5 Classic Christmas Movies (That Are Secretly Screwed Up)
Christmas movies are a great way to celebrate the season without actually talking to your family. After all, why emotionally engage with your loved ones when you can all sit silently and watch Chevy Chase fall off his roof, or Ebenezer Scrooge give away his money after tripping balls all night?
But, as we’ve discussed before with Halloween movies, sometimes these seasonal films are full of sketchy details you never noticed, such as how …
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – “Dolly” Was Stranded on the Island of Misfit Toys Because of Her … Depression?
Ah, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the classic tale of how Santa Claus was finally able to swallow his raging bigotry and exploit the child of one of his unpaid workers after nearly canceling Christmas because he somehow forgot that weather is a thing. Deviating even further from the story of Baby Jesus, the 1964 TV special also introduced an elaborate mythology involving the “Island of Misfit Toys,” a depressing wasteland for defective playthings ruled by some kind of demonic lion creature that we’re pretty sure was never mentioned once in the song.
As for the toys themselves, it’s pretty clear why most of them are there, such as the train with square wheels and the polka-dotted elephant, who have tragically been cursed with sentience and banished to this hellscape for what was, let’s be honest, likely Santa’s screw-up. But what’s the deal with the “Dolly for Sue?” She seems like a perfectly normal doll; why was she exiled forever?
According to producer Arthur Rankin Jr., Dolly ended up on the island due to her “psychiatric problems” and was “under the care of an analyst.” Wait, what? Yup, this random toy was undergoing therapy and, apparently, there was no time to address these serious mental health concerns in the actual show because it was 1964, and they had electric shoe buffers to sell, dammit. And presumably, simply stuffing the doll in Santa’s sack and tossing her into some stranger’s home by the end of the show didn’t really help with any of these serious issues.
Oh, and that water pistol that’s a “misfit” because it shoots jelly can simply be rinsed out and filled with water; problem solved.
The Family Man – Jack’s Children Are Pretty Much Dead At The End Of The Movie
Ever wish It’s A Wonderful Life starred screen legend/dinosaur skull enthusiast/Grail hunter Nicolas Cage and was directed by the human equivalent of a tattered Maxim magazine floating in a septic tank, Brett Ratner? The 2000 Christmas fantasy The Family Man stars Cage as a businessman named Jack who is whisked away into an alternate reality and shown what his life would be like if he had settled down with his ex Kate (played by Téa Leoni) thanks to a mysterious angel/racist Hollywood trope.
After exhibiting what could only be described as multiple psychotic episodes, Cage eventually acclimates to his new parallel life, falls in love with Kate again, and even bonds with his adorable kids – one of whom believes that he is a literal alien, because this movie was made entirely by maniacs.
In the end, Jack is dragged back to his original reality, in which he’s a rich stockbroker who, to be honest, already seemed pretty happy. But now he’s learned his lesson and wants to get back to his less-wealthy family life – but he can’t. The best Jack can do is track down Kate, harass her at an airport on Christmas Eve, and convince her to have a cup of coffee with him even though he is clearly having some kind of mental and emotional breakdown.
Happy ending, right? Well, not exactly: those children are basically gone forever. For one thing, Jack and Kate are now in their mid-30s, so popping out a couple of kids might not be quite as easy as it was several years earlier. And even if Jack and Kate are able to have kids, they obviously wouldn’t be the same kids – that’s just not how genetics works.
So those specific children, who Jack fell in love with, have basically been cast into a void of nothingness at the end of this family Christmas movie. And, you have to imagine, that knowledge will torment Jack until his dying breath.
Jingle All the Way – Howard is Very Likely Going to Prison
Jingle All the Way stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as Howard Langston, a surprisingly buff Midwestern mattress salesman who selfishly forgets to buy his son the hottest Christmas present of the year: the Tickle-Me El– er, Turbo Man doll. Instead of simply giving his son a wad of cash in its place, Howard embarks on an intense Christmas Eve odyssey in search of the toy; and in doing so, he commits so many crimes. Like a ridiculous amount of crimes, ranging from trespassing to reckless driving to assault to resisting arrest during an act of domestic terrorism.
Perhaps most egregiously, at one point, he climbs into a children’s ball pit, seemingly attacks a small girl, and has to be physically restrained by several nearby mothers who, understandably, believe him to be some kind of predator, shouting “sicko” and “pervert” as they chase him away from their kids.
20th Century Studios
And even if multiple witness accounts and, quite possibly, police composite sketches don’t point authorities to the prominent local businessman, Howard literally shows up at a televised parade riding a fully-functional jetpack at the end of the movie! Maybe Jingle All the Way 2 stars Larry the Cable Guy as an entirely new character because no one wanted to see a sequel where Howard spends the next 10 - 20 Christmases in federal prison.
Fred Claus Is Way Too Old For His Girlfriend
Because some Hollywood executive once wondered aloud, “What if Wedding Crashers was a family Christmas movie?” before driving his cocaine-powered Ferrari home from work at one in the afternoon, we got Fred Claus, starring Vince Vaughan as Santa’s Vince Vaughan-like brother. Since Santa, AKA Nicholas, attained Sainthood, he and his entire family were gifted/cursed with immortality. But of course, Fred doesn’t disclose this to his girlfriend Wanda, who assumes he’s just a normal (if not disquietingly fast-talking) dude in his late 30s. But if you thought that the supernatural age gap in Twilight was creepy, it turns out that Fred is more than 1700 years old. When Fred Claus was born, the friggin’ Roman Empire was still thriving.
Weirdly, when Wanda discovers the truth that her boyfriend is an ageless demigod who routinely parties with drunken elves, she somehow doesn’t seem to care all that much, only remarking that it’s “a little bit unusual.” No, Bruce Willis’ musical career is a little bit unusual; this is the craziest thing that could possibly happen to anybody ever. How are you not already phoning your doctor for an immediate CAT scan?
You’d think she would inquire about, say, what he was up to during the crusades, or the Renaissance? Or maybe ask Fred Claus how many past lovers he’s had to watch wither and die, succumbing to the ravages of time, while he remains eternally youthful in abject defiance of nature’s will?
Elf – Buddy’s Behavior Is The Result Of Intense Psychological Conditioning
Elf has become a perennial holiday favorite, spawning children’s books, animated spin-offs, and even a breakfast cereal inspired by Buddy’s diabetes-baiting syrup-drenched spaghetti. The core premise of Elf seems simple enough; what if a human who was raised by Santa’s elves returns to human society after growing up in a cartoonish fantasyland? But the reasons behind Buddy’s manchildishness are kind of unclear in the film.
After all, we meet several adult elves who seem decidedly human-like and, unlike Buddy, would be able to capably blend in while visiting Manhattan. But Buddy perpetually acts like a small child. Why? Well, it’s because the elves treat him like one since elves age twice as slow as humans – a pretty important point that’s only mentioned very briefly in the movie.
New Line Cinema
For some reason, instead of just allowing him to age like a human, the elves apparently forced Buddy to live within the confines of an elf’s biological timeline, intentionally postponing his intellectual and emotional growth in order to suit their social constructs. That’s why Buddy is still in elementary school when he’s clearly a grown man – which is pretty messed up when you think about it.
New Line Cinema
Things get even weirder when he gets to New York and hooks up with Zooey Deschanel. To her, he looks like an adult, but in his mind, he’s probably, judging by his actual age, like a year out of high school, maybe? Surely Santa is well-versed in the fundamentals of the human aging process; he probably should have insisted that Buddy simply be accepted into adulthood as he naturally matured, instead of aggressively infantilizing him as if he were … well, any other Will Ferrell character.
You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter!
Top Image: New Line Cinema