Well, it's that time of year again, folks! Christmas is here, and with it has come the usual desperate scramble to ensure you've bought the perfect present for that special loved one, or that you've got everything you could possibly need in the cupboards for Christmas dinner. Because the in-laws are coming, after all. And they can eat.
This is the time of year in which highly questionable Christmas jumpers become the norm, and everything gets a bit messy at the Office Christmas Party. Which, naturally, became a movie this year! It was just as questionable as some of the jumpers you'll have seen your male co-workers wearing, actually.
The TV listings will also be littered with festive themed shows and schmaltzy Christmas movies will be on heavy rotation. Now, some of us mightn't particularly like the idea of being forced to sit through Miracle On 34th Street for the 300th time. Hell, some of us might have even watched Bad Santa a few too many times. And it used to be the safe haven for those of us who love a good 'anti-Christmas' movie!
So, in order to avoid being called a Grinch, what movies can we watch that feature the festive season heavily, but wouldn't be classified as Christmas movies? Well, read on, all ye faithful!
Behold a movie marathon filled with movies set at Christmas that truthfully have very little to do with the holiday at all!
Home Alone (1990)
We'll start the marathon off with some light enterainment...that features two criminals attempting to murder an 8-year-old boy left behind by his family over the holidays.
But don't worry, this boy is resourceful! And a truly amazing engineer, proficient with booby-trapping his house with all manner of death-traps that would make The Jigsaw Killer wince.
Hmmm. When you put it like this, Home Alone doesn't sound like a family movie at all. But yet, its winning combination of family drama mixed with charming comedy mixed with slapstick violence has made it an institution over the years. This movie is guaranteed to put a smile on someones face and always goes down well around the holidays.
As a way of easing you into a day of non-Christmassy Christmas movies, Macauley Culkin vs Joe Pesci And That Other Guy is as good as it gets!
Love Actually (2003)
Next up, we're heading into British romcom territory. Because this made-up marathon needs to appeal to all demographics, you understand.
Love Actually was a massive hit upon its release in 2003 and it's easy to see why. For one thing, the cast is mightily impressive. You've got Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Billy Bob Thornton, Emma Thompson, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Martin Freeman to name but a few. Plus the late, great Alan Rickman. Oh, and Rick from The Walking Dead!
So, that's a lot of star power. Luckily, the movie uses it's ensemble cast perfectly, telling ten different stories featuring intertwining threads, all set within a five week period around Christmas. This one is arguably Brit-romcom kingpin Richard Curtis' finest hour. It is sure to go over well with the romantics in your household.
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005)
But that's enough of all that romantic guff! Because now we're into boy movie territory, with Shane Black's brilliantly acerbic private-eye action-comedy-mystery. Which, amusingly, started life as Black's attempt to write a James L. Brooks-style romcom! So maybe we're not that far away from romance with this one after all...
Black is famous for setting most of his scripts at Christmas. Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys, his two most recent movies, both feature the holiday. And so did Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang!
The movie is extremely tongue-in-cheek and plays with the classic formula of a hard-boiled detective mystery in intriguing ways. The interplay between Robert Downey Jr (in the movie that started his comeback) and Val Kilmer is hilarious and razor-sharp, and Michelle Monaghan is good value as the feisty female lead.
Batman Returns (1992)
Heading into the home stretch now, and we think it's about time for some superheroes. They're ubiquitous these days, right?
We are heading back in time quite a bit for this pick, though. 24 years back, to be exact. In 1992, director Tim Burton gave us Batman Returns, the sequel to his world-conquering 1989 Batman movie. And it well and truly perplexed audiences. For one thing, it was a summer blockbuster whose story took place at Christmas. Huh?
Here was a comic book movie, complete with McDonalds tie-in and merchandise out the wazoo, that was so grotesque it made children cry in the aisles as their parents whisked them out of the cinema. Burton was given carte blanche for this movie, and it showed: he went full-Burton. His Gotham City became even more of a Gothic Wonderland and he populated the city with an array of weirdos with silly hair. Danny DeVito's Penguin will make you feel queasy, and Christopher Walken's Max Schreck will make your skin crawl. Michelle Pfieffer's Catwoman is compelling and sexy, yes, but Michael Keaton's Batman gets lost in his own movie.
And yet, for all that, Batman Returns is still oddly fascinating. It seems to find it's way onto our TV with alarming regularity, in fact. Definitely worth a spot in this marathon.
Die Hard (1988) / Lethal Weapon (1987)
Our final spot is a toss-up between two stone-cold classic 80's action movies that we struggle to separate in our affections. We figure either pick will round off your movie marathon is very fine fashion. Nothing says Christmas like gunfights, explosions, terrorists and suicidal loose-cannon cops!
Die Hard is...well...Die Hard. It is one of the quintessential action movies at this point. John McTiernan's unspeakably awesome 'one man against all the odds' movie pits Bruce Willis' John McClane against a Nakatomi Plaza building overrun with terrorists, led by the aforementioned late, great Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber. This movie tells it's story perfectly, as a beaten and bloodied McClane fights his way through floor after floor of enemies to rescue his estranged wife and have a final showdown with Gruber.
Yippee kay-yay (you know the rest)!
And we're back in Shane Black's wheelhouse with Lethal Weapon. This was his first script to be produced and it began his penchant for setting everything at Christmas. The movie is the ultimate buddy cop film, and the chemistry between Mel Gibson and Danny Glover is off-the-charts. It practically invented some of the cliches we still see today: the cool rogue cop with a tortured past, teamed with the veteran close to retirement. Richard Donner directs the movie with intensity but also a healthy dose of fun, and it's easy to see why it spawned a venerable franchise.
What say you? Are there any other 'Alternative Christmas' movies you'd put in your own marathon? Let us know below!