christmas, the 1970 television special, Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town, was introduced to audiences. For fifty minutes, viewers watch as several Santa-related Christmas traditions come to life in the short picture that is loosely based on the holiday classic song by the same name. Despite cutting two songs to work in commercials during the run time and scenes that the network deemed too traumatizing for younger viewers, the animated film can still be found every year on ABC and its sister network, Freeform. Much like other cartooned holiday classic features, the short flick still continues to draw in viewers of all ages despite the fact that it plays several times each year during the celebratory winter season.
8. Frosty The Snowman
While Christmas themed music has been a vital part of the holidays for many who celebrate, making films based on those songs is yet another way to spread the holiday cheer. In correlation with the hit song, Frosty the Snowman, CBS aired an animated television special rightfully titled Frosty the Snowman in 1969. The feature ran for a total of 25 minutes and during that time, viewers were introduced to Frosty, a snowman that young children brought to life in the school yard. While the short flick is just shy of turning fifty years old, it still continues to run every year on CBS following the Thanksgiving holiday. Each year that it continues to replay, new generations are introduced to the short classic Christmas program that has yet to disappear. The annual run of the flick still manages to draw in large number of audiences from all over.
7. How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Based on Dr. Seuss’ popular children’s book, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, was executed into a full-length feature film in 2000. With Jim Carrey playing the title lead of the Grinch, he portrays his extreme hatred for Christmas and the Whos of Whoville after being humiliated in school when he was younger and attempts to seek revenge on the town. With an accomplishing fleet at the box office, critics went on to praise Carrey’s performance and the overall film. In fact, the movie is regarded as the second highest-grossing holiday film of all time. While the 1966 animated musical comedy, Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas, graced the small screen for a holiday special, the live-action film has received further success throughout the years since its release. Like other holiday classics, audiences can witness the Grinch’s attempted Christmas heist each year as networks such as ABC and Freeform air the adored flick on way more than one occasion.
6. Miracle On 34th Street
In 1947, a new Christmas film, Miracle on 34th Street, was introduced to audiences as a man by the name of Kris Kringle jumps in to fill in for the drunk Santa Claus that was originally supposed to make an appearance during the annual Thanksgiving Day parade. His authentic performance in the parade leads him to become the Santa at a high end Manhattan department store without his employers realizing that he is in fact the real deal. With actresses such as Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood portraying the lead roles, the original film gained much success following its release that it can now be found gracing its presence on the small screen during the holiday season on networks known for airing older movie classics. However, the praise that the movie received, was enough for the Christmas classic to be remade in 1994. While not as popular as the original picture, the remake continues to make a name for itself by being overplayed during the Christmas season on networks such as Starz and HBO.
5. It’s A Wonderful Life
One of the most dominant classic Christmas films that always makes an appearance during the holiday season is the 1946 picture, It’s A Wonderful Life. The story depicts George Bailey and his life after he wishes he was never born, but over time realizes the impact that his existence has had on others. Due in part to the multiple television showings the film has made over decades during the Christmas season, the movie is regarded to be one the most popular flicks in American cinema. The fantasy drama film is a beloved classic to watch during the holidays, because it encompasses the importance of what the holidays mean amongst loved ones. Despite the fact that it’s a black and white film and much older than other popular Christmas films making their appearance today, the family drama still manages to tune in a large number of audiences when syndicated on television during the holiday seasons.
4. Home Alone
Macaulay Culkin’s portrayal as Kevin McCallister in the prominent Home Alone franchise was an unmistakable important addition to the holiday movie genre. The 1990 Christmas comedy illustrates a boy’s well-executed array of booby traps against two burglars who target his home when he is accidentally forgotten by his family at home while they flew to Paris for Christmas vacation. Despite witnessing the back-and-forth pranks between Kevin and the Wet Bandits the first time, the film never ceases to bore audiences with additional views. As one of the highest grossing North American Christmas movies, Home Alone is rightfully overplayed on networks throughout the holiday season.
Its 1992 sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, additionally found success and continues to be viewed in the comfort of one’s home as the celebratory season continues to strive on. While other holiday films have been released prior to and following the successful franchise, the story of Kevin being left alone during Christmas continues to be ranked amongst the most popular Christmas films of all time. Which supports the fact the movie can always be found on television.
3. A Christmas Story
When thinking of classic Christmas films, the 1983 film, A Christmas Story, immediately comes to mind. Since the introduction of nine-year-old Ralphie Parker and his family, the film has transpired into a cult favorite. A decade following the film’s release, American television networks such as TNT and TBS ran a marathon of the flick entitled, “24 Hours of A Christmas Story” which features twelve back-to-back runs on both Christmas and Christmas Eve. Additionally, the film was preserved by the Library of Congress in the National Film Registry in 2012. The same year, A Christmas Story: The Musical which is based on the classic flick, opened on Broadway and went on to receive several Tony Award nominations. Needless to say, the tale of Ralphie desiring his own Red Ryder rifle has transpired into a beloved holiday picture. If watching the movie on television isn’t enough, fans can find the film in local theaters throughout the season.
2. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
If your family is anything like mine, then National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is your go-to Christmas film each year. The 1989 film has repeatedly been labeled as a holiday classic. With the likes of Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo reprising their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold, the comedy portrays an accurate portrayal of a dysfunctional family coming together for the holidays. A mix-up with an assumed Christmas bonus and a squirrel all play a role in the over-the-top dramatics that keep the Griswolds on their toes as they count down to Christmas. The positive response this film has received since its release, is responsible for the multiple screen time it acquires on television during the holiday season. When not making its appearance on the small screen, the infamous film can be found in various stores around Christmas in the form of shirts and household accessories
A little over a decade ago, the Christmas film genre reached new heights when Elf opened in theaters. The 2003 comedy tells the outrageous tale of an orphaned infant who eventually ends up at the North Pole on Christmas Eve and is adopted by Papa Elf. Despite being raised in elf culture it becomes clear to Buddy, portrayed by Will Ferrell, that he is in fact human. This epiphany urges Buddy to travel to New York in search of his real father. It goes without saying that this particular Christmas film is the most overplayed holiday movie to date; probably because it’s so recent. Turn on any channel or television network during the celebratory season and more often than not, Elf will be gracing the airwaves. In addition to the multiple viewings, the film’s success transpired into apparel and merchandise. Even if you can’t wait till December to watch this comedy, you’ll still be able to find it airing on television long before the Halloween candy goes stale.