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Here's RA's Non-NHL Entertainment Guide To Get You Through The Next Several Days

The NHL started its annual Christmas break early this year due to COVID shit but that just means you get a head start on your non-NHL entertainment for the league's Yuletide breather. Here's a few options for you (I listed where the movies are currently streaming but they're also for rent/sale in the usual spots).


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BAD SANTA (rent/purchase in usual spots). The best of the Christmas movie lot is this raunchy 2003 modern classic starring Billy Bob Thornton as a thief who dresses up as a mall Santa every December to pull off a score with his bawdy sidekick, Tony Cox. Still as shockingly funny as it was when it dropped, this fan favorite also stars a game Lauren Graham and two late comedic superstars in Bernie Mac and John Ritter. There is no funnier Christmas movie and as warped as it is, BAD SANTA still somehow carries a holiday message.

A CHRISTMAS STORY (HBOMax or TBS/TNT). This timeless Yuletide flick has been a tradition for many long before TBS/TNT made it a Dec. 25th staple. Though set in the '40s, Ralphie's quest for a Red Ryder B.B. gun is a timeless one that any kid could relate to at Christmastime. Gifting us with several iconic lines, props, and characters, ACS is as much a part of Christmas Day as gassing vino to put up with relatives. 

NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION (HBOMax). The third entry in the Griswold film series is the most endearing and possibly most popular (though the first one will always be the best). Clark and Ellen have the in-laws over for a hectic holiday but things go sideways when Clark doesn't get his bonus. Stuffed with quotes and a charismatic Chevy Chase performance, it gets even funnier when Cousin Eddie shows up with his white trash schtick.


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L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (Showtime Anytime). If TITANIC came out a year later, this terrific movie about dirty 1950s L.A. cops starring two relatively unknown Aussies would've cleaned up at the Oscars (though Kim Basinger did win Best Supporting Actress). Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce butt heads before joining forces to root out corrupt co-workers and solve a grisly multiple homicide. If you get up to grab a drink or a piss, make sure to hit pause or you'll miss a pertinent detail. Also starring Jamie Cromwell, Danny DeVito, and Kevin Spacey before we knew what a creep he is.

BLUE COLLAR (rent/purchase in usual spots). This 1978 drama written/directed by Paul Schrader features Richard Pryor's best acting performance. Pryor, Yaphet Kotto, and Harvey Keitel play three union auto workers who realize they're getting screwed six ways to Sunday and try to rectify the situation. Though there are some laughs, this movie isn't a comedy and, in fact, gets pretty dark. And it's as relevant today as when it came out.

THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS (Amazon Prime). Wes Anderson's melancholy family masterpiece gets better with each viewing. Whether it's the sublime Gene Hackman annoying his kids yet again or a sullen Gwyneth Paltrow pouting through life, 'Tenenbaums' is rife with terrific performances in a story about successful children that have become depressed adults. It also firmly established Anderson as a unique voice in American cinema for the new century. 

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (Prime/Hulu). Horror hasn't been my thing for much of the last 30 years but this brilliant Swedish flick is one of the genre's best of the 21st century. A young boy is relentlessy bullied at school and slowly becomes friendly with the mysterious new girl in his building. Creepy as hell but also empathetic toward its characters. Don't bother with the inferior U.S. remake. 


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"Letterkenny" (Hulu). This hilarious Canadian offering about a small rural town and its unique denizens was a huge hit up North before Americans got to see what all the fuss was about. The seasons are only 6-7 episodes each so you can catch up on all 9 seasons pretty quick.

"South Side" (HBOMax). Much like the excellent "The Other Ones", "South Side" was originally a Comedy Central show but was picked up by HBOMax and given new life. And also like "The Other Two", "South Side" is a hilarious show about adults trying to find their place in the world via whatever (sometimes goofy) means they can come up with. This Chicago-set comedy provides a funny and fresh perspective on a place that often only gets mentioned for negative aspects. The adventures of Simon, Kareme, and the rest of the cast will have you in stitches.

"How To With John Wilson (HBOMax). I wrote about this eccentric half-hour show last year and Season 2 just dropped. Wilson's unique comic voice and ability to edit endless footage into a coherent pseudo-docu-series is an impressive and awkardly funny feat. There's no show quite like it.