December approaches. The music gets cheesy. The traditions get tacky. The movies get downright terrible.
There’s something about Christmas that makes people put up with things they normally wouldn’t put up with. Like lines, and ignorant relatives. In this case, it’s clichéd storylines and horrific acting, and it’s all in the name of holiday cheer. But there has to be some quality--even in a subgenre with so many flops . That’s why I cuddled up with some tea and my pink sheepy pajama pants and scoured the internet for some lesser-known (yet truly redeeming) Christmas Romcoms.
A man and a woman have a chance meeting and instantly feel a connection, but decide to leave it up to fate to reunite them. With a summary like that, there’s no possible way this movie could lead to anything but ninety straight minutes of boredom and wincing. Right?
Wrong. This film turned out to be a diamond in the endless coal pile that is poorly executed Christmas cinema. Granted, only the beginning and end take place during the holidays, but the dialogue is smart, the acting is solid, the storyline is adorable, the soundtrack is phenomenal, and also if you don’t like John Cusack, you’re a sociopath.
Love at the Christmas Table (2012):
A boy and a girl who have known each other all of their lives meet up once a year at the same annual Christmas party. The trailer is bad. The name is worse. The fact that this is a Lifetime made-for-TV movie—I know. Batting a thousand here.
But this one really did surprise. If you’re willing to look past the perpetual heartfelt piano music and the first five minutes (during which, for some reason, the acting is as bad as it’ll be all movie) this one has a whole handful of redeeming qualities. The writing is quick and witty. The characters are surprisingly well flushed-out, and there’s something very romantic about the whole grew-up-together dynamic. Yes, the ending is ridiculously over the top, but it wouldn’t be a Lifetime movie without it. Ultimately, a festive winner that won’t make you want to smack your head against things.
The Family Stone (2005):
A man brings his soon to be fiancée home to meet his rough-around-the-edges family, but her uptight ways don’t quite fit in, and she soon finds herself falling for someone else. At first glance, this movie has all the makings of a stereotypically bad holiday film: mismatched couples, a fight set to a Christmas instrumental, and one (fifteen) too many turtlenecks.
Nonetheless, I’m so glad I watched this. It’s a cast of genuinely great actors, which is a rare find in the world of holiday romcoms. Rather than the sugary-sweet (and very fake) family dynamics that we often see, this family is downright, beautifully dysfunctional, and all the more lovable because of it. If you’re tired of all the fluff and looking for a movie with some depth, definitely watch this one.