9 Dec 2014


Film genres have formulas and rules, but how well do films follow those formulas?  Let's look at the Christmas film...

It's that time of year, and I thought as a bit of fun I'd do rules for Christmas films.  This isn't just films set at Christmas or Christmas horror films (like Silent Night, Deadly Night or Die Hard or Gremlins) but rather films about Christmas.



A few of the following will appear (especially as secondary characters:
  • Someone Who Hates Christmas - or at the very least dislikes it (or family) and probably not too happy with their life.
  • Someone Who Inflicts Christmas Cheer on Others - the natural opposite of the person who hates Christmas.
  • Precocious Kids - because there's never any other kind.
  • A Bullied Kid - (or just sad).
  • Silver-haired jovial old person - in thick woolly jumpers or sweaters.
  • Someone with a secret - possibly an illness or closeted homosexuality.
  • Stressed Young Female - Having to impress mother (in-law) for first Christmas.
  • The Single - Either happily single and hassled by family because of it, or desperate for a relationship.  There is no in-between.
  • Some Career Obsessed - Who is missing the true meaning of Christmas while they are on the phone.
  • Grumpy Old (usually) Man - Usually with a past Christmas tragedy.
  • Sassy Old (usually) Woman.
  • An Inappropriate Santa Impersonator - usually a drunk.



No sex or nudity.  Because this is family entertainment.



Mostly a simple "home for the holidays" family gathering.
Santa may be real:
  • Someone will replace him for at least part of his journey.
  • Santa (or his replacement) will have difficulty convincing people (especially authorities) that he is real.
  • There may be a crazy old man, who claims to be Santa, but clearly isn't... however (see Santa is Real Rule 9)
  • An elf, reindeer or snowman may be a magical stand-in for Santa.
  • There may be an active Anti-Santa.
Classic Christmas stories may be copied homaged:
  • The Nativity.
  • A Christmas Carol - either a specific adaptation or a new scrooge.
  • O' Henry's Gift of the Magi.
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas.



A variety of genres:
  • Straight comedy.
  • Bitter-sweet family drama-comedy.
  • Animated fantasy (or puppets/muppets).
  • Bible retelling.



One or more of the following will occur:
  • Ugly Christmas sweaters forced upon people.
  • Pulling Santa's beard - either a fake Santa leading to screaming children or real leading to screaming Santa.
  • Carolers are annoying and will be universally hated.  Spontaneous singing of jingles will be accepted.  There will also be a Christmas jingle over the opening or closing the credits.
  • Some kind of competition: Christmas lights, baking, family games, etc.
  • Mistletoe: inflicted by or on the Single.



The following simple things are difficult, often comically so:
  • Putting Up Christmas lights.
  • Not walking out after a fight with family.
  • Last minute gift purchasing.
  • Assembling Christmas gifts.
  • Cooking.
  • Attempts to get home for Christmas.
  • Even a getting and putting up a Christmas tree can lead to disaster.



Unless it's a retelling of the Navitity (or a child is appearing in a Nativity play) religion is best avoided, unless it's to accept non-Christians into the celebration.  There may be a possibly an annoying overly religious person who can be happily ignored.  There may be angels.



At least one of the following will happen:
  • Snow:  It will snow, even if it's not likely/possible for the location.
  • Grump-No-More:  Could be a central (especially Scrooge) or a side-character, who was a grump the entire film will be have a change of heart and show kindness.
  • Santa is Real:  There will be some hint or suggestion that Santa is real after all.  (Mysterious sleigh bells, specific references to childhood gifts or unexplained gifts).
  • The Unexpected Extra Guest:  A homeless person, grump or helper will be welcomed into the family.
  • Wisdom From an Unexpected Source:  from the mouth of babes or crazy old people.
  • The Single Will Find Love usually from an unexpected source.



Will have a sickly sweet ending with a "The True Meaning of Christmas" message - especially:
  • Family is the most important thing.
  • Miracles are real.
  • The thought that counts.

RULE #10


Probably won't have a sequel.  Although films not about Christmas but set at Christmas often do.  Actually more likely to be a sequel to a non-Christmas film.


Unlike the previous rules, this one I'm not going to create a list for, but rather see what comes up each year.

List your favourite films about Christmas (not just set at Christmas) in the comments below...

~ DUG.


  1. Oh boy oh boy oh boy! Ummmm . . . Love Actually (not a favorite but as I was reading I saw a rule it broke so why not, right?) . . . A Christmas Story . . . Elf . . . I'll stop there. This is going to be fun!!!

    1. Love Actually - good choice because I can revisit the Rom Com rules, too, and I think that one would give weird results.
      A Christmas Story - I love it but I haven't seen it for so long.
      Elf - see here next week... (and yesterday for Manic Pixie Dream Girls)