Once you wake up from the turkey coma it’s time to gear up for the next holiday: CHRISTMAS. And with Christmas comes the inevitable Christmas movie marathons on ever station from ABC Family to Spike TV. Now don’t get me wrong, I love movies like A Christmas Story and It’s a Wonderful Life… but for every GOOD Christmas movie we get garbage like Fred Claus and Deck The Halls. And if they’re not crap, then they’re overly sentimental like The Family Stone.
So, how do you tell the good from the bad? That’s where I come in. Here are 10 Christmas Movies That Don’t Suck. 10 fun movies that either take place during Christmas OR embody the Christmas spirit in a non-conventional way.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he’s gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse.
If you don’t like the Vacation movies, then you have no sense of humor. (OK, I’m not counting Vegas Vacation, we all know that blew.) Just like the otherVacation movies, this focuses on the immortal movie dad Clark Griswold trying his God damn hardest to give his family the best vacation in the world. Instead of Wally World or Europe, in this film Clark takes on the biggest of all holidays: Christmas. Pretty much everything here is hilarious from Clark’s attempt to create the greatest Christmas light display of all time to the redneck white trash relatives crashing the holidays, there’s something here everyone can relate to. This film manages to be heart-warming, but accomplishes this without sacrificing the laughs.
The Jews taught me this great word: Schmuck. I was a schmuck, and now I’m not a schmuck!
Bill Murray is a comic genius. That’s not up for debate. So what happens when you take Bill Murray, make a archetype of Ebeneezer Scrooge (this time as a corporate TV executive), update the story a little, and add some sweet make-up effects? One of the funniest and most original adaptations of A Christmas Carol ever. Bill Murray is Frank Cross, the president of the IBC Network which is airing a live showing of the famous Dickens story on Christmas Eve. Cross is an evil, selfish prick who, much like Scrooge, gets visited by three ghosts in order to show him the error of his ways. Murray is hilarious as the dickish Cross, and the first two ghosts are pretty hilarious as well. If you’ve never seen this film, you owe it to yourself. It’s dark, it’s funny and it is full of Christmas spirit.
A Christmas Story (1983)
You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.
EVERY kid has that one Christmas present they just fucking desperately wanted as a kid. The one present they would kill for. The present they’d stab you in the back for. The present they’d sell their soul for. For me it was the ORIGINAL Nintendo Entertainment System (Old school, bitches!) For Ralphie, the hero of this story, it’s B.B. gun. Not just any B.B. gun, mind you. But an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle. This movie may have been made in the 80s, and the story may take place in the 40s, but the story is timeless. Everybody knows what it’s like to want that perfect Christmas present and the sheer fucking joy it is to finally get it. This movie perfectly captures what it’s like to be a kid at Christmas.
The Ref (1994)
From now on, the only person who gets to yell is me. Why? Because I have a gun. People with guns get to do whatever they want. Married people without guns – for instance – you – DO NOT get to yell. Why? NO GUNS! No guns, no yelling. See? Simple little equation.
The Ref is CRIMINALLY under-appreciated. The film revolves around a dysfunctional married couple that gets taken hostage by a burglar on Christmas eve. Denis Leary, the burglar, is trying to lay low from the cops after tripping the alarm from the house he was trying to rob. He kidnaps Lloyd and Caroline (Kevin Spacey & Judy Davis) and poses as their marriage counselor in a charade for the in-laws. In what was initially a cover to avoid the cops, Gus the burglar actually ends up helping repair this almost broken family in a Christmas miracle. But not without dropping a few trademark Denis Leary f-bombs.
Batman Returns (1992)
Mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it.
But a kiss can be even deadlier if you mean it. You’re the second man who killed me this week, but I’ve got seven lives left.
Told you this was non-traditional. Gotham City has its own mystery man in an iconic suit that knows if you’ve been naughty or nice… and he ain’t jolly. While not as good as the original 1989 film or the Nolan reboots, Returns is highly underrated. It’s got a great cast, a great score and a great feel to it. Putting Batman and his demented and dark rogues’ gallery in the backdrop of a Gotham City at Christmas time is a brilliant idea. Not much of this adventure has much to do with Christmas other than the time of year the story takes place, but it’s still one of my favorite Christmas traditions.
The most important rule of all, no mater how much he cries, no mater how much he begs, never, Never feed him after midnight.
This movie starts out cute and cuddly and warm and fuzzy. It’s Christmas time, there’s a boy and a girl, and they kind of like each other. There’s a cute dog. A wacky dad. A wackier neighbor. And hey, even a cute, cuddly, warm, fuzzy little creature. But then it all goes to hell. This little fuzzy creature multiplies… and it turns into hundreds of evil fucking demons that terrorize a small midwestern town on Christmas Eve. This movie is so much fun. Campy Horror/Comedy doesn’t get much better than this.
Bad Santa (2003)
I’m an eating, drinking, shitting, fucking Santa Claus.
Hilarious doesn’t even begin to describe this movie. Billy Bob Thornton is genius as the alcoholic, self-hating safe-cracking thief that poses as Santa Claus once a year to rob department stores of their Christmas-time profits. Even more hilarious is his foul mouthed “little helper” played by Tony Cox. Together these two are an epic comic tag team. In the middle of all the crudeness, violence, foulness, crime, booze and anal sex this film actually delivers a positive Christmas message. No, I’m serious.
We’re No Angels (1955)
I’m going to buy them their Christmas turkey.
“Buy”? Do you really mean “buy”?
Yes, buy! In the Spirit of Christmas. The hard part’s going to be stealing the money to pay for it.
Unless you’re a film dork like me, you probably haven’t even heard of this one. But trust me, it’s pretty fucking funny. The film is about three escaped convicts (led by Humphrey Bogart) who end up on a small French colonial town right before Christmas. They find a store that gives supplies on credit, so they hatch a scheme to pose as roofers to fix the store’s roof in exchange for food/supplies/clothes. Their plan, however is to never actually fix the roof and just rob them once night falls. Eventually, the three criminals have a change of heart when the family that manages the store is exceedingly nice to them and feel even guiltier when they realize the store is already in financial dire straits. They decide to stay on as “roofers” and fix the books to make the store profitable and even go so far as murder the true owners of the store so the generous family can keep their living. A rare black Christmas comedy from 1950s Hollywood.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Kidnap the Sandy Claws, / beat him with a stick, / lock him up for ninety years, / see what makes him tick.
One of my favorite Christmas movies. Also one of my favorite Halloween movies. While marketed as Disney kids movie, this film is actually quite dark. The whole story revolves around Jack Skellington, a resident of Halloweentown who gets so bored with the darkness and dreariness of his little world. One day he stumbles upon Christmastown and gets a great idea. This year he’ll kidnap Santa, and take over Christmas. This Halloween/Christmas mash-up is a essential viewing every year… for BOTH holidays.
Die Hard (1988)
Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho.
Die Hard. FUCKING DIE HARD. I don’t feel I need to discuss this any further.
Yippee Ki Yay.
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