13 Christmas Movies You Definitely Shouldn’t Watch With Your Family

13 Christmas Movies You Definitely Shouldn’t Watch With Your Family

The naughty Christmas movie is a venerable sub-genre, going back at least as far as 1974’s Black Christmas, a movie that scandalized audiences with the dual ideas that not only are people super horny during the holidays, they also are occasionally contemplating murder.

Black Christmas does not make our list of Christmas movies to avoid watching with your family because, of course, you should absolutely watch Black Christmas with your family. Everyone needs to understand the dangers of sorority house slashers during the holiday season. Meanwhile, there’s a new David Harbour-starring action-comedy about the literal Santa Claus fighting off hostage-taking mercenaries that you definitely don’t want to try to explain to your Aunt Carol.

Here are 13 more movies that are best watched after the kids and/or grandma have gone to bed — which isn’t to assume grandma is uncool, only that you might not want to sit around after Christmas dinner watching Eyes Wide Shut with her (she’s already seen it a million times and won’t stop quoting the dialogue, you see).

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Though I’d generally suggest not watching Eyes Wide Shut with the family at any time of year, Tom Cruise’s erotic journey through the holiday season might actually be an effective way to clear the house of stray aunties, uncles, and assorted other relatives who might have been preferred some sort of football situation to a depressing masked orgy.

Tangerine (2015)

On this particular Christmas Eve in Hollywood, Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez), a trans sex worker fresh out of jail, learns that her boyfriend has been cheating on her while she was away. She enlists a couple of friends on a mission to find and confront the one-time pimp. Though it’s utterly delightful, with some of the beats of an old-school girlfriend/buddy comedy, the language and adult-ish situations mean it’s probably not meant for the littlest ones (A Kid Like Jake, while not as good a movie as Tangerine, works pretty well if you’re looking for something trans- and enby-friendly that you could safely watch with the family).

The Apartment (1960)

This one’s less overtly filthy than many other movies on this list — more appropriately categorised as a sex farce or even a romantic comedy than anything particularly raunchy. But it’s nonetheless about an insurance clerk (Jack Lemmon) who loans out his apartment to his bosses for their various extramarital affairs while falling for the elevator operator (Shirley MacLaine) sleeping with his boss. Kids probably wouldn’t get it anyway, but it’s definitely not Miracle on 34th Street-level wholesome.

A Bad Mums Christmas (2017)

The already solid core cast of Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn gained strength with the addition of Susan Sarandon, Christine Baranski and Cheryl Hines for this Bad Mums sequel, taking things to a whole other level. It arrived just over a year after the first movie, giving it a bit of a slapdash feel, but one that works for a raunchy, women-led Christmas comedy. It mostly avoids the salty/sweet balance than made the original a hit, and instead aims right for the sassy jokes surrounding a holiday debacle.

The Night Before (2015)

What else are you gonna do Christmas Eve other than spend the night with your friends best friends (Seth Rogan, Anthony Mackie, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt) at something called the Nutcracker Ball? Yeah, sounds awful to me, too. Luckily they’ve got a ton of drugs to get them through the night. If you’re worried about your kids absorbing a message that more or less boiled down to “drugs make things fun and funny,” it’s best avoided. There is a slightly weird anti-steroid message here too, though, so I suppose it depends on what you’re most worried about.

The Ref (1994)

Sometimes stand-up Dennis Leary crams plenty of…let’s call it “adult” language into The Ref, but that’s really not the reason (or at least not the only reason) you probably don’t want to watch it with your family. Leary plays a crook who winds up taking a couple (Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey) hostage when a job goes wrong. The joke’s on him, because they’re at each other’s throats every moment. They’re really the most bitter, hateful people imaginable, and Leary’s robber/hostage-taker winds up as not only the movie’s most likable character, but also the peacemaker, especially when the rest of the family shows up for Christmas Eve dinner. If you want to be horrified by a bunch of terrible in-laws, you probably don’t need to turn on the TV, is what I’m saying.

Office Christmas Party (2016)

Though it ultimately lets down with a bit of holiday sentimentality at the end, there’s still plenty of raunch to be found in this Christmas comedy with a surprisingly stacked cast (Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon, Olivia Munn, etc.). Still, that general air of naughtiness is an argument against sitting your family down for a Christmas Day-viewing. On the other hand, maybe it’s good to teach your kids early on that a booze, cocaine, and sex-fuelled office party is the kind of thing that should never, ever happen in real life for all sorts of reason. Trust me, you don’t want to do coke with your co-workers at office functions.

Less Than Zero (1987)

Straight-laced college freshman Clay (Andrew McCarthy) returns to Los Angeles over Christmas vacation to find that his old pals (Jami Gertz, Robert Downey, Jr., and James Spader) are living a very ‘80s lifestyle of sex, drugs, and debauchery. They’re all definitely having a very white Christmas, if you get my drift, but it’s not “snow” that’s falling in L.A. (It’s cocaine. I’m talking about cocaine.)

Go (1999)

The story of a bungled Christmas drug deal wends its way through a rave, a pedestrian hit-and-run, a strip club, a Vegas threesome, and more than one shooting, Go sometimes gets overlooked amid the run of much inferior Pulp Fiction imitators of the late 1990s, but as unconventional Christmas movies go it’s right up there with Die Hard. But unless you want your kids to ask lots of questions about why shirtless, drug-dealing Santa is brandishing a gun and coming on to Katie Holmes, it’s best to leave it until they are nestled all snug in their beds.

Friday After Next (2002)

I’m not entirely sure that you should watch Friday After Next period, and certainly not with your family…but as shamelessly filthy Christmas comedies go, I suppose it holds a certain appeal. In its favour, there’s not a ton of learning, sharing, or caring on display, which I can respect. If all you want for Christmas is a whole lotta prison rape jokes, this is definitely your movie.

A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas (2011)

Sure, John Cho has become one of Hollywood’s more bankable actors, while Kal Penn’s been a White House staffer and an academic lecturer in media studies (while also continuing to act). None of that means that we can’t still enjoy their goofier sides in this stoner Christmas comedy — the last in the Harold & Kumar saga, and very much on par with the better-than-you’d-guess previous movies. It’s the kind of Christmas flick in which Santa smokes a bong on his holiday rounds and replacement urine for a drug test more than qualifies as a nice Christmas present. Other than the crude jokes and the pot humour, there’s a sweetness that makes it among the least objectionable of these offbeat holiday films. And I suppose if you were to put it on for the kids, you could talk about how well Harold and Kumar turned out despite (or because of) all the weed. Never mind, I’m reclassifying this one as wholesome fun for the whole family.

Bad Santa (2003)

The platonic ideal of a rude Christmas movie, Terry Zwigoff’s Bad Santa stars Billy Bob Thornton as Willie Soke, a mall Santa who’s actually a con man, using his seasonal gigs to scope out stores that he can rob at night. He represents everything that you probably don’t want your kid to be around during the holidays (or anytime, really): he’s foul-mouthed, cynical, and abusive whenever he’s not putting on the merest hint of a front for the children. The film does offer a solid Christmas redemption arc in-between scenes of Santa fucking Rory Gilmore’s mum in a car, but that’s probably not enough to make you want to watch it with the littl’uns.

Blast of Silence (1961)

We know what we’re getting with film noir (or neo-noir), and it ain’t the stuff of festive holiday movies. Blast of Silence, though, is a particularly nasty bit of work. Frank Bono (played by the director, Allen Baron) visits New York City for the holidays. Sounds lovely, but Frank is a deeply unbalanced hitman tasked with killing a racketeer — and when the normally blank murderer gets caught up in some of that holiday spirit, it doesn’t lead to the kind of Christmas miracle you might be looking for. Quite the opposite, in fact. Existential dread ultimately gives way to violence and the sure and certain knowledge that peace and goodwill won’t save you. Merry Xmas!

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