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9 Dec 2014

CHRISTMAS MOVIES - The Rules

Film genres have formulas and rules, but how well do films follow those formulas?  Let's look at the Christmas film...


It's that time of year, and I thought as a bit of fun I'd do rules for Christmas films.  This isn't just films set at Christmas or Christmas horror films (like Silent Night, Deadly Night or Die Hard or Gremlins) but rather films about Christmas.


RULE #1

CHARACTERS

"I realize that when I met you at the turkey curry buffet, I was unforgivably rude, and wearing a reindeer jumper." ~ Mark Darcy, Bridget Jones' Diary.

A few of the following will appear (especially as secondary characters):
  • Someone Who Hates Christmas - or at the very least dislikes it (or family) and probably not too happy with their life.
  • Someone Who Inflicts Christmas Cheer on Others - the natural opposite of the person who hates Christmas.
  • Precocious Kids - because there's never any other kind.
  • A Bullied Kid - (or just sad).
  • Silver-haired jovial old person - in thick woolly jumpers or sweaters.
  • Someone with a secret - possibly an illness or closeted homosexuality.
  • Stressed Young Female - Having to impress mother (in-law) for first Christmas.
  • The Single - Either happily single and hassled by family because of it, or desperate for a relationship.  There is no in-between.
  • Someone Career Obsessed - Who is missing the true meaning of Christmas while they are on the phone.
  • Grumpy Old (usually) Man - Usually with a past Christmas tragedy.
  • Sassy Old (usually) Woman.
  • An Inappropriate Santa Impersonator - usually a drunk.

RULE #2

SEX & NUDITY

"So, son, what would you like for Christmas, huh?" ~ Santa Claus.
"Did you fuck my mom?" ~ Charlie Kelly.
"...What?" ~ Santa.
"Did you FUCK... my MOM?" ~ Charlie, "A Very Sunny Christmas," It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.


No sex or nudity.  Because this is family entertainment.

RULE #3

PLOTS

"The real Santa was totally different. The Coca-Cola Santa is just a hoax." ~ Pietari Kontio, Rare Exports: A Christmas Story.

Mostly a simple "home for the holidays" family gathering.
Santa may be real:
  • Someone will replace him for at least part of his journey.
  • Santa (or his replacement) will have difficulty convincing people (especially authorities) that he is real.
  • There may be a crazy old man, who claims to be Santa, but clearly isn't... however (see Santa is Real Rule 9)
  • An elf, reindeer or snowman may be a magical stand-in for Santa.
  • There may be an active Anti-Santa.
    Classic Christmas stories may be copied homaged:
    • The Nativity.
    • A Christmas Carol - either a specific adaptation or a new scrooge.
    • O' Henry's Gift of the Magi.
    • How the Grinch Stole Christmas.


    RULE #4

    GENRE

    "All right, listen up guys. 'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except... the four assholes coming in the rear in standard two-by-two cover formation." ~ Theo, Die Hard.

    A variety of genres:
    • Straight comedy.
    • Bitter-sweet family drama-comedy.
    • Animated fantasy (or puppets/muppets).
    • Bible retelling.


    RULE #5

    EXPECTED EVENTS

    "Chloe, just run the name by me one more time...because I must be missing something.  I'm going nuts.  I've been through the store three times." ~ Harry.
    "Cyber Agent. C-Y-B-E- Why don't you ask an employee or something?" ~ Chloe.
    "No, they're all busy.  "Protocop, protector of man."  Is that it? Protocop? He protects men." ~ Harry, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

    One or more of the following will occur:
    • Ugly Christmas sweaters forced upon people.
    • Pulling Santa's beard - either a fake Santa leading to screaming children or real leading to screaming Santa.
    • Carolers are annoying and will be universally hated.  Spontaneous singing of jingles will be accepted.  There will also be a Christmas jingle over the opening or closing the credits.
    • Some kind of competition: Christmas lights, baking, family games, etc.
    • Mistletoe: inflicted by or on the Single.

    RULE #6

    UNEXPECTED DIFFICULTIES

    "He was dressed in a Santa Claus suit.  He'd been climbing down the chimney... his arms loaded with presents.  He was gonna surprise us.  He slipped and broke his neck.  He died instantly.  And that's how I found out there was no Santa Claus." ~ Kate Beringer, Gremlins.

    The following simple things are difficult, often comically so:
    • Putting up Christmas lights.
    • Not walking out after a fight with family.
    • Last minute gift purchasing.
    • Wrapping presents.
    • Assembling Christmas gifts.
    • Cooking.
    • Attempts to get home for Christmas.
    • Even a getting and putting up a Christmas tree can lead to disaster.


    RULE #7

    RELIGION

    "Christmas is a very special time of year, but... this year it almost didn't happen. There's a man named Jesus who gave his life to save me. And so I declare that every year on Christmas Day. we should remember Jesus for what he did, and thank him for it. From now on, Christmas will be a day for remembering a brave man named Jesus." ~ Santa, "Red Sleigh Down," South Park.


    Unless it's a retelling of the Navitity (or a child is appearing in a Nativity play) religion is best avoided, unless it's to accept non-Christians into the celebration.  There may be a possibly an annoying overly religious person who can be happily ignored.  There may be angels.

    RULE #8

    ENDING

    "It's Beth. She says go and look outside." ~ Jackie Tyler.
    "Why?" ~ Rose Tyler.
    "I don't know, just go outside and look. Come on, shift!" ~ Jackie.
    "Oh, it's beautiful. What are they, meteors? ~ Rose.
    "It's the spaceship breaking up in the atmosphere. This isn't snow, it's ash." ~ The Doctor.
    "Okay, not so beautiful." Rose, Doctor Who "The Christmas Invasion."

    At least one of the following will happen:
    • Snow:  It will snow, even if it's not likely/possible for the location.
    • Grump-No-More:  Could be a central (especially Scrooge) or a side-character, who was a grump the entire film will be have a change of heart and show kindness.
    • Santa is Real:  There will be some hint or suggestion that Santa is real after all.  (Mysterious sleigh bells, specific references to childhood gifts or unexplained gifts).
    • The Unexpected Extra Guest:  A homeless person, grump or helper will be welcomed into the family.
    • Wisdom From an Unexpected Source:  from the mouth of babes or crazy old people.
    • The Single Will Find Love usually from an unexpected source.

    RULE #9

    HAPPY ENDING

    "Aw, come on, Dad, this could be the miracle that saves the Simpsons' Christmas. If TV has taught me anything, it's that miracles always happen to poor kids at Christmas. It happened to Tiny Tim, it happened to Charlie Brown, it happened to The Smurfs, and it's gonna happen to us!" ~ Bart Simpson.

    "Oh, all right. Who's Tiny Tim?" ~ Homer Simpson, The Simpsons "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire"

    Will have a sickly sweet ending with a "The True Meaning of Christmas" message - especially:
    • Family is the most important thing.
    • Miracles are real.
    • It's the thought that counts.


    RULE #10

     SEQUELS

    "A sequel. That’s it. We’ll bring it out on March 25, and we’ll call it … Christmas 2!" ~ BZ, Santa Claus: The Movie.

      Probably won't have a sequel.  Although films not about Christmas but set at Christmas often do.  Actually more likely to be a sequel to a non-Christmas film.


      THE FILMS

      Unlike the previous rules, this one I'm not going to create a list for, but rather see what comes up each year.


      List your favourite films about Christmas (not just set at Christmas) in the comments below...



      ~ DUG.


      2 comments:

      1. Oh boy oh boy oh boy! Ummmm . . . Love Actually (not a favorite but as I was reading I saw a rule it broke so why not, right?) . . . A Christmas Story . . . Elf . . . I'll stop there. This is going to be fun!!!

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        Replies
        1. Love Actually - good choice because I can revisit the Rom Com rules, too, and I think that one would give weird results.
          A Christmas Story - I love it but I haven't seen it for so long.
          Elf - see here next week... (and yesterday for Manic Pixie Dream Girls)

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