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I don’t mean to dis the holiday season. But let’s get real…

85% of all families are dysfunctional, in one way or another. For those who grew up in emotionally broken homes, the holidays can be as much fun as walking on broken glass. Even when their current grown-up lives are pretty darn good. For whatever reason, old emotional mine fields re-engage with a little eggnog and a dash of commercialized holiday cheer.

But before you’re tempted to string yourself up with those Christmas lights, why not try a tradition guaranteed to chase away the holiday blues? Put some FUN back in your dysfunctional holidays with these awesome films…

Die Hard

Die Hard poster A New York City cop gets trapped in a Los Angeles high-rise occupied by terrorists on Christmas Eve.

Yes, I’m serious. The original Die Hard movie is one of my favorite holiday movies, for the following reasons:

  1. John McClane’s (Bruce Willis) Christmas Eve is way worse than anybody’s holiday could ever be. Yes, even with your annoying relatives.
  2. Alan Rickman. Need I say more?
  3. Baddass Bruce tormenting bad guys, as only he can.
  4. Yippe Ki Yay mother **cker! Best action film line ever! Especially when delivered with Baddass Bruce snark.
  5. High intensity fun with a happy ending.

Die Hard 2 –Die Harder

John McClane, officer of the NYPD averts disaster as rogue military officials seize controlDie Hard 2: Die Harder of Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. and save his wife Holly who is on one of the planes attempting to land.

No, I’m not kidding. This is my second favorite holiday movie. Which I usually watch right after the first Die Hard movie. Gotta  keep the adrenaline pumping, you know.

  1. This story is also set on Christmas Eve.
  2. The bad guys are new and the technical tactics are interesting.
  3. More great snarky lines.
  4. Bruce is his same baddass self.
  5. More high intensity fun with another happy ending.

The Matrix

The Matrix posterI’m only going to recommend the first Matrix movie. The other two felt overdone (story-wise), in my humble opinion. But you go ahead and watch all three, if you need the escapism. Here’s the synopsis for the first in the series:

In the near future, a computer hacker named Neo discovers that life on Earth is nothing more than a virtual reality — The Matrix — created by intelligent-machines, so they can farm our life essence and dominate the “real” world. Neo joins like-minded Rebel warriors Morpheus and Trinity to overthrow The Matrix.

What’s so great about that, you ask? Take the red pill and I’ll show you:

  1. This movie has nothing to do with Christmas. At all.
  2. A lean mean Keanu Reeves and kickass Carrie Anne Moss. Take your pick.
  3. Awesome martial arts fight scenes, and some slick dodging of bullets.
  4. The story’s existential undertones make it easy to detach from commercially concocted holiday expectations. I mean, seriously… “There is no spoon.”
  5. Annoying relatives probably won’t want to watch this movie with you. A definite plus!

Chocolat

Chocolat moive posterWhen Vianne (Juliette Binoche), a mysterious stranger, and her child arrive in a tranquil French town in the winter of 1959, nobody expects the impact she and her daughter will have on their community which is stubbornly rooted in tradition. Vianne has the audacity to open a very unusual chocolate shop right across the square from the church. Then her unusual ability to perceive her customers’ private desires and satisfy them with just the right confection coaxes the villagers to abandon their straight-laced ways.

The resident nobleman and self-appointed leader of the town fears Vianne is ruining his town, and forbids anyone from entering her shop. He is hoping to put her out of business, and drive her away forever. And it almost works. But the handsome gypsy, Roux (Johnny Depp), arrives and joins forces with Vianne to liberate the town. A dramatic confrontation ensues, ultimately changing the town, and the people’s hearts, for the better.

This movie is the opposite of baddass, but its magical charm is just as powerful. Here’s why:

  1. The idyllic French country town magically whisks you away and suspends disbelief.
  2. Juliette Binoche and Johny Depp. Your choice.
  3. Rigid traditions fall away in favor of new ways that free the spirit of the town’s people. You’ve gotta love that!
  4. Did I mention Johnny Depp? He plays a twelve string steel guitar. For reals!
  5. The theme of inclusion as a positive force and exclusion as a destructive force hits the right note.

Last Holiday

XMAS_LastHoliday_Right before Christmas, shy New Orleans cookware sales clerk Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah) receives the news that she has less than a month to live. This harsh reality causes Georgia to rebel against her timid life. She hops on a plane, jetting off on a dream vacation, living like there’s no tomorrow — because for her there isn’t.

Georgia succeeds in shaking up a glamorous European resort spa, commanding the attention of senators and hotel staff alike! LL Cool J, Georgia’s handsome suitor in New Orleans, chases after her for a surprise happy ending.

For those of you who read last year’s — more politically correct — 5 Get-in-the-Holiday-Mood Movies post, you’ll remember this movie was on that list. This is not a mistake. This movie deserves to be on both lists. Here’s why:

  1. Queen Latifa is a hoot-and-a-half.
  2. Great lines all around. The supporting cast (Timothy Hutton, Gerard Depardieu, Alicia Witt and Giancarlo Esposito) are all laugh-out-loud funny.
  3. The beautiful Eastern European mountain setting!
  4. This movie is deep with meaning and big on heart.
  5. It’s a great reminder about what’s important in life. Don’t waste your energy on your annoying relatives. Watch another movie instead!

Do you have any movies to add to this list?

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