Steve Martin And Juliette Lewis In 'Mixed Nuts'
Archive Photos/Stringer/Moviepix/Getty Images

Awesomely Bad Holiday Movies Starring A-Listers

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Steve Martin And Juliette Lewis In 'Mixed Nuts'
Archive Photos/Stringer/Moviepix/Getty Images

Ho, Ho, Ho No!

Star power puts people in seats, but sometimes even the biggest stars can’t save a bad film. Sadly, lots of Christmas movies are like that. Let’s face it, they can’t call “Miracle on 34th Street” or even “Die Hard” (yes, Virginia, it is a Christmas movie). With guidance from the Rotten Tomatoes critical approval ratings, here are some holiday films that deserved a lump of coal in spite of their A-list casts.


Related: Holiday Movies for People Who Hate Holiday Movies

‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas’ (2000)
Amazon

‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas’ (2000)

Critical approval: 49%


Sure, it did big box office with Jim Carrey as the Grinch, but director Ron Howard’s live-action version of the treasured Dr. Seuss tale didn’t exactly make critics’ hearts grow three sizes. Variety called it “shrill, strenuous and entirely without charm.”


Related: Classic Holiday Movies That Still Hold Up

‘The Holiday’ (2006)
Amazon

‘The Holiday’ (2006)

Critical approval: 49%


After bad breakups, two women played by Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet swap families for Christmas — as people do — and find romance. Audiences appreciated it more than the critics, but that didn’t save the film at the box office.


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‘Office Christmas Party’ (2016)
Amazon

‘Office Christmas Party’ (2016)

Critical approval: 41%


Co-workers attempt to mount an epic office party to land a big client and save their jobs, but the Observer said the “this tale of an embattled business going all out on festivities in order to stay afloat is as predictable as Boxing Day indigestion.” Audiences liked it even less despite stars like Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston.

‘A Bad Moms Christmas’ (2017)
Amazon

‘A Bad Moms Christmas’ (2017)

Critical approval: 32%


When three moms (Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathyrn Hahn) attempt to entertain their mothers during Christmas, hijinks ensue. “It’ll entertain you while on the verge of a turkey coma, but it will never rank among the Christmas classics,” said Empire Magazine. Still, the comedy did make $130 million and a sequel is in the works.


‘Noel’ (2004)
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‘Noel’ (2004)

Critical approval: 28%


A young man wants to recreate his happiest Christmas in the midst of various melodramatic storylines. Rex Reed said the film was an “unpleasant fiasco” that makes you “want to bludgeon the elves with their own toy-shop hammer,” a critical response that didn’t give exceptions to stars like Susan Sarandon or Alan Arkin.


Related: 18 Holiday Movie Locations Across America and Beyond

‘Star Wars: Holiday Special’ (1978)
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‘Star Wars: Holiday Special’ (1978)

Critical approval: 27%


There’s a reason CBS doesn’t run this made-for-TV movie every Christmas despite the film’s stars — Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher — reprising their roles. “Yes, it was that unprecedented. Yes, it was that bad,” said Salon.com.


‘Reindeer Games’ (2000)
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‘Reindeer Games’ (2000)

Critical approval: 26%


You’d think a cast of this caliber, which included Ben Affleck and Charlize Theron, could knock a film out of the park — especially with seasoned director John Frankenheimer at the helm. You’d be wrong. “ ‘Reindeer Games’ is basically a test of your ability to accept a slushpile of implausible twisteroos and Tarantino-style conceits,” said the Washington Post.


‘Four Christmases’ (2008)
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‘Four Christmases’ (2008)

Critical approval: 25% 

 

The plot revolves around four visits to dysfunctional families filled with slapstick humor and projectile baby vomit. What’s not to like? Director Seth “Gordon’s stars are charmless, his script cheerless, and his sterling supporting cast can’t seem to figure out what they’ve been brought on board to do,” said NPR. Stars Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon would probably like to strike this one from their credits.


‘Bad Santa 2’ (2016)
Amazon

‘Bad Santa 2’ (2016)

Critical approval: 23%


Here’s a classic case of a sequel failing to live up to the critical and box office success of the original, which also starred Billy Bob Thornton. “We have long hoped that there might one day be a sequel,” Rolling Stone admitted. “We need to be more careful what we wish for.”


‘Fred Claus’ (2007)
Amazon

‘Fred Claus’ (2007)

Critical approval: 21%


The attempts by Santa (Paul Giamatti) to reform his wayward brother Fred (Vince Vaughn) go hilariously awry. Well, that was the idea. “The spirit of Scrooge surges strong within me having watched this chillingly cynical and unfunny Christmas movie,” said the Guardian.


‘Daddy’s Home 2’ (2017)
Amazon

‘Daddy’s Home 2’ (2017)

Critical approval: 21%


Cast: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, John Lithgow, Linda Cardllini, John Cena

This attempt to squeeze another film out of the premise of the hit 2015 original fell flat with critics as well as viewers. Entertainment Weekly said the follow-up “does have a few mild chuckles, but not as many as you want.”


‘Santa Claus: The Movie’ (1985)
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‘Santa Claus: The Movie’ (1985)

Critical approval: 20%


The producers of the popular Superman films took a stab at another kind of flying superhero and came up a little short. Enter stars like Dudley Moore and John Lithgow plus a villainous toy manufacturer and … well, you get the picture. “The movie needs a super-Scrooge and all it gets is the kind of guy Ralph Nader might have invented,” said Roger Ebert.


‘Jack Frost’ (1998)
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‘Jack Frost’ (1998)

Critical approval: 19%


Michael Keaton plays a dad who reappears to his son as a snowman following his tragic death on Christmas Day. Fun, eh? Entertainment Weekly said it was “so treacly and fake it makes you feel like you’re trapped in a winter-wonderland paperweight.”


‘Love The Coopers’ (2015)
Amazon

‘Love The Coopers’ (2015)

Critical approval: 18%


Divorcing parents (Diane Keaton and John Goodman) host a final Christmas Eve celebration for a family full of problems of their own. Entertainment Weekly said the film’s “convoluted narrative and overreliance on Christmas cliches keeps it from sparking any real holiday magic.”


‘The Santa Claus 3: The Escape Claus’ (2006)
Amazon

‘The Santa Claus 3: The Escape Claus’ (2006)

Critical approval: 17%


Martin Short as Jack Frost can’t save the third installment of this series — one that even audiences gave a meger 39% score. Variety said the film is “smoothly engineered and fundamentally lifeless,” though still “capable of giving even the grinchiest moviegoers a brief attack of the warm-and-fuzzies.”


‘Jingle All The Way’ (1996)
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‘Jingle All The Way’ (1996)

Critical approval: 17%


Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad go toe-to-toe for the last Turbo Man action figure in the Twin Cities in a “‘satire’ of frenzied consumerism that’s really a barely ironic assertion of it,” said Entertainment Weekly. It could have been worse: Larry the Cable Guy stars in the sequel.


‘A Merry Friggin’ Christmas’ (2014)
Amazon

‘A Merry Friggin’ Christmas’ (2014)

Critical approval: 14%


Remember this holiday classic starring Joel McHale and Robin Williams? No? Another tale of a misfit family’s holiday adventures. Newsday called it “a slipshod comedy with Williams in default mode as a lovable grouch.” Sadly, it was one of Williams’ last films.


‘Mixed Nuts’ (1994)
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‘Mixed Nuts’ (1994)

Critical approval: 10%


An unusually forgettable effort starring Steve Martin and Madeline Kahn from director Nora Ephron, who Variety said “pitches the humor at a cacophonous level and displays the comedic equivalent of two left feet in evolving an absurdist, slapstick yarn.”


‘Surviving Christmas’ (2004)
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‘Surviving Christmas’ (2004)

Critical approval: 7%


A rich guy (Ben Affleck) buys his way into a family holiday gathering with the people living in his boyhood home. Sound funny? Not so much, said the critics. The Chicago Reader put it this way: “Pique on earth and ill will toward men permeate this mirthless comedy.”


‘Deck the Halls’ (2006)
Amazon

‘Deck the Halls’ (2006)

Critical approval: 6%


Yet another mean-spirited holiday film, this one starring Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick,  “Deck the Halls” attempts to be an edgy comedy and falls short. Variety called it “a lifeless, workmanlike comedy” that “throws in sprinkles of Hallmark sappiness to pad its Scrooge-like portion of laughs beyond episodic sitcom length.”


‘Christmas With the Kranks’ (2004)
Amazon

‘Christmas With the Kranks’ (2004)

Critical approval: 5%


It seems inconceivable that Chris Columbus — who wrote “Gremlins” and “The Goonies,” and directed “Home Alone” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” — could be behind this project starring Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis that Rotten Tomatoes called “a coarse, garish comedy” that landed poorly with critics and audiences alike.


‘Trapped in Paradise’ (1994)
Amazon

‘Trapped in Paradise’ (1994)

Critical approval: 5%


Three dimwitted bank robbers (Nicolas Cage, Jon Lovitz, and Dana Carvey)find themselves stranded in a small town with a bag full of cash on Christmas Eve. How can a movie with this cast not be funny? And yet, here it is, another holiday dud. “It’s a minor holiday miracle that this homey comedy barely elicits even a chuckle,” said The New York Times.