It’s time to immerse myself in treacly Christmas movies

I’m not the kind of Hallmark Christmas film fan this post talks about, but I don’t want to make fun of them as much as this online article. A lot of them don’t work for me, but I’m a Christmassy person so I’m always hopeful at least one of them will click before I started rewatching my old favorites.

Last year I caught the lesbian Christmas romance The Happiest Season in which the leads have to hide their relationship. In SINGLE ALL THE WAY (2021) it’s the reverse: a gay guy convinces his gay bestie to pose as his boyfriend for the holidays so his family won’t be commenting on his unattached status. Then apparently (I admit I lost interest too soon to follow the plot closely) they stop pretending and everyone tries to match-make them. Forgettable. “Nick is a ten … in New Hampshire.

LOVE HARD (2021) starts Nina Dobrev of Vampire Diaries as a hard-luck dater who travels to Alaska to meet her long distance romance and discovers he’s Not What He Seemed Online. Dobrev is appealing, but that’s about all that appealed.

FATHER CHRISTMAS IS BACK (2021) when Kelsey Grammer returns to England and the family he once abandoned, making the Christmas tension among his three daughters and their men even worse than usual. This falls into the first of the three kids of Christmas movie, where the holiday is simply an excuse to draw all the cast together for the drama. Fluff; with Elizabeth Hurley and John Cleese among the clan. “I don’t like men — I just like sleeping with them.”

While it isn’t Christmas in Connecticut, CUPID FOR CHRISTMAS (2021) was enjoyable (more so than the similarly titled Christmas Cupid in case you were wondering), which justifies my sitting through the other ones. Cupid’s (Richard Kind) protege Ruby (Melanie Stone) has to prove she’s right for the job by finding a perfect match for the most undatable person before Christmas Eve (“Shouldn’t it be Valentine’s Day?”). It doesn’t help that Ruby’s assistant is undercutting her and that she and her target, a history professor, find each other the most obnoxious, annoying person they’ve ever met (need I say more?). “I just let the opinion of an imaginary flying baby hurt my feelings.”

12 DATES OF CHRISTMAS (2011) is a rom-com I watched for my time-travel book and have liked enough to rewatch (well, obviously). Convinced she’s getting her ex back, Amy Smart blows off Christmas Eve blind date Mark Paul Gosselar, only to discover her ex just proposed to his high-school sweetheart. When Christmas Eve starts rebooting, Smart figures the universe is giving her a chance to change fate — but is reclaiming her ex really what Fate (or God or Santa or whoever) wants for her? Streaming on Amazon Prime free if you’re interested. “I represent a community organization that believes in the inalienable right of every teenager to have a puppy.”

DIE HARD (1988) represents the second strain of Christmas movie, where the festive holiday provides a contrast for a dark plot. Which is to say it’s not that startling a Christmas film, but it’s certainly a well-made one (and not particularly treacly). John McClane (Bruce Willis) is an NYPD cop arriving in LA to see his ex (Bonnie Bedelia) over the holidays. When he arrives at her corporate employer’s Christmas party, the entire office building has been seized by Alan Rickman’s terrorist gang — though as it turns out, terrorism is a red herring for their plan to siphon a few million dollars out of the corporate coffers.

Action Speaks Louder argues that Die Hard was a game-changer for action films. Bruce Willis didn’t have the hyper-muscled physique of Sylvester Stallone or Schwarzenegger and the premise of a battle in an enclosed, confined space became a trope for several years with movies pitched as Die Hard On A Bus or Die Hard On A Boat. At the same time it harks back to older themes, with both Willis and Rickman referencing Western movies. It’s a good, tense film — it’s easy to imagine Willis saving the day but not surviving himself — though it also suffers from Predator 2-like copaganda. The media endanger people’s lives; police above the level of street cops such as McClane or his LAPD ally Powell (Reginald DelJohnson) are worthless careerists (Robert Davi plays that role in both movies). And Powell having shot a kid he thought was armed doesn’t reflect on his fitness for the job — it’s just a misplaced guilt he has to get over before he can be the hero he’s meant to be. Despite which, I really do enjoy the film. “I could talk about industrialization and men’s fashions all day, but I have work to do.”

As a present to myself I meant to watch The Lego Batman Movie but HBO Max streaming LEGO BATMAN: The DC Superheroes Unite (2013) wasn’t the same thing (despite being the go-to DC channel, the movie I wanted apparently isn’t on HBO Max at all). And while I’ve enjoyed other Lego DC films, this story of Luthor and Joker joining forces against Batman and Superman didn’t really engage me. “This is the fifth time the Man of the Year ceremony has been held in Gotham but only the second it’s been interrupted by a raging gang of supervillains.”

More Christmas movies next weekend!

#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holder.

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