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Friday, December 25, 2009

The Christmas Tradition For Jews: Let's All Go To The Movies

I enjoy Christmas for one reason and one reason only: it means a nice day with my family going to the movies and eating some chinese food. Like Topol proudly states in Fiddler On The Roof, it's TRADITION! Ever since 1982 with a few minor blocks in the road, I have gone to see a movie on Christmas with family and sometimes friends.. Back in the 80's, it wasn't as popular with all Jews, so there were rarely ever any people there. Now it's a bit more crowded at the cinema because Hollywood releases new movies to lure people to the theaters on Christmas. Thanks to my movie database, the internet, and a pretty decent memory, I decided to do a quick historical recall of the list of movies I have seen on Christmas. I've seen mostly classics, but there were a few stinkers. Here is the list with ratings and also some thoughts as well.

- Tootsie (The movie that started it all. I was only four years old at the time, so I had no clue about the overall plot. All I knew was Dustin Hoffman dressed up as a woman, and I really liked the music especially the beautiful tune It Might Be You from Stephen Bishop. Little did I know about the gay jokes, the relationship Dustin had with Teri Garr's character, or that he was an actor trying to land a part. I was pretty smart for a four year old, but I still had lots to learn. I've watched the movie years later to better understand the film. Critics claim it's one of the best movies of all time, I beg to differ) Grade: B

1983- NONE (I didn't go to the movies for some reason this year. I might have been in Israel.)

1984- The Flamingo Kid (I went to see this with my dad, while my brother and mom went to see Protocol with Goldie Hawn. Can't tell you much about this movie only that it starred Matt Dillon and took place at an island resort. My dad liked it but I was not a happy camper! I never watched it again.) Grade: D

1985- Clue (The first Christmas movie I totally remember. It was snowing so badly that my mom was worried to take my brother and I to see this. But we so wanted to leave the house to see the movie based on our favorite board game, so my mom obliged. I loved this movie then, and I still love this movie even now. The movie was released with three different endings. Lucky for us we got the best ending in which everybody but Mr. Green killed someone ) Grade: A-

1986- Three Amigos (Classic! One of my favorite movies of all time. I remember it was just me, Scott, and my mom. My dad was probably once again in Israel. Scott and I loved it but didn't understand why it doesn't appeal to my mom as we ate Chinese food. Probably the best movie I have ever seen on Christmas!) Grade: A+

1987- Overboard (Another experience with just my brother and mom. This one is my mom's favorite movie of all time. I liked the movie, especially the scene with Goldie Hawn in a thong bathing suit showing off her strawberry mark. Told you I was a perverted little boy!) Grade: B+

1988- The Naked Gun: Files From Police Squad (The first movie that had me rolling on the floor I don't think I ever had seen a movie as funny as this one in my life. Of course, I have rewatched it a hundred times and it's one of my favorites. I remember the movie theater was empty expect for a few people including a friend of mine from school who was also keeping the Jewish tradition with his family.) Grade: A

1989- National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (Looking back on my movie list, I really did see some gems in the 80's. Although I've grown to like the third movie in the Vacation franchise over time, I wasn't impressed seeing it on Christmas. I was puzzled why Audrey and Rusty looked completely different not realizing it was an inside joke with the producers.) Grade: B

1990- Look Who's Talking Too (This one was somewhat enjoyable, but nowhere near as good the first one. My mom liked it because it brought back memories of raising her own kids.)
Grade: B-

1991- Hook (This was supposed to be the biggest movie ever. How could it go wrong with Robin Williams as a grown-up Peter Pan, Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook, and Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell? The movie was totally confusing for me as I tried to understand what happened to the original Wendy and the boys, and how Peter Pan totally forgot about his past. I don't think I've ever rewatched this one. Left the theater a bit disapointed) Grade: B-

1992- Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (The first Christmas movie I went to with just my brother. I've always thought the sequel was just as good if not better than the original. Tim Curry shines again in the second movie of his I've seen on Christmas.) Grade: B+

1993- Carlito's Way (I don't remember why I wanted to see this one so bad. Was it for a potential nude scene from Penelope Ann Miller. Remember her? I think the trailers looked good especially with Sean Penn as a coked-up crooked lawyer. This movie didn't really do much for me on original viewing, but it's become one of my favorite crime movies. It might have been Al Pacino's last great movie he has appeared in!) Grade: B+

1994- NONE (I was so pissed to have not been able to hit a movie on Christmas in 1994. I had a reasonable excuse, though. I was away in Israel on a teen tourbeing an immature loser missing out on some possible good times with some cute girls my age.)

1995- Father Of The Bride Part II (I probably just went to see this to make my mom happy. I still have never seen the first one. The movie was enjoyable, but certainly not memorable.) Grade: B-

1996- Jerry Maguire (This one was a great movie, except for the love story between Tom Cruise and Renee Zelwiger. Jonathan Lipnicki was adorable in his role which might have been the second greatest performance by a child actor othen than Justin Henry in Kramer Vs. Kramer. Also mad props to Cuba Gooding Jr for his Oscar-winning performance as Rod Tidwell.) Grade: B

1997- As Good As It Gets (And I thought I suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder?! Jack Nicholson was great and the Academy thought so also honoring him with an Oscar for Best Actor. Helen Hunt was good, but I'm not so sure she deserved her Oscar also for this movie. This was a great Christmas movie that brought smiles to all four members of the Hersh family's faces.) Grade: B+

1998- The Prince Of Egypt (The first and only animated movie I've seen on Christmas. My dad actually sucked it up and went to see it with me. My mom and brother went to see something else. The movie had some great animation, but it was very short and not too memorable except for the theme song from Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.) Grade: C

1999- NONE (I can't remember why we didn't go see a movie this year. Maybe because there was nothing good playing? Maybe the weather was not good? )

2000- Cast Away (This was the last Christmas movie I ever saw the AMC Rockaway Theatre before they tore it to the ground in order to build an all-new Best Buy. This movie was definitely a strange one which I did enjoy until the end of the movie. If you've seen this one, you'll know what I'm talking about. One of the most disappointing movie endings of all time.) Grade: B-

2001- The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (Uggh!! Almost three hours of total boredom as both my brother and I were squirming in our seats waiting for the movie to end. This might have been the worst movie we ever saw on Christmas! I did give it a second chance on DVD, and it was not as bad as I originally thought. Although it wasn't very good either!) Grade: C-

2002- NONE (Not sure what happened here! Probably bad weather.)

2003- Stuck On You (What was Matt Damon thinking appearing in this Farrelly Brothers stinker as a conjoined twin with Greg Kinnear? The movie had some funny bits, but can't even compete with Dumb & Dumber or There's Something About Mary as the best movie from the Farrelly Brothers.) Grade: C

2004- Meet The Fockers (A solid movie with a great performance from Dustin Hoffman. But two Focker movies are enough. There is a third movie coming this summer to milk more money. I'll go see it with very low expectations.) Grade: B+

2005- Munich (How this movie didn't win any awards was a shock! Spielberg's best movie since Schindler's List!! This movie was so good that even my wife thought it was amazing. I've only seen it the one time, but would like to find the time to watch it again. This one should be shown in Hebrew Schools for 7th graders all over the U.S.A) Grade: B+

2006- The Pursuit Of Happyness (I'll admit that I cheated on this one. Dawn made me go to a Christmas party on December 25th, and I told her I was not happy that I was going to miss the Christmas tradition of seeing a movie and eating Chinese food. So she compromised, and we went to see a movie on Christmas Eve. The movie was okay, but I could not stand Will Smith's kid at all! And this is the kid who is going to be the new Karate Kid? Shoot me now!) Grade: C+

2007- National Treasure: Book Of Secrets (The first National Treasure was a surprise hit, so I was eager to see the much-hyped sequel. My dad saw this one with me, and he was surprised with the amount of action. I thought the movie was good, but another example of the sequel not being able to match the original.) Grade: B

2008- Valkyrie (Another Christmas, another epic movie! I saw this one with my grandma, dad, and my wife Dawn. The movie didn't get the best of reviews, but we all liked it.) Grade: B

2009- Up In The Air (And so the tradition continues tonight with Up In The Air? Will this be the first Oscar Winner I see on Christmas. Stay tuned! Now that I got a funky blog to write, my review is coming soon!) Grade: ???

So there you have it. Christmas movies are very special to me and with so much changes going on in my life, at least some simple things that have been a staple of my life remain the same. I hope my baby isn't a loud crier, because the tradition begins with him or her in 2010!!


  1. I'm not sure that you have your dates right. We were NOT in Israel in 1983, but we might have been there in 1999, though I'm not positive.
    And just so you know, the tradition goes back even longer than your lifetime because I used to
    go to the movies and eat Chinese food with your
    grandparents before you were born.

  2. My movie dates are right. I'm just not sure what I was doing when we didn't go. I wasn't in Israel in 1999, maybe you were there. I know it was your tradition with your parents which you brought to your children. It's a great tradition which is expanded bigger than ever in today's era.