Christmas Movies(?)

Christmas Movies(?)

I don’t remember very many movies that are set on Halloween yet have nothing to do with Halloween. Ditto Easter, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July, Arbor Day, etc. If movies are set on those holidays, they tend to be about those holidays.

Not so with Christmas. While there are plenty of CHRISTMAS MOVIES, movies about Christmas and revolving around the elements of Christmas, there are also several Christmas movies(?), movies that are set on Christmas but not about Christmas. And many of those are retro.

Probably the biggest Christmas movie(?) of all is It’s A Wonderful Life.

I didn’t see this movie until I was 14. But I had heard about it. I knew it was on TV every Christmas and for that reason I figured it was a CHRISTMAS MOVIE. When I finally saw it, though, I was surprised that it had little if anything to with Christmas. After watching the childhood of George Bailey play across the screen for about a half hour, I asked Mom, “Isn’t this supposed to be a CHRISTMAS MOVIE?” She said it was, but I didn’t think so then and still don’t think so now. I think it’s a Christmas movie(?).

Another Christmas movie (?) is Gremlins.

Gremlins is set at Christmas and uses Christmas in its plot (Billy gets Gizmo as a Christmas present). It even starts with the song “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”. But it isn’t really a CHRISTMAS MOVIE. You could take Christmas out and the movie would still be the same. So it’s actually a Christmas movie(?).

And then there is Die Hard.

Like Gremlins, Die Hard is set at Christmas but isn’t based on Christmas. It could be set at any time of the year and would still be Die Hard. It wasn’t even released during the Christmas season. Like many Christmas movies(?), it was released during the summer blockbuster season. Christmas movie(?) to be sure.

And there are dozens of others besides these. Batman Returns, Ghostbusters II, The Sure Thing, Edward Scissorhands, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Better Off Dead, and The War of the Roses are all Christmas movies(?) to some degree, and Wikipedia lists lots more. So if you’re feeling like Christmas movie over the next few days but don’t want a CHRISTMAS MOVIE with Santa, reindeers, and toys, try a Christmas movie(?) instead.


Doug is a child of the 80s who was raised in Ohio and is now living the life of oblivion in the bay area of California.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Agreed. There are movies where Christmas is just a backdrop or setting and others where it’s part of the plot. Home Alone is another one. It’s heavily SET at Christmas but could take place at any time of the year.

  2. Die-Hard is one my favorite Xmas-set movies.

  3. Hmmmmmmm…. “Beyond Tomorrow” (1940) and “Holiday Inn” (1942) both spring to mind. I’d argue that “Home Alone” might be Christmas-set, but may not really be about Christmas.

  4. Die Hard and Lethal Weapon are hard for me to categorize as Christmas movies or even Christmas SET movies. For a movie to be considered Christmas, or even pseudo-Christmas, there has to be snow, bare trees, cold and Christmas decorations. Since Die Hard and Lethal Weapon are set in Los Angeles three of those four criteria are missing.

  5. I think Gremlins is the quintessential Christmas set movie, as it has the snow, the opening Christmas songs, visible decorations, and even a gremlin attacking with a tree. So I think we have a spectrum of Gremlins on one extreme and Die Hard on the other. All the others fit in between somewhere.

  6. I agree with you 100% percent on Gremlins, Doug. I’d say that Lethal Weapon II is more of a Christmas Set movie than it’s predecessor.

  7. I also agree about Gremlins. It’s definitely a Christmas movie. Since Billy gets Gizmo as a Christmas gift and that sets off the chain of events; I’d say that it wouldn’t happen at any other time.

  8. You can never go wrong with watching “The Ref” at Christmas. Leary and Spacey both at their sardonic best.

  9. Ooh, also just remembered another fantastic film, set around Christmas, but not integral to the story: “In Bruges”.

  10. For about twelve years, my buddy and I had a Silent Night Deadly Night/Die Hard Christmas party.

    It started in my dumpy apartment in Miami with about four people and ended up being packed in a pool hall in Hollywood until we couldn’t manage it anymore.

    One day, we’ll bring it back. But those are my two favorite holiday movies.

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