We’ve compiled a list of ten of our favorite adult-oriented holiday films for those who’ve grown tired of the constant stream of family fare.
The holiday season has officially begun with the passing of Thanksgiving. Despite the fact that Christmas movies are now airing on our television sets, there is a limit to how much sugary Christmas stuff one can take. While no one is arguing that A Muppet Christmas Carol isn’t a wonderful holiday film, we do believe there is a time and a place for more family-friendly fare. Fortunately, not all Christmas movies aim to make you feel warm and fuzzy. For the more mature crowd, there are plenty of dark, funny, and even melancholy Christmas movies.
In the event that you’re looking for an antidote to all the cheesy holiday movies, here are the 10 best adult Christmas movies. We’ve also put together a list of the best adult Christmas movies ever, so check it out.
1. The Night Before (2015)
Among the most recent adult-themed Christmas movies, The Night Before manages to be both heartwarming and poignant at the same time. Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who starred in Jonathan Levine’s previous film 50/50, return, along with newcomer Anthony Mackie, to feature in this holiday comedy about stoner antics.
The film follows Ethan (Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Rogen), and Chris (Mackie) as they partake in their annual Christmas Eve drinking binge. A few years ago, Isaac and Chris began to fear that Ethan’s adherence to the ritual was stopping him from going on. As the protagonists strive to grow up and move on, the movie’s dialogue and personalities keep it from getting too depressing. Lizzy Caplan, Mindy Kaling, Jason Jones, and Michael Shannon all make appearances in the film.
2. Joyeux Noël (2005)
When an unofficial Christmas ceasefire in 1914 brings together troops from France, Scotland, and Germany on the front lines of the First World War, this film is set in motion. This terrible and brutal war movie transforms into a lovely story of peace on Christmas, even though that peace was ultimately short-lived. The movie is based on a true story of a group of troops who took part in an unofficial cease-fire in No Man’s Land, taking a little break from fighting.
They agreed on a truce after the Scots started singing Christmas songs and the officers from Germany, France and Scotland met and exchanged stories from home. When numerous troops are punished for the truce and war’s reality kicks in again, brotherhood evaporates swiftly. Joyeux Noel, a French film, received numerous international honors and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
3. The Apartment (1960)
We’ve all seen the classic holiday film It’s a Wonderful Life, which is up there with the best of them. When it comes to legendary Christmas movies, The Apartment by Billy Wilder, with its witty cynicism and ultimately uplifted tone, is an excellent pick because it’s less conventional and has a few more adult themes.
The film stars Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon, and follows C.C. Baxter as he tries to climb the corporate ladder by letting company officials to utilize his apartment for their adulterous affairs. The movie isn’t a family affair because of all the sexual liaisons, suicide attempts, and alcoholism. However, despite the fact that it isn’t a traditional Christmas movie, the film’s events take place during the holidays, with crucial sequences taking place at the workplace Christmas and New Year’s parties. The Apartment, despite being controversial at the time, was a critical and economic triumph, winning five Academy Awards.
4. The Ref (1994)
Christmas shenanigans are sprinkled throughout The Ref’s over-the-top comedy of errors. Cat burglar Gus (Denis Leary) is forced to kidnap a troubled suburban couple (Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis) after a tragic twist of events.
Even in the midst of a hostage scenario, the couple’s marital issues are too much for them to bear. All while evading the authorities and dealing with the couple’s large relatives, Gus must act as a referee for the couple’s arguing Those who aren’t looking forward to spending another holiday with their families may like The Ref despite its lack of festive cheer.
5. Bad Santa (2003)
When it comes to Christmas happiness, Bad Santa is a fantastic counterpoint to the excesses of The Ref’s conventional holiday clichés and pleasant feelings. Bill Thornton plays a career criminal named Willie T. Stoke. He dresses up as Santa Claus every year in order to pull off the ultimate Christmas Eve robbery. In fact, Willie’s drinking and sex addiction start interfering with his Santa duties, to to the dismay of his aide Marcus (Tony Cox). The heist is complicated by a kid who thinks Willie is Santa, and a security officer who may be on them.
Willie’s Santa is literally the Santa of every parent’s and child’s fears, since he shows up intoxicated, pees himself, and has sex with store clerks. But it’s not just a humorous movie for the purpose of being funny; Tony Cox, Bernie Mac, and Billy Bob Thornton all give excellent performances. Thornton is nominated for a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the inebriated Willie.
6. Scrooged (1988)
Scrooged, starring Bill Murray as Ebenezer Scrooge, is one of the best adaptations of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. When Murray stars in this 1980s classic as cynical television executive Frank Cross, he has his employees work on Christmas Eve so that the station can put on a live production of A Christmas Carol for the audience. In the typical Christmas Carol tale, Frank sees his old mentor’s ghost, and the ghosts of present, past and future all arrive.
It’s packed with 80s stars, including Murray’s portrayal of Frank, John Glover, Bobcat Goldthwait, Jamie Farr, Buddy Hackett, Mary Lou Retton, and Anne Ramsey making cameo appearances.
7. Trading Places (1983)
Trading Places, another 80s classic, takes place in the weeks leading up to and including New Year’s Eve. After a bet between the Duke brothers Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy (Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy) forces them to switch places, Louis and Billy Ray are forced to trade places. As part of an experiment to discover if a person’s environment or heredity impacts their later success, the billionaire brothers arrange for Louis to be jailed and lose everything.
Some of the most memorable scenes in the film take place over the holiday season, including a scene in which Louis bursts into a Christmas party dressed as a Santa Claus. Although written for adults, it nevertheless manages to transmit the original Christmas story’s message of assisting others in their time of need, despite being funny and enjoyable.
8. Love Actually (2003)
When it comes to holiday cheer and laughs, there’s nothing quite like Love Actually at this time of year. Over an extended holiday period, the film depicts a group of couples coping with a difficult time of year for many people. One man recently lost his wife, another wife has a cheating spouse, another writer is unable to complete any projects, and yet another man is head over heels in love with his best friend’s new wife.
The characters in each of these stories overcome their own personal difficulties with love and the holiday season as the stories intertwine. In addition to Liam Neeson, Keira Knightly, and Colin Firth, the film features a stellar ensemble cast that makes effective use of each member. Even though there are only eight stories, the overall theme of optimism and love is clear.
9. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
If you grew up watching Home Alone as a kid, then Christmas Vacation is the excellent, slightly more mature alternative. A PG-13 rating is acceptable for this film because of the amount of language and mature humor, but it’s not entirely inappropriate for a family audience. Home Alone and National Lampoon’s Vacation writer John Hughes returns with laughs and tears as the Griswold family stays home for Christmas, with the usual Griswold tragic repercussions.
We finally get to see the Griswolds at home for the first time in the National Lampoon series, Christmas Vacation. With his fondness for slapstick comedy and several run-ins with perilous ladders, Chevy Chase’s character, the father of the Griswold family, continues to be a source of chuckles. But it’s not simply a comedy; it’s also a Christmas movie, in which a family comes together and is reminded of their love for one another.
10. A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (2011)
They continue their renowned history of stoner comedy, this time in 3D, in Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. The story picks up six years after the events of Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, with Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) making a triumphant return to the big screen. Since then, they’ve all gone their own ways, but fate has a plan to bring them back together for the holidays. In order to replace the prized Christmas tree that the two have mistakenly destroyed, they must set out to find a new one.
While on the lookout for the ideal Christmas tree, the boys get up to their usual antics, including running into the Ukrainian mob and being abducted. It’s an unexpectedly poignant holiday vacation for two of our favorite stoners despite their gaffes, as they are reunited just in time for Christmas morning.