Features

Our Favourite Christmas Films That Aren’t Really About Christmas

It’s cold outside, isn’t it? Which can only mean one thing, Santa is coming to town (we know him) and with his imminent arrival, film fans across the world will be dusting off their copies of Elf, It’s A Wonderful Life, The Grinch, Love Actually and countless other festive films to get into the spirit.

But for some, such yuletide wonders aren’t the only films that they will watch as there are plenty of others nestled safely under the tree waiting to be unwrapped.

Here are some Christmas films you should be watching, which aren’t about Christmas, but bring the same amount of festive fun.

Die Hard

20th Century Fox

In the endless ‘not a Christmas’ film debate, there perhaps hasn’t been one quite like Die Hard. On a continuous see-saw back and forth between a festive frolic and an action spectacular, we can safely say that this ticks BOTH boxes in the best way.

If you don’t know Die Hard, what’s wrong with you? A career-defining film for star Bruce Willis, this winter wonderland was all set in the looming Nakatomi Plaza as terrorists – led by the brilliant Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber – storm the building with only Detective John McClane (Willis) standing in their way.

Welcome to the (Christmas) party, pal!

Batman Returns

Warner Bros. Pictures

Following the ridiculous success of 1989’s original Batman, Tim Burton and Michael Keaton were finally lured back to the Batcave three years later which saw The Dark Knight face off against Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) and The Penguin (Danny DeVito).

Set during the festive season – as was Burton’s Edward Scissorhands – Gotham City was ensconced in snow, a huge Christmas tree and lots of mistletoe – which can be deadly if you eat it.

A much darker and more adult-orientated entry, it was met with some backlash from parents and led to Joel Schumacher taking over for the next two films before Christopher Nolan came to everyone’s rescue.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang / Lethal Weapon / The Long Kiss Goodnight / Iron Man 3 / The Last Boy Scout / Lethal Weapon

Warner Bros. Pictures

Yep, Shane Black loves him some Christmas. This is a little bit of a cheat entry, we admit, but it’s our way of celebrating the unique connection between almost all of the famed writer/director’s films in that they all take place around the festive season.

He seems a little bit obsessed with it to be fair, but more recently, the filmmaker has taken to setting his films during the festive season as more of a gimmick, playing up to the knowledge that people know his obsession.

But he also believes that this time of year gives us ‘a chance to assess and retrospect our lives’ as he told Entertainment Weekly. Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

When Harry Met Sally…

Columbia Pictures

Arguably the best romantic comedy of all time (really, it is), When Harry Met Sally is sheer perfection.

Beautifully directed, sharply and whimsically written, and with career-best performances from Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, this is secretly masquerading as a festive charmer.

As we span decades of the characters hating each other, tolerating each other, falling out and then falling in love, everything comes together towards the seasonal festivities and, of course, New Year’s Eve. A little loose, granted, but we are adding this one to the list and will do forever more.

Gremlins

Warner Bros.

‘Don’t feed them after midnight’, a phrase uttered across the globe to excited children as their parents try to settle them down before Santa comes down the chimney, but it is also one of the rules that must be obeyed if you want to own a Mogwai.

One of the 1980’s most distinctive classics that is still celebrated today, its mix of humour, puppetry and Spielbergian flashes have made it a firm holiday classic, despite its somewhat horrific and scary undertones.

Hook

TriStar Pictures

Let’s settle the arguments right now: Hook, directed by Steven Spielberg, was not a flop.

Released under the weight of huge expectations, both from audiences and the studio behind it, the film was set to be the big juggernaut blockbuster of 1991’s festive line-up, but didn’t quite become the behemoth it was supposed to be.

Beset with production problems, the film still grossed over $300 million and has since become something of a classic, particularly for the performance of the late Robin Williams.

Spielberg himself considers it one of his lesser films but audiences continue to return to it, and garners a place on its list due to its setting around the holiday season as Peter (Williams) takes his family on a vacation to London before his return to Neverland. Now, everyone: ‘Rufio, Rufio!’

Trading Places

Paramount Pictures

Another ‘deceptive’ festive tale but yes, in fact, this 1983 comedy is a Christmas movie and we won’t hear anything to the contrary.

A twist on The Prince And The Pauper, Mark Twain’s classic novel from the 19th century, Trading Places tells the story of a successful commodities broker (Dan Aykroyd) and a homeless hustler (Eddie Murphy) who are made subject of a bet by rich businessmen Randolph and Mortimer Dukes (Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy) and their lives are switched.

But on learning of the scheme, the two men set out to ruin the Dukes for good, with the help of prostitute Ophelia (Jamie Lee Curtis).

Hardly the most heartwarming of holiday season films, but this one has all the trimmings of a true festive cracker.

Mean Girls

Paramount Pictures

Another festive cracker is Tina Fey’s seminal teen comedy classic that features arguably the best on-screen rendition of Jingle Bell Rock we have ever seen.

Released in 2004 (how is it 15 years ago?!) with Mark Waters (Freaky Friday) directing, it has since become synonymous with its quotability and being the kind of comedy that both adults and teenagers can enjoy.

It proved to be a huge success, sending Fey and stars Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Seyfried, and Rachel McAdams into the stratosphere, grossing almost $130 million at the worldwide box office, and spawning a sequel and a Broadway musical. That is so fetch.

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Scott J. Davis

Scott J. Davis

Contributing Writer

Scott is a freelance film and TV writer mainly found at HeyUGuys, where he covers both red carpets and junkets for the site. Scott can also be found writing for Fandom, Cineworld, The People's Movies and more when he's not in a dark screening room...