Christmas is the season of goodwill to all men (and women). However, that generosity of spirit need not – and should not – extend to the slew of bad yuletide movies that make a plate of soggy Brussels sprouts look appealing.
For every Elf, It’s A Wonderful Life or Scrooged there are countless turkies seeking to cash-in on our festive cheer that make you want to shout “bah humbug” at their sheer cynicism and ineptitude.
Below are a selection of just some of the many risible Christmas movies I’ve unfortunately come across over the years. Consider this list a warning – don’t ruin your well-earned festive goodwill by subjecting yourselves to them. That being said, I’d love to know:
What are the worst Christmas movies you’ve seen?
Santa With Muscles (1996)
In an all-too-familiar example of commerce winning over common sense, there was a period back in the 1990s when Terry Gene Bollea, otherwise known by his ring name Hulk Hogan, was something approaching a movie star. The fact he coudn’t act seemed unimportant. Put it down to collective insanity on the part of all involved (including Mila Kunis in only her second film), but Santa With Muscles must figure as one of the most far-out excursions into Christmas movie-making ever seen. Hogan stretches himself by playing a professional wrestler who believes he’s Santa Claus following a bang to noggin and tries to save an orphanage from an evil scientist. I’ll leave it there.
Four Christmases (2008)
The truly uninspired (and poorly photoshopped) poster for Four Christmases of Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon standing with their backs to each other should tell you all you need to know about this car crash of a film. Christmas should be a happy time of year, but Vaughn and Withspoon turn this tale of a couple visiting their divorced parents’ homes on Christmas Day into one of the most joyless experiences you can imagine. Worse still, the film co-stars Jon Favreau, which only serves to make you want to go back and watch Swingers instead.
Jack Frost (1998)
No, not the 1964 Russian film (or the 1997 cult horror comedy), but rather the frankly bizarre fantasy flick starring Michael Keaton as the titular Jack Frost, who dies in a car accident and returns to life as a snowman. I’ll repeat that: returns to life AS A SNOWMAN and gets a second chance “to be the world’s coolest dad” to his young son. The classic animated short film The Snowman showed how magically something akin to this can be done; however, Jack Frost simply tugs the heartstrings (and trips the mind) and hopes that’ll be enough for audiences to ignore just what a pile of yellow snow it is.
Surviving Christmas (2004)
Ben Affleck is now enjoying the fruits of a successful directorial and acting career, but there was a time not so long ago when all he touched turned to poop. Alongside such box office bombs as Gigli and his other Christmas-set movie Reindeer Games, Surviving Christmas came and went from cinemas quicker than you can say “Santa”. It’s an appropriate title, as watching Affleck as an annoying millionaire who pays a family to spend the festive season with him feels like an exercise in survival itself. What’s even more tragic is that it also stars the late James Gandolfini.
Fred Claus (2007)
Vince Vaughn has the dishonour of appearing twice on this list, such are his crimes against Christmas cinema. Here he plays Fred, the elder and less well known brother of Santa Claus (Paul Giamatti), who is forced to make toys at Christmas HQ after being bailed out of jail by his younger sibling – with unamusing results. In spite of a great cast (Giamatti, Miranda Richardson, Kevin Spacey, Kathy Bates, Rachel Weisz), the film will leave you as cold as its North Pole setting. Now please Mr Vaughn: stop making Christmas movies. Think of the kids.