The holidays are a time for movies. When one thinks of the coldest time of winter, they may dwell on all-time classics like It’s A Wonderful Life, The Bishop’s Wife, or Die Hard. For every good holiday movie, however, there are multiple clunkers that deserve infamy. Here’s what some critics had to say about some terrible holiday movies.
Michael Keaton’s filmography features some truly great films: Birdman, Beetlejuice, and Jackie Brown to name a few. One dud he’d probably rather forget is 1998’s, Jack Frost. The children’s movie saw Keaton transformed into an actual snowman via a magical harmonica. Somehow this helps him reconcile his relationship with Kelly Preston.
This was a total bomb both financially and critically. One critic wrote, “It took four screenwriters to come up with dialogue so horrendous, it could have single-handedly ushered in a new era of silent cinema.” Roger Ebert awarded it just one star, and said of the titular Jack Frost: “Never have I disliked a movie character more.” He was sympathetic toward the filmmakers though. “Jack Frost could have been co-directed by Orson Welles and Steven Spielberg and still be unwatchable, because of that damned snowman.”
Fresh off dating Jennifer Aniston Vince Vaughn starred in 2007’s Fred Claus. He played Saint Nick’s brother Fred. The cast is surprisingly loaded with the likes of Paul Giamatti, Elizabeth Banks, and Kathy Bates rounding things out. The talented cast could do nothing to save the doomed film. The DVD featured a Ludacris music video for his song “Ludacrismas.” That didn’t quite enter the holiday canon.
The Independent wrote: “The actual effect of films such as this, however, is to put you in an entirely non-Christmas, non-joyous and non-charitable mood.” Another London paper, the Evening Standard, really dug into the flick: “Fred Claus tries desperately for a Bad Santa meets Elf vibe. Five minutes in, the man sitting next to me was sound asleep.”
Not to pick on Vaughn, but he was on a real hot streak for unwatchable Christmas films in the late ’00s. Fresh off the, err, success of Fred Claus, he teamed up with the extremely talented Reese Witherspoon for Four Christmases. The couple visit their four parents different Christmas parties. The Godfather Part II’s Robert Duvall was even in this.
NPR eloquently described the film’s issues: “Director Seth Gordon’s stars are charmless, his script cheerless, and his sterling supporting cast can’t seem to figure out what they’ve been brought on board to do.”
‘Deck The Halls’
What do you get when you combine Matthew Broderick, Danny DeVito, and mean-spirited cynicism? 2006’s Deck The Halls, a bomb that earned a rare 6% on RottenTomatoes. This means it’s ever so slightly better than The Last Airbender with its 5% rating.
Anyway, Empire said “got any kids who’ve been naughty this year? Here’s their present.” The BBC highlighted one revealing line of dialogue: “’My stupidity astounds me!’ chortles Danny DeVito in Deck the Halls, a line that pretty much sums up this tale of warring neighbors with very different ideas about celebrating Christmas.”
‘Black Christmas (2006)’
Hey, remember when they were remaking all the classic horror movies on the cheap? The mid-2000s churned out forgettable remakes to classics like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, House of Wax, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. One of the more famous holiday horror movies ever is the 1974 slasher flick Black Christmas, which got remade with bad results in 2006.
There’s some real talent in this cast, like Buffy: The Vampire Slayer’s Michelle Trachtenberg and Birds of Prey star Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Unfortunately, they didn’t have much to work with. The AV Club called it a “witless trip to the slaughterhouse,” while the Hollywood Reporter called it “one smelly lump of coal.” Variety really unloaded on it: “Even by the notoriously low standards of sadistic slasher pics, this remake is a thoroughly nasty piece of work, relying heavily on such gruesome spectacles as the baking (and consuming) of Christmas cookies made from chunks of human flesh.”
‘Santa Claus Conquers The Martians’
This one occupies a special place for being an all-time dud. Santa Claus Conquers The Martians is a Sci-Fi bomb from 1964 which largely fails to live up to its incredible title. It earned its spot in the bad movie canon alongside Manos: The Hands of Fate and The Giant Claw.
The BBC criticized its plot: “the plot, such as it is, proves it is possible to insult the intelligence of a three-year-old.” Another review said, “There’s no warmth to the movie, no good cheer or happiness, and (at risk of bathing in bathos), ne’er a hint of what makes the season special.” Despite its joylessness, the film still has a cult following.