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The Worst Christmas Movies

posted by Nell Minow

Slate has an article about the five worst Christmas movies.  But there are so many to choose from!  I know that it is risky to list my candidates because all bad movies have their guilty pleasure fans, Christmas movies more than most.  They can be more powerful family bonding experiences than the classics.  As my son and I always say, “Just because a movie is awful is no reason not to watch it.”  So, with that in mind, here are some of my candidates for the worst Christmas movies ever, but I am more than happy to hear from anyone who loves to hate or just plain loves them.

A classic of the “so bad it’s not exactly good but it is kind of mezmerizingly hypnotic” is Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, featuring Pia Zadora.  Even without the Mystery Science Theater 3000 commentary, its calamitous ineptitude is weirdly enjoyable.


Part of what makes Christmas with the Kranks so awful is the abuse it inflicts on its original inspiration, a sweet-spirited novel by John Grisham called Skipping Christmas, about a couple who decide to avoid commercial Christmas craziness and find it more complicated than they thought.  But most of what makes it so awful is its contempt for its audience, also evident in train wrecks like Four Christmases, Deck the Halls and Surviving Christmas.


Santa Claus: The Movie No: the advice. This overstuffed turkey stars Dudley Moore as an elf recruited by bad guy John Lithgow to sabotage Santa’s operation.

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Jungle All the Way I particularly dislike movies that promote the idea that what matters about Christmas is the presents.  This story of two dads battling to get the last Turbo Man toy for their sons is supposed to be hilarious but it is just empty.


Fred Claus An efficiency expert tries to improve operations at the North Pole while Santa’s clumsy brother Fred deals with sibling rivalry issues and the problems of towering over the elves.

If you have a favorite terrible Christmas movie, let me know!


  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rosanna

    I’ve been fortunate to miss most of these but one of my sons loves “Jingle all the way” (not jungle, thought for a minute there was another movie. We thought we’d watch it once just so we could say repeatedly, “And now he’s governor of California,” and now are proud owners of the video. Agree that there’s much that is objectionable, but there are sweet moments as well.

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Toby Clark

    Yeah, while there’s almost nothing I can recommend about Jingle All the Way, I don’t see how it sends a wrong message given that it ends with Jake Lloyd’s character willingly giving up the action figure to the other father, having regained his respect for his own.

    Of the movies you’ve mentioned the only one I’ve seen was Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (my brother’s a fan). Very much agreed on the “so bad it’s not exactly good but it is kind of mezmerizingly hypnotic” description.

  • Kevin L.

    I avoid the theatrical remake of “Miracle on 34th Street”, with Richard Attenborough. When it came out, the studio offered a “money-back guarantee”, and I took it.

    Three specific flaws:
    > No William Frawley – the cycnical party insider who advises the judge why he can’t rule there is no such thing as Santa Claus.

    > In the original, Kris wins his court case on legal grounds – John Payne gets the judge to accept that if the Post Office thinks Kris is Santa Claus, he can too. In this one, Dylan McDermott falls back on on a strictly emotional “you gotta believe” defense.

    > The end of the original has the new family finding a nice, vacant Cape Cod on Long Island. The remake ends with the family finding a mansion literally dressed up for a Christmas catalog photo shoot.

    • Nell Minow

      How right you are, Kevin! Can’t abide the remake and the original is one of my absolute favorites.

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