Sunday, 22 December 2013

Top 5: Anti-Christmas Movies

Christmas - a time of year filled with annoying songs, good food and of course, festive films. TV schedules around this time of year are bursting with all manner of classic Christmas films, from the indelible A Wonderful Life to the more recent Yuletide favorite, Elf. All this festive cheer and cheesiness can wear thin quickly, especially after the fiftieth re-watch of Home Alone.

This got me thinking; what are the best Christmas movies that aren't Christmas movies? I mean, films that are set in and around Christmas, but not really about Christmas at all. Films you can watch at this time of year and not catch diabetes from the sugary endings and candy cane colours. There are plenty to choose from, so here is a selection of some of my favorites.

5) Lethal Weapon (1987)

Screenwriter Shane Black has something of a fetish for the festive time of year. Take Lethal Weapon for example; a buddy-cop action film set in Los Angeles which revolves around two cops (Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, if you don't already know) fighting the illegal narcotics trade.

Does this plot sound even remotely Christmassy to you? Well of course not, but that didn't stop Black from setting the movie against a festive backdrop.

Yep, interspersed between the action sequences, flying bullets and even more flyaway perms (check out Gibson on the right!), we get all manner of Christmas nods - Jingle Bell Rock, a snippet from A Christmas Carol etc:)

As a result, you've got the perfect kick-ass action movie to watch on Boxing Day (eating the left over turkey) without feeling like a total Scrooge.

For more Shane Black movies that are set at Christmas, check out 2005's Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

4) Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Another director with a fondness of everything festive is the kooky Tim Burton. This dark comedy/fantasy that is set in suburban America is also set against the snow-capped backdrop of Christmas time. Tinged with gothic and German Experessionist iconography, this films themes of isolation and desperation are heightened by the fairytale Christmas setting.

Starring Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder, Burton's distinctive style is cranked-up to 11 here. The film is about a young man named Edward who is the result of a science experiment gone wrong - in place of hands, the poor kid has (you guessed it) scissors. You know, because that's going to be super-duper useful in everyday situations.

Anyway, operations health and safety concerns aside, Edward Scissorhands is a beautifully-directed Christmas movie that doesn't overdo it on the holiday season schmultz. Danny Elfman's classic score is enchanting and the kooky aesthetic captures Burton's film-making style perfectly.

3) Iron Man 3 (2013)

The most recent film to fall into the anti-Christmas movie category is another action film from director Shane Black - Iron Man 3. Released earlier this year, Black's rollicking roller-coaster of a Marvel film is again draped in Christmas tinsel, presents and snow, without ever actually being about Christmas. 

Faced with post-traumatic stress disorder after The Avengers, Tony Stark has entered a self-imposed isolation. However, it isn't long before the sinister Mandarin is on the scene to wreak havoc and bring Iron Man back into action. 

All sounds rather glum huh? Well, what else to lighten the mood than some good ol' fashioned Christmas fun? Personally, I thought that this felt really odd at the time (especially as the film came out in April) but if there is one time of year when Tony Stark would be unbearable, it would be the lavish exuberance of Christmas - the guy fits right in. I mean, just check out that massive teddy bear that Stark gifts Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow). Hilarious stuff, right there.

So just remember, if your utterly sick to death of elves, sleighs and mince pies this Christmas, there is still a Christmas movie out there for you. 

2) Batman Returns (1992)

Tim Burton strikes again in this, his sequel to 1989's Batman - a film which, if possible, is even more Burtonesque than the first. 

With Gotham City caked in snow for the Caped Crusader's battle against the villainous Penguin, Batman Returns throws in everything that screams Christmas, bordering on ridiculousness for a film that was released in June at the time. 

From the Christmas tree light ceremony being sabotaged to armies of missile-clad penguins (yep, seriously), Burton once again having a ball with the festive setting. Also, Danny Elfman's score is fantastic. 

At one point, you even expect Santa Claus to fly in on his sleigh and do battle with the Penguin over ruining the spirit of Christmas. But I think they only included that scene in the Blu-Ray special features. You know, best not overdo it. 

1) Die Hard/Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1988/1990)

Poor John McClane. The guy just can't catch a break around Christmas time can he? The first two Die Hard films are without a doubt the best anti-Christmas films ever made. 

After flying into Los Angeles on Christmas Eve, police officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) makes his way to his ex-wives office party at Nakatomi Plaza.

It's just, this is no ordinary Christmas party. McClane's wife, and all her co-workers, are about to be held hostage by villainous euro-baddie Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). It's up to McClane to stop them killing anyone and reunite with his, before Christmas Day is upon them.

Simple in premise, the original Die Hard is the perfect action movie. That you can watch it on Christmas and get away with it is even better. There are sleigh bells aplenty, the inescapable song 'Winter Wonderland' and even 'Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow' plays over the credits.

And who can forget that immortal line uttered by Hans Gruber upon finding one of his men tied up in a lift with a Santa hat on his head - "Now I have a machine gun; ho ho ho".

Without a doubt, the best anti-Christmas film of all time. Merry Christmas everyone!

What are your favoraite anti-Christmas films? How about regular holiday movies? A Nightmare Before Christmas? Jingle All the Way? Let me know in the comments section below!


  1. I think I'll go watch an action movie now, indulge my Grinch-ness haha.

    1. It is the best remedy for the excessive festive cheer this time of year! Thanks for commenting!



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