What do Elf, Jingle All The Way, It's A Wonderful Life, Home Alone, Miracle on 34th Street and White Christmas all have in common? They are all Christmas films that echo traditional holiday themes, is predominately set during Christmas AND that the main plot-line of the story is about or around Christmas itself. Whether that involves family jetting off on Christmas, only to leave their son home alone (Home Alone), trying to get hold of the latest and hottest toy (Jingle All The Way) or a guardian angel trying to talk his way to preventing a suicidal man from killing himself (It's A Wonderful Life), these films are considered by many people as real, traditonal and proper Christmas movies.
But what about films with plots that essentially aren't actually about and have nothing to do with Christmas, but are set during Christmas Eve or day? Films that contain good verses evil and good triumphing in the end? Well I'll say to that is there is a place for them as well.
The following has to meet the requirements: a) it must not be completely festive and Christmas-y in tone and b) that it can be easily enjoyed and appreciated over the holiday period by anyone and everyone. But for the R-rated efforts that is.
I know some of these are not considered, or even accepted in the view of many people as 'traditional' Christmas films, because they promote violence, bloodshed, bad language and things unsuitable for family viewing. Christmas in general is a time for families coming together and so forth, but Christmas films for me is a completely different entity.
Writing off Trading Places, Die Hard, Batman Returns and Hook as Christmas films just because they don't have a proper Santa, reindeer, elves etc, is harsh. I believe these films, which are set during or around Christmas are as much festive as Miracle on 34th Street, Elf, Jingle All The Way and other films that are predominately about Christmas.
I think people's own perception of what Christmas movies and films should be like, a lot of it has to do with Christmas being a religious holiday, i.e. a Christian holiday. But there are many people like myself, who aren't Christians, yet who still enjoy the festive and holiday spirit and Christmas (or be it Xmas) itself and by spending it with our loved ones and appreciating what we have that has nothing to do with money, as well as religion.
Therefore, the films I've selected here aren't just films that I personally enjoy watching over the festivities and any time in general, these are films which resonate with me when it comes to Christmas and the holidays and ones that aren't necessarily all about having Santa, reindeer and a Christmas tree shoved in our faces all of the time.
So without further ado here are my 8 chosen so-called non- Christmas-y films that I'd watch over the festive period:
Die Hard (1988) - John McClane, officer of the NYPD tries to save his wife and several others that are taken hostage by a German terrorist, Hans Gruber during a Christmas party. Perhaps only bettered by the sequel, and that's by an inch, Die Hard is a rip-roaring, testosterone ride spearheaded by Bruce Willis and fuelled by the late Alan Rickman.
Die Hard 2 - Die Harder (1990) - in this sequel, John McClane attempts to avert disaster at an airport and air plane with yet another set of terrorists on board to ruin the fun and festivities. Cue the famous ''Yipee-Kai-Yay Mother F***er'' line uttered by John as he sets the plane on fire by lighting a match on the runway. Action-wise, this is upped to the max and it still manages to retain the feeling and thrill of the first film.
Hook (1991) - with Steven Spielberg at the director's helm, big-name cast of 1990s cinema (ala Robin Williams, Julia Roberts, Dustin Hoffman, Bob Hoskins), action and fun all-round, this big budget grown-up version of the Peter Pan tale is worth watching for the whole family
Batman Returns (1992) - Tim Burton's darker take on the Batman franchise sees the follow-up to the first film, which is also directed by Burton himself and the return of Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman going up against Michelle Phieffer as Selena Kyle aka Catwoman and Danny Devito as a scary looking Penguin. A lot of people don't like this film because it is just too dark, but I'd still take this over the drivel that is Batman and Robin
Trading Places (1983) - comedy starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Ackroyd, this is absolutely hilarious. Great comedy, one-liners and scenes, the performances are out of this world and where else will you see a big Black guy going ''Yeah!'' numerous times in one film? No where, that's what. John Landis hit it out of the park and as a result, it remains a comedy classic, through and through.
Gremlins (1984) - Mogwai are like little toys that you discover as you open your present as a child during Christmas and you see this fluffy, cute little creature with a face named Gizmo that can make your heart melt. But feed them after midnight, get them wet and things will take an even grisly turn for the worst. Dark comedy with horror elements laced, despite the sight of Gizmo, this is still not a movie to recommend for children under 10 years of age. Other than that, it is a fun scare-fest.
Lethal Weapon (1987) - buddy cop action thriller and one that established the onscreen duo of Roger Murtagh and Martin Riggs played by Danny Glover and Mel Gibson. Known for its humour and action scenes, this first film also takes place during the holiday period.
The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) - this action flick is so good that despite being savaged by critics, it has gone on to become a cult classic. The action is hectic and the film has some good moments. Set during Christmas time, a mother wakes up from Amnesia only to discover she is an assassin. With a script penned by Shane Knight who did Lethal Weapon, The Long Kiss Goodnight does echo its fun element and is worth recommending to fans of Lethal Weapon and action movies in general.
Ghostbusters 2 (1989) - this film gets a lot of bashing, but this is one of a number of sequels that I enjoy. Breaking box office records, despite the negative reviews, it combines the feel-good vibes of the first film with holiday-based themes