15 Holiday Movies That Have Nothing to Do With Christmas
The holidays are officially upon us. While most people are eagerly searching for the perfect gifts for their friends and loved ones and others are watching A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding for the umpteenth time on Netflix, not everyone is excited about the most wonderful time of the year. Though we aren’t self-proclaimed Grinches, sometimes the holidays can be overwhelming, and not all of us want to watch a marathon of holiday flicks on the Hallmark Channel. So what do you watch when everyone else is watching Elf for the one-hundredth time? Here are some holiday flicks that have nothing to do with Christmas so you can be sort of into the holiday season without being an outright Scrooge.
15. Trading Places
- Box office gross: $90.4 million
We’re still waiting on a Shrek holiday film, but until then we’ll take Eddie Murphy in the iconic flick, Trading Spaces. In the movie, the Saturday Night Live alum plays street hustler, Billy Ray Valentine who gets caught up in a scheme thought up by a couple of successful brokers who make a $1 bet on whether experience or environment make the man. Their plot to get Billy Ray and executive Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) to switch places is uncovered, and the men turn the tables on the brokers.
The film mostly holds up, though it does have some problematic spots — including the use of blackface. However, it’s mostly smart and nuanced with a hint of New York City during the holidays.
14. The Royal Tenenbaums
- Box office gross: $71.4 million
All of Wes Anderson’s films seem to have a holiday theme, and The Royal Tenenbaums is no different. The film follows Royal Tenenbaum, his wife Etheline, and their three brilliant children. Unfortunately, the family spirals into despair and endures twenty years of betrayal, failure, and disaster which is all blamed on Royal.
Years later, they are all unexpectedly reunited over one winter and must learn about family and forgiveness. The film gives you family without the overt holiday cheesiness.
- Box office gross: $153.1 million
There’s pretty much nothing more anti-Christmas than Gremlins. However, because all of the action in the film goes down on Christmas Eve, we had to include it on this list. The film follows a gadget salesman who while on the hunt for a gift to his son, picks up a furry pet in Chinatown.
Unfortunately, neither the man nor his son, listen to the care instructions for the creature which leads to the pet spawning creatures who transform into small, destructive, evil monsters and wreak havoc on the town — terrorizing it on Christmas Eve. If you have some inner rage about the holiday season, Gremlins has enough violence in it for you to hash it out.
12. The Family Man
- Box office gross: $75.8 million
Ok, so we know this is a Nicolas Cage movie, but The Family Man is actually really good. Cage stars as a hotshot and arrogant Wall Street executive named Jack. On Christmas night, Jack is mugged, and on Christmas Day he wakes up in an alternative life. He learns what his life would have been like if he’d married his college sweetheart Kate (Tea Leoni) who he left behind in order to pursue his career in finance.
The Family Man certainly has It’s A Wonderful Life vibes. However, it’s not as overt as the classic Frank Capra flick. It’s also a good film to watch if you’re trying to sort out your own priorities.
11. The Long Kiss Goodnight
- Box office gross: $89.5 million
In The Long Kiss Goodnight, the brilliant Geena Davis plays single mother Samantha Caine who is living a pretty mundane life in the suburbs until she begins having strange memories of unexplained violence. She also realizes that she has some pretty amazing physical skills that she had no idea about. Confused, Samantha hires Mitch Hennessey (Samuel L. Jackson) to dig into her past, and she learns that she is a well-trained government assassin who has escaped her handlers’ clutches.
Of course, Samantha realizes that she’s a badass during the Christmas season, so the holidays are glittering all along in the background.
10. While You Were Sleeping
- Box office gross: $81 million
So the plot for While You Were Sleeping seems absurd and convoluted, but somehow with Sandra Bullock at the center and a snowy Chicago in the background — it’s the perfect holiday flick without having a thousand Santas running around. In the film, Bullock plays Lucy, a lonely transit worker who fantasizes about, Peter (Peter Gallagher), the man she sees on the train each day.
When the man nearly falls into an oncoming train and slips into a coma, Lucy pretends to be his fiance, and things begin to spiral out of control. Things get even worse when Lucy begins to vibe with Jack (Bill Pullman), Peter’s brother.
9. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
- Box office gross: $4 million
We only acknowledge Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory; we’re not sure who told Johnny Depp to do that 21st-century monstrosity. Willy Wonka is whimsical and delightful, reminding you of childhood without being Christmasy at all. The 1971 film follows Charlie, a sweet boy from a poor family who is desperate to find one of the golden tickets that will admit him to Willy Wonka’s magical factory.
All of the other children who win are awful, but Charlie shows the cranky reclusive chocolate maker that there is still good left in the world.
8. American Psycho
- Box office gross: $34.3 million
Long before Christian Bale was Batman, he was Patrick Bateman a handsome businessman living in New York City in 1987 in American Psycho. Charismatic and handsome, Patrick also lives a double life — as a gruesome serial killer. The cast of characters surrounding Patrick, including his fiance, his mistress, a police detective, and secretary all examine what makes him so monstrous.
Set during the holidays –the film is both a psychological horror and comedy.
7. The Sound of Music
- Box office gross: $142.4 million
If you’re not into Christmas carols, but you don’t mind a nice sing-a-long, then The Sound of Music starring Julie Andrews might just lift your spirits. Set just before World War II, the film follows Maria (Andrews) — a rebellious abbey who becomes a governess to the Von Trapp Family. Maria bonds with the children and their stern widowed father, bringing light and happiness into their home. Unfortunately, the Nazi army is at their backs, and the family has to choose to conform or flee.
The film is the third-highest-grossing film in the United States, and it has some jazzy little tunes.
6. L.A. Confidential
- Box office gross: $126.2 million
The 1950s-set L.A. Confidential might be a police-mystery film, but it also starts on Christmas Eve. Three policemen come together to solve an unsolved detective murder and unpack corruption at a downtown Los Angeles coffee shop. One man, Detective Lieutenant Exley (Guy Pearce) is the son of the murdered man, and he’s determined to avenge his father’s death, while the other two have their own motives including, filtering classified information to a tabloid magnate and evading a scandal.
There’s also an eggnog-induced brawl in the movie, so that screams holidays to us.
5. Batman Returns
- Box office gross: $266.8 million
If you don’t mind Christmas, but you need superheroes to get through it, then Tim Burton’s Batman Returns is the cure to your holiday blues. The film has Christmas all in the background. Gotham City glitters in snow, Batman and Catwoman have a pretty kinky sequence with mistletoe, and Danny DeVito’s villainous Penguin stands at the center of the film.
There’s sadly no Prince soundtrack in this film, but we think it’s still pretty worthy.
- Box office gross: $3.7 million
We all know the Hollywood classic Casablanca for its romance and drama, but the film’s backdrop is also set during the holidays. Humphrey Bogart stars as Rick Blaine an expat and nightclub owner who discovers his old flame Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) is in town with her husband. Since her husband is a former rebel –Ilsa seeks out Rick to help get them out of the country.
There’s nothing better to mark the holiday season than unrequited love.
3. Lethal Weapon
- Box office gross: $120.2 million
Lethal Weapon might follow Mel Gibson as a reckless Los Angeles police detective Martin Riggs who is listless and angry after his wife’s death, but it’s still a Christmas-themed movie. Martin is reassigned and partnered with Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) and older-by the book detective. Though their personalities clash at first, the duo uncovers a massive drug-trafficking ring, but might not be able to solve it due to Martin’s volatile behavior.
Gibson is manic and angry the entire film and he gives major Grinch vibes which makes Lethal Weapon the perfect anti-holiday movie.
2. Edward Scissorhands
- Box office gross: $86 million
Tim Burton has A Nightmare Before Christmas in his filmography, but that’s too overtly about Christmas, so we think Edward Scissorhands is a better choice. The film follows a scientist who begins assembling a human being — the gentle Edward. Unfortunately, the scientist dies before he can finish his masterpiece. Left with a monstrous appearance, Edward is left to fend for himself until he’s taken in by a suburban saleswoman and her family.
Though the scissor-wielding outcast who is struggling to find love and come to terms with his hideous appearance stands at the center, Christmas is also an underlying plot in Edward Scissorhands.
1. Die Hard
- Box office gross: $83 million
The most anti-Christmas, Christmas holiday flick is, of course, Die Hard. In the iconic 1988 thriller, Bruce Willis stars as NYPD officer John McClane who while visiting his daughters and estranged wife at her company’s holiday party gets caught in the middle of a hostage situation led by a group of terrorists.
Though the film holds up today, it’s super ’80s with Run D.M.C.’s “Christmas in Hollis” on the soundtrack. However, the best part about the whole film the late Alan Rickman as terrorist/bank robber Hans Gruber.
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