From ‘A Christmas Story’ to ‘Christmas Vacation,’ it’s time to be honest about how bad these holiday movies are

Screengrab via YouTube/MGM

Perhaps it really is a Festivus for the rest of us.

Just like Frank Costanza declared at the dinner table in 1997, it’s time for the airing of grievances, and at the top of our list here at We Got This Covered is Christmas movies. ‘Tis the season for cheesy cinema, after all, and it doesn’t get much cheesier than kisses under mistletoe and a plump man sliding down millions of chimneys. That’s not to say all holiday flicks are bad, but they’re not all deserving of their “classic” designations, either. The holidays certainly wouldn’t be the same without them, but there are a few things we need to get off our chests about these so-called “classic” movies, songs, and traditions.

To quote a wise man from Love Actually, some of the staff has decided to help out with this article, and for our more controversial selections, we ask you to forgive us. (We will not, however, apologize for our festive nicknames, which we embrace with the rigor of Rudolph’s radiant schnoz.)

Here are the Christmas movies that we’re absolutely tired of, as they do not make our hearts grow three sizes, but rather make us want to switch places with Grandma and get run over by a reindeer or eight.

Love, Actually makes “Cringey” Christian Bone want to vomit, actually

Pointing out that Love Actually isn’t a good film is almost as much of a cliché at this point as arguing that Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Just in case there are those out there who have somehow missed the memo, here’s yet another reminder.

From Keira Knightley being closer in age to tiny Thomas Sangster than Andrew Lincoln to the endless fat-shaming, there’s so much that’s questionable about this one that even director Richard Curtis recently admitted that its dated sexual/social politics makes him uncomfortable. Plus, it forced Emma Thompson to relive the pain of the time her real-life (ex)-husband cheated on her. Upsetting Emma Thompson should be a major no-no in anyone’s book.

What’s more, besides the behind-the-scenes reasons, it’s just not that great a rom-com. There are far too many storylines and characters for any of them to receive sufficient space or depth to make us care about them, with the movie’s talented cast forced to carry the weak, undercooked script on their backs.

You know what, how does Liam Neeson dream of marrying Claudia Schiffer only to end up meeting a woman who is played by Claudia Schiffer? Does she or does she not exist as a real person in the Love Actually universe? The world-building makes no sense.

Josh “COVID Can Kiss a Candy Cane” Conrad is tapping out when it comes to watching The Santa Clause (1994)

Hear me out. This is not a bad movie, but I’m TIRED of it, okay?

Look, I don’t hate The Santa Clause ⏤ far from it. I’ve been a Tim Allen fan my entire life, and apart from Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story and Michael Cromwell in Jungle 2 Jungle (remember that?), Scott Calvin will always be one of his most memorable roles. It’s just that I’ve seen the movie so many times at this point (looking at you, Disney Channel) that I can no longer endure Scott’s journey of knocking Santa off the roof and inheriting his legacy. I’ll always love Charlie and Bernard, and I’ll always roll my eyes at Laura and Neal, and at the end of the day, The Santa Clause will always be a classic. But at this point, I’m much more likely to watch Christmas with the Kranks or The Holiday or even Jingle All the Way (remember that?!) due to pure Clause burnout. Has this life choice secured me a spot on the Naughty List? We’ll know soon enough.

Allie “ALL” Capps HATES…It’s A Wonderful Life

The only reason people even know this movie exists today is because it was free for the taking when its copyright wasn’t renewed. In an alternate timeline, they actually did the clerical work to keep the movie, and it faded into the obscurity it deserves. It’s one of the most boring holiday specials I’ve ever had to watch and regret having in-laws that make it a yearly tradition.

Misty “Kick-Ass” Contreras has a problem with A Christmas Story (1983)

I have a real problem with this movie. Don’t give me that look. My reasons are valid, and I demand to be heard. It was clever, adorable even…the first 50 or so times I watched it. It’s just that every year on Christmas Day, I went to my sister’s house for presents and all that stuff, and one of the networks would play this movie on repeat ALL. DAY. And my sister would insist on having it on. ALL. DAMN. DAY. LONG. Back-to-back, on repeat. She had her favorite parts, where she would have to stop mid-conversation and turn the TV up, laugh as though she was seeing it for the first time, and look at all of us for our reactions. I found this extremely unpleasant.

So shoot me.

“Not so Jolly” Jonathon Greenall is done with Scrooged

There is an alternative universe where Charles Dickens never existed. In this universe, screenwriters have to put effort into their holiday films rather than rehashing A Christmas Carol for the 50-millionth time.

Scrooged is one of the worst adaptions of this classic tale, as it has two glaring issues. First, the tone is all over the place, with the film awkwardly stumbling from satire to solemn to slapstick, kind of like your eggnog-saturated grandpa after Christmas dinner.

Also, the decision to cast Bill Murray as the Scrooge figure was a gigantic misstep. The entire point of A Christmas Carol is that Scrooge is a horrible-but-tragic figure who gets his well-deserved comeuppance after an intense existential crisis. But Murray doesn’t have the skill to pull that type of character off. Because of this, he ends up playing Peter Venkman again. This choice undermines the story’s message as the script keeps giving Murray snappy one-liners and sassy comebacks, which his character delivers without pushback or punishment from the spirits. So, Murray’s monologue at the end rings hollow because his character doesn’t feel like he’s earned salvation and still acts the same as he did at the start.

“Bitter” Beau Paul despises…Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)

This movie is a visual abomination. It was made by the same team that made Superman, but they managed to deprive this thing of any heart, joy, or beauty. It also kind of kickstarted the decline of Dudley Moore’s career. It really is the E.T.: The Video Game of movies. 

You know what Beau “No, Jake and Logan Aren’t My Cousins” Paul hates even more? The Grinch (2000)

Just….eff this movie. Okay? Having Jim Carrey perform a character originated by Boris Karloff is like replacing the whipped cream on your holiday pie with industrial cleaning wax. 

Like it or not, for more than two decades, viewers of traditional Christmas fare have had to contend with Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas aka “The FALSE Grinch,” aka “Grinch the Lie,” aka “Why Did a Loving God Let Ron Howard of All People Do This to Us?” The world is full of rotten remakes, gentle readers, but none so dastardly, so horrible, so packed with unnecessarily hammy filler and, ironically, so Grinch-like as this.

In 1966, the Christmas spirits graced us with How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, an animated triumph directed by Warner Bros. animation legend Chuck Jones and the perfect realization of the 1957 children’s book by Dr. Seuss. Now every year, we have to put up with this overly padded, depressingly trite Jim Carrey version like a household presented with baloney when there’s been a perfectly good roast beast available for decades. Please refuse to succumb. Watch only the ACTUAL version narrated solely by the incredible Karloff and sung by Thurl “Tony the Tiger” Ravenscroft. The TRUE version. Otherwise, accept the coal that will no doubt be deposited in your stocking.

Evan “Peanut Butter” Pretzer would rather bleach his eyes than see White Christmas one more time

Today, many get criticized for being fixed on nostalgia and not bothering to do things in the moment. I lived it yearly with this stupid movie. My mother watched it as a child so, by extension, my siblings and I had to as well. It is too long, features incredibly grating musical numbers and an annoying titular song which is still somehow popular today. I grew up in Canada; there is nothing redeeming about a white Christmas when you have to shovel all of it. 

“Chardonnay” Charlotte Simmons is the one person who actually likes getting socks for Christmas

Let me first establish that I actually adore getting socks for Christmas. With every passing year, I lose several halves of a pair to the great Washing Machine in the Sky, likely to be reborn as extra Tupperware lids that I don’t need. Any foot warmth insurance is a welcome stocking stuffer, but I have no one to blame my poor sock luck on but my younger self, and this is where our story begins.

I was about 3 years old at the time, an age where everything is infinitely more exciting and colorful and there’s nary an original thought to your name. I was about to have my first later that afternoon.

My mother brought me to my grandparents’ house, where I was promptly sat in a corduroy recliner and handed a box wrapped in whimsically-colored wrapping paper. I tore it open with all the excitement that my grubby little hands could channel, and about six pairs of socks revealed themselves as my reward.

Okay, not what I was expecting. Onto the next box I went, applying the same gusto for what was ultimately the same reward, give or take a pair or two.

At this point, my still-developing pattern-recognition abilities are beginning to kick in, so by the time I get to the third present, I’m a tad less enthusiastic about getting it open. Lo and behold, I was greeted with a third round of socks, to which I promptly squeal “These aren’t presents!” and proceed to chuck the box backwards over my head. Whether the sounds emitted from the adults in the room were those of horror or hilarity is a question I haven’t yet garnered the humility to find out.

So, while I eagerly accept socks as a present in my adult life, at the sight of them, I can never help but wonder what my sock luck could have been if I hadn’t torched all my karma in that department as a small child. Perhaps we’ll reconcile one day, but until then, it’s mismatch city for me, and it’s a fate that I will take firmly on the chin as long as I must.

“San” Francisca Tinoco isn’t feeling the Harry Potter magic

Despise is a strong word. I was once a huge Harry Potter fan, and as a lover of film, there’s no denying it is one of the best-made franchises there is, but haven’t we had enough? The problem with Harry Potter, apart from the obvious TERF elephant in the room (more on that later), is that it is everywhere, all year long. Because the Harry Potter films aren’t Christmas specific, not only are they on every Christmas, but sporadically throughout the year. Not to mention that you must deal with Harry Potter merch in clothing stores, gift shops, during Halloween, and, always, in every house where a ’90s/early-2000s kid happens to live. 

Look, maybe this is more of a European struggle, and studying in Oxford in my early 20s where every other store is Harry Potter-themed certainly didn’t help my fatigue, but surely, it has to be time to move on, right? I’m not saying Harry Potter fans should give up their passion, but please, for the love of God, do all of us have to put up with it by association? 

When a franchise has a woman as shortsighted and cynical as JK Rowling behind it, whose words have caused harm and given agency to others who wish to perpetuate that harm, it’s more than fair for some of us to not want to deal with yet another Harry Potter marathon on TV during the Holiday season. That’s not accounting for the boost in Harry Potter-themed everything in shops, trying to feed off of consumers’ nostalgia in a time as consumerist as Christmas. 

Matt “Your Real-Life Cousin Eddie” Tuck wants a permanent vacation from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Since I was a dear, sarcastic boy, the Vacation franchise has been a staple of the Temple of Tuck. Whether it was 1983’s original or 1985’s European Vacation, these were favorites in the household (although a tad inappropriate for kids in hindsight). Then came Christmas Vacation with some of the most quotable lines of any holiday movie ever made. It deserves its billing as a Christmas classic, and it is legitimately hilarious. At least it was the first 500 times I saw it. Practically everyone I know watches this movie religiously as soon as Thanksgiving arrives. They watch it over and over again. They quote the lines over and over and over. Yes, I’m aware that your shitter is full. So is mine, but you don’t hear me talking about it. 

What’s taken the spark out of the Griswolds’ hijinks is the numerous stories about Chevy Chase. I understand that you have to judge the art not the artist, but I always thought Clark Griswold was a bit of an asshole anyway. Now it seems that was simply Chevy playing himself, minus the more touching moments. In all, I could never see Christmas Vacation again and be perfectly fine.

Your favorite Christmas song makes Matt “What the” Tuck cringe

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are only about a dozen “classic” Christmas songs, give or take a couple. “Jingle Bells,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Santa Baby,” and “All I Want For Christmas Is You” immediately come to mind. From Thanksgiving until Dec. 26, there’s an onslaught of these songs relentlessly blasted in every department store, and here I am ducking, dodging, and hoping for the best like I’m storming the beaches of Normandy. I still have PTSD whenever I hear those sleigh bells jingling and ring-ting tingling, too.

The worst part is that it’s the same songs just sung by different pop and country stars. The voices and tempos may change, but it’s the same dozen tunes one right after another, and none of them are good with one exception: “Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo.” That one is great.