In her blog last night (http://4callingbirds.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-best-christmas-movies-of-all-time.html), Pat used the following criteria to determine the greatest Christmas movies ever:
(1) It needed to take place during the Christmas season; and
(2) It needed to truly embody the Christmas spirit.
Some of the comments posted last night and this morning suggested some films that met test number 1 (set during the Christmas season) but merited debate over whether they satisfied test number 2. That inspired me to follow up Pat’s blog with a description of some of the most famous, best loved Christmas movies that really aren’t Christmas movies.
Love Actually (2003) – The movie had a great cast and did indeed take place during the Christmas season but it really had nothing to do with Christmas at all. A slew of famous faces (including a young Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead)) shared a range of experiences – all having to do with love and love lost – but Christmas was more the backdrop than an integral part of the plot.
Die Hard (1988) – This Bruce Willis movie came out during the summer for gosh sakes. OK, I’ll give you that it takes place at an office Christmas party but that’s about it for the holiday spirit. Saying this is a Christmas movie is like saying that every movie that every featured a wedding is really a wedding movie.
Lethal Weapon (1987) – The opening tune of this film was Jingle Bell Rock. For some people, that’s all the evidence they need. Case closed. There’s even an action scene in a Christmas tree lot. However, like Die Hard, I’m not sure all the business about mercenaries and drugs quite bring the yuletide spirit.
Gremlins (1984) – The premise of this film is that the main character gets a strange but cuddly little creature as a Christmas gift so I get why many people consider this a Christmas movie. However, after giving the creature water and feeding it after midnight, the whole Christmas decoration adorned town gets overrun and terrorized by these evil, scaly little monsters. The only way I see this in the Christmas movie camp is if I put it in the same category in my mind as the song “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”.
Trading Places (1983) – Great movie. Definitely set at Christmas. There’s a heartwarming ending that brings a rich broker and a poor street hustler together but not sure it makes many people’s Top Christmas Movies lists.
Home Alone (1990) – I’m on the fence about this one. It is set at Christmas time but it is about a young kid, Kevin, who is abandoned by his family in their haste to leave the house for a vacation in Paris. At first he enjoys it but then he has to fight off burglars trying to rob his house on Christmas Eve. It is all played for laughs but just describing the movie made me think Kevin is going to need years of therapy – not just sugar plums and candy canes – to get over his ordeal.
So there you have it. The non-Christmas movie Christmas movies. I’m sure there are other films that you or people you know consider Christmas movies that really aren’t. Did I miss them? If so, please share.