Ranking Iowa’s Favorite Christmas Movies

Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

The 2016 Hallmark movie, “Christmas in Homestead,” might have been filmed in Iowa, but it didn’t make the list of the state’s top five Christmas movies. Neither did any of the black & white Christmas classics such as “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Miracle on 34th Street.” Instead, Iowa’s choices mirrored most of the rest of the country’s with “Home Alone” leading the way.

IowaBets.com took a break from covering Iowa sports betting to investigate into the state’s favorite Christmas movies. 

Iowa’s Favorite Christmas Movies

Rank Christmas Movies Interest Over Time
1Home Alone8
T-2 National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation7
T-2 How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)7
5A Christmas Story5

Utilizing Google Trends, IowaBets.com – your source for Iowa sportsbook promos - analyzed the most popular Christmas movies of Iowa residents by looking at the search results of each movie over the past three holidays The movies included the 40 most popular Christmas movies over the past year based on global traffic from AhRefs.com. Here is our list:

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Iowa Folks Prefer ‘Home Alone’

“Home Alone,” released in 1990, was directed by Chris Columbus and written by the prolific John Hughes, whose “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” tied for second place. “Home Alone” is the story of the impish Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) left home, uh, alone, when his family forgets him as they rush to the airport for their holiday trip. When two cartoonish crooks (Daniel Stern, Joe Pesci) try to break into Kevin’s house, he gets that gleam in his eye that a lot of children get when they’re about to cause trouble, and he turns his home into the equivalent of a medieval fortress, with booby traps galore. What follows is slapstick that would make the Roadrunner proud and Wile E. Coyote wince, as Kevin devises ever devious and painful ways to torture the would-be thieves, while his family rushes back to be with him at Christmas.

Tied for second with “Christmas Vacation” is “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”     The feature-length, Jim Carrey version of Dr. Seuss’s “Grinch” is based on the 1957 book, which was first adapted by Looney Toons legend Chuck Jones into a terrific 1966 cartoon (Boris Karloff voiced the Grinch), before becoming this live-action fantasy film in 2000, directed by Ron Howard. The story is about the Scrooge-like, small-hearted Grinch, who hates that the citizens of Whoville have any Christmas joy and sets out to ruin their holiday by becoming a present-stealing, feast-stealing “Santa.” But instead of ruining Whoville Christmas, the Grinch finds his heart growing, and ends up learning the true meaning of the holiday. Seuss, who was feeling a little Grinchy himself when he wrote the book, originally hoped it would decry the commercialization of Christmas. Instead, he created a Christmas icon and brought the word “grinch” into the vocabulary – a Christmas word to partner with Charles Dickens’ “scrooge.”

Tied with the meanie greenie, is the previously mentioned “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (1989), in which the Griswold family’s Christmas plans, of course, turn into a comedic disaster. This was the third entry in the Griswold saga, with Chevy Chase as star. Here Beverly D’Angelo is Mrs. Griswold and the children are Juliette Lewis (who went on to a career in very un-John Hughes-like, very un-Christmas-like movies such as “Cape Fear” and “Natural Born Killers”) and Johnny Galecki, who became better known years later for his role as Leonard in “The Big Bang Theory.”

You can take the elf out of the North Pole, but you can’t take the North Pole out of the elf. In fourth place is “Elf,” the 2003 comedy directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” “The Mandalorian”) and starring Will Ferrell as a human-sized elf in search of his real-life Manhattan-based, grinchy, Scroogy father (James Caan), as an angry, bitter man who badly needs some holiday cheer. A true elf out of snow story, it was filmed long before a Christmas elf was mostly known for sitting on a shelf. The comedy, which also stars the elfin Bob Newhart, comes from an innocent 6-foot-man, raised by elves, navigating modern-day New York. Today, it would not be as surprising to see a 6-foot elf in Times Square.

The fifth-place movie to unwrap is “A Christmas Story,” which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. A flop when it was first released, perhaps because director Bob Clark was mostly known for the horror film “Black Christmas” and the recently-released teen sex comedy “Porky’s,” time and new viewing formats have been good to this sweet 1940s tale, and made it a holiday perennial. Based on the childhood remembrances of radio personality Jean Shepherd – yes, radio used to have personalities – it’s the tale of a boy who wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. How quaint, today he’d want an AR-15. But you guessed it, the true meaning of Christmas gifts him with a more important present. Merry Christmas!

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Howard Gensler

Howard Gensler is a contributing writer for IowaBets.com. Before his focus on U.S. sports betting, Howard worked at the Philadelphia Daily News, TV Guide and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Howard is also a founding editor of bettorsinsider.com.