Christmas comedies are a weird sub-genre. More than even romantic comedies, they require severe emotional hooks and traditional plot lines to work. Audiences expect familiar character types, themes, and even morals hit over and over and over again. Even Christmas movies with entirely different plots, settings, and actors often have the same joke, as in both Jingle All The Way and The Santa Clause’s opinion-changing reindeer flatulence bits.
Because of this strange desire to make even the most subversive Christmas movie into a feel-good crowd pleaser, Christmas comedies have essentially fallen into five categories. To better help you understand what Hollywood really sees as the true Spirit of Christmas, I’ll outline them for you.
The “‘Christmas Carol’ Updated For The Pepsi Generation”
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a timeless classic that requires constant updating with maybe a ghost rap or a cartoon hamster which is Scrooge’s pet that rides with him and, like, makes these adorable squeak noises which are its way of saying, “You need to change your ways for the better or I’ll never get me cheese!”
Ostensibly a tale asking the rising capitalist upper class to use their vast power to help the poor, A Christmas Carol is the perfect holiday franchise to sell cheap merchandise made by Asian child slave labor. T-shirts, talking Scrooge dolls, board games, and action figures all represent the themes of regret and redemption in the twilight years of life. And a song by Selena Gomez makes kids feel like the story doesn’t take place a long time ago – but right now – so it’s something they can understand even though they’ve never been a captain of industry cruelly manipulating the lives of families like the protagonist and archetypal target of this story.
Best made in 3D to represent the growing pains of a society recognizing the gulf between the owners and the workers, A Christmas Carol will always be a classic worth updating as long as other, more interesting stories are still under copyright.
The “Christmas Is About Family, But My Family Is The Pits, Poster Shrug!”
Being the people who raised you and protected you from the elements, your family is terrible.
Every year, you come home from college with your new boyfriend who starts off cool but you eventually figure out isn’t as important as your Dad, even though that sort of comparison isn’t relevant to anybody except people who want to fuck their family members. And it’s like, “Mom! I’m not wearing this sweater! Its overwrought design is contrary to the self-image I’ve created which I’ll soon learn to shed in the spirit of Christmas!”
The “Cruel Emotional Manipulator And Also Here’s A Pratfall”
“Every Christmas, I look at the lights on the trees and the gifts in the windows and the people walking down the street, and I try to see her. Not towards the end, but before the surgeries and the doctors and the sterile rooms. When she was really present, you know? I try to see her face amongst children waiting in line to tell Santa Claus they want their skateboards and their video games. This was her favorite time of year, you know. 6 a.m. she would be up. Why? Why would she wake up so early? Even though she knew what I was getting her for Christmas. I wasn’t creative like she was. No. The way she would surprise me, remembering some record I had seen in the shop ten months ago and buying it without me ever knowing. God. I miss her every moment of every day - whoa, bro, did you just fart?!”
The “Portrayal Of Sex and Violence In Relation To This Holiday Is Unexpected”
Shoving his still-smoking gun into the back of his pants, Bruce Willis exits the security office. He bumps into a man dressed as Santa Claus but not shaved under the fake beard and the beard’s also loose and there’s a cigarette in Santa’s mouth because that’s not a way we often see him drawn in popular media aimed at children. Santa can be black if we’re shooting for a hard-R.
“Ho, ho, ho, little boy. What do you want?”
“Fuck you. You didn’t expect me to make a swear because it’s Christmas and people respect your character’s contribution to the cultural consciousness.”
“If you want to cuss at Santa, little boy, you better say it to the swastika tattooed on his arm, which is something you would not have readily guessed would be a feature of a beloved figured.”
Bruce Willis punches Santa Claus.
“You hit me in the bells pause for laugh!”
“I’m punching you because this holiday is about peace so our interaction is ironic.”
Golden Globe-winning actress enters. She’s dressed as an elf.
“Santa, when are you going to give me your candy cane?”
The actress looks away from the camera so it doesn’t catch the last bit of light drain from her eyes as she realizes that, in getting everything she’d always wanted, she has lost the little girl who dreamed of being a movie star that everyone loved and no one yelled at for ruining their marriage.
A Christmas Story
This movie? Great movie.
Mike Drucker is a lovely man with many positive characteristics. He has written for Saturday Night Live, The Onion, McSweeney’s, and Nintendo. He’s also a stand-up or something, I guess.