Idol Chatter

hebrewhammer.jpgFrom an entertainment perspective, being a Jew during Christmas month is hard. While we get the “Adam Sandler Chanukah Song” for eight days over Hanukkah, during the rest of the month, the radio stations go Christmasy hardcore, with seven versions of Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and dueling Madonna and Marilyn for “Santa Baby.” The best song I hear during that time is George Michael’s “Last Christmas” (“Last Christmas, I gave you my heart, but the very next day, you gave it away…”), which then becomes the worst song, because I can’t get it out of my head for days. TV’s no better, with “Jingle All the Way,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “The Santa Clause…” it’s endless, and worse, it’s not even entertaining.
Sure, you could do a Rob Reiner retrospective like one New York organization is doing (although I’m not sure two films constitutes a retrospective), or do an “Airplane”/”Airplane 2″/”Naked Gun”/”Top Secret!” Zucker/Zucker/Abrahams film festival. But in case you’re Jewish and need a little TV/movie guidance this “holiday season,” check out this list for some of my favorite films for Jews to watch on Christmas:

1. A Christmas Story–I’ll shoot your eye out if you don’t watch this movie. Plus, it’s usually on for 24 straight hours, which might make you want to shoot your own eyes out, but I guarantee laughs the first three or four times you watch. From the “major prize” his dad wins to “mommy’s little piggy,” and decapitating your Christmas dinner, there’s no beating this movie. Unless it’s…
2. It’s a Wonderful Life–This is less a story about Christmas and more a tale about self-sacrifice, love, and humanity. (OK, so maybe those are Christmas themes, too.)
3. The Nativity Story–Find out what all the fuss is about.
4. Last Temptation of Christ–Find out what people say all the fuss is not about, and see the Jesus story portrayed creatively, through a uniquely human and flawed Jesus. Plus, be moved by Peter Gabriel’s intense, passionately primal score.
5. Jesus Christ Superstar–Sing out, Judas! “Every time I look at you I don’t understand. Why you let the things you did get so out of hand. You’d have managed better if you’d had it planned. Why’d you choose such a backward time in such a strange land? If you’d come today you could have reached a whole nation. Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication.” (Talk about gospel…amen.)
6. Monty Python’s Life of Brian–Now that you’ve seen the story of Jesus through Scorcese and song, see it through the lens of madcap British comedy. From Big Nose to the PFJ, from Wodewick to Wogew, this film will make you laugh and learn Latin. Sort of.
7. Scrooged–Bill Murray as the titular curmudgeon, this time as the head of some evil television conglomerate; ghosts like Buster Pointdexter and Carol Kane show this Scrooge the error of his ways, with romantic inspiration from the wide-eyed and underexposed Karen Allen.
8. Love Actually–This sappy tearjerker has an actor for everyone. In this world, Hugh Grant is the Prime Minister. From the tormented Laura Linney to a fading romance between married Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson, with a kid showing the way back to romance for his widowed father (Liam Neeson)…watch as all the stories interconnect (which is very “Jewish geography”/Six Degrees of them) and cue the tears.
9. Elf–Watching comedy is very Jewish, even if the content is Christmas-related. Plus, writer Jon Favreau and co-stars James Caan and Ed Asner are all Jewish. And we all know that watching Will Ferrell is practically a mitzvah.
10. The Hebrew Hammer–While not everyone will enjoy this “Jewsploitation” comedy, the script plays with stereotypes daringly, with memorable comedic characters uniting to save Christmas, recalling Mel Brooks movies and the SNL Hanukkah Harry sketch along the way. Plus, if you’re so bored you have nothing to watch, you can always play “Gentile Invaders.”
So happy Christmas to all, and don’t forget the popcorn.

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