Thursday, November 29, 2007

Heartwarming Holiday Movies

I've thought of another reason I loved the movie Enchanted: buried inside all the Disney stuff is an old-fashioned romantic comedy. It's the classic stuffed-shirt meets free spirit plot, a la Bringing Up Baby, and while I may not swoon over McDreamy (I was a teenager in the 80s, so I'm afraid Patrick Dempsey is forever branded with the dork image in my brain, plus, his voice is kind of squeaky), his character at least was an adult man. Too much of what's being sold as "romantic comedy" these days, as forced on us by the Frat Pack, involves overgrown, infantile adolescents with a bad case of Peter Pan syndrome, with the woman in the story being the bad guy for insisting that these guys grow up. There seems to be a bad either/or idea, that you can either be adult or be fun, but once you're an adult, you've become one of "them" and are no longer fun. While I can sort of deal with that with teenagers or maybe even very early 20-somethings, when the characters are approaching 30 and older, I really want to tell them to grow up and be men. In Enchanted, the guy was an adult with a career, he was a responsible father, and he wore adult clothes. While he did need to learn to loosen up, it was more about allowing himself to be more spontaneous and emotionally available, which is not the same as being immature. It was all about him finding balance in his life and not losing sight of childlike wonder, while still remaining an adult. So, while I'm still not going to swoon over him, if Patrick Dempsey becoming the go-to romantic comedy guy means we might get romantic comedies about grown-ups instead of 40-year-old teenagers clinging to their youth, then I'll become his biggest cheerleader.

Speaking of romantic comedies and partially inspired by the fact that my dentist's office is playing the radio station that went to 24-hour Christmas music on November 1, so that throughout a cleaning yesterday I found myself tempted to ask them to turn on the drill to drown out all the mediocre pop stars' attempts at putting their personal stamps on Christmas classics ... I've been thinking about the so-called heartwarming holiday movies that sprout up at this time of year. I'm sure you know the type that infest the Hallmark channel, Lifetime, Oxygen and the Family Channel. In case you can't get enough of these, I offer you the handy-dandy Create Your Own Heartwarming Holiday Movie kit. Just pick one option for each category.

Main character:
Struggling (possibly heartbroken) single mom with adorable moppet
Struggling (possibly heartbroken) single dad with adorable moppet
Single man or woman

Main character's situation:
Moving to new town to start over
Moving back to home town to recover and start over after some tragedy
En route to new place
In hometown, has never tried to leave, but someone else comes to town and shakes things up

Main character's attitude toward Christmas:
Loves Christmas and wants to go all-out in enjoying the season
Loves Christmas, but current circumstances (finances, lack of nearby family) mean Christmas won't be the same this year
Hates Christmas because of past tragedy

Romantic interest:
Single parent of opposite sex from main character (if main character is also single parent, adorable moppets might team up to bring parents together)
Single person of opposite sex from main character who holds opposite view on Christmas
Single person who holds similar views on Christmas, in contrast to the rest of the community
(If story involves moving back to hometown) Old flame or first love of main character. If main character is single mom, this guy is likely the secret baby daddy of adorable moppet

Obligatory older character:
Crotchety old man or woman who hates Christmas and children, but whose heart will be softened and warmed by main character and/or adorable moppet
Sweet old man or woman who will help heal the main character's emotional wounds and become surrogate grandparent
Jolly old man with white beard who manages to solve everyone's problems before mysteriously vanishing on Christmas Eve

Main plot:
Main character heals emotional wounds of romantic interest and/or older character, bringing Christmas joy to all
Main character has emotional wounds healed by romantic interest and learns to love Christmas again
Something threatens town's Christmas celebration and main character must save the day

Final scene:
It starts to snow just as all the problems are resolved. There are no other options here.

There, I've pretty much taken care of the entire December lineup for Hallmark, Oxygen, Lifetime and the Family Channel, not to mention at least one CBS Sunday night. Anyone want to share your results? (Creative embellishment encouraged)

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