Christmas films rated from good to bad for when your festive spirit is lacking
Don’t know about you but I found it hard to get into the Christmas spirit this year. After months of uncertainty, anxiety and upheaval, it’s tricky to feel very ho ho ho.
Maybe immersion therapy will help. If I watch just Christmas movies for 24 hours, how can I fail to be filled with festive spirit?
The classics – It’s A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, Elf – feel too obvious. I need films I’ve never seen for full impact. So I surrender to the telly schedule at random, guided by whatever’s on.
First up is 2013’s Holiday Road Trip on Sony Movies Christmas. It stars lots of unknowns, for good reason, and George Hamilton with his face pulled so tight he can only move his eyes. A bit.
If you played a drinking game and had a sip every time you saw something Christmas-related, you’d be on the floor three minutes in. Every frame has pressies, a snowman, a festive jumper or fairy lights. Main character Maya has three Christmas trees in her living room. It is snowing in every scene.
Maya’s dreaming of a festive proposal from her boyfriend, who lets her know he’s only after a good time – so she dumps him. Back at the pet product firm she works for, it’s decided its mascot dog will do a publicity tour of the country.
The owner has a useless playboy son. He and Maya are opposites and hate each other. You’ll never guess which two people are picked to drive the dog. But boyfriend realises he made a mistake and chases Maya and Playboy Son – who, you’ll never believe, has hidden depths.
Holiday Road Trip didn’t make me feel that Christmassy… possibly as the scene where Playboy Son’s Sexy Santa suit is ripped off by a gang of randy OAPs was hard to get past.
Next is Every Day Is Christmas, a remake of A Christmas Carol starring Toni Braxton. As it’s the season of goodwill, rather than discussing her acting skills, let’s remember she is a great singer. Toni plays ruthless financial firm boss Alexis who, feeling profits are too low, axes her staff’s party and bonuses, then tells them they will work on Christmas Day.
Then the ghosts of her parents help her see the error of her ways. She goes round apologising and giving presents before getting off with her chauffeur, who reveals he is secretly a successful businessman and in love with her.
Charles Dickens has presumably been turning in his grave non-stop since its 2018 release.
When I turn on the next one, I nearly choke on the mince pie I’m having for a sugar hit to keep going.
It sounds like real life in 2020 but Cancel Christmas is about Santa discovering kids are now too greedy. He has 30 days to instil true Christmas spirit in three boys, or… well, the clue’s in the title. But, my goodness, the star is Judd Nelson – you know, from The Breakfast Club. To be honest, I missed most of Cancel Christmas as it’s too awkward to look at the screen. I don’t want Judd to see me seeing him reduced to this.
I start watching Channel 5’s The Christmas Cottage and notice I’m becoming blind to all things festive. This movie is definitely the one to get me back on track though, as it’s full of people who are obsessed.
Career girl Lacey has to take time off to be maid of honour at her best friend’s nuptials. Just as Lacey’s telling her all the reasons her current beau is great, in walks her childhood sweetheart, who is – you’ll never guess – the exact opposite of those things! Lacey’s pal is honeymooning at their family cottage and anyone who has stayed there at Christmas has found true love.
Lacey and Childhood Sweetheart end up talking so late at the cottage they… fall asleep? It’d be a Christmas miracle if you didn’t guess what happens. I give this film a huge cranberry. (Festive version of a raspberry.)
Next is Christmas Scavenger Hunt, which sounds exciting. Career girl Linda has to take time off for her best friend’s wedding… didn’t I just see this? Instead of a Christmas cottage there’s the town’s annual Christmas scavenger hunt, in which Linda is paired with her ex. Otherwise, everything is the same. Two cranberries.
OK, Amazing Christmas Romance has to be better. It surely won’t be TWO HOURS of my life I will never get back because it’s the exact same film as the last two but with a huge snow maze. GRRRRR(inch).
Six films in and I’m slightly delirious. I may have OD’d on festive spirit.
Next up, The Spruces and the Pines is about rival Christmas tree farm-owning families – so Romeo and Juliet with trees and a happy ending. That’s my limit. No more Christmas love.
Then it’s The Christmas Switch, where Santa swaps bodies with a younger man because he’s so knackered – with hilarious consequences.
And Silver Bells, where an obnoxious sports anchor learns an important lesson about being kind to others – with hilarious consequences.
Then Snowmen, which somehow stars Ray “Goodfellas” Liotta and Christopher “Back To The Future” Lloyd and is about three smalltown boys trying set a record for making the most snowmen in a day. Confession: Snowmen makes me cry a bit. Maybe it’s because it’s based on a true story or maybe it’s just because there weren’t any hilarious consequences.
I’m feeling trapped in Christmas for ever – Groundhog Christmas Day.
Amazon has given the world the gift of its own festive movie this year and, really, it shouldn’t have. My Dad’s Christmas Date is about a depressed widower who is pretending to be jolly.
His daughter sets up a dating profile and everything goes wrong and then right at the last minute, wouldn’t you know it, just in time for Christmas.
Then, something magical happens. The last film, The Christmas Chronicles 2 on Netflix, starring Kurt Russell, is actually… good.
It’s funny, sweet, exciting – it has a plot you care about and a script that doesn’t make you want to vomit. The message is thoughtful and poignant.
It is heartwarming. Literally. My heart is now warmed! Although that might be the Baileys I’m now swigging straight from the bottle.
Either way, genuine festive spirit has been attained. Merry Christmas to all!
And to my telly, a good night!