For all of us who have nothing against Christmas, but aren’t so much into the whole spirit of things (for whatever reason!) it can be pretty daunting to have to sit at a Christmas dinner, listen to a lot of Yuletide favorites, and gather together for the 100th showing of It’s a Wonderful Life (a great movie by the way!).
So what are we to do?
Well, I’ve managed to skip the dinners, but when the Christmasy feeling permeates through everything I hear and see, I have my own way of getting my shot of Christmas without falling head long into the mush. I use my list of Holiday movies and television shows.
So for all you outcasts who want to say that at least you played a little part in the big party, here is my Christmas holiday entertainment list in no particular order of enjoyability. See if yours matches mine.
1. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Tim Burton’s vision of Christmas is as weirdly wicked as any I’ve ever seen, without disrespecting the spirit of the party. Jack, The King of Halloween, only wanted to be part of the happiness that was Christmas when he decided to kidnap Santa Claus and deliver the joy for one night. He soon learns that each one has their own part in life to play, but that that doesn’t make one part lesser or greater than another. This is a fun movie with beautiful animation and music to please both kids and adults.
2. Die Hard 2
Yes, Die Hard 2 is a Christmas movie!!! It’s set at Christmas time, there is snow, and a lot of Christmas Trees. There are also a lot of explosions and deaths. Bruce Willis is back to kick butt and make an hour and a half of your life pass by without much incident. Had enough of Miracle on 34th Street? Then pop this beauty in and have fun. Drink a beer (as I am now) and realize that in life good guys may come last, but in Hollywood everything turns out just fine in the end. Yippie Ki Yay …
3. Anything with The Muppets
If I have to go full Christmasy at least let me do it with The Muppets. They have a few very good (though not stellar) Christmas specials, but A Muppet Christmas Carol has always stood out as their best take on the holidays. They take Dickens and turn him on his head with a lot of fun gags. It’s certainly more entertaining than singing along to Elvis or Nat King Cole by the fireplace while pretending you didn’t curse that friend or family member out about two months ago.
4. Eyes Wide Shut
Stanely Kubric’s last complete film is as strange as its title. Most people either think it’s a masterpiece or a bunch of nothing. I happen to love the film, and it’s set in (you guessed it) Christmas time! So perhaps this is one for the more solitary non-Christmas lovers. Pop it in and figure out exactly what the hell is going on with Tom Cruise as he wanders the nights after a chilling confession from his wife. “It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas” especially when you crash a party where the guests are willing to kill you for the intrusion.
5. Ernest Saves Christmas
This is about as dumb of a movie as you can find that is still able to make you laugh and just go along with the ride. Ernest was a big hit in his time, but now he’s mostly forgotten. Take out this old jewel from your old VHS stack, or download it from the net, and have yourself a dumbifying Christmas.
6. Batman Returns
One of my favorite holiday movies, and another Tim Burton vehicle. Batman is nasty and doesn’t play around as he tries to keep Gotham safe for the holidays. The film includes a horridly devilish Penguin and a tantalizing Catwoman, kidnapped children, bandits who sabotage a Christmas tree lighting, and Batman that kills unremorsefully – if that doesn’t put you in the holiday spirit what will? Mr. Burton’s direction and visual touch, along with Danny Elfman’s haunting score, has made sure this movie stands up to the test of time and Christopher Nolan.
7. White Christmas – Black Mirror
A new entry to my list, this episode of Black Mirror marks the end of the show´s original run on British television. It is a slow burner and Christmas themes abound as we go for a journey into one man´s head through another man´s eyes. The yuletide themes are muted but loom large in the background of this story of love, revenge, and desperation. Christmas never felt so lonely.
8. Doctor Who Christmas Specials
While it did take me some time to warm up to the new versions of Doctor Who, I eventually got into the new rhythm of the show. One of its best features are the traditional Christmas specials. These specials can go from tongue and cheek to downright scary – but they nearly always please. They also give us a little touch of the Doctor so that the wait for the next season doesn´t feel so very long.
9. South Park Christmas Episodes
Anything involving South Park, Christmas, turds, Jesus, Jews and the Devil is an instant classic. I am sure episodes will be shown on whatever station carries South Park nowadays. If you can’t find one, download it from the net. Keep the spirits light with a little acidic comedy. Just don’t watch these with anyone who doesn’t have a thick skin.
10. The X-Files – How The Ghosts Stole Christmas
The X-Files usually added a little Christmas touch to their episodes running in December. How The Ghosts Stole Christmas is probably the best of the bunch. There are the usual X-Files weirdness, bumps and scares, and Mulder and Scully chemistry, but what makes it truly special are Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin´s great guest appearance. This is a fun episode for both X-Files fans and those who are not familiar with the series.
Well there you have it. My little list to keep the season bright.
I know I probably skipped your favourite off-kilter Christmas movies and shows – Home Alone and A Christmas Story probably being the most notable misses. So let me know in the comments section what TV or Cinema entertainment get you into the holiday spirit.
P. Ray (2011 – update 2015 – update 2016)
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