' ' Cinema Romantico: Top 10 Made For TV Christmas Movies (by synopsis)

Monday, December 01, 2014

Top 10 Made For TV Christmas Movies (by synopsis)

A couple Decembers ago, my sister visited Chicago for her birthday. Because she is my sister and because she is, in turn, a Prigge, all my sister wanted for her birthday was a dive bar crawl. Well, as it happens, my friend Dave is arguably Chicago's foremost dive bar expert. Thus, he squired my sister and I to a dive bar that near as I could tell didn't actually have a name. You know the sorta place, its only means of an identification is a dimly lit Old Style sign. So we entered to find linoleum and wood paneling and four or five guys sitting at the bar. Now...

These four or five guys were your stereotypical blue collar Chicagoans. They all resembled construction workers. They all were drinking PBR from the can. They all could have squashed me in a fight in half a second. A couple of them had tattoos. Rough looking dudes, is what I'm saying. So when my sister and Dave and I - indie geeks every one - came strolling in, they all turned away from the TV at the exact same instant and sized us up. Then they turned back toward the TV. Now...

What would you guess was on the TV? A football game? Something on SPIKE? "The Dirty Dozen"? Nope. It was one of those made-for-TV Christmas movies starring someone like Jennie Garth who is playing something like a consultant and having the meaning of Christmas re-taught to her through the whimsical efforts of a small-town postman. But these dudes - these rough looking dudes - were involved in that movie. I mean, involved. They hung on every word. They would converse during commercials, yes, but when the commercials ended, they re-gave that movie their full attention. I couldn't get over it. I still can't get over it.

This, as it must, got me to thinking. It got me to thinking because every year at Christmas time I enjoy scrolling through all those made-for-TV Christmas movies on my digital cable menu and reading the various plot synopsis's and cast lists. It's amusing. Really, it is. Maybe this is a signal that I have no life, but we already knew that, reader. And so I thought, hey! Why not make a Top 10?! I scrolled through the titles, took notes, and concocted a list. The Top 10 Made For TV Christmas Movies (by synopsis). Whether or not these movies are any good, I have no idea. And I strongly encourage both you and me to never ever find out.

Top 10 Made For TV Christmas Movies (by synopsis)

10. Christmas Song. (Hallmark Channel) "Music teachers face off in a Christmas-carol competition." Starring: Natasha Henstridge. And so the template for the fly-by-night, made-for-TV Christmas movie emerges - hire fallen star, formulate an "idea" over coffee from a vending machine in the hallway, green light it, rinse and repeat.

9. The Nine Lives Of Christmas (Hallmark Channel). "A confirmed bachelor adopts a stray cat." Starring: Brandon Routh. That's it. That's the whole synopsis. Did the Hallmark producer fall asleep in the middle of it? Did he/she really think that was enough to go on? Did he/she make a bet with director Mark Jean that he couldn't finagle ninety whole minutes out of "a confirmed bachelor adopts a stray cat"? Did Brandon Routh have a spiral notebook full of ideas that he pitched to Mark Jean over frozen margaritas at Chili's and for some reason they concluded this one was best?

8. The Case For Christmas. (Hallmark Channel) "A lawyer (Dean Cain) defends Kris Kringle, who's being sued." Dean Cain, it turns out, is sort of to made for TV Christmas movies what Michael Cera is to indie geek boy non-franchise films. Scroll the poor dude's IMDB page and you will find title after title like "The Case For Christmas." That said, IMDB indicates that "Merry Ex-Mas" (no synopsis), co-starring Kristy Swanson and Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, is currently "filming". That might end up at the top of this list next year.

7. Holidaze (ABC Family). "A businesswoman trips and awakens in an alternate universe." Starring: Jennie Garth. Jennie Garth!!!

6. Farewell Mr. Kringle. (Hallmark Channel.) "A jaded journalist must write about a Christmas-themed town." Starring: Christine Taylor. Honest to freaking God, Christine Taylor deserves better than this. Can't her husband stop hamming it up for two seconds and write something specifically for her? Is that so much to ask? America, we need to do better by Christine Taylor. Let's demand that our next President provide strong universal healthcare and fix Christine Taylor's career. We can do this.

It's up to us to save Christine Taylor's career before it's too late.
5. Baby's First Christmas (Hallmark Channel). "Feuding lawyers spend Christmas together." Starring: Casper Van Dien, Rachel Wilson. It's like "Laws of Attraction"......but at Christmastime!

4. The Night Before The Night Before Christmas. (Hallmark Channel.) "Santa crashes his sleigh into the home of a disconnected family." Starring: Jennifer Beals. Catchy title, snappy plot, low budget, poorly effected sleigh crash, Santa acting as therapist to wacky but ultimately good-hearted family, kids learning the true meaning of Christmas, moving penultimate scene of Santa eating milk and cookies, and, of course, Jennifer Beals drunk on set and wondering "Would my life have turned out different if I didn't make 'Vampire's Kiss' after 'Flashdance?'"

3. Holiday In Handcuffs. (ABC Family.) "A free spirit (Melissa Joan Hart) kidnaps a man (Mario Lopez) to take home for Christmas." That synopsis is so good I don't feel additional commentary is even necessary.

2. Window Wonderland (Hallmark Channel.) "Two rivals vie for the head window-designer spot at a department store." Starring: Chyler Leigh, Paul Campbell, Naomi Judd. It's "Bride Wars" meets "One Fine Day"!!!!! "Jonathan, bring me my green light!"

1. 12 Men of Christmas (Lifetime). "A fired New York PR exec starts anew in Montana." Starring: Kristin Chenoweth. Well, it just doesn't get better than this, does it? This is the ultimate. This is what I think when I think: Made For TV Christmas Movie. I mean, can't you just see it? Kristin Chenoweth walking around Montana in high heels and trading in that fine-tuned trend-setting attire for Wranglers, a western shirt and a cowboy hat and working her way through 12 men at the dude ranch where she whimsically winds up before falling for Mr. Wrong Who Turns Out To Be Mr. Right?  Oh! And she falls off a horse! SHE FALLS OFF A HORSE!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's hilarious about those guys watching one of those movies! My mother is LOVES those movies my sister and I like to chastise her for. Of course because of this, I have sat through both Holiday in Handcuffs and the 12 Men for Christmas. And they are both as entertaining and horrible as you'd like to think they are.