Top Five Alternative Christmas Movies
One night last week after polishing off the last of the leftover Thanksgiving turkey sammiches I sat down to watch some television. “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart was on. Nice movie. I watched it for a while, then hit the remote. “Miracle on 34th Street.” Also a nice movie. I watched the scene where Kris Kringle speaks Dutch to the little girl (much to Natalie Wood’s amazement) then moved on. “A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim. Another nice movie, but…
It occurred to me I was going to be seeing these films a lot over the next few weeks and, while they may be good, they do get old about the twelve-hundredth time you’ve seen them. So, with that in mind, we here at LazyLoafer decided to put together our list of the best alternative Christmas movies out there. Something different…something dangerous…something irreverent…something strange…er…ous (okay, that last one didn’t work but I think you see where I’m going with this).
So we sat down and thought about what exactly constitutes an “alternative” Christmas movie. We thought and we thought and we thought some more. We thought and we thought ‘til our thinkers were sore (how ‘bout that—kinda Seussian, huh?). Finally, after much agitated consternation and the threat of yet another pistol duel, we came up with some rules.
Rule Number 1 – nothing mainstream (i.e. anything everyone has seen a brazillion times—“Christmas Story,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” etc.).
Rule Number 2 — nothing that just happens to take place during Christmas but could have just as easily happened anytime. Unfortunately, that eliminated movies like “Gremlins” and what may be the finest film of all time—“Die Hard”—because, let’s face it, John McClane could have kicked ass any day of the year and still been just as cool (as the many subsequent sequels attest).
Rule Number 3 — no movies that had obviously been made only to capitalize on the Christmas movie market without bringing anything new, different or edgy to the mix. So, films such as “Elf,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (the Jim Carrey version), “The Santa Clause,” “Jack Frost,” etc. were also ruled out.
First, let’s acknowledge some Honorable Mentions…
“Trading Places” – Who can complain about a movie which celebrates the holiday season by turning a rich investment banker from Wall Street into a street person, a street person into a Wall Street executive and then shows Jamie Lee Curtis half-naked in kinky lingerie? All the same, after significant discussion, we eventually determined that Rules Number 1 and 2 had to knock it out of contention. Still, it’s a lot of fun and not exactly your typical Christmas film.
“The Hudsucker Proxy” – Excellent, excellent, excellent movie. Made by the Coen brothers (the same guys who did “The Big Lebowski”—the Loafer’s favorite movie). Unfortunately we concluded it could not pass Rule Number 2.
“The Thin Man” – My personal favorite. The early scene where William Powell drinks martinis in a speakeasy with Myrna Loy and Asta the dog is utterly hilarious. Like Mr. Hudsucker, though, unfortunately Nick and Nora couldn’t pass Rule Number 2.
With all that out of the way, lets get on to the winners (in reverse order)…
Funny, clever and a fresh approach to the tired, old “Santa Claus is real” genre. Excellent cast (Vince Vaugh, Paul Giamatti, Kevin Spacey, Ludacris, John Michael Higgins, Kathy Bates and about a brazillion others you’ll recognize) this film somehow manages to intelligently blend sentiment with irreverant humor. The scene with the support group for family members of holiday figures alone is worth the the cost of admission (or rental) right there. This movie could have come in higher on the list, but the all-star cast made it seem “not-quite-alternative-enough” for us, plus it flirted with Rule Number 3.
Best Quote: “I don’t hate you, Nick. I just wish you’d never been born.”
Come on. With a title like that, do I really need to explain? Unfortunately, silly and campy can only take you so far—in this case all the way to number four, but no farther.
Best Quote: “Prancer and Dancer and Donder and Blitzen, and Vixen and Nixon… oh, consarnit!”
Number 3 – “Bad Santa”
This may be the most irreverent Christmas movie ever made. Hands down. It is also just plain funny. In the immortal words of Larry the Cable Guy “if you can’t laugh at this, you need to get on outta here.” Be advised, though, this one is not safe for work, kids, relatives, loved ones, neighbors or any-damn-body else. Draw the blinds, lock the doors and kill the lights before you put it on. This one could have scored higher, but there was an air of parody about it—which brought it dangerously close to violating Rule Number 3.
Best Quote: Too many to list here plus every other word in the script is the F-bomb. Just watch the movie.
Number 2 – “Nightmare Before Christmas”
Is Tim Burton ever anything other than alternative? An imaginative take on the “Christmas will be ruined” theme. The inhabitants of “Halloween Town” decide to kidnap Santa Claus and take over Christmas. Will Christmas be saved? Of course it will, but it’s still a fun ride. This one might have scored higher, but it’s hard to say whether it’s a Christmas or a Halloween film.
instead of throwing heads
they’re busy building toys
and absolutely no one’s dead!”
Okay Loafers, enough of the build-up. Here it is. The number one, undisputed, all-time, best-est ever alternative Christmas movie. This one is it. The perfect blend of holiday sentiment and total irreverence. A fresh, clever, intelligent take while still remaining true to the genre. The winner is…
Number 1 – “The Ref”
Santa, sleighbells, snowflakes and the Stockholm Syndrome. You just can’t argue with a gun-totin’ madman who kidnaps a bickering, dysfunctional couple, then poses as their marriage counselor at a Christmas dinner while wearing a wreath of burning candles on his head. Like “Bad Santa” this one is not approved for the little loafers.
Best Quote: “From now on, the only person who gets to yell is me! Why!? Because I have a gun! People with guns get to do whatever they want! People without guns – for instance – you – DO NOT GET TO YELL! Why? NO GUNS! No guns, no yelling! See!? Simple little equation!”
By the way, special shout out to Kevin Spacey for being the only actor to make it into more than one of our top five. Kevin, shoot us a line and we’ll send you the one thing you probably don’t already have—a LazyLoafer t-shirt. Oh, what the hell, we’ll even throw a coozie in with it.
Have a few suggestions that weren’t on the list? Please feel free to share by adding a comment below.