Now that I’ve listed my favourite Christmas movies, it’s now only fair that I present you with my Christmas turkeys.
Christmas may seem like it lasts longer every year, but that’s no reason to waste that time on these movies. I watched these so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
Mel Gibson plays a gun-toting Chris Cringle / Father Christmas in this 15-rated movie. The plotline involves government subsidies, his elves making weapons for the US Army and a hitman who has been hired to kill Santa. It really is as bad as it sounds.
To be fair, Mel Gibson is ok. His moustache is exemplary and worthy of high praise. I get the feeling, though, that what we’re watching is just Mel being himself. I can’t imagine him playing a role nowadays where he’s happy.
It tries to bill itself as a black comedy but there really aren’t any laughs to be had. As a movie, it sucks. As a Christmas movie, it fails completely. Avoid.
Christmas with the Kranks
What on earth did the universe do wrong to earn this movie? The fact that this is listed as a comedy is an affront to humour. Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis and Dan Aykroyd have talents which, when combined, should be producing some top quality stuff. Considering that, it’s actually quite impressive how bad a movie this ended up being.
It’s devoid of humour. The characters are mean and the whole movie steers clear of any of the positive qualities one associates with Christmas time. Tim Allen’s character is an arse, and his wife basically supports this behaviour. Their neighbours are all complete jerks too. There’s basically nobody nice to root for. It’s just an hour and 39 minutes of watching horrible people be horrible to other horrible people. With no laughs.
It’ll help your Christmas spirit no end if you skip on by this movie and reconsider your friendship with anyone who recommends it.
Jingle All The Way
Continuing the theme of horrible people behaving horribly is Jingle All The Way. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s capitalist Christmas horror show ditches any idea of a spiritual seasonal message and spends it’s time in various toy shop queues. The idea is that Schwarzenegger’s Howard Langston wouldn’t actually be such a crap, work-focused, absent father if he could manage to buy a Turbo Man action figure. The fact that he believes this demonstrates just how shallow and meaningless a man he is.
Again, the laughs are few. There’s actually very little here for kids to enjoy. Schwarzenegger’s wide-eyed mania will terrify younger children. Also, given that children will (rightly) be believing that Santa delivers the gifts, the idea of fighting for a toy in a shop is at odds with their view of Christmas. Unfortunately, by the time that Langston realises that Christmas isn’t all about materialism, he’s already been too much of a git for us to care.
If there’s one thing that Amazon and the pandemic can be credited with, it’s making this kind of busy-shop-at-Christmas movie a thing of the past. If you want to see how it should have been done, check out Click and Collect which is infinitely funnier.
I toyed with the idea of not putting this on the list because my youngest daughter adores it, and that surely makes it a good Christmas movie? No. No, it doesn’t. I wouldn’t want you to infer from it’s absence that it was a good movie. That would be irresponsible of me. So here it is.
The semi-improvised charm of the first three (!) Nativity movies was inexplicably popular. The first Nativity! even managed a heady 6.5 on imdb due in no small part to Martin Freeman’s charisma. After that, however, it was all downhill. Excruciating pauses remain unedited and the memo advising the cast that ad-libs were meant to be humorous remained unissued or ignored.
If I tell you that the second-top billed actor on Nativity Rocks! is Craig Revel-Horwood then you can see the quality at play here. If you do have children that insists on putting it on, you may consider refusing. The ensuing argument would be far more palatable and pleasant than if you’d let the movie play. But that wouldn’t be very Christmassy. So, let it play, but leave the room. You’re welcome.
A Christmas Carol (TV Mini Series)
This BBC / FX remake of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol should have been a hit. On paper, it looks fantastic. Guy Pearce as Scrooge : check! Superb supporting cast of Andy Serkis, Stephen Graham? Check! Writer Steven Knight who was behind such amazing productions as Locke, Taboo, Peaky Blinders and Spencer? Check! So where does it all go wrong?
Ebenezeer Scrooge is miserable. He has to be for the redemption aspect of the story to work. What he doesn’t have to be is part of a story which is so utterly joyless that no ending can lift you from the despair. This adaptation has a young Scrooge being sexually abused by his teacher in his childhood flashbacks. They want us to know that this is how Scrooge’s dad paid for his school fees. Scrooge goes on to make Mrs Cratchett strip in front of him to get money for Tiny Tim’s doctor. It’s truly horrid. There’s even an ending which indicates that it’s Mary Cratchett herself who commanded the ghosts who visited Scrooge. It’s a twist which adds nothing to the story and makes no sense. (If the ghosts did exactly what she wanted, then why does she make a big deal about not forgiving him? Why send them? Pointless!)
It’s just too damn bleak. You don’t want to be watching this misery in the run up to Christmas, believe me. You end up so bloody miserable that the ending isn’t enough to raise your spirits. Find something else to watch.