By Melissa Chapman
Warsaw Community Public Library
WARSAW — Sometimes the best holiday movies aren’t the ones with Santa. Some of the best films are where you see Christmas in the background and hear it in music. Christmas is used to remind us of family. Here are some holiday classics that might not have Christmas in the foreground, but they do have Christmas in heart.
“Die Hard” is unquestionably a Christmas movie. Like other great Christmas movies, it’s about people overcoming hindrances so they can spend Christmas with their loved ones. John McClane’s obstacles just happen to be heavily armed German terrorists. The fighting starts with a Christmas Eve party at the Nakatomi Plaza.
Nothing illustrates the nice-naughty dichotomy like the lovable Mogwais, who turn into horrid, creepy “Gremlins” if you aren’t cautious with their care. The lesson is that the only person you should feed after midnight is Santa.
In “Reindeer Games,” desperate criminals rob a casino, dressed as Santa. It falls apart, and the other bad guys decide to drive Ben Affleck’s “Rudy” off a cliff with some of the stolen money. He escapes, gives the wealth to strangers and eats a Christmas dinner with his family. We often think of Christmas as a beautiful, pristine holiday, but sometimes it’s more like a miserable Ben Affleck in a filthy Santa suit.
“Meet Me in St. Louis” is the story of a year in St. Louis, leading up to the World’s Fair. The budding trolley romance of Judy Garland and the boy next door almost falls apart when her father announces they’re moving after Christmas, which leads to Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” one of our greatest and saddest Christmas carols.
“Edward Scissorhands” is about an artificially created man with scissors for hands, who gets adopted by a suburban family. Many people’s Christmas is trying to fit in with family even though you feel like an awkward oddity. Edward eventually gets chased out of town by suburbanites, but escapes to the safety of his castle.
In “Trading Places,” two old wealthy guys destroy Dan Aykroyd’s life and turn homeless man Eddie Murphy into a commodities broker, all on a bet. Aykroyd bottoms out when he crashes his old company’s Christmas party in a filthy Santa outfit and gets drunk, brandishes a gun and shoves meat into his coat. It’s a dark comedy but ultimately redemptive, as the Scrooges lose in the end.