Alex: While I clearly have a great love/bizarre obsession for these Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies, I should tell you that they aren’t all smiles and sunshine. Far beyond the ones that I just review poorly, there are others that you really should avoid entirely, believe it or not.
And it’s not necessarily because they’re bad either, relatively speaking of course, it’s because they’re sad. Their subject matter and overall tone is either too serious or too depressing for any kind of delightful romps or even merry mix-ups. Sure, maybe things work out in the end but I really don’t want to wallow too deeply in the mire. Because as we all know (‘cuz Jim Morrison f-ing told us), this is NO time to wallow in the mire.
The good news is that you can usually spot these duds before you go to the trouble of watching them. Just read their 1-2 sentence blurb on your channel guide thing. You are looking for key words or phrases like “terminally ill” or “orphan” or “Dean Cain.” If you see any of these things, 9 times out of 10, this is not a movie you should watch. Like for instance, check out this description below, from a movie called “Love’s Christmas Journey”:
“While still mourning the loss of her husband and daughter, recently widowed Ellie King (Natalie Hall) visits her brother Aaron Davis (Greg Vaughan) and his children for Christmas.”
It’s one thing to lose a spouse and some of the watchable movies do deal with this but usually, that spouse passed away years ago and it is now time to move on, with a little help from Christmas. And seriously, almost every single character in every single one of these movies has lost a parent. They don’t always dwell on it but it’s there. The big red flag with this film however, is that this lady is still mourning and it’s not just a husband that she lost, it’s her husband AND daughter. That is awful and takes things way too far for my tastes. Here’s another one from a Lifetime film called “Home for the Holidays”
“After their parents are killed in a terrible accident, the four McMurrin children live with their loving Aunt Martha. Martha wants to adopt the children, but the town’s bitter old banker stands in their way.”
So even though I just mentioned that at least one person in almost all of these movies have lost a parent, that also usually happened a long time ago and now they are adults. But the idea of children losing parents, killed in a “terrible accident” no less, is clearly over the line. I have to admit though, I want to know why the town’s bitter old banker would want to stand in their way. Like it’s somehow more profitable for him that some lady not adopt her deceased sister’s kids? That will just have to remain an unsolved mystery of my life because I will never watch this film. I can’t go there.
But let’s look at an example of a blurb describing a film you should see:
“After she is suddenly fired from her job, Krissy Kringle (Hilarie Burton) is in no mood for all the misdirected Santa mail she receives to her home on Candy Cane Lane. Even so, one package in particular stands out: Santa’s “Naughty or Nice” book, which he left behind when visiting a child. After Krissy realizes that the book is magical and will show her all the bad deeds of those around her, Krissy sets out to expose everyone she knows who has been naughty!”
I’m already having fun and I’ve only read the description! You’ve got ridiculous names, magic, a list of everybody’s bad deeds – this is gonna be sweet. Sure, there are some negative things there like getting fired and being in no mood to receive misdirected Santa mail (who is?) but these are clearly just going to provide fodder for Krissy to get even with everybody, using the Naughty or Nice book. I can already here the mischievous little pizzicato strings plucking away, accompanied by that “Uh oh!” clarinet riff. This is the kind of world I want to be in. In fact, that’s another test you can use if you’ve already fired one of these movies up. Listen to the score. What is it telling you? Are you hearing a clarinet? Are the guys in the orchestra being scamps? If not, your Christmas movie is probably too serious, I’m afraid.
So there you have it. Hopefully I have armed you with the knowledge to make this holiday movie season as magical as it could and should be. Because as the great Jim Morrison also said, “I’m getting out of here. Where are you going? To the other side of morning.”