Christmas. The mere mention of the word evokes mental images of candy canes, snowfall, Santa and his reindeer, trees adorned with lights and baubles, and let’s face it, department store aisles lined with all manner of red,white, and green ephemera. But for me, Christmas (and any other major holiday for that matter) is really all about the movies, and where Christmas movies are concerned, the sappier and sentimental, the better. Of course, no holiday movie is more sappy and sentimental than those made for television, making Lifetime Presents: 12 Days of Christmas an ideal purchase for anyone looking to soak up some blatantly emotionally-manipulative media this holiday season.
12 Days of Christmas collects twelve Christmas-themed Lifetime Original Movies produced between 2005 and 2008 for about $30. While that is quite the bargain at a little over $2 a movie, there are other expenditures involved in properly enjoying this set. First, you’ll need a blanket to wrap yourself up in. Likely you’ll already have one of these floating around your home. You’ll also need hot chocolate, with marshmallows of course, and, oh yeah, a box of tissues to dry your eyes when the spirit of Christmas overwhelms you. Of course, this is all providing you buy into Christmas and take stock in TV movies. For my part, I find it extremely relaxing after a long year of studies to shut myself down for a couple hours around Christmastime and soak in the sappy. It also helps, I should add, that the bulk of my research over the past two years has found me writing and reading about the made-for-TV movie at length.
So what about the movies themselves? In all probability, you already know exactly what to expect when you dive into this collection, but for me that’s the charm of it. When I sit down for a made-for-TV Christmas movie, I don’t want big surprises. I want formula. I want pathos! I will, however, accept surprises in the form of some good old-fashioned, solid writing and convincing performances. Fortunately, many of the films in this set offer just those surprises. But let’s touch on a few highlights.
My favorites here are The Road to Christmas (2006), A Christmas Wedding, and Will You Merry Me? Jennifer Grey (Dirty Dancing) and Clark Gregg (The Avengers) star in The Road to Christmas, which is sort of like Planes, Trains & Automobiles meets It Happened On Night (but made for TV) with a Lifetime-style unlikely romance at its core. The film finds Claire (Grey) scrambling to get home for Christmas (and her wedding!) by any means necessary, when she hitches a life-changing ride with teacher Tom (Gregg) and his daughter.
Similarly, A Christmas Wedding(2006) finds its female lead, Emily (Sarah Paulson, Deadwood), getting married on Christmas, two years after she met her fiance Ben (Eric Mabius, Ugly Betty). Here, conflict arises when workaholic Emily must leave the preparations for their wedding to Ben, who is, shall we say, not the best choice for this particular task. A Christmas Wedding also notably features performances by Dean Cain and Art Hindle.
And this brings us to Will You Merry Me? In Will You Merry Me?, recently-engaged Rebecca Fine and Henry Kringle (ugh, those last names, though!) determine to bring their families together for the holidays, only to have their entire relationship threatened by the resultant friction. (You may have noticed that all three of my top picks here center around marriage, but as I stated above, the sappier, the better!) This one most commendably boasts some solid comedic performances from Wendie Malick (Just Shoot Me!) and Cynthia Stevenson (Happiness, Dead Like Me), both of whom I’m a fan of.
The other movies collected in this set include Under the Mistletoe (2006), which is sort of likeGhost Dad if the ghost dad in question were trying to get his widowed wife laid; Holiday Wishes (2006), starring Amber Benson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), which really doesn’t make much sense; Christmas in Paradise (2007), which features a really strong performance from Colin Ferguson of Eureka; and His and Her Christmas (2005), which also boasts a strong performance, this time from Dina Meyer (Birds of Prey, the Saw series). The remainder of the movies collected here include Recipe for a Perfect Christmas (2005) starring Christina Baranski, Home By Christmas (2006) starring Linda Hamilton, Holiday Switch (2007), and A Very Merry Daughter of the Bride (2008) with Luke Perry, Jason Priestley, and Helen Shaver.