Sometimes a movie is announced and it has all the cards stacked in its favour. Great talented actors, an awesome premise, great writers, and an incredible director backing it all up. All of this would make any movie seem like a sure-fire hit. Unfortunately, that’s not how the world works. Sometimes the cards the movie has stacked up spontaneously catch fire and all they're left with is an ashy pile of wasted potential. These five movies had great potential but ended up as flops.
1. Last Christmas (2019)
Credit: Screen Rant
Fresh from her starring role in Game of Thrones, Emilia Clarke stars in this Paul Feig directed Christmas rom-com. Her time on GOT as Daenerys Targaryen and in other roles, notably Terminator Genysis, have given Clarke cold and determined characters. One look at her socials or when the cameras aren’t rolling and we see the playful, gleeful, goofball side to Clarke.
Last Christmas is the first movie in a while (Me Before You was released in 2016) that gives Clarke a chance to show off this side of her and the movie takes this concept and runs with it. Clarke plays aspiring singer and retail worker Kate in her 20’s who’s had her career stall after a health scare and is just trying to put her life back together. She ends up bumping into the mysterious Tom (Henry Golding) and is swept up into an exciting whirlwind of romance and adventure.
In the lead up to the movie’s release on the press circuit, Feig asked people once they had watched the movie to not spoil the ending for others. I’m not going to spoil it for you now but it’s not anything too revolutionary of a plot twist and most of you could probably predict it halfway through the movie. A lot of people seemed to agree and the movie disappeared from the public zeitgeist not long after it was released.
The talented cast and crew make the movie’s failure all the more disappointing. Feig is a talented director and Emma Thompson is an excellent comedic writer and actor but they’ve both been involved with better movies than this one.
2. Deck the Halls (2006)
Want to know how Ferris Bueller would handle typical American suburbia as a middle-aged man? Seems like producers in Hollywood wanted to know as well because they greenlit this holiday movie in 2006 with Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito in the lead roles.
In a small American town, Broderick’s character just wants one thing for Christmas – to give his children an incredible Christmas filled with all the hits; Christmas cards, advent calendars, and matching sweaters. This perfect time is unsettled in classic movie fashion by Danny DeVito’s character and a metaphorical pissing contest begins over Christmas lights.
The plot of this movie is so threadbare and basic there’s not much point outlining the rest of the plot. You could probably figure out how the movie’s going to play out after the first minute. With two great actors headlining this movie having been involved in comedy classics you would expect the movie to have some decent laughs. Don’t try and apply earth logic to Hollywood, you’ll only end up disappointed time and time again.
The critical consensus for the movie is that it’s just a mean-spirited movie and I have to agree with them. There’s nothing close to humour anywhere in this movie. Audiences also agreed and this movie never stood a chance, flatlining right out of the gate and long forgotten.
3. Mixed Nuts (1994)
Credit: The Number Two Review
An American Christmas comedy based on the 1982 French movie Le Pere Noel est une ordure? Who better to helm this project than one of the stars from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels? Honestly, I enjoy Steve Martin’s comedy and some of his movies so when I found this in a bargain bin I was surprised and excited to watch the movie.
Half an hour in I had to turn the movie off so I didn’t have to suffer any longer. The movie follows the head of a suicide prevention hotline (a comedic goldmine in of itself) who is given an eviction notice after falling behind on the company rent on Christmas Eve. The thirty minutes I watched was a mix of unfunny jokes and a boring plot that didn’t seem like it was going anywhere fast.
The movie was a critical and commercial failure with many critics at the time saying it was the worst movie they’d ever seen. One specific reviewer raised the idea that maybe there was too much talent like too many clowns in the circus, which has to be one of the most backhanded compliments I’ve heard in a while.
4. Jingle All the Way (1996)
Credit: Peter Greenberg International
Picture this. It’s 1996, Pokémon has just been introduced to children all across the globe, a computer beat the world chess champion, we’d just cloned a sheep and Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in Jingle All the Way. Coming off the back of classics Predator, Total Recall, and T2: Judgement Day everyone would have been expecting Arnie’s latest movie to kill it at the box office. Now we can sit back with the smug self-satisfaction that comes with hindsight as this movie isn’t regarded as one of Schwarzenegger’s better roles.
Jingle All the Way follows Schwarzenegger’s character, Howard Langston, on Christmas Eve as he clashes with a fellow father trying to buy his son the latest Turbo Man action figure. The movie was rewritten from the original script to add satire about the commercialisation of Christmas but didn’t connect with a viewing audience expecting a fun holiday comedy in the same vein of Kindergarten Cop or True Lies.
The movie was panned when it was released, the main reason being an uneven tone with the movie trying to balance nuanced satire and broad slapstick comedy and coming up short on all counts. The movie’s as formulaic as it gets with the actors trying their best to wring any comedic value they can out of the script.
5. Star Wars: The Holiday Special (1978)
Credit: Daily Beast
Yeah, this is it. The one that a lot of you may have seen coming, especially if you were old enough to see this movie when it hit audiences’ televisions back in the black and white days of 1978. The movie follows the events of A New Hope as Han Solo and Chewbacca try to get to the Wookiee homeworld Kashyyyk to celebrate “Life Day” (read: Christmas). They are pursued by the Galactic Empire throughout the entire movie.
This main plotline is intersected with appearances from the rest of the original cast (excluding R2-D2) and even a (terrible) cartoon section starring Boba Fett. Most scenes use footage from episode 4 apart from the cartoon section.
Straight up, this movie is bad. That’s not the interesting part. What’s interesting is how the studio and public reacted to its suckage. After its original broadcast, the movie has never been rebroadcast or released on home video in an official capacity to this day. It has however been bootlegged by fans and distributed as off-air recordings and uploaded to content sharing websites, proving that some people are just gluttons for punishment if they’re subjecting themselves to this willingly.
Have you seen any of these films? Are there any big Christmas flops I missed? Let me know in the comments down below.
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