“Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” – some kid from It’s a Wonderful Life.
Boooo. Hisss. Never mind the fact that the kid is assuming all angels are male (I’ve met a few female ones…and watched that Victoria’s Secret show to know different), but not all Christmas movies are about good tidings and peace on Earth. Some are a little bit more about the foot in face or anger management.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a place for fantastic seasonal films that are played every year to help you get into the spirit and remember your childhood (which would suck if you had a bad childhood). I’m talking about Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, Elf, et cetera, et cetera… But we don’t all like the same things, and there are some damn good movie alternatives to get you in a different festive mood. Here’s six of the best:
Die Hard (1988) – Probably my favourite kick-ass Christmas of all time. Spawning three sequels (and soon a fourth), all at varying degrees of goodness, this movie will definitely get you in the holiday mood. John McClane (Bruce Willis) visits his estranged wife and during her work’s Christmas party, terrorists, led by the amazing Alan Rickman, wreck havoc for the holidays.
Gifts to you: decades of “everyman vs. Impossible odds” stories, Christmas in Hollis by Run-D.M.C.
Gremlins (1984) – if you’re going to get your teenage son a Christmas present, try not to make it one with a list of rules that, if not followed, could end with a bunch of people getting killed. That’s just bad parenting and poor life choices. Though it’s not littered with many recognizable faces (besides Phoebe Cates of Fast Times at Ridgemont High), this movie stood out for how different it was: a horror movie disguised as a family flick. I don’t say that in a bad way.
Gift to you: a mixed desire to buy a Mogwai
Lethal Weapon (1987) – probably didn’t realize this was a holiday movie, did you? But yes, it was during the Christmas season that suicidal cop Riggs (Mel Gibson) teamed up with his “too old for this s#!t” partner Murtaugh (Danny Glover) to take down drug smugglers. It redefined the “buddy cop” movie and made Gibson a superstar (for at least a little while).
Gift to you: Mel Gibson’s hair.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) – every once in a while modern film-making does film noir well. Great dialogue, murder, mystery and a betrayal or two. There aren’t many that can do it as well as they did in the 50s but sometimes, just sometimes…you get Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. The trailer highlights the great chemistry between Robert Downy Jr and Val Kilmer, which just makes an already great script, better. And throw in some “merry merry” with all those bullets.
Gift to you: a desire to have Val Kilmer back.
The Ref (1994) – A burglar takes a less than happy (bit of an exaggeration) couple hostage during the holidays and ends up as their marriage ref (no relation to the terrible, and cancelled TV show) Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis have a lot of fun with this, really digging into the bitterness of a marriage where both people know exactly the buttons to push. Denis Leary, he’s just trying to stay sane. You’ll laugh.
Gift to you: a re-examination of your current relationship
Enemy of the State (1998) – I couldn’t believe this movie is 14 years old. It stands up pretty well. A pseudo-sequel to The Conversation, this film finds a lawyer (Will Smith) getting waaaaaaay out of his league as he’s caught up in a corrupt politician’s scheming. Probably one of the first movies to really show surveillance technology as a weapon, which seems pretty common place even in TV now a days. All Will Smith wanted to do was buy a gift for his wife, and we end up getting a pretty fun and slick kick-ass hoiday film.
Gift to you: paranoia
What’s your favourite Christmas movie, kickass or other wise?