With the family together, the snow falling and eggnog you may have to spike to enjoy, the holidays set the mood for films that reassure everything right with the season, forgiving, loving, cherishing ... all that good stuff.
Maybe this is the year to make your Christmas watch list a little different.
We all enjoy repeat viewings of “A Christmas Story,” “The Polar Express” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It’s still fun to acknowledge the underbelly of offbeat, more adult-oriented Christmas movies, films with holiday-themes told through their vulgarity, mayhem and all-around carnage.
Here’s a list of five offbeat Christmas movies not suitable for the whole family but yuletide friendly all the same.
- “Die Hard” (1988): Every Christmas raises the same question: is “Die Hard” a Christmas movie or not? It surely is. It’s about a man realizing the importance of his family and friendships, all while trying to save the hostages of Nakatomi Plaza. Gather around and enjoy the violent, funny, ironic and sarcastic tale of a cop trying to save Christmas the only way he knows how: by fighting terrorists and mouthing off to authority…oh and confessing his love and mistakes to his wife and kids along the way. Bruce Willis’ John McClane should be a Christmas season staple.
- “Bad Santa: The Director’s Cut” (2003): “Bad Santa” is perhaps the most vulgar, offensive and seemingly distasteful Christmas movie ever made. It’s also uproariously funny and original, and it packs a weird character arc with an absurd amount of heart for a film with a fake Santa who beats up kids. The director’s cut is the one to watch. It’s shorter than the theatrical cut, but it better shows how Billy Bob Thornton’s Willy goes from a drunk who abuses the ideas of Christmas to a man looking to find the real meaning of the holiday through a child and a woman with a Santa fetish.
- “Lethal Weapon” (1987): “Lethal Weapon” fits the “Die Hard” mold of an atypical Christmas movie. Sure, it’s an action flick that practically defined the buddy cop genre for the next decade, but it’s also a holiday-set story about a man who has lost everything (Mel Gibson) and finds a real friend (Danny Glover) with a family that reminds him of the meaning of love, support and Christmas cheer.
- “Reindeer Games” (2000): Usually dismissed as one of Ben Affleck’s weaker efforts, “Reindeer Games” is the story of an imprisoned man who loses a friend on the inside. When he gets out, he pretends to be said friend so he can spend the holidays with that friend’s very attractive pen pal. What follows is a story about robbing casinos, dressing up as Santa and greed consuming men. It’s a goofy, twisted Christmas tale told with guns, women, love and one desperately confused man, that never forgets its message of giving and enjoying the holidays even in its last few bloody moments.
- “The Ice Harvest” (2005): John Cusack stars as a failed father, husband and lawyer hoping Christmas will give him a second chance at redemption via some stolen money from a shady client. It’s a dryly funny tale about various men trying to keep it together around the holidays, and one protagonist learning if he’s the giving man his kids see or the taking man desperate times have made him become. Another totally offbeat, crude and adult Christmas tale that falls somewhere between “Bad Santa” and whatever cutesy Christmas miracle movie is your kids’ favorite.
DID YOU KNOW: Bruce Willis wasn’t the first choice to play John McClane in “Die Hard.” The studio initially considered Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Sylvester Stallone, Burt Reynolds and Mel Gibson before Willis seized the career-defining role.