It’s that time of year again - the Christmas tree is up, the tinsel is strung around the house, and the television is flooded with a load of rubbish films. That’s alright though, who’s actually paying attention? On Christmas day the TV is merely a vessel for background noise, something to neglect while everyone’s opening their presents, or vegging out after a particularly heavy turkey dinner.
But what if you don’t fancy slumming it with the latest drama in EastEnders or Coronation Street this year? We’ve compiled a list of a few films you might want to check out, and we’ve even gone to the trouble of coming up with some excuses for you to use in case someone says “that’s not Christmassy enough”.
Muppets Most Wanted (2014)
Everyone loves a musical. Alright, most people love musicals. Fine, some people like musicals, but at Christmas, you cast aside your prejudices and put up with the musicals on TV. Everyone (and I mean everyone) loves The Muppets Christmas Carol. The definitive adaptation of the tale, Dickens himself was even put on record as saying “Michael Caine did a sodding great job in that film”, and even famously got rough with the nominees for Best Actor at the Oscars that year because Kermit was snubbed for the award.
This isn’t about The Muppets Christmas Carol though; right now we’re avoiding Christmas movies and looking for something that we wouldn’t normally see at this time of year. Everyone’s familiar with the older Muppets movies, so let’s take a punt at something fresher. Muppets Most Wanted was the best Muppets movie of 2014 by far, and definitely a film worth your time.
How are you going to convince everyone to sit down and watch it though? Easy – tell them it’s set immediately after The Muppets Christmas Carol, and everyone will be on tenterhooks trying to piece how this movie fits into the new Muppets Cinematic Universe (aka the MCU). They’ll probably enjoy it so much that you might spend the entire day watching Muppets movies.
Obviously Beetlejuice isn’t a Christmas film, and you’d struggle to convince anyone otherwise. Unfortunately for the people around you, it’s still a landmark 80’s movie that shouldn’t be skipped over when it’s on offer. The Halloween vibes might be a bit much for some on Christmas, but don’t fret! Just tell everyone you meant to put on the The Nightmare Before Christmas, but accidentally put another Tim Burton classic on by mistake. If you change the disc now, Beetlejuice will leave a curse on your DVD/Bluray player until you finish watching his film, and if you want to find out what kind of stuff he might get up to, you’re just going to have to watch the whole thing.
The Thing (1982)
You might get some strange glances for this one. A milestone in Horror, The Thing is set in Antarctica, known to some as “the place where Santa lives”. Or at least that’s what you’re going to tell the people watching it with you. You’ll probably get into an argument about how Santa lives at the North Pole, which is the opposite end of the globe, but once you’ve got them baited into that row, you’re 30 minutes into the film, and no one’s going to turn off a movie half an hour in on Christmas day are they? The violence and gore might make people dismiss this one, but remind them that red and green are two of the most festive colours this time of year, and you might just see a shift in their attitude.
Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995)
Some people will tell you that Die Hard 1 & 2 aren’t even Christmas movies. A man trying to reunite with his family on Christmas eve is kept from his ex-wife and two children by terrorists – on two separate occasions no less – isn’t enough to inspire Christmas cheer in some people. To be fair, they’re probably not wrong, Die Hard doesn’t exactly ooze season’s greetings, but what it lacks in spirit, it makes up for in action and punchy one liners. It’s probably on ITV4 right now, and your dad is loving it.
All of that debate doesn’t matter though, because we’re about to watch Die Hard with a Vengeance, which most definitely isn’t a Christmas movie, but is still a wild action movie starring two Hollywood titans, Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson.
Chances are nobody is going to argue with you if this ends up on, since the Die Hard movies seem to always be on anyway. Nonetheless, if anyone asks why Die Hard with a Vengeance is on, out of all the Die Hard movies, tell them all the copies of 1 & 2 were rented out from the local Blockbuster so you had to settle with the third one. With an airtight excuse like that, everyone is sure to sit down and enjoy the (taxi) ride. Your dad is probably going to point out when the best parts are coming up too. Just don’t forget to rewind it before you take it back.
When the Wind Blows (1986)
Everyone in Britain loves The Snowman – We’re Walking in the Air is a staple Christmas tune around these parts, and even if you’re sick of it, you can just think back to the old Irn Bru advert and take solace in the fact that The Snowman probably wasn’t as nice as he seemed. Almost a decade after The Snowman, the British public were treated to Father Christmas, a more down to earth take on the image of Santa Claus. Fewer people know of the Raymond Briggs comic adaptation released between the two – When the Wind Blows. To be honest, you can say this one’s about some kind of winter and get away with it for a little while, but after it’s over there might be some fallout.
In fact you might just want to skip this one if you want to have a Merry Christmas.
Pacific Rim 2 (2018)
I think I finally figured out what this film is all about.
Christmas is a time about coming together, a time for setting aside differences and brushing off the last year with members of the extended family that maybe you don’t see as often as you should.
Pacific Rim 2 is a film that will help you get to know everyone in the room better. This isn’t just a movie; it’s a bonding experience. Grab some drinks - strong drinks - and get comfortable. This is a Christmas film for the ages. You’ll all remember this one for years. From start to finish, this is an adventure that you are all going to hate.
It should’ve been simple. How difficult is it to mess up a B-movie about robots fighting giant reptiles from another dimension, with a budget of over $150 million? As it turns out, it’s not that hard. Pacific Rim was a prime candidate for a completely ridiculous franchise and it managed to trip itself up on its weirdly animated giant robot shoelaces.
In some regards it’s lucky this movie didn’t really sell that well anywhere around the globe, otherwise we’d potentially be seeing more sequels like this, and it’s almost heart-breaking that we won’t be getting anything quite as good as the first again.
Since it’s the most recent movie in this list, maybe everyone will stick around for the whole thing. If you want a movie that will give you some stress relief, a movie that you can throw your popcorn or roasted chestnuts at, then this is likely the most cathartic experience you’ll have this side of 2018. It’s also perfect for getting people to leave your house out of sheer frustration.
And there you have it, 5 films to watch at Christmas that aren’t really festive at all. Which films are you going to try and get away with watching with the family on December 25th? If you try any of these tricks, let us know in the comments!