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:
- A Christmas Kiss (2011, directed by John Stimpson, staring Elisabeth Röhm, Laura Breckenridge, and Brendan Fehr)
- The Mistle-Tones (2012, directed by Paul Heon, staring Tia Mowry-Hardict, Tori Spelling and Jonathan Patrick Moore)
- A Bride for Christmas (2012, directed by Gary Yates, staring Arielle Kebbel and Andrew W. Walker)
- Let it Snow (2013, directed by Harvey Frost, staring Candace Cameron Bure and Jesse Hutch)
- A Very Merry Mix-Up (2013, directed by Jonathan Wright, staring Alicia Witt and Mark Wiebe)
- 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:"
- The lead is a single female (may or may not be engaged or dating at start of the movie)
- If engaged/dating, the one she is engaged or dating is not the one she will be with at the end of the film
- If the first guy she meets has a bad haircut she will not be with him at the end.
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.
- Parents, particularly mother's, must be especially keen on their children getting married and married quickly (long dating periods or engagements are not encouraged).
- The love interest may not have an impressive job but he probably knows how to play the piano.
- 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
- 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.