Updated: Mar 14, 2021
Christmas is just around the corner and you flick on the television (or more likely Netflix) and are met with the usual slew of Christmas movies that you’ve watched a thousand times.
So, you still feel like watching a Christmas movie but don’t want to watch these movies again. You must be kind of stuck right?
Wrong. Here are five examples of unofficial Christmas movies that give you something else to watch this Christmas season.
1. Gremlins (1984)
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Because nothing screams Christmas like green mutant goblins murdering their way through a small town, we’re starting off the list with this cheery horror-comedy classic. The story begins like any good Christmas story does, with a parent struggling to find a present for their child on Christmas Eve.
Randall Peltzer finds himself in a Chinatown antique store after a long fruitless search for a present for his son Billy. He discovers a strange furry creature known as a Mogwai and purchases it from the store owner’s son after the owner refuses to sell it to him.
Richard is given three simple rules: don’t expose it to light (especially sunlight), don’t get it wet, and never feed it after midnight. Half an hour into the movie and Billy’s broken two out of the three rules and gremlins are unleashed on the town.
So, what makes this movie an unofficial Christmas movie? Besides the obvious, the movie doesn’t beat you over the head with the typical Christmas movie messages. It gives you a funny horror film set at Christmas and doesn’t try to.
2. Batman Returns (1992)
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Continuing the theme of dark movies set during Christmas time we have the 1992 Tim Burton-directed Batman film.
Michael Keaton returns to helm the cape and cowl of Batman during Christmas as the twin threats of Penguin and Catwoman arrive in Gotham to grab a stranglehold on the city.
Batman has to navigate his developing attraction to Catwoman and the need to discover the Penguin’s true motives as enemies surround him from all sides.
The gothic tones in the set design and Burton’s cinematography belies the general joy and excitement that Christmas normally brings for the audience, a nice bit of setting and plot working well together to reinforce a strong and consistent atmosphere dripping from every facet of this movie.
3. Lethal Weapon (1987)
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
From a vigilante almost murdering people to cops definitely murdering people, we have the hit buddy cop action film Lethal Weapon.
Mismatched LAPD detectives Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) are forced to work together as partners with Murtaugh days away from retirement and Riggs suicidal after the death of his wife.
What begins as a routine homicide investigation quickly spirals into professional hits, ex-military shootouts, and money laundering as the duo are pulled into a conspiracy where the stakes are life and death.
This film has everything you could want from a Christmas film; drugs, death, punchy action, and great comedic timing from Gibson and Glover. The biggest argument for Lethal Weapon as a Christmas movie is the character arc of Riggs.
From a suicidal loose cannon loner, we watch A Christmas Carol style transformation overcome Riggs. From a suicidal loose cannon at the beginning of the movie to spending dinner with Murtaugh’s family at the end, he’s Ebenezer Scrooge with more drug use. It’s a Wonderful Life can eat its heart out.
4. Trading Places (1984)
Paramount Pictures Corporation
Have you ever watched Blues Brothers and wondered what would happen if Elwood Blues fell on hard times, dressed up as Santa, and ended up shoving a salmon down his shirt? Because I know I sure have! Anyway, here’s the film for you to satisfy that itch, Trading Places.
Dan Aykroyd plays Louis Winthorpe III, a wealthy upper-class commodities broker whose high society life is brought crashing down around him as his bosses decide to run an elaborate bet ostensibly over the nature v nurture debate.
His life is swapped with a poor street hustler Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) and Louis’s fall from grace is swift and tragic as he turns to crime in no time. However, Valentine overhears the bosses discussing the bet and decides to enact revenge.
Like I said at the start of the entry, if you want to see Aykroyd stuff a whole salmon down his shirt, this is the film for you. Both the leads are incredible in their respective roles, the writing is top-notch, and the ending is a perfect feel-good high that we all need to send off 2020 the right way.
5. Die Hard (1988)
20th Century Studios (formerly Twentieth Century Fox)
Yeah, you guys must have known this was coming when you clicked this link. This film being a Christmas movie is one of the hottest internet debates alongside debates whether cereal is a soup (it’s not) or if the person in the middle seat gets both armrests (they do). I’m here to put this debate to rest… Die Hard is and always will be a Christmas movie.
Bruce Willis is John McClane, a New York police detective who is caught up in the terrorist attack of the Nakatomi Plaza skyscraper on Christmas Eve amidst trying to reconcile with his estranged wife. Alan Rickman and his merry band of terrorists take the company’s employees hostage and it’s up to McClane to save the day, one air duct at a time.
This movie’s one of my favourites so I don’t need any real excuse to rewatch this movie, I enjoy it that much. The action’s intense, Willis and Rickman have incredible chemistry even though they don’t meet each other face to face until two-thirds into the movie and the cinematography doesn’t get in the way of the movie which is when you know it’s doing its job right.
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