Christmas movies are as much a staple of the holiday season as wreaths and lights. In fact, it’s safe to say that many of our perceptions of Christmas have been shaped by classics such as It’s a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story. But for every quintessential holiday film are a hundred flops, pumped out in droves by studios desperate for a holiday cash grab. Here are five of the worst Christmas movies of all time.
Deck the Halls (2006)
Starring Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito, Deck the Halls is proof that not even an all-star cast can save an otherwise terrible film. Buddy Hall, played by DeVito, moves with his family to a suburban Massachusetts neighborhood. His neighbor, Broderick’s character Steve Finch, takes an immediate dislike to Hall, which eventually blossoms into the two having a wholly unnecessary competition in an effort to determine who is the most vociferous Christmas celebrator.
Throw in childish humor and a scene in which Finch and Hall unknowingly ogle their teenage daughters from behind (complete with Finch obnoxiously yelling, “Who’s your daddy?”), and you’ve got not only one of the worst Christmas movies of all time, but one of the worst movies of all time.
Ebert and Roeper co-host Richard Roeper said of the film, “You can’t believe how excruciatingly awful this movie is. It is bad in a way that will cause unfortunate viewers to huddle in the lobby afterward, hugging in small groups, consoling one another with the knowledge that it’s over, it’s over…”
Saving Christmas (2014)
In the endless ocean of Christian Christmas movies—most of which denounce the corporatization of the holiday—conservative evangelist Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas manages to stand out: It actually embraces the supposedly secular aspects of Christmas. The film is essentially an 80-minute PowerPoint presentation, in which Cameron makes vague connections between Christ and Santa, Christmas trees, wreaths, etc…, completely clutching for straws the whole way through. (“Christmas trees were God’s idea, since God created trees.” What?)
Aside from being conceptually inane, Saving Christmas is downright boring. With more than half the film dedicated to Cameron and his fictional brother sitting in a car and conversing, this film isn’t even a “so-bad-it’s-good” kind of bad. It’s simply painful.
Christmas with the Kranks (2004)
While their teenage daughter is away for the holidays, the Kranks, played by Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis, decide to “skip Christmas,” which, as we learn throughout the film, truly is an unnecessarily stressful time for the couple. Of course, they have no one but themselves to blame for this stress: Every year, they spend $6,000 on decorations and host a massive Christmas Eve party that seemingly their entire town is invited to. Their choice to use the money they would normally spend on Christmas to go on a cruise is perfectly rational.
However, when it is revealed to the townspeople that the Kranks are skipping Christmas for a year, they erupt with protest, the Kranks’ decision even somehow making the front page of the newspaper. The film consists of scene after scene of the Kranks being harassed by townspeople with Christmas fever, pressing the couple to celebrate Christmas as they normally would. As one might expect, the Kranks do eventually succumb to peer pressure.
Why the townspeople care so much is never explained.
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)
The Santa Clause series gets progressively worse with each installment. (And, if we’re being real, even the first one is pretty bad.) The Santa Clause 3, however, is simply unforgivable. Obviously, being both a sequel and a holiday film, TSC3 was nothing more than a cash grab. But even so, the studio could have at least tried to put together something decent.
The film opens with a council meeting of legendary figures, including Santa, Father Time, the Tooth Fairy, and Jack Frost, the last of whom is petitioning to make Christmas his own holiday. So begins the central plot of the film: Santa and Jack Frost butting heads over who is the rightful representative of Christmas. Meanwhile, Santa must entertain his in-laws at the North Pole. The kicker is that his in-laws aren’t aware that he’s Santa, so he must convince them that the North Pole is actually Canada, something he accomplishes by having those around them say “eh?” at the end of every sentence.
If that description wasn’t enough to convince you that this film is garbage, we don’t know what will.
Santa’s Slay (2005)
We thought we’d end this list with some positivity. While Santa’s Slay is an undeniably bad movie, it veers into so-bad-it’s-good territory. Its plot is uniquely hilarious: Santa is actually the son of Satan. He has been forced to deliver presents every Christmas Eve for the last 1,000 years because of a bet he lost to an angel. However, this Christmas, his 1,000 years of community service are up, and he’s coming to wreak havoc on the world. Is it stupid? Of course. But is it entertaining? Absolutely. Santa’s Slay is quintessential viewing for a night in with drinks and friends.