Do films like Die Hard and Gremlins count as Christmas movies? This reviewer says yes.
Rare Exports (2010) rated R
Summary: Young Pietari lives with his stern reindeer-herding father Rauno in arctic Finland. On the eve of Christmas, an enormous excavation at a nearby mountain disturbs the locals and captures Pietari’s curiosity. When Rauno’s reindeer herd is mysteriously slain and the children in town go missing, Pietari realizes that the dig has unearthed the evil Santa Claus of local lore, who no one wants coming to town.
Recommendation: This one is weird – it’s from Finland and is mostly presented in Finnish with lots of English sprinkled throughout. Be prepared for subtitles, austere surroundings, and a blend of mythos and superstition dropped into a scientific excavation. The laughs don’t come easily because it all starts off quite scary and mysterious. Look for the completely unrelated movie starring the same people called Big Game that stars Samuel L. Jackson as the American president!
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) rated PG-13
Summary: Christmas is the perfect season for Clark Griswold and his family. Clark’s a disaster waiting to happen. You have to see it to believe it. There are 25,000 lights on the Griswold rooftop. An exploding turkey. And a house full of relatives.
Recommendation: Watching Chevy Chase for all of my life, this is still one of his best portrayals of frustration tempered by the Christmas spirit. The cattiness toward his coworkers, jealousy & envy released, disgust for his relatives, overzealous attempt to decorate the house, rollicking physical comedy, and his genuine determination to make this the best Christmas EVER, no matter what, lol, is what I loved through this holiday fracas.
Trading Places (1983) rated R
Summary: The rich Duke Brothers wager on whether a born loser like Billy Ray Valentine, a hustler from the ghetto, can become as successful as Winthorpe, a wealthy investment executive, if put in the proper environment–and would a prig like Winthorpe turn to a life of crime if he were to lose it all.
Recommendation: Consider this story dated (early eighties) and you’ll enjoy it more if you can forgive some of the language used and gags performed. Eddie Murphy is a delight and the transition Dan Aykroyd takes on is amazing. Jamie Lee Curtis is fabulous in her city-wise wig-wearing guise. My favorite secondary character may be the aggrieved butler Coleman who works so hard to keep his (current) man of the house outfitted appropriately.