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Friday, December 10, 2010

[830] 'Tis that season

That's right, ladies & gents. It is Hallmark Christmas movie season. It is the season in which we realize that people's loved ones are always up and dying on Christmas eve, turning those they left behind into holiday hating Scrooges in need of serious Christmas rehab. Truly, it is the most wonderful time of the year.

Christmas movies are kind of like Disney movies. There's some sort of rule that forbids the existence of two parents in the same household. Of course, unlike Disney movies, in which they rarely acknowledge this strange and depressing fact, in a Christmas movie you are reminded repeatedly that one or both parents are missing. Usually about half the movie is spent referring to "That Christmas eve," until a heartfelt conversation takes place between two characters - generally love interests - in which we find out in great detail why this person has not been able to function in the month of December for the past five to twenty years. The other means for this reveal tends to have something to do with Santa - the real one, as the movie is dedicated to proving - revisiting the tragedy with the person in vague terms, and explaining that that fateful Christmas was when the poor sap lost his/her faith in Santa, and, as a result, mankind.

Another important factor in the Hallmark Christmas movie is the fight against greed. Not only do people die around Christmas, they also get super money-grubbing. Not the dead ones of course. Those who kick the bucket around Christmas are always selfless and altruistic. It's always the remnant, as I've just now elected to call the people left in the land of the living, who have a serious problem detaching from their cash. Considering the big selling point of Christmas is generally the presents, and Hallmark is in the business of holiday buying, it's rarely the presents themselves that are the problem. It's the wrong KIND of presents, for one. Kids shouldn't be asking for expensive video games and robots that do their homework for them. They should be playing with slinkies and puzzles, or dolls whose greatest technology is that their eyelids roll closed when you tilt them on their backs. They're looking out for the little guy in these movies. The rich people who can afford the homework robot are still going to buy it, but the po' folk who can't afford it can feel validated for buying one of those cheap, imitation Barbie dolls that dent if you hold them too tightly or look at them the wrong way.

The big problem, however, is the corporate Scrooge who withholds toys and Christmas bonuses from his employees and their families. This is the meany who's selling you the homework robot, or making you work late on Christmas eve, or committing any number of other evil and unfestive offenses. There's always a Bob Cratchett and a Tiny Tim, and the Christmas ghosts can take the form of a disadvantaged child, a new love interest, a mysterious old man with a white beard and a round belly, some institution that needs to be saved, or a combination of any or all of the above. In the end, there's a kiss under a Christmas tree, or a big holiday party, or some other dramatic moment in which faith in Christmas, and, therefore, humanity, is restored.

I sound critical, but I love these movies. I mean, some of 'em are real stinkers, but there's something about them that makes you feel like a kid again, and like everything really can be perfect for a moment in time - even if that moment is just the two hours you spend watching. There's life after death, and after money, and after parents who leave. It's all so very hopeful. Of all the distorted images of reality presented in movies, I find the idea of hope the least offensive.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good Hallmark movie.

{BONUS}
Corrigan's Top 5 Hallmark Movies Airing This Year
These aren't all new ones, but they're the best I've watched that you can catch again before the season's over.

5. Christmas in Canaan - Um... Billy Ray Cyrus. That is all.
4. Mrs. Miracle - First time James Van Der Beek has ever actually seemed attractive to me.
3. Moonlight & Mistletoe - Tom Arnold is just so dopey in this, you hafta love him. Candace Cameron is perhaps excessively angry, but Chris Wiehl makes it all better.
2. Farewell Mr. Kringle - Stars Christine Taylor (a.k.a. Mrs. Ben Stiller) and Chris Wiehl (a.k.a. a total "That guy" actor). For once, the Santa character in this movie ISN'T the real Santa, and that makes all the difference.
1. Call Me Mrs. Miracle - It has Jewel Staite of Fast Forward and Firefly fame, as well as Eric Johnson, who played Whitney on Smallville. Those are reasons enough right there. But it's also got just the right elements of cute, sad, funny, and relatable to really suck you in. Special airpoints for the positive body image messages thrown into the mix.

Looking forward to: Battle of the Bulbs, starring Matt Frewer (Eureka, Max Headroom, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids) and Daniel Stern (HOME ALONE)
Do not watch: The Santa Suit (sorry Kevin Sorbo), The Santa Incident