Broadening our horizons: the best-worst Christmas movies

Lauren Wilmoth, Staff Writer

As a self-proclaimed “bad-movie expert,” I am so excited to share my favorite terrible Christmas movies for you to enjoy this holiday season. There isn’t exactly a method or system to my madness, but trust that this list has been masterfully crafted by an expert. 

Christmas Mail

Starting off strong with one of my personal favorites, Christmas Mail. Christmas Mail entered my bad movie radar when I watched Drew Gooden’s fantastic review of it. This has been a staple in my life ever since. Christmas Mail is about a mailman named Matt who ever since adopting his orphan niece has been in desperate need of a partner. Matt meets a mysterious woman named Kristi who just shows up at the post office and starts responding to Santa’s letters. As it turns out, Kristi is an…elf? It’s unclear whether or not she’s actually an elf, but she definitely works for Santa. Mail brings Matt and Kristi together as they fall in love over the course of several strange montages. Unfortunately, the two main characters have no chemistry and their dialogue is so bad it’s hilarious. The male love interest is also a musician, so of course, there’s some bad original music sprinkled in here. Why do I like this so much you might be wondering? It’s simple, it’s so bad it’s so good! The acting is so horrendous but I love that about it. The silliness and the awkward line delivery never fails to make me laugh. There are countless quotable moments throughout and I notice something new every rewatch. Please watch Christmas Mail right now. I’m obsessed.

Too Cool for Christmas/A Very Cool Christmas

I understand these posters may be a little confusing. Why are there two movies? Are they the same movie? If you look closely at the picture maybe you’ll notice something. Too Cool for Christmas features two dads, and A Very Cool Christmas features a mother and a father. Other than that slight difference the movies are the exact same. I’m not kidding. They just refilmed all of the scenes with the parents for both movies. The original (Too Cool for Christmas) was made for Canadian audiences, and to market it towards “less tolerant” American audiences they made the second version. In both movies a spoiled teenage girl thinks she’s too cool for Christmas, so she gives Santa a makeover and makes him “sexy santa.” The opening song is so crazy and catchy and I highly suggest you give it a listen. These movies are so odd and there’s really no redeeming qualities about the movies themselves, but they’re so hilarious to watch; I’d just recommend you watch the original version and not bother with the straight version. 

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Emmy-nominated actor Henry Winkler’s fantastic career takes a strange turn in this Hallmark movie. I have no idea how Hallmark secured Winkler for this movie, but they did and he was the best part. I discovered this movie when my grandfather was sick of us arguing about a movie to watch, so he put on the first movie he saw. This has been an inside joke in my family ever since. Basically, Winkler (Uncle Ralph) discovers a random man at the airport and decides to take him in for Christmas. The man is really strange and vaguely creepy so I cannot understand why anybody in their right mind would let him into their house. Regardless, Uncle Ralph’s niece Jennifer falls in love with the creepy man (who is a chef) and they live happily ever after. Of course, there’s a typical airport scene where she chases after him and they kiss. I got really strong creepy stalker vibes from the male love interest and I cannot understand how she falls for him. The plot of this is so cliche and boring, but the craziness of letting a creepy man spend Christmas with your family is so funny to watch. 

The Grump Who Stole Christmas

“My name is not Mighty B, call me Mighty Bunion”
I randomly came across this movie down a bad animation rabbit hole and I am shocked that this abomination is not more widely known. This is a strange knockoff of The Grinch where instead of The Grinch, the villain is a grump/pig named “Mighty Bunion” and instead of Max the dog, the Grump is assisted by Clank the robot. I don’t understand the premise of this movie even after watching it. This whole movie feels like a strange fever dream. The voice acting is so insane you have to hear it to believe it. Every character except Santa has an extremely grating and irritating voice (I had to turn my volume down every time the reindeer came on the screen). The animation is crazy, with characters just appearing and glitching out of scenes. However, all of these flaws have allowed this movie to become one of my favorite bad movies ever. The glitching of the animation is hilarious and while incredibly grating, the voice acting is so funny. So if you are in need of a good laugh, turn your volume down and watch this movie.

Holiday in Handcuffs

I never thought I would see an ABC Family Christmas movie romanticizing kidnapping, but here we are. Holiday in Handcuffs is a fascinating attempt at making the viewer sympathize with an insane narcissistic kidnapper. Trudie is a single, down-on-her-luck, waitress who just wants a nice guy to take home for Christmas. After getting dumped by her boyfriend, Trudie decides the most logical thing to do is to kidnap a random man named David and (against his will) force David to spend Christmas with her and her family. The craziest thing about this movie is that David tries to tell her family that he has been kidnapped, but they just laugh!? They think he’s just a silly guy who likes to pretend he’s been kidnapped. Eventually, David develops Stockholm Syndrome and falls for the insane Tracie. However, he is saved by the police and reunited with his beautiful and sweet girlfriend. Don’t worry! It doesn’t end there! David ends up reversing the roles and kidnaps Tracie in an elaborate proposal ruse. I am seriously concerned for whoever wrote this crazy movie and I h0pe they haven’t kidnapped anybody yet. I have to give the stars Melissa Joan Hart and Mario Lopez props, as they managed to take the most insane script and make it into something pretty entertaining. I’ve always considered Hart to be a great actress and I hope to see her in another movie soon…

A Very Merry Toy Store

Holiday in Handcuffs’ own Melissa Joan Hart and Mario Lopez return for a new terrible rom-com, A Very Merry Toy Store! Some fellow bad Christmas movie fanatics consider this a sequel to Holiday in Handcuffs, but don’t let them fool you, this is a completely different movie. Instead of being a crazy kidnapping waitress, Hart is a single-mother who runs a struggling toy shop. And of course Lopez is her competitor who runs another toy shop right next store. They have to join forces when a big corporation threatens their businesses and they fall in love along the way bla bla bla… My favorite part is the Hasbro product placement every few minutes (there’s a whole scene where Hart endorses “Pie Face”). This movie is terrible and cliche like all Lifetime movies, but it’s hard to look away from. I’ve always enjoyed Hart’s acting and this performance is Oscar worthy compared to all the other movies on this list. The love interests don’t have terrible chemistry and at least you’re rooting for them (unlike Holiday in Handcuffs). Overall, if you’re seeking a corny movie that’s at least pretty heartwarming, I’d highly recommend A Very Merry Toy Store. 

Our Italian Christmas Memories

I have a challenge for you: Try to count how many times they say “pasta” in this movie. You’ll lose count after the first five minutes. Italians, please, I beg of you, DO NOT watch this movie. I’m not even Italian but I was offended. I think the woman holding a gigantic bowl of spaghetti in the picture says enough. Our Italian Christmas Memories is about a family trying to get their “Nono” (who is suffering from Alzheimers) to remember their beloved pasta recipe. In my extensive research about this movie I have not found a single cast member who is actually Italian. This would be fine if the most important and overused plot point is NOT the fact that they’re all “SO Italian.” On the bright side, this movie does have a nice message, as it is centered around family and heritage rather than the same old Hallmark love story. This movie also features a lesbian couple which is pretty progressive considering Hallmark’s track record of the same exact straight white couple in every single movie. If you want to crave some spaghetti while also cringing out of your mind, I’d recommend this movie.