For the most part, holiday films are warm and fuzzy and they never delve too deep beyond the surface of happiness. Most come across as fluff. The vast majority feature some trumped-up romance. And in the worst case scenarios, they end up as made-for-TV busts starring Mario Lopez. Enough of that crap. We men need Christmas movies we can watch without being sickened by the sweetness. We’ve put together a list of 10 Christmas movies that it’s okay to enjoy while holding on to your man-card. Here goes:
The Frank Capra classic may have one of the most overwhelmingly happy endings of all time, but it comes only after George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) goes to some pretty dark places. The pressures that Bailey faces are not unlike the experience of the typical family man. You feel an obligation to do the right thing for the sake of your family and friends, and so you end up sacrificing a lot of your dreams. One Christmas Eve night, George finds himself on the brink of suicide when a dark and rather sobering miracle occurs.
Most guys can relate to this story of Ralphie, a boy who wants nothing more than a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Taken from the works of author Jean Shepherd and directed by the legendary Bob Clark (Porky’s, Black Christmas), A Christmas Story is an ageless classic that focuses on the authentic experience of being a kid rather than the sanitized Disney version.
This R-rated comedy may have too many F-words for the typical Christmas movie fan, but if you can overlook it, you’ll never regret having watched 29th Street a day in your life. We consider it a cross between It’s A Wonderful Life and Goodfellas. The setup: a man wins the New York State Lottery and immediately regrets it. The movie is how he got to that point. It’s poignant, funny, and boasts a finish that’ll almost move you to tears. Love it!
Bill Murray as a modern day Scrooge. This was at the height of Murray’s hilarity. It’s surprisingly touching enough to be a Christmas movie, but it’s also irreverent and frequently hilarious (as you would expect).
If something can go wrong at Christmas it will. And the more family is there to bother you, the worse it’ll get. Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) is blind to this reality. The rest of his family isn’t. Still, that doesn’t stop him from inviting them down for the hap-hap-happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tapped dance with Danny F***ing Kaye.
Younger audiences may know the Coen Brothers from their films True Grit and No Country For Old Men. But long before those modern day classics, the Coens had tried their hand at a Frank Capra-styled feelgood films with hilarious results. Tim Robbins stars.
Yeah, now that we think about it, you can never go wrong with a Rocky movie during the holidays. Five of the six appear to be set around the Christmas season, with the big day playing a significant role in the first, second, fourth, and fifth films. It’s Rocky IV that really stands out, though, because Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) fights Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) on Christmas Day in Moscow, and then wins the entire Soviet Union over with a corny speech.
It was hard to swallow that one man could have such bad luck as to be the only hope against one team of terrorists let alone two. Making it even more unbelievable, both events occur against a holiday backdrop. What is it about John McClane’s holidays that make getting together with family so difficult?
Director Bob Clark packs Black Christmas with some very creepy phone calls. While the bloodletting is mostly off-screen, the tension is deftly handled in this Canadian shocker that gave rise to films like Halloween and Friday the 13th.
After recently revisiting this one, we were shocked to see that it’s a much better film than we originally remembered. The improbable scene with senile old Grandpa comes out of nowhere and is creepy and effective, as are the flashbacks and the extremely bloody violence. This one isn’t for the squeamish. Neither are its four sequels, but for entirely different reasons. (They sucked.)
(NOTE: Watch the toy store scenes closely, and you’ll find some really incredible toys in the background. Talk about nostalgia!)
There you have it. Now instead of dutifully going along with Family Movie Night, you can choose one of the above classics and be in full control of the reins. Santa would be proud!
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