Funny Christmas movies have been around for what seems like forever, and it’s been part of many families’ holiday traditions for generations. From the black and white feel-good classics to the breathtaking animated movies of today, funny Christmas movies play a special role during the season of joy.
While Christmas is not celebrated by every person on Earth, with the freedom of religion and expression and whatnot, most of the population has watched at least one Christmas comedy movie in their lifetime. They’re shown everywhere when December arrives — in theatres, streaming apps, social media, and your very own cable TV. If you want a list of all the classics, you should be watching (or rewatching), read on below.
Christmas as a Film Genre
Although Christmas comedy movies had debuted in the film industry since before movies were multi-colored, what makes them Christmas movies isn’t just their showing dates during December. Some Christmas movies have been released at spontaneous dates throughout the year. Is it a matter of setting? Possibly, but not entirely.
Christmas comedy movies are often set in places where the snow is falling, and the audience can almost feel the spirit of Christmas. The giant, sparkling Christmas trees, the presents, the Christmas songs, and people bundled up in comfortable sweaters and socks. Above all, what makes a funny Christmas movie is Christmas as the turning or most important point of the story.
Christmas as a Plot Point
The meaningful usage of Christmas in a story makes the film a Christmas comedy movie. Christmas itself is used as the central point of the story. Sometimes the protagonist has to save Christmas, and other times they want to stop it from happening. Either way, the event greatly affects the overall run of the story.
11 Must-Watch Funny Christmas Movies
A Christmas comedy movie can more than just be a laugh-out-loud entertaining ride. These movies can be romantic, emotional, poignant, and sometimes even dark. But they still have their comedic timing and enough witty one-liners to be considered Christmas comedy movies. Check out some of the best ones below.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
This movie is about an older man named Kris Kringle, a Christmas classic. He fills in as Santa for Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade. Instead of just filling in, he became quite popular with the crowd. Soon, he surprised everyone by claiming that he is the real Santa Claus. The news makes so much noise that it leads to a court case to determine the old man’s mental stability, and ultimately, his authenticity.
Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol gets a modern spinoff in this ‘80s classic. Franks Cross (Bill Murray) is a big-shot TV executive with dismal manners and cold ambitions. Due to his oh-so-jolly nature, the love of his life Claire Phillips (Karen Allen) leaves him at the curb. When Crossfires an employee on Christmas Eve, he is visited by a series of ghosts, making him re-evaluate his past choice to make better ones in the future hopefully.
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
After the smashing success of the first film in this franchise, Home Alone 2 still stars young Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) and his latest misadventures. The McCallisters slept in and almost missed their flight to Florida. Flustered and hurry, the family loses Kevin in the airport without noticing. The kid is shuffled into the wrong flight and somehow ends up in New York City. Hijinks ensue when the Wet Bandit is also in the city and spots Kevin.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
In another, A Christmas Carol adaptation, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Kermit the Frog, and Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge stars in this adorable muppet movie. In their signature family-friendly way, the movie plot pretty much follows Dickens’ book to a T. Scrooge is visited by the ghost of the past, present, and future to see the errors of his ways. With a few musical numbers thrown in, this movie is perfect for family night.
The Santa Clause (1994)
Tim Allan, held as the official-unofficial King of funny Christmas Movies, stars as Old Nick himself. He plays Scott Calvin, a workaholic salesman who delivers his work to the North Pole just in time for the holidays. Unfortunately, Santa falls off from his roof, Scott mistakenly agrees to take his place, belly and beard included. While he learns the ropes of being Father Christmas, he also has to take care of his son and appease a suspicious ex-wife.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Dr. Seuss’s classic story shows Jim Carrey stars as the fuzzy mean Grinch who loathes Christmas. He decides to ruin the holidays for the cheery citizens of Whoville to make them feel as bitter and miserable as he is. Climbing down from his mountaintop home, the Grinch resolves to take every holiday cheer from the Whos with his reluctant dog Max. That is until he meets the highly adorable Cindy Lou Who slowly thaws his iced heart.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
One of the most well-loved Christmas animated movies, the film follows Halloweentown’s beloved pumpkin king, Jack Skellington. He has grown tired of doing the same thing over and over again, scaring humans in the real world. One day, he accidentally stumbles upon Christmastown. The place could not be any more different than Halloweentown with its bright colors and cheers — and he wants all of it. By kidnapping good old Santa Clause.
Bad Santa (2003)
This Golden Globe-nominated film is nothing short of a cult favorite. A con-man named Willie T. Stokes is dressed as Saint Nick. He is out to infiltrate and rob department stores. He and his trusty elf rip off department stores during the one season of the year when it’s supposed to be all about giving. This year, however, Willie is depressed and in a rut. He draws the attention of a mall cop and a little boy who helps bring out his kinder side.
Christmas with the Kranks (2004)
Another Tim Allen Christmas classic but with fellow award-winning actor Jamie Lee Curtis. Luther and Nora Krank have decided to swear off Christmas and go on a cruise to the Caribbean instead, and this doesn’t go well with their Christmas-obsessed neighbors, and the Kranks find themselves as social outcasts during the holidays. Surprisingly, this film is based on thriller author John Grisham’s book.
The Night Before (2015)
Although this Christmas comedy movie is star-studded, it received underwhelming support from movie watchers. It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, and Anthony Mackie, three lifelong buddies who have gathered for the holidays. One of them is about to become a father, which means this might be their last chance to paint the town red. There’s no better way to do that than searching for the Nutcracker Ball, the wildest Christmas party in New York.
Proving to be the worst student at his academy, a desperate postman named Jesper is sent to a frozen town, Smeerensburg, in the North Pole. He discovers a reclusive toymaker called Klaus and quickly becomes friends with him. They team up to deliver gifts that can melt age-old feuds and deliver a full holiday tradition all over the globe. This animated movie won the 2019 BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film.
Why These Movies are the Season’s Highlight
Christmas comedy movies can range from a full-on comedy show to a rom-com to dark humor to satirical to a dozen more ranges of genre and emotions it can invoke from its audience. For as long as these kinds of films have been around, they have been widely and lovingly received by the general public.
It’s hard to hate movies that have love, family, and all the miracles of Christmas at their core. But if you prefer other types of Christmas movies, such as Christmas horrors, thrillers, full-on dramas, or others, there’s no rule saying you can’t binge those on Christmas Eve. The most important part is you and your companions enjoy.