Worst Holiday Classic Films: Are They Really?

Jack Frosthttps://www.businessinsider.com/worst-christmas-movies-2018-11?fbclid=IwAR22jYBZjFIHF_lk79-vmuKyus5TI3dUf_qIeGmP2raS2n7Um–IHSnSWJw

When it comes to holiday films and specials, I am an unabashed Christmas movie junkie. I have my favorites from childhood, some classics that return every year and then others I recall with a sentimental nostalgia, those I fished out of some dusty $5 discount bin or sought out in some obscure second-hand video shop to have at the ready for holiday viewing. I relish this time of year when I get to snuggle in and escape the holiday madness with a little cheesy fictional world. So, looking over this list of “50 of the Worst Holiday Films of All Time” I strangely find myself fondly remembering some Christmas pasts when my life (and the world) seemed a bit simpler. Some of these I saw in theaters with my own children and a few I recall seeing in my youth and at the time they really didn’t seem so bad. Perhaps it was on a later viewing that the glaring flaws surfaced, but still, are they really all so bad? And if these truly are the “worst 50” of all time, what about all those forgotten ones prior to the 1990s?
Truth is, there have always been cheesy holiday classics that do not stand the test of time well (anyone recall Santa Conquers the Martians circa 1964? No? Well.. you haven’t missed much. Pity that one didn’t make the list) That’s why the truly good ones prevail and the rest are best left going quietly into the Silent Night, or at best, dusted off for a viewing from time to time, perhaps to recall that time you first saw it with your “auld acquaintances” of yore. Isn’t that also what makes the holidays “the most wonderful time of the year?” But still, a few on this list according to Martha Sorren’s article in The Business Insider, did offer a pleasant holiday diversion from the tried and true classics year after year and apparently made someone a bit of income for holiday shopping. As one writer friend proclaimed on seeing this list: “I think I should pursue a third career writing cheesy holiday movies. Clearly anyone can.” I don’t know about writing cheesy holiday scripts but there is definitely room for some new classics to be made, be they retellings of old stories or originals. And don’t just blame the screenwriter. There’s the director to blame as well. It takes more than script writing to make a good and lasting film, be it a holiday classic or otherwise.
And who’s to say the concept doesn’t have merit? There are a few that could have worked. A kid lost in NY and wreaking havoc at holiday time or a desperate dad on a quest for a sold-out gift his kid wants for Christmas (anyone remember that Cabbage Patch craze? It does happen!) True, some of these are just cringe worthy (a dead dad returning as jack Frost? Um.. no) But then, how dumb do some of the enduring holiday classic premises sound (i.e. a green grumpy monster steals Christmas from a town of weirdos) Most ideas are not essentially bad, just the execution in writing and design. This list of 50 “worst” provide a range of suitable prompts for a creative challenge to reinvent them into something new and improved for next year.
Some on the list are tried and true classic stories that just were badly done (i.e. the 2001 Christmas Carol cartoon) As if we really need another from the many stellar versions out there? Perhaps that’s when the producer or art director might be to blame. But once they’re in for a penny they’re in for a pound, perhaps, and bear in mind all these did make money and helped people put Christmas presents under their trees or a roast beast on the holiday table. Hallmark specials really aren’t worth serving up on the list as they are meant for a specific target audience that does like this sort of formulaic tinsel, leaving the author of this article sounding more like the Grinch than a savvy critic.
And then, sometimes a flop can come back as a classic embraced later by a whole new audience. Perhaps a few of those could have made the list some years back but now are well received and Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without them. A Christmas Story didn’t fare well in theaters in 1982 and nearly disappeared into oblivion until it made a comeback on TV and is now a stage play and musical. Even the classic Nutcracker Suite was a total flop and an embarrassment to the great composer, Peter Illych Tchaikovsky, back in 1890s Russia, but today the ballet music is heard everywhere at holiday time, conjuring visions of sugarplums fairies dancing in our heads. Who’s to say that a few of these won’t make an ironic comeback? So be careful who you diss today and be nice or you might just end up on someone’s naughty list tomorrow. In the meantime, take a moment this season to review and reflect on your favorites, perhaps with a cup of your favorite winter beverage and maybe take in a few of the “worst ever” to decide for yourself. You might even be inspired to pen a classic of your own, in the making that just might charm future generations.

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