Ho-ho-ho or bah-bah-humbug?

‘Tis the season to be jolly...or is it? Benjamin Eckford and Alex Peden fight it out over whether the tradition of festive films is a perfect winter-warmer or just old hat

Benj Eckford
12th December 2016

FOR: Benjamin Eckford

Some people malign this holiday tradition, but it’s one of my absolute favourites. There’s nothing better in the month of December than to settle down in your lovely warm house while it snows outside and watch one of the old classics. It’s a wonderful way to spend the cold winter evenings and helps me get into the Christmas spirit.

People often assume that Christmas movies are all the same, they’re unoriginal, they’re bland, they’re sappy, etc. Not true. Tell me that when John McClane bellows ‘Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker!’ while blowing up an elevator shaft, Harry and Marv get smacked in the face by paint cans, or the haunting of Scrooge. There’s a huge diversity of Christmas movies out there. Are they sappy? No. I hate sappy movies. They have all the worst aspects of films which tug on your heartstrings with none of the good aspects. The emotional payoffs are clunky and undeserved. Christmas films, however, are probably the biggest contributors to the whole idea of the Christmas ‘spirit’. It’s hugely enjoyable for viewers to be imbued with that belief that anything is possible at Christmas.

"There’s a huge diversity of Christmas movies out there. Are they sappy? No. I hate sappy movies"

I challenge you to watch those gut-punchingly emotional moments and not feel your heart break. Every time I see little Kevin reunited with his mother on Christmas morning, I choke back tears. When Scrooge wakes up on Christmas morning and changes his way, or (in the best Christmas movie), George Bailey is glad he was born. Long live Christmas movies.

AGAINST: Alex Peden

Christmas movies are easily the worst thing about the Christmas period. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Grinch. I love Christmas; the food, the Christmas cheer everywhere, the decorations, the lights but I cannot stand most Christmas movies. In general, Christmas movies are made simply with the mind-set of exploiting the Christmassy feeling of moviegoers this time of year, just like the ever-present Christmas adverts which start sometime in August.

Many Christmas films have weak plots and rubbish, cringe-worthy acting, but because they’re specifically aimed at punters who want to see something festive they do pretty well. Yes, I’ll accept that some Christmas movies are fun, and have a strong nostalgia attached with them, but many more, especially ones made in recent years, are just bad movies wrapped up in a Christmas façade. Take Christmas out of these movies and what do you have? A bad movie, that’s what. The plots are often formulaic and predictable – to save Christmas, or to help someone – nice stories, but can be very cringe-worthy. And the characters are rarely developed and poorly acted. It’s safe to say Christmas movies aren’t going to be winning any Oscars, or anything for that matter.

"Many Christmas films have weak plots and rubbish, cringe-worthy acting"

People love Christmas movies for what they represent – an idealised vision of Christmas, which never really reflects the real thing. But behind this festive mask, Christmas movies are repetitive, over-simplistic and just plain bad. If a Christmas movie comes along and it’s good, I’m all for it. But that’s a rarity.

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