Merry Christmas everybody. While my wife watches A Christmas Story (1983) for the 10th time and the kids fall asleep among the wrapping paper, I am thinking about movies that are either set at Christmas or remind us of Christmas without being “Christmas movies.” You won’t find the traditional Christmas favorites on this list, but you might find some fun movies to watch with your sweetie on a cold winter night.
What better than a movie that had trouble getting past the MPAA because they believed it was too scary for its target audience. This movie doesn’t even make me think of Christmas, and I didn’t even watch it until I was in college. But who wouldn’t want to get a cute fuzzy monster like Gizmo under their Christmas tree. In fact, I think it was partly because of this movie that Furbys became popular 15 years later.
|4. The Family Man
Jack (Nicolas Cage) is given the chance to live the life that he could have had if he had followed his heart. It is a retelling of It’s a Wonderful Life. The film emphasizes the importance of having family and friends in your life. Christmas just happens to be the backdrop for this hypothetical journey. Don Cheadle as the street wise angel really makes this film.
|3. Batman Returns
Everyone has had a Christmas when they got one too many pairs of socks or when their crazy relative has a little too much egg nog and started spilling all the family secrets. That’s nothing compared to Christmas in Gotham City. The Red Triangle Gang jumps out of a giant present, mess up the Christmas decorations and attempt to install the super creepy Penguin (Danny Devito) as mayor. It’s not all bad however, it inspired a crazy woman to make a homemade skin-tight shiny black leather cat suit.
|2. Trading Places
It’s a simple concept. Take a well-to-do Harvard alumnus named Winthorpe (Dan Aykroyd) and set him up for a fall. Then take a street bum Billy Ray (Eddie Murphy) and put him in his old job to see if he can make it on the stock exchange. Pretty soon, Winthorpe’s a suicidal gun-toting thief dressed as Santa and Billy Ray’s scolding house guests for making a mess of his nice clean rug. Throw in Jamie Lee Curtis as a lady of the night and you have a heartwarming holiday classic. Or not.
|1. Die Hard
Holiday office parties are the best! The boss gets tipsy, you see a whole other side of your co-workers, and international terrorists take everyone hostage in the office building! Well, at least that last one sounds fun for John McClane, a New York city cop who is attempting to surprise his estranged wife on Christmas Eve. But instead of a gift, he brings the pain. Who needs a “ho ho ho” when you can have a “yippie kai-yai motherf***er.” And McClane gets into more mischief around Christmas in Die Hard 2, but I think by Die Hard with a Vengeance he learned to stay home for the holidays.
These are some of my favorites. Can you think of some others?