Most of the Christmas fare on television is geared towards children. After all, this holiday is pretty much for them. Some folks think that what started out as a religious event became a retail store driven stunt for parents to fork over tons of dough buying gifts for their kids. And let's not think about how stressed out poor Santa is right around Christmas - what with the billions of kids he's got to juggle on his naughty and nice lists.
Adults can enjoy the season, too. Not everyone has to be stuck in front of the television watching Dora's Christmas special or, worse, Bubble Guppies. Or, even worse than that, Miracle on 34th Street - the remake.
I've made a list of my top ten favorite Christmas movies that are (mostly) for adults. Time to break out the DVD collection or give your video rental card a workout!
If I've left yours off of the list, feel free to tell me about myself in the comments!
10. Black Christmas
Nothing says Christmas like a slasher film - especially one that was released to theaters on Christmas day!
There was a bit of ruckus about this movie when it came out. Christian groups protested the December 25th premier because they felt the movie company was trying to exploit Baby Jesus's birthday with rampant violence and murder. Other people felt that this 2006 flick was a total waste of a sequel - they believed that the 1974 original was a masterpiece of modern horror and that this remake had no plot and was basically crap.
Regardless, Black Christmas is a slasher film. A guy named Billy who has a weird disease that makes his skin yellow, has had it with his abusive family and goes on a rampage and kills them all. He gets put in the nuthouse where he breaks out right in time for Christmas. With a gore-covered Santa suit, he proceeds to make short work of some of the folks living in a sorority house.
No, there isn't a whole lot of a plot but, hey, it's a slasher flick. It could also soothe the aggravated souls of anyone who had to wait in line at the checkout at Walmart for hours buying Christmas gifts.
9. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
The National Lampoon's Vacation series, written by John Hughes of 1980s teen angst film fame, was originally National Lampoon Magazine's attempt at making a movie that could duplicate their success with Animal House. The first, Class Reunion, written by Hughes, flopped at the box office. The second, 1983's National Lampoon's Vacation, another Hughes screenplay, struck gold.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, released in 1989 with the tag line "Yule crack up," gave us the further adventures of Clark and Ellen Griswold, played by Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo. This movie is like the side-splitting Murphy's Law of holiday movies. Everything that can go wrong, and probably some things that shouldn't, does happen with hilarious consequences. Everything from a squirrel infested Christmas tree to so many lights that the local power company has to turn on an emergency generator - make this movie what could be the funniest Christmas flick of all time.
To this day, some folks who see homes with an overabundance of tacky Christmas lights will say that the family is "having a Griswold Christmas."
8. Four Christmases
Though this movie is technically a romantic comedy, which is the number one type of movie that I despise, it's worthy of inclusion on this list.
Four Christmases, released on Thanksgiving of 2008, stars Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon as a San Francisco couple who have high powered lives but are terribly unhappy. Their families, including parents played by Sissy Spacek, Robert Duvall, Jon Voight and Mary Steenburgen, are hiding secrets for this couple that each doesn't want the other to know, which is why they avoid spending Christmas with them.
Their plans to head to Fiji for Christmas get derailed and the couple is forced into spending the holiday with their divorced parents - four Christmases in one day. They end up discovering things about each other that make them question their relationship.
The ending is predictable and most critics derided the script and the acting in their reviews, but the movie did make over $118 million in box office dollars. I also believe that it is worth your time to watch.
7. Deck The Halls
Christmas is a wonderful time of year, filled with family, good vibes, great food and the most annoying neighbor on the planet. At least, according to the 2006 film Deck the Halls. This movie was a box office flop and critics hated it, which makes it an awesome movie, in my opinion.
Matthew Broderick plays a normal guy named Steve who has a wife and two kids. He loves Christmas, in fact, he's the WinterFest chairman! This Christmas, however, they've got a new neighbor named Buddy, played by Danny DeVito. Buddy is a used car salesman who ends up with the brilliant idea to use so many Christmas lights on his home that it will be visible from space. That doesn't sit well with Steve, but it turns out to be the least of his worries.
There is a lot of predictable humor in this movie. The plot is so-so, but Broderick, DeVito and their supporting cast do make it worthy of watching. If you've ever wanted to see Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito naked in the same sleeping bag, here's your chance!
6. The Ref
The Ref, a 1994 movie that is set at Christmastime, is another movie that bombed at the box office. It is, however, full of dark comedy and action and amazing performances by the lead actors.
A thief named Gus (Dennis Leary) gets a whole lot more than he bargained for when he kidnaps a married couple that can't stop bickering (Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis). After multiple weird turns of events, Gus begins to pose as a marriage referee because folks keep visiting the house (it's Christmas Eve) and he can't tie everybody up.
Meanwhile, there is a manhunt out for Gus. His time as a free man may be limited.
The problem is that the couple just cannot stop arguing. Gus finds a way to make them see alternate points of view and they end up realizing things that they never knew about themselves.
With the added bonuses of a blackmail plot, a stolen Santa suit and a madcap race to a getaway boat, this movie managed to be more of a good time that its box office and critical receptions would imply. There just aren't any bad movies with Dennis Leary in them!
(No BluRay link because the movie hasn't been released in that format yet.)
5. Die Hard
Die Hard, first released in 1988, is arguably one of the best action movies of all time. It is on this list because it is set during the Christmas holiday and makes a great alternative to some of the more traditional Christmas fare.
It's Christmas Eve and NYPD cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) wants to repair his relationship with his estranged wife. So he heads to LA to see her. Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), a terrorist/thief mastermind, has other plans and occupies McClane's wife's place of business to steal $640 million worth of bonds. A standoff of epic proportions ensues, with McClane the only man on the inside that can help the situation.
This movie has plenty of Bruce Willis's characteristic one-liners (Yippee-ki-yay... you know the rest of it!) and enough action to make most of the other movies in the genre look lame by comparison. After all, it was filmed before EVERYTHING became computer generated. The cast is amazing, rounded out by Bonnie Bedelia as McClane's long-suffering wife and Reginald VelJohnson as the only cop on the outside that has any faith in McClane.
The film has spawned four sequels, the last of which, A Good Day To Die Hard, will be released in 2013.
4. The Nightmare Before Christmas
In my opinion, this is one of the greatest animated movies of all time. It's a 1993 movie by Tim Burton, of Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and Sleepy Hollow fame, among others. He's known for his twisted imagery and dark, crazy themes and The Nightmare Before Christmas doesn't disappoint.
Jack Skellington, also known as the Pumpkin King, lives in Halloween Town. He's led the Halloween celebrations for years, but gets tired of the same old same old. He manages to open a portal to Christmas Town and decides he wants Santa's job. Sally, who really likes Jack, doesn't think that his plan is a good one and, indeed, Jack's gifts of shrunken heads to all the good little boys and girls are a disaster.
The Nightmare Before Christmas grossed over $70 million at the box office, and is still released yearly in theaters with a 3D version. This film is still popular after all these years and isn't only watched around Christmas.
Scrooged is a 1983 twist on the Charles Dickens Classic A Christmas Carol. In the original, Ebeneezer Scrooge is visited by three ghosts, Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future to show the rich, cranky old man what will happen to him if he doesn't change his ways.
In Scrooged, the Scrooge character's name is Frank Cross (played by Bill Murray) who is a successful yet cynical, uncaring and downright rude TV executive. Of course, he's visited by the three ghosts who do attempt to show him the error of his ways.
The film is all about Cross's awakening, but managed to be hilarious also. Not too many movies would have Carol Kane popping the main character in the face with a toaster. That alone makes the film worth a watch!
2. It's A Wonderful Life
Yeah, this one is ubiquitous during the holidays and no, it really doesn't fit in with the rest of this f-bomb dropping, kidnapping, alcohol filled list. I know it. But this movie is one that I think everyone should see at least once during their lifetime.
It's A Wonderful Life, originally released in 1946, is one of the few films from that era that could still be considered relevant. It also stars Jimmy Stewart, my favorite actor of all time.
George Bailey has given up his dreams and aspirations his whole life so that others could do the things that they wanted to do. He's always wanted to travel the world but gets stuck running the Bailey Building and Loan Association instead. A terrible thing happens that causes George to get drunk, wreck his car and then contemplate suicide by jumping off of a bridge. He wishes he were never born. Fortunately, George has a guardian angel, who has been tasked with setting George right so that he can earn his wings - he shows George what life for the people he loves would have been like had he never been born.
This flick is a tearjerker, but it shows us that we can't always define our lives by our current situations. And we may not measure success the way we should. In his goodbye letter, the guardian angel tells George "Remember no man is a failure who has friends."
1. Bad Santa
Billy Bob Thornton plays a mall Santa. "He doesn't care if you're naughty or nice." This can't be good.
With prolific uses of f-bombs and alcohol Thornton's character, Willie, is not only a mall Santa, he's also a thief - robbing the malls where he works after hours. His best friend and co-worker (and co-thief) is a vertically challenged guy named Marcus, who is an elf to Willie's Santa.
Add in a bullied kid, a very angry mall cop named Gin (played to the hilt by Bernie Mac) a love interest, and one of the craziest, unbelievable yet totally believable plots in the history of history, and you have yourself a great holiday movie.
This 2003 flick isn't for everyone, although it is my favorite Christmas movie. It is as violent, vulgar and depressing as it is hilarious. I personally recommend the uncut version, called Badder Santa.
Good news - there WILL be a sequel!
Bad Santa Official Movie Trailer
There are obviously tons of movies that didn't make this list. Some of them are not actually Christmas movies, but take place around Christmas. So, if you're in the not-for-kids Christmas movie spirit and want a few other films to make a marathon, here are three more.
- The Holiday - I don't dig chick flicks, but this one rocks. Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet trade homes for the holiday and end up finding something they never thought they would.
- Gremlins - The first one is set at Christmas time. Gizmo the Mogwai ends up kicking off a catastrophe that could become an Extinction Level Event for humans!
- Elf - I'm not a fan of Will Ferrell for about a million reasons, but this is one of his movies that I'll actually watch over and over.
If I've left your favorite films off the list and you want to take me to task for it, by all means - comment away! :)
Tim from Los Angeles, CA on December 18, 2012:
The Ref should be Numero Uno, Come on now! lol. just joking around. Cool list. How did I miss "Deck The Halls'? I thought I've heard of or seen every Danny Devito film there was. Guess I'll have to look that one up.
Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on December 16, 2012:
I heard about Bad Santa, but I haven't seen it. It sounds interesting. My fav from this list would be Die Hard! Yippee Ki Yay!
Cynthia B Turner from Georgia on December 16, 2012:
I enjoyed reading your picks. Die Hard and National Lampoon Christmas Vacation are definitely two of my choices. I would also add A Christmas Story. That always seems like one adults might like more than children. All that nostalgia.
Thanks for a look at your choices.
Alecia Murphy from Wilmington, North Carolina on December 16, 2012:
You have a little bit of everything which is great. I've only see Die Hard and It's A Wonderful Life but if I get a chance, I'll give the others a try. Voted up!
Trish89 on December 04, 2012:
Love Christmas Vacation and Bad Santa, so funny!
Music-and-Art-45 from USA, Illinois on November 28, 2012:
I think Bad Santa is my favorite Christmas movie too, along with The Nightmare Before Christmas. Great hub voting up/sharing.
Appsthatpayyou from London on November 13, 2012:
A really fun hub, thatnks for the tips.
GH Price (author) from North Florida on November 13, 2012:
The Jim Carey Grinch movie is on my list for kids! :)
Glimmer Twin Fan,
When I wrote this, I looked at Die Hard and actually sang "One of these things is not like the others!"
Thank you for the comments!
Claudia Mitchell on November 13, 2012:
Boy this is bad...I've only seen 2 of these and one is my all time favorite Christmas Movie. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. It's a must in our house. Never considered Die Hard in the category, but it definitely fits! Good hub!
Pete from Ontario, Canada on November 12, 2012:
As a Jim Carrey lookalike, I have to insist that you include How The Grinch Stole Christmas on your list. Although it's based on the Dr Seuss children's book, there are so many lines in the movie that kids miss and are intended for adults to grasp onto. We watch it every year when we are putting our tree up...
GH Price (author) from North Florida on October 30, 2012:
:P is all I have to say!
It's A Wonderful Life is one of the few holiday movies that I'll watch any time of year. I absolutely adore James Stewart and watching him on screen is one of my favorite things!
Christmas movies for kids are all over the place, but the grown up ones are hard to come by. I hope you enjoy the ones you haven't seen!
The Nightmare Before Christmas is another of my all-time favorite flicks. I like it because it's dark and not festive at all. But, then again, I adore Tim Burton!
Thank you! I hope you liked some of them!
Haven't seen them, guilty! Maybe YOU should write about Holiday Horror films! ;)
I'm working on a list for kids, and it's definitely there!
If I have seen Trapped In Paradise, I don't remember it. I'll have to look into it!
I don't think I'd like an edited version of The Nightmare Before Christmas, and I'll fight ya for Bruce Willis! ;)
I love all the National Lampoon movies, seriously! And good luck with the onslaught!
You were the second to add A Christmas Story! It's on my list for kids, I promise!
I do dig watching non-holiday movies. I should start a Lord of the Ringa-a-thon tradition!
I've never heard of P2, but I will look into it!
Thank you all for the comments. I am sorry that I've gotten lax in replying, but your thoughts and words mean a lot to me!
Angela Kane from Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2012:
Great hub, my favorite Christmas movies are Home Alone and Die Hard. I watch them every year during the holidays. I also like the horror films including Gremlins, Black Christmas and more recently the movie P2.
Will Apse on October 16, 2012:
I get all Alfred Hitchcock at Christmas. I know there is no yuletide spirit in any of them but I can't help it. I want old, dependable solid movie making.
So out goes Lenonardo Di Caprio, in comes Cary Grant. lol
mejohnson on October 15, 2012:
Every Xmas I watch Elf, The Holiday & National Lampoon's. These are a must for my holiday cheer, especially A Christmas Story. That is one movie I'd add to your list.
Kathy Sima from Ontario, Canada on October 15, 2012:
This is a great list! I don't know how many times I've seen National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, but it still makes me laugh. There's a few of these I haven't seen yet. Thanks for giving me some options to consider when the onslaught of Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer get to be too much to handle!
Karen Silverman on October 15, 2012:
I'll take Bruce Willis all day long, thanks! Just put him in my stocking - and i'm good...lol
Hey - just heard huge breaking news: The Night Before Christmas has deleted Santa's Pipe - and all references to it!
Thank god is all i have to say - it's done damage to generations of kids to date..
UltimateMovieRankings from Virginia on October 15, 2012:
Excellent list on Xmas movies....glad to see you mention The Ref...as that one is one of my favorites. Another one that did not make your list that I like although I acknowledge is pretty bad is...Trapped in Paradise....I liked Nicolas Cage in the movie and the story....Jon Lovitz is ok....but Dana Carvey is painful to watch in that movie....voted up and fun to read.
TommyGuns from Blakeslee, PA on October 14, 2012:
I cannot believe that a Christmas Story has not been mentioned yet, " you'll shoot your eye out"
Keith Abt from The Garden State on October 14, 2012:
No mention of the "Silent Night, Deadly Night" series of Yuletide slasher flicks? I'm surprised!!
Martin Kloess from San Francisco on October 14, 2012:
Thank you for sharing your Christmas movie picks with us.
flashmakeit from usa on October 14, 2012:
I think I may watch The Nightmare Before Christmas since you believe it is one of the greatest animated movies of all time.
CZCZCZ from Oregon on October 14, 2012:
Excellent list too often the Christmas movie lists are for kid focused movies, this was great to read through. A few of my favorites and a couple that I will have to put on the list of movies to put in the Netflix queue.
mjkearn on October 14, 2012:
Was going to take you to task as you asked but then you mentioned one of my two must see or it's not xmas films.
I may be sad and you know I'm touched but "It's a wonderful life" and "White Christmas" are my favs and just in case they're not scheduled I've got the DVD's.
Scrooged is great too especially the bit when Bill wants to staple Antlers to the mice or is it squirrels.
Thoroughly enjoyed this. Voted up, ticked and shared.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 14, 2012:
Because I like you, I will ignore your choice of #1....we are all entitled to mistakes. LOL Good list Georgie.