The Two Gay Geeks and our Staff are taking a much needed break from Thanksgiving through the end of the year, but we still wanted to have content for you to read during that time. As such we got busy and watched all of our favorite holiday videos. Some are classics and others are off-beat and loosely associated with the holidays. We hope you enjoy our offerings and that you holiday season is safe, sane, and satisfying.
Holiday films run the risk of becoming overly sentimental and “schmaltzy” as they play on ridiculous old town stereotypes that look like they come out of some demented Twilight Zone episode. Films like that, even with the best of intentions, can really push people away with their saccharin sweetness to the point where dentists see an increase in patients just from bad tooth decay. But why do such movies get made? Is there a purpose to it all?
Farewell Mr. Kringle tells the story of a journalist (Annabelle Wahl played by Christine Taylor) for a major publication in Los Angeles. She sent on assignment by her boss (Zoe Marsden played by Vivica A. Fox) to go to the town of Mistletoe and blog about an eccentric old man who believes to be the real Santa Claus. Annabelle is the perfect choice because she doesn’t celebrate Christmas. She’s not a scrooge like character, she just chooses not to celebrate since the death of her husband only three years earlier on Christmas Eve. Annabelle reluctantly heads up to Northern California in order to live blog and learn more about this peculiar old man. What she finds is something out of the ordinary. Mistletoe is a quaint little town where all the streets and business have some sort of Yuletide theme to them. As she starts to talk to people she learns that the people of Mistletoe owe a great deal to this elderly Kris Kringle. He has helped with their marriages and even given money to help people start businesses. Anna doesn’t buy it. While she finds what Kris has done to be kind, she thinks he’s also weird for pretending to be the real Santa. What started it? His own wife died on Christmas Eve only after having been married for three days.
Over the days to come the small town starts to get under her skin in all of the right ways. She meets with Kris (William Morgan Sheppard) repeatedly and even then starts to understand why he does all of this. During that time she also meets a former divorce lawyer named Mark Strafford (Christopher Wiehl) who used to be quite the big deal in L.A., only now he is retired and is the owner of the very Inn that Anna is staying at. The two hit it off almost immediately and there is love in the air. That alone scares Anna away and she heads back to L.A. out of fear of commitment. However the affect the town had on her doesn’t go away and she eventually makes her way back to Mistletoe where she convinces Kris to keep on being Santa, and she even marries Mark.
This movie is way beyond the pale with its sentimentality. The lines are ridiculous and many of the performances are absurd. So why did we here at TG2Studios add this movie as one of our holiday traditions? Some years ago we were in attendance at the second Phoenix Fan Fest and we saw William Morgan Sheppard was in attendance. We were already fans of his portrayal of Santa in the Disney animated short Prep and Landing so when saw that he had no one to chat with at his autograph table we took it upon ourselves to chat him up, and we were thrilled to discover how wonderfully charming he was. During our conversation we mentioned his role as Santa, but he didn’t realize we were talking about Prep and Landing and instead thought we were discussing Farewell Mr. Kringle, which apparently he isn’t very fond of. Nonetheless we took it upon ourselves to see this film for ourselves, and we were able to understand his position. This movie, broadcast on the Hallmark Channel, plays on those earlier mentioned holiday tropes. However, if people are willing to stick it out and get beneath the sickly sweet presentation there lurks in the sub-text something really charming. There is a message about how the goodness of one man was able to transform an entire town, and as the people in the town were transformed the infection of goodness just began to spread. This movie shows how we can make that choice to become better people. It’s the other side of that Scrooge story, only here we see the result as it has fully blossomed. It’s a goodness that can heal broken hearts and bring people together. Anna was terrified of loving again, and yet here she learned that there was plenty of love to share, and in doing so she even provided healing for Kris where he least expected it.
We hear about small town USA and the sense of innocence that they sometimes have. The town of Mistletoe in this movie shows that such a place could exist if people all became as selfless as Kris. Even the most cynical of people would eventually be won over by the all-encompassing goodness of such a place, and that is all through the spirit of Christmas. If such a place existed then we could carry the spirit of Christmas in our hearts all year long and we would then never have to say Farewell Mr. Kringle.
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