I like to think there are two types of people on this earth: those who have the Christmas spirit and those who pretend to be Grinch. From the date of this post, it’s quite easy to deduce in which category I belong. We could blame it on the second lockdown we’re currently undergoing, we could blame it on the great possibility of me spending the holidays completely on my own in my tiny, tiny apartment, far away from my family, but the thing is that on the 2-nd of November I decided to start a movie marathon and watch everything Christmas related I could find on Netflix. By November 28-th I had finished them all, or so I thought. Netflix is adding new titles for this category almost daily. In fact, this year there are 82 new Christmas movies being released on different platforms. Yes, 82. Still, it turned out to be one of the best decisions I have taken lately.
Fun fact: For those who do not know, Hallmark (yes, as in the American supermarket chain) has been producing Christmas movies for years. With a cast that seems like a random selection of people on the street without any criteria whatsoever and a plot that quite often seems like what my brain, when procrastinating, fantasizes about the cute guy I ran into at the frozen pizza aisle at the grocery store. From this description, one can ask: ‘What is the point of watching these movies if they are so bad?”. Well, the thing about cheesy movies/music/books is that sometimes they are so bad that they’re actually good, or in the best of cases, even if treated lightly they do make a good point. In other cases, they are just plain bad. With the increase of Netflix Originals, we were introduced to a slightly more sophisticated version of Hallmark movies where the biggest difference is in the cast: we have actors with at least one acting experience acting on them. Nonetheless, there are three categories of these movies: thanks but no thanks, I’ll take it, and classy.
Has Netflix already suggested The Princess Switch to you? The one with two Vanessa Hudgens, or three in the newest one, with such a horrible British accent that it almost ruins the most attractive accent there is? Now, this is an example of thanks, but no, thanks. A category for the “you tried but you really didn’t make it”, which is quite bad because you didn’t even make it to being cheesy. Think about that. A Christmas Prince, My Christmas Inn, 12 gifts of Christmas or Home for Christmas, a Norwegian mini-series that tries a bit too hard with being modern. I won’t even go down the road of actual Hallmark movies here.
For the I’ll take category instead we have somehow low quality movies but mid/high Christmas quality, like Christmas Wonderland, Christmas made to order, Operation Christmas drop, Holidate (barely made the list), Four Christmases, Midnight at the Magnolia (barely made the list), Write before Christmas (this a Hallmark one), or The Christmas Chronicles.
Then comes my favorite part: the classy list. One might have something to say about the definition of classy but let’s agree to disagree. The distinction of the movies in this category is that we are also considering good movies, not just good Christmas movies. What makes the cut: Home Alone, When Harry Met Sally, You’ve got mail, Serendipity, Sleepless in Seattle, Love Actually (maybe the cheesiest movie ever made), The Holiday, Klaus, Dash and Lily (a new entry but a very, very cute one), The family stone, Die Hard (yeah, I know), While you were asleep, Bridget Jone’s diary, Meet me in St. Louis, Little Women (1994).
If not for a matter of quality of content, especially in the first two categories, what is it that makes people crave these movies which, if seen closely, are all following the exact same recipe? We have gone from very plain meet and fall in love stories of the Hallmark era to new and “modern” ones of Netflix: almost 90% of these being centered around a woman in career, with a very fine job but, of course, with a hidden passion and great talent for something artistic, doing really fine on her own, that the only thing is missing is, wait for it: love. It’s always the week, two weeks tops before Christmas that fate makes it happen that they meet someone, someone who initially they hate and have no time for (hello, these people are at the peak of the career they later on all decide to quit — sorry for the spoiler) but eventually, always in the week time limit, fall in love with. A Christmas miracle. Part of the perfect formula is that at the same time they quit their job and follow their dream with the love of their life by their side. A Christmas miracle. You get the gist.
These movies give you the river and all you have to do is put the skates on
There is this Joni Mitchell song called River in which the lyric says, “I wish I had a river I could skate away on”. These movies give you the river and all you have to do is put the skates on. Escaping the sometimes grim reality, especially this year, for a short period of time thinking about days which have always been associated with gifts exchanges, sparkling decorations, food, so much food, and spending time with people closest to us might just have something to do with it. Someone with far more knowledge than me on this seems to think so too. It could also be because in almost all these movies on top of all this there is also a love story for which you have the comfort of knowing that it will end with a happily ever after and the hopeless romantic in you eats it all up. In the end, who am I to refuse this funfair?