Question of the year: How to fake yuletide joy through all over-hyped holiday bliss? Either you’re not a big Christmas person or you’ve seen those darn specials over and over again and you want something new.
You’ve come to the right place: here are five Christmas movies that have little or nothing to do with Christmas. How does that work? They’re set on Christmas, but they don’t focus on the holiday itself. Loophole!
Oh, and they’re also good movies.
1. The Holiday (2006)
Notice the generic title? Which holiday? Exactly.
Two women, one America and one British, sick of their lives (and love lives) switch houses via home exchange website for Christmas. While there are wreathes, snowflakes and cocoa, the story is actually about people shaking things up and meeting new friends and lovers, so it could have happened at any point of the year, though the Christmas-ness adds some charm.
A great cast and some witty dialogue, it’s still a heart-warmer for the sentimentalist.
2. Batman Returns (1992)
Screw sentiment. BATMAN!
Michael Keaton’s second and final outing as the Dark Knight has him facing off against The Penguin in Gotham’s snowy holiday season. Danny DeVito plays a wonderfully sickening version of the villain while Michelle Pfeiffer stuns as the slinking wildcard Catwoman. Christopher Walken, Danny Elfman’s iconic score, Tim Burton’s neo-gothic design…
Oh yeah, and BATMAN!
3. Love Actually (2003)
Like The Holiday, it may be centered around Christmastime, but this is little more than a marketing ploy. The actual story follows a massive cast as they showcase many different kinds of love. Physical, fatherly, childhood crush, love that crosses international borders, friendship, sibling love, hilariously awkward but sweet romance, forbidden government love, corporate flings, unrequited love, interracial love, even lost love.
Sometimes cynical, sometimes sweet, sometimes silly, there’s a little something for everyone, even the Grinches.
4. Die Hard (1988)
Hey, it’s set on Christmas. John McClaine straps a gun to his back thanks to Christmas wrappings. It’s a Christmas movie (legally speaking).
If you haven’t seen it, Bruce Willis (almost wrote Wayne and almost didn’t correct it) faces off against terrorists in a skyscraper led by Alan Rickman. Guns, explosions, wicked catchphrases, and the kind of Raditude that could only be found in the 80s.
5. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Believe it or not, this isn’t a Christmas movie; it just ends on Christmas. The actual story is about the struggles of a man searching for the good life and finding that he had it all along. More of a fictional biopic than a seasonal tale.
And you know what? It’s still amazing. James Stewart shines as the good-hearted lead character fighting against corruption and fear in his little town. He’s a guy you can love for his simple goodness and his unyielding love for those around him. It’s the ultimate hope film, one that has put a smile on countless faces.
It’s the perfect compromise: a “Christmas” film that’s old, snowy, and schmaltzy, but also has great characters, great acting, and a strong, timeless story.
What about you? What other non-Christmas Christmas movies could you add to our list?