Director Plans Anti-Hallmark Christmas Movie Send-Up; Hallmark Plans 53 More Christmas Movies
Los Angeles (AP). It's that time of year again. Christmas. Which means the Hallmark Channel is broadcasting endless movies with the same cheesy formula: big city executive girl returns home to hometown for Christmas to meet family, meets handsome but bland working guy who wears flannel shirts, falls in love over mistletoe and hot chocolate. With pretty much the same rotating cast members.
Which begs the question: why does a greeting card company have a channel? And why do they curse the world with more of these damnably cheesy movies?
But this reporter digresses. For those who utterly despise the cookie cutter paint by numbers sort of formula Hallmark employs for their 'movies', there is a bit of respite coming. David Zucker, the American director and writer with a history of parodying various genres in films such as The Naked Gun, has the cure for what ails you.
Reporters gathered at Paramount Studios this week for an announcement, and Zucker was brought on stage, greeting the crowd, ignoring the entertainment reporters, and generally treating real reporters with consideration. "Thanks for coming out, folks. I know it's a busy time of year for many of you, and it's a busy time of year for me too."
He carried on. "You know, something that's been showing up more and more on the television these days, aside from entire seasons of a series dropped all at once for streaming, is these annoying Hallmark movies. Especially Christmas movies, especially now. I mean, what on earth are they thinking? Why's a card company involved in movie making? And really, do you want to call the dreck they make a movie? Because it's not."
This reporter was pleased that Zucker appeared to have a common opinion with him in regards to Hallmark. "It's sentimental nonsense, cheese in the lowest form of cheesy. It's the same formula film over and over and over again with the same actors playing pretty much the same character type over again. Good looking but totally bland. The sort of people who you'd forget five minutes after meeting them. That's how much personalities these people project on the screen."
Zucker carried on. "I hate those films. Hate, hate, hate, hate 'em. Can't overemphasize how much I hate 'em. And it seems like they're everywhere, and not just on the Hallmark Channel. I've got family, friends, who watch this crap and dissolve into tears on command by the end of it. And I'm there looking at them like, 'what? Are you serious?' So I was thinking about it, and you know, I've had enough. But out of that came inspiration."
He paused a moment before continuing on. "My brother Jerry and our good friend Jim Abrahams have been known for parodying films. Usually films in good genres, but that's beside the point. I thought about it. And thought some more. And I decided I could make a film that skewers and parodies and ridicules the entire Hallmark Christmas movie genre. Zucker style."
The room broke out into sustained applause and a standing ovation that lasted ten minutes.
Zucker spoke up when the applause died down. "We all know what it's about. Hallmark brings in the same few former soap actors and washed up prime time actors and let's face it, they're soap actors and washed up for a reason. Because they're not good actors. And they're desperate. And they do this paint by numbers script that is endless variations on the same thing. And some people just can't get enough of that crap. But what I want is something that messes around with that formula."
Pausing, he continued. "First things first. I start with actors who can play bland but are actually gifted comedians. I've worked with a lot of actors down through the years who really know their stuff with this, and I've already got some ideas on who to cast for various parts. It's just a shame that Leslie Nielsen's dead. He'd have been perfect for the town drunk Santa."
Zucker carried on. "So what do we tend to see in the actual Hallmark films? The big city executive woman who's going home to her small town for Christmas. She's tired, cynical, jaded, all that. Her family's endearing but nosy about her love life. There's a six year old kid who sounds like a fifteen year old kid. Usually a girl. Or there's a dog. And there's inevitably the guy. He might be a carpenter, a police officer, the town Santa, or a hockey player. He wears flannel shirts. They have a meet-cute moment where there's some friction. Incidentally, the term meet-cute is kind of obnoxious." This reporter had to agree.
"But here's where our paths part," Zucker promised. "Because first of all, this is going to be a parody, and I'm going to be skewering the genre from the get-go. First off, I can tell you that the term Hallmark won't be uttered one time during the film. After all, they have lawyers, or they might send assassins after me. But that doesn't mean I can't have fun. So my main characters are going to be Holly Marcus and Mark Hall."
This reporter had to admit: that's a nice way of getting around lawsuits.
Zucker continued. "And from there we'll keep messing around with things. Instead of being adorable and cute and helping the couple get together, the dog's misbehaving. Humping legs, biting Santa, chewing Holly's luggage. That sort of thing. The little girl who talks like a fifteen year old? She's talking like she needs an exorcist. The family Holly came back to see? They're not so endearing but more overbearing. The sort of people you move thousands of miles away to avoid. With all sorts of bad habits."
He paused, and carried on. "And the small town she came from? In the actual Hallmark films they're always this sort of It's A Wonderful Life sort of small town where everyone knows each other and there's fresh baking and Mom's apple pie and decorations everywhere. Well, let's just say we can turn that whole convention on its ear with people who bicker constantly and are always in each other's business and, well, the sort of place you'd avoid going back to for your high school reunion. Because honestly... who goes back for a high school reunion even if they liked their home town?"
Zucker took a moment and carried on. "But of course the heart of all those Hallmark films is the couple, the idea of getting past whatever differences they have and getting together with a happy ending, with two totally bland people who look pretty much the same like every other bland couple in the genre."
He smirked. "Happy endings? No, not in the sort of film I envision."
Zucker explained, "No, what I envision is two people who appear to fit the part, have that meet-cute moment, but then spend the rest of the film getting to hate each other as they get to know each other. Sure, there'll be a sex scene- something you don't get in a Hallmark film- but it'll be with my own warped sense of humour intact. And there'll be the inevitable morning after 'what have I done' sort of moment. Because my aim is to have these two characters totally hate each other before it's all said and done."
This reporter had the impression that this is a film he can get behind.
"Now some will say that's cynical," Zucker noted. "Taking a genre that some people love and giving it the middle finger. To which I say two things: good, and why do people love this genre? Don't they see how dumb and cheesy and tedious it is? Most people with a grasp of reality can see that. Apparently they can't. But here's the point. I've spent a good part of my career skewering genres in film. It's my sense of humour. It's what I know. It's what I do. And I'm not doing this just for me. I'm doing it for all those people out there who hate Hallmark Christmas movies as much as I do."
Another round of applause broke out. "Thank you," Zucker said. "It's a pleasure to know that so many people out there feel the same way as I do. I can only hope that I'm up to the task in making your days a little brighter. In giving some hope of salvation from cheesy awful movies by messing around with the formula. And if some Hallmark Christmas fans get offended by what I do... well, good. It's about time you people wake up and smell the coffee."
With that, Zucker brought the press conference to an end, taking his leave of the crowd, leaving a group of reporters who felt, well, pretty good. Someone in the world of Hollywood has some sense about things. This reporter was looking forward to the prospect of seeing this film and wondering if he should speak with the newspaper's film reviewers about sitting in on their screening.
As for Hallmark? Aubrey Meriwether, the Vice President of Programming Development for the company, was irate, after saying the company was already in pre-production for 53 new Christmas movies for 2022. "This is not funny!" she told this reporter in a call. "Hallmark Christmas films are a beloved Christmas tradition, cherished by billions of people! They are not something to be ridiculed or made fun of! Oh, they'll pay. They will pay for this outrage. We'll be sending an army of Karens to protest every single day of shooting!"