5 Underrated Christmas Movies
The Christmas experience would be truly lacking without Christmas films. Movies such as Elf and Home Alone, and It’s a Wonderful Life are imbued with the charm have become a tradition for many families. However, there are quite a few movies that go under the radar but have the same amount of spirit. Here are five of my personal favorites.
1. Die Hard
John McClane goes to visit his estranged wife and kids on Christmas but gets caught in the middle of a terrorist plot trapping him 35 stories above the ground with no gun and no shoes
Die Hard is the root of all true action movies. The condensed set piece forces McClane to always be on the run and make death-defying stunts in order to survive. All the forces are stacked against him and incredibly entertaining to watch him beat the odds and prevail. Alan Rickman portrays the menacing yet eloquent villain Hans Gruber, whose intricate plot and improvisational cunning is a Ying to the Yang of McClane’s brass tax sensibilities. This movie is a spectacle to behold and deserves to be watched on the same day it takes place: Christmas Eve.
A teenager receives a mythical creature as a Christmas present but doesn’t abide by its rules of ownership, allowing it to mutate and multiply and cause havoc across his small town.
Gremlins marked the popularization of the creature feature. Films with small, jocular beings causing mass hysteria in a confined area took a great hold on the 80s with other movies such as “Critters” and “Small Soldiers.” However, “Gremlins” is by far the genre definer. There are hundreds of gremlins in the film, each with distinct character traits and controlled gracefully through puppetry. With equal parts thrills and laughs, it’s sure to appeal to all members of the family.
When a young boy gives up on Christmas, he and his dysfunctional family are cursed by the anti-Claus known as Krampus who torments them with his deranged toys and sinister elves.
Krampus is a spiritual sequel to gremlins. It carries that same sense of slapstick ludicrousy. Every creature design is over the top but meticulous with detail. Practical effects are preferred to CGI giving a more throwback than modern feel. The sheer amount of creativity and the expertly directed horror is more than deserving of a watch.
4. Trading Places
Two megalomaniac stockbrokers make a bet after debating the idea of nature vs nurture by replacing a successful executive (Dan Aykroyd) with a street hustler (Eddie Murphy) at their company.
Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy are in their comedy prime in this film, along with director John Landis; the man behind “Animal House,” “The Blues Brothers,” and “Coming to America.” Aykroyd and Murphy play off each other wonderfully as characters from completely different parts of Philadelphia. Almost every character has engorged personalities and is driven by their ego resulting in their eventual comeuppance being much more satisfying.
5. Fred Klaus
Fred (Vince Vaughn) gets arrested and is bailed out by his brother Santa Claus (Paul Giamatti) and must now work for him at the north pole to pay off his debt.
This may not be the same standard of quality as the other movies, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. It’s entertaining to watch big-name actors like Vaughn and Giamatti play these outlandish and goofy roles. Most of the comedy comes from slapstick and fish out of water scenarios that come with the original concept. Along with Krampus, this is by far the most Christmas centered movie.