So how many Christmas movie plots are there really? As my wife watches all the Hallmark/ABC Family/etc. I realize there may only be three (this doesn’t include animated specials). Let’s see:
1. A Christmas Carol – Remade dozens of times, starring Captain Picard, starring Alistair Sim, starring Muppets, starring Mickey, starring Bill Murray, sort of starring Jim Carrey, if you are in Hollywood, chances are at some point in your career you will be in some version of this story. The folks that make the ‘made for TV’ versions love to try and out-Scrooge Scrooged and update the story/make it funnier.
2. Santa has a family! – This category started out innocently enough, with Mrs. Santa Claus, but went off the rails quick once the holiday movie factory channels got a hold of it. Examples include two Santa Baby movies with Jenny McCarthy, and some number of Steve Guttenberg/Crystal Bernard vehicles where Santa’s kid has to find a wife so he can take over the family business. These often include some drama with keeping Santa’s secret safe, at least until the person who might find out is ‘ready’. Big budget Hollywood has taken a few cracks at this one with some success, Fred Claus (which is pretty solid, includes a scene where Santa’s bro is in therapy with other siblings of famous people such as Frank Stallone and Stephen Baldwin), and Arthur Christmas, a 3D animated feature from the folks at Aardman.
3. Angels are Meddlesome – Seems like there are whole fleets of angels around, trying to get couples back together, restoring Christmas spirit, and generally just being meddlesome. Whether or not they are actually called ‘angels’ in the movie probably depends on how religious the filmmakers are. Much like the ‘A Christmas Carol’ category, many of these try to ape the ‘I wish I had never been born’ aspect of It’s a Wonderful Life, but there are a lot more variations.
That pretty much covers 95% of Christmas movies. The ones that don’t fit are usually classics, or genre-bending works like The Nightmare Before Christmas. Something else to watch for, though is the fake Christmas movie. If there’s no Santa, no elves, no angels, no magic, just snow and ice and mistletoe, sorry guys, your wife/significant other tricked you into watching a romance movie. I authorize you to declare Die Hard a Christmas movie in retaliation.