Christmas Day has finally come, and I remain the obligatory Grinch in an overly festive family.
They prepare for Christmas months in advance – going all out with the decorations, usually starting somewhere in the middle of October and refusing to take anything down until late January. Christmas music playlists are on blast morning to night. Marathons of ridiculously cheesy made-for-TV Christmas movies on channels like Lifetime, Hallmark, or ABC Family are practically a requirement in order to live under our roof.
Meanwhile, there’s me in the corner with a perpetual stinkface on because Christmas music drives me cuckoo-for-cocoa-puffs, I’m 98% sure one of the Santa statues is possessed, and my present-buying wallet is lying somewhere lifeless and cold and in dire need of resuscitation.
Still, even with the grumpy attitude I put on, there are always a few Christmas movies that somehow manage to get me to enjoy them – whether because they appealed to my deeply buried inner romantic, or because they were so unabashedly terrible that I couldn’t help but love every minute. Below are just a few of the movies I saw this year that pulled off this awesome feat. (And if you think this is a long list for someone who’s not too crazy about Christmas, imagine how I felt sitting through the countless duds to get to these “gems”.)
1. A Snow Globe Christmas
Meg, a bah humbug-y TV executive, gets hit on the head with her favorite snow globe. She wakes up in an alternate universe where she married her old college boyfriend, had two adorable children, and everything was pretty much perfect. Perfection doesn’t last, however, because Meg’s continued cynical ways begin to infect the happy-go-lucky world around her, and she needs to choose whether to stay or return to the real world. Alicia Witt and Donald Faison (of Scrubs fame) were what really sold this movie to me. Their chemistry and comedic timing were fantastic, and I spent most of the film snickering into my popcorn/wine over a joke.
Rating: 7 snow globe concussions out of 10
2. Snow Bride
Fake relationships that end up becoming real ones are one of those tropes that I can’t help but have a soft spot for. Here, a spunky tabloid reporter in line for a promotion rushes to get the scoop on a private political family who are described as “the Kennedys of the West Coast.” After accidentally getting snowed in with that same family’s eldest son, she ends up spending Christmas with them and, of course, falls in love. Greta Kaine (Katrina Law) is entertaining as a reporter torn between her growing affection for Ben Tannenhill (Jordan Belfi) and her career, and there are quite a few guffaw-worthy moments which make Snow Bride a cute addition to this list.
Rating: 6 fugly wedding dresses
Melody (Jennie Garth) is a successful big city businesswoman, whose job sends her reluctantly back to her hometown to negotiate a deal for her company. There, Melody comes face to face with her old friends, family, and an old flame for the first time in years – and when a bump on the head transports her to an alternate reality where she stayed in that small town, married her ex-fiancé Carter (Cameron Mathison), and became the owner of a tiny but adorable coffee shop, Melody begins to see her old life in a new light. Holidaze was, surprisingly enough for me, a ridiculously entertaining movie. Melody and Carter have one of those constantly bickering relationships which Mathison and Garth play up to hilarious results.
Rating: 8 trips down a flight of stairs
4. Naughty or Nice
Krissy Kringle (Hilarie Burton) lives on Candy Cane Lane, and she is not at all happy about either of those details. She just got fired from her job and now works at a gift-wrapping booth, her neighbor keeps pestering her to decorate her yard, her long-term boyfriend is almost always absent, and to top it all off, all the Santa letters and packages children drop off in the mail keep clogging up her doorstep. But when one of those packages ends up being Santa’s actual Naughty or Nice list, the temptation to use the book to expose everyone’s misdeeds might be too much for Krissy to handle. The “two sides to every story” moral of this movie was cutely presented, and Krissy and her coworker Marco (Gabriel Tigerman, pictured above) play off each other well to make this a pretty fun watch.
Rating: 7 horribly wrapped Christmas presents
5. A Very Merry Mix-Up
Only watch this movie if you’re not easily offended by extremely contrived plot lines, family “games” that consist of sucking up to everyone around you, or dialogue like “you… are my destiny,” because A Very Merry Mix-Up has all of these things and more.
I’m serious. The cheesiness in this one was so palpable I nearly choked to death on it at least three separate times. Alicia Witt makes a reappearance on this list, this time playing the role of Alice, a woman reluctantly flying to meet her fiance’s parents for the first time, while Mark Wiebe plays Mark, her fake-brother-in-law/love interest. The fact that the two of them fell in love with each other so easily despite thinking they were going to be in-laws made me side-eye them for the entire movie. And are we really supposed to believe Alice spent a good two or three days at that random family’s house, and not once did they call their son to reassure him his fiancée had arrived? Or that there weren’t any recent family pictures anywhere for her to see?
I say this like I didn’t enjoy it, but I did. And not even despite of all these things; I liked this movie because it was so over-the-top ridiculous. Sometimes we need a little extra cheese in our lives.
Rating: 4 poorly made antique clocks
6. Christmas in Conway
This one is a bit of a tearjerker, especially when compared to the other choices on this list. Starring Mandy Moore as Natalie the hospice nurse, Riley Smith as Tommy, a reformed delinquent with a heart of shiny gold, Andy Garcia as Duncan, a grumpy man with a horrible Southern accent, and Mary-Louise Parker as his grievously sick wife Suzy, Christmas in Conway follows the story of a man who tries to build a Ferris wheel in his backyard as a gift for his dying wife, while at the same time coming to terms with her illness. Yeah, it’s that kind of Christmas movie. The portion of the movie that focuses on Natalie and Tommy’s budding relationship is pretty meh; Duncan and Suzy’s relationship definitely take center stage. If you’re strong enough to choke back the tears, spend your Christmas in Conway.
Rating: 5 sadly melting snowmen
7. A Holiday Engagement
Hillary’s (Bonnie Somerville) fiancé calls it off right before the holidays, forcing her to make a life altering decision: go home single and face her momma’s mockery, or hire an actor to pretend to be in love with her. She of course goes for the latter decision, as all well adjusted people do… and it then turns out that she and the actor might have a little more between them than a simple business deal.
Like I said, fake relationships is my favorite trope for these kinds of movies. A Holiday Engagement isn’t reinventing the wheel here or anything, but it’s also not terrible, and Jordan Bridges’ dorkiness is great. Be forewarned: Hillary’s mother is borderline unbearable in her manic attempts to get her daughters hitched before their prospects and their eggs dry up, even at the cost of their own happiness (newsflash, lady, this isn’t the 19th century à la Pride and Prejudice). If you can get past all that, though, it’s not a bad watch.
Rating: 4 lectures from an overbearing mother
8. Christmas Bounty
Tory (Francia Raisa) thought she left her bounty hunting days behind when she moved away from Jersey, became an elementary school teacher, and got engaged to a swanky businessman. But an old bounty of hers has other ideas, escaping from prison with the express purpose of making Tory’s life a living hell.
Good god, this movie was awful. At first, I only stuck around because my brother insisted on watching it until The Miz showed up – yeah, he stars in this shitfest, go figure – but after awhile I legitimately started having fun making fun of everything that was happening onscreen. This is one of those movies that you need to watch buzzed and with a bunch of hilarious friends and/or family, because it makes the whole experience that much better. Christmas Bounty doesn’t quite reach the level of so-bad-it’s-good (more like, so-bad-it’s-mediocre) but you should watch it anyways. Just cause I said so.
Rating: 2 Christmas Jersey weddings
Do you have any favorite cheesy made-for-television Christmas movies? Let us know in the comments!