The Christmasy and The Bizarre

10 Dec

I love holiday movies.  They always put me in the Christmas spirit.  And thanks to my unemployment (and to Fa la la la Lifetime, ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas, and Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas), I’ve been able to watch a lot of movies this holiday season.  I’ve discovered that most holiday movies fall into the following categories:

The TraditionalMiracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas

The Not-About-Christmas-but-Gets-Labeled-as-a-Christmas-MovieLove Actually, Die Hard, The Nightmare Before Christmas

The CartoonyA Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer; to name a few.

However, I’ve noticed that apparently a lot of my favorite holiday movies fall into another category:  The Bizarre

Christmas Comes to Willow Creek

Unlike the two movies below, I unfortunately didn’t catch this movie during my childhood.  No, I didn’t discover this Christmas classic until my husband pointed it out a couple of years ago.  It has remained one of my favorites ever since.  Here’s why:

If that 80s commercial didn’t pull you in, here are some other awesome things about Christmas Comes to Willow Creek:

  • This movie is essentially The Dukes of Hazzard meets Christmas, no Boss Hogg though.
  • The two main characters, although they have many differences, have one major thing in common (well, besides being in love with the same woman), they are both truckers.
  • Just when you think this movie has nothing to do with Christmas but in reality is all about the reconciliation of two feuding brothers, a pregnant woman gives birth in the wilderness on Christmas Eve, BAM!  Christmas!

A Mom for Christmas

Let me set the scene for this movie:  it’s Christmastime and young Jessica really misses her mom who died when she was just a baby.  Her dad is a workaholic and let’s her hang out a lot at the local mall, even though she’s only 11.  While hanging at the mall, Jessica meets a kooky old lady (later to play Marie Barone) who believes in wishing wells and encourages Jessica to make a Christmas wish in the well.  Jessica, of course, wishes for a mom for Christmas (hence the title).  Because it would be too easy for the magic wishing well to just make her dad fall in love with a woman who he meets at the grocery store or at work, the wishing well turns one of the mall mannequins into Olivia Newton-John and she becomes Jessica’s nanny.  They celebrate Christmas and turn other mannequins into real people.  In a very tragic scene, the Santa mannequin, who is now a live person, gets hit by a car.  No worries though.  You just have to pick up his pieces, stand in a circle holding hands and thinking about love and magic puts him back together.  An excellent holiday lesson.  Alas, Olivia Newton-John can only stay until Christmas Eve and then she turns back into a mannequin.  If only there was a way for her to stay with her new family?  Oh but there is.  Doris Roberts says that if you love mannequins enough, they can remain real people.  If you’re curious to see how this movie turns out, you can watch this really poor quality video that I found on YouTube.  It’s really surprising that a made-for-TV movie from 1990 isn’t more readily available on the internets.

A Smoky Mountain Christmas

The movie begins with Dolly Parton playing a character very similar to Dolly Parton who is so sickened by making this video that she retreats to the Smoky Mountains for Christmas.  During her stay, she takes up with a group of orphans.  Everyone loves orphans and Christmas so it’s no wonder this movie is a hit.  She also meets a gruff and lovable man aptly named Mountain Dan.  As a child, I always thought that Kenny Rogers played this lead male character.  It’s not Kenny Rogers though; I was probably just confused by his thick beard.  My dad has a thick beard and sometimes I think he’s Kenny Rogers.  Because you can’t just take up with a group of orphans, Dolly goes to jail and the orphans go back to the orphanage.  (This orphanage is a super scary one with mean old ladies.  I wonder if orphanages are like this in real life?  They always look so horrible in the movies; you’ve seen Annie, right?)  To make matters worse, there’s a witch involved.  Now, I’ve been to the Smoky Mountains and I don’t remember seeing any witches but it’s a movie, I get it.  To top it all off, this witch’s name is Jezebel.  Biblically evil.  This witch has a crush on the sheriff and gets mad when he talks to Dolly, so mad that she breaks everyone’s drinking glasses in the local diner and bakes her poison pies.  I don’t want to spoiler alert it for you and tell you how it turns out so here are a couple more of my favorite things about this movie:  it stars my favorite Salute Your Shorts child actor, Budnick, John Ritter (Rest in Peace) appears as the sarcastic and sensible the judge, and the movie is directed by none other than THE Henry Winkler (known best in my mind as “Barry Zuckercorn” from Arrested Development).

Here are some other movies that I intend to check out for further bizarre holiday movie watching purposes:  Santa with Muscles, The Dog who Saved Christmas, and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. I’ll let you know how they turn out.

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