5. A Different Kind of Christmas (1996)
Well, no list of MFTVM would be complete without a requisite “Big city lawyer returns to humble roots, learns important lesson about family, life and love,” which is why I’ve included this gem on my list. And of course the fact that it stars Shelley Long doesn’t hurt either. I wish I was making this plot up. Correction, I wish I DID make this plot up because apparently it is worthy of production. At any rate, from what I remember, Shelley’s mother dies, which spirals her father into some kind of “Santa schtick,” in which he turns his home into some type of Santaland Castle, where he gifts toys to children [not unlike the Neverland Ranch]. Then, one day, the neighbors (or somebody) gets in an uproar about ye olde Santaland being improperly zoned for a private neighborhood. BIG CITY LAWYER TO THE RESCUE!” Please see also: Horse Sense, Fallen Angel, The Last Cowboy and Thicker than Water. And did I mention Barry Bostwick’s in it? Or that it airs this Saturday morning on Lifetime at 11/10 CT?
4. A Christmas Carol: The Musical [starring Kelsey Grammer] (2004)
Oh joy! Yet another retelling of the classic Christmas tale, which also stars Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jason Alexander, and my personal favorite TV temptress, Jenna Maroney. . .errrr. . .Jane Krakowski as the ghost of Christmas past. Seriously though. Think about it. Doesn’t this sound like the perfect part for Jenna? Let me rephrase that: Doesn’t this sound like the perfect part for Jenna to AUDITION for? Picture it, NYC 2009: “Sorry I can’t make it to rehearsal today, Liz. I’m auditioning for a the part of The Ghost of Christmas Past in a made for TV movie, starring Kelsey Grammer from Frasier as Ebenezer Scrooge. It’s a musical and my character gets to descend from the ceiling, as if from heaven, to surprise Kelsey Grammer in his sleep on Christmas Eve with a song. That’s a soundtrack credit, Liz.”
3. Ebbie (1995)
I don’t know about you, but when I think Charles Dickens classic literature, I think: SUSAN LUCCI! Who the fuck came up with this bright idea? In YET ANOTHER “twist” on “A Christmas Carol” we have head buyer for a fake/generic (this ain’t no Miracle on 34th Street) department store playing the role of Ebenezer “Ebbie” Scrooge. Did I mention that his part went to SUSAN LUCCI?!?! And that’s only the half of it. We get a dual role from Molly Parker (?) as she plays BOTH the sister of Ebbie, and the niece (past/present). In one of our past Christmas’s said sister DIES, giving birth to her child (that Ebbie must raise). But ooohhh if Ebbie hadn’t gone to that party, her sister would have lived!! Good thing she did go though, otherwise she wouldn’t have me THE STORE SANTA and fallen in love, only to turn him down the following year when he asked for her hand in marriage ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF HER SISTER’S DEATH/Christmas.
Don’t worry! It gets better. Also in the “present” portion we get a glimpse into the home of Ebbie’s lowly assistant, a single mother of two. You know what’s coming. I almost shit my pants when Taran Noah Smith (uuhh, Mark, from Home Improvement) came limping into the scene ON ONE CRUTCH, identifying himself as Tiny Tim. Holy cow. Where do I start? Did I mention this was set in MODERN times? Why would he have just the one crutch? And he’s “sick?” Who gives a sick little boy a single crutch in 1995? Perhaps a wheelchair would make things easier, or a walker. If you’re too terrible of a mother to even offer your child a complete set of crutches, then maybe you DESERVE to work on Christmas day. And I’m not buying for a second that that angelic rendition of a Christmas standard was actually sung by Mark Taylor.
In case you’ve never seen it, check your local listings, because Hallmark has deemed it worthy of airing, roughly six times per day. How is there not a clip on You Tube? If that’s not a punch in the holiday spirit, I don’t know what is.
2. The Christmas Toy (1986)
Unlike the rest of the movies on this list, this one is actually really good. (Hey, “best” and “favorite” are two different things. I’m sure you’ve learned by now that NTO T5F is more about favorites than bests, and if not, you’re probably not very perceptive). This movie, produced by the Jim Henson Company, (and brought to you by Kraft Foods) was one of my favorite movies EVER as a child. The premise is simple. It’s Christmas Eve and the kids are super pumped about what toys Santa will put under the tree. Their toys, on the other hand, are DEVASTATED! What if the new toys are better and more fun than the old ones and they never get played with again. Well, to find out (and possibly destroy them) before morning, the toys go on a mission to discover what’s wrapped up under the tree. Lead by Rugby the tiger, the “good” toys must battle the “evil” new toys, headed up by Meteora, Queen of the Asteroids (bitch of Christmas). There’s one catch though: if any toy is found out of place by a human, it will be FROZEN FOREVER. Talk about emotions running high! I think this movie spawned my first panic attack. And Mom, if you’re reading this, could you go ahead and find the VHS tape by which you RECORDED THIS FROM THE TELEVISION so I could watch it this weekend? Thanks.
1. To Grandmother’s House We Go (1992)
Well, since Full House isn’t a movie, I had to go with the nearest thing to it or this list wouldn’t be a true Beal original. Seriously though, this movie is INCREDIBLE! Forget the Olsen twins! You could jam any bad child actors in this part and I would love it all the same. For christ’s sake! They RUNAWAY from home at Christmastime, and get kidnapped by JERRY VAN DYKE and RHEA PEARLMAN on their merry way to their grandmother’s house—-HILARITY ENSUES!!!! Honestly, this movie has it all. It’s heartwarming on SO MANY levels, let’s see, the single mother of twins learns to never ever curse the day she gave birth, two “crooks” discover that family is more important than fortune, an aged grandmother gets to see her grandchildren instead of spending the holidays all alone in a made for Christmas cottage and Bob Saget and Lori Laughlin learn the true meaning of “supporting cast.”