Even without new ones, there are approximately 3.2 billion movies about Christmas that have been made since celluloid was invented. There is even one called "Christmas Day," about two hit men who have to work the holiday. I'm not kidding.
There are movies named for every other holiday, too, as you can see from the list at the end of this post. With just about every other holiday name taken, somewhere in Hollywood, the slush pile on some producer's desk must include a script with the working title, "Martin Luther King Jr. Day." (Actually, there is already a documentary with that name. I'm talking about a feature film.)
I'm hoping the feature "MLKJ Day" is a romantic comedy. (I guess you could say I have a dream.) If we're lucky, it will be a big, sprawling romantic comedy with an ensemble cast of stars and intertwined plot lines. By my reckoning, there are already three such holiday movies in recent years, "Love Actually," "Valentine's Day" and the forthcoming, "New Year's Eve."
Along with plenty of stars and romance, "Love Actually" gave us plenty of fun, too -- as when Hugh Grant's Prime Minister looks at a portrait of Margaret Thatcher and wonders whether the Iron Lady had the same sorts of love troubles he was experiencing. "Of course you did, you saucy minx."
"Love Actually" also features a welcome dose of what I consider romantic reality. By reality, I'm mean subplots where cheating on a partner leads to sadness instead of happiness, unlike the usual rom com. "Romantic reality" is not the subplot where the bug-eyed loser character Colin goes to America and immediately falls into bed with a bevy of beauties, thanks to his cute British accent.
A film critic I know and respect hated "Love Actually," but I loved it from the start and it has become a holiday tradition in my household. It was a pretty big commercial hit, too. That's why, eight years later, we got a film called "Valentine's Day" and (coming this December) "New Year's Day." It's the bandwagon effect, as one of my Facebook friends (that's you, Carol) has suggested. Some movies have sequels, and so do some movie concepts. The classic example of concept sequels is the syllabus-load of high school versions of great literature that followed "Clueless," as discussed here.
"Valentine's Day" takes place on February 14, instead of during the Xmas season, but it's the same idea, with a younger cast. This time we've got Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Biel, Topher Grace, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Garner, Patrick Dempsey, Anne Hathaway and a swarm of other Valentine cupids. As one might expect with an imitation -- even an expensive one like this -- the plot weaving is a little looser and less plausible. The writing isn't as clever, either, but it's cute enough to leave us with a warm feeling by the time Garner and Kutcher get together in the end.
"New Year's Eve" is the new addition. Thank goodness it came along, because in journalism we say it takes three to make a trend and I didn't want to wait until "MLKJ Day" to recognize the pattern. "New Year's Eve" is promoted as being "From the makers of 'Valentine's Day,'" so we know pretty much what to expect. More Ashton Kutcher and Jessica Biel for one thing, but this time there's also Lea Michele, Abigail Breslin, Michelle Pfeiffer, Katherine Heigl, Zac Efron, Josh Duhamel and a 2012 calendar worth of other potential dates.
Until that one is released December 9, here's a February-to-November list of other holiday film titles. I've only seen one of these, but then, most of the rest don't appeal much to a chick flick guy:
"Groundhog Day" (1993 ) - Feels like we've seen this over and over, and we probably have. It's that good.
"President's Day" ( 2010) - Haven't seen it, but IMDB lists it as comedy and horror. Not a good sign.
"St. Patrick's Day" ( 1997) - An Irish-American family reunion. Reputedly has an awkward hot tub scene.
"Memorial Day" (2011 ) - There are a bunch of "Memorial Day" movies. This one, a war movie, is the latest.
"Flag Day" ( 2007) - Only 17 minutes long, but what do you expect for a holiday few observe. But wait! IMDB says it takes place on the Fourth of July. Huh? Well, that leads us to...
"Independence Day" ( 1996) - So successful, there's an Independence Day 2 and Independence Day 3. Where's the Fourth of Independence Day?
"Labor Day" (2009) - Listed as a comedy/drama/romance. Might be worth a look if I could find it.
"Halloween" ( 1978) - The original, with Jamie Lee Curtis. But psychotic murderers just aren't my thing.
"Veteran's Day" ( 2011) - Another horror movie, not yet released.