Well it’s that time of the year when we throw caution to the wind. We eat, drink, spend too much but with all the hectic schedules we have to set some time aside to take in a film that helps us remember what the spirit of the holiday is all about. This list has nothing to do with that. While I love Christmas, I also like the off kilter look at the holiday. Here are some films that while some have the Christmas spirit some are really high on the naughty list.
Nothing say’s Christmas like kidnapping your ex-wife and blowing up a building. Die Hard is overflowing with the holiday as a back drop but there most certainly no visions of sugar plums dancing in your head. Bruce Willis comes to LA from NY to visit his kids and ex-wife. He gets caught in an elaborate heist to steal bonds. For me using Christmas tape to hide you gun on your back from the bad guys is the best present in the movie.
Joe Dante has never had trouble mixing genre’s in his films but, Gremlins is the perfect blend of holiday cheer and horror that you will ever see. It’s all sweet and cute when you first see Gizmo the Mogwai then all hell breaks loose when the rules are not followed. The real “sweet” moment of the film is when Phoebe Cates tells the story of how her father dressed up as Santa and tried to get down the chimney and died when he breaks his neck.
Who would have thought that WWII and Christmas would be a great match. Well Steven Spielberg sure did along with Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale bring us the loosely based on fact based story of a Japanese sub spotted off the coast of California. Set smack dab in the middle of December there are plenty of holiday references especially during the riots on Hollywood Boulevard. Of course hanging a Christmas wreath on the anti aircraft gun is a nice touch too.
Now here is the movie that redefines naughty. Billy Bob Thornton plays one of the worst mall Santa’s to ever grace the silver screen. The plan is to work as Santa during the day had rob the mall at night. Who would ever think that Santa would be behind this? What makes this movie so great is that is pulls no punches. Just when you thought you have seen it all it goes even farther. This is black comedy lovers delight.
There have been many retellings of A Christmas Carol but none took the dark tone better than this. Bill Murray is a ruthless television producer who is putting on a live production of A Christmas Carol and will stoop to the lowest level to get it done his way. My favorite line is when the prop master is explaining that the antlers are not staying on the mice’s heads and Murray say’s “Have you tried stapling them on?”
A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas
A newer entry on the naughty list. While not as good as Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle this more than makes up for the really bad Guantanamo Bay second film. This has all of the elements of classic holiday fare. A coked up baby, a gigantic rage crazed city smashing snowman (in stop motion animation no less) and naked nun’s. While still hit and miss it’s still better than a shotgun blast to the face like Santa gets in the movie.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
This film is great because after you watch it for Halloween you get to spin it up again for the Christmas holiday. It combines the two best holidays into one film. While this film is not necessarily naughty it’s does have a dark side to the Christmas part with the awesome toys that Jack delivers. Who wouldn’t want a vampire teddy bear.
Now this is how you decorate you lawn for Christmas by beating the crap out of the bad guy on it. Richard Donner and Shane Black bring the buddy cop genre back and sprinkle it with holiday cheer. The most important lesson that we learn form the film is that eggnog and lead do not make a good drink.
While the first Batman film is good the sequel really lets Tim Burton loose. Burton has a real knack for a skewed version of Christmas than most people. With the holiday as a backdrop Batman must save Christmas from The Penguin and Catwoman. I wish that I could go to a Christmas tree lighting that exploded with bats, now that would make for one great news story.
It’s a tale of the rich VS the poor and who will come out on top. While the film does not take place entirely in the Christmas holiday but at that point in the film is when Dan Aykroyd’s rich to poor character hits rock bottom and is a drunk crazed filthy Santa. When he eats with the beard on is classic.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
This one sneaks in because the story takes place during the holidays. For the few of us that have seen this film it was Kiss Kiss Bang Bang that was the real resurgence of Robert Downey Jr’s career. Long before Iron Man, Shane Black of Lethal Weapon writing fame made is directorial debut with his smart and snappy script. The chemistry between Downey and Val Kilmer is the real gift that we get form this film.
Tim Burton makes a third appearance on the list. While the Christmas theme doesn’t popup until the last act of the film but it really is a key ingredient that make the film so wonderful. Who wouldn’t want one of Edward’s tree or ice sculptures on there front lawn for the holidays?