The holidays are almost here, but you wouldn't know it by looking at box office numbers. Usually a booming time for the movie industry, this year's Christmas movies aren't packing theaters like they used to. As of mid-December, Hollywood had its worst weekend since 2008. Blame the economy or, simply, slim pickings. Another chipmunk flick? A movie with 30,000 celebrities and no plot? Or a second helping of Robert Downey Jr. being dandy and adorable?
There are holiday movies that stand the test of time-"It's a Wonderful Life", "Home Alone", "A Christmas Story"- and there are those that don't. 2011's "New Year's Eve" will probably fall into category two, along with 96's "Mixed Nuts" and 88's "Earnest Saves Christmas". But that's not always a bad thing. Some of the most unwatchable movies the first time around, make unforgettable YouTube clips 20 years later.
Earnest Saves Christmas, 1988
Synopsis: The peephole-faced yokel (Jim Varney's Earnest P. Worrell) is tasked with helping the old Santa find a new Santa to take over his privileged post.
Fun Fact: You could almost make a parallel between this plotline and the search for the next Dalai Llama. But that would distract from the really important moments, like when Earnest says his signature catchphrase "YouknowwhatImean?"
Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas, 1977
Synopsis: There was a time, not so long ago, when Muppets got more film work than humans. Case in point: Jim Henson's holiday movie about a family of out-of-work otters competing in a talent show. The movie was nominated for an Emmy after it was aired on ABC, and it almost had a second life on Broadway.
Fun fact: The band My Morning Jacket covered one of the songs in the movie for a 2011 Muppet compilation album.
Funnier fact: Sure, the movie is about Christmas, but it's really about the emergence of glam rock and the demise of folk.
Funniest fact: Otters are the original hipsters.
An American Christmas Carol, 1979
Synopsis: Nobody's forgotten the story of Scrooge, but the image of The Fonz under ten pounds of old-face rubber, is something we've buried deep in our psyches. This take on the classic Dickens tale, starred Henny Winkler as a "miserly businessman" in depression era New England.
Fun Fact: Around the time the movie was made, Winkler was TV's biggest star, portraying the Fonz, not only on "Happy Days", but also on crossover appearances on "Laverne and Shirley", "Mork and Mindy".
A Year Without Santa, 1974
Synopsis: Here's something kids born after 2000 will never understand: stop motion. In the 70s and 80s, holiday-theme TV was predominantly made of surreal peg toys having identity crisis. There was Rudolf and Pinocchio. But this tale was the least remembered stop motion classic of all. In it, Santa bails on his responsibilities and it's up to two elves to save Christmas.
Fun Fact: Mickey Rooney played the voice Santa, not only in this flick but in three other stop-action holiday movies. For kids of the seventies, Mickey Rooney was Santa, audibly-speaking.
Mixed Nuts, 1994
Miracle on 34th Street, 1994
Totally coincidental fact: Macy's wouldn't lend their name to this version of the movie, so the writers made up a department store called Coles, which now sounds like a lot like a real department store called Kohls.
Jingle All the Way, 1996
Santa Claus: The Movie, 1985
Santa with Muscles, 1996
Synopsis: This is one of those movie titles that sounds like it was translated poorly from another language. It wasn't. Hulk Hogan plays a body-building millionaire who gets amnesia and becomes convinced he's Santa Claus. Somehow that makes him equipped to prevent an evil scientist from pillaging an orphanage for its magical crystals.
Fun Fact: This is a real movie.
Read about even more holiday movies for the entire family