“Pic for Attention”?
Well sort of, but also sort of relevant! Dane and I were goofing off with this one, which we jokingly call the “White People Almost Kissing Photo.” We started calling it that when we realized that the cover of pretty much every single Nicholas Sparks book or film has a “White People Almost Kissing” image on the front. (The “almost,” part is important; people in the act of actually kissing tend to have unattractively squished noses.)
And you know what else usually has a cover with people *almost* kissing and follows some pretty consistent formulas? Sappy Christmas Movies. In particular, I’m talking about the uber romantic ones you might find on the Hallmark Channel or, over the last couple of years, on Netflix.
These are the movies that swallow up your suspensions of disbelief and recompense them with warm fuzzies. They’re getting married even though they met last week? Sure. He was able to dodge airport security because he loves her? Of course! The millennial barista makes enough money to afford THAT apartment? Why not?
Whether you love them or make fun of them (or both), the Sappy Christmas Movie is a staple of December. It’s safe enough to have on with the kids in the room, mindless enough to not get confused by the plot if you are watching it while doing some holiday baking or wrapping, and sappy enough to give a cozy feeling that we all especially enjoy this time of year.
From what I can tell, there are a few rules to the Sappy Christmas Movie formula:
- Usually there are a few standard character types to choose from for the male/female characters.
- Also, the storyline will STRONGLY remind you of two or three well-known movies without being an exact copy of any of them.
- Obviously, despite some standard obstacles, the two main characters fall in love.
- This MUST happen at Christmas, preferably in a small town. If you don’t like small towns, New York City is also acceptable. Or the North Pole. Or a tiny European country that kind of rhymes with “Genovia.” You get the gist.
In honor of this much-beloved seasonal staple, I wanted to create a challenge/game for those of us who love (and love to make fun of) the Sappy Christmas Movie. I’m going to give you some categories and suggestions/ideas to get you started, and there are a few funny (okay, not standard) options in there, just to keep in interesting. After you come up with something for each category (use my ideas or not), go ahead and write a short (paragraph-ish) summary of your Sappy Christmas Movie! I’ll write mine tomorrow, but in the meantime I’d love to read yours…so post it in a comment! The sillier, the better.
Sappy Christmas Movie Formula
2 Overused Character Types/ Unlikely Match + 2 Other Movie Plots Smushed Together +Christmas+ Idyllic Setting= SCM SUCCESS
2-3 Standard Character Types
- The lonely single mom/dad
- The party girl/guy
- The workaholic
- The former workaholic who has recently lost it all and having an identity crisis
- The person who has forgotten their family and friends
- A combination of any of the last three (basically Scrooge)
- The Manic Pixie Dream girl of Christmas
- Charming Smalltown Shop Owner
- Charming Smalltown Farm Owner
- Charming Smalltown enthusiast of any kind
- Big City writer/reporter
- Charming Big City business owner
- Santa’s child/grandchild
- An unhappy princess/prince
- A lawyer having a moral crisis
1-2 Scenic Location (s)–There is an option for 2 locations in case one person has to chase after a romantic interest halfway through story
- A Farm (the deep south, the midwest, the pacific northwest)
- A Christmas-loving town in Anywhere, USA
- Some small, European country that is undefinable but where everyone speaks English
- The Jungle
- A Resort/Amusement Park
2 Hit Movies “Borrow” Plot Devices From
Ideas: Usually these are romantic comedies, but I’m also gonna throw some randoms and beg you to make them work! 🙂
- The Holiday
- 500 Days of Summer
- The Wedding Planner
- A Roman Holiday
- The Princess Diaries
- The Prince and Me
- Mrs. Doubtfire
- Jurassic Park
- James Bond
- Mary Poppins
- Kate and Leopold
- A Christmas Carol
- It’s a Wonderful Life
- The Fifth Element
- Pride and Prejudice
- The Prince and the Pauper
1 “Unexpected” Roadblocks to Romance
- Emotional walls refuse to budge because of a breakup/ loss of loved one
- One character’s DARK SECRET is revealed (AKA they were a jerk until this point in time, they are lying about their career/identity, they are secretly writing a story about the love interest, or they actually have super powers)
- One person has to move far away because of an opportunity that has been a lifelong dream.
1 Christmas Theme /Symbol/Trope
- Redemption ala Scrooge or the Grinch
- Realization of a Lifelong Dream (inspired by Christmas)
- Snow as a Magical Entity
- Tis Better to Give Than Receive
- Christmas Eve is a time when Wishes Come True
- At Christmas You Realize You are Where You Are Supposed to Be
- Stuck reliving Christmas Day Multiple Times
- Kissing a Stranger Under the Mistletoe