5 Non-Traditional Films for the Holidays
It’s that oh so magical time of year when “White Christmas” and It’s a Wonderful Life take over the airwaves, and as wonderful as it is, there comes a time over the holidays for everyone when the carols and Christmas movies need to be put away even for just one day, especially when we’ve been hearing said carols since the Halloween decorations were barely put away. For those days when the likes of Elf, Home Alone, and The Grinch are just too much and an injection of an alternative kind of Christmas spirit is desperately sought, here is The Scruffy Nerf Herder’s list of five films that can relax the overly happy holiday cheer while still keeping us in the spirit.
Wildly contested and yet still seeming to come out on top of every list of alternative Christmas films is the holiday classic Die Hard, where John McClane (Bruce Willis) defends the Nakatomi tower from master thief Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). The key to the film that makes it a Christmas film is that it happens at Christmas time, so it must be a Christmas film, right? Definitely, especially considering that the main themes revolve around not only defeating the bad guys, but also family as McClane and his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) are brought back together because of his efforts to save her just in time for Christmas. The holiday humor injected into the film also keeps it in line with that time of year but gives it that action-hero punch that makes the entire film so great.
Again, another one of those films that feels like a Christmas film simply because it takes place at that time of year. After receiving an unusual Christmas present from his father, Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) is given three very crucial rules to keep his Mogwai Gizmo cute and cuddly. 1) Don’t get him wet, 2) No bright lights, 3) Don’t feed him after midnight, all of which Billy breaks and mayhem ensues during the jolliest time of year. Gremlins is one of those films that scares us as children, but because of Gizmo we keep coming back for more, and who wouldn’t want to watch cute, furry Gizmo become the bane of the Peltzer house while festive stockings and a tree are sacrificed to the gremlins’ destruction?
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Though it was technically marketed as a Halloween treat, The Nightmare Before Christmas is all about realizing the spirit of the holidays and giving of yourself in more ways than scaring the living daylights out of everyone. Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon/Danny Elfman) is the Pumpkin King in Halloweentown, the scariest place in the world, but he has grown weary of scaring and finds no joy in it anymore. While taking a walk to clear his head, he happens upon Christmastown and falls in love with the concept of Christmas though he doesn’t quite understand it, and he determines to bring the joy of the holidays to his community in Halloweentown. The Nightmare Before Christmas is simply one of the cutest, sweetest stories that shouldn’t be cute or Christmassy at all, and yet the story that it tells and Jack’s transformation into a twisted version of Santa make it a great holiday film without the overt feeling of being a Christmas movie.
The Lord of the Rings
Now that The Hobbit trilogy is finished, we can truly appreciate the awesomeness of The Lord of the Rings. The trilogy is not even remotely a Christmas film, but it is definitely one for the holidays considering that all the films were released over the holiday season three years in a row, making it still have that holiday nostalgia that every holiday film needs. The One Ring has been found by Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), and with the help of his friends (and a few enemies), the Hobbit leaves his comfortable home and travels through the wilds of Middle Earth to destroy it, but evil forces cause him to stumble along the way. Frodo could not have completed his quest without his friends, Samwise Gamgie (Sean Astin) being the one person who is able to keep him going even when his journey seems hopeless, and this in itself makes the trilogy perfect for the holidays while the epic battle sequences are entertaining no matter what time of year it is. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is fantastic to watch on those lazy days off when a Christmas film is out of the question.
Harry Potter is an extraordinary child who is born into a world of normality. When he is told on his 11th birthday that he is actually a wizard, he is whisked away to the world of magic and a school for wizards called Hogwarts. However, he is also brought into a world of danger as one of his oldest enemies rises up, and Harry must fight year after year to defeat the darkness. It is only with the help of his friends and adopted family that Harry is able to defeat Voldemort, and the theme of togetherness is the essential piece that makes the saga a great holiday watch. Along with the fact that the majority of Harry Potter films were released just in time for the holiday season, it is more the feel of any Harry Potter film that is befitting this time of year; the magic and the wonder are what make any of them a perfect fit for the holiday season.
Taking a break from the typical holiday films is never a bad idea, and going with any of these is always a winner. Of course, there is also always Star Wars, but it doesn’t matter what time of year, Star Wars is always a perfect fit! Although, the newest trilogy could definitely start a new trend with the December release date for The Force Awakens, a release date which will surely continue with Marvel and DC hogging the summer spotlight. There’s always room for a new tradition!
What’s your favorite non-traditional film to watch over the holidays? Let us know in the comments below!