Ah, Christmas movies. You come and you invade our channels for a month a year. Us students gather round, begrudgingly watching them with that one flatmate who actually cares. Parents despair as their children, finding excuses in the winter common cold to bunk more and more time off school, spend days staring at the TV screen, watching endless re-runs of The Santa Clause trilogy only to beg their parents “I want this, I want that”…
But are Christmas films really overrated? Well, that’s a complicated question. To start with, we’ve got to consider the three types of Christmas films: the classics, or, the ‘good’ movies; the ‘bad’ movies, that is, the ones that either don’t stand out, either because of their unoriginal stories or because they are of B-movie quality; and those films that aren’t actually Christmas movies but feel festive enough to be considered only really worth watching over the holiday season.
Like Man Up, with Simon Pegg. Or Frozen. Which is great.
Though Christmas films can be seen as another product of gross over-commercialisation, another of Hollywood’s ways of grabbing money, the first category – the ‘classics’ – proves the genre’s worth. The industry has generated some truly spectacular films that we would love to be able to watch all year round, the two most obvious examples being the genre-defining It’s a Wonderful Life and Love Actually. These have become staples over the festive period, the former being a symbol of popular culture and arguably one of the most popular movies of all time, period.
Though both of these movies can be praised for their unique styles, the numerous renditions of A Christmas Carol prove that, when it comes to Christmas, it’s the story that makes the movie – people want something heart-warming and life-affirming, and our ‘classics’ seem to provide just that.
But then there’s the second category. Every year countless ‘bad’ movies are released, often generic, featuring Santa Clause and some kid, hampering to a young family audience for a quick buck. However, it’s worth remembering that some of these would-be cheesy B-movies have evolved into cult classics in their own right. Home Alone could have gone one of two ways, but for many it’s become the Christmas movie. And movies such as Elf have become almost as much of a Christmas tradition as hanging stockings on the wall.
But even with the less successful films – and there are many – we must ask – did this entertain me? Ultimately entertainment is the primary job of a film, especially for films focussing primarily around a season built upon family values, celebration and good cheer. Sorry to tell you this, but you’re a Grinch if you think Christmas films are overrated – they aim to generate a feeling of festivity, hope and that magic seasonal feeling – in short, they attempt to capture Christmas in a film.
This is something even the ‘bad’ films often achieve. These aren’t meant to be classics – as far as I know, no Christmas film director set out to make the next Citizen Kane – they’re meant to be enjoyed once, maybe twice a year, surrounded by some mince pies, bucks fizz and those we love the most, suffering through the cheese together.
So if you think Christmas films are overrated, cheer up: this is the season to be jolly, after all.
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Media Courtesy of Bustle, Metro and Vogue