My dirty little secret
I have a guilty pleasure that I’m finally ready to discuss.
I just got off the phone with my wife.
We’re going to do it tonight.
I look forward to this night every year (at least since 2003).
I’ll pour the wine and then we’ll head right to the bedroom.
Shit is about to go down.
‘Chick a bow wow’
Tonight is the night when we will record each and every holiday movie that will be shown on Lifetime, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies, Ion and all the other channels that have jumped into the holiday movie fray.
My evenings from now through December 22nd are booked. The movies don’t carry the same punch after that date.
I can’t get enough of the fabulously cheesy holiday fare that is put out on basic cable every year.
I’ve kept this a secret for years running with the only one aware being my holiday-movie- watching-confidante, Mrs. M.
I need the world to know.
I need to convert just one of you to the dark side and this confession will be worth all of the backlash.
These are no hate watch sessions.
Starting early November each year, we blindly DVR each and every holiday themed movie without reading the description. No initial judgment is passed. Many are movies we’ve enjoyed in the past with a handful of newly introduced titles included. The DVR is immediately 97% filled.
Our nightly ritual may commence.
After the kids are in bed, we retire to the boudoir and hit “play” on the very first movie on the list.
No prejudgement based on title or description.
We give each film a minimum of 15 minutes before rendering a decision. If after 15 minutes we’re not feeling it, it is erased from the DVR and from our memory all together. We don’t take notes for the following year. It is too much fun to reevaluate the same movie again and again for years to come.
If the movie does pass the 15 minute test, we’ll keep watching it and often times it may take three viewings to get through it. Since we initiate the process at a later hour now that the kids are getting older, we often fall asleep during the movie.
A joyous falling asleep I must add.
It’s even fun to reconnect in the morning and remember the last scene we were still awake for.
“I remember when she hired the fake boyfriend to come home with her at Thanksgiving.”
“And I remember when she found out that her job wouldn’t allow her to travel back home for the holidays and her parents were devastated.”
Give me one second, I need to take care of one thing before proceeding.
How is each movie evaluated? While it is tough to quantify, here are some examples of what pulls us in:
- No supernatural nonsense; wishes granted, manger scene coming to life, etc. The only exception is if it is the re-imagining of how life may have been different if certain decisions were retroactively altered and it subsequently requires climbing through the dryer to get there.
- While all locales are an option, the preferred is always New York City. Typically this is determined within the first frame of the film via an aerial shot of NYC that must have been created as stock footage and sold cheaply to the cable networks because 75% of these movies begin with this shot. Test it out for yourself.
- Having said that, the entire production cannot take place in NYC alone. The plot must be driven in such a way that it forces our protagonists back to the unnamed home town of one of the characters where it resembles a Thomas Kinkade Christmas painting.
- Anything with Joey Lawrence.
- An all knowing Santa that doles out sage advice at the local Christmas Tree Farm gets us every time.
- I cannot get enough of the “hire a fake boyfriend/girlfriend to keep the nagging family at bay only to be shocked when they actually fall in love” arc.
- A personal favorite is the bah humbug corporate hack that doesn’t grasp the true meaning of the holidays until he or she meets a hopeless holiday romantic. Bonus points if one of them runs a Christmas hat store.
- Any version of an identity mix-up and we’re in.
- No well known actors or actresses may be in it. We need to believe the actors/actresses have put their heart and soul into the production. We need to believe that they believe this is their chance to score a big gig following this movie. Any bit of slumming it and we will pass.
The criteria is ever evolving but this is a good place to start.
I also reserve the right to be critical of these movies from time to time. So if any executives/script writers are listening, here are a few suggested changess, free of charge:
- No more exes running into each other unexpectedly in their hometown without knowing what the other had been doing for years now. It is called Facebook stalking and everyone does it.
- Stop with the struggling actor/advertising rep/young writer who lives in even a decent apartment in Manhattan. That one burns me to no end. No one can afford to live in Manhattan or Hoboken or even Queens.
- Please up the acting standards for the quirky best friend. There is a fine line between quirky and really freaking annoying. You know the difference. It may require upping the budget for the 3rd lead but it will make a world of difference on Rotten Tomatoes.
- Less whiny children. In fact, let’s eliminate kids completely. They’re the worst. If the plot lines require a single mom or dad just go with the idea of kids, not the real thing.
If you are looking for movie recommendations, please feel free to email me and I will break them out by category/story arc if you so desire.
Thanksgiving movies are very underrated and there are some beauties out there right now.