It was directed by Tim Hill, who also co-wrote the screenplay for the film with Jeff Morris.
Grumpy Cat (voiced by Aubrey Plaza) is a lonely cat living in a pet shop located in a mall that is slated to be closed. She's bitter at being constantly passed over by other animals in the store, but is surprised to find that she can communicate with Chrystal (Megan Charpentier), an equally lonely 12-year-old girl who is equally shocked that Grumpy Cat can talk. The two are initially at odds with one another, but start to befriend each other, especially after a high-priced dog (voiced by Stephen Stanton) is dognapped from the pet shop.Grumpy Cat as herself (Grumpy Cat)
Aubrey Plaza as the voice of Grumpy Cat
Megan Charpentier as Chrystal
Daniel Roebuck as George
Russell Peters as Santa
Stephen Stanton as the voice of JoJo the dog
Chris Williams as the voice of Lance the hamster
The film was created to showcase Grumpy Cat (real name Tardar Sauce), the subject of an Internet meme which first appeared in 2012. By the end of 2013, the company which manages Grumpy Cat's image was valued at around $1 million. It is managed by Ben Lashes, who is credited as an Executive Producer on Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever. Tim Hill, one of the writers, had previously directed Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties and Alvin and the Chipmunks.
When Plaza was cast to perform as the cat's voice, she was unfamiliar with it, but learned about the cat before being involved on the project. The film was shot in entirety before Plaza recording her lines as Grumpy Cat and Plaza re-drafting around 90% of her lines; she explained
Once I realized that the cat's mouth wasn't going to move, I just kind of went for it, and thought, 'Well, if it's just going to cut to the cat and I can say my line, then I can just comment on other things, too.' The movie kind of has a Mystery Science Theater 3000 vibe to it, so it's like you're getting Grumpy's commentary throughout the whole thing, but then Grumpy is also starring in the story.
The film was first broadcast at 8pm EST on November 29, 2014, on the Lifetime channel in the United States. A hashtag on Twitter representing the film, #WorstChristmasEver, trended during the first half of the movie.
The film received mostly negative reviews. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported a 30% "rotten" approval rating with a weighted average score of 4.2/10 based on 10 reviews. The website also reports that 36% of audiences gave the film 3.5 stars or higher with a weighted average score of 2.7/10 based on 240 reviews.
The A.V. Club and Entertainment Weekly both panned the film, and The A.V. Club called it "the largest turd in [Lifetime's] crap crown of original programming...so unforgiving, so psychologically trying, that the process alone leaves the viewer straining to hear the dialogue over the sound of the soul being crushed wholesale, bone and sinew wrenched apart at the joint."
The Guardian, MySA, and St. Louis Post Dispatch were more positive in their reviews, and the St. Louis Post Dispatch commented that although the film was "terrible" they still enjoyed it overall. The Hollywood Reporter also gave a positive review, stating "[t]he Christmas miracle of this movie is that Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever isn't the worst Christmas movie ever", and praising the writing and Aubrey Plaza's voice acting.