With Christmas upon us, theaters are overflowing with movie options. All the key categories are checked off the list — from big productions (Les Miserables) to independent sleepers (Amour) to family holiday films (Rise of the Guardians). In such a crowded cinematic season, it's not unusual for well-meaning holiday fare to fail — as this list of Christmas-themed flops from years past reminds us. Here are some of the worst stocking-stuffers from recent decades:
1. Fred Claus (2007)
What it's about: Vince Vaughn stars as a man struggling to find his way as a responsible adult. His brother, who happens to be Santa Claus, steps in and ships Vaughn's character to the North Pole, where he has a hard time adjusting to the lifestyle.
Box-office gross: $97 million
Why it failed: Even though it made a decent amount of money, critics labeled Fred Claus silly, bland, and derivative of films like Bad Santa, a 2003 fan-favorite.
2. Deck the Halls (2006)
What it's about: Two neighbors (Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito) compete to out-decorate each other when installing lighting displays at their respective homes.
Box-office gross: $47 million
Why it failed: People simply didn't want to see grown men trashing the holiday spirit in a contest of egos.
3. Unaccompanied Minors (2006)
What it's about: Kids run amok in an airport during the holiday season after their flights are canceled.
Box-office gross: $22 million
Why it failed: Audiences young and old were unmoved by the ensuing shenanigans. Plus, it's the adults in the movie who end up looking the most juvenile.
4. Surviving Christmas (2004)
What it's about: Seeking to recreate the family Christmases of his youth, Ben Affleck's character hires another family to pretend to be his for the holidays. His plans, naturally, go awry.
Box-office gross: $14 million
Why it failed: It seems audiences couldn't quite get their heads around the inane plot. And, of course, at the time, every movie (the since-resurgent) Affleck touched turned to coal.
5. Christmas with the Kranks (2004)
What it's about: A couple (Jamie Lee Curtis and Tim Allen) decide to forgo Christmas for a cruise, but run into unexpected trouble when their daughter comes home at the last minute. An improvised, last-minute Christmas is enjoyed by few.
Box-office gross: $96 million
Why it failed: Not only only was the film thin and unfunny, it opened just weeks after Surviving Christmas had tanked; audiences who'd been burned once stayed away.
6. Jack Frost (1998)
What it's about: After Michael Keaton's character dies, his spirit enters a snowman in order to spend more time with his son.
Box-office gross: $34 million
Why it failed: The story is annoyingly high-concept, and the circa-1998 special effects weren't slick enough to convince dads to leave their living room recliners.
7. Trapped in Paradise (1994)
What it's about: Nicolas Cage, Jon Lovitz, and Dana Carvey star as three brothers who have to hide out in Paradise, Pennsylvania, after a bank heist. The warm and trusting folks of Paradise help these three criminals figure out what really matters in life.
Box-office gross: $6 million
Why it failed: Critics and fans complained that this comedy simply didn't deliver the promised laughs, which is all they really wanted for Christmas.