December brings three things; colder weather, drier skin and the inevitable onslaught of terrible Christmas movies. It’s my hypothesis that, after a certain point in November, the collective standard in cinema begins to drop. Suddenly, somewhere during the evening of Dec. 14, it seems appropriate to spend two-and-a-half hours watching a New York executive travel to her hometown for the holidays and accidentally spill a cup of hot chocolate on the high school boyfriend who ends up showing her the true meaning of Christmas.
Some movies seem to be the result of an executive marketing team sitting down, coming up with a mediocre pun and deciding to write a full-length feature film to go with it (I’m looking at you The Knight Before Christmas, where Vanessa Hudgens plays the romantic interest of a time-travelling knight named Sir Cole). Between the cringe-worthy dialogue and a race to squash as many ice skating, cookie-baking, snow-angel-making stereotypical winter activities as possible into 120 minutes, there seems to be a firm collective opinion that these movies are cheesy. Yet, every year, without fail, Hallmark wraps the classic tropes of meet-cute rom-coms, tales of self-discovery and coming of age narratives in Christmas paper. Companies do not exist to create Christmas magic; they work to make a profit. If they are continuing to produce these movies, it means that there are enough people watching them to justify the cheesy Christmas movie market. My question is, why?
Why are objectively terrible movies so popular? We already know the songs, character archetypes and 30 seconds into the trailers, we can guess with 90 per cent accuracy the conclusion. I would argue the predictability of the plot, the very thing that makes it a boring movie, is what draws the audience in. Life is messy, chaotic and unpredictable. Winter brings traditions as a source of comfort in the cold, dark months. Be it annual religious celebrations, listening to holiday tunes on the radio, or walking through Shipyards Park to take in the coloured lights, there is comfort in repetition. And sitting down to watch a terrible Christmas movie, we know exactly what we’re going to get. Somehow Hallmark has placed its films as part of the comfort of winter traditions.
Do the movies create unrealistic expectations of what a decorated house should look like? Completely. Is it part of the blatant and invasive commercialization of the holidays? Absolutely. Does it still bring me joy? Yes. And I would argue that in the hardship, turmoil and unpredictability of this year in particular, every bit of comfort is a good thing. So, if it suits your fancy, let’s dust off the Michael Bublé CD, grab fuzzy socks, pop far too much popcorn and plop down on the couch to laugh at the writing, poke fun at the plot and utterly enjoy this year’s selection of terrible Christmas movies.