Nom Santa

It’s the holiday season and who better to discuss Christmas Movies with than King Nom himself. Join as the gents do a deep dive into 10 of their favorite Christmas movies. So grab a drink, grab your popcorn, don’t forget to leave the milk and cookies for Nom Santa, and spread some holiday cheer with this episode of Yumper and Svo! 





Xmas Movies

Diehard (1988)

  • Directed by Jon McTiernan
    • Predator
    • The Hunt for Red October
    • Last Action Hero
    • Die Hard 3
  • Based off the Book, Nothing Last Forever by Roderick Thorp
  • Starring Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Reginald Vel Johnson, and Bonnie Bedelia
  • Budget 35 million, Box office 141.5 million
  • Trivia
    • The fictional Nakatomi Plaza is the headquarters of 20th Century Studios, so the studio could use one of its own buildings and didn’t have to hold back on stunts and action sequences. While Jeb Stuart was writing the screenplay, he did a tour of the building, and immediately incorporated some of the locations and objects he found there into his script as set pieces (such as the cart that McClane and Karl end up riding during their fight). The company charged itself rent for the use of the then-unfinished building. Some of the middle floors were occupied by legal and administrative departments, so only empty floors were used for filming. Still, the filming of scenes that involved gunfire had to be postponed until after hours because some of the employees from the active floors started to complain about the noise.
    • The costume department had 17 undershirts in various stages of degradation on hand for Bruce Willis.
    • Alan Rickman nearly passed up the role of Hans Gruber, which ended up being his first film role. He had only arrived in Hollywood two days earlier and was appalled by the idea of his first role being the villain in an action film. To a degree, Rickman was right to be concerned considering his performance as Hans Gruber was so hailed that the actor had to struggle being typecast as a player of villains for much of his career.
    • Much of the script was improvised due to the constant screenplay tweaks that were being made during filming
    • When John McClane runs through the glass shards in his ‘bare’ feet after Hans has his men shoot out the glass partitions in the computer room, Bruce Willis is wearing special ‘rubber’ shoes designed to look like his own bare feet. One can see this if looking closely as his feet appear quite unnaturally large in some of these crucial ‘barefoot’ scenes.
    • Bruce Willis admitted he still gets squeamish whenever he sees the part where his character pulls glass shards out of his foot.
    • That really is Bruce Willis riding on top of the elevator.
    • 20th Century Fox, formally admitted that Die Hard (1988) was a Christmas movie after stating that, “it’s the greatest Christmas story ever told”, in a new trailer to mark the 30th anniversary of the film’s release. However, the debate on whether it’s a Christmas movie or not among fans continues to this day.
    • Roger Ebert was one of the few critics to give this a negative review. The main reason he did this was because he hated the character Chief Dwayne Robinson. He said the character was unnecessary, useless, dumb and he prevented the movie from working. He did like the sequels and later changed his opinion.
    • Bruce Willis took the role of John McClane after it had been turned down by Robert De Niro. Willis had just been turned down to play the Charles Grodin role opposite De Niro in Midnight Run (1988). Coincidentally, both films opened the same weekend.
    • Another scene that was improvised was when McClane meets Hans for the first time. Rickman does his best American accent here to try and fool our hero. The filmmakers had been trying to figure out a way for McCLane and Hans to meet face to face before the film’s climatic scenes. Once they realized that Rickman could do passable American accent, they were off to the races. The scene led Hans to realize that McCLane’s barefoot, and they should “shoot the glass.” That scene is what led Terry Gilliam casting Willis in 12 Monkeys. A lot led to the realization that the British Rickman could sound like a red-blooded American.
    • The character of Hans Gruber is rumored to be based on author Roderick Thorp’s father, a known tyrant amongst friends and family.
    • George Takei wanted to play Takagi, and John McTiernan really wanted to cast him, but Takei’s agent got things mixed up. Takei was not happy.
    • In the German dub for the film, the terrorists are all given English names.
    • Jack Lemmon lobbied hard for the role of John McClane but producers said he was just too darn old.
    • Tom Berenger turned down the role of John McClane.

Nothing Like the Holidays (2008)

  • Directed by Alfredo De Villa
  • Starring John Leguizamo, Alfred Molina, Freddy Rodriguez, Elizabeth Pena, Luis Guzman, and Debra Messing.
  • Box Office of 7.5 million Dollars
  • Trivia
    • In the movie, Alfred Molina and Elizabeth Peña play John Leguizamo’s parents. In reality they are 9 years and 1 year older, respectively.
    • Of the main cast of the film, Debra Messing is the only non Latina as she is Jewish.
    • Roger Ebert gave it 3 stars!


Reindeer Games (2000)

  • Directed by John Frankenheimer
    • Ronin
    • The Island of Doctor Moreau
  • Starring Gary Sinise, Ben Affleck, Charlize Theron, Dennis Farina, and James Frain.
  • Budget of 42 million and Box office of 32.2 million
  • Trivia
    • In October 2007, Charlize Theron said in an interview in Esquire magazine that “Reindeer Games” was her least favorite of all her films. She said: “That was a bad, bad, bad movie. But I got to work with John Frankenheimer. I wasn’t lying to myself – that’s why I did it.
    • According to Danny Trejo, the reason Vin Diesel was replaced in the role that Donald Logue wound up playing was because Diesel was offered a starring role in The Fast and the Furious (2001). Diesel wisely went with The Fast and the Furious (2001), and was discharged from this movie.
    • Ashton Kutcher: as the man with whom Rudy (Ben Affleck) switches clothes, in the bathroom.
    • Isaac Hayes: The “Monsters in the Gelatin” prisoner who starts the food fight.

Elf (2003)

  • Directed by Jon Favreau
  • Starring Will Ferrell, James Caan, Bob Newhart, and Zoey Deschanel.
  • Box Office of 225 million on a 33-million-dollar budget.
  • Trivia
    • Will Ferrell’s first leading role.
    • According to the DVD commentary, the bearded guy who Buddy mistakes for Santa during the “Pennies from Heaven” scene when he first gets to New York was also real and unaware that he was being filmed for a movie.
    • Several minor traffic accidents occurred when Will Ferrell walked through the Lincoln Tunnel in his costume, because people were so surprised (and distracted from their driving) to see him wearing an elf outfit.
    • Will Ferrell turned down $29 million to be in a sequel in late 2014.
    • Due to his policy of appearing in family friendly films Chevy Chase was briefly considered for the role of Papa Elf by director Jon Favreau. However Will Ferrell vetoed this idea because he disliked working with Chase when he returned to guest host Saturday Night Live (1975) in the mid-1990s. Ferrell said Chase was the worst host he worked with during his tenure on that show.
    • Wanda Sykes was originally slated to play the Gimbel’s Manager but backed out at the last minute. She was replaced by Faizon Love, who insisted on still wearing the nametag made for Sykes, which is why his tag inexplicably says “Wanda.”
    • Most of the shots with Will Ferrell and Ed Asner in the workshop with the elves are forced perspective rather than CGI.
    • Mary Steenburgen, who plays Emily, Buddy’s stepmother and Michael’s mom also plays Will Ferrell’s mother in Step Brothers (2008).
    • According to Will Ferrell at the movie’s premiere co-star James Caan approached him and said he felt Ferrell’s performance in the film was “too over the top” while they were shooting the movie. However when Caan saw the finished film, he later said he understood the energy Ferrell needed to put into his performance and later praised Ferrell saying he gave a good performance.
    • Jon Favreau mentions Will Ferrell’s line about the fake Santa sitting on a “throne of lies” is from Lord of the Rings.
    • Peter Billingsley, Jon Favreau and Mary Steenburgen all also appear in another Christmas movie, Four Christmases, (2008).
    • Miles Finch’s anger at Buddy calling him an elf reflects Peter Dinklage’s real life refusal to play elves or other mythical creature roles that are typically given to actors with dwarfism.
    • Jon Favreau: Dr. Ben Leonardo, and the voice of the narwhal who says goodbye to Buddy.

Four Christmases (2008)

  • Directed Seth Gordon
  • Starring Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Duvall, Jon Favreau, and Mary Steenburgen.
  • Budget 80 million and box office 163.7 million
  • Trivia
    • Peter Billingsley, who played the main character Ralphie Parker in The Christmas Story (1983), plays the ticket agent at the airport.
    • Many of the film’s key scenes were improvised.
    • All four cast members portraying the parents are Oscar winners: Robert Duvall (Tender Mercies (1983)), Sissy Spacek (Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)), Jon Voight (Coming Home (1978)), and Mary Steenburgen (Melvin and Howard (1980)).
    • When talking about not being married after the dance lesson, Brad (Vince Vaughn) refers to the famous short story “The Most Dangerous Game”, written by Richard Connell in 1924. The story dealt with a wealthy Cossack who hunts men on his private island, the scenario to which Brad refers.

Bad Santa (2003)

  • Terry Zwigoff
  • Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Bernie Mac, John Ritter, Tony Cox, Lauren Tom, and Lauren Graham.
  • Box Office of 76.5 million and Budget of 23 million
  • Trivia
    • Billy Bob Thornton has said that he was genuinely intoxicated during some of filming. In the escalator fall scene, he actually passed out after drinking 3 glasses of red wine for breakfast followed by vodkas, cranberry juice, and a few Bud Lights.
    • In his autobiography “The Billy Bob Tapes”, Billy Bob Thornton said that if he could go back to any time in his life and relive it, he listed this film, The Alamo (2004) and when he worked for the Arkansas Highway Department in 1979.
    • In his autobiography “The Billy Bob Tapes”, Billy Bob Thornton said that if he could go back to any time in his life and relive it, he listed this film, The Alamo (2004) and when he worked for the Arkansas Highway Department in 1979.
    • Tony Cox ad-libbed the “You probably shouldn’t be digging in your ass” line. Director Terry Zwigoff found the line so funny that he admitted to repeatedly cracking up on set and even waking up in the middle of the night laughing.
    • Jack Nicholson read the script and wanted to do the film, but had to turn it down because he was already committed to Something’s Gotta Give (2003).
    • Joel Coen, Ethan Coen and Terry Zwigoff revised the screenplay.
    • Lauren Graham’s character is credited as “Sue”, but her name is never used in the dialog, even in the director’s cut.
    • The woman that Willie has sex with in a fitting room at a department store is actually Lauren Graham.

Home Alone (1990)

  • Directed by Christopher Columbus
  • Written by John Hughes
  • Starring Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard, Catherine O’hara, and Roberts Blossom.
  • Budget of 18 million and Box office of 476.7 million
  • Trivia
    • Joe Pesci deliberately avoided Macaulay Culkin on-set, because he wanted Culkin to think he was mean.
    • Catherine O’Hara revealed in 2014 that Macaulay Culkin still calls her “Mom”.
    • The picture Kevin finds of Buzz’s girlfriend was a picture of a boy made up to look like a girl, because director Chris Columbus thought it would be too cruel to make fun of a girl like that. The boy that was used in the photo was art director Dan Webster’s son.
    • The pages on the Playboy Magazine Kevin looks through were taped together so young Macaulay Culkin wouldn’t see any nudity. The cover was from the July 1989 issue.
    • Joe Pesci was used to adding profanity to most of his scripts, and kept forgetting that he was filming a family movie during his character’s on-screen outbursts, so director Chris Columbus advised him to say “fridge” instead of the “f” word. A lot of Pesci’s unintelligible pained mutterings were his way to avoid cursing.
    • Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern felt indifferent about the movie’s potential during shooting, so they intentionally gave over-the-top performances, neither one of them believing this movie would become a massive success.
    • The scream that Daniel Stern belts out during the tarantula scene was filmed live on-set, after Stern was assured by the animal handlers that tarantulas do not have ears. The tarantula’s poison was not extracted, as some have thought. This was all confirmed by Stern in a December 24, 2015 post on his Facebook page.
    • Writer and producer John Hughes was worried that mothers would never believe a family could forget one of their kids. Chris Columbus recalled, “John really filled in every possible logic hole, and the audience always bought it.”
    • Director Chris Columbus’ biggest fear as a kid was burglars. It’s part of why he wanted to make this movie.
    • When the filmmakers had initially cast Daniel Stern for the role of Marv, Stern agreed to shoot for six weeks. When producers later said they needed him for eight weeks but the studio was not willing to pay him more, Stern declined the offer. At the recommendation of the studio, Daniel Roebuck was then cast from a tape as Marv, as he was willing to work for a lower price than Stern. According to Roebuck, after two days meeting with producers, who were “cold” towards him, Roebuck was then told he was no longer needed, citing a lack of chemistry with Joe Pesci in their screentests. The studio finally caved to the producers’ wishes and brought back Stern, since he and Pesci had been friends since they had both appeared in I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can (1982) and had a great chemistry. Roebuck earned a hefty paycheck for his troubles, but could only receive it if he agreed not to be hired for any other acting jobs until this movie had been completed. Though he was able to put a down payment on a house with the money he received for not working on this project, Roebuck took the rejection as a huge blow to his ego, remaining bitter for a long time about his experiences with this movie.
    • When Devin Ratray was asked what happened to Buzz later in life, he said he probably went to prison.
    • Robert De Niro turned down the role of Harry. Joe Pesci, who worked with De Niro on Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990), Casino (1995), The Good Shepherd (2006), and The Irishman (2019), got the part instead.
    • Chris Farley auditioned for Santa Claus.
    • There is a legend that Elvis Presley (who died in 1977) made a cameo in this movie. Many of those who believe that Elvis is still alive maintained that the heavily bearded man standing in the background of the scene where Mrs. McCallister is shouting at the desk clerk (just before she meets John Candy) is Elvis. They asserted for years that the man is in the correct age range (Elvis would have been around 55 at the time), makes a head movement that Elvis frequently made during concerts, and that no record has ever been found about this particular actor’s participation in the movie. The theory was finally debunked in 2018, when investigative journalists identified the extra as a man called Gary Richard Grott, who had passed away from a heart attack in February 2016. Grott’s family was able to confirm that it was Grott in the movie, and also revealed that he had been working regularly as an extra on several Chris Columbus’ movies, although Home Alone was the first one that he actually appeared in.
    • In the rumored original draft of the screenplay, Uncle Frank is revealed as the real villain, and as the villain behind the villains, and that Harry and Marv work for him, and that he hired them to rob the McCallister house and other houses in the neighborhood, and also to kill Kevin.
    • Rowan Atkinson auditioned for the role of Harry. Bob Hoskins also turned down the role.
    • Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill were considered for the role of Peter McCallister, but were too busy with other projects at the time. Goldblum and Neill appeared in Jurassic Park (1993).
    • Tim Robbins was considered of Marv
    • Jon Voight was considered the role of Peter McCallister
    • The home where most of this movie was filmed is actually located at 671 Lincoln Ave in Winnetka, IL just outside of Chicago. Therefore, the filmmakers used the house’s real address when Kevin and Harry reference the location. However, the house has since been blurred out on Google Maps street view along with several other houses in the neighborhood (including the “Murphy” house across the street) because local residents have had to deal with thousands of people driving by and/or walking around taking pictures. The crowds are reportedly much worse around the holiday season.


National Lampoons Christmas Vacation (1989)

  • Directed by Jerimiah Checkik
    • 1998 The Avengers
    • The Bronx is Burning
  • Starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, and Randy Quaid
  • Box office of 73.3 million on a budget of 25 million
  • Trivia
    • After failing to get the Christmas lights to work one last time, Clark Griswold takes his frustration out on the plastic decorations in the front yard. Chevy Chase actually broke his pinky finger while punching Santa Claus. He resorts to kicking and clubbing the decorations after that. The film kept rolling, and the take was used.
    • Final film of Mae Questel, whose film career began in 1930, as the voice of Betty Boop.
    • The shoes that Cousin Eddie wears are the same ones that he gave Clark as a gift in the original Vacation.
    • Lewis and Bethany were based on George Burns and Gracie Allen, it was hoped George Burns would play Lewis.
    • Despite being a “Christmas movie”, Christmas Day is never actually seen. The film ends on Christmas Eve.
    • The “Warner Brothers” backlot used for the neighborhood, in which the Griswolds live, is the same as the one used on “The Middle (2009),” which featured Brian Doyle-Murray (Mr. Shirley) in a recurring role as Mr. Ehlert, and Doris Roberts (Frances) in a recurring role as Ms. Rinsky.
    • Chris Columbus was originally set to direct, but dropped out due to not getting along with Chevy Chase. He worked with John Hughes on the first two “Home Alone” films and “Only the Lonely” (1991).
    • When Clark is in his office daydreaming with the scale model of the swimming pool and his co-worker Bill (Sam McMurry) steps in and asks if Clark is ok, there is a container of “Air Grade Marine Epoxy” in the plastic case on the left side of the screen. This is the identical product that fellow Saturday Night Live alum Dan Aykroyd uses as “Elwood Blues” to glue the gas pedal on the Good Ol’ Boys’ motor home before they sneak away from the show at the Palace Hotel Ballroom. “This is glue… Strong stuff!”. The lettering on Clark’s container is light red however, and Elwood Blues’ spray can has dark blue or black lettering on it
    • Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki play brother and sister but then last year in 2018-2019 on the Conners they played a couple. This is also one of Johnny Galecki’s first movies.
    • Brian Doyle-Murray and Natalija Nogulich, who play husband and wife in this film, are the only natives of Chicago, Illinois (where the movie is set, even though it was filmed in California, Colorado, and Chicago, Illinois) among the film’s cast. All other cast members were born outside Illinois. They both guest starred in season three of 2 Broke Girls (2011).
    • When the police storm into the Griswold’s house, the song “Here Comes Santa Claus”, sung by the late Gene Autry is used for the background music. Randy Quaid (Cousin Eddie) is the third cousin of the late Gene Autry.

A Christmas Carol (1938)

  • Directed by Edwin L. Marin
    • Bombay Mail
  • Starring Reginald Owen, Gene Lockhart, Kathleen Lockart, Barry Mackay and Lynne Carver.
  • Trivia
    • Although he seemed much older, Reginald Owen was only 4 years older than Gene Lockhart.
    • MGM released a record-breaking 375 prints of the film so that as many people as possible could see it during the Christmas season.
    • Lionel Barrymore was originally set to play Scrooge, but had to back out due to illness. Barrymore instead suggested his friend Reginald Owen take over the role. Barrymore did not perform the radio version of “A Christmas Carol” in 1938 so that it would not interfere with the success of the picture, and he appeared in a special trailer for it called A Fireside Chat with Lionel Barrymore (1938), which was produced by Frank Whitbeck and directed by Edwin L. Marin.
    • Even though the film is based on the book the film adds different twists from the novel and most other film versions. In this film Fred is more of a supporting character rather than being a minor character. Bob is sacked by Scrooge in this film. And in the end Scrooge rehires Bob and makes Fred his new partner.

Surviving Christmas (2004)

  • Directed by Mike Mitchell
    • Duece Biagalow
    • Trolls
    • Sky High
  • Starring Ben Affleck, James Gandolfini, Christina Applegate, Catherine O’Hara, and Jennifer Morrison.
  • Box office of 15.1 million on a budget of 45 million.
  • Trivia
    • The production was shot without a completed script. As a result, there were many delays and arguments over what to shoot. James Gandolfini admitted, in a behind the scenes interview, that most of the film was “improvised”.
    • Jon Favreau was offered a chance to direct, but made Elf (2003) instead.
    • John Wight, who worked on the film as Ben Affleck’s stand-in, wrote a devastating depiction of what the filming was like in his book “Dreams that Die: Misadventures in Hollywood”.
    • One of two Dreamworks movies that the studio tried to bury by delaying it for a span of a year or more. The other was the Ben Stiller/Jack Black comedy Envy (2004) which was almost released direct to video due to poor test screenings. Eventually, both films were released theatrically, and receiving DVD release dates within two months after their theatrical run.
    • This film was partially filmed in the Far Northwest Chicago neighborhood of Edgebrook in January of 2003. The idea was to utilize the winter weather. Unfortunately, by the time filming commenced it wasn’t snowing but was extremely cold. Snow machines had to be used.

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