Recently we've talked about the best Non-Christmas Christmas movies, and asked you for your favorite Christmas movies. But in the spirit of Festivus, its time to air our grievances and talk about 10 Christmas movies that are overrated or just plain terrible.
I know I'm going to catch grief for this list, and I must reiterate that just because I list a movie as "overrated" doesn't mean I dislike the film. I know there will be a great many people who don't agree with me on at least one beloved Christmas film that made my list, but I will do my best to explain why I feel the way I do about these films.
On paper, this should be a good movie with actors like Dudley Moore and John Lithgow, but the execution of the movie just failed to live up to the big-named cast. Its terribly rated on Rotten Tomatoes and a financial failure, and greatly criticized for blatant product placement like McDonalds and Coke. But for me, the biggest reason that I include it on this list is that its completely forgettable. I've seen it multiple times and couldn't tell you what happened in it unless I have Wikipedia up.
This movie is the perfect example that just because I'm saying a movie is overrated doesn't mean I dislike it. I really enjoy 'Home Alone 2' and watch it with my family every year, but it doesn't hold up well over 20 years later. Its funny and has a great level of nostalgia and Christmas feel, but it is nothing more than a blatant formulaic rehash of the first film. Again, its not bad, just not terribly unique, even for a sequel. And the ending with the homeless woman is depressing. In the first film the ending with Old Man Marley was great because we see his situation resolved in that he reunites with his son and gets to see his granddaughter. But here the resolution for the homeless woman is that Kevin promises they'll always be friends. It would have been much better for Kevin to call in a favor with the hotel and arrange for her to get a job and stay in a staff room until she gets back on her feet.
I know several people that like this movie, and I just don't get it. I can't think of a single redeeming factor to this movie. Arnold is at nearly his worst in the comedic side of his career, Sinbad is just annoying, and Jake Lloyd delivers a pre-Star Wars performance that's horrible even for a child actor, and even worse than his 'Phantom Menace' performance (Yes, that's possible). I've heard people argue its merits and defend it for being just dumb entertainment, and I have nothing against dumb entertainment as long as its done well. Want to watch a good dumb Christmas movie? 'Ernest Saves Christmas' is on Netflix.
In trying to expand on the original holiday classic, the live-action 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' delves into the backstory of the Grinch, a completely unnecessary and dull literary step. I never watched the original cartoon and wondered what made the Grinch hate Christmas, and seeing it live-action just bored me. I greatly appreciated the visual design of the film and Jim Carrey's erratic performance was truly a cartoon come to life, but beyond that the movie didn't give me anything that makes me want to revisit it each year.
Oh, I can hear people getting their pitchforks and torches on this one. Yes, I said 'Elf' is overrated. It used to be a Top 10 Christmas film for me, but the more I watched it the more I got worn out on it. For something to be a holiday classic, rewatchability is a necessity. Heck, I've already watched 'Christmas Vacation' three times and 'A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas' twice since Thanksgiving this year. But I just got tired of Will Farrell and the film. I understand people love the movie, many considering it their favorite for Christmas, but the effect has just worn off for me.
I loved the idea of the film after growing up reading the book, but this film falls flat on the execution, plain and simple. Tom Hanks did a great job with what he was given, but the technology wasn't entirely there to make the film a totally enjoyable experience. It definitely has its moments, but the effects of the people, especially the children, were so much into the "uncanny valley" that everyone just looked weird and it distracts from the overall quality of the story. Its like watching a Broadway show and the lead actor has a huge booger hanging from him nose. No matter how great the performance is, you can't stop noticing the booger.
Like 'The Polar Express', this had a renowned book as the core, but was just pieced together poorly. I feel like they were hoping to ride the success of Tim Allen's Christmas run in 'The Santa Clause', and the reuniting of Dan Akyroyd and Jaime Lee Curtis from 'Trading Places', a successful non-Christmas Christmas movie. But instead of playing on the strengths of the actors and the team-up they were touting, everyone was just a goof and the film was played, quite poorly, for the cheap laughs, wasting the talent of the stars.
For the sake of my liking the first two films, I wanted to list this as "Overrated", but I cannot defend this movie any more than I can defend 'Jingle All the Way'. The first two films had a magic and charm that was just cast aside for nothing but a cash grab of a third film. The first film was a great family film, the second was still enjoyable for the whole family but started focusing more on low-brow humor for the children, and the third film just embraced the absurdity and never looked back. It tried to bring the story full circle with the first film, but the direction of the series had changed so much that the effect was lost right along with the magic.
Another film I enjoy, but I have to admit that its terribly flawed, and the biggest flaw is Vince Vaughn. I'm not the biggest fan on Vaughn because if you've seen one Vince Vaughn performance you've seen them all. Any time he's on screen, I lose interest. The rest of the cast is amazing, but to center on an actor like Vaughn while having him work with Rachel Weisz, Paul Giamatti, Kathy Bates, and Kevin Spacey just makes Vaughn look completely out of his league. The film also flip flops between dumb humor and great acting scenes that the tone of the film comes across and erratic and disorganized.
'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2' (2003), 'A Christmas Story 2' (2012), 'Jingle All the Way 2' (2014) - Terrible
These three films share a spot for being unnecessary sequels that were so bad they didn't even get a theatrical release. 'Christmas Vacation 2' was a made-for-television film focusing on Cousin Eddie, a character that's best in small doses, 'A Christmas Story 2' was a straight-to-DVD release that in no way lives up to the trailer of the original, and 'Jingle All the Way 2' is a brand new release that gets on the list simply for starring Larry the Cable Guy. I perfectly understand that the point of making movies is to make money, but when you have two Christmas classics and one that some people like for some strange reason, just throwing together a sequel to bank of the original's name is insulting to the audience and almost never works out.