Family togetherness during the holiday season is a beautiful thing until, you know, it’s not. Take, for instance, buying a Christmas tree with teenagers. Just when you’re all atingle from the familial sharing of selecting the perfect tree to adorn your home, you discover your son’s knot-tying skills are rudimentary at best, especially in the adhering-noble-pine-to-luggage rack category, when your tree not so much slides but shimmies off the top of your car like Santa Claus trying to exit a flue he mistook for a chimney and ungracefully tumbles onto State Line Road.
Adding to that aggravation is when your daughter’s response to this tree-astrophe is to yell while hysterically laughing, “Hashtag Boy Scout Fail” and your son, who should be, I’m thinking, perhaps embarrassed, proclaims, “Retweeting!”
It’s times like this when I desperately seek the soothing solace of a Hallmark holiday movie where TV stars from the ’90s find employment and keep their Screen Actor’s Guild insurance current all while discovering the true meaning of Christmas. In the Hallmark holiday movie universe, nothing really bad happens except some really horrific hair. (I’m talking to you, Crystal Bernard in 2004’s “Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus.” It looks like the same team of albino ferrets that do Donald Trump’s hair got their start being the “glam squad” on this movie.) But besides some less-than-stellar talent in the area of back-comb artistry, these holiday movies are all about quality.
Movie snobs may disagree with me on this, and if I had zero Christmas spirit I might be inclined to admit that some of the sets look like the director decided to shoot the living room scene in a Nebraska Furniture Mart showroom to save money. And then there is the continuing issue of Santa Claus casting that I question, although Norm from “Cheers” (George Wendt) was Mr. Claus in the 2006 “Santa Baby” and he owned the role. Really, he was just mesmerizing and kudos to him for not falling in the whole lame ho, ho, ho trap. He kept it real.
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Speaking of ho, ho, ho, former Playboy centerfold Jenny McCarthy was cast as his daughter in “Santa Baby.” At first I was all, “Oh no, they didn’t,” but Jenny pulled it off. That’s all part of the Hallmark movie magic. It’s like a holiday casting casserole where things that shouldn’t go together do, and are held together by the Velveeta of movie magic: fake snow. I’m sure there’s a snow alarm in the Hallmark movie production offices that reads: “Plot-line iffy, story dragging, no couple chemistry? Then break for snow.”
Something almost better than the Hallmark holiday movie is the community that surrounds it. You can’t imagine my joy when I discovered the Facebook page, “Is This Hallmark Movie Good For a Hallmark Movie?” It was like I was being swaddled in a cashmere blanket made from limited-edition goat fur from the North Pole while eating private label Christmas Poppycock. I immediately reached out to the creators of the page (which I just have to assume are long-lost kin) for their wisdom about the Hallmark holiday movie magic.
Julianna W. Miner, one of the co-creators of the page, says she watches nothing but Hallmark holiday movies for almost eight weeks. (I’m sooooo jealous!) When I asked her on Facebook what makes a Hallmark holiday movie so yummy, she wrote back that it’s all about the stars. “Where else would you find the magical retelling of the Dickens’ classic, ‘A Christmas Carol,’ featuring Tori Spelling, Gary Coleman, and — wait for it — William Shatner. I mean, a lot of people would look at that cast and think, ‘Is that even real?’ The answer is yes. And it’s wonderful.”
Not just content with sharing their up-to-date analysis of each movie, Julianna’s Christmas cohort, author Peyton Price, created a Hallmark holiday movie bingo card featuring squares like a “magical twinkling sound” and a “bump on the head.” I was a little disappointed to find the card didn’t have a square for “bad hair,” but I guess the one that says, “someone wearing a wig” is close enough.
So, this holiday season if you’re ever feeling overwhelmed, exhausted or perhaps getting alarmed that your Christmas cheer may be waning: Don’t fret. All you need to do is wrestle the TV remote away from a family member, shoo them from the room, (Nothing ruins a Hallmark holiday movie like your husband making fun of it. So what if the North Pole looks like Santa’s village at Oak Park Mall?) and settle in for a blissful escape to the land of mistletoe kisses while being held hostage inside a snow globe. Oh wait, my bad, that’s an ABC Family movie. They also did “Holiday In Handcuffs.” What’s with ABC and the Yuletide bondage themes?
Whatever. Let’s not think about that. Let’s focus on the Hallmark world where snow is like duct tape — it can fix anything.