Friday, December 22, 2017

Hallmark Christmas Movies: A Brief Guide

Some day I'm going to write a 3000 word essay about the phenomenon known as the Hallmark Christmas movie, but not today.

The dog has been under the weather lately which means a lot of couch time for me and her. But what to watch while glued to the television? I've seen every rerun of every Law & Order there ever was or will be, and the Star Trek Channel (a.k.a. BBC-America) has worn me out. So flipping channels, I stumbled across the two Hallmark cable channels — Hallmark and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries — which show nothing but Christmas movies 24/7 from the week before Halloween through New Year's Day.


And not just any Christmas movies, but movies made by Hallmark for Hallmark. This year alone, Hallmark will wind up debuting thirty-three new movies.

So far, I've seen 24 of them.

Jeebus, do they turn them out on a lathe? As a writer and amateur movie historian, I had to figure this out.

After extensive research (passive bingeing), I can report that all of them can be distilled down to a single storyline: a damaged soul is made whole again through the redemptive power of Christmas and heterosexual pair-bonding.


There are lots of pretty young widows, single moms, career women, angels longing to be made flesh, soldiers returning home, children hoping for a second parent, burned-out writers in need of a Christmas goose and shop owners looking to sell out or stay put. Long lost loves meet again through a series of coincidences that would make Charles Dickens blush.

Santa Claus — the real one — shows up about one time in three, mostly to act as a matchmaker, but sometimes just to remind people that decorating an artificial tree can make all the difference.


Our heroine typically battles one of three great villains: cynicism, death and/or corporate capitalism, the latter a pretty interesting choice considering the source.

Spoiler alert: she will win with minimal fuss.

In the course of two hours, minus commercials, two good-looking B-listers will fall in love, kiss around the 1:58 mark and take that job or move to that small town that once seemed too quaint for words but turns out to be just perfect.


The movies star the likes of Mira Sorvino, Lindy Booth, Rachel Boston, Catherine Bell, Maggie Lawson and very occasionally a male lead as well-known as Dermot Mulroney.

Supporting work from everybody: Judd Nelson, Danny Glover, Joan Cusack, Shelley Long, Beau Bridges, James Brolin, Jewel Staite, Giselle Eisenberg, and on and on.


These movies are not in any sense great — there are no memorable lines or scenes or images or performances, and none of the emotions they tap into will resonate beyond the closing credits. In fact, they are so cookie-cutter, I image there's a template (or three) and the writers simply fill in new character names and a bit of explanatory dialogue and bang, done.

There's even one called A Cookie Cutter Christmas — how on-point can you get!


But like macaroni and cheese out of a box — or should I say sugar-frosted Christmas cookies hot out of the oven — predictable can be terribly comforting. Especially in terrible times.

Recommended, if you're in the right frame of mind.

1 comment:

Charles Hawtrey said...

A widow and a widower struggle to let go of the past as their friendship blossoms into romance.