There’s nothing like Christmas in Chicago and Hollywood filmmakers have produced several films set in Chi-town, the midwestern city who embraces many warm and small town traditions that make transplanted Chicagoans across the nation feel homesick.
So curl up on your couch with your remote and a nice cup of hot cocoa and enjoy these nostalgic Chicago Christmas movies, no matter where you live.
Here is our top ten list of Christmas movies that take place in the Windy City:
10. A Bad Moms Christmas (R)
After the success of Bad Moms in 2016, Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn are back again for another raunchy romp in the Windy City. Amy (Mila Kunis) struggles to get ready for the Christmas holiday when she is notified that her mom (Christine Baranski) is coming for a visit, meanwhile Carla (Kathryn Hahn) and Kiki (Kristen Bell) have already received their unexpected mom’s (Susan Sarandon and Cheryl Hines) arrivals. The three of them decide to drown their sorrows together at the mall and engage in some crazy shenanigans including giving Santa a lap dance. Montage after montage, this film really doesn’t go anywhere, but it’s silly and bawdy and has a few laughs. Even though A Bad Moms Christmas is set in Chicago, it was mostly filmed in Atlanta, Georgia.
A Bad Mom Christmas|Trailer
9. Christmas with the Kranks (PG)
In this slapstick comedy, Jamie Lee Curtis plays Nora Krank who is married to Luther (Tim Allen) who lives in an idyllic Chicago suburb, obsessed with Christmas. While this film takes place in Riverside, Illinois on Hemlock Street, it was filmed at a former Boeing aircraft factory in Downey, California, just outside of Los Angeles. The Krank’s beautiful daughter Blair (Julie Gonzalo) announces that she will not be home for the holidays and Luther convinces Nora to “skip christmas” and go on a weeklong cruise in the Caribbean, much to the chagrin of their neighborhood, including the loudest objections coming from Vic Frohmeyer, played by Dan Aykroyd. After alienating all of their neighbors and friends with their refusal to participate in their traditional Christmas activities, Blair calls the Kranks and announces that she is, in fact returning home to experience their midwest traditions. Shenanigans ensue and the community must come together to support the Kranks who now have only minutes to prepare for their daughter’s arrival.
Christmas With The Kranks|Trailer
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (PG-13)
8. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (PG-13)
No holiday season is complete without viewing this classic Christmas film starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Juliette Lewis, and a young Johnny Gelecki as the Griswolds. We were introduced to the Griswolds in 1983’s National Lampoon’s Vacation, and again in 1985’s National Lampoon’s European Vacation. Clark Griswold (Chase) is determined to give his family and extended family the most perfect Christmas anyone could imagine in a snowy suburb of Chicago. Unfortunately perfection is a challenge to attain, which provides all kinds of slapstick antics and silly innuendos. If you were hoping to catch a glimpse of Chicago or a suburb of Chicago in this particular film, you will be disappointed because this one was filmed in Burbank California and Breckenridge, Colorado.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation|Trailer
7. The Christmas Chronicles (PG)
Siblings Kate (Darby Camp) and Teddy Pierce (Judah Lewis) attempt to catch Santa (Kurt Russell) on camera on Christmas eve, climb into Santa’s sleigh, and cause him to crash land on Lakeshore Drive in Chicago. Before crashing, Santa’s sack of presents fell out of the sleigh, not to mention Santa lost his magic hat, and now the team of three must find the gifts as well as his magic hat, locate the reindeer, repair the sleigh, and save Christmas. Even though Santa effortlessly rattles off local directions, exhibiting his knowledge of Chicago streets, this heartwarming family film was actually filmed in Toronto Canada. Kurt Russell portrays one of the best versions of Santa to have ever graced the screen and we all have to give a little giggle when his real life love, Goldie Hawn is shown to be Mrs. Claus.
The Christmas Chronicles | Trailer
6. Mean Girls (PG-13)
Lindsey Lohan plays teen Cady Heron, who after being homeschooled for the majority of her life, has decided to join her peers in North Shore High School in a Chicago suburb. The film follows her school year and made this list because of several iconic scenes centered around Christmas, including the most iconic of all when the clique of mean girls known commonly as “The Plastics” consisting of Regina George (Rachael McAdams), Karen Smith (Amanda Seyfried), Gretchen Weiner (Lacey Chabert), and Cady Heron (Lohan) performs a slightly inappropriate, scantily clad, almost burlesque performance of “Jingle Bell Rock”. When the music stops due to a technical issue, Cady leads the rest of her crew to sing the song themselves while performing the over the top dance routine. Much like other films on this list, Mean Girls wasn’t actually filmed in Chicago, but in Toronto Canada.
Mean Girls | Trailer
5. Fred Claus (PG)
Vince Vaughn is Santa’s older and cranky brother Fred, who has zero patience for Santa’s generosity and kindness. Years after their childhood, Santa has become who we all know and love while Fred Claus is the complete opposite. After getting arrested for stealing from street Santas, Fred calls on his brother Santa (Paul Giamatti) to bail him out. Santa agrees and then an elf named Willie (John Michael Higgins) shows up and brings Fred back to the North Pole to help out Santa. Unfortunately Santa is being audited by “Santa Claus Center”, specifically Agent Clyde Northcutt (Kevin Spacey) who wants to shut down “the whole operation” and is carrying a grudge against Santa for being on the naughty list for decades. Fred must step up and be the big brother he promised he would be for Nick (Santa) way back when Nick was just a baby and help Santa save the North Pole. While the North Pole scenes were created through the magic of Hollywood, the Chicago scenes were filmed in Chicago where Michigan Ave is clearly recognizable, which is why this otherwise lackadaisical film has ranked so high on this list.
Fred Claus | Trailer
4. Surviving Christmas (PG-13)
Wealthy douchebag Drew Latham (Ben Affleck) invites his girlfriend Missy (Jennifer Morrison) on a first class trip to Fiji for Christmas vacation. Disgusted by his invitation, she claims she intends to spend Christmas with her family and storms out. Drew then decides to visit his childhood home in the Chicago suburb of Forest Glen, which is already inhabited by the Valco family composed of patriarch Tom Valco (James Gandolfini), his wife Christine (Catherine O’hara), and their teen son Brian (Josh Zuckerman). When the family notices Drew in the front yard, Tom Valco strikes him in the head with a shovel. After inviting him in to tend to his head wound, Drew asks the Valco’s to let him stay with them and be his family for Christmas for $250,000 so he can try to relive Christmas memories from his youth. The family obviously agrees to the terms and fulfills all of Drew’s whims, until their daughter Alicia (Cristina Applegate) arrives, which disturbs Drew. The two of them clash with each other as sparks fly between them. The Valco home is located at 6748 North Ionia Ave, Chicago.
Surviving Christmas |Trailer
3. While You Were Sleeping (PG)
On Christmas day Peter (Peter Gallagher) is pushed off the platform onto the tracks while waiting for a train and Chicago Transit Authority token collector, Lucy (Sandra Bullock) jumps down to save his life before the train comes. She accompanies him to the hospital where it is determined he is in a coma. Lucy says under her breath, “I was gonna marry him”, where a nurse overhears her and announces she is his fiance. Before she can explain it was a misunderstanding, his entire family shows up and believes her to be the fiance as well. It becomes apparent that his mother has a weak heart and Lucy decides to keep up with the lie and enjoy Christmas with his family. The city of Chicago provides a beautiful backdrop to many scenes and it is obvious that this movie was actually filmed in Chicago, including the Callaghan family’s house located at 203 8th Ave, La Grange, Illinois and Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
While You Were Sleeping | Trailer
2. Office Christmas Party ( R )
Not only does this hilarious and raunchy Christmas film take place in Chicago, it’s also actually filmed there! It’s obvious that the teams who brought us films such as The Switch and The Hangover chose to include the Windy City as one of the characters in this ensemble cast that also includes Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, Olivia Munn, Kate McKinnon, Courtney B. Vance, Vanessa Baver, Jillian Bell, and many more. Anniston plays Scroogey CEO Carol Vanstone, who refuses to allow her goofy brother Clay (T.J. Miller) to throw an office Christmas party as she intends to close the entire office location down and lay off all the employees. Jason Bateman plays Josh Parker who is Chief of Technical Advancement for the same company called Zenotek and is desperate to save the company as well as all of his coworkers jobs. While Carol is supposed to be traveling, Clay and Josh decide to go ahead and throw the biggest blowout of a party Chicago has ever seen in a last ditch attempt to woo an account that could save the company.
Office Christmas Party | Trailer
1. Home Alone (PG)
Chris Columbus and John Hughes team up to create one of the most famous Christmas movies of all time. This Guinness record holder, as the highest grossing live-action comedy for 27 years, which catapulted Macaulay Culkin into one of the most famous child stars for his performance as Kevin McCallister. Schitt’s Creek’s Catherine O’Hara played Kevin’s mother and John Heard played his dad. On a flight to Paris with 13 other family members, Kevin’s mother realizes that she has forgotten her 8 year old son at home in the attic while the other 14 of them have embarked on a huge european vacation. Kevin finds himself defending his home from two burglars played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as his mother struggles to return home to him. John Candy plays a clarinet player named Gus who overhears her plea at an airport and agrees to transport her with the rest of his polka band. Not only does Home Alone take place in the Chicago area, almost the entire film was shot in the Chicago area, including the scenes that are supposed to be in Paris that were actually filmed at O’Hare! As a matter of fact, the McCallister home is located at 671 Lincoln Ave in Winnetka, Illinois where the exterior scenes were filmed. Interesting trivia: They dug a large hole at the rear of the house to create the famous basement entrance and refilled the hole when they completed filming. The interior scenes of the iconic home where constructed in the gym of New Trier Township High School, where several John Hughes movies were filmed.
Home Alone | Trailer
The top 5 movies on this list earned their higher rankings by actually filming in the City by the Lake. Most of these films are worth rewatching year after year and the majority of them are completely family friendly. It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re from Chicago, or have ever even been to Chicago, this list has something for everyone and maybe you will fall in love with the 312 for the first time, or all over again after watching these films.
Merry Christmas to all!