The nicest and naughtiest movie Santas
Whether it's the classic jolly fat man or a surly drunk guy in a red suit, Santa Claus has been depicted countless times on TV and film. Here's a look at some of the best and worst of them.
Good: Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer (1964). Who doesn't have a special place in their heart for this clay-mation classic?
Bad: Bad Santa (2003). Billy Bob Thornton's chain-smoking alcoholic scam artist Santa lives up to the movie's name. This is not the kind of person you want coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve.
Good: Elf (2003). Played to great comedic effect by the somewhat surly Ed Asner. And Will Ferrell's energy portraying an over-eager man-elf is infectious.
Bad: Futurama. 1000 years from now, Santa Claus will be real. But he'll be an evil robot with a malfunctioning naughty/nice mechanism that defaults to naughty. And the punishment isn't just no presents, either. It's death.
Good: Miracle on 34th Street (1947). A genuine Christmas classic, the original Miracle on 34th Street starred Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle.
Bad: How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966). What's not to love about this animated re-telling of Dr. Seuss's holiday classic? The fact that he poses as Santa Claus and steals everyone's presents? At least he gives everything back.
Good: Home Alone (1990). Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) confides in an off-the-clock Santa Claus. He's a bit stand-offish at first, but gets back in character to offer some sage advice.
Bad: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964). This schlocky B-movie features a completely implausible scenario as laid out in the title. In real life, Santa Claus clearly wouldn't stand a chance.
Good: Scrooged (1988). When Santa's workshop is attacked in the movie-within-a-movie, The Night the Reindeer Died, Mrs. Santa breaks open an arsenal of semiautomatic weapons and hands them out. The image of a gun-wielding Santa defending against the baddies - alongside Million Dollar Man Lee Majors - is priceless. The NRA would approve.
Bad: The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). Along with the Grinch, Tim Burton's Jack Skellington character is one of the greatest impostor Santas of all time.
Good: The Santa Clause movies. The law of diminishing returns definitely applies to the Santa Clause series of films. Mind you, even the first one wasn't so good. But cheesy computer effects and Disney-field schmaltziness aside, Tim Allen still pulls off an endearing St. Nick.
Bad: Trading Places (1983). Drunken Santas are such a mainstay of the seasonal comedy flick, they could almost be their own category. But Dan Aykroyd's turn as a rich boy fallen on hard times includes maybe one of the best drunken Santa scenes ever filmed. Here, he crashes the company Christmas party dressed as a shabby Santa Claus, gorges on the free food and attempts to plant drugs in his successor's office. Later, he stumbles onto a bus, still in the red suit, and gnaws on a hunk of smoked salmon he stole from the buffet table.
Bad: A Christmas Story (1983). He's the mall Santa of your nightmares. He'll laugh at you and scold you for your gift request, then shove you down a slide when your turn is up.
Good: Miracle on 34th Street (1994). This remake of a Christmas classic was inferior in just about every way to the original. But casting Richard Attenborough as Kris Kringle was one of the few things it had going for it.
Bad: The Ref (1994). An underrated holiday comedy starring a mostly-unhinged Denis Leary, The Ref also featured a drunk-as-a-skunk Santa Claus who stumbles and mutters to himself, before picking a fight with Leary and getting clocked. He also has the best line in the film: "You think you're better than me? I'm Santa Claus!"
Bad: Hot Fuzz (2007). You know how Simon Pegg's character gets his hand stabbed by a guy in a Santa Claus outfit? Don't remember? Anyway, the guy in the red suit is actually Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson in an uncredited cameo. Who knew?