Open Thread: Homecoming

I still remember the day my dad came home from Vietnam.  These kill me every time. My ex-husband would come home, find me in a puddle on the couch and say, “you’ve been watching soldiers’ homecoming again, haven’t you?” I’d just nod.

I need a movie recommendation. Christmas Eve, we gather for dinner and a movie.

The movie has gotten more difficult. It cannot be: Romance (teenager goes blegh), no nudity (aunty TaMara can’t sit with kids in the room and nudity on screen), no Harry Potter. And finally, Christmas is touchy – can’t be sickly-sweet. I did get them to sit through Christmas Story, that’s about as Christmasy as we can get.

Last year was Diehard.


Open thread

(I have no idea where anyone else is…I just finished gardening – it’s 60 degrees here).

82 replies
  1. 1
    cope says:

    We just DVRed and watched “Christmas With the Kranks”. It has some nice sub-texts to it.

  2. 2
    Tom Levenson says:

    The Front Page (Cary Grant version). Not a Christmas movie per se, but family friendly, and totally fun.

    Too long and kinda dark (w. one truly tough scene) but The Lion in Winter — has a Christmas connection. For a happier, totally wonderful Peter O’Toole flick, why not the best movie ever made (fight me!) My Favorite Year.

    That’s what I got off the top of my head.

  3. 3
    Kifaru1 says:

    These make me cry because I wonder what the lasting effects are on children. My husband was deployed to Iraq for a year when my son was 6 and then again to Afghanistan in 2011 when he was 9…..I can’t imagine the stress of having continuous deployments without adequate time at home to re-assimilate with the family.

  4. 4
    J R in WV says:

    No fair making an old curmudgeon guy cry this time of year!!!

    Such a sweet video. Such a shame our masters can still force we the people into serving in combat, still, after all the history, we’re still fighting Bush’s false wars in the middle east.

    Worse than a land war in Asia, fighting in a place torn by warfare over superstition for thousands of years, still in the 21st century.

    But seeing father and son united again, still wonderful…

    No fair, tho~!!!

  5. 5
    Juju says:

    There are always the standbys “A Christmas Story “ or “Home Alone”. I sort of enjoyed “Elf” and “Scrooged”.

  6. 6
    Raven says:

    Hmm, my dad and stepmom picked me up a O’Hare and we went home where I stayed for three days and went to the U of I. I guess after I have volunteered for the Nam after I was in Korea the old man was just glad to have my scrawny ass back in the world.

  7. 7
    Another Scott says:

    I have fond memories of Big Fish, but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it.

    Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.


  8. 8
    Raven says:

    @J R in WV: “Worse than a land war in Asia,” Really?

  9. 9
  10. 10
    Schlemazel says:

    sounds about like my kid getting back from the Stan.

  11. 11

    Does it HAVE to be a Christmas movie to watch?

    I would suggest the Beatles Help! movie. It’s oddly seasonal (there’s a long segment filmed in the snowy Alps) low on romance and mostly absurdist humor.

  12. 12

    Sounds like comedy might be your best bet. Home Alone?

  13. 13
    piratedan says:

    when it comes to movie recs I always turn to the classics in times like these……

    Big Trouble in Little China
    Buckaroo Banzai

  14. 14
    mad citizen says:

    My friend’s wife has turned pentacostal over the years, yet she’ll still watch action movies with violence (she doesn’t mind at all the youngest watching old Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns), but sex content is pretty verboten–and their two boys are 15 and 13 now, so I get the proviso of sharing adult-oriented content.. Anyhoo, last Thanskgiving we were visiting and I suggested Galaxy Quest. It was a hit–clean, sci-fi, good comedy. Not xmas, though.

  15. 15
    Yarrow says:

    @Juju: “Elf” sounds like it should work. There’s some romance but it’s not strictly a rom com. Also consider “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” You can always go outside of the “Christmas movie” theme.

  16. 16
    EmbraceYourInnerCrone says:

    Meet me in St Loius, Scrooged, The Nightmare before Christmas, Elf, Home Alone 2 :Lost in NY, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles(ok it’s a Thanksgiving movie!), The Bells of St Mary’s ( If you want a little musical with Ingrid Bergman teaching a little boy to box) OR if you want totally camp batshit G rated – Santa Claus conquers the Martians , it’s so bad it’s awesome.

  17. 17
    emrys says:

    My seasonal favorite is The Bishop’s Wife. Hard to go wrong with Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven.

  18. 18
    Raven says:

    @Schlemazel: He probly didn’t have 100 hits of mesc in his bag.

  19. 19
    Mnemosyne says:

    I third Elf. You’ll get some groans and eye-rolling from the teen, but they’ll all be enthralled by the end. It’s sweet without being sentimental and is really funny, too. See if everyone recognizes a pre-“Game of Thrones” Peter Dinklage when he steals the movie late in the game.

    If any of the adults are fans of Miracle on 34th Street, Elf has a ton of callbacks and references that are fun to spot.

  20. 20
    Pope Ratzy says:

    Rare Exports – best Christmas movie EVER!

  21. 21
    opiejeanne says:

    @EmbraceYourInnerCrone: The Resident of the White House is in Home Alone 2 being a jerk, so I don’t think I’d recommend it.

  22. 22
    opiejeanne says:

    @Mnemosyne: I was going to recommend Elf too. It really is a fun movie. looked at the DVDs we own* and realized I have a soft spot for Will Ferrel.

    *Yes, we’re old. Bite me.

  23. 23
    Yarrow says:

    You could always send the kids to another room to watch a kids movie and play “Bad Santa” for the adults.

  24. 24
    opiejeanne says:

    Ok, The Hogfather is a pretty good Christmas movie if you’re into Sir Terry’s books.

  25. 25
    Mnemosyne says:


    Elf is one of my all-time favorites now. Anyone who doesn’t love it as soon as Bob Newhart finishes his opening monologue has no Christmas spirit at all and should only be allowed to watch Michael Bay movies for the rest of the season. 😘

  26. 26
    laura says:

    Moonlight Kingdom of Grand Budapest Hotel. Plenty for all to enjoy.

  27. 27
    Schlemazel says:

    MDMA was more his generation.
    My BFF who did 2 tours told me hair raising tales of fire fights while tripping. We were tripping at the time and I can’t imagine. I thought for a long time he was lying to me but looking back he was so f’ed up I am not sure

    Kid did tell me tales of smoking hash with his interpreters while under fire. I’m sorry but I can’t wrap my head around what it must be like

  28. 28
    FelonyGovt says:

    See if you can find Comfort and Joy. Scottish, Christmas themed, funny as hell- involves a DJ dumped by his girlfriend right before Christmas and warring ice cream truck vendors.

    ETA re the video at top- I’m not crying, you’re crying

  29. 29
    JPL says:

    @laura: Either one but I’m partial to Moonrise Kingdom.
    We did Inside/Out one year and my thirty something son walked out because he was choked up.

  30. 30
    JPL says:

    Yesterday was my lazy day. I woke and watched Love Actually which btw except for the make believe porno scene would probably be okay.
    The rest of the day was devoted to reading the latest Louise Penny mystery.

  31. 31
    Lyrebird says:

    A former coworker said the Triplets of Belleville was the perfect movie.

    Could also go with Arthur Christmas, which I wasn’t expecting to like and greatly enjoyed.

  32. 32
    MelissaM says:

    @Pope Ratzy: Rare Exports is excellent, but warning, there is full frontal nudity of the old man kind. Please don’t let that deter you, just know it’s there.

  33. 33
    Raven says:

    @Schlemazel: Most grunts I know drew the line with psychedelics in the bush but I’m sure there are exceptions.

  34. 34
    raven says:

    @JPL: Has it gotten any better?

  35. 35
    NeenerNeener says:

    How about The Princess Bride? Not a Christmas movie, but worth watching whenever. It’s held up very well over the years. I hope no one ever tries to do a remake.

  36. 36
    debbie says:


    Triplets of Belleville is the best animated film that practically no one’s ever seen!

  37. 37
    Schlemazel says:

    I know he told some stories but also some truths. Having no experience I was never sure where the lie was & I think he liked it that way, I was always an outsider

  38. 38
    Anne Laurie says:

    @opiejeanne: The Hogfather is probably a good choice even for those who don’t know Pratchett’s Discworld (yet). Reassuringly Harry-Potter-ish, lots of dumb jokes, and just off-key enough from ‘our’ Xmas to spark curiosity.

    Wonderful bit in the middle where a disillusioned curmudgeon of a policeman gets his sense of wonder reset by the Spirit of the Season… as played by Death (who is standing in for the Fat Guy in the Red Suit).

    If you’re not allergic to a church-centric setting, Denzel Washington in The Preacher’s Wife is another underappreciated seasonal joy. It’s scripted to work with all of its actor’s strengths — Whitney Houston makes sense as a dutiful preacher’s kid whose only outlet for her greatest gift has been leading the church choir, and the Adorable Young Narrator turns out to have a key closing spot. And, tragically, the available tech has improved since 1996, but not necessarily the justice (Just Us!) system…

    (Also, I love that the only white characters in the whole movie are a few minions scurrying around the edges. Besides, DENZEL WASHINGTON plays an angel named Clarence!)

  39. 39
    lahke says:

    @debbie: I saw it, and then dragged my sister and her husband, since they were into long-distance cycling at the time. They laughed themselves sick.

    ETA that it’s kinda, sorta bicycling movie.

  40. 40
    raven says:

    @Schlemazel: Just one of the brothers.

  41. 41
    voldemort says:

    It may be too young, but Arthur Christmas is fun and cute without being too sappy. It is by Aardman (Wallace & Gromit Co, but not claymation), and it is about the aging current Santa (“Malcom Christmas”) getting ready to pass on the hat to his elder son, Steve, who is very efficient and modern, while his younger son, Arthur, just wants to be sure every child actually gets their presents.

  42. 42
    Schlemazel says:

    we were never close after he got home. I understand now but not then

  43. 43
    raven says:

    @Schlemazel: It happened a lot.

  44. 44
    Doug R says:

    Just came back from “Into The Spiderverse”.
    The critics going CRAZY over it are RIGHT.
    It is literally a comic book come to life….in a good way.

  45. 45
    EmbraceYourInnerCrone says:

    @opiejeanne – Good point! I remembered Tim Curry and forgot Trump was in it (selective amnesia I think!)

  46. 46
    The Pale Scot says:

    We’re No Angels, with Bogie, Aldo Ray and Peter Ustinov.
    “the story of three hardened criminals made new again by the Christmas spirit, that is a true joy.
    Ranald MacDougall’s break-neck script helps the great cast of actors transcend the film’s theatrical roots and achieve a beautifully harmonic and compassionate rhythm. Most of all, We’re No Angels is an effortless reminder of Hollywood Cinema at its best”

    Add: Diehard?? how about Trading Places?

  47. 47
    Bonnie says:

    I would go along with the person who mentioned “Meet Me in St. Louis” if you like old- fashioned musicals. Judy Garland was beautiful and in great voice. And, Margaret O’Brien at her cutest. However, I think I would recommend “Casablanca”, absolutely the best movie ever made. If you haven’t seen “Stranger Than Fiction” with Will Ferrell and Emma Thompson, give it a try. It has a great ending and has great moments of insight into the human condition. I just love it and think I have just convinced myself to pull out and watch it now. Die Hard 2 is actually pretty good; not quite up to the original but close. If you are a Denzel Washington fan and haven’t seen “Deja Vu”. It was advertised as a sci-fi movie and I ignored it for a long time; but, it is in realty a lovely love story. The only way to get away from nudity is to stay with movies before 1955. I am a Cary Grant fan and never tire of “North by Northwest” or “Charade”. A very funny heist movie with Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole is “How to Steal a Million.” Well, that is pretty much my suggestions. We’ve been watching movies for both Christmas Eve and Christmas day since I was about 8. I am 73 now. It is a great tradition. When I left home at 18, I used to go to a movie on Christmas Day. When I first started, I was often one in about ten people in the theater. The last time I did that, the theaters were all packed. So, as I stood in line for about an hour, I told anyone who listened that I started this trend. Now, I don’t go any more because it is gets more crowded with each year. Hope this helps.

  48. 48
    Mary in Ohio says:

    If you have access to streaming services I would say sign up for broadwayHD for the month. It’s less than $10 a month and you can cancel at any time. Currently they have a broadway production of Holiday Inn ( a little romance but not too much) as well as a bbc production called a Christmas Carol Goes Wrong which was pretty darn funny.

  49. 49
    Mary in Ohio says:

    @Mary in Ohio: Oh and the Man who Came to Dinner!

  50. 50
    J R in WV says:


    Maybe not… both / all are pretty bad.

    Maybe just the more recent wars hurt more today? I was never over there, you were, so you know far more than I do first hand.

    But good thinking… Thanks for raising the question!

  51. 51
    scottinnj says:

    Definitely 2nd the recommendations for Elf, another highly recommended film in that vein – not about Christmas, but is about Toys – is Big. All ages appreciate what Tom Hanks is doing as the kid as a man.

    The biggest mistake we made one year was screening Up!. The kids were giggling at the silly dogs, but all the adults were bawling after the first five minutes…we had pulled it together then lost it later in the film when Carl finds his wifes notes in the diary (hmmm…my room is getting dusty again eyes moistening)

  52. 52
    Schlemazel says:

    @The Pale Scot:
    A great movie! I had forgotten about it. Everyone will enjoy “We’re No Angels”

  53. 53
    Madeleine says:

    Triplets of Belleville. . . Yes . . . Yes yes yes.

  54. 54

    Okay, I see where I made my mistake I asked you guys for advice – who I have a lot in common with – and you came up with almost all the movies I love….but my friends’ not so much. I wanted to do Moonstruck this year and that was shot down. B&W, nope, Christmas, nope, Artsy, nope. Comic based stuff is touchy – though we did do Avengers one year.

    There are a lot of nopes. LOL

    I’ll keep trying. It just an eclectic group. We should play games, but honestly we are all so dead tired by Christmas Eve, we want good food and mindless entertainment.

    We have done: Despicable Me, Princess Bride, Christmas Story, Pitch Perfect, Much Ado About Nothing (Whedon version), Die Hard, Avengers and Groundhog Day (teen hated that)

    I should be able to find something.

  55. 55
    The Pale Scot says:

    @FelonyGovt: “Comfort and Joy. Scottish” Yea, that’s a hard one to find, maybe on UK Netflix, I’ll take a look later

  56. 56
    Jay Noble says:

    The most conflicted Christmas movie out there – Gremlins.

  57. 57
    ribber says:

    I’ll third the Arthur Christmas recommendation. Fun movie.

  58. 58
    The Pale Scot says:

    @Madeleine: Yea, in my next life I wanna come back as Peter Ustinov. He’s so cool. Three actors that could suck the oxygen out of a room but just play off each other. Totally so Xmas movie

    Whoops! that was for Schlemazel

  59. 59
    ChuckInAustin says:

    as a parent of 2 jaded teenagers finding a movie that everyone likes is so difficult that it’s memorable when we do find one. Here are 3 non-Christmas movies that the whole family enjoyed:
    1. The Martian – Save Matt Damon!
    2. Now You See Me – magicians robbing banks
    3. Safety Not Guaranteed – quirky movie about a guy building a time machine.

  60. 60
    ChuckInAustin says:

    Don’t forget Gravity. Sandra Bullock…because she’s great in everything.

  61. 61
    Mary in Ohio says:

    If you liked Despicable Me everyone should like Minions which was the prequel. Also kids movies but good for adults, The Secret Life of Pets, Sing and The Muppets.

  62. 62
    Percysowner says:

    Some people do Christmas in July, so I’ll suggest doing July at Christmas and give 1776 a shot. It’s in color. It’s a musical. It’s great fun. If you have streaming and like Dolly Parton music, which is used throughout the movie, Dumplin on Netflix was good, although may be too girley? It just came out this month, so you may not have heard of it. Premise (so you can judge if it’s your family’s thing) is overweight girl decides to try out for the town beauty pagent to honor her dead (also overweight) aunt and to spite her former beauty queen, now in charge of the pagent mother. She gets other “unusual” girls to join, for various personal reasons, and they all get helped by her aunt’s Drag Queen friends. Everyone, including the mother is pretty sympathetic.

  63. 63
    Lyrebird says:


    Triplets of Belleville is the best animated film that practically no one’s ever seen!

    Laughing in agreement… I think I had to buy the DVD to see it myself!

    He said it was a perfect guy movie, bc there’s no dialog, and it’s the perfect chick flick, bc it’s all about that grandma – grandson relationship, plus, chase scenes!

  64. 64
    Middlelee says:

    We watch Waking Ned Devine for Christmas. Made in Ireland, twisty little plot, and very funny. And I second MellisaM’s suggestion for Rare Exports.

  65. 65
    BQuimby says:

    Not “Christmas” but WONDERFUL movies… good for all…Fantasia, King of the Hill (Jesse Bradford – NOT the cartoon), Wallace & Gromit

  66. 66
    Peter says:

    How about The Sting or Butch Cassidy/Sundance? Raising Arizona or Lebowski? 2001 or Strangelove. The Clouseau oeuvre.

  67. 67
    cope says:

    The “Daddy’s Home” movies are both funny and the second one has a Christmas setting.

  68. 68
    Original Lee says:

    Either the original We’re No Angels with Humphrey Bogart, or The Lion in Winter.

  69. 69
    Gustopher says:

    Just suck it up and embrace the new tradition… Die Hard 2

    I’m not going to say it’s a good movie, but it is the next movie…

    Triplets of Belleville is excellent, but might lose everyone for the lack of dialog and explosions.

    How about a musical? Chicago is excellent, except for Richard Gere, and even he manages to be fine. No Christmas of any kind, but fun.

  70. 70
    Janet Strange says:

    Dancer, Tx. Nothing to do with Christmas but loved by all in my family at a Christmas gathering – ages elementary school to mid-seventies, including a teenager.

  71. 71
    t. hunt says:

    Home for the Holidays! Great cast and it has an edge to it. Scrooged is also great. Love the toaster!

  72. 72
    Cole says:

    Second North by Northwest. Also, Other People is great, but probably way too sad (although extremely funny, too). Not a film, but the UK (BBC? ITV?) Sherlock is fun and low-to-no raunch.

  73. 73
    Tim in SF says:

    It’s a Wonderful Life is the best Christmas movie of all time. It was Gene Siskel’s favorite movie.

  74. 74
    Tim in SF says:

    The Lion in Winter was my family’s Christmas movie tradition for a while. It’s intense.

    The film received three awards out of seven nominations.

    Best Actress — Win for Katharine Hepburn
    Best Adapted Screenplay — Win for James Goldman
    Best Music Score — Win for John Barry (composer)
    Best Picture — Nomination for Martin Poll
    Best Director — Nomination for Anthony Harvey
    Best Actor — Nomination for Peter O’Toole
    Best Costume Design — Nomination for Margaret Furse

    EDIT: Looks like this has been nominated by three other commenters already. :-)

  75. 75
    Cole says:

    Strike Other People – forgot about the sex scene. This is tough.

  76. 76
    Central Planning says:

    +1 for Elf. And +1 for Galaxy Quest.

    I haven’t watched it in years, but what about Christmas Vacation?

    Oceans 11 (or any of the trilogy) are pretty good and seem to meet your criteria.

    And FYWP also, too.

  77. 77
    'Niques (lurker; occasional commenter) says:

    I see no one mentioned “Jingle All the Way” (the first one with Arnold Swarzenegger) … funny, funny movie and very family friendly.

  78. 78
    Barry says:

    “(teenager goes blegh), no nudity (aunty TaMara can’t sit with kids in the room and nudity on screen)”

    If you really want to make the teens go ‘blegh’, wait until there’s a sex scene and mention that it reminds you of when you followed the Grateful Dead (or other ‘Olds’ band) as a groupie :)

  79. 79
    Yellowdog says:

    @Tom Levenson: I didn’t think there was anyone out there who loves that movie as much as I do! But Dr. Strangelove is still the best movie ever made.
    For the Xmas movie, is Miracle on 34th St too cutesy? After all, it about a girl who for believe in Santa Claus.

  80. 80
    Cheap Jim says:

    Christmas Eve, huh? Are there visitors from out of town, catching up to do? Probably something without dialog would be good. How about Tati’s Playtime? There is a little dialog, but it’s unimportant. It’s also in color, so no one will roll their eyes at B&W. And it’s essentially a bunch of set pieces without much plot, so you can miss parts and still enjoy the rest. And it’s really funny.

    O course, if it was Christmas Day, after a big dinner, I’d suggest My Dinner with Andre or Mindwalk. Just people talking, endlessly, so they’re very nap-inducing.

  81. 81
    Bob Collins says:

    Christmas movie recommendation: Bicycle Thieves (sometimes called The Bicycle Thief). Wikipedia.

  82. 82
    Celia Liebl says:

    Home for the Holidays with Holly Hunter, Robert Downey, Jr, Anne Bancroft, etc

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