It’s back! My spreadsheet for tracking the most commonly used conventions in these made-for-TV Christmas movie miracles that I have been reviewing, now updated with some of the latest and greatest ones from this very year. As you likely know, there are some very conventional conventions too, more so than your average movie or convention or convention about movies. In any case, I found it necessary to start tracking these things and share them with the world. So consider yourself shorn!
Oh, and I’ve added a couple new columns because there are definitely some tropes I missed out on and deserve recognition. Ones such as:
Guy Doesn’t Have to do Current Job – This is something I talked about in the Perfect Christmas List review, and it is often used in conjunction with the “Guy Builds Things” category. Because if you have a male love interest who builds things for a living or is a farmer or has some other lovable, anti-corporate occupation, there is always the concern that he’s also not smart or savvy enough to do anything else. Some movies combat this potential perception by introducing the idea that he actually went to law school or business school and maybe even had success in those fields but chooses his simpler, honest career because of all the reasons we are supposed to love him.
Someone has Xmas Name – Holly, Noelle, Joy, Kris, Nick, to name only a few. Although those might also be all of them. But point is, it is commonplace for people in these movies to have names related to Christmas in some way. I’m not knocking this practice at all or anything. Works for me just fine so long as that person kind of looks like that could be their name. Like if you wanted to have Arnold Schwarzenegger play a character named “Nick”, that would be completely ridiculous and wrong. Or even worse, what if his name was “Howard Langston” like it was in Jingle All the Way? C’mon, there is no way in hell anyone who looks and talks like that is named Howard Langston. And you know, that wasn’t the only plot point in Jingle All the Way that might have been a little implausible, come to think…
House is too nice – This is something we only started noticing this year and I wouldn’t necessarily call it widespread just yet but we did see some pretty glaring examples in A Cookie Cutter Christmas and Angels and Ornaments, among others. If a character is clearly supposed to be rich and has an amazingly nice house regular people could never afford, so be it, but if it’s a 2nd grade teacher or lady who works in a small musical instrument store, the movie owes us an explanation as to how she can afford vaulted ceilings, indoor brick walls, and an amazing kitchen like the one they might build on a reality show where they build amazing kitchens.
Weird Decorations – Something we did definitely notice last year but seems to have gone to a whole new level now. These movies are all set at Christmastime, obviously, so there are going to be decorations but for some reason, many of these things look different than what you and I put up around the house. Like there’s garland everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Like you will often notice that they hang garland in every door and window frame possible. And if there aren’t enough door and window frames in a shot, they may even just make one up entirely via garland. Be on the lookout for wreaths hanging in random places too. I think I seriously saw one just floating in mid-air once. Oh yeah, and the garland and wreaths are often made out of materials I am not familiar with. Not your standard fake Christmas tree stuff at all, more like a weird, mossy substance that’s not even the right color green and I can’t for the life of me figure out why it would be particularly hard to procure real, regular garland. Debbie MacComber’s Mr. Miracle has some pretty obvious examples of what I’m talking about here. Might even be a microcosm of the entire film really. I’ve seen lights that aren’t Christmas lights too, which is extremely weird for the same reason, as Christmas lights are by far the easiest ones to find. I don’t even know how I’d go about finding Christmas-like lights that aren’t Christmas lights.
One more thing I want to mention that we’ve been including in this category – snow. Of course it’s nice to have snow in a Christmas movie but depending on where/when its filmed and are limited ability to predict the weather, no one can exactly guarantee that legitimate snow is going to make an appearance. And personally, I’m cool with leaving that up to God but sometimes we see fake snow and sometimes it’s really, really bad fake snow. Once again, this seemed somehow more obvious this year. Using cotton or the like is one thing but I saw honest-to-goodness white blankets being used in several movies, including Best Christmas Party Ever. You could even tell the different blankets apart too. There’d be a scene with a blanket in it and then another scene taking place somewhere else and you’d be like, “Hey, there’s that same blanket again.”
I think that’s it for the new categories so please enjoy my latest Christmas Movie Chart, updated last on Friday, which is too bad because I’ve seen a couple more movies, like “Ion’s Back to Christmas” which would score pretty off-the-charts on this chart:
As you can see, Death, Money vs. Christmas, and Jerk Boyfriend or Girlfriend are still the big winners. It does seem like the obvious Canadian accents are down this year, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s because the Canucks know I am on to them. You might be thinking that nobody associated with these productions reads this blog and if they did, would not give a damn what I have to say and I think in most cases, you would be correct but not in this one. Because Canadians are a sneaky people whose subterfuge depends entirely on being virtually indistinguishable from their American counterparts. Sneaky but starting to become a little bit complacent, as I pointed out in several reviews. So I think they collectively dialed the accent back a little in 2014, though there were some notable exceptions plus Hallmark seems to have another channel, Hallmark Mysteries and Movies, which featured two new Christmas films, both of which seemed to be exclusively Canadian with little to know attempt to hide that fact. It’s almost as if our neighbors from the North can suppress their nature only so much and desperately needed an outlet (oot-let) to just let it go. The cold never bothered them anyway.
Looking at this chart right now, I am also noticing that there are still some things I need to add. Like for instance “Black Friend”. Oftentimes the white main characters in these movies have a supportive and/or cool black friend to tell things to and maybe get advice from. It’s definitely worth documenting but with Santa supposed to arrive in the next few minutes, I had better get to bed here. Please stay tuned for the 2014 Noggy Awards, coming to this very blog, where I will include a new, “Best Black Friend” category. It’s gonna be a tough one this year, as we had an appearances from Urkel and a guy in Merry ExMas who was always shirtless and working out for some reason, even thought it had nothing to do with anything. Don’t know how I’m going to pick from those deserving candidates but luckily, I’ve got a few days to eat more and thank about it. Merry Christmas everybody!