By Nicole Wu
Do you have what it takes to make the perfect, cheesy Christmas film? There is a very specific art to creating a timeless film that fills your audience’s heart with delight and merriment, while also providing excruciatingly cringe-worthy moments. As long as you include the following ingredients, you can be assured that your film will be a box-office hit and staple in family traditions for years to come – maybe just avoid reading any critics’ reviews.
1. Choose an uninspiring protagonist. This will really make or break your cheesy Christmas film. You’re looking for someone who has no real personality besides being sad and down on their luck. Their grievances need to be relatable but innocuous, good examples include: a well-admired teacher who spends every daydreaming of their music career or a baker who has become fed up with making mince pies during the run-up to Christmas. Absolutely steer clear of providing them with real-world problems, this is supposed to be a feel-good time filler, and no one wants to think about current affairs after Christmas dinner.
2. “I hate Christmas”. Your protagonist needs to absolutely despise Christmas at the beginning of the film. With despise meaning visible pain, lashing out at characters that try to convince them otherwise, kicking down snowmen and walking aggressively straight through carol singers in the street. Whether they suffered a hard breakup during the Christmas holidays or were mercilessly teased for a particularly bad Christmas jumper – they need to be on par with the Grinch.
3. An overly eager and excitable love interest. To redeem the dull protagonist, their love interest is some poor, caring soul with a very big heart who stumbles into our protagonist’s life and tells them about all the joy available at Christmas. They excitedly force the protagonist to make gingerbread houses and go ice-skating in the centre of town. While they laugh sweetly as the protagonist fails at every turn, the audience need to be given happy musical tunes and close-ups on long gazing stares.
4. An awkward scene of the love interest singing a classic Christmas song alone until the protagonist and the crowd join in. A requirement for any cheesy Christmas film is for one of the scenes to include a musical rendition of a classic song. Has to be started, completely acapella, and sustained for much longer than is comfortable for anyone before the other characters cave in and provide a chorus. It’s even better if the protagonist has already expressed a huge dislike for the song but begrudgingly pretends not to enjoy the experience.
5. Unrealistically huge romantic gesture. Just as the film reaches its climax and it seems that the couple everyone is rooting for will never work out, pull out the moment that the audience will fantasise about for decades to come. Have your protagonist desperately ice skate across a frozen river, organise a Christmas themed flash mob, attempt to fly a DIY version of Santa’s sleigh through Heathrow airport. The ideas really are endless, but it must be extravagant, excessive and extremely endearing. Let your protagonist prove their worth in a wonderfully public and superficial fashion.
6. Final make-out scene. The very last shot of the film is required to be a make-out scene between the loved-up couple, either outside in the falling snow or in front of a Christmas tree, or both. This needs to be a prolonged kiss that turns the viewers’ initial ‘aw’ moment into embarrassment. While the couple are kissing, there should be shots of their friends and family standing nearby hugging and smiling happily at the lovers. Bonus points if you let the camera slowly pan out from the couple and turn to the sky to film snow falling directly onto the camera.
Illustration: Verity Laycock