Nothing says the holidays less than an office building or airport crisis situation. Still, in Die Hard (1988) and Die Hard 2 (1990), bold hero John McClane (Bruce Willis) sprays his villainous opponents with a barrage of one-liners as he wields guns and loses his shoes in an effort to save his family and Christmas. Die Hard will help eradicate unpleasant memories of awkward office parties while Die Hard 2 will provide fodder for fantasies of cancelled flights when facing unwanted trips back and forth to the airport to pick up surprise second cousins that weren’t really invited to Christmas Eve dinner.
Bad Santa (2003)
One to watch after the kids and grandparents go to bed, this unconventional holiday gem goes way over the offensive line with Billy Bob Thornton playing everyone’s favorite disgruntled and fairly creepy department store Santa. Anyone that’s ever wondered what his/her secretive, curmudgeonly next-door neighbor does during the winter holidays (or between visits to his parole officer) will find some answers in this little unconventional holiday movie about a man that gets a teaspoon of Christmas spirit by befriending an overweight little boy and getting the fairly promiscuous girl … but still gets shot and arrested and sent back to prison anyway for armed robbery. Stand-out acting by Cloris Leachman, John Ritter (in one of his final performances) and Bernie Mac round out this very raunchy holiday comedy.
Parents wondering whether gifting that copy of the latest Grand Theft Auto game to their children makes them irresponsible parents will seek solace in this unconventional holiday film about a loving dad that returns home from a business trip and gives his son a cute, furry creature … that could turn into a ravenous green goblin with the capacity to terrorize and kill everyone in sight. Written by Chris Columbus (who also directed Christmas movies like Home Alone), Gremlins shows what happens when parents are too busy to imbue their kids with a sense of responsibility, and when kids don’t listen to instructions about proper pet care.
The Ref (1994)
This holiday comedy about a highly unstable suburban Connecticut couple and their clinically insane family will help anyone feel better about his/her own bloodline … or live out fantasies of taking crazy relatives hostage and making them pay for all the socks, underwear and hand-knit sweaters they have gifted over years of winter holidays. Denis Leary delivers his usual smart, sardonic dialogue and is supported by a compelling cast that includes Academy Award winners Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey, Emmy winner Christine Baranski and the meanest old lady ever seen in Christmas movies.
Trading Places (1983)
In the midst of one of a recession rivaling the Great Depression, nothing is more seasonal than an unconventional holiday film about Wall Street Revenge. Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd play a common criminal and a stuck-up investor, respectively that get their roles reversed, victims of a bet made by two commodities brokers that want to see how good they are at making a savvy business man out of a common criminal. With Jamie Lee Curtis as a sexy hooker with a heart of gold, this modern holiday films classic set during the winter holidays is a crazy case of mistaken identity with a twist that is also a satisfying commentary on the sometimes shallow world of highfalutin business.