For when the food coma takes hold and the ritual chat with relations has outstayed its welcome.
Bill Murray plays a heartless TV executive in this 1988 dark comedy take on Charles Dickens’ 19th Century classic A Christmas Carol, where the Scrooge-like Frank Cross is about to force his employees to work on Christmas Eve until the Ghosts of Christmas Past change his ways (Murray mustn’t have got enough of running around New York with poltergeists after the success of Ghostbusters just four years prior). Murray fans should also check out A Very Murray Christmas, the 2015 Netflix original studded with A-listers like Miley Cyrus and George Clooney.
Not exactly roasting chestnuts on an open fire and free of any Dickensian morality, but that doesn’t stop Bruce Willis from delivering one of the all-time great Christmas lines: “Now I have a machine gun . . . ho, ho, ho.” Hard-nosed NYPD cop John McClane is forced to save his estranged wife and her co-workers when they’re taken hostage at their Christmas party in an LA skyscraper, and Willis’ final confrontation with villainous (and sartorially splendid) German terrorist Hans Gruber (the late, great Alan Rickman) is a scene for the ages.
The Night Before
Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie are three childhood friends who reunite in New York City on Christmas Eve, painting the town red in their resplendent Christmas sweaters. Equal parts stoner comedy and sobering reflection on male friendship as you pass thirty, the trio gaze into adulthood with a string of laugh-out-load mishaps and a thick haze of marijuana smoke lingering over their heads.
When Gus (Denis Leary) embarked on a Christmas Eve jewel heist, he never expected to play marriage counsellor — but when he accidentally takes bickering couple Lloyd and Caroline Chasseur (Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis) hostage, the hapless burglar didn’t have much of a choice. Leary turns from crook to marriage referee, and with gun in hand and a parade of bickering relatives to deal with, stumbles upon the corny old true meaning of Christmas.
Billy Bob Thornton plays a hard-drinking, hard-smoking, sex-addicted mall Santa who teams up with dwarf sidekick Marcus to make a cottage industry of thieving from the shops he works at with their Santa and elf routine . . . until he’s taken in by eight-year-old oddball Thurman Merman, perhaps the greatest character name in cinematic history. Oh, and did we mention it features Lauren Graham (the mum from Gilmore Girls) as a Santa groupie with a fetish for Father Christmas?