I’ll be Christmasing for Christmas this Christmas: An Exploration of the Hallmark Movie Canon

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Here are two things that I know to be facts about this exact moment: It is the month of November, and It is officially Christmas. These two things are related, but not really. What matters is that these two things are universal truths. I suspect that more people would hold issue with that second fact more than the first, because if you are arguing the validity of the first fact then you are probably a confused time traveler and maybe you should be doing things other than reading this.

The statement that follows, “it is officially Christmas,” is more “controversial.” If you are referring to it not being a specific day of a specific month then, I suppose, you are technically right. But I’m not talking about that, because I am a big boy who doesn’t let arbitrary dates on the calendar dictate what I do in my life. Instead, I leave that to the exceptional programming of America’s favorite greeting card manufacturer/television network: Hallmark. From the first weekend in November all the way until January first, the Hallmark Channel airs made-for-TV Christmas movies, both new and old, 24 hours a day. That’s 1,464 hours of original Christmas content delivered this holiday season. This may seem like a lot of airtime to fill, but when you put out six to seven thousand brand new Christmas themed made-for-TV movies every year like Hallmark does, that shit is cake.

Admittedly, until last week, I had never seen any of these movies. Something about the combination of awful writing and awful acting and awful everything else was a bit of a turn off, but this Christmas, everything changes. For the next two months, I will be watching as many of these movies as one human can stand. I will look at each movie individually, as well as how it fits into the Hallmark made-for-TV Christmas movie genre as a whole. I will also be tracking my own sanity, which is likely to degrade rapidly. Today marks zero hour of I’ll be Christmasing for Christmas this Christmas: An Exploration of the Hallmark Christmas Movie Canon. First up: Best Christmas Party Ever. (2014)

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Synopsis:
With the holiday season in full swing, party planner Jennie Stanton, played by Torrey DeVitto (tragically not related to Danny DeVitto, which would have made this movie forty to fifty times better) learns that her boss, Petra, played by either Linda Thorson or an Argonian from Elder Scrolls, will be retiring after Christmas. Jennie, whose love for planning parties is explained in a thirty second opening scene where she is seven years old and talks to santa at a Christmas party about her unemployed dad, is a lock to take over the party planning company until Petra’s grossly charming and handsome nephew, Nick, played by Steve Lund, arrives on the scene and Petra announces that he will take over the business. Jennie is hurt by this until the two SUPRISE SURPRISE FALL IN LOVE. Also, he’s an actor or some shit and there is another dude and two other ladies but they are half-ass characters and basically worthless. If you’re curious about the lack of a “Best Christmas Party Ever” in this synopsis, you aren’t alone.

Rapid Reaction:

  • This was the first Hallmark original that I watched start to finish, and it was absolutely one hundred percent exactly what I expected. It had awkward dialogue and suspect production value and a corny love story because that is its god damn job.
  • The male lead is despicable. He’s a perfectly obnoxious man-child who is always the life of the party and can think quick on his feet. He’s like if Don Draper was a 29 year old trust fund kid who only wears thick navy sweaters with deep V-necks. TBH though, I bet he has a huge schlong.
  • Almost every scene that the aforementioned ding-dong is in starts with him making a bunch of fine ass chicky-babes cackle with glee. Although he doesn’t ever actually do it, he seems like the type of guy that bellows “There he is!” or “This guy!” when someone walks in a room. I can’t believe he’s not the villain.
  • There are three different scenes where the protagonists go out of their way to eat hot dogs. This is mostly unexplained.
  • The “best Christmas party ever,” from which this movie gets its name, is not mentioned until roughly an hour in. This seems like probably too long.
  • There are two different instances of really heavy handed product placement. I hope this a common theme in these movies, as it was by far my favorite part.
  • When they do finally start planning the title party, the biggest concern is that the Mouse King not be too scary. I haven’t planned many Christmas parties, so I’m just going to assume this is a common concern.
  • At one point, an old man is disappointed because someone goes back on a deal that they shook hands on. In his day “That meant something.” This is my all time favorite old guy in movies thing. They all put way too much stock into handshakes. I can’t wait until I’m old and shaking on everything no matter how important.
  • Six minutes before the end of the movie, we finally get to the best party ever.
  • The “best Christmas party ever” looks a lot more like the “smallest Christmas party ever” or “we used the budget up on all of the party scenes before this Christmas party” or “Christmas party you would not particularly want to attend.”
  • THE MOUSE KING IS THERE AND HE IS VERY SCARY.

Favorite Quotes, Taken Out of Context:

  • “My right hand man, or in this case, woman.”
  • “Ratatouille got a movie because of its fancy name.”
  • “Parties can change lives.”
  • “You throw a baseball, you plan a party.”
  • “Try and shut our party down; but you can never shut down what it stands for.”
  • “He was a mouse king, and you are a nutcracker.”

Final Thoughts:
The weirdest part of this movie was not the product placement or the ever-present Mouse King (ok, maybe it was the Mouse King), but how seemingly sexist it was. It’s about an uptight business woman who can’t find it in her schedule, or heart, to love. That is, until she is taught how to open up by a man with a heart of gold. This same man, with no experience in the field of event planning whatsoever, is able to come in and do the job of this woman (a job she has been doing for almost her entire life) just as well, if not better than her. They finish the movie as equals in the field of party planning. At that point, he has been doing it for less than a month. His biggest flaw is that he jokes around too much, which, by the way, everyone else loves. Nothing screams holiday cheer like “all your problems can be fixed by meeting the right guy, as long as you can accept that he is perfect.” I expected this movie to make me upset, but not in this way. I feel weird.

Personal Sanity Outlook:
This is seeming like less of a good idea than I originally thought.

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