5 Phenomenally Funny Christmas Movie Characters

movie_theatre - Phenom 5

Christmas movies come in all shapes and varieties. From Christian-themed films to the Hallmark Channel mush, the holiday has invited literally hundreds of movies. As you look at the vast library of Christmas films you can’t help but find a ton of really funny characters. That’s who we are looking at today. Undoubtedly many would come to mind at just the mention of funny Christmas movie characters. So with that in mind, I wouldn’t call this the definitive list. But there’s no denying that these a five funny Christmas movie characters are nothing short of phenomenal.

#5 – Myron Larabee (“Jingle All the Way”)

JINGLE

“Jingle All the Way” may not be considered a Christmas classic but it is one my family watches almost every year. Schwarzenegger plays the bad father who forgets to grab his son a Turbo-Man action figure for Christmas. He tears out on Christmas Eve to try to pick up what is the hottest toy of the holiday season. That’s when he runs into Myron played by Sinbad. I’ve never even a huge Sinbad fan but he’s really funny here. He plays on the deranged postal worker angle and becomes Arnie’s chief friend/rival in obtaining the elusive Turbo-Man. Myron has several laugh-out-loud lines and he’s a huge reason the movie is such fun (at least until the very end).

#4 – Harry and Marv (“Home Alone”)

HOME ALONE

Talk about stepping into a new role. Who would have ever thought Joe Pesci would be a highlight of a modern Christmas classic. Such is the case with “Home Alone”. In the film he teams up with Daniel Stern to form a suburban burglar team known as “The Wet Bandits”. Pesci and Stern are hilarious. The two numbskulls meet their match when they try and rob the home of 8-year old Kevin McCallister who has been accidentally left at home by his family. Harry and Marv fall prey to an assortment of Kevin’s booby traps which seem pulled right out of the classic Looney Tunes cartoons. They’re goofy and over-the-top, but they’re also a load of fun.

#3 – Papa Elf (“Elf”)

BOB NEWHART

Ok, this certainly isn’t a character in the same comedic vein as the others on this list, but he is an enormous reason I did the list to begin with. I’m talking about Papa Elf from the Christmas comedy “Elf”. Will Ferrell as Buddy would be the obvious selection here but I have to give some love to Bob Newhart. His casting was brilliant. There are several reasons he is so funny to me. First, we get Bob Newhart in tights and an elf outfit. Priceless! I can’t look at him without laughing. But then there is his serious, deadpan delivery which works to perfection. Newhart is just a funny guy and the way he handles this role cracks me up every time. He has to make my list.

#2 – Cousin Eddie (“Christmas Vacation”)

EDDIE

Surely you know Cousin Eddie would make this list, right? “Christmas Vacation” is a funny movie but the laughs go off the charts when Eddie and his family crash the Griswold family Christmas. Talk about stealing the show. Randy Quaid’s real-life misadventures proves that he has this type of character figured out. From Eddie’s wardrobes, to his antics, to his nutty lines, the movie is filled with one hysterical Eddie moment after another. As good as “Christmas Vacation” is, it’s safe to say it wouldn’t be the same without cousin Eddie. They just don’t get much funnier than him.

#1 – The Old Man (“A Christmas Story”)

CHRISTMAS STORY

As funny as all of the aforementioned characters are, there are none that make me laugh more than The Old Man (aka Ralphie’s father) in Bob Clark’s Christmas classic “A Christmas Story”. The late Darren McGavin Is nothing short of brilliant in his portrayal of this working-class father raising his family in Indiana. He has so many wonderful moments. His furnace and Oldsmobile battles, his bargaining with the Christmas tree man, his fights with the neighbors hound dogs, his major award. I could go on and on. He’s not only the funniest Christmas character but he’s one of my favorite characters period. And it’s all because of some very good writing and a fabulous performance from Darren McGavin. He’s my clear #1.

So what do you think of my list? I’d love to hear your favorite funny Christmas movie characters. Please take time to share your thoughts in the comments below.

REVIEW: “Elf” (2003)

ELF

Christmas movies are their own special brand of films. Much of what makes them good is centered on how well they tie into this wonderful holiday season. You can’t separate them from the holiday, and their success depends on that relationship to Christmas. Jon Favreau’s “Elf” is a perfect example. Soaked with Christmas lore, “Elf” captures the sentimental spirit of Christmas within its clever and often times hilarious story. “Elf” is inseparable from Christmas and your perception of the holiday will naturally impact your perception of this movie. That’s probably why I can forgive its few flaws and appreciate it as a true holiday treat.

Will Ferrell stars which can sometimes throw up a few red flags for me. Ferrell and this movies often follow a fairly overused formula where he plays someone in an absurdly out-of-place position (see movies such as “Semi-Pro” and “Blades of Glory”). But unlike those movies, it really works here. He plays Buddy the Elf, a toymaker at Santa’s workshop in the North Pole. How’s that for a wacky fit?

But there are several noticeable differences between Buddy and his fellow elves, none more glaring than the fact that he’s 6’5 and not very good at making toys. His father, Papa Elf (hilariously played by Bob Newhart, fully decked out in a bright elf costume with green tights) decides it’s time to reveal to Buddy that he’s really a human being. Feeling uncertainty about where he truly belongs, Buddy sets out on a journey to find his real father. His quest takes him to the magical world of New York City.

ELF 1
Image Courtesy of New Line Cinema

It’s here that the absurdity really kicks in. Buddy arrives in the Big Apple in full elf garb where his elf mentality immediately clashes with the concrete jungle. He comes face-to-face with many new and exotic things including New York cabbies, coffee shops, and the Lincoln Tunnel. It’s often hysterical watching Buddy’s elf sensibilities smash up against big city life. The fish-out-of-water script provides plenty of funny moments. Of course it gets a little sappy at the end, and the baked-in holiday cheer means the ending is fairly predictable. But that goes hand-in-hand with Christmas movies. You pretty much know what you’re going to get.

Then there’s the terrific and committed supporting performances. I especially love James Caan as Buddy’s real father, Walter Hobbs. He’s a shrewd children’s book publisher who spends more time at work than with his wife (Mary Steenburgen) and his young son (Daniel Tay). Then there’s Zooey Deschanel as Jovie, a Gimbel’s department store worker who catches Buddy’s eye. Much like Walter, she’s in desperate need of some Christmas spirit, something that Buddy has in spades. Ed Asner is a wonderful fit as Santa Claus, and Faizon Love has several great scenes as the Gimbels toy department manager.

“Elf” is utterly absurd and unashamedly silly and I say that as a compliment. Even if you aren’t a Will Ferrell fan, he’s an absolute blast in this fun and festive holiday treat. It may be handcuffed by its Christmas movie boundaries, and it certainly dips into sentimentality at the end. But it’s such a warm and clever film; one with plenty of good gags and family-friendly laughs. It may not be up everyone’s alley. But for many, it’s a film that has become one of the “must watch” movies of the Christmas season. That’s certainly the case at our house.

VERDICT – 4 STARS