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Christmas movies are a hugely popular sub-genre of film and littered with a little bit of everything – inspirational (It’s A Wonderful Life), rom-coms (Love Actually), horror (Silent Night, Deadly Night). But there also exists another related, but inherently different set of movies that are set during this festive time of year, but can scarcely be deemed typical “Christmas Movies.” In each of these movies listed below, the holiday season does not really play an intrinsic role in the story, but is relegated more to the background and serving only minimally to plot progression or character development.

Look at a movie like Home Alone, sure its basic plot of a kid being left home alone when his family goes on vacation and he is forced to thwart a pair of bumbling burglars does not have to be set at Christmas, but because the holiday plays such a visual and intrinsic role in the film’s story/theme it is therefore deemed an acceptable Christmas movie. On the other hand, movies like Die Hard (or Die Hard 2 for the matter) and Gremlins, even though set during Christmastime, have no real attachment to the holiday itself, thus they are dubbed monikers like anti-Christmas movie.

This list is designed to highlight other movies like the Die Hards and Gremlins (both excluded from the list due to their poster-child status as the co-called “anti-Christmas movies”), as a way to celebrate the holiday season without getting overrun by the typical clichéd and repetitive Christmas movie.

 

20. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005)

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Shane Black’s incredibly entertaining, self-referential neo-noir opens with Robert Downey, Jr. clumsily robbing a toy store – for not only cash, but also for the toy atop his kid’s Christmas list (which he, of course, cannot find). In his escape, he is mistaken for an actor and whisked away to Hollywood for a screen test. Once the action moves to L.A. we get a ton of glimpses of the west coast-styled Christmas, including trendy decorations, a few random Christmas trees, and, my personal favorite, Michelle Monaghan clad in a sexy Santa outfit.

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This article was first posted on December 25, 2012