Top Ten Christmas Movies For Adults
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
Which of these is your favorite Christmas movie?
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! :)