If you’ve ever wondered why there are so many (for the love of all that is holy, so damn many) Christmas movies, the answer is the same as for most of what happens in Hollywood: Money. Holiday movies are money lying on the ground, to be picked up every single December; a good Christmas movie that becomes a tradition can generate more continuing revenue than even the most beloved of catalogue releases. But there’s the rub — it also has to be a movie people actually want to revisit year after year. Making a good Christmas movie is harder than it looks; the delicate balance of humor, warmth, and schmaltz has to be just right, and for every Christmas Story or Christmas Vacation, we usually end up with three or four Santa Claus: The Movies. After the jump, a few would-be holiday “classics” to keep the hell off your Netflix queues and cable boxes; add your own cautionary tales in the comments.
Jingle All The Way
There was a time — not that long ago, in fact! — where not only did they let Arnold Schwarzenegger star in big, beefy action movies, but in family comedies as well. This happened in spite of the fact that approximately 62 percent of Mr. Schwarzenegger’s dialogue was entirely unintelligible. Only in America, right? Anyhoo, this 1996 comedy came towards the end of Arnold’s inexplicable box office winning streak, and featured Mr. Schwarznegger as a frazzled workaholic dad (y’know, just an average Joe suit and tie guy, whose suit and tie are covering a fucking tank) who tries to get right with his son by going out on Christmas Eve to track down the season’s must-have action figure: the “Turbo Man” (or, as Arnold says it, “Tyurbo-Min”). Writer Randy Kornfield got the idea from the madness over Cabbage Patch Dolls back in the early ’80s, so, y’know, timely; Jingle wears its 1996ness primarily in its supporting cast, which includes Sinbad, Jim Belushi, and (a mere three years from his immortal turn as “Annie” Skywalker) Jake Lloyd. But let’s put issues of timing aside; this is a manic mess, unimaginatively directed by Brian Levant, whose filmography includes the Flintstones movies, Snow Dogs, and a movie that we couldn’t bring ourselves to watch for consideration on this list: the brand-new, straight-to-video sequel that nobody asked for, A Christmas Story 2.