We’ve got plenty of movie buffs here at our Houston digital marketing agency but not everyone is looking forward to spending the holiday break watching the same old classics we watched last year, and the year before, and the year before. You get the idea. (Even though we’re all big fans of the film, we’re especially thinking of you, TBS, and your 24 hours of A Christmas Story.)
In the interest of changing things up a bit this year we’ve polled our team and conjured up a short list of our top six favorite non-holiday holiday movies. Our only criteria: the holidays are required to show up in the movie, but in a role that isn’t central to the story. Say goodbye, It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street.
So make some hot cocoa, grab a plate of sugar cookies, and take a welcome breather from the relentless holiday jingle-jangle that’s been taking over airwaves since Halloween.
1. Die Hard (1988)
After all these years, we still get a kick out of watching a bare-footed Bruce Willis tangle with Alan Rickman’s team of German bearer bond thieves in the hallways, offices, and elevator shafts of the holiday-bedecked Nakatomi Plaza.
Not only is Die Hard one of the great action films of the last 30 years, it’s also a great non-holiday holiday flick. The story takes place during the Nakatomi Corporation’s Christmas party, the soundtrack includes everything from classics like “Winter Wonderland” to modern beats like “Christmas in Hollis” by Run-D.M.C., and John McClane sends a message to Hans Gruber using a deceased baddie dressed in a Santa suit with the words “HO-HO-HO” scrawled on the front. Yippie-ki-yay, action fans.
2. Goodfellas (1990)
Goodfellas, one of the best gangster movies ever made, doubles as a top non-holiday holiday movie. After all, everything begins to unravel for Martin Scorsese’s cast of hyper-violent crooks at their Christmas party, which takes place in a bar right after the mobsters pull off a record $6,000,000 heist from the Lufthansa cargo terminal at JFK International Airport.
As the fortunes, and lives, of Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro ,and Joe Pesci begin spiraling out of control, we are reminded of Jimmy Conway’s post-heist instructions: “Don’t buy anything.” More of the guys might have made it to New Year’s, if only they had listened.
3. Big (1988)
We all fondly remember the famous scene in Penny Marshall’s Big where Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia dance “Chopsticks” on a lighted, larger-than-life piano keyboard at FAO Schwarz. We also remember the huge MacMilan Toy Company party scene where Tom Hanks shows up dressed in an awkward-looking and ill-fitting tuxedo that saw its best days at a high school prom.
We have no proof that the party scene occurred during the holiday season, which might jeopardize its qualification for our list. However, we can only assume that a party that lavish would happen at the end of the year. Therefore, in our minds, Big sneaks on our list of non-holiday holiday movies where, with all its toys and feel-good cheer, it rightfully belongs.
4. Lethal Weapon (1987)
Lethal Weapon is probably the best buddy-cop franchise of the last half-century, if not the most quotable. (“It’s just been revoked,” anyone?) The first installment of the Mel Gibson and Danny Glover flicks also turns out to be a first-rate non-holiday holiday movie.
The film, which is set in December, features a slew of holiday-related references, including an opening scene set to “Jingle Bell Rock” and an undercover sting at a Christmas tree lot involving suicidal-crazy young cop Martin Riggs, played with nutty abandon by Gibson. The holiday spirit most notably returns during the film’s climax, as bad guy Joshua, played by Gary Busey, gets one-upped by a Christmas tree sporting the note “Dear bad guys, no one is here but us good guys.” In this franchise, even the props deliver great one-liners.
5. Step Brothers (2008)
Our laughter at recalling Step Brothers, with Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, is still bouncing around the office. The comic BFFs, which also teamed up for Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, put this heartwarming goof-fest on our list with just one ridiculous scene.
During Christmas, total losers Brennan Huff (Ferrell) and Dale Doback (Reilly) sleepwalk into their parent’s bedroom carrying presents, throw them around, bring in the Christmas tree, throw it on the bed, attack their dad with Hulk gloves, pick him up, carry him down the hallway, and throw him down the stairs. We don’t know about you, but we think that scene makes Step Brothers worth the price of admission. And it has a Christmas tree, so it makes our list.
6. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
In the under-appreciated noir send-up Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Robert Downey Jr. plays a New York thief masquerading as an actor who gets mixed up in a murder mystery with more twists and turns than eggnog through a Krazy Straw.
Val Kilmer’s flamboyant private eye and Michelle Monaghan’s struggling for-real actress compliment the sarcastic, fast-talking Downey, who is forced into hiding after the botched burgling of a toy store during the run-up to Christmas. Eventually, Downey ends up in Los Angeles during the holiday season, which leads to hilarity and witty dialogue, framed by holiday decorations and set to a soundtrack that includes classics like “Blue Christmas.” Kilmer fans should stay tuned after the credits for a neat stinger.
Speaking of stingers, which are the scenes that movies sneak in after the credits, we’ve come to the end of our list. We’re pretty sure there are other good candidates that would make fine non-holiday holiday movies, so if you’ve got a film we should check out let us know in the comments.
And from all of us at Forthea to all of you, have a happy, warm, and safe holiday season.