Strangest Holiday Weekend Movie Releases, Because Timing Is Everything

Major holidays and their surrounding weekends are traditionally reserved for the biggest movies on the studio platter: those tracking high, packing colossal budgets, and armed with stars whose faces you can slap on a lunchbox. Memorial Day has given us Star Wars and Indiana Jones films. Christmas has offered a wealth of Best Picture contenders. And July 4 has handed us pretty much everything by Michael Bay... plus, of course, Independence Day.

However, not every film to earn such a coveted breed of release date has been fit for the gig. There have been some strange little pictures to contend with the guaranteed blockbusters that reign supreme over this terrain over the past few decades. Here's a celebration of the underdogs that tried their best, against all good judgment, at the calendar year's biggest release weekends.

Image: Universal Pictures

'The Gong Show Movie'

Holiday release: Memorial Day Weekend, 1980

Why anyone thought it’d be a good idea to turn Chuck Barris’ harebrained variety competition show into a feature film is itself a befuddlement. How they thought it could content with Empire Strikes Back is an unsolvable mystery.

Image: Universal Pictures

'Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid'

Holiday release: Memorial Day Weekend, 1982

Steve Martin’s noir comedy isn’t exactly bad; it’s just rather unlikely grab at mass appeal. Especially when slapped between Conan the Barbarian and Rocky III.

Image: Universal Pictures

'Under the Cherry Moon'

Holiday release: Week of July 4, 1986

A black-and-white, avant-garde musical drama starring Prince was… not quite what families were looking for to pass the blazing work-free afternoon before setting up the barbecue.

Image: Warner Bros.

'Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night'

Holiday release: Christmas Week, 1987

Remember this unofficial Pinocchio-sequel about a militant bumblebee and a hypnotic organ grinder? Of course you don’t.

Image: New World Pictures

'Killer Klowns from Outer Space'

Holiday release: Memorial Day Weekend, 1988

Sure, the schlocky horror comedy is something of a cult favorite nowadays, but the weird-for-the-sake-of-weird picture was not exactly a guaranteed winner for the family-oriented holiday weekend.

Image: Trans World Entertainment

'Baby's Day Out'

Holiday release: Week of July 4, 1994

Generally speaking, John Hughes knew what he was doing in the movie game, releasing big successes throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. But this has got to be the biggest misfire that the man behind The Breakfast Club and Home Alone ever put his name on.

Image: 20th Century Fox

'Gone Fishin''

Holiday release: Memorial Day Weekend, 1997

We forget that this dopey buddy comedy was actually directed by a young J.J. Abrams. We forget that because of how utterly forgettable this film is.

Image: Buena Vista Pictures

'Mr. Magoo'

Holiday release: Christmas Week, 1997

Neither the talents of Leslie Nielsen, nor the nostalgia factor, could garner interest in this live action adaptation… maybe because nobody really missed the days of the Mr. Magoo cartoon.

Image: Buena Vista Pictures

'Fat Albert'

Holiday release: Christmas Week, 2004

Another critical and commercial misfire remake, though not quite as disastrously so (in the latter department, anyway) as Mr. Magoo. Still, Kenan Thompson should not be relied upon to carry a film. Nor should most 1980s cartoon characters.

Image: 20th Century Fox


Holiday release: Week of July 4, 2014

In truth, Tammy fared better at the box office, and in terms of critical reception, than anyone could have guessed, especially since the film was an indie drama disguised as a screwball comedy. I guess one scene of Melissa McCarthy dancing in slo-mo was enough to sate the masses.

Image: Warner Bros.