Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe
At first thought, it seems strange and somewhat masochistic that people would willingly sit down at a specific time each year and watch a film they've seen dozens of times before, but when you remember that movies are—among other things—traditions, it makes a lot more sense. More important than the movies themselves are the memories and feelings associated with them. Individual people can ascribe unique emotions to a film seen by millions of people, a powerful notion that points to the value of cinema and art. It's easy for me to scoff at someone for watching Home Alone or The Nightmare Before Christmas for the umpteenth time because I hate Christmas, but I can't say I don't the same thing for other movies at different times of the year. For instance, I love watching All That Heaven Allows and Rushmore during the fall; at Halloween, chances are I'll watch Suspiria, Night of the Living Dead, or, yes, Halloween; when the weather is hot, I'll cool down with The Shining or The Gold Rush; when it's cold, Wake in Fright and Rear Window warm me up; when I come down with a bug and need to rest, I like to see how far I can make it through Satantango; and for whatever reason, I like to watch Punch-Drunk Love on or around my birthday.
So in a way, I admire Christmas movies for reminding me that watching a movie is never passive act. It always serves an immediate function, one that's sometimes irrelevant to what's actually being watched. At this point, I can tune out National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and simply enjoy being around people who are having a really good time watching a movie, even if it's a movie they can—and do—quote line for line. And for the record, if I'm choosing the Christmas movie, it's always Gremlins.