After a gluttonous feast and presents, sitting around the telly is pretty much what Christmas is all about. The usual lineup can be counted upon, but after years and years of the same films over and over, you must be getting pretty sick of them. You’ve now probably seen Home Alone enough times to no longer find it funny, but be slightly disturbed at Kevin’s sadism. So it’s time to put on something a bit more refreshing – and here is where the problems start.
There’s always at least one person that just can’t be pleased with the choice. Either they hate Disney, or love horror or have some other preference that clashes with everyone else. It’s a good idea to pre-empt this by putting together a shortlist of alternatives, but why not branch out completely and go for something a little different. There will still be Christmassy undertones, to stay in keeping with the festivities, but perhaps the best way to find something that suits everyone is to be a bit less conventional. Miracle on 34th Street will always be there if all else fails. And let’s make one thing clear – Die Hard IS a Christmas movie!
- The Long Kiss Goodnight
While we’re on the topic of action films, The Long Kiss Goodnight is an awesome Die Hard alternative. It’s set during Christmas, the main character is even dressed as Santa at point, so it definitely counts. This film is the quintessential ode to ultimate 90s action films – far fetched, cheesy, but with thrilling action and stellar performances from Geena Davis and Samuel L Jackson, who play a former spy, who gets amnesia and becomes a housewife, and a down-on-his-luck private detective who tries to help her remember who she used to be. Needless to say, hijinks ensue. A super sexy soundtrack, featuring Santana, Muddy Waters, Marvin Gaye and some holiday tunes, rounds off this marvellous dose of adrenaline-fuelled ridiculousness!
- Batman Returns
We all love Christian Bale’s caped crusader, and certainly have opinions about the more recent iterations, but there’s no beating Michael Keaton’s charisma and Danny DeVito’s turn as Penguin. Besides having a lovely, albeit dark, festive setting, this film has one thing that just can’t be beaten – Catwoman. Michelle Pfeiffer’s feline vixen is maybe the coolest thing about the Batman franchise and no one can resist her charms – least of all at Christmas.
- In Bruges
Now, careful with this one. It’s a comedy-drama, but it goes quite extreme with both. The comedy is quite un-PC by today’s standards, but genuinely bring-you-to-tears hilarious, while the drama is seriously heavy and quite heart-wrenching. But it’s good to go on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster every now and then, and as the title hints, the setting of dreamy Bruges is like a rustic winter wonderland.
It may be a horror film, but it sure is a classic. The dated special effects make this more of a fun nostalgia fest, rather than anything actually frightening, so younger members of the audience can get a kick out of it as well. And there are Christmas hats and everything!
- Trading Places
Again, certain un-PC moments aside, if you want to enjoy the best of the 80s, this is a brilliant entry, but one that often gets overlooked in favour of more cliché options. Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd at their very best, with the inimitable Jamie Lee Curtis rounding off the perfect trio for some hilarious, Christmas trouble.
- Look Who’s Talking Now
If you’ll have lots of children present, this film is a much more family-friendly option. The grown-ups can enjoy the wonder of young and thin John Travolta and Kirstie Alley struggling through the joys of marriage and parenthood, while the kiddies will enjoy the film being told through the perspective of their talking pets, voiced by Danny DeVito and Diane Keaton. It’s the third instalment in the franchise, but you don’t need to have seen the first two to understand the gimmick – the kids and pets have an internal adult monologue going on. The first film’s baby was voiced by Bruce Willis, just to highlight the hilarity. The film setting is, ding ding ding, Christmas, with a lovely heart-warming ending.
- Christmas TV Specials
Maybe a movie isn’t the way to go, but you can watch a series of specials instead? Lots of classic TV shows have Christmas themed episodes, like Friends, Ally McBeal, Modern Family, 3rd Rock from the Sun or The Office, so all your guests could submit their chosen show and you can compile a playlist of all their Christmas episodes. For slightly longer and more involved options, why not go for some of the UK’s absolute finest: Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, BlackAdder’s Christmas Carol or Sherlock’s special episode The Abominable Bride!