Published on December 4th, 2013 | by Craig Silliphant0
The Top Ten Worst Christmas Movies
Since I became a film critic over 15 years ago, I’ve been trotted out each year at this time to give my picks for my favourite Christmas movies. I enjoy doing this, and there are a few favourites I go back to every year (It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story are two of my faves. Oh, yeah, and Die Hard — some people forget it’s a sorta kinda Yuletide film). But I thought it would be fun this year, to go the other way and write about the WORST Christmas movies I’ve ever been witness to.
For every wonderful Winterland classic, there are thousands of cloying, oversentimental, poorly written, Hallmark Channel pieces of garbage that should be tossed out with the used Christmas wrapping on Boxing Day. I trimmed the ‘worst’ list like a Christmas tree, down to the ten that came to mind for me personally. In order to make it manageable, I had to ignore some of the worst genres, like the overcooked made for TV movie turkeys. And I cheated and lumped a few together.
So without further adieu, grab a handful of Pot o’ Gold chocolate and I’ll channel my inner movie Grinch and (in no particular order) give you The Feedback Society’s Top Ten Worst Christmas Movies!
Jingle All The Way (1996)
Workaholic and shitty father Arnold Schwarzenegger fights the consumer rabble a la The Cabbage Patch Kids or Tickle Me Elmo to get his hands on a Turbo Man action figure for his kid. Meanwhile, Phil Hartman is trying to nail his wife. Also, Sinbad does Sinbad. Not only does the plot of this movie not make a hell of a lot of sense, but it also has the lamest, TV sitcom, feel-good ending ever. And then, after the credits, you see that he was so busy trying to get Turbo Man that he didn’t buy his wife a present. Arnie himself is as stiff as a plastic action figure, thought that’s actually unintentionally funny, so at least there’s some humour here.
Deck the Halls (2006)
For some reason, Danny DeVito wants to pull a Clark Griswold and use Christmas lights to make his house visible from space. Matthew Broderick hates that idea. Hilarity doesn’t ensue. It’s a terribly unfunny ‘comedy,’ full of Christmas misanthropy and hate for fellow man. In this neighbourhood, I would also accept the canned holiday movie Christmas with the Kranks (2004). I’d expect this kind of shit from Tim Allen, but someone must have had some photos of Jamie Lee Curtis’ hermaphrodite parts for her to lower herself to appearing in this trite.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Oh, how I loathe this loud, obnoxious Ron Howard movie, where Jim Carrey destroys all that was holy about The Grinch I remember from my childhood, from both the Dr. Seuss book and the awesome animated version. Not only is it shrill and abrasive in its execution, but it also attempts to stretch a half hour worth of story to an hour and 45 minutes. I’ll give it the fact that Whoville looks neat in real life, but that’s about it.
Reindeer Games (2000)
Ben Affleck plays guy that’s getting out of prison and pretends to be his dead cellmate so he can pork Charlize Theron, but gets suckered into being part of a casino heist. I remember getting a screener for this in 2000 and thinking that it might be good. After all, it was directed by John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate, Seconds) and featured a hardworking cast (Ben Affleck still had indie cred at the time, and Gary Sinise and Theron were also star). But oh, no. This wannabe Tarantino movie was an utter piece of nonsense. Implausible plans, stupid twists, and enough gaping plot holes for Rudolph to guide a sleigh through.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
Actually, this one is pretty great. You know, in a horrible way. Little green men kidnap Santy Claus so their Martian kids can have Christmas. Seeing this movie will either make you laugh your ass off or cause you to die of confusion. It was given the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 treatment if that’s any indication of its excellence. It ties with Santa Claus (1959) for the best/worst Z-movie Christmas title.
Santa Buddies (2009)
Kill me. Straight-to-video Air Bud talking dogs in Santa hats save Christmas. Christopher Lloyd has never sunk so low. I can’t even talk about this movie without going rigid with seething rage. I know it’s for kids, but like George Bailey, I wish I lived in a world where this movie had never been born. Fuck you, Santa Buddies.
Jack Frost (1998)
Michael Keaton plays a man who dies in a car accident and comes back as a…wait for it…a snowman. A movie that is so predictable you’ll think you’re psychic and so schmaltzy you’ll have to brush your teeth after. Full of sitcom jokes and a general sense of depraved lameness (Four credited writers, and you know that at one point, one of them exclaimed, “Snowboarding’s cool, right? What if the snowman snowboards?!”). Though the snowman suit was made by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, it actually looks so damn scary it would be more at home in a horror film. And don’t confuse this movie with the actual horror film Jack Frost, which has a lot of similar plot points (though the horror version has way more killing). Either way, you might as well throw both of these cinematic brown Yule logs on the fire.
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)
Unfortunately, there’s no escape clause for the audience (I’m sure I’m not the first person to make that joke). Jack Frost (Martin Short) tries to take over Christmas in the threequel to the Santa Clause series. It’s hard for me to admit this, I didn’t mind the first one, as far as family friendly Christmas movies go. But this one feels like it was phoned in from the North Pole. It’s as if it was cobbled together by lazy, smelly elves that had a vicious contempt for movies. It’s so bad that it reaches back through time with Christmas magic to ruin the first movie.
Four Christmases (2008)
Between this and the equally shitty Fred Claus (2007), it’s like Vince Vaughn was a puffy-faced Scrooge that was out to ruin Christmas. This Christmas turkey seems to be for people who wear Tap Out clothes and cheer their hearts out when someone gets a ham to the groin. It’s all over the place and lands with a resounding thud and an unearned Christmassy ending. Sadly, it also features some serious talent, like Academy Award winners Robert Duvall, Jon Voight, and Sissy Spacek. Hell, even director Seth Gordon, who made the excellent doc The King of Kong, got dragged into this by Vaughn. Reportedly, stars Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn weren’t getting along during shooting. It shows — they have the chemistry of wet, humping dogs (or, Santa Buddies, if you prefer). Even worse, it’s on TV constantly, because it’s a modern Christmas movie with stars.
The Star Wars Holiday Special
Technically, they’re celebrating ‘Life Day’ on the Wookie home planet, but it’s a veiled excuse for Christmas (you know, to celebrate the birth of Wookie Jesus). And did you know Chewbacca’s Dad’s name is Itchy and his son’s name is Lumpy? Yup. This Star-Wars-meets-variety-TV special was shown only once, before it became legendary as an underground (passed around or copied) VHS film. George Lucas spent his life trying to track down and destroy every copy, though you can see it on YouTube these days. Like Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, this is one really bad movie that’s pretty great. And it was also the first glimpse we got of Boba Fett, so that’s cool, right? Happy Life Day, folks.
Honorary mentions: Trapped in Paradise (1994), Mixed Nuts (1994), Prancer (1989), Eight Crazy Nights (2002), I’ll Be Home for Christmas, with Jonathan Taylor Thomas (1998), and Black Christmas, the remake with Lacey Chabert (2006).