Tuesday, December 30, 2014

10 Key Elements in a "Hallmark Christmas Movie"

I write the term "Hallmark Christmas Movie" in quotes, because all movies in this genre are not Hallmark movies, but Hallmark seems to have excelled in their marketing of this genre of films.

For various reasons, this year we caught a great deal of these (again produced by a number of different sources, including but not exclusively Hallmark). Perhaps you caught some of these as well.

Below are the films in this genre that my wife and I saw this season:

  1. A Christmas Kiss (2011, directed by John Stimpson, staring Elisabeth Röhm, Laura Breckenridge, and Brendan Fehr)
  2. The Mistle-Tones (2012, directed by Paul Heon, staring Tia Mowry-Hardict, Tori Spelling and Jonathan Patrick Moore)
  3. A Bride for Christmas (2012, directed by Gary Yates, staring Arielle Kebbel and Andrew W. Walker)
  4. Let it Snow (2013, directed by Harvey Frost, staring Candace Cameron Bure and Jesse Hutch)
  5. A Very Merry Mix-Up (2013, directed by Jonathan Wright, staring Alicia Witt and Mark Wiebe)
  6. Christmas Under Wraps (2014, directed by Peter Sullivan, staring Candace Cameron Bure, David O'Donnell, and Brian Doyle-Murray). 

It's a little overkill - I admit it. Yet, like watching infomercials, they sometimes just grab you and don't let go. And I realize these do not reflect the full cannon of Christmas films (in fact, in addition to these we also watched White Christmas and our favorite Christmas in Connecticut).

Here are the key elements of the modern "Hallmark Christmas Movie:"

  1. The lead is a single female (may or may  not be engaged or dating at start of the movie)
  2. If engaged/dating, the one she is engaged or dating is not the one she will be with at the end of the film
  3. If the first guy she meets has a bad haircut she will not be with him at the end.
  4. If a boyfriend/potential love interest is obsessed with his career or brings a laptop to a Christmas event or her parent's house she will not be with him at the end (unless she convinces him to "break loose"...i.e. The Mistle-Tones).
  5. All shows must include characters with parent issues (either pressure to be like their parents, or parents who think they should be making different choices).
  6. An alternative variation to parent issues can also include characters who's parents died while young or were distant for other reasons resulting in a character never "truly experiencing Christmas" or hasn't been able to experience Christmas since.
  7. Parents, particularly mother's, must be especially keen on their children getting married and married quickly (long dating periods or engagements are not encouraged).
  8. The love interest may not have an impressive job but he probably knows how to play the piano.
  9. If a girl is wearing a white dress, do not underestimate the possibility of an impromptu wedding happening in that scene, even if she is not yet officially engaged 
  10. The film should reference "following your heart" at least once.

These films will be predictable from start to finish, and anything else would be entirely unacceptable.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Really, The Interview, Non-Stop Press

Granted - the premise of The Interview (directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogan) is extreme in creating a rude comedy about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Yet, who would have ever thought that this movie would make such a splash. The president speaking about, people hacked, insulted, lawsuits, and press, press, press. So much press for a movie that at the time of this post has a 52% Rotten Tomatoes scores. 52% and the president is talking about a comedy that is rated R for pervasive language, crude and sexual humor, nudity, some drug use and bloody violence.

I get in my car and every time I hear stories about the movie. Today it's been all about independent and art house cinema chains speaking out and sharing why they are sharing this gift of a movie with the world.

Surely, this isn't the path Sony wanted to take on this film, especially with the embarrassing hacking leaks, but this film with a $44 million dollar budget and a Christmas release is jamming the air waves with press -- and it's hard to tell how the story continues to shape. But today it includes conspiracy theories about North Korea losing their own internet. "Was it an American response?" people are asking. Who knows (well, maybe some people know...) but this movie...really?

I keep scratching my head. And yet, in many ways this becomes the big film press story of the month, maybe the year.

I must admit - for all the exposure, I hope it ends, because I can't imagine what type of new news would make this a story, other than people leaving the theater disappointed or some insane box office figures.