The holiday season comes around once a year, and every year, people want to sit back, put their feet up and enjoy some Christmas-themed content. However, most of the time, it’s the exact same movies.
Now Christmas classics, the likes of Love Actually, The Holiday, The Muppet Christmas Carol with Michael Caine, and the ever-popular comedy about burglars and a renegade, Home Alone, are watched every year. But at some point, you have to imagine that it’s time to try something new and different.
Netflix has become pretty much everyone’s go-to source of movies and series, and while the streaming platform does boast many Christmas classics, it also has a few hidden gems with a festive theme. Some are heavily linked to Christmas and its famous characters, while others draw from the holiday season, putting a twist on some common tropes of the time of year.
So, let’s get stuck into three of the lesser-known Netflix gems with a holiday theme.
The Christmas Chronicles
Netflix has become an embedded part of entertainment now, and while many older groups cling onto their own Christmas classics, Netflix has gone about trying to create its own. The Christmas Chronicles, which stars Kurt Russell (Elvis, The Thing, Escape From New York, Miracle, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), looks to be Netflix’s attempt at creating a holiday movie which will eventually be considered a Christmas classic.
From the producer behind the Home Alone series (Chris Columbus), The Christmas Chronicles is a story about an edgy Santa Claus who goes out on an adventure with a brother and sister who sought to find him. There’s plenty of humor, some sad moments, and a lot of feel-good Christmas fun. Russell makes for the perfect Santa Claus in this holiday flick, maintaining the spirit of Christmas while injecting a much-needed dose of comedy through his grizzly charm.
It’s a movie that appeals to just about everyone in the festive spirit, but one scene, in particular, draws from childhood experiences. The stage is set for the film by the two siblings setting up a Santa trap to see if he’s real. Everyone will have wanted to stay up or offer milk and cookies for Santa, but this film gives it a very obvious, modern twist, with the siblings setting up a hidden camera, as would any savvy Santa hunter in the modern-day.
Happy! is not your run-of-the-mill bit of Christmas content, with the Netflix series drawing much of its setting and antics from the holiday season but twisting it to suit the irreverent action-comedy. Based on the graphic novel of the same name, Season 1 is very Christmas-oriented, while Season 2 takes the story to Easter. It stars Christopher Meloni (Wet Hot American Summer, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Sin City) as well as Patton Oswalt (The Goldbergs, Young Adult, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) in the lead voice acting role.
You can tell that Happy! isn’t going to be a standard Christmas adventure from the get-go, with the protagonist being a disgraced detective who has become an outcast. But when a child’s imaginary unicorn friend, named Happy, informs him of a bad Santa abducting children, he goes about finding Santa. It’s very much made for alternate holiday season viewing, but it certainly draws on Christmas tropes in its own way. There are many ways in which Happy! takes the Christmas spirit and flips it on its head, with the child-abducting Santa being the most obvious one.
But the show also does it very subtly in other instances, such as in the card game scene in the second episode. Every year, after Christmas dinner, families will often gather around their table for a game of cards, like newmarket or poker. It has become increasingly popular in recent times as more people are turning to online platforms to play their card games as well as other classic gambling games in their own time – getting better for the all-important Christmas contests. The show-runners played with this common Christmas tradition by using different elements such as a unicorn. Naturally, every household boasts at least one cheater in their card games each year.
Going back to a more traditional-looking holiday movie, and in very traditional aesthetics, Klaus is Netflix’s first proper go at a full-length animated feature, using stunning 2D animation to do so. The trailer has been added above, but take very little from it as, as has been noted by many who praise the movie, it’s very poor at giving an essence of the story, especially due to the chosen trailer soundtrack.
In any case, Klaus is very much a Santa origin story, taking place in a town at war with itself, following a lazy son of a postman who has to go to the town to prove that he is worthy of an inheritance. Tasked with sending thousands of letters, the protagonist eventually encounters Klaus, and they gradually team up and start to build the foundations of Christmas by delivering gifts to children.
The scenes in which Klaus and Jesper (the postman), begin to realize that being generous and kind to others despite all of the warring and unsettling behavior in the town is good works well as a mirror for the modern-day. It offers the message that people want to promote at Christmas time with their families, that regardless of what has happened throughout the year, on December 25, matters are put to one side and they all come together to be nice.
If you want to enjoy something in the theme of the holiday season but not a movie or series which everyone has seen before, flick on Netflix and have a look for The Christmas Chronicles or Klaus as they might just be Christmas classics in the making. For something Christmassy in a very different way, give Happy! a go.