Dear readers, do you know the extensive, and yet, non-exhaustive, research I’ve been knee deep in for the past two weeks? If you follow me on Twitter, you might. Having made it to December 7 with no Elf on the Shelf hidden, no Christmas cards written, nor a single stocking hung by the chimney with care, I realized I needed to get in the Christmas spirit. What better way than through the scads of cheesy movies at my fingertips on Netflix? If you’re not familiar with this intensely underrated genre, look here for a quick refresher. I watched one per night, each night, for 12 nights. It was a tiresome, and thankless job, dear readers, but someone had to do it. And now, in a wordy, some might say rambling, post, I present to you my definitive (at least until next year) list of made for TV Christmas movies.
1. 12 Dates of Christmas – In which Zack Morris and Amy Smart (Kate) are set up on a blind date. Who is Amy Smart? She seems like someone I should know, but a lot of IMDB-ing later, in fact, I do not. Surely she was a young guest star on Full House, Step by Step, Boy Meets World, or the like? I digress. Kate is all set to go on a blind date with Zack in the evening. On her way there, she is knocked flat on her back in the middle of a department store, and spritzed back to life by a friendly cosmetics saleslady. Thank goodness. Kate continues to go about her day, completely botching the date, among other things, and ends up at home in her childhood bed at her dad’s house. And when the clock strikes midnight, a ruby red eye of a partridge-in-a-pear-tree glows and the clock winds back to yesterday. x12. Until she gets the day exactly right. Side note: Does anyone remember this made for TV movie? Talk about a classic. By the end of the flick, everyone has come together, and Zack and Amy have the fighting chance they deserve.
2. A Christmas Kiss – Remember when Dan makes out with that teacher in season 2 of Gossip Girl? She is now called Wendy, and she gallivants around town looking like this:
Wendy is off to girls night, when she finds herself in an elevator with Adam, who is no doubt the man of her dreams. In the time it takes them to ride up a couple of floors, they’ve already made out. Wendy promptly dashes off the elevator, no doubt so she can run and confess to her friends that she has just had, “The type of kiss that, years from now when I am suffering from dementia and drooling in my jell-o – I will be thinking about that kiss.” Yes, dear readers, that type of kiss kiss. Wendy blurts out that she hasn’t given him her name, number, or Twitter handle, preferring instead to leave their next encounter to fate. Don’t worry guys, fate is close at hand here. In fact, we quickly learn that Adam is none other than Wendy’s bitchy boss’s boyfriend. And, surprise, he is also their new client. They are to make decorating his house for Christmas their number one priority, and Wendy must commence spending what will no doubt feel like every waking hour with him. They’ll quote Shakespeare at each other, look through Wendy’s goodie basket, and we’ll try to determine whether Adam is feeling knots or butterflies in his stomach over her. Thank goodness for his older gentleman friend who can spell it out for him. They proceed to spend the next hour of the movie together, realizing their true love. We have to get rid of the current girlfriend, of course, and Wendy’s friends gather to support her with encouragement like, “You rock, she sucks.” You go, Wendy.
3. The Mistle-tones! – Exclamation point not optional! In this ABC Family gem, Tia or Tamera follows her heart, and the advice of a light-up sign at the mall, and competes against the Snow-belles, a female (seemingly 40+) group who has commandeered the local mall’s Christmas Eve performance circuit for years.
It might be someone’s idea of what happens when the Barden Bellas alumni group gets together at the holidays. I have no idea what makes a Christmas movie likeable or not, but this one, with lines like, “Is someone going to tell me why I’m caroling in the crapper?” misses the mark. It needs a serious hit of Lea Michele and Mr. Schu.
4. Chalet Girl – If The Mistle-tones! was a mild flop, Chalet Girl was a complete disaster, save for some jokes that sound better with British accents + Chuck Bass. Not strictly a Christmas flick, this one is more winter-themed. Chuck plays a loaded British gentleman, thus distinguishing him from his infamous role on Gossip Girl. But instead of finding British Blair Waldorf, he falls for the chalet girl, who has taken a job to put food on the table for herself and her ailing father. You can figure out what happens in the ensuing hour and a half, but I will leave you with my favorite line:
5. Meet Me in St. Louis – This is most certainly not made-for-TV fare, but it is a Christmas movie that I watched on one of the days. It is such a classic, and I can’t watch Judy Garland sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” without ugly crying. Here:
6. Happy Christmas – That Anna Kendrick flick Netflix has been trying to get you to watch. I got a whopping 11 minutes into it before I could no longer stomach Lena Dunham, and turned it off. Which is great because I had skipped a day when I had plans and couldn’t fit a movie in, and we’ll just count this one for that day. Bam! Caught up on my Christmas movies.
7. Holiday in Handcuffs – After a couple of duds, I got back on track with Holiday in Handcuffs. Clarissa grew up, and she turned into Trudie Chandler, outfits and all.
Trudie is a mess, and she’s trying to get her life in order. And if that means kidnapping Mario Lopez so he can pose as her boyfriend for Christmas, then so be it. Trudie has to hurriedly explain to her family that Mario may try to escape, but that’s just what he does when he’s nervous. She wins him over slowly, with her charm and always-unique style.
8. Christmas Cupid – I confess that this was the best movie I barely watched. I checked out of Chalet Girl early on because I could tell how terrible it was. Christmas Cupid wasn’t terrible, but I checked out of this one because I had Christmas cards that weren’t going to address themselves. I spent most of this movie looking up addresses, and putting stamps on envelopes. In the meantime, the ghost of one of the Pretty Little Liars (no, not A) taught Christina Milian a thing or two about how not to be a jerk.
9. Christmas Bounty – The one that proved there is no possible way to predict when you’ll happen upon an amazing Christmas movie, but you can always tell within the first 3 minutes. The one that brought me back around after so many “meh” reviews. Christmas Bounty takes place in an (if possible) over-exaggerated Jersey suburb, and features, guess what? Bounty hunters! And The Miz! Like, Real World to WWE Miz.
I managed to follow the plot just fine, considering I am someone without a true grasp on what the deal with bounty hunters is. Anyway, some girl has to reunite with her family and The Miz to go on just one more hunt. And she solves the case, in true Legally Blonde fashion, by figuring out when a wedding is taking place based on when the huntee had her last spray tan. And now that I think about awesome movies of the early 2000s, the final showdown is almost Miss Congeniality-esque in its upset of a giant ceremony. Aside from taking place in December, I’m not sure how this movie relates to Christmas, but I am sure it’s a great way to teach girls to be who they really are, especially if that’s a Jersey-Trash bounty hunter.
10. Snowglobe – It’s Enchanted 2.0, Christmas Edition, complete with hot dog eating on a date in New York, and graciously accepting kindness from a homeless man. And it’s okay that there’s now “How Do You Know” because this movie has Britney Spears’ “Santa Can You Hear Me?” and Hanson’s “What Christmas Means to Me.” Now would be a good time to pause and reflect on the soundtracks these made for TV Christmas movies feature. Quite simply, they are unparalleled. But back to the movie.