Christmas Movie Smackdown: ‘Elf’ vs. ‘Christmas Vacation’

To read more of Sharp’s Christmas Movie Smackdown, click here.

Chevy Chase doesn’t get to win. Chevy Chase is the antithesis of the Christmas Spirit. Chevy Chase is Scrooge. Maybe that’s what made National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation so funny, watching cantankerous Clark Griswold literally go up in flames. But watching it now, post-Community, post-SNL40, post-this, and it’s just so hard to root for Chevy Chase as a holiday underdog. I recognize that’s conflating fiction and real life, but I don’t care. Chevy Chase is not the guy I want around at Christmas. And don’t even get me started on Randy Quaid.

Which means, by default, the winner of this bracket has to be Elf. And I’m good with that. Because who embodies the spirit of the Yuletide more than Will Ferrell? (Well, maybe Bill Murray, but that’s an argument for another day.) Elf, as you know, follows Ferrell’s Buddy, a human raised in the North Pole as one of Santa’s little helpers who is banished to the wilds of New York to try to fit in among his own kind. Only Buddy can’t fit in, because that’s how movies work. Ferrell finds his long-lost father (the always curmudgeonly James Caan), his stepmother (the always delightful Mary Steenburgen), and a department store elfette (the always large-eyed Zooey Deschanel). There’s ice-skating. There’s singing. There’s Bob Newhart! And the plot literally hinges on the transformative power of Christmas Spirit, procured, in this case, by a large crowd belting “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” It’s warm and cozy and downright likable. That’s what Christmas is all about, and what a Christmas movie should be. Because Christmas is the time of year when the good guys get to win.


04A_xmas bracket