If you’re just a little worn out hearing holiday music and all the lights and tinsel, these dark comedy holiday movies are the best remedy for your holiday burn-out.
Dark comedies about the holiday provide cheer-weary viewers with movies options to help balance the heart-warming and generally predictable fare that is available during the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which, I’m already so over.
The following movies, listed in alphabetical order (not in order of coolness or laugh-value), are dark comedies set during the holiday season.
You’re definitely going to watch at least one this holiday season.
6 Best Dark Comedy Holiday Movies
Two con artists, disguised as Santa (Billy Bob Thornton) and an elf (Tony Cox), take seasonal jobs at shopping malls, which they then rob on Christmas Eve. Their annual holiday stealing spree becomes complicated when an eight-year-old boy befriends Santa is befriended. Filled with dozens of profanities, an alcoholic Santa, violence, and jokes of questionable taste, Bad Santa is a dark comedy that revels in its dysfunctional relationships and skewering of holiday sentimentality.
In this thriller-comedy, Charlie (John Cusack), a mob lawyer, steals money from his boss (Randy Quaid) on Christmas Eve. He and his partner Vic (Billy Bob Thorton) just need to quickly and quietly leave town. But an ice storm has blocked the roads, trapping them in Witchita as the search for the money ensues. This noirish dark comedy didn’t do well in the box office, but has found a fan base on DVD.
This action-comedy, directed by Shane Black, cleverly sends up noir films and Hollywood. After a bungled attempt to steal Christmas toys, small-time crook Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey, Jr.) runs into a movie audition in order to escape the cops. He is cast as a private eye, but soon finds himself in the middle of a real murder investigation with Gay Perry (Val Kilmer), the real detective coaching him, and aspiring star Harmony Faith Lane.
Nora Ephron’s dark comedy, based on Le Père Noël est une Ordure (1982), focuses on Christmas Eve at a suicide-crisis hotline center. Its three counselors, each with their own problems, encounter an odd mix of characters. Mixed Nuts stars Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn, Rita Wilson, and Robert Klein, and includes performances by a number of comedic actors. Audience reaction to Mixed Nuts is highly divided, with people either loving it or hating it.
When a heist goes wrong on Christmas Even, Gus (Denis Leary) is forced to take Lloyd (Kevin Spacey) and his wife Caroline (Judy Davis) hostage. The bickering couple, and other members of this dysfunctional family, quickly annoys Gus, who finds himself in the middle of and refereeing their arguments. Filled with funny and often profane dialogue as well as rapid banter, The Ref showcases Leary’s style of humor.
Bill Murray stars as a cynical television executive in this contemporary update of A Christmas Carol, which takes place on the night he has ordered his employees to produce a live broadcast of the Dickens’s tale on Christmas Eve. Funnier than most versions of the tale – the Muppets film being a notable exception – Scrooged’s humor benefits from Murray’s turn as a seriously jaded and unlikable man.
The above dark comedies range from predominantly comic to disturbingly dark, although all can be characterized as quirky takes on the holiday-movie genre. For viewers who enjoy not only dark comedies but noir films, thrillers, and satires, they are welcome substitutes for the conventional holiday-movie standards.
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