The Worst Christmas Movies of All Time
One of the best parts of the holiday season is the plethora of Christmas-themed movies which invade our TV screens. We all have classics and new favorites that we look forward to watching year after year - It’s a Wonderful Life, The (animated) Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Home Alone, A Christmas Story and of course, Elf. Unfortunately, cable television has 24 hours a day for an entire month to fill with holiday programming, so along with these beloved Christmas flicks come more than a few movies which are so painful to watch they make you want to add a few more shots to the eggnog and deck whoever created these abominations, rather than the halls.
- Suess’s The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (2000)
Yes, the animated version of this movie tops my list of faves, but the remake is so far the opposite of favorite that I don’t even have a word for it. Instead of the wonderful voice of Boris Karloff and that iconic amazing song, we get the endless tasteless jokes and goofy faces of Jim Carrey. This is not a gift. We all know that the moral of the original Grinch is that Christmas should mean more in your heart than just getting a bunch of things, but in this version, it’s been turned into an after-school special PC lesson about bullying. Who needs that in a Christmas movie? Throw in a collection of creepy-looking Whos (that quirkiness that’s cute in the cartoon does not translate to prosthetic renderings) and a sappy theme song (just because it makes me tear up doesn’t make it good). Those are tears of anguish for what someone allowed Ron Howard to do to this Christmas classic. You’re a bad banana with a greasy black peel, Opie.
- A Very Brady Christmas (1988)
Who doesn’t love the classic Brady Bunch Christmas episode where Cindy asks Santa to give Mommy her voice back so she can sing in the church choir for Christmas? Well, the clip of that show is the only 30 seconds worth watching in this entire made-for-TV movie. This whiny, adult-issue-laden, lying bunch is not the one we know and love, and it’s painful to try to make the connection. And the exciting plot to this movie? Is there one? Oh yeah, some construction workers get trapped when one of Mr. Brady’s buildings collapses, and even though it’s too dangerous for professional first-responders to attempt a rescue, nobody stops the architect from walking right in; and of course, he gets trapped himself after rescuing them. We spend a monotonously long time holding vigil outside the building with Mrs. Brady and faux-Cindy, who begin a sing-along which miraculously brings him out safe and sound. Yeah. Oh, and the big finale is that Alice instantly forgives Sam (who has left her for another woman) when he shows up at dinner dressed as Santa Claus. Because that makes up for being a cheating bastard.
- Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas (2013)
I just don’t get this entire franchise. Why would anyone find it amusing to see a man dressed up pretending to be a Grandma? And isn’t that terribly un-PC in this post-Kaitlan world? I have to admit that I haven’t actually watched this movie, or any other Madea flick, because I would sooner roast my eyeballs on an open fire. I am offended on behalf of Christmas that its name was invoked in the title of this, from the reviews I’ve read, wholly unlikeable film. As an added bonus, you get a special guest appearance by Larry the Cable Guy. That should tell you all you need to know. If, for some reason you’re into watching schmaltzy comedies featuring fake old ladies who embarrass their families, watch the Mama’s Family Christmas episode instead.
- A Christmas Story 2 (2012)
Here’s another ill-advised remake; why, for the love of all that’s Christmas, do these Hollywood fools think they should mess with perfection? Technically, this one’s a sequel, but since they use most of the same gags as the first movie, it’s hard to understand why they bothered. The clinkers, the leg lamp, the tongue-sticking; it’s all back, but the recycled bits are now tired and unfunny. The only difference - Ralphie is now 15, and instead of a Red Ryder BB gun, he’s longing for a car. Inexplicably, his parents seem to be even younger than they were five years before; and even more oddly, his little brother hasn’t aged a bit. No, there’s one other difference - the acting is simply terrible this time around in this unsurprisingly straight-to-DVD film.
- Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July (1979)
I loved rewatching these old claymation films every year as a child. I’ve tried to pass down the tradition, but my kids turn up their noses and fail to see the “Animagic,” which they call “terrible 70s stop-motion animation.” When it comes to this last feature in the Rankin/Bass holiday series, I cannot argue the point. The original few remain beloved classics, but they did tend to milk them for more than they were worth when they moved on to the likes of Rudolph’s Shiny New Year and Rudolph and the Island of Misfit Toys. This one takes the cake, though, as the worst of the worst with an insanely crazy plot. Rudolph and Frosty get recruited to join a circus; Rudolph’s nose loses its glow when he’s accused of stealing money; and somehow it’s all part of a plot by the evil wizard Winterbolt to steal the power of Frosty’s hat so he can conquer the world with a snowman army. This summary was more exciting than the actual movie, which drags on forever. No wonder kids are no longer enchanted.
- The Nutcracker in 3D (2010)
How is possible to take a beautiful ballet about a magical dream and turn it into a depressingly creepy, nightmarish movie? I don’t know, but the producers of The Nutcracker in 3D do. Picture Nazi rat soldiers burning toys and electrocuting a shark to death for fun. Throw in Nathan Lane in a hideous wig, who inexplicably seems to be Albert Einstein. The musical adaptation of the original Tchaikovsky score to include tiresome lyrics badly sung should have been illegal. Even the nutcracker hero is unlikably wooden (forgive the pun) with freakish crazy eyes instead of the handsome prince he’s supposed to be. I don’t think there is one single good review of this movie to be found, and adding the 3D gimmick only made it horrifyingly worse. I’d rather battle Nazi rats than have to watch this movie again.
- Santa Claus (1959)
In this bizarre film, Santa Claus is the proprietor of a child labor camp in outer space where indentured children create all his toys for him. Then he has to battle Satan, who sends his evil minion to Earth to turn all the children against Santa and ruin Christmas. With the help of his roommates Merlin and Vulcan (who placed that Craigslist ad?), Santa manages to save the day, although it involves having to climb a tree to escape a vicious dog. It’s so weird and with such bad cinematography that it’s almost worth a watch. This will be highlight of your Christmas Clunker marathon.
- Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972)
It’s a few days before Christmas and Santa’s sleigh is stuck in the sand on a Florida beach because his reindeer have deserted him in the heat. What is he doing there when he should be making toys and gearing up for his big trip? Was he vacationing in Margaritaville? That is never explained, and neither is much else. Like how Santa telepathically enlists an army of children to help him out of his predicament; and why exactly the kids seem to think a man in a gorilla suit, a pig or a sheep will be able to pull Santa’s sleigh. As a last resort, they enlist a terribly-costumed rabbit driving an old-fashioned fire engine, who for some also unknown reason is called the Ice Cream Bunny. The bunny and Santa are old pals, and drive off together in the fire truck, leaving the children abandoned out in the middle of nowhere, chasing desperately after them. The majority of the movie consists of the completely unrelated story of Thumbelina, which Santa tells to the children on the beach as they wait for help to arrive. This is so bad that you can’t stop watching in spite of yourself because you just can’t believe it’s real.
Some you may have heard of, others you most likely have not -- and will wish you never had -- but these are my picks for the worst holiday movies of all time. Honorable mention should go to the hundreds of schlocky romance novels masquerading as Christmas movies on the Lifetime channel, made for people who spend the holidays crying sad and alone into their eggnog. Trust me, you don’t want to spend the amount of time reading this it would take to list them all (although it would still be better than watching them). If you’re looking for some real holiday entertainment, you can’t go wrong with the deals on classic movie favorites available on DVD and Blu-ray at FYE.