Bah, Humbug! The Worst Christmas Movies of All-Time

Not every Christmas movie can deliver the holidays feels, with Last Christmas, Christmas With the Kranks and nine others making our naughty list.

By Tierney Bricker Dec 24, 2023 8:00 AMTags
Watch: 5 Holiday Movies That Get Us in the Spirit

From ho-ho-ho to no-no-no.

We here are E! News love the holidays. The time spent with family. The seasonal beverages. The twinkling lights. The food. And, of course, the movies. There's nothing we love more than a cozy Sunday evening spent watching Hallmark's latest cheesy but irresistible Countdown to Christmas movie with a steaming cup of hot cocoa. (We have the evidence: We've ranked all their past offerings. Yes, all of them.)

But while we love us a cheery Christmas offering, that doesn't mean we don't have standards: We can spot the difference between a gift (think classics like Home AloneChristmas Vacation and Elf) and a lump of coal that leaves us colder than the frigid temps outside. 

Not every seasonal outing can go on to become annual event programming like Love Actually or The Santa Clause. Some are just destined to end up at the tail-end of Netflix's Christmas suggestions scroll a.k.a. the entertainment version of the South Pole. Yikes

We Ranked All of Hallmark Channel's 2022 Christmas Movies

And bad holiday movies can happen to good actors, including Keira Knightley, whose wild take on The Nutcracker failed to make moviegoers do the dance of the sugar plum, and Michael Keaton, thanks to his snowman Jack Frost, who was more haunting than heartwarming.

So which Christmas films over the years have failed to become classics, instead becoming go-to examples of the holidays gone very wrong? 

Last Christmas

Lesson learned from this recent rom-com starring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, two human embodiments of warm and fuzzy feelings, and written by the equally-as-charming Emma Thompson? A lyric in a beloved Christmas song ("Last Christmas" by George Michael) does not a good Christmas movie make. 

Choice Review: "It's the kind of bad that falls somewhere between finding a lump of coal in your stocking and discovering one painfully lodged in your rectum."

Deck the Halls

If you like your Christmas movies with some cranky men and a lot of mean-spirited hijinks and very little charm, this comedy starring Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito is for you, ya Grinch.

Choice Review: "You cannot 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—thank God, it's over."

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Um, at least Keira Knightley seemed to be having fun in this colorful, wild and wackadoodle reimagination of The Nutcracker? Despite (very) early hype, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms became one of the biggest box office bombs of 2018. 

Choice Review: "What in the cuckoo Christmas blasphemy is this?"

Four Christmases

On paper, this movie sounds great: America's sweetheart Reese Witherspoon and America's wise-ass Vince Vaughn as a couple having to visit four messy, complicated and inappropriate families on Christmas. But this rom-com-gone-wrong proved to be riddled with clichés and felt staler than your Aunt Karen's fruitcake. 

Choice Review: "It's Four Christmases in need of a wedding, or maybe a funeral."

Fred Claus

And Vaughn is 0-for-2 when it comes to Christmas movies, with his 2007 comedy about Santa's cranky and bitter Scrooge of an older bro failing to earn many laughs...or money.

Choice Review: "The movie is less ho-ho-ho than uh-oh, or oh-no."

Jack Frost

Imagine a Christmas movie about a dead father (who died on Christmas Day, by the way, after always traveling for work and not really being present with his family) returning to his son as a snowman who came to life one day. Now imagine thinking that is not a horror movie. Alas, filmmakers believed this was the feel-good family film the world needed, with Michael Keaton starring as the dead-dad-turned-snowman. 1998, man, what a year.

Choice Review: "Let it melt!"

Christmas With the Kranks

While Tim Allen proved to have the holiday spirit with his blockbuster Santa Clause trilogy, the magic wore off for this 2004 family comedy. The concept was simple enough: The Home Improvement star and Jamie Lee Curtis play a couple frantically trying to put together a Christmas event in less than 24 hours after their adult daughter reveals she's going to be returning home after all. Alas, despite Allen and Curtis' comedic talents, there was no salvaging this hammy and clunky Christmas mess and it has the 5 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating to prove it. 

Choice Review: "Stinks like the unrefrigerated ham its studio sent me as a promotion several months ago."

Bad Santa 2

Alternate title for this unnecessary and unfunny sequel to the surprise hit dark comedy starring Billy Bob Thornton? 2 Bad 4 Santa

Choice Review: "We have long hoped that there might one day be a sequel. We need to be careful what we wish for."

Love the Coopers

Nothing brings the family together during the holidays quite like divorce, right? Desperate for one last perfect Christmas as a fam, Diane Keaton and John Goodman play a couple planning to divorce just after their adult children visit for the holidays. We'll let you guess what happens. The movie wastes a majority of its stacked cast (Olivia Wilde, Anthony Mackie and Alan Arkin, oh my!) and just tries way too hard to hit you in your holiday feels. Example: A dog narrates the movie. 

Choice Review: "'Dreck the Halls.' 'O Unholy Night.' 'Jingle Hell.'"

Miracle on 34th Street

OK, here's the thing: the 1994 remake isn't a bad movie, it's just a completely unnecessary one. Starring Richard Attenborough, Dylan McDermott, Elizabeth Perkins and Mara Wilson, it doesn't really add anything new or special, which is obvious as the original 1947 still tends to get more airplay all these years later.

Choice Review: "The movie's a slow-moving, overblown, never-better-than-competent rendition of the original."

A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding

Before you argue, let the record state that we thoroughly enjoyed the first film in the A Christmas Prince franchise (We cannot believe that is an actual thing, but here we are!) for how deliciously low-budget and unintentionally hilarious it was. There's a reason it became an unexpected meme-generator and developed a cult fanbase. HOWEVER, the 2018 sequel was so-bad-it's-bad, not so-bad-it's-good. The Netflix rom-com was lackluster, half-assed and, worst of all, BORING. Therefore we banished it from our queue.

(Originally published Monday, Dec. 2, 2019 at 12 p.m. PST)

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