Made-for-TV Christmas movies hit that next level of naff that you can't help but admire the gall to commit to such sickly sweet sentimentality
For some reason, in the realm of really terrible rom-coms, Christmas rom-coms really are the lowest ebb. Something about the sentimentality of the season coupled with the mushiness makes filmmakers (or, let’s be honest, studios) think they can just go that extra mile. We’re not just talking it starts snowing as the very-white, very-hetero leads finally kiss. Oh no. I mean you can tell from the one-line description on Netflix exactly how it’s going to end. They even use the climactic scene as the poster – there is precisely zero shame in made-for-TV Christmas movies.
Which is probably why I love them. I am someone who deeply feels another person’s embarrassment (I can’t watch The Late Late Toy Show because I can just envision each clip playing at the poor child’s 21st, his wedding, and it’ll probably even get a shout-out in his eulogy… got dark there, sorry), but I can watch these movies without flinching. Because everyone, those who wrote them and acted in them and edited them, know they’re bad. Terrible even.
So are there any good-bad Christmas movies? Well yes and no, if you’re expecting any kind of decent scripting or suspense then all of these are just bad-bad. But if you’re here for festive living rooms, strangers deciding to sincerely kiss under the mistletoe, Christmas songs and plenty of red and green, then all of these you’ll love.
Holiday in the Wild
I’d love to say that this is Rob Lowe’s worst Christmas film, but sadly it is not. That award goes undoubtedly to Christmas Shoes, which, if you’ve heard the saddest Christmas song in the world by the same name, you’ll know is about a young boy who wants to buy a pair of Christmas shoes for his dying mother. Yeah, they went and made a Christmas movie out of it.
I digress. Kristin Davis (Charlotte from Sex and the City) goes on her second honeymoon in Zambia along after her husband abruptly dumps her. She ends up putting her long-lapsed veterinary degree to use in an elephant sanctuary and decides she wants to stay put for “Christmas in Africa”. Yes, she’s very vague on her geography.
Single All The Way
This is straight-to-TV gold. Two gay best friends who live together pretend to be a couple for the holidays to satisfy their meddling family. Surprisingly, the ruse doesn’t go the way you expect but it still ends the way you expect. But who cares! It’s fun and sweet and stars Jennifer Coolidge – yes, yes, and yes.
For me this might actually be an example of one that really is so bad it’s good. When I say good, I mean it’s festive and sweet and you know exactly how it’ll end but I enjoyed the journey nonetheless.
A spoiled young woman set to inherit her family’s big-city toy business is tasked with delivering her father’s Christmas letters to her uncle in the very festive town of Snow Falls. A snowstorm leaves her trapped as she bickers with the handsome manager, played by Jake Lacy.
This is another one I would say is making the very sweet Christmas sentiment work. Don’t get me wrong, still very much of the straight-to-TV ilk but it’s a lovely, family-orientated watch and does a good job of grappling with the overly commercial angle of Christmas.
A widowed father of four is suddenly let go from his radio job and has to figure out how he’s going to keep his show alive. To do that, he’ll have to trim down his family’s lifestyle, which doesn’t exactly thrill his kids.