10 Holiday & Christmas Movies That Keep Getting Better With Age – Screen Rant Leave a comment

Many of today’s biggest and most iconic holiday films had modest beggings, were bashed by critics, and some were even box office bombs.
Holiday movies are a tricky genre to master. Striking a balance between feel-good holiday cheer and critical praise is often a balancing act too difficult for even the most experienced filmmakers. Some films, like Home Alone, were bashed by critics but went on to become blockbuster hits and perennial Christmas favorites almost instantly.
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Other movies weren’t so fortunate. Many holiday favorites were actually released to negative reviews, tepid box office earnings, or even both. But over the years, the magic of the season has given a number of these films new life, granting some of them downright iconic status as must-watch Christmas favorites every holiday season.
At the tail end of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s A-List acting career, he starred in Jingle All the Way. The film centers around two dads fighting to get their kids the must-have toy of the Christmas season. Upon release, the film was universally bashed by critics, with Empire stating, “Anything as wooden as Arnie in a Christmas movie would normally be wearing flashing lights.”
However, just a few days after the film’s release, the very real Tickle Me Elmo craze hit, making Jingle All the Way feel very real and very relevant. Since then, the movie has gone down as a cultural artifact of the mid-90s zeitgeist and is regularly watched every holiday season.
When Mixed Nuts was released in 1994, it received horrifically abysmal reviews. Roger Ebert even concluded his review with, “Leaving the movie, I felt sort of drained – the way you get when you smile politely for hours in the enforced company of strangers..”
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However, in the years since its release, this madcap and zany comedy about the workers of a suicide hotline on Christmas Eve has become more relevant, more real, and more hilarious. In 2014, Esquire even called it “The Best Christmas Movie You’ve Never Seen.” It’s also got an incredibly talented cast, including Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn, Adam Sandler, and many more.
When it was released in 2006, the remake of Last Holiday starring Queen Latifah went virtually unnoticed. The story follows Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah) who suddenly discovers she’s dying. With only a few weeks left to live, she liquidates her bank account and heads to a fancy hotel in the posh resort town of Karlovy Vary.
Despite barely breaking even at the box office, the movie has gained a new life in the years since its release. Audiences have discovered the movie has a lot of heart, moments of great comedy, and is filled with a talented cast, including LL Cool J, Alicia Witt, and Gerard Depardieu.
In German lore, Krampus was the monstrous entity that accompanied St. Nicholas to children’s homes on Christmas. If they’re good, they’re rewarded by St. Nick. If they’re bad, they’re punished by Krampus. Starting in the 2010s, Krampus developed massive popularity in North American pop culture, and the 2015 film soon followed, depicting a family in crisis who must atone for their selfish ways by battling Krampus and his minions. Despite mixed reviews, with TIME even titling its review with “Krampus Is Just Too Dumb to Be Scary”, the movie continues to be popular with horror fans during the yuletide season thanks to its great scares and even moments of genuine humor.
In The Family Stone, a large family comes together to celebrate Christmas…and before long, all holiday hell breaks loose. A star-studded and talented cast, including Diane Keaton, Claire Danes, and Craig T. Nelson, among many others, leads this powerful story about a family on the brink of collapse.
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The plot is moving, funny, and all too real, which has really made audiences connect with The Family Stone, cementing it as a modern-day classic. However, upon release, the film was bashed by critics and had a lackluster premiere weekend. Fortunately, retrospectives have been much kinder to The Family Stone.
Filmmaker Chris Columbus was once seen as the master of family films. He was responsible for hits like Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire, and the first two Harry Potter movies…but then came Christmas with the Kranks in 2004. Adapted from the famous John Grisham novel, Skipping Christmas, the movie starred Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis as two parents who decide to not celebrate Christmas one year after hearing their daughter won’t be coming home for the holidays.
Upon release, the film was universally bashed, with Roger Ebert stating it’s “a holiday movie of stunning awfulness that gets even worse when it turns gooey at the end.” But the film has since taken on a new life thanks to its yearly airings on television. Nowadays, many consider Christmas With the Kranks a goofy and lovable holiday classic.
Back in 2018 when it was announced that Vanessa Hudgens would be starring in a cheesy Hallmark-style Christmas movie on Netflix, the world groaned. There’s something about bad holiday movies that audiences hate…but also secretly love. To sum it up best is the review by the Pittsburgh City Paper which stated, “The Princess Switch is a fun piece of nonsense to watch during the holidays when the classics feel tired.” However, a sequel soon followed, with a third installment releasing this year, proving that no matter how much audiences pretend to hate corny Christmas rom coms… deep down, they’re actually obsessed.
Black Christmas, along with Psycho and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, is credited with building the foundation of what would become the slasher genre. In 1974, the film was released in Canada during the Halloween season, and during the Christmas season in America. As usual with slasher films, the movie wasn’t exactly loved by critics.
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Famed movie critic Gene Siskel even wrote, “Black Christmas is notable only for indicating the kind of junk roles that talented actresses are forced to play in the movies.” However, as history has proven, Black Christmas helped revolutionize the horror genre.
Despite Home Alone 2 being a bonafide holiday classic these days, it was actually released to terrible reviews. Home Alone 2 was routinely criticized for copying the first film, and both movies were heavily criticized for their violence.
Upon release, The New York Times stated of the sequel, “Many children will find this funny, and many parents will not. It’s much more violent than the first film’s comparable set of dirty tricks. And Kevin, removed from his embattled home, seems much more cavalier, possibly even meaner than his bullying older brother, Buzz.” However, as everyone now knows, both films have become beloved holiday hits.
A Christmas Story has a unique history. These days, the leg lamp is a famous holiday tradition, the movie plays for an entire 24-hour stretch, and there’s even a museum dedicated to the movie in Cleveland. However, upon release, the movie fell into relative obscurity. But once TV stations began playing it during the holiday season, it gained traction.
Starting in the ’90s, the “24 Hours of A Christmas Story” began airing, which gave TNT employees the ability to take the night off work (and the network soon learned it gave TNT massive ratings). Nowadays, the 24-hour marathon takes place yearly on TBS and is sometimes simulcast on TNT as well, letting audiences watch A Christmas Story‘s most iconic moments year after year.
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Keith Langston is a writer for ScreenRant, as well as Travel Channel and Passport Magazine. He holds a deep passion for film, travel, and adventure. He fully believes that ‘The Faculty’ is the greatest movie ever made.

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