The launch of a new Christmas movies channel prompted Josh Stephenson to start an almighty festive binge (Picture: METRO)
I love Christmas but it seems to come earlier every year.
The adverts are already here, shops are selling Christmas food and even Christmas movies are starting to come out. But one TV channel really takes the cracker: GREAT! Christmas Movies, a free-to-air channel which started showing Christmas movies 24 hours a day back in September.
This is obscene, obviously. But it also got me thinking: what if I watched a whole day of it. All twelve movies. How would my Christmas spirit fare? Would I maintain my sanity? How many mince pies could I eat?
Let’s find out.
6am – 8am: Christmas Mail (2010)
Give me the gist: A tyrannical mail clerk forces his underling (A.J. Buckley) to spy on a woman who is quite clearly an elf (Ashley Scott) due to his plot-contrived paranoia. They, inevitably, fall in love.
Any good? It’s weird, that’s what it is. I don’t think the postal service is as sexy as the makers of this film think it is but there is some charm in the idea of someone answering all those letters to Santa, I suppose. Kudos as well to the single black supporting character being such a stereotype it almost transcends racism.
Key line: ‘Kristi, I fall in love with you’
Comparable to: Drinking before 9am. You shouldn’t like it – but you do.
Christmas spirit: Surprisingly high!
8am – 10am: Runaway Christmas Bride (2017)
Give me the gist: A bride (Kate Paulson) leaves her fiancé at the altar and heads off on their ski honeymoon where she meets a hunky Snow Lifeguard (Travis Milne). They, inevitably, fall in love.
Any good? This is one of the many Christmas films where all everyone seems to do is lie to each other. It’s mainly comprised of bad one-liners and montages (including one interrupted by a man falling to his seeming death) and the Christmas music in the background plays constantly. Oof.
Key line: ‘I want to kiss more men, dad. More!’
Comparable to: Opening a tub of Celebrations and finding it’s all Bounty.
Christmas spirit: Taking a heavy beating.
10am – 12pm: The Case for Christmas (2011)
The Case for Christmas copies Miracle on 34th Street while being half as good (Picture: Hallmark)
Give me the gist: A down-on-his-luck lawyer (Dean Cain) defends Santa Claus (George Buza) in court when he is sued for causing emotional distress to a business owner when he was a child.
Any good? It’s essentially Miracle on 34th Street but half as good. By the standards of this marathon, however, that makes it comfortably the best thing I saw. It’s well-acted, funny in parts and genuinely touching. Derivative, sure, but I quite liked it.
Key line: ‘He’s a single man living with eight little people. It’s practically a reality show’
Comparable to: Watching an am-dram pantomime. It’ll do in a pinch.
Christmas spirit: Rising once more.
12pm – 2pm: Beverly Hills Christmas (2015)
Give me the gist: A horrible, wealthy business owner (Donna Spangler) is killed in a car crash and must set her daughter (Ravin Spangler) on the right path to get into heaven.
Any good? It’s essentially a Christmas Carol but set in Beverly Hills and everyone in it sucks. Donna Spangler is so bad in this at times I wondered if someone had slapped some lipstick on a plank of wood. Need I remind you that she’s acting opposite her actual daughter and couldn’t convincingly say she loved her. I almost feel bad for the kid.
Key line: ‘I don’t want to be around poor, stinky people tonight.’
Comparable to: Opening the door to carollers who proceed to kick you in the nuts.
Christmas spirit: Nosediving fast.
Beverly Hills Christmas takes A Christmas Carol to California and fills it with awful acting (Picture: Danny Reynolds)
2pm – 4pm: Christmas Shepherd (2014)
Give me the gist: Widowed Sally (Teri Polo) is distraught when her dog runs away in a lightning storm. He’s taken in by Mark (Martin Cummins), also a widow, who too falls in love with the dog. You know where this is going.
Any good? It’s a weepy dog movie which means your enjoyment is derived entirely by how much you love dogs and how much you love to cry. The dog is quite cute to be fair and after five Christmas movies I was definitely ready to cry so it worked on me.
Key line: ‘Woof!’
Comparable to: A roast potato. Dependable but bland.
Christmas spirit: Levelling back out.
4pm – 6pm: Lucky Christmas (2011)
Give me the gist: Two bungling idiots inadvertently steal a car belonging to struggling single mum Holly (Elizabeth Berkley) which coincidentally has the winning lottery ticket inside.
Any good? The scheme part of this movie – can one of the idiots woo poor Holly so they can get a cut of the money – shows promise but it doesn’t commit. This is a Hallmark movie through-and-through and so no-one can be truly horrible. Meaning the whole thing drags.
Key line: ‘Everything is just stupid.’
Comparable to: Playing Monopoly. You know it’ll end at some point – but when?
Christmas spirit: Drifting away.
2011’s Lucky Christmas is dull, dull, dull, but not terrible (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)
6pm – 8pm: Debbie Macomber’s Dashing Through The Snow (2015)
Give me the gist: An innocent woman (Meghan Ory), unknowingly on the run from the FBI, is sharing a car with the agent (Andrew Walker) tasked with finding out what she’s hiding. They, inevitably, fall in love.
Any good? The set-up for this is bonkers and has all the makings of a decent comic caper but it plays things a little too safe to stand out. The leads don’t share much chemistry and he, in particular, is so sullen I’m not exactly certain what she sees in him. Crack a smile, mate!
Key line: ‘Airport professionals don’t accept bribes’
Comparable to: A saucy Xmas blind date that turns out to be with Geoff from accounting.
Christmas spirit: I started drinking at 7:09.
8pm – 10pm: Love Strikes Twice, or Second Chance Christmas (2017)
Give me the gist: A couple on the brink of divorce get a second chance when she’s hit by a car and can’t remember why she doesn’t want to be with him anymore. That’s, err, pretty horrifying…
Any good? This is my fourth Hallmark Christmas movie back-to-back and I’m really struggling. Why do all these plots involve lying? Why do these women keep forgiving these horrible men? Who thought amnesia would be festive? So, no, it’s not very good.
Key line: ‘We’re on shaky ethical ground here’
Comparable to: Being served raw turkey and then told you’re to blame.
Christmas spirit: Send help.
Love Strikes Twice, or Second Chance Christmas manages to get into some pretty dubious ethical territory (Picture: MarVista Entertainment)
10pm – 12am: A Christmas Eve Miracle (2015)
Give me the gist: A working mum (Olivia d’Abo) is trying to have it all and wonders what life would be like if she waited to have kids. Gee, I sure hope a suspiciously portly gentleman isn’t around to hear that…
Any good? A remarkably back-to-basics Christmas movie much in the vein of It’s A Wonderful Life. It’s actually quite pleasant but by far the best thing about it is that it’s narrated by a dog voiced by Jon Voight. How did this happen? Had he always wanted to voice a dog? Jon, I need to know, please answer my calls.
Key line: ‘I wish I could help but I’m just a dog.’
Comparable to: A cosy Christmas jumper that the moths have got at.
Christmas spirit: Small sparks emerging.
12am – 2am: Silver Bells 2013
Give me the gist: An obnoxious sports broadcaster (Bruce Boxleitner) learns there are more important things in life than winning when he’s sentenced to community service and forced to help the Salvation Army.
Any good? This quite blatant bit of propaganda managed to confuse my sleep-wrecked brain into somewhat enjoying its heavy-handed message. That message mainly being that you should donate to the Salvation Army. Go on then, here’s a fiver, go buy yourselves another tuba.
Key line: ‘What are you speaking? Womanese?’
Comparable to: Watching The Queen’s speech. It’s boring but feels important.
Christmas spirit: Against all odds, rising.
2am – 4am: I’ll Be Next Door for Christmas (2018)
Give me the gist: The daughter (Juliette Angelo) of a Christmas-obsessed family stages a fake Christmas next door for the benefit of her new boyfriend who suffered a traumatic Christmas in the past.
Any good? This is one of the few Christmas movies I’ve watched this marathon that has put the rom ahead of the com. The jokes are never particularly funny, sure, scenes drag on way too long and everybody is chewing the scenery (I love store-brand Tim Robins and store-brand Amy Poehler in the parent roles) but at least it’s trying.
Key line: ‘Mummy, why is Nicky killing Christmas?’
Comparable to: A Christmas cracker joke that goes on for 100 minutes.
Christmas spirit: Do I… hate Christmas now?
I’ll Be Next Door for Christmas is a Christmas Cracker joke that lasts 100 minutes (Picture: That Christmas Story LLC)
4am – 6am: Santa with Muscles (1996)
Give me the gist: A body-building businessman (Hulk Hogan) is tricked into thinking he’s Santa when he bumps his head. He then proceeds to save an orphanage from an evil scientist who wanted the magical crystals beneath it. I’m honestly not making this up…
Any good? This is almost like a live-action cartoon it’s so stupid. Hulk Hogan – who was so convincing in his racist sex tape – isn’t quite as believable as Santa Claus. Though he is undeniably muscular. After eleven Christmas movies of pretty shoddy quality, however, at least it’s memorable.
Key line: ‘Santa Claus? What a bonehead.’
Comparable to: Someone buying you a Davina McCall exercise DVD for Christmas. Thanks, I guess.
Christmas spirit: I’m going to sleep.
GREAT! movies Christmas is available on Freeview 51, Sky 319, Virgin 424 and Freesat 303