4. Jingle All the Way

The message: Getting your kid a good Christmas gift makes up for a whole year of emotional neglect

Another film that made it onto the list of dysfunctional festive families is Jingle All the Way‘s Langston family – although really, it all comes down to the actions (or inaction, in some ways) of one man: Howard Langston. Howard has a nine-year-old son, Jamie (Jake Lloyd), but has consistently been absent from important moments in his life due to an unhealthy obsession with his work (he’s a mattress salesman, if that’s important). When Jamie asks for a Turbo-Man toy for Christmas, Howard’s wife Liz (Rita Wilson) asks him to pick one up. Howard promptly forgets, and then must scramble madly around on Christmas Eve attempting to find a Turbo-Man that he can use to repair the bond between him and his son.

I won’t harp on how the film wouldn’t even be necessary if Howard had just kept his promise earlier on, but this entry isn’t dissimilar to Deck the Halls‘, in that it’s about using Christmas as a means for making up for past misdeeds. In Jingle All the Way‘s case, though, it’s actually worse: Howard’s son isn’t upset about a week or two of madness, but a lifetime of being forgotten and neglected by his workaholic father. Whether you’re watching this one as an adult or as a child, the message is essentially the same: one big gesture can make up for years of unhappiness. Sadly, it’s something we’d probably all like to believe, and while Jingle All the Way would probably have you do so, it’s simply not true.