Oneonta, New York Weighs in on Holiday Movies
The yearly debate rages on. What makes a movie a holiday movie? There are movies that are ALL about Christmas from beginning to end, and there are some that are called "Christmas adjacent", meaning that Christmas may be in the background, and would still work if the holiday themes were removed. After talking with some people around town at random, I found that this rabbit hole goes pretty deep.
Here are some films that are constantly debated as to whether or not they are in fact holiday movies.
No one really puts all that much thought into Batman Returns. Local film buff Walt B brought this one to my attention. Danny DeVito's Penguin character is grotesque at best. He's one of many villains, and there's just WAY too much going on. The great Christopher Walken's character speaks in front of a huge Christmas tree at one point, and Batman tells Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman that “mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it.” Is that enough to make this weird and wonderful film a Christmas one?
It's a Wonderful Life
Before you tar and feather me down Dietz Street, hear me out. There's no arguing that this 1946 classic is simply one of the best films of all time. But as far as it being a Christmas movie is up for debate. Sure it takes place on Christmas Eve, and the film culminates in a holiday celebration, but Christmas plays into maybe 5-10% of total screen time. Dare I say that this one is Christmas adjacent?
This is one of the best films you've never seen. Directed by Doug Liman and released in 1999 and starring Sarah Polley, a young Timothy Olyphant, Jay Mohr, Taye Diggs, William Finchter, and Breckin Meyer just to name a few. It takes place over a crazy Christmas Eve, and is chock full of drug deals gone wrong, Vegas car chases, a rave, and a burning hotel room. There's Christmas references throughout, but the question remains, is this actually a Christmas movie? I think so!
Even though this film is bursting at the seams with drug dealers and death, it still feels kind of jolly. The film opens with "Jingle Bell Rock" for the love of Danny Glover. Remember the Christmas tree lot drug deal scene? Is this a holiday movie, or just one that happens to be set during the holidays?
Ok, let's go ahead and address the elephant in the room. There are two kinds of people, those who swear up and down that Die Hard is a Christmas movie, and those who say that it's a good action movie that just has Christmas hanging out in the background. Either way, it's not Christmas until we see Hans Gruber fall from Nakatomi Plaza. I said what I said.