Top 10 Christmas Movies (That Aren’t Actually About Christmas)

By December 25, 2016
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The following is an opinion piece about the holidays. We hope yours is a happy one!

Well it’s my favorite time of year. Packed malls, freezing cold weather, spending quality time with people “you just can’t with right now.”

And of course my favorite: Christmas movies. I do so love my Christmas movies from Miracle on 34th Street to Jingle All The Way (fight me). Although it took me some time to realize that even some of my favorite Christmas movies aren’t actually about Christmas, and quite frankly could have taken place during another time of year.

So sit back as I explore some of my favorite non-Christmas Christmas movies.

10. Holiday Inn (1942)

Why it’s Christmas-y: With the beginning and end of the film, as well as a key segment in the middle, taking place during Christmas, it’s hard not to get that warm, festive spirit while watching the film. Plus the scene where Bing Crosby and Marjorie Reynold’s character (though dubbed) sing “White Christmas” is not only a wonderful scene, but it gave the world a classic Christmas song we still sing today.

Why it’s not Christmas-y: The film is called Holiday Inn and therefore takes place over the course of several holidays like New Year’s Eve, the Fourth of July, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and even Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthday, so quite frankly it’s a holiday movie, but for every single holiday except Arbor Day.

9. Just Friends (2005)

Why it’s Christmas-y: With an often ironic and counterproductive holiday spirit, the film uses that jolliness to balance out some of the more intense comedy moments, including a rather violent ice hockey game where Ryan Reynolds straight up “Deadpools” a bunch of kids.

Not to mention an unforgettable scene where Anna Faris (who crushes it in this movie) crashes onto the lawn of Amy Smart’s house and absolutely destroys all the Christmas decorations.

Why it’s not Christmas-y: The film is essentially about Ryan Reynolds reuniting in his hometown with his high school best friend, who put him in the “friendzone” 10 years earlier. The film doesn’t even utilize the holiday season as a reason for his homecoming, his plane simply needs to make an emergency landing nearby (thanks to Anna Faris, (who did I mention?) crushes it in this movie).

8. Every Damn Shane Black Movie

Shane Black, a man whose mind is perpetually set at “jolly af.” From Lethal Weapon, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3, and whatever he’s working on right now, Shane Black refuses to acknowledge the other 364 days of the year. It’s like he heard there was a “war on Christmas” and dedicated his life to fighting on the frontlines.

Dear Mr. Black,

What if you set The Nice Guys 2 during Thanksgiving or something? Or perhaps Arbor Day? That’d be a nice change of pace, huh? No? OK.

7. The Holiday (2006)

Why it’s Christmas-y: Kate Winslet and Jack Black are delightful in this movie! OK, that has nothing to do with Christmas, but I felt like getting the most important thing out there first.

Other than the excuse of vacation for Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet to switch homes, the film mostly benefits from the holiday season with Christmas spirit and the cozy image of a quaint British cottage covered in snow.

Why it’s not Christmas-y: Like I said, the film is really about Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet doing a home swap for two weeks during the Christmas holiday, whereupon they meet the men of their dreams in Jude Law and Jack Black respectively. Also Eli Wallach is there, and he’s wonderful.

I suppose it’s simpler to set it at Christmas so they both have a reason to go on holiday, but it’s not necessary.

6. Batman Returns (1992)

Why it’s Christmas-y: This exchange:

Batman: Mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it.
Catwoman: But a kiss can be even deadlier if you mean it.

Why it’s not Christmas-y: Christmas does play into the plot here and there, like the attack on the Christmas tree lighting and some playful metaphors. But other than stuff like that and Tim Burton’s affinity for the season during that time period and the dark whimsy it added to the film, the main plotlines could have played out similarly otherwise.

5. Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Burton again.

Why it’s Christmas-y: The scene where Edward is carving an ice sculpture and Winona Ryder dances around in the ice shavings like snow as Danny Elfman’s score soars is quite simply magical.

Plus Alan Arkin singing “I Saw Three Ships” isn’t nothing.

Why it’s not Christmas-y: The film only takes place during Christmastime in the third act and does little to affect the film other than add some more of Burton’s signature whimsy.

4. Gremlins (1984)

Why it’s Christmas-y: Phoebe Cates stopping the movie dead in its tracks to talk about the time her dad died after getting stuck in the chimney while pretending to be Santa to surprise her family with presents.

Merry Christmas, kids. Here’s some money for therapy.

Why it’s not Christmas-y: Seriously, what was up with that story? We’re having a grand old time watching wacky monsters get involved in all sorts of shenanigans, and Phoebe Cates apparently decides that the audience is having too much fun.

3. Home Alone (1990)

Why it’s Christmas-y: The McCallister family jet off to Paris for Christmas vacation but forget precocious little Kevin (Macaulay Culkin), who must resort to his own devices (figuratively and literally) as he defends his home from a pair of robbers hitting all the fancy houses while the families are away for Christmas.

That, John Williams’ joyous score, and a tearjerker of an ending make this a holiday classic.

Why it’s not Christmas-y: The family just as easily could have been traveling for a birthday or a wedding or an anniversary or any other occasion, or simply during the summer when the burglary rate also rises. The film would have lost that magic touch, but it’s not essential to the plot.

2. Die Hard (1988)

Why it’s Christmas-y:

“Now I have a machine gun. Ho… ho… ho.”
“It’s Christmas, Theo. It’s the time of miracles.”
“If this is your idea of Christmas, I gotta be here for New Year’s.”

Why it’s not Christmas-y: Shut up. It is.

1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Why it’s Christmas-y: The last 15 minutes are about as good a Christmas movie as you’re ever likely to see. The infectious joy and boundless spirit of the season add to the already uplifting theme of the film in a way that only Capra could have accomplished.

Why it’s not Christmas-y: OK, hear me out. The film is really about a man (James Stewart) who spends his whole life helping others and who feels like he never really got to live for himself. But finally, with help from his guardian angel, he realizes that he is, in fact, living a wonderful life.

However, much like the other films on this list, Christmas is not central to the plot or even relevant, but it does add something special that puts it over the top, making it not only essential Christmas viewing, but one of the best films of all time.

Plus removing Christmas from the film would deny us this wonderful representation of the holiday spirit:

So there’s a few of my favorites, I’m sure I missed a few. If you want, let me know below which are your favorites or some of your own that I left out.

If not, then, “Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal. And a happy New Year.”

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Matt Brown

Matt Brown

Contributing Writer at GeekNation
Matt is a writer of all sorts and a film addict who's still waiting for his Hogwarts acceptance letter. If you find him at a party, he's probably talking about Xena or doing a Nicolas Cage impression.