As Christmas gets closer, the more our screens are saturated with the usual Christmas classics and ‘not-so’ classics. Fortunately, Sam Thomson is on hand to guide us through their blizzard of festive cliches and right into the heart of the typical Christmas movie…
12 non-stop snow days – We’ve all felt that feeling of disappointment looking out the window on Christmas morning to see nothing but dregs of grey slush left in the few shadowy corners of the garden. But in Fictionland, at least two weeks before Christmas Day, every square inch of picturesque countryside will be blessed with a blanketing of beautiful powdery white snow that the kids can make snow angels in. School is bound to be cancelled and weirdly, no one ever slips.
11 massive turkeys – “It’s nice to have just the four of us here for Christmas this year” Mum says as she heaves in a roast turkey larger than the dining table itself. It’s the turkey all the other turkeys avoid eye contact with. You can hear an echo when you’re trying to stuff it. She probably had to grease the sides of the oven just to fit the beast in. It looks like you’d need one of those two-person saws just to carve this monstrosity.
10 Kindly Old Dudes – For a few days a year the Grumpy Old Man becomes the Kindly Old Dude. If this is a Christmas special of a TV show, we could see a typically sour-faced character dressing up as Santa or simply having a glass of punch and enjoying the office party. Sometimes the Grumpy Old Man is the antagonist of the film and has to be taught the ‘True Meaning of Christmas’ in order to ascend to his final form as Kindly Old Dude.
“it does seem like the irony of flocking to the cinema to watch a plucky outcast fight Mr. Big Boss Corporation to save Christmas is lost on some people”
9 destined couples – If there’s one theme that permeates almost every Christmas film, it’s that of hope. If there is even a hint of romance between any two people, they will inevitably end up together by the end of the film. Unless of course, there are two competitors vying for another’s attention, in which case one of them will undoubtedly be revealed as someone who has a rotten soul, hates Christmas and has probably kicked a few puppies. All of that aside, if the Grinch can land himself Martha May Whovier, I’m sure you don’t have to spend Christmas alone this year.
8 greedy villains – Whether it’s Bill Murray in Scrooged or Home Alone’s iconic ‘Wet/Sticky Bandits’, villains in Christmas movies only have three things on their minds: money, wealth and cash. In fitting with the holiday’s spirit of giving and generosity, the natural choice for an antagonist is a miser; a heart without love or compassion, only an unquenchable desire to steal, burgle and extort. However, it does seem like the irony of flocking to the cinema to watch a plucky outcast fight Mr. Big Boss Corporation to save Christmas is lost on some people.
7 non-believers – Miracle on 34th Street gives us the story of a little girl trying to convince the world that Santa Claus is real. Rational adults are shunned as brainwashed sheep for questioning a confused old man claiming to be a magical gift-giver from the North Pole. If anyone remembers the haunting, surrealist psychological horror that was The Polar Express, they will recall that the plot is based on the premise of the Cynic becoming the Believer. Is this positive character progression? You decide.
6 homemade sweaters – The sleeves might be different lengths, initials might be knitted into it in a bizarre fashion, it might be an awful colour. But whatever it looks like, it’s bound to be itchy and your Mum is guaranteed to make you wear it on Boxing Day so you don’t upset Grandma.
5 cute kids – Christmas themed pyjamas. Check. Adorable lisp. Check. Eyes that would make Bambi jealous. Check and check. Here’s a child that could never be corrupted by the greedy villain and will never forget the true meaning of Christmas. Although you can never be sure of their angle, because all this cuteness is certainly helping them bag some extra presents…
4 trendy scarves – When you’re stood outside in the snow, peering through the window of your ex-wife’s parent’s house trying to catch a glimpse at your kids having fun for once, you might think your fashion options are limited under all those layers. Introducing Trendy Scarf™! All the cute British guys in Christmas movies wear them! Combine with a nice woollen jacket and lovely soft curly hair to really complete the look. *Turtleneck jumper also acceptable.
3 lit trees – Everyone knows that when it comes to Christmas in Fictionland, bigger is better. In fact, why stop at trees when you have an entire house waiting to be turned into a beacon of red, green and gold. If there’s some kind of competition involved, all kinds of nefarious plots will be hatched to try and one-up Ms Davies from Number 18. Passers-by may have to don their shades for extra comedy value.
2 Crimbos saved – Santa’s been kidnapped! Or he’s sick! Or he’s fading away because children don’t believe in him anymore! Whatever the case, we need a ragtag band of misfits to band together to save Christmas. Often this will involve a person or group of people taking up the reins physically and metaphorically to deliver presents to the children of the world (see Fred Claus, The Santa Clause and Merry Madagascar to name a few). It’s a thankless job but hey… someone’s got to do it.
And a jolly feel-good ending – And to round it all off, we need a happy ending. Families are reunited, villains become heroes, and the guy wins over the girl (or vice versa). Forgetting all the cynicism for a moment, the Christmas season wouldn’t be complete without a few classic Christmas movies.