Best Christmas Ever: Travel Vicariously Through These Holiday Classics
At its best, holiday travel is a uniquely exciting experience. The seasonal decor and festiveness in the air can make even the grinchiest Grinch feel eager to celebrate, be it in their childhood home with extended family, at an exotic location solo, or anything in between. But with all this joyful anticipation, it’s natural (and frankly, kind of necessary) to forget all the logistical stress and simmering tensions that often leave us needing a vacation from our holiday vacation.
With social distancing measures grounding many of us in place this year, maybe you’re craving some armchair travel. Or maybe what you really need is a friendly reminder that those holiday adventures you're missing aren’t all just cozy fun and games. Either way, AMC's annual Best Christmas Ever and the classic holiday flicks below have got you covered.
Four Christmases (2008)
Spending Christmas with your in-laws can be a daunting experience. Sure, it can also be lovely, but many couples have experienced that special kind of “festive” conflict that only pops up around December 25th (’tis the season!). In the 2008 comedy Four Christmases, Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) attempt what many would consider the unthinkable: packing four separate Christmases with four divorced parents into one. single. day. Merry dysfunction! While navigating all the complicated family history and emotional minefields that each homecoming entails, the formerly anti-kids, anti-marriage lovebirds start to question what they actually want for their future together. It’s four messy, stressful, hilarious Christmas escapades rolled into one, and it's all the more enjoyable since it's not your own!
Fred Claus (2007)
Santa’s workshop sits comfortably at the top of millions of kids’ travel lists, but in Fred Claus it’s a deadbeat adult who gets to give the North Pole a visit. As a condition to posting his wayward sibling’s bail, Saint Nick himself (Paul Giamatti) asks that his brother Fred (Vince Vaughn) spend some time up at Christmas HQ, to hopefully get his act together. Between shredding holiday wishes and throwing parties, the younger Claus makes quick work of alienating family and turning elves to enemies. With time, however, the Christmas spirit rubs off on him, and his own epiphanies about the naughty and nice list reveal his saintly brother’s own blind spots. With Elizabeth Banks, Rachel Weisz, Kathy Bates, and Ludacris rounding out the cast, Fred Claus truly is heartwarming, black comedy gold.
The Holiday (2006)
This Nancy Meyers classic gave us Cameron Diaz in a dreamy cottage fit for a snow globe, a Kate Winslet/Jack Black kiss, and Jude Law as “Mister Napkin Head,” which is frankly worth ten year’s worth of Christmas presents alone. The plot revolves around two women from opposite sides of the pond who partake in an impromptu home-swap, hoping to combat the holiday blues by traveling somewhere new. Their respective broken hearts are no match for the Christmas spirit, and in true Nancy Meyer’s fashion, they each find new love and learn to be the leadings ladies in their own lives. This holiday rom-com may not be surprising, but it's undeniably satisfying — and best enjoyed cuddled up under a blanket with a warm cup of cocoa. Warning: of all the movies on this list, this one is actually guaranteed to give you holiday wanderlust.
Perhaps the quintessential holiday travel movie (it has “Christmas Vacation” in the title, for Santa’s sake), this National Lampoon installment follows husband and father Clark Griswold’s (Chevy Chase) misguided attempts at having a “fun, old-fashioned family Christmas” — which backfire hilariously at every single turn. With obnoxious relatives arriving unexpectedly out of the woodwork, sloppy Christmas tree hunting and kidnapping excursions, and an actual SWAT team home invasion, the Griswold’s holiday goes up in literal (sewage) flames... but it's somehow still chock-full of love and festive joy. What more could you really ask for?
In Bruges (2008)
For a more unconventional pick, consider In Bruges — which can reasonably be classified as a Christmas-y travel film since, as the title helpfully states, it’s set in an idyllic Belgian city during the holiday. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are hit men coworkers who journey to Bruges, where they’re set to carry out some dirty work for their formidable boss (played by Ralph Fiennes). Once they arrive, debauchery ensues, and it's 100% NOT the family friendly kind. Violence, drug binges, and high octane canal chases aren’t typically the stuff of holiday cheer. However, In Bruges is, in its own way, a tale of Christmastime redemption — and a solid choice for fans of mob movies and European scenery.
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