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It seems like everyone wants to start an all-out Facebook debate when “Die Hard” doesn’t make the list as a Christmas movie. I understand. You want to be cool and different and add this awesome movie to the list of classic holiday films. It’s a great movie. I get it.
What people don’t understand is “Die Hard,” while being a movie that takes place during Christmas, makes the list of non-traditional holiday movies. Most traditional holiday movies revolve around the subjects of Santa, elves, holiday spirit and spending Christmas with the family – they solely depend on the concept and spirit of Christmas for the movie to work.
Non-traditional holiday movies have a plot centered around something non-Christmas related, such as a drug heist or a villain destroying the world. Non-traditional Christmas movies just happen to take place during the time of festive lights, snow and Christmas trees. If the movie was not set during Christmas, the movie would still have the same plot.
With this being said, there’s more to the list than just the classic Bruce Willis flick. Here’s a list of classic, non-traditional holiday movies.
1. “Edward Scissorhands”
This is my favorite movie to watch around Christmas. The classic Tim Burton film is about an outsider who joins a family, even though he is pretty much Frankenstein’s Monster. This film captures the spirit many feel during the holidays –loneliness and isolation. Though the movie doesn’t have the Christmas theme throughout the film, the movie ends with Kim (Winona Ryder) frolicking in the snow created by Edward’s ice carvings.
2. “Batman Returns”
This movie didn’t make the list because of the song “Jingle Bells, Batman smells, robin laid an egg” (BTW, there’s a lot more to that song than that verse). “Batman Returns” made the list because Tim Burton (yes, another Tim Burton movie) fills the dreary city of Gotham with Christmas cheer and has an all-star cast. In this movie, you have Max Schrek played by Christopher ‘Walken in a winter wonderland,’ the Penguin in snow and the Ice Princess – I don’t think a Batman movie can get much more Christmasy. Oh yeah, and ya know, Michael Keaton.
3. “Trading Places”
This movie centers around a bet made between two rich men who decide to switch the lives of a common street hustler (Eddie Murphy) and a well-off businessman (Dan Aykroyd). Murphy and Aykroyd switch positions in society and Murphy rises to the top while Aykroyd sinks lower and lower. The scene that sticks out to probably everyone who has seen this movie is when Aykroyd crashes his former work’s Christmas party dressed as Santa and drunkenly stuffs food in his suit and eats it on the bus.
4. “Lethal Weapon”
The buddy cop movie starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover ranks pretty high in my list for Christmas movies not only because the film opens with “Jingle Bell Rock,” but there’s a drug bust in a Christmas tree lot. The movie also ends with the single Gibson going to Glover’s house for a family Christmas dinner, exhibiting the qualities of friendship and family. Hookers, drugs and explosions?! What a way to spend the holidays.
5. “Die Hard”
This is probably the movie you were waiting to see on the list. The Bruce Willis action movie takes place during Christmas, and tackles the topics of greed, redemption and family – this is why it made the list. Not to mention Hans Gruber is pretty much The Grinch, and John McClane’s most famous scene from the movie is where he is climbing through the elevator and air shaft (Santa coming through the chimney, anyone?). Everyone remembers the line “I have a machine gun, ho-ho-ho.”
This is the ultimate Christmas movie because it’s cheesy and the plot centers around a Christmas gift gone wrong because someone was too stubborn to read the instructions. Once a Mogwai is exposed water, it multiples and makes numerous evil Gremlins that destroy the town, and it’s up to the kids to save the day. If that’s not Christmasy enough, Kate recalls why she hates Christmas; her dad was pretending to be Santa Claus and got stuck in the chimney and died. There’s snow, Christmas trees and horror – I think everyone can relate to that during the holidays.
7. “Just Friends”
This romantic comedy is great to watch any time of the year, but it really hits home around Christmastime. Chris (Ryan Reynolds) is forced to go back to his hometown and sees his old BFF and former crush (Jamie) and is forced to deal with his unresolved feelings for her. He also brings along his pseudo-girlfriend Samantha (Anna Faris) who steals the show as the ditsy stage-5-clinger. “Just Friends” encompasses the awkwardness of going home for the holidays and seeing those friends you just want to forget.
8. “You’ve Got Mail”
This classic rom-com probably wouldn’t hit home with the younger generation, seeing as the main characters, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, are communicating via email on AOL. But at the same time, it does because we live in a world that relies on online dating apps. Meg Ryan, a local bookstore owner, doesn’t realize she’s communicating and falling for her online pen pal, Tom Hanks, who is also her business rival. The film takes place around Christmastime, and it gives you the warm fuzzy feeling of Christmas in a warm and festive book store.
Christmas in New York is truly magical. In this romantic comedy (yes, another one) John Cusack and Kate Beckindale fall in love one night while out to purchase Christmas gifts, and only fate can bring them back together. This film is for the hopeless romantic to watch during the holiday season because not only is New York beautiful, but they secretly hope it will happen to them. Oh and the ice skating.
10. “Bridget Jones’ Diary”
This movie has the most iconic ugly Christmas sweater scene of all time. There’s kissing in the snow, Christmas parties and Mr. Darcy aka Colin Firth (yeah, the guy from “Love Actually”). The story follows Bridget (Renee Zellweger), the awkward 30-something that doesn’t have her life together. Most of us can relate to this movie as we sit on the couch eating an entire box of chocolates.
Also published on Medium.