Everyone knows the Christmas classics. There’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, It’s a Wonderful Life, countless versions of A Christmas Carol, and many, many more. However, for some cinephiles, these movies just don’t suffice. Here’s a list of alternative holiday movies that just have a touch of Christmas spirit.
Trading Places was released on June 8, 1983. However, the plot of this comedic summer blockbuster actually takes place over the holiday season. This outrageous film may not deal with your typical holiday themes, however, one of the most famous scenes involves Dan Aykroyd dressed as a strung-out Santa Claus and brandishing a gun. In fact, according to Wanted in Rome, an Italian dubbed version of Trading Places airs on public TV in Italy every Christmas Eve, meaning the country has already embraced it as an unconventional holiday classic. So, there’s no time like Christmas to revisit this 1983 masterpiece.
In our humble opinion, all of the classic Christmas movies are lacking in action. Thankfully, Lethal Weapon is packed full of stunts, explosions, laughs, and, most importantly for our list, holiday spirit. Don’t believe us? Well, you’re sure to have a change of heart as soon as the opening credits roll. The first song that the film uses is “Jingle Bell Rock.” While the film’s plot has little to do with Christmas, the movie comes full circle by wrapping with a special holiday dinner.
‘Better Off Dead’
Right in line with the other movies so far, Better Off Dead is far from your typical Christmas movie. We don’t suggest you put this 1985 black comedy in the family lineup between The Santa Clause and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. However, if you have time, it’s worth re-watching this John Cusack classic. The film follows the life of Lane Myer, a high school student who, after a series of disheartening events, repeatedly tries to take his own life. While it may sound grim, the movie is filled with Christmas imagery and has a lighthearted enough ending that it won’t put a damper on your Christmas festivities.
We admit that Tina Fey’s iconic high school comedy isn’t inherently Christmas-like. However, we’d take any excuse to re-watch this outrageous film. The 2004 movie follows homeschooled Cady Heron, played by Lindsay Lohan, who gets socially adopted by a popular girl clique after transferring to a public high school. The film takes place over an entire school year, meaning there’s an absolutely hilarious Halloween party scene. However, it’s made our list for the unforgettable Winter Talent Show sequence where the four main characters perform an inappropriate dance sequence to “Jingle Bell Rock.”
‘Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone’
If you’re a Potterhead, you’ve probably been watching this 2001 film over the holidays for years. Similar to Mean Girls, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone follows school-aged children over the course of an entire school year. This means that the film, along with six others in the series, has a magical Christmas moment. So, pour yourself a glass of butterbeer and treat yourself to a holiday Harry Potter marathon. You won’t regret it!
‘Meet Me In St. Louis’
We can’t complete this list without mentioning the ultimate non-Christmassy Christmas movie: Meet Me In St. Louis. This 1944 musical follows four sisters come of age in St. Louis, just on the cusp of the 1904 World’s Fair. However, despite not having an inherently festive plot, it created one of the most famous Christmas songs of all time, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” Although its original rendition carries a far more somber tone, Judy Garland’s performance leaves no doubt that Meet Me In St. Louis is a Christmas classic.
If your usual Christmas movie lineup is just too merry and bright, American Psycho will certainly be an effective pallet cleanser. This morbidly funny horror film sees the successful and wealthy Patrick Bateman, played by Christian Bale, succumb to his increasing appetite for murder. However, you may have forgotten that the plot really starts to heat up at Bateman’s company Christmas party. If your holidays were sorely missing seeing a serial killer in reindeer ears, you may want to tune into this unforgettable 2000 classic.
In the vein of dark comedies with a seriously festive streak, you’ll want to add The Ref to your holiday lineup. This 1994 film follows a couple and their family, led by the patriarch played by Kevin Spacey, who are held hostage on Christmas Eve night. However, in a hysterical turn of events, the hostage-taker gets far too invested in the family’s personal lives. If the ridiculous plot of this film made you forget that it’s set against the backdrop of the holidays, we don’t blame you. However, you may want to revisit this film this Christmas to relive the hilarity.
‘Grumpy Old Men’
Lastly, we have the 1993 classic Grumpy Old Men. This comedy follows the rivalry of two feuding neighbors, played by Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. While the heartwarming tale is a charmer any time of year, the plot actually takes place over the holiday season. The climax of the film actually takes place on Christmas day. So, despite it not being everyone’s go-to holiday film, Grumpy Old Men just might be due for a re-watch this holiday season.