Christmas movies are filled with delightful tropes, making them guilty (or completely brazen) pleasures. Much can be learned from these films about navigating life during the holidays. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be should you find yourself trapped in a snow globe, on a road trip with a merry stranger or suddenly engaged to an amnesiac.
Four truths of Christmas movies:
If two people hate each other, they will be engaged by Christmas, even if they met on Thanksgiving Day.
A character may start the film oblivious to the fact she is in a relationship with a completely terrible person, but will inevitably end the film in a relationship with the doting, faithful “friend” who has secretly pined over her for years. This friend’s admiration usually goes unnoticed until a quirky incident involving a magical Advent calendar (or similar) makes true love apparent.
People with jobs in a big city are in no way capable of happiness or balancing work and family. They will eventually give it all up for life in a small town running an antique store, coffee shop or B&B on the verge of demolition from a smarmy land developer.
Families tend to be very intolerant of their single female relatives’ status. It is therefore in her best interest to secure a fake boyfriend/fiancé by hiring, or under outlandish circumstances, kidnapping a generically handsome dude in order to appease her parents.
While I am a jaded and skeptical Gen-Xer, I find great comfort in these films and their absurd plots. For 90 minutes, I suspend disbelief and accept that one can survive on the income of said coffee shop that yields five customers per year, and that makes my holiday season all the brighter.
Our collection includes many such films and more to carry you into the holidays when you find yourself in need of some escapism and a little spirit boost. The following are some of my favorites:
Nancy McKeon stars as a sleek, single, high-powered businesswoman (of undetermined business) whose life is altered by a head injury. She wakes up with a family, no job and a hideous wardrobe. Is this really the life she’s secretly longed for? Dixie Carter makes an appearance and steals the show. Quelle Surprise.
A middle-aged Nicole Eggert longs for a fancy lifestyle while complaining about her doting husband Gary, her adorable daughters and their lack of money. We witness her on the phone with creditors but never with potential employers. On a particularly grumpy December day, she finds herself climbing through her clothes dryer into the McMansion of her dreams, complete with her wealthy high school BF. This movie boasts an interminable montage, set to music while Nicole’s character tries on a variety of jewelry, sunglasses and furs to accentuate the fact she is nouveau riche. Will she realize the grass isn’t always greener even if the interiors are whiter? Watch and find out!
This one is more shmaltzy than I typically prefer, but the food aspect and talents of the fantastic Bobby Canavale, endearing Carly Pope and powerhouse Christine Baranski pull a shaky plot together. A food critic and floundering restauranteur in NYC cross paths and fall in love while blatantly using each other for their own gain. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown? The movie ends on a note so festive you almost forget the mildly creepy mother-daughter-boyfriend triangle.
Obviously, you’ll want to check these titles out immediately.
To fill the gap between Christmas and the New Year, I enjoy the following films for both their timeliness and awesomeness. Each is set during the week between Christmas and the New Year, and are ideal additions to your post-holiday couch hibernation.
If you’ve read my previous posts, you may remember I have strong feelings for the films of John Landis. “Trading Places” is an ’80s triumph. The evil Duke Brothers, rumored to be based on Statler and Waldorf of Muppet Show fame, make a bet in very poor taste that entwines the lives of the two main characters (brilliantly played by Dan Ackroyd and Eddie Murphy). The holidays are the backdrop to this marvel and feature a filthy, salmon-eating Santa, gobs of tinsel and a New Year’s Eve party on an Amtrak run.
Note: “Trading Places” is rated R.
Dashiell Hammett’s iconic couple, Nick & Nora Charles, team up for the first time on film to solve a murder. Heavy drinking, hangovers and beautiful gowns mixed with the palpable on-screen chemistry of Myrna Loy and William Powell make for the perfect film noir comedy (which I have decided is a thing). I watch it every New Year’s Eve.
Do I really need to tout the abundance of Christmas materials the Library has to offer? We aren’t retail, so you can find our Christmas merchandise including fiction, nonfiction, movies and music all year long.