Christmas cliches take over holiday-themed movies


CHS students and teachers express their opinions on cliché and formulaic plots that appear in many Christmas movies.

Phineaus Whedon and Fiona Griffin

Lindsay Lohan garnered national attention and a base of dedicated fans with her breakout roles in films like “The Parent Trap,” “Mean Girls,” and “Freaky Friday.” When these fans learned that Lohan was coming back into business for her 2022 film “Falling For Christmas,” they were ecstatic.

When Lohan’s movie was released and it was revealed to be as bland and formulaic as any other holiday rom-com in recent memory, fans were naturally disappointed. “Falling For Christmas” is a quintessential example of how these films, often referred to as “Hallmark movies,” often feel mass-produced for the sake of profit.

These movies are rarely well-received by film buffs. Digital Video teacher David Salowe is an avid opponent, critiquing them for being “overly sentimental and schmaltzy.”

“A Hallmark movie is a terrible excuse for a movie,” Salowe said. “Pretty much all of them are just the big city girl going to a small town and finding love.”

Many of these movies indeed tend to feel like the same plot recycled over and over. The protagonist is often a strong, independent woman who leaves her demanding job (and sometimes her rich boyfriend too) to go back to her hometown and meet a folksy family-oriented man. Sometimes he has a kid, and sometimes she has a best friend, but other than minuscule differences like these, the plots largely stay the same.

In Lohan’s movie, the story is driven by the classic amnesia plot, a common trope within Hallmark movies.

Typically, the protagonist starts as a bad person. Then, in a freak accident, they lose their memory and learn to be a better person as they get their life back together. This is the exact plot of Falling For Christmas, proving that the film is formulaic at best. With such hackneyed and uninspired writing, these films are rarely well-received.

Salowe is not the only one who disapproves of this genre of movies. Widespread mockery has led content creators such as Youtube personality Drew Gooden to create videos centered on them.

Gooden has ridiculed the repetitive, often outlandish tropes of these movies in many of his videos. From amnesia plots (the protagonist starts as a bad person, gets amnesia and learns to be good) to royal family romances, there are various mockery-worthy ways that Hallmark movies repeat themselves.

Not everyone looks at Hallmark movies this way, however. Though they may be wacky and contrived, they often call to mind the spirit of the holidays. The climate surrounding art today encourages overt cynicism. These movies provide a warm respite from the doom and gloom of everyday life, even if they sacrifice some substance along the way.

Sophomore Molly McCarthy of Manasquan appreciates Hallmark movies for their pleasant, nostalgic plots.

“I feel like they’re cozy, simple, comforting, and just so easy to watch,” McCarthy said. “They’re not movies that you watch because they’re fine cinema. You watch them because it’s Christmas, and you want something fun to watch with your friends.”