Top 10 holiday movies for when you're feeling Grinchy
I don't care how much rum is in your eggnog, sometimes you simply can't summon the holiday spirit. Frankly, even the most Griswoldian among us aren't going to feel merry and bright (let alone the urge to break into a good, old-fashioned holiday tap dance sesh like Bing Crosby and Danny Bleeping Kay) just because it's the holidays. Sometimes you've just gotta own your inner Ebenezer.
When you're officially unable to listen to one more pop star's rendition of Santa Baby (I'm looking at you, Ariana Grande) these movies will get you through the holiday hate-sweats. Every single one on my list will resonate soundly with your cold, coal-filled heart.
These are the top 10 movies you need to watch when you feel like napalming a Christmas tree:
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
If you haven't seen this little neo film noir whodunit starring Robert Downey Jr. (pre-Iron Man BTW), it is a must watch. Set against the lackluster shimmer of LA's movie industry, this Christmas caper is fun, funny, dark and filled with enough anti-heroes to clog a chimney. Plus, Val Kilmer plays an excellent pseudo-baddie-who's-actually-a-goodie.
This retelling of old Chuck Dickens' A Christmas Carol starring the universally-beloved Bill Murray as a modern miserly misanthrope will have you laughing until hot toddies are coming out of your nose. Even if you aren't drinking hot toddies. As a jaded, cynical, sleazebag TV executive, Murray nails this performance. So does the Ghost of Christmas Present played by the hilarious Carol Kane. It gets a little soppy at the end once Murray's been through the supernatural ringer, but you could probably use some good will toward men, you humbug.
Watch Scrooged on December 24th at 10 p.m. NT on CBC.
If you aren't well-versed in the legend of the Nakatomi towers and the one they call John McClane, consider this your invitation to join the rest of humanity in adoration. Die Hard is one of the best action movies of all time. Seriously. It redefined the genre. It also happens to be set during the holidays. If that's not enough, you get to hear the late (and truly great) Alan Rickman read "Now I have a machine gun. Ho Ho Ho," off a dead baddie's shirt in a German accent. What's it written with? Blood. Christmas blood.
Willie T. Stokes, who is perhaps the finest fictitious ne'er-do-well since Ebenezer Scrooge, is portrayed by Billy Bob Thornton as a drunken, lecherous mall Santa with a mind more criminal than Gowan's. There is murder, theft and general curmudgeonly unpleasantness. The movie starts with a skinny, Santa-clad Willie vomiting into a back alley after glibly admitting to the viewer that he may very well off himself. But, there's also a love interest and the starry-eyed hope of a lonely child. Oh, and safe cracking too.
A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas
If stoner comedy and the showmanship of Neil Patrick Harris sound delightful, this third installation of the Harold and Kumar franchise is your holiday movie. Aside from their standard offering that riffs on race and pot culture, Santa gets shot, babies get baked (figuratively) and nudity abounds. There's even a show-stopping Broadway musical number and a claymation scene. Plus, you can watch it in 3D. Altered mental state optional, of course.
Eyes Wide Shut
Dark secret society parties, indecorous displays of human frailty, infidelity, class structure and the less glamorous aspects of marriage and parenthood are all explored in this creepy classic. There's also the added weirdness that the couple in the film is played by then-real-life-couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Oh, and it's made by Stanley Kubrick, the same guy who made The Shining. And it shows.
One of the few films to explore the mythology of the Krampus, a Germanic holiday demon who kidnaps bad children, this Christmas horror will leave you feeling uncomfortably vigilant. It's partly comedic if you can get past the freak factor of scary elves, gingerbread imps, terrifying evil angels and... clown worms. This is the selection for only the most hardened Grinch. Frankly, if you want creepier, you'd have to watch Black Christmas, another holiday horror classic.
An intolerable suburban married couple meets their match in the form of a disenchanted cat burglar with a disdain for the upper-middle class. Hijinks ensue when guests begin to arrive at the holiday hostage home. If that's not fun enough for you, keep in mind that the cat burglar is played by the Czar of Sarcasm Dennis Leary and the husband by perfect actor Kevin Spacey. The smarmy quips and tongue lashings delivered by both are truly delightful.
Take Mel Gibson off your blacklist for an evening — or at least visit him pre drunken hate-rant back in this 80s buddy cop classic. Short-long and all, Mel is in his prime and at his finest here. His loose-cannon Riggs to Danny Glover's stable family man Murtaugh is a must watch for Christmas curmudgeons. The odd couple struggles to find enough common ground to wage a two-man war against a drug cartel, 80s action hero style.
This classic dark comedy begins with a well-meaning father buying a rare and insanely cute animal for his son. But, the adorable little Mogwai hides unfortunate physiological foibles. A strict set of grooming and special care rules inevitably go unchecked, resulting in thousands of mischievous Gremlins tearing up the town on Christmas Eve. How mischievous? Old ladies are launched out of windows. Also, this is one of Spielberg's earliest — and it's as fun as ET and Goonies combined.
Go forth and binge watch my Grinches. Get yourself some movie snacks too (read: Pinot and popcorn). If you're craving something sweet, maybe bite the head off of a few gingerbread people. Who knows, the spirit may sneak up on you after all and your heart may grow three sizes that day and you'll find the strength of 10 Grinches plus two. At the very least you can get lit like a Christmas tree and distract yourself nightly for a couple of hours until the New Year rolls around.
To watch more Christmas classics, check out our holiday schedule.
Marc Beaulieu is a writer, producer and host of the live Q&A show guyQ LIVE @AskMen.