Christmas — or, in the more PC vernacular, the holiday which occurs sometime in December — is supposed to be a celebration of peace on Earth and goodwill to all humanity. Instead, it usually ends up being a nightmare of unbridled commercialism, long retail shopping lines, endless fattening foodstuffs, and a reminder why you don’t spend more time with your family the other 364 days/11 months out of the year. It’s also a trying time for people suffering with depression, as suicide rates seem to escalate along with partygoers cholesterol and diabetes rates. Part of the problem is entertainment oriented. There are lots of wonderful songs, TV shows, plays, and films which expertly capture the yuletide spirit. But for every classic, for every A Christmas Carol or “White Christmas”, there’s an ‘RXmas or a “Mary, Have You Heard”.p
Do you wanna know how bad it can get, cinematically speaking? Well, look no further than the ten choices we’ve highlighted here. Now, granted, there are other candidates in this cavalcade of crap. Some of them, like the K. Gordon Murray matinee nightmare Santa Claus or the equally repellant Santa Claus Conquers the Martians have been turned into holiday “classics” thanks to outlets like Mystery Science Theater 3000. Similarly, there are dozens of dopey big budget bungles like Christmas with the Kranks, Surviving Christmas, and Jingle all the Way. Picking just one — and we did so here — allowed us to include both more – and less – conventional fare. Of course, if we’ve picked on your favorite, we’re sorry. On the other hand, if you’re jonesing for your annual viewing of, say, the number four selection on our list, you’re destined for coal in the holiday stocking anyway.
So, without further angel harking, here are the 10 Worst Christmas/Holiday Movies of all time, beginning with a baffling attempt at a Kris Kringle biopic:
After successfully turning Superman into both a noble icon and the straight man for Richard Lester’s slapstick, the father-and-son production team of Alexander and Ilya Salkind decided to focus their film attentions on the most famous fictional superhero of all time: Kris Kringle. Then they brought the then hot property Dudley Moore along for even more comic relief. The result is a hodgepodge of mythology and futility. Most of the time, the movie is covering origin story territory done far better, and with more reverence, by Rankin/Bass. In other instances, Moore shows up as a disgruntled elf who conspires with a blowhard businessman (John Lithgow) to unseat Santa. Excruciating.
No, not the equally silly B-movie featuring a serial killer transformed into a fake Frosty. This is the Michael Keaton vehicle, where our soon-to-be-Oscar winner (Birdman) plays an aging rocker who is distant from his family, especially his son, who is desperately in need of attention. One night, he gets into a car accident and dies. Thanks to a magic harmonica (or something like that), he is resurrected as — you guessed it — a snowman. With effects that barely rate as special and a central character with little defining features (Keaton’s voice comes out of what looks like a cotton ball with small black dirt spots for eyes), this is a soul crushing holiday horror.
In 1947, Hollywood made one of the best Christmas movies ever. Edmund Gwenn won an Oscar for his performance as the “is he or isn’t he” role of Santa, and the film itself won awards for its story and screenplay. So what does post-modern Tinseltown decide to do? They let John Hughes of ’80s teen comedy fame rewrite the classic, turning it into a steaming pile of cloying holiday goo. Even the late, great Richard Attenborough can’t hold a hall decking candle to Gwenn, and the rest of the cast is equally incapable. When a 1973 TV movie remake featuring Sebastian Cabot and David Hartman (Google him, readers) out-Noels you, it’s time for a stocking full of coal.
The premise? Two neighbors battle over the newest member of the cul-de-sac’s desire to light up his house with Christmas lights. The reason? So it can be seen from space — yes, really. Danny Devito is the recent transplant with interstellar illumination on his mind. Matthew Broderick is the button-down traditionalist who wants Advent calendars and matching sweaters as the only means of making the season bright. The resulting battle between property line sharers is shrill, dumb, and decidedly unfunny, which is bad news for a proposed comedy. Oh, and did we mention the scene where a naked Devito and Broderick share a sleeping bag together?
Groan. How can anyone have thought this was a good idea? The original cartoon, created by Warner Bros. icon Chuck Jones and featuring the voice of Boris Karloff, is pretty much perfect. Of course, what we really needed was an extra hour of backstory (apparently, the Grinch suffers from a broken heart and body issues) and pointless action scenes. Add in another 20 minutes of scary Whoville residents (with make-up jobs that make the actors look like deformed dogs) making lame puns and miserable malapropisms and you’ve got the seasonal slight that more or less killed Jim Carrey’s career as a feature film funnyman.
5 – 1
Before he decided to completely destroy his reputation with that god-awful reality series (at least he got a chance to out the rest of his family as the failures they are/were), Hulk Hogan tried his hand at being a movie star. In this completely nauseating Noel, he’s a shady millionaire hiding out from police in a local shopping mall. Donning his gay apparel — a Santa outfit — he gets hit in the head and suffers from amnesia. The he starts to think he’s the real St. Nick. Oh, and Ed Begley Jr. is slumming her as a mad scientist trying to take over an orphanage so he can steal the “magic crystals” that lie underneath it. Like stupidity on steroids, this is.
The first thing you do with a tragedy like this is count the number of Oscars (and Oscar winners) involved. The answer, for those not so inclined, is five. Then remember that this is supposed to be a fun bit of yuletide cheer. Now watch as all that talent goes to complete waste within a hateful plotline that seems a snooty couple (Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon) stuck in the United States and forced to deal with their dysfunctional families. Episodic and idiotic, we wind up spending the holidays with a bunch of desperate scene-chewing actors all trying to top each other with unfunny shtick created by a collection of four overpaid screenwriters.
Back when it was released — and eventually tagged as one of the worst movies of all time — there were some of us in the critical community who wanted to cut Barry Levinson’s anti-war holiday fable a break. Now, we just want to bust it into a million little pieces. Robin Williams, reduced to nothing more than a manchild with the social skills of a centipede, inherits a toy factory from his father. He is also stuck with a robot sister (Joan Cusack), a war mongering uncle (Michael Gambon), and a convoluted script which sees the company shift its attention from objects of joy to items of military murder. It’s twee, and it’s terrible.
Granted, this isn’t really a Christmas movie. The holiday featured here is Independence Day, with only the story set-up bearing any resemblance to the aforementioned birth of Jesus (via Dickens’ famous Scrooge vs. Three Ghosts novella). Still, you can tell the creators were high on some manner of nog when they decided that audiences needed a conservative, right wing, neo-con take on how Michael Moore (Chris Farley’s actual brother, Kevin) is ruining ‘Murica! With politics so tone deaf that even the Tea Party finds them offensive and some troubling talent behind the scenes (this was made by one of the guys from Airplane! — seriously), the end result is like a rotten fruitcake.
We’re not sure where you stand on the subject, but it seems that the last thing anyone wants at this time of year is a lecture, especially one that tries to tie everything “wrong” with 25 December in with what’s “right” with Jesus. Crazed pop culture Christian Kirk Cameron decides that his fictional brother-in-law doesn’t understand the true meaning of Christmas, so he spend the next hour “proving” that materialism, commercialism, the typical holiday symbols (the tree, the date, etc.) all actually have basis in the Bible. When his relative expresses doubts, our aging evangelist gets out the seasonal sledgehammer and beats him over the head with it. Then they breakdance — no, really.