Move Over Love Actually, These Holiday Flicks Transcend Hugh Grant’s Mid Dancing Skills
Falling for Christmas
Lindsay Lohan was an integral part of my growing up. As a joyful kid, I cheered for her antics in The Parent Trap (1998), and when the awkwardness of high school settled upon me, Mean Girls (2004) was there to tell me things were going to be okay. So, when I saw Lindsay Lohan was mounting a comeback by playing the lead in a holiday rom-com, I was immediately all in. As is our holiday tradition, my girlfriends and I gathered one Sunday afternoon with cookies and festive attire to laugh, groan, and cheer our way through Falling for Christmas (2022).
In Falling for Christmas Lohan’s character, Sierra, follows the path of a classic holiday movie trope—she falls off a ski slope and hits her head, causing her to forget her identity as the soon-to-be Vice President of Atmosphere at her father’s swanky resort. (Yes, that’s a real title, but I can promise you the responsibilities are wonderfully fake). After that fated fall, Sierra is taken in by the local bed and breakfast owner, who just happens to be a handsome widower with a daughter and a failing business (of course)!
The movie concludes predictably (a romantic happy ending) and doesn’t challenge many of our ideas about the genre. But you know what? That’s okay with me. There’s a comfort in knowing what’s coming next and getting to celebrate Lohan’s return to my screen. Patriarchal society says movies like this are silly and try to dim the smarts of women who love cheesy holiday flicks. I disagree. For me, it is an important marker of friendship. I look forward to annual movie marathons with friends who always have my back and make sure I never stop believing in myself. Just like Sierra started to believe in herself and all that she is capable of accomplishing. I encourage you to get your girl group together and watch Falling for Christmas on Netflix now.
This year, one of the holiday movies I was so excited to rewatch was Klaus. Klaus is a Christmas origin story in which a postman named Jesper—who comes from an incredibly privileged, upper-class lifestyle—is forced to move to the dismal, arctic town of Smeerensburg and collect 6,000 letters, or be cut off by his father. The problem? Smeerensburg residents hate each other, and no one has any cause to mail letters. A solution comes to Jesper in the way of a reclusive, quiet toymaker named Klaus. He begins to craft a mystical legend around “Mr. Klaus” (cough: Santa) who delivers toys to children who mail him letters. Only, of course, if they’ve been “good” that year. Although Jesper’s selfishness is the initial spark for change, Smeerensburg kids start being nicer to one another as a result, and adults follow suit, breaking down decades of hatred and mistrust.
Klaus is a beautiful movie about investing in your community—through funds, through resources, and through kind acts. (Also, I just love mail and stationery, so this movie was always going to be *perfect*). It’s a great way to start thinking about how to put energy and kindness back into your own community, how you can support mutual aid efforts (like your local abortion fund), and the importance of advocating for change at a local level (even if it starts from a place of pettiness). As Klaus repeats throughout the film, “”a true act of goodwill always sparks another.”
Perhaps because of how much tragedy and injustice we’ve seen in 2022, I wasn’t feeling much holiday spirit this year. But the movie Klaus reminded me of the feelings of generosity, wonder, and joy during this season. Wishing that for all of us in 2023. In the meantime, stream Klaus on Netflix.
The Family Stone
The Family Stone came out in 2005 and it gets played every year as part of my roundup of Christmas movies to get me in the mood for the holidays. It’s not an obvious choice, but there’s a lot to love about this movie. It’s about a man named Everett (Dermot Mulroney) who takes his seemingly conservative girlfriend Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) home to his liberal family for Christmas. Sarah Jessica Parker plays an uptight, throat-clearing, emotionally and socially unintelligent terror who just about no one in the family seems to like. She often doesn’t realize she’s being insensitive, racist, or homophobic. Meredith at first glance is just a typical bitchy girlfriend trope. Better yet, she’s a well-meaning Karen before Karens were dubbed as such. I won’t give away too much but let’s just say that her character arc becomes worth it when she finally takes the advice of Everett’s brother Ben (Luke Wilson) and “lets her freak flag fly.”
We’re in a new age of movies and streaming services that have more representation than years past, but back in 2005 when we were still getting sent physical DVDs from Netflix, this theatrical release full of A-list stars was kind of it. It wasn’t common to see openly gay characters in a big movie or to see a deaf actor playing a deaf character. It’s fun to watch Sybil (Diane Keaton) who is an unconventional but proud mother of her weirdo grown-up children who all march to the beat of their own drums. We have Thad (Tyrone Giordano) who is deaf, gay, and married to a Black man. A rarity for a movie back in 2005. And the movie goes further in its representation by having the whole family use sign language as they talk so that Thad can be included in conversations. It’s subtle but so effective. It’s not a movie without flaws and the representation is not that deep, but it’s nice to see a functionally dysfunctional family on the screen. Not to mention we get to see Rachel McAdams (who plays Everett’s sister Amy) play a not-so-believable hipster. So if you’re looking for a fun movie with some surprisingly tear-jerk moments, look no further.