The Magic of Corny Christmas Movies

The Magic of Corny Christmas Movies

It’s the holiday season, and that means 24 hours a day Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel! People make fun of these movies, but audiences love them. In fact, the Hallmark Channel’s Christmas movies’ ratings are so high that Lifetime and UpTV have copied their 24 hours programming strategy. Netflix and Prime Video have their own original Christmas films too. These channels have an insatiable need for new movie ideas, which is good news for creators.

These movies are warm, comforting, and just what people need during the holiday season. People love Christmas. It’s a magical time of year when anything is possible, especially finding true love.

Let’s unwrap why these festive flicks are the cinematic equivalent of a mug of hot cocoa with extra marshmallows!

They’re Like a Holiday Hug

Predictable? Sure, but in the best way possible. Hallmark movies are the friends we know will never let us down. They promise ​happy endings​ and deliver them with a bow on top. Watching these films is like coming home to a familiar, joyful place where everything turns out. They remind us that love is the most amazing magic of all.

The Christmas We Wish We Had

These movies are a nostalgic sleigh ride into a fantasy past. They’re packed with everything we love about the holidays — snowball fights, twinkling lights, and heartwarming family moments. They are the perfect cinematic Christmas we dream about, filled with romance, laughter, and sometimes a sprinkle of holiday magic. It’s hard not to get swept up in the festive spirit when love and miracles are in the air!

The Coziest Community Ever

These films show us quirky small towns where everyone knows your name and has your back. These are places we wish we could visit.

A Feast for the Eyes

Hallmark movies are a visual treat. The festive decor, twinkling lights, and picturesque winter scenes are the perfect backdrop to their heartwarming stories. It’s like stepping into a Christmas card!

Christmas Movie Genres

All Hallmark Christmas movies are romances. After all, love is the greatest Christmas gift. Each genre within the Hallmark Christmas movie universe adds its own sprinkle of yuletide cheer. Let’s jingle our way through the different genres as broken down in It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Hallmark: Writing a Made-for-TV Christmas Movie by Heather Hughes and Kate Wharton.

1. Hometown Christmas – A successful city girl must go to or return to a picturesque small town and accomplish some Christmas related task.

2. The Fake Boyfriend – A fake relationship transforms into genuine love. People take a fake boyfriend or girlfriend home to meet their family, or they need an attractive date for a work function.

3. Christmas Magic – This covers Santa, time travel, angels, and magic wishes. New versions of A Christmas Carol fall into this category.

4. Christmas Royalty – This is the classic Cinderella story where a young woman, usually from the middle class, meets a prince or minor royalty. Complete with ball gowns, grand palaces, and a touch of royal intrigue, these movies are a fairy-tale lover’s dream come true.

5. Snowstorms Ahead – Winter weather provides a perfect stage for cozy conflict with couples confined together because of snowstorms.

6. The Christmas Cynic – A person who dislikes Christmas must learn to love it, or at least convince someone like a boss or a TV audience, that she does. Or the cynic must shut down some beloved Christmas related business like the town’s ornament factory.

7. The Musical Christmas – A melody-filled genre where music plays a central role. It could be about a struggling musician finding his muse, a Christmas pageant, or a caroling competition.

8. The Christmas Switcheroo – Two women decide to switch places to see how the other half lives. While living another person’s life, they each fall in love.

Wrapping Up

Hallmark Christmas movies are the ultimate holiday treat. They’re a blend of comfort, cheer, and a bit of holiday magic. Do you have an idea for a Christmas romance? Watch as many as you can for inspiration. Grab your favorite holiday snack, snuggle up, and let the merry marathons begin!

If you need a palate cleanser from all the sugary Christmas romance, try ​the Christmas action triple​ feature of Diehard, Lethal Weapon, and Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang.

Check out my holiday gift guide for writers.

Thanks for reading! Want more content like this? Click here to subscribe to my newsletter.

Buy my book!

My Favorite Movies About Writing

My Favorite Movies About Writing

Writing is, as all of you know, a solitary, cerebral occupation. Even when you’re actually pounding on your keyboard, you’re in your head. The process of writing, the blood, sweat, and tears of it, is difficult to dramatize. Lots of characters in movies are writers, but very few films are about writing itself. Here are my favorites that capture what a writer goes through as he tries to get the story in his head down on paper.

Bullets Over Broadway (1994) comedy written by Woody Allen – A wunderkind playwright (John Cusak) is interested in creating deep Art, but he doesn’t care about entertaining an audience. The backer of the play, a gangster, wants to give his mistress a part. John is having to compromise his art to get his project made. Meanwhile, the gangster’s henchman (Chazz Palmentari) has a flare for story and starts making suggestions. It turns out he’s the real talent, and he’s willing to kill a bad actress save his play. This movie points out two creative truths. 1) Writers can be pretentious and untalented. 2) Anyone can have good ideas.

See How They Run (2020) comedic mystery written by Mark Chappell – a fictional murder mystery set around the real Agatha Christie play The Mousetrap involving all the drama around turning a hit play into a movie, including the writer fighting with the director about the script. Even more fun, the murder mystery is full of Agatha Christie tropes that connect to the play. Fun fact: The Mousetrap has been playing in the West End of London without interruption (with the exception of the lockdowns) since 1953.

Robert Downey Jr., Michael Douglas, Toby McGuire in Wonder Boys

Wonder Boys (2000) comedy written by Steve Kloves, based on the book by Michael Chabon – Once promising novelist Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas) doesn’t do a lot of writing in this movie, but he captures perfectly the mania of trying to live up to the reputation of your own book, and the despair and fear at being eclipsed by a younger, more talented writer.

Shakespeare in Love (1998) comedy written by Marc Norman & Tom Stoppard – Shakespeare falls in love with Viola, who is pretending to be a man so she can act. This relationship gives him inspiration to revise his latest play and turn it into Romeo & Juliet. It’s fun to see the fictional story of how he came up with one of his most famous plays.

Sweet Liberty (1986) comedy written by Alan Alda – Follows the experience of an author (Alan Alda) whose book is being made into a movie. Even though it’s non-fiction, the Hollywood folks are changing it left and right. Alan Alda struggles to keep the integrity of his book and make the screenplay good. This is an overlooked gem of a movie with great performances from Michael Cain and Michelle Pfeiffer as temperamental movie stars.

Adaption (2002) black comedy written by Charlie Kaufman – Writer Charlie Kaufman had such a difficult time figuring out how to turn the book The Orchid Thief into a movie that he wrote the screenplay about his struggle. This movie perfectly captures the turmoil when you just can’t crack the story and everyone else you know seems to be sailing along.

The Muse (1999) comedy written by Albert Brooks & Monica Johnson – Blocked screenwriter Albert Brooks hires kooky professional muse Sharon Stone to help him. She may be crazy, but there’s a method to her madness. She helps him come up with a new idea and gives his wife the confidence to start a business. If only we could all have a muse for hire on call.

Sunset Boulevard (1950) film noir written by Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett, & D.M. Marshman Jr. – Desperate and destitute screenwriter meets desperate and unhinged movie star while a sweet assistant writes her first screenplay. Sometimes being a writer is deadly.

Stranger Than Fiction (2006) comedy written by Zach Helm – IRS Agent Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) suddenly starts hearing narration and realizes he is a character in someone’s novel. What will happen if he tries to break out of the plot and falls in love?

Author’s Anonymous (2014) comedy written by David Congalton – When several dysfunctional and unpublished writers accept inexperienced Hannah (Kaley Cuoco) into their writers group, they don’t expect her overnight success. A comedy about competition and creativity.

Something’s Gotta Give (2003) romantic comedy written by Nancy Myers – Diane Keaton is a playwright who uses the heartbreak of falling in love with her daughter’s boyfriend (who is her age) to write her next hit play. The scenes of her crying her eyes out as she types are hysterical and relatable.

Paris When It Sizzles (1964) comedy written by George Axelrod – This is a mediocre movie. The fun is seeing secretary Audrey Hepburn act out all of screenwriter William Holden’s different scenarios as he tries to figure out what kind of movie to write.

Bonus: The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) romance written by Woody Allen – is not about writing, but the fantasy of living your favorite movie. Downtrodden Depression era waitress Mia Farrow’s life is turned upside down when the romantic lead from her favorite movie steps out of the screen.

What does it say about the writing life that most of these are comedies? Comment to let me know if I left one of your favorite writing movies off the list!

Want more content like this? Click here to subscribe to my newsletter.

Buy my book!

Embrace Your Genre: Lessons from Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Embrace Your Genre: Lessons from Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Over the weekend, I saw Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. I went in with low expectations because the Indiana Jones movies have been, to put it politely, erratic in quality. It was amazing! A solid, entertaining, old-fashioned in a good way movie.

What made me so excited and nostalgic about The Dial of Destiny was the writers and director let Indy do what he does best, fight Nazis for a powerful historical artifact while he’s grappling with his own emotional journey. It’s full of callbacks to Raiders and The Last Crusade and yet stands on its own for viewers who have never seen those films. I left the theater jazzed and hopeful. Maybe the movie industry can recover. Maybe the old traditions that made movies so great are finally back. Go Indy!

No matter what genre you are working in, The Dial of Destiny is a great reminder to keep in mind your audience’s expectations. Give them what they want in an entertaining way. Hit your tropes. Give your protagonist a juicy emotional ark. And keep the pace humming and the cliff hangers coming. 

Take a look at your story. Are you hitting all the right beats? Are you using your genre to give the audience what they want? What classic films should you watch for inspiration?

Want more content like this? Click here to subscribe to my newsletter.

Buy my book!