Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Go beyond Dickens with These Offbeat Holiday Dvds

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Go beyond Dickens with These Offbeat Holiday Dvds

Article excerpt

OK, so there's only so many times you can watch "It's a Wonderful Life," and by now you can probably quote every line of "A Christmas Story."

What you need are some different Christmas DVD viewing selections to keep you going through the holiday week.

Here are 10 offbeat selections, far afield of the classic "Grinch"/"Rudolph"/"Charlie Brown" traditions. Some of them are family friendly, while others definitely will spike your eggnog.

* "Batman Returns" (1992). It's a bleak winter in Tim Burton's second installment of the superhero franchise, but the Caped Crusader's heroics guarantee a holiday safe from the Penguin's evil schemes. As Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) says in the movie's final line, "Merry Christmas, Alfred. Good will toward men ... and women."

* "Blackadder's Christmas Carol" (1988). Rowan Atkinson's time- hopping character makes a stop in Dickensian London, in a hilarious upending of "A Christmas Carol," in which the kindly Ebenezer Blackadder learns the lesson that being bad has its advantages. The supporting cast includes Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent and Miriam Margolyes.

* "Die Hard" (1988). Nothing livens up an office Christmas party like a terrorist group's hostage crisis -- or cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) crashing the party to save his estranged wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia).

* "Gremlins" (1984). Joe Dante's monster comedy, in which cute furry creatures turn into mean little beasties, is a funny/scary object lesson in the dangers of buying a pet for Christmas.

* "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" (2001). Nearly any Harry Potter movie will do, because J.K. Rowling really nails the joy Harry experiences every holiday at Hogwarts -- with presents from his friends and the Weasley family (plus the Invisibility Cloak) filling the void left by those awful Dursleys. …

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