Jin­gle belles

If it works, don’t fix it

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - Editorial Page -

Hall­mark sells shirts that say, “All I want to do is drink hot co­coa and watch Hall­mark Chan­nel.”

—The As­so­ci­ated Press

ROCK and rollers fig­ured it out a long time ago: Verse, cho­rus, verse, cho­rus, break for lead, verse, cho­rus, cho­rus, cho­rus. You can then na-na-nah all the way home. And to big bucks.

The struc­ture works. Oh, some bril­liant Fred­die Mer­cury type will throw us for a loop now and then, but if you want a rock sin­gle, fol­low the path. Coun­try mu­sic has a sim­i­lar de­sign.

Those who put Christ­mas movies to­gether for chan­nels such as Hall­mark have their for­mat too. It’s as rec­og­niz­able as it is pleas­ing on these sad, cold days when the sun goes down be­fore the news goes off.

The Style sec­tion fea­tured a story about the Christ­mas movie com­po­si­tion the other day. And for a cou­ple of folks at the home­stead, it sounded per­fectly fa­mil­iar. Take, per­haps, a fish out of wa­ter, add some snow and dec­o­ra­tions, mix with some Ray Charles hol­i­day mu­sic, throw in a dash of mis­un­der­stand­ing or other con­flict, and re­solve it all within 90 min­utes. No need to bake.

(A Hol­i­day for Love, 1996: A cor­po­rate suit is sent to a small town to de­cide whether to shut down a fac­tory, throw­ing the lo­cals out of work. But he gets side­tracked af­ter meet­ing a lo­cal woman dur­ing the hol­i­days.)

The good thing about these made­for-TV Christ­mas movies is that there is very lit­tle rea­son to watch an en­tire flick in one sit­ting. There aren’t any Quentin Tarantino twists. You can watch them in mixed com­pany, even with kids. There isn’t any Quentin Tarantino di­a­logue, ei­ther.

And if you have to pause to go get more pop­corn, or to read a course of med­i­cal jour­nals, or view a hang­ing, just to get the sweet taste out of your mouth, go ahead. The plot will be right here when you get back.

(A Royal Christ­mas, 2014: The heir to the throne of small Cor­dinia wants to marry a seam­stress from Philly. But his mother has dif­fer­ent and “more im­por­tant” plans for her son.)

The folks who put to­gether these movies aren’t shy about it. They’ve found a win­ning for­mula, and the world is beat­ing a path to their door. “You can guar­an­tee that when you meet our two leads in the first 10 min­utes of a Hall­mark movie, it’s guar­an­teed that they will end up to­gether,” Michelle Vi­cary told the As­so­ci­ated Press. She’s an ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent at Crown Me­dia Fam­ily Net­works.

These movies are so pop­u­lar that they start run­ning be­fore Hal­loween.

(A Princess for Christ­mas, 2011, not to be con­fused with A Royal Christ­mas, above: A young woman trav­els with fam­ily to Europe to cel­e­brate Christ­mas, and falls in love with a prince.)

The genre is pop­u­lar enough that Net­flix is get­ting into it. AP re­ported that last year it came out with A Christ­mas Prince, and the se­quel is now avail­able: A Christ­mas Prince: The Royal Wed­ding. And the joke is that we’re not kid­ding.

(A Prince for Christ­mas, 2015, not to be con­fused with A Royal Christ­mas, above, or A Princess for Christ­mas, above, or A Christ­mas Prince, above, or A Christ­mas Prince: The Royal Wed­ding, above: A prince vis­its small-town USA incog­nito only to fall for a lo­cal girl who doesn’t know his se­cret.)

AC­TU­ALLY, we watched that last one. It stars Viva Bianca and some Bri­tish-sound­ing guy who isn’t nearly as pretty as she is. It was a trap, we tell you. We were promised hot co­coa and some cud­dling on the couch, com­plete with a blan­ket and those cook­ies with the frost­ing on them, but we didn’t get to the re­mote fast enough, and an hour or so later we were smil­ing and “aww”-ing as the two main char­ac­ters found each other again. We have to ad­mit, it was a pleas­ant hour­plus. Could’ve been worse, we suppose. Could’ve been Cad­dyshack II.

It’s hard to make fun of this stuff when sev­eral times this month you’ll walk into the liv­ing room with five peo­ple silent and still—caught up in the next prince’s story. So give it a try.

Be­sides, guys, don’t you ask her to watch foot­ball some­times?

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