Friday, December 8, 2023

Five Holiday Flicks to Watch That Don’t focus on Family

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Being a voluntary orphan sucks hard sometimes, especially during the holidays. For the past three years, I have had to renegotiate my relationship to the media I consume in order to avoid uncomfortable reminders and triggers. Christmastime just piles on to that stress, as it is difficult to find movies that don’t gush about the importance of ~ family ~. Hallmark offers escape for some, but for others, Hallmark is a sugar plum nightmare. The pandemic means millions of people will not be seeing family this year, and in case our readers want an escape from reminders of family, I compiled a list of safe movies. Some classic, some too weird for Hallmark — so here are five holiday flicks that do not center ‘family’ as their main theme.

White Christmas (1954)

 Irving Berlin penned the Christmas classic ‘White Christmas’, and Bing Crosby’s version would become the world’s best-selling single of all time. And that song would form the foundation of White Christmas, a 1954 holiday musical. Crosby and Danny Kaye star as World War II vets whose friendship and musical talents turn them into seasoned entertainers. They connect with the Haynes sisters, two ambitious singers themselves, and the four come together in order to save a financially-strapped ski lodge. While the film’s second duo is a sister act with all the family dynamic to boot, Crosby and Kaye’s chemistry balances out the family tension and affirms that often camaraderie is found outside the home.

White Christmas has lovely musical numbers, sincere romance, and a grainy filter that might pull you out of reality just enough so you aren’t perturbed by characters not socially distancing.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)

After reading the news, I sometimes want to set something on fire, so the 1966 Grinch offers that cathartic escape into villainy. Yes, I do want to be a ~ mean ~ one, Boris Karloff. For those who somehow missed out on half a century of pop culture, the Grinch focuses on the titular character who masquerades as Santa so he can ruin Christmas for his rowdy neighbors. And unlike the live-action, Jim-Carrey-starring adaption, this film avoids explicit familial relationships. Dr. Seuss’s subtle condemnation of Christmastime commercialization resonates today as humanity is relearning to live in the moment, understanding in a whole new way gratitude for the simple things this holiday season. Also Max is a good, adorable boy, and who doesn’t want to see a cartoon dog wearing reindeer antlers?

Opus ‘n’ Bill: A Wish for Wings that Work (1991)

In 1991, cartoonist Berkeley Breathed released a children’s book that used characters from one of his comic strips; it would be adapted into a television special later that year. The half-hour program tells the story of Opus, a snarky penguin, who writes to Santa for a pair of wings that ‘work’ i.e. fly, and the plot is as wholesome as you would expect from such a synopsis. But the dialogue also unpredictably drops fast-paced adult humor so clever that it will have you laughing through the 2020 pain this holiday season. If you need more convincing, the special includes an uncredited Robin Williams cameo.

Nostalgia Critic: The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978/2015)

The Star Wars Holiday Special’s legacy centers around how terrible it is, and the writers made creative decisions that were as bizarre and illogical as the kind seen in the recent CATS movie. The plot is so wacky I’m not quite sure how to summarize it, except it centers around Han Solo and Chewbacca returning to Kashyyyk in order to celebrate ‘Life Day’ with Chewbacca’s family. The Empire shows up and wrecks everyone’s holiday plans, as fascists are wont to do. And for the extra nerdy Star Wars fans, Boba Fett makes his first appearance.

Instead of hunting down a grainy bootlegged copy online, I recommend our readers watch a review of it instead, as no one needs to devote ninety-eight minutes of their lives to appreciate the awfulness of this movie. And I discovered that baffled YouTubers trying to review bad movies is one of the best distractions from inner demons. Disappear into a trainwreck of late 70s culture and enjoy some schadenfreude as Nostalgia Critic tries to process this monstrosity. 

Pottersville (2017)

The weirdness of 2020 has almost ruined weird fiction as a concept, but Pottersville said hold my beer. In summary, Pottersville follows a general store owner after he discovers his bored wife is a furry, who then proceeds to leave him in search of excitement. In a drunken fit, he dresses up as Bigfoot and incites rumors about the creature in his small town, leading to shenanigans and more eccentric characters. It’s a Christmas movie because of its setting and aesthetic. Regardless of its quality, the film has my respect because it had Ron Perlman play a furry. Perlman’s filmography includes prosthetic-heavy monster roles such as Vincent, the Byronic Beast of the Beauty and the Beast TV show. His character left fangirls thirsting in the 80s. The casting agent knew what they were doing.

And if you have any holiday films to recommend, ones not centered around family, let us know over at The Fandomentals Discord! Happy Holidays!

Image courtesy of Pixabay

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  • Taylor

    Taylor is a writer who will always jump at the chance to blur genres. So obviously she can't pick just one to fangirl over. Though if she had to choose, she would narrow it down to science fiction and fantasy. Currently, she is most interested in women-centric stories and the depiction of trauma in media. She is also an aspiring YA novelist and aspiring Taylor Swift scholar.

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