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7 Christmas Movies That Aren’t Actually Christmas Movies

Victoria Newell

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Gremlins Christmas image
Warner Bros.

It’s that time of year again. Time to cosy up by the fire, eat warm cookies, drink eggnog, and turn your favourite Christmas movie on. But is your favourite holiday film actually a Christmas movie, or just a movie that somehow got looped into the holiday season? Does it deserve more views outside of Christmas time? Here are our picks for seven Christmas movies… that aren’t actually Christmas movies.

7. Steel Magnolias (1989)

This one is easy to mix up. Every major scene in the film revolves around a holiday; including Christmas. A common correlation between non-Christmas films and a Holiday viewing is if it’s gonna jerk a tear. It is also a film that you can watch with the whole family, and everyone will bond, which is another reason it might get a Holiday viewing. But Steel Magnolias is a non-Christmas tear-jerker to watch no matter the season.

6. Little Women (1994)

For the purposes of this article, I’m talking specifically about the 90s version with Winona Ryder. Little Women is another story that sort of has a Christmas vibe, and there are several Christmas/snowy set pieces. This version specifically tends to have more of a wintery feel. This story is not a Christmas story though. It follows the relationship and lives of the March family. It goes back to a classic rule; just because a movie has a Christmas scene in it, does not mean it’s a Christmas movie.

5. Gremlins (1984)

This one is unique because the marketing for Gremlins revolved around Christmas. It’s sort of about a Christmas gift gone wrong, so it’s easy to throw in with Christmas movies. But for a Christmas movie to be a Christmas movie, I would argue that it can’t be intentionally scary. The Christmas marketing was set up more as a shock factor, than to actually convince the public that Gremlins is a Christmas movie.

4. It’s a Wonderful Life (1947)

Okay, okay I know this one is controversial. It’s been a Christmas staple for so long! In truth, almost nothing to do with Christmas actually happens in this movie. The only Christmas thing there is the end, which is probably where the confusion comes from. It just so happens that the end of the movie happens to be on Christmas, and they close with a little bit of Christmas cheer. The rest of the movie follows George Bailey’s life and explores what makes every person’s presence special and meaningful. For that reason, It’s a Wonderful Life is not a Christmas movie, and deserves to be watched year-round.

3. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

This is another long-standing debate, is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Christmas movie, or a Halloween movie? It certainly has it’s Christmas-viewers. The Disney Parks even outfit the Haunted Mansion in Nightmare Before Christmas decor for the holiday season. But I’m going to have to go ahead and call it a Halloween movie. While Christmas is a major theme, the story is about Halloween screwing up Christmas. 90% of the film takes place in Halloweentown, not Christmastown.

The theme of the movie is about learning to be content where you are, and that place for Jack Skellington is Halloween. Not to mention the soft-scary imagery and the very gothic soundtrack. I personally always get the bug to watch it around Halloween as well. This movie is best viewed from October-December. There’s even an argument to be made that this film could have a spot between the two holidays on Thanksgiving.

2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has definitely grown into a Christmas-season movie, but it’s unclear why. There is a big Christmas set-piece, but it’s not a major part of the plot. It had a Thanksgiving release, so it might have had some Christmas-time viewers in the theatre. But at the end of the day, I think it boils down to nostalgia. Most Christmas movies tap into a childlike nostalgia, remembering what it felt like to be a kid on Christmas morning.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone does not tap into a Christmas nostalgia, but it does invoke that child-like wonder. The most whimsical and innocent of the Harry Potter films, for people who grew up with the series, watching this movie is like coming home. Nearly twenty years after it’s release, most Harry Potter fans are all grown up, and watching this movie is an extremely nostalgic event. It can be best encapsulated in the last track of the film, Leaving Hogwarts by John Williams (the king of 90s nostalgia). It captures what it felt like to be a kid who still believes in magic- and that is what Christmas movies are all about. Nevertheless, nothing about Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone particularly screams Christmas, so it is not a Christmas movie. I’d watch it every day if given the chance.

1. Die Hard(1988)

Ah, Die Hard. Probably the biggest contender on the list… and to be honest the verdict is still out. While the film takes place on Christmas Eve, it doesn’t quite have a “Christmas Theme.” The point of the movie is to get John McClane (Bruce Willis) out of a tough spot, not to spread Christmas cheer. Most of the Die Hard cast has sided with the “it’s not a Christmas movie” argument. Bruce Willis himself declared that it’s not a Christmas movie “it’s a goddamn Bruce Willis movie!” While filming, the entire cast and crew have stated that they never viewed the film as a Christmas movie, nor was that their intent. So in this case, we’re gonna have to say that Die Hard is not a Christmas movie, just a movie set during Christmas. It deserves some plays outside of the Christmas season as well.


Now we can’t tell you what to do, so if you want to watch any of these films on Christmas Eve – go for it! At the end of the day, if a movie is a good movie, it’s a good movie and should be enjoyed on any given day. Just don’t go telling people that Die Hard is your favourite Christmas movie.


And that’s our list of Christmas movies that aren’t actually Christmas movies? Did we miss any? Have we ruined your Christmas? Let us know in the comments below.


Check our Home Alone what traps would’ve killed Harry and Marv article HERE.

Read IMDB information about Die Hard HERE.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Kirby Vennes

    December 12, 2020 at 4:56 pm

    i like this just right post

  2. Avatar

    sean emrick

    December 24, 2020 at 7:38 am

    So wait Gremlins isnt a Christmas movie because its intentionally scary? LOL Theres a whole subgenre of horror dealing with Christmas, not to mention all of the actual dark Christmas themed stuff that exists in the REAL world. You might want to look up Krampus, Perchta, Gryla and the Yule Cat just to name a few…theres probably as much horror in real world christmas-time folklore than during Halloween.

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The 9 Greatest Spoof Movies Ever

Aaron Phillips

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This is Spinal Tap image
Embassy Pictures

There have been so many great spoof movies over the past four decades. So, sit back and buckle up as we countdown the nine greatest spoof movies of all time. And “don’t call me Shirley”.

9. Team America: World Police

Ok, so it’s all-puppet action as opposed to real-life actors, but it’s still up there. Written by the guys behind South Park, it parodies an American counter-terrorism force as they take on global terrorists. As you would expect, there are some cracking scenes throughout the movie. Kim Jong-il singing about being “so roney, so roney” is a highlight that isn’t easily forgotten. You also have to feel sorry for poor old Matt Damon. Although he’s had a glittering film career it’s still hard not to say “Matt Damon” in that monotone way every time you see him on screen. According to writers Matt Stone and Trey Parker, Damon’s puppet looked so vacant that they decided to make his character only able to say his name. Poor Matt. Add in some fantastic one-liners, over-the-top violence and sex scenes with puppets, you have a great film that will make you laugh, and cringe.

8. Blazing Saddles

Mel Brooks is the king of spoof and parody. He’s directed and written many a great spoof over the years, but Blazing Saddles was only his third movie in the director’s chair. This 1974 offering takes the proverbial from all the great western movies from the 40s and 50s. The film throws joke after joke at you, along with anachronisms aplenty. Lead actors Gene Wilder and Cleavon Little also deliver comedic gold performances that help make this film great. Brooks also does a clever job of dealing with racism throughout the movie; something that hadn’t really been done before. One of those moments is where Wilder and Little confront two Klan characters, before stealing their white gowns. Clever, and poignant. It’s also interesting to note that execs wanted to pull the plug before release, but soon realised they got it wrong. It was a financial success and has firmly sealed its place in history as an iconic piece of filmmaking. Not only that, but it’s also still rated very highly on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb today. Just goes to show that a classic stands the test of time.

7. Spaceballs

Yep, our old friend Mel Brooks features again in the director’s chair. This time he delves into the world of sci-fi; more specifically, Star Wars. Although it only made a small profit at the time, it’s gone on to become a cult classic and holds a fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The key to its success is it’s genuinely funny. The jokes are good enough to make you belly laugh. And the characters are so close to those on Star Wars, it’s amazing George Lucas gave his blessing for it to be made at all. He even went a step further and sent Mel Brooks a note to say he almost fell apart laughing through it. Praise indeed. Brooks’ other golden touch was casting Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet. I think you’ll struggle to find a funnier bad guy. There are also rumours of a sequel, predicted in the film itself as ‘The search for more Money’, although nothing has been greenlit at the moment. We live in hope.

6. Scary Movie

Ok, so there have been five films in the Scary Movie franchise but the first one from 2000 makes our list of spoof movies. Written by Shawn and Marlon Wayans and directed by Keenan Ivory Wayans, it’s definitely a family affair. Although later films parody a wide range of films, this one heavily relies on Scream, and I Know What You Did Last Summer. This works in the film’s favour as you don’t spend the entire movie wondering what film they’re parodying for each joke. You know that Ghostface from Scream is going to feature a lot. And he does. The scene where he gets stoned with a bunch of guys and prank calls people is still funny today. The later films just feel like a collection of forced jokes as they ran out of horror movies to parody. Although it received mixed reviews, it made a monumental profit at the box office.

5. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad

No spoof movies list would be complete without at least one that features the brilliant Leslie Nielson. The Naked Gun, released in 1988, was based on the short-lived TV series from 1982. Created by the legend of deadpan comedy David Zucker, it follows Lt Frank Drebin on his escapades. The original Police Squad series was a spoof of 60s police dramas; particularly M Squad, and The Naked Gun follows the same theme. Plus, it ends with one of the best death scenes in film history with Nielson waving his arms and calmly addressing the crowd with “nothing to see here”. With superb writing and acting, The Naked Gun was released to critical acclaim. It also made a healthy profit at the box office and is often listed as one the greatest comedy films ever made.

4. Hot Shots!

Released in 1991 and directed by Jim Abrahams, Hot Shots! keeps things simple by purely being a spoof of Top Gun. And a very good one it is too. Not only is the writing funny and sharp, but it also has a fantastic cast. Playing the lead roles are Charlie Sheen and Cary Elwes as the two feuding pilots. Both actors are masters of comedic timing and they deliver their lines with razorlike sharpness. The plot revolves around a mission to Iraq, with the added love triangle involving Sheen and Elwes’ characters and a female therapist. This sub-plot lends itself to some genuinely hilarious scenes between the two actors. Credit also has to go to the fantastic Lloyd Bridges. He plays a commander who seems to have had every part of his body replaced due to it being blown off in various battles. His lines in the movie are comedy gold. A great film that hits all its spoof targets with absolute aplomb.

3. Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Written and performed by legendary British comedy troupe Monty Python, Life of Brian had a controversial start. Being a satire of Jesus’ life was always going to cause some angst among some religious communities. In fact, some countries including Ireland and Norway banned it from being shown on release. In some cases that ban the latest decades. Life of Brian is often quoted as one of the greatest comedy films ever made. The writing is as good as you would expect from the Monty Python crew, and the jokes keep coming all the way through. Who can forget the immortal line, “he’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy”. It made a modest box office profit at release but has gone on to earn iconic status. Rotten Tomatoes have it as a 95% certified fresh rating and it’s still raved about today.

2. This is Spinal Tap

This is the film that kicked off a new genre of filmmaking – the mockumentary. Parodying band biopics from the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, it follows fictional band Spinal Tap on their debut American tour. If you’ve ever played in a band – as I do – so much of what’s in this film is true. I can personally attest to getting lost in venues and playing shows where no one turns up. Director Rob Reiner was sending up the pretensions of rock and roll bands and he nailed it. What’s also interesting is the majority of the dialogue throughout the film is improvised. Credit to the actors for pulling off some truly iconic lines. Whether it’s the Stonehenge scene or the legendary amp up to eleven scene, this film has embedded itself in our culture forever. It was only a modest success when it was first released, but its impact has left a lasting impression.

1. Airplane!

Well, we’ve flown; shot and rode our way to number one on our list of spoof movies. Once again, we arrive at a film directed by the dream team of the Zucker brothers and Jim Abrahams. Loosely based on air disaster movies of the 50s and 60s, it follows a plane whose crew are taken out with a sickness bug. Cue disgraced former pilot Ted Striker to save the day. Released in 1980, this was the film that set Leslie Nielson on the path of spoof comedy. He only has a fairly minor role as the doctor, but he delivers some of the best lines in the movie. ‘I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley’, is iconic. Lloyd Bridges also features as the man on the ground at air traffic control and turns in a chaotic but brilliant performance. Upon release, it made a whopping $168 million dollars at the box office and received critical acclaim. It’s also certified fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, along with ranking as one of the best on IMDb. It’s one of those films that make you cry with laughter thanks to clever writing and some fantastic performances. A timeless classic.


That’s our list of the nine greatest spoof movies. Did we miss any? Which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.


Read about movie remakes that should never have happened HERE.

Read IMDb information about Airplane! HERE.

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