What screams the Christmas season more than snuggling on the couch with a blanket, a cup of hot chocolate in your hands and a Hallmark Christmas movie with an ending you predicted 60 seconds into watching? Hallmark movies, whether you love them or hate them, are ubiquitous around the holidays.
Most of the films introduce an ambitious girl or guy who is robotically going through the motions of their lives and secretly craving a more meaningful existence. These characters, more often than not, are modeled after Ebenezer Scrooge, and they have their hearts buried far below their designer clothes.
But then, in walks someone who can enlighten them and help them see how beautiful the Christmas season truly is, a season when everyone can have a second chance and experience the miracle of Christmas all year long.
Ninety minutes later, the resistant Scrooge doppelgänger lets their guard down and allows the optimistic, lovable person, whom they at first denied their feelings for, to rid them of their materialistic ways and remind them to appreciate the family and friends they forgot about for the last decade. Most of the time, the romantic interest is an ex or an old best friend who reminds the person of how wonderful their lives would be if they just took a moment to look around them.
Such a message is a great one — that is, if the plot lines weren’t so nauseatingly ideal. I find myself laughing hysterically almost every time I watch Hallmark movies because the dialogue between the characters is often just as heartwarming as it is monotonous. “Oh, now I know the true meaning of Christmas! Thank you for bringing it back into my life,” the protagonist (more often than not, Candace Cameron Bure) will say to her new love just before they share a kiss.
Being someone who loves to watch a movie that made me consider the meaning of life, I am guilty of writing an alternate ending to many Hallmark movies as I watch them. Yet, my mother and a few of my friends somehow manage to convince me to join them in watching nearly every time they are on. Clearly, something about Hallmark movies resonates with me, no matter how much I roll my eyes.
The world is a bleak place, where tragic events happen on a daily basis. Where can hope come from when everything around you seems to be terrible? It cannot always come from positive mantras and vows to be happy. Rather, you need an outlet, a time to free yourself from reality, and Hallmark movies can be that outlet.
On the day after Thanksgiving, I, as usual, rolled my eyes when I saw that my mother was watching a Hallmark movie. This particular one was a new edition to my Hallmark repertoire, a film called “Christmas Homecoming.” I began my usual routine of laughing hysterically at some of their corny lines and obvious sequences, predicting the ending and recreating the ending before even watching it. Yet, I found myself pausing at one point and rooting for the inevitable happy ending.
The story was centered around the widow of a military husband who, as a struggling museum curator, finds she has no choice but to rent out her empty apartment, which is just steps away from her house. Her rapid decision to accept a stranger as her tenant struck me as not only crazy but also quite lucky that he was not one of the crazed serial killers featured on “20/20.” It was almost too predictable that the man became her love interest. The new tenant, coincidentally enough, had just returned from serving in Afghanistan, where he sustained a leg injury in battle and actually knew the protagonist’s husband.
This movie in particular gave audiences a story everyone would want to come true. From out of the tragedy comes a love story that people would want to result after a period of sadness. Of course, the seamlessness and ease with which Captain Jim Mullins can adapt to Amanda’s family is far-fetched, but yet, such a happy ending was rightful. Amanda’s sister invites Jim to their family party, where her father, perhaps intuitively, befriends him and insists he call him by his first name. And just like that, he fits right in with the group.
Amanda and Jim bond more when they work together to save the military museum where Amanda is the curator. Their chemistry and ability to cooperate is evident. Ultimately, the hesitant Amanda realizes her tenant is the right guy for her, and despite Jim’s conflicts about returning to the military, the two of them run off into the sunset.
After watching this particular movie, I realized what the love/hate relationship and worldwide fascination with Hallmark movies truly is. It creates the resolutions to tragedies and everyday problems everyone wishes they could see and experience for themselves. Sad things are bound to happen. Yet, Hallmark acknowledges sadness and then creates the kind of ending people really want to see.
Hallmark movies will always be described as corny and predictable. Such movies are needed, though, in the bustling, somber and also beautiful world we call home.