Personally, I LOOOOOVE the holidays (all five Os of it). Sit me down in the middle of a mall with a cup of coffee and an IPod full of yuletide tunes and I’m in heaven. However, I know that many people don’t share my love of the crazy Christmas season. For some, it’s the most woeful time of the year. Especially if everyone around them is walking around in a candy cane scented cloud of good cheer.
But never fear, my grinchy friends! I’ve got a list of angry, explosions-and-anger fueled diversions that are still holiday-appropriate. Add them to your holiday arsenal and whip them out when your elfy-type friends and loved ones (such as yours truly) gambol in your general direction with a glass of wassail and a brightly sugared snowman cookie and chirp, “Let’s do something CHRISTMASSY!”
Note: If the above image just sent shivers of disgust down your spine and made you want to hurl glass ornaments against your garage door, then you’re definitely in the right place.
The Ref (1994)
Denis Leary plays a cat burglar who gets trapped in a sleep Connecticut town after a botched Christmas Eve robbery. With the police closing in, he takes a middle-aged couple with marital problems (Kevin Spacey, Judy Davis) as hostages. But as their bickering and bitching continues regardless of the life-threatening situation, you start to wonder who the real victim is, especially once the rest of the family shows up for Christmas dinner. Also starring Christine Baranski and Glynis Johns.
This is probably the most blatantly Christmas-themed of the films I offer to you, but with Leary’s snide comments (not to mention filthy mouth), the fact that it’s Christmas only makes the bitterness that much richer and more enjoyable, not to mention frickin’ hilarious.
Die Hard (1988)
Bruce Willis stars as the iconic John McClane, a New York City cop on vacation in LA as he tries to reconnect with his estranged wife and daughter. However, the Christmas party at his wife’ company is hijacked by a group of terrorists (or so it seems…) led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). With all the employees taken as hostages, it’s up to John McClane to save Christmas…er, I mean, everyone’s lives.
Well, do you really need any more reason to watch this movie? It’s a classic, holiday or otherwise, and if you haven’t see it yet–for shame!
A secretary (Vivien Leigh) hopes to gain a better life by stealing a large sum of money from her employer and leaving town. On her way to her long time and somewhat illicit lover, she stops for the night at the Bates Motel, run by unassuming hotelier Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). Hilarity ensues!
And by hilarity, I mean murder, cover-up, investigation, more murder, and so on.
It’s weird but true–Psycho is technically a Christmas movie! Maybe the best kind of Christmas movie for some of you, as no one learns a valuable lesson and there is not a flake of snow to be found (it’s primarily set in Phoenix, after all). The slate at the beginning of the film puts the first day of the story in the beginning of December, and if you look carefully during a few scenes, you can spy Christmas decorations. Take that, girlfriend-looking-to-cuddle-up-with-a-heartwarming-Christmas-tale! No Rudolph for you this year!
Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
This collection of six short stories depict a darker, more unusual side of the holiday season. The range in form, from straight narrative, to a holiday play review, to one of those family update Christmas letters you might receive with a picture of a smiling family. My favorite is “Dinah, the Christmas Whore”, mostly because it’s based on a real life occurrence (at least, it’s written to make you believe it is). It’s also the most sentimental story in the bunch, so if you’re looking for something harder, I would suggest “Christmas Means Giving,” which is a beautiful, biting piece of satire on consumption and one-upsmanship.
Holidays on Ice a small book, only 134 pages and about half the size of a standard paperback, but if I had to do it over again I would buy the audio version, read by Sederis himself. The stories are written as if they should read aloud anyway–more specifically, read aloud with Sedaris’s endearing deadpan delivery.
Besides, reading is a solitary activity, and holiday resentment just isn’t the same if you can’t share it with the people you love via audio transmission.
Angry Birds Seasons
You play as a group of birds (or a murder of crow…birds…if you want to be excessively irate and don’t mind pushing definitions just a bit). Several green pigs stole your eggs and hid them being a series of rickety structures and ill-placed rocks. Retrieve them by hurling your feathery squadron at the questionable strongholds.
The Holiday version of Angry Birds (entitled “Seasons Greedings,” in case you weren’t sufficiently irritated yet) functions like a 25 Days of Christmas calendar, with 25 levels for you to play as you count down to Christmas Day and the end of your torment. Play one level a day for extended catharsis, or play all at once to really blow off some steam.
As a nice bonus, if you acquire Angry Birds Seasons to expunge your Christmas rage, you will also have access to other holiday editions as well, such as Valentine’s Day and Halloween. Just in case your hatred is the kind of gift that gives regardless of the season.
Merry Hatemas, Every One!