For every A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, or Home Alone that takes the world by storm and becomes holiday and pop culture staples, there are those other films that often get overlooked. And just like how the Die Hard debate has taken over the last few holiday seasons (for the record, it is a Christmas movie), we figured we’d take a look at some of the holiday comedies that tend to be overlooked during this time of year.
Trading Places has become a certifiable cult comedy over the years. It also happens to take place during Christmas and New Year. The 1983 comedy follows the simple premise of what would happen if a wealthy man (Dan Aykroyd) traded places with a poor man (Eddie Murphy). This was a film that not only assisted Eddie Murphy’s launch into super-stardom, but proved that Dan Aykroyd had the chops to lead a good film on his own, without John Belushi by his side. Also, the sight of early-80’s Jamie Lee Curtis alone is reason enough to check out this one.
To think that Gremlins opened up in the summer of 1984 on the same day as another pop culture touchstone of the 1980’s, Ghostbusters. And despite the June opening, the film takes place during the holiday season with the protagonist, Billy, getting gifted Gizmo for Christmas that year. The film has nevertheless become standard fare for fans during this time of year, as Gizmo and the other Gremlins managed to become one of the most popular toys of the decade and beyond.
“I’m an eating, drinking, sh*tting, f*cking Santy Claus.” This is one of those holiday films that you should probably wait until the kids are asleep to watch. If you’re looking for a Santa Claus that is less-than-Jolly, then Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa is the man for the job. You probably won’t see it running on Freeform’s 25 Days of Christmas, but the raucous story of a dirty, criminal mall Santa Claus definitely become a cult favorite over time. And so next time you think about taking your kid to sit on Santa’s lap, just think about what they’re doing when they’re not under the mall’s fluorescent lights.
A homicidal Santa with a gun, employees of a suicide hotline, a very pregnant woman, a drag queen, and a serial killer round out the cast of this 1994 Nora Ephron ensemble comedy-drama. Despite being panned at the time of its release, it’s since gone on to build up a small cult following around the holiday season. Also be on the lookout for some of your favorite comedians including Steve Martin, Adam Sandler, Robert Klein, Garry Shandling, and Steven Wright. While probably not your standard feel-good family holiday fare, it’s hard to ignore some of the realism here that exists throughout the holidays.
Another darker holiday fare, The Ref is another one of those films that didn’t do well at all at the box office upon release. Many could point to the fact that, for whatever reason, the studio once again thought that a movie that takes place entirely during the holidays would be best suited with a March release. Also the overall nature probably didn’t help much, either, as it follows a cat burglar taking a couple and their annoying relatives hostage over the holidays.
Office Christmas Party
Tired of having lame office holiday parties? (Or no holiday parties in 2020??) Well, you can live out your ultimate fantasy with Office Christmas Party. It’s the work adult’s equivalent of throwing the world’s most epic party when mom and dad are gone for the weekend. This film also features a stellar comedic cast including Jason Bateman, TJ Miller, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Vanessa Bayer, Rob Corddry, Sam Richardson, Fortune Feimster, Matt Walsh, and Randall Park.