that time I put myself through American Horror Story even though the entirety of the horror genre scares the sweet daylight out of me? Well, I did it again. I put myself through hell—storms, death, desperation and the hot stink of fear. Fear of dying alone at Christmas, that is.
Granted, the storms were romantic and snowy, the death was the first husband of a lonely, beautiful single mother, and the desperation most certainly belonged to the aforementioned widow, but ABC FamiLifeMark’s version of Christmas is no less horrifying than FX’s freaky darling, albeit in a very different way.
The worst aspect of any one of these films is that apparently, one Valentine’s Day wasn’t enough. The powers that be needed to morph the birth of one J. Christ to be a day where magical love wishes are granted not by a fat baby in a red diaper sitting on a puffy white cloud, but by a fat man in a red velvet suit with white trim. Or occasionally dogs.
Here’s the rundown of my favorite movies to get angry about this holiday season, in order from most rantworthy to least:
A Christmas Wedding Tail
In six words: “Christmas wedding travesty narrated by DOGS.” Now, talking dogs playing basketball are precious. Not so dogs that fall in love and scheme to get their widow/widower keepers together so they can Pongo & Perdita it up during a California Christmas.
These people get married after approximately half of a conversation. “You have kids? OMG, I have kids!” “Your significant other died and you have baggage? We have SO MUCH IN COMMON!”
There are montages of wedding planners (sassy black lady, sassy british gay guy, sassy Cousin Vinny) and family pratfalls a la every look-how-much-fun-we’re-having montage ever, along with more puns than you can shake a stick at—see what I did there?
The only appearance Christmas makes is the presence of presents, Santa lawn ornaments, and SANTA as the officiator of the wedding. That’s not a typo. And let’s not forget the 11 pipers piping in with, “C’mon/But/Because It’s Christmas,” in order to rationalize marrying someone you’ve known for a week because your dogs want you to.
Holiday in Handcuffs
The only reason this didn’t win for most rage blackout-inducing movie was because the dogs stayed silent in this one. The premise: a waitress KIDNAPS A CUSTOMER, takes him to her super-romantical family log cabin in Upstate Somewhere, where he tries to escape valiantly for 20 minutes until he decides to fall in love with Crazy McPlateorPlatter instead.
Between Melissa Joan Hart’s wonky eye tearing up every 10 minutes because her family doesn’t respect her as a painter, Mario Lopez’ falling in love with someone who forced him to pretend to be her boyfriend because her family doesn’t respect her as a single woman, and the siblings’ dinner table revelations (pilates, homosexuality) that flabbergast their probably-Mitt-Romney-supporting father because he doesn’t respect humanity, I have to suspend more disbelief here than I do watching True Blood.
The guy HAD A FIANCEE, got kidnapped FOR A WEEKEND, and because of an apparent shared interest in art history, FELL IN LOVE with the waitress that crushed his cellphone and shoved him in her car without his consent. Ah, l’amour! At least snowy Christmas wonderlands figure heavily into this one.
A Boyfriend for Christmas
These guys don’t even bother to couch the real meaning of Christmas in a pun. This lady wants a boyfriend, and dammit if Santa isn’t going to get her one! Because a mall Santa once promised a 10-year-old girl a boyfriend in 20 years’ time by engraving a snow globe, a 30-year-old girl wants to reap her rewards from a Christmas tree farm owner who happens to look like Santa.
She is rewarded with a very metrosexual laid-off lawyer who sweeps her off her feet and then reveals that he (unknowingly, of course) engineered a plot that led to the girl’s social works clients being evicted from their rent-controlled housing. The secrets people keep, even two whole weeks into dating!
They make up (shocker!). Turns out she flirted with him at the tree farm in Santa costume before she even met him for real. That’s how you know.
Through all that, some guy named Ted (an overconfident cheating ex-boyfriend who looks like Mel Gibson and acts like Gaston from Beauty & the Beast) keeps making odes of love and receiving continual rejections from Wish-Upon-a-Santa McGee. I don’t even know what he was doing there. He just got rejected over and over. That’s not a love triangle. That’s a love line segment with an outlying point. But it’s CHRISTMAS! And there are SANTAS!
Despite its winningly clever title that definitely wasn’t also the name of the first-draft script, this was by far the least offensive of the swath of original made-for-tv offerings available this time of year.
Like the stupid dog movie, this movie incorporated Christmas in order to make people more generous and community driven, and so there would be many a party. Christine Baranski is a goddess, and the girl from Popular was totally passable as a complete bitch who neither respects deadlines nor ancestry. She gets a broke restaurateur to go out with her mom so she can be boring and alone, then realizes a) she “is in love” with her mom’s greek confection-cooking escort and b) she has been horrible to her destitute old mother because she is jealous of the MILF factor.
She makes up with her mom, writes a hasty eleventh-hour article about comfort food despite the fact that she’d had over a month to write it and didn’t bother, and brings everybody together to save her mom’s escort/her boyfriend’s restaurant. IN THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS!