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Top 5 Christmas movies not about Christmas

Need something to watch while wrapping gifts tonight? Check out these 5 films that may be a little more naughty than nice.


Posted December 23, 2013 by Brian Watanabe

Diehard PosterFighting over mall parking? Done. Bulk gift card buying? Over. Your credit card bill? Don’t even think about it.

It’s time to kick-back, have an adult beverage and wrap some gifts by the tree while watching your favorite holiday movie. And while stop-motion reindeer or Will Ferrell shotgunning maple syrup are totally acceptable viewing choices, why not Netflix/stream/illegally download a film set during Christmas but not about Christmas? So let’s get into the spirit of the season but also get into some adult language, adult situations and brief nudity with these not-so-holiday, holiday classics.

5. Gremlins
Executive produced by Steven Spielberg, 1984’s “Gremlins” is the ultimate story of a Christmas gift gone wrong. This film has it all: the adorable mogwai, Gizmo. The even more adorable Phoebe Cates (“Fast Times at Ridgemont High”). Corey Feldman. And it answers that age-old question, “What would happen if I heated up a small animal in a microwave?”

4. Lethal Weapon
In 1987, director Richard Donner (“The Goonies”) brought us the original buddy cop movie, “Lethal Weapon.” Starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, this film is filled with holiday spirit… as well as drug use, suicide and a gunfight in a Christmas tree lot. Shane Black, the film’s pulp inspired screenwriter, is known for setting his films during Christmas, including three other two-fisted action films, “The Long Kiss Goodnight” (with Geena Davis and Sam Jackson), “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and “Iron Man 3.”

3. Serendipity
This may cost me my man card, but when it comes to holiday romantic comedies, 2001’s “Serendipity” is my personal guilty pleasure. Is it full of plot holes and romantic comedy clichés? Yes and yes. But romantic comedies are all about casting and chemistry (just ask Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks) and there are few more likeable stars than John Cusack (Generation X’s most loved everyman) and Kate Beckinsale (whoa). And in the opinion of a former New Yorker, the Big Apple looks aptly magical in a supporting role. Now some may slot “Love Actually” in this spot, but that film is just a wee bit too saccharine for my tastes. I prefer my rom-coms with a little cheese.

2. Trading Places
One of the best, fish-out-of-water, comedies of all time, 1983’s “Trading Places” is a gift to movie-lovers. It features an all-star cast and crew: Director John Landis (“Animal House”), Dan Aykroyd (“Ghostbusters”), Eddie Murphy (“Beverly Hills Cop”) entering his creative peak, and a pre-Activia Jamie Lee Curtis, who gave every pre-teen boy in the 80’s one heck of a Christmas surprise.

1. Die Hard
For any guy, this one’s a no-brainer. 1988’s “Die Hard” is the ultimate Christmas movie. Bruce Willis as John McClane. Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber. Nakatomi Plaza. Bloody feet and Twinkies. This film redefined the action genre and is the perfect film to end another season of holiday madness. Santa would approve.

Merry Christmas Bonus: The Star Wars Holiday Special
This isn’t a full-length film, but as a “Star Wars” nerd, I couldn’t resist. For those not in the know, in 1978, CBS aired “The Star Wars Holiday Special.” It was remarkable in that it starred the original cast (Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher) and introduced the character of “Boba Fett.” Sounds awesome, right?

It was a complete disaster.

In a 2002 “Maxim” magazine interview, Lucas said, “If I had a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.” Here’s my Christmas gift to you, Nonstop readers (with bonus Spanish subtitles!). Happy holidays and have a merry Life Day. Cheers!

Movie posters courtesy of MVNP

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About Brian Watanabe

Brian Watanabe is an advertising creative and screenwriter. His screenplay “The Rogues Gallery” was turned into the film “Operation: Endgame” starring Rob Corddry, Maggie Q, Ellen Barkin and Zach Galifianakis. Brian will be teaching a four-class screenwriting workshop for the University of Hawaii's Pacific New Media in April. Visit outreach.hawaii.edu/pnm for more info. Follow Brian on Twitter and Instagram at @brianwatanabe.

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