There may be more Christmas movies than movies set in Canada, and pretty much every horror flick counts as a Halloween flick. Even New Year's Eve has dozens of great movies centered around it, but when it comes to Easter, there's practically nothing. In fact, to the undiscerning eye, it may look like it's easier to pick a movie for Flag Day than it is for Easter—c'mon Hollywood, even Groundhog's Day has, well, Groundhog's Day.
Despite the paucity of obvious candidates, though, there are in fact quite a few good movies for Easter viewing, even for those of us who aren't religious (and if you are, then you don't need us to remind of of staples like The Greatest Story Ever Told or The Last Temptation of Christ). Here's our recommendation for Easter-themed flicks to enjoy that do more to celebrate (or, in many cases, lampoon) the holiday than just featuring a rabbit.
Ok, we admit that this one was pretty much a gimme. This 1948 Fred Astaire and Judy Garland musical is literally the only well-known easter movie. Fortunately, Easter Parade isn't popular just for its name—it's a full-on technicolor spectacle, full of memorable songs and dance routines featuring the Ziegfield Follies. The music was written by Irving Berlin, a guy who knew a thing or two about catchy songs based on holidays (he's literally the guy who wrote "White Christmas") and features the original version of "Steppin' Out with My Baby." It's not just the best traditional Easter movie, it's also literally the only one worth watching.
Monty Python's Life of Brian
Any movie featuring the death of Jesus Christ is suitable material for Easter. Monty Python's Life of Brian, though, doesn't do that (although Jesus does make a brief audio cameo). Instead, we get the life, and eventual death, of Brian, an ordinary guy who just happens to have been born in the next stable over. His fate, crucifixion at the hands of the Romans, was even similar to Jesus', the main difference being the lack of any sort of resurrection. Oh well, forget all that depressing nonsense, as it's always better to look on the bright side of life, which is that this movie is utterly hilarious.
Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey
Not everyone enjoys Easter, and that includes Ted, whose strange and creepy memories of it are the most frightening part of this entire movie (though it's just desserts for stealing his brother's Easter basket when they were children). Aside from this, the movie has little to do with the holiday, and has much stranger places to visit along this bogus journey, but this is still perhaps the flick's most memorable scene. Compared to this Easter Bunny, the Reaper looks like a Care Bear.
Jesus Christ Superstar
This is the only movie on our list that actually focuses on Jesus Christ and the origins of Easter. That isn't to say, however, that it's any more reverent… rather, its representation of Jesus is, let's just come out with it, fabulous. Jesus' life and death are given the four-star movie musical treatment, which means songs like "This Jesus Must Die" and "Superstar" look and sound just as ridiculous as you'd hope. Bombastic isn't a word usually used to describe Easter, but it's perfectly fitting for Jesus Christ Superstar. That half the people making the movie seems to have thought this was at least somewhat serious only makes the entire picture more entertaining.
Although many don't celebrate the holiday, it's surprising how infrequently Easter shows up even incidentally in movies. In Annie Hall, we get a brief look at the holiday from a complete outsider's perspective, as Woody Allen's stand-in Alvy Singer attends the Hall family's Easter meal. While only two minutes of the picture, its sublime contrast against the Singer family's holidays makes for one of the film's most memorable scenes. The rest of the movie isn't so shabby either.
Oddly enough, Kevin Smith's second feature, the unfortunately dismissed at its time of release Mallrats, takes place two days before Easter and as such features a heavy dose of the holiday. For those who don't care for the Easter Bunny and the commercialization of this sacred day, we suggest giving this one a look, as it features the memorable beating of a mall's Easter bunny by the director himself as his alter-ego Silent Bob, accompanying of course his ever-present heterosexual life partner Jay.
Mallrats is a much, much better movie than Critters 2, a sequel to the Gremlins knock-off that no one asked for. However, where Mallrats only sees fit to have the man dressed up as the Easter Bunny beaten by a pair of miscreants, Critters 2 has the legally-not-Gremlins rip into the bunny-suited man's crotch so that he runs crashing into a church service. Subtlety was never the Critters franchise's strong point, but for dumb, Easter-themed violence, this little flick is hard to top.
What's that? You liked Easter Parade so much you wanted another Fred Astaire musical written by Irving Berlin? Well lucky for you, there's Holiday Inn, a musical with a stupid premise but great musical numbers. Essentially, it's just an excuse to do twelve production numbers around different holidays of the year, with "Easter Parade" being unsurprisingly featured for April. Nonetheless, both the songs and the dances are fantastic, and the movie may be more palatable for those who are looking for a musical but only want a dash of Easter, rather than a full two hours of it.