Are Hallmark Christmas Movies Good or Bad?
December 20, 2020
Hallmark Christmas movies are a hallmark of the holiday season. These cheesy Christmas movies are usually romantic comedies and follow similar plots to each other. Opinions about these movies are much more varied than the movies themselves, so here are two different takes on these seasonal movies.
Hallmark Movies Offer Comfort and Joy
Movies are meant to make us feel. The emotions that movies elicit aren’t always good, like Joker, where people reported feeling depressed afterward. Movies also don’t always do the best job of eliciting the right emotion or any at all, like a bad thriller that makes you fall asleep, but Hallmark movies regularly achieve this goal. Hallmark movies are far from the pinnacle of film making; usually, the acting isn’t great, the dialogue is cheesy and the story is full of tropes, but there’s something about these cheesy dumb movies that make you feel great.
Almost all of them are romances, and usually, they have that “happily ever after” ending. Many of them include a small theme of the magic of Christmas or holiday magic. This all paints an idealistic view of the world and relationships that we often don’t see in movies and in life. A 24-hour news cycle and social media algorithms have tricked us into thinking that the bad stuff is the only stuff that exists. Hallmark movies are this little slice of paradise, without a pandemic or any of the toxic politics that seems to infect everything that happens, to remind us that there is good in the world.
There is also something comforting about these movies. Knowing what’s going to happen next makes the movie seem more familiar. Every main character is a walking, talking copy of the main character in another Hallmark movie. Sometimes they even copy the plot of an older movie and just update it with some newer graphics or make it a little more current. The familiarity that we have with this movie is a part of its attraction. There aren’t any surprises. In two of the new holiday movies, a career-driven woman bumps into some slow-moving man who convinces her to slow down, and eventually they fall in love. It’s a formula. Also, usually there are holiday-themed names, lots of snow and lots of wreaths. We know what is going to happen the second the characters appear on screen. It is a comfort, actually, the predictability allowing us to relax, unafraid of any surprises happening.
The other great thing about Hallmark movies is that they are cheap. With a budget of about $2 million, the return for Hallmark is big, allowing them to make many more of these movies. In 2016 Hallmark made 33 Christmas movies and made about $390 million. There are a lot of movies and plenty of time to watch them around the holidays. This makes Hallmark movies an iconic part of the holiday season.
Hallmark Movies Are Monotonous And Improbable
I recorded two Hallmark Christmas movies on my DVR: Reunited at Christmas and Enchanted Christmas.
After sitting through an hour and 25 minutes’ worth of forgettable characters, clichéd dialogue and an almost unbearably boring plot with Reunited at Christmas, I knew that watching the other movie was out of the question. The main issue with Hallmark Christmas movies? Every movie is practically identical – and none of them are good.
Christmas movies are meant to make viewers feel something. Hallmark Christmas movies, on the other hand, are so bland and predictable that it is hard to feel anything at all.
Each movie has the same plot: a girl from a small town moves to the city, finds a guy she likes, has some family drama, then everything works out in the end with the classic “happily ever after,” all thanks to the Christmas spirit. This makes it immensely difficult to feel anything for any of the characters or become invested in the plot. It is like trying to finish a book to which someone has already spoiled the ending.
Adding to the blandness, it feels almost as if the families in these movies aren’t real, like they are straight out of a Land’s End catalogue. Nearly every movie stars an upper-middle class white family. There is no diversity in terms of race or character personality, as Hallmark could not even bother to try and give every identical blonde-haired, blue-eyed star a different set of lines.
Typically, the stars themselves are memorable only for the annoyance they cause the viewer during the movie. Whether they are immature, spoiled or just plain dumb, they often have nothing to contribute to the meaning of the movie- despite being the main character.
Speaking of the “meaning of the movie,” Hallmark Christmas movies almost always have the same message: true love and a little Christmas spirit will fix anything and everything. While this may sound sweet on the surface, it becomes old very quickly. Parents who have gotten a divorce. A girl who breaks off an engagement with her fiancé. These serious family conflicts are almost always magically solved thanks to the Christmas spirit. It is incredibly unrealistic, and for those who are genuinely going through a difficult time with their family during Christmas, it could almost be insulting.
Hallmark Christmas movies are simply unremarkable in every way. With the lackluster acting, poorly written dialogue and characters and plots which are reminiscent of the cheesy romance novels you find at the dollar store, they are not worth the hour and a half you would be sacrificing.