MY TOP 5 FILMS THAT REVOLVE AROUND HOLIDAYS (and don’t really need to)

The day after this post goes up, I will be appearing as a guest on The Film Cynics radio show. As is customary when Steve and Brian have someone on, they task them with coming up with a Top 5 list for the show. No problem really for your friendly neighborhood Kaiderman over at THE LIST!

Steve had suggested a couple of topics for a Top 5, including an early Christmas list. I just wasn’t feeling it. However, lately I had been thinking about putting together a list of films that revolve around holidays that really don’t need to. So, I went with that as it still keeps within the holiday vibe.

My prerequisites for compiling this Top 5 were 2 very simple things. (1) My picks had to feature a holiday that is very prevalent within the film. And (2) the holiday had to have no real impact on how the story need be told. That is, if the holiday were removed completely from the film, the filmmakers could still easily manage to tell the same story.

That being said, here are my TOP 5 FILMS THAT REVOLVE AROUND HOLIDAYS (and don’t really need to). In order:

5. GREMLINS.

I had to rewatch this film to make sure it deserved a spot on this list and I’m happy to say it does. It’s still an entertaining watch that reminds me of my childhood in the 80’s. When children’s movies were awesome in that they really shouldn’t have been seen by children. This film kind of defies categorization in that it’s part Horror, part Comedy, part B-Movie and part Family film but really manages to be none of those all at the same time. It also takes place at X-mas but really doesn’t have to. I realize Gizmo was an X-mas gift but he could’ve just as easily been a Birthday present.

4. LOVE ACTUALLY.

My podcast is called Man, I Love Films because I really do… in all forms… even Rom-Coms. I’m the guy who thinks that new Matthew McConaughey/ Kate Hudson vehicle looks really promising. Third times a charm, right? Well, more often than not, WRONG! However, Love Actually is one of those films that gets it right as it features intertwining tales of love. Looking for love, dealing with the loss of love, love in friendship and love on a porn set! The amazing thing is that none of the stories lose your interest. All of the characters are entertaining. Oh, it also takes place at X-mas but could really take place at any other time of year. Sure, Bill Nighy might have to sing about Valentine’s Day or Hanukkah instead but that is very do-able.

3. DIE HARD.

What’s not to love about the film that changed the action genre? If it wasn’t for Bruce Willis’s John McClane, all our action icons would still be muscle-bound freaks with speech impediments. Not to mention the fact that it also features Hans Gruber, easily one of cinema’s all time great villains. Great film but the fact that it takes place at X-mas is really nothing more than an after thought.

2. GROUNDHOG’S DAY.

My wife doesn’t like Bill Murray. I know! I almost filed for divorce the day I found out. Still, even she enjoys Groundhog’s Day and what’s not to love. Groundhog’s Day is easily one of Murray’s greatest comedies if not one of the greatest comedies ever made. The idea of using a recurring scenario for comedy is something I’m surprised hasn’t been copied to the umpteenth degree because it truly is such a great tool for the genre. And while I love Punxsutawney Phil, for the sake of the story, Murray’s character could’ve just as easily been covering the Wisconsin Cheese Festival. Um…. GO PACKERS!

1. INDEPENDENCE DAY.

ID4, a pseudo-acronym that makes no sense, is the War of the Worlds for my generation. I love it for all it’s cheesy goodness. Roland Emmirich realized what he was put on this earth for when he gave us this film about aliens hell-bent on destroying Mankind. The only thing is the film doesn’t really have to take place on Independence Day. The only reason I can even figure why it even does is so Bill Pullman can give his “Today is the day we celebrate our independence!” speech before the final battle of the film. A speech that is often mocked but, honestly, gives me goosebumps. That’s how much I love this film and why it’s my number one! Well… that and the Fresh Prince of Bad Ass!

14 Responses to “MY TOP 5 FILMS THAT REVOLVE AROUND HOLIDAYS (and don’t really need to)”

  1. K, lemme give it a go:

    Brazil – It all takes place at Christmas, although it is possible that Christmas happens every day of the year in that dystopian world. Also, the events of the film don’t have as much to do with Christmas as they do with a wrongful arrest.

    Halloween – Really, Michael Myers wasn’t able to hide behind the cloak of trick or treating. All he was doing was trying to kill people who thought they were safe in their homes. Besides, the great hallowe’en flicks are the ones with the original Hammer monsters.

    V for Vendetta – Considering that nobody really knew what Guy Fawkes day was before this movie came along (for the record, I did) I think that November of the 5th had very little to do with people’s ability to enjoy this film.

    Planes, Trains & Automobiles – I think it is holiday related in theme, but the particular holiday seems interchangeable to me. Could be for Christmas, Thanksgiving or Columbus Day or Diwali or whatever.

    Boondock Saints – If you ask me, it might even be a little racist that they felt a movie about Irish killers in Boston had to take place on around St. Patrick’s day. Is that the only time Micks are doing something important? Or perhaps I’m being the prejudiced one and saying the Irish don’t need it to be St. Paddy’s to have a drink and start a brawl that spins into a mob murder spree. But I digress.

  2. I disagree about Love, Actually. They spend a lot of time hurrying because of Christmas. They talk about telling the truth at Christmas, because you can. They go to lots of Christmas events. It would be a very different movie if it didn’t take place at Christmas. Love the list though.

    • I disagree as well about the necessity of Christmas. If it’s around some other holiday, that would make it like … “Valentine’s Day.” God forbid.

      And spot-on with “Die Hard.” The Christmas setting was just strange and unnecessary.

  3. I’m tempted to disagree about Groundhog Day since the little bugger becomes an important part of the plot at one point (where he steals him and tries killing it, etc.). Also, there’s the freak blizzard, as well as dealing with the groundhog’s prediction of more winter or going into spring. I could see the movie being done on a different day, but I do think it would impact the story in this case.

  4. It’s a Wonderful Life would most likely top the list of Holiday Movies that aren’t about the Holiday they’re associated with.

    As for your list, Home Alone should have an outside shot at the top 5. Can’t argue Die Hard, but I love the movie and consider it a holiday staple viewing. Nothing gets you in the festive spirit like Hans Gruber!

  5. I did a series of posts last year about the 12 films of christmas (http://storiesthatreallymattered.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/the-12-films-of-christmas-part-onethe-build-up/) and put Die Hard in the first part. It definitely counts as a Christmas film
    Gotta love Gremlins too. It’s just brilliant.
    Wouldn’t have thought of Groundhog Day or Independence Day though. I think not being American and so not having Thanksgiving probaby has a lot to do with that.

  6. Nice idea for a list. I was thinking of doing something similar. Gremlins is actually my favourite Christmas movie! Sure it could have been set at any time, but then it wouldn’t have had Phoebe Cates brilliant Christmas story. 🙂

    I have to say, though, I thought Love Actually was bloody awful. At any time of year.

  7. I will not stand for anyone talking shit about Bill Murray ever. Groundhog Day is one of the funniest movies ever and Bill Murray is one of the funniest human beings of all-time. Putting my foot down.

  8. Paragraph Film Reviews Says:

    Bad Santa dude! Good shout on die hard though, great Anti-Christmas flick.

    Also guess you could have pretty much every teen slasher (they’re usually on spring break / summer holiday etc)?

  9. Great List! Number 1 is such a corny flick, but in reality, it has great sci-fi effects, and although it’s predictable, and often mocked as a cheesy film, I always have fun watching it.

  10. […] made my recent list of FILMS THAT REVOLVE AROUND HOLIDAYS (and don’t really need to). However, the holiday is so prevalent in the film that it really does set the mood for the season. […]

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