Monday, September 25, 2023

A Clüsterfünke Christmas is a Shallow and mean parody

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So…Hallmark movies exist, and they tend to rely on formulas and tropes a whole lot. If that one observation filled you with rage and/or made you bust your gut laughing, then Comedy Central’s Hallmark parody A Clüsterfünke Christmas is for you.

I am not the biggest fan of the holiday rom-com. Be it Hallmark, Lifetime, or some other company. It’s not my scene. Rom-coms in general really aren’t. But at the same time, I’m not about to judge someone else for liking them. That, it appears, is not Comedy Central’s philosophy.

A Clüsterfünke Christmas is a throwback to a particular era of parody films. Specifically, the early 2000s. The era that killed parody films. Things like Scary Movie, Epic Movie, and Superhero Movie. An era that relied on an avalanche of references in place of a plot, and/or the audience’s hatred of whatever they were parodying.

Do you remember Twilight? Of course you do. Do you remember Vampires Suck? Of course not, why would you? Because for parody to work, you need more than just mockery of the subject. You can enjoy Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein without having ever seen a Western or a Universal Monster movie. There is nothing for you in A Clüsterfünke Christmas if you haven’t seen a Hallmark holiday rom-com. Hell, even if you have I’m not sure there’s much for you.

A rich but lonely business woman in New York City gets sent to a small East Coast town to do a business deal over Christmas. While there, she meets a handsome local man who loves Christmas, and he woos her while teaching her about the wonders of small towns, local businesses, and Christmas. There are some shenanigans and misunderstandings, but eventually she decides to throw her old life away to move to this small town and do things his way.

…that’s it, really. Just the most basic, cliched possible holiday rom-com plot.

Comedy Central Parody Justification
The last refuge of lazy parody.

I do recognize that, yes, that’s the point of the special. However…it’s not good. There’s no subversion of tropes, no redirecting of plots. I kept waiting and waiting for something, anything to deviate. Even mean-spiritedly. It refused to, categorically.

Well, it got mean-spirited, I shouldn’t imply that it didn’t. The tone and types of jokes, combined with what I hope was purposefully bad acting and writing, makes it pretty clear that this isn’t a film for fans of holiday rom-coms to poke fun at themselves or the genre. This is a film for people who hate holiday rom-coms.

At the same time however, it refuses to go all the way. I kept waiting for something to happen. For the main character to snap and refuse to give up her whole life to live in a small town with some dude she just met. For an epilogue where their attempts to keep the small business afloat fails and she goes back to the city. For the Christmas Bonfire to kill someone. Anything.

That would require effort though, and it’s much easier to just rip something off than it is to go full South Park. For such a mean film, it ends on a surprisingly shmaltzy tone.

Ultimately, I don’t know who this movie was for. People who like holiday rom-coms won’t find anything for them here. People who dislike holiday rom-coms will just find a basic film that parrots most of the things they already know and say without adding much new. And people who like parody will just find themselves getting flashbacks to a dark time in the genre.

If you want a dumb fun Christmas comedy that was specifically made in 2021, go watch HBO’s 8-Bit Christmas. It’s also not great, but it’s a hell of a lot better than this.

Images Courtesy of Comedy Central

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  • Molly

    Gay, she/her. An unabashed Disney fangirl, who may or may not have an excessive love of shipping, comics, and RPGs. She's not saying. And anything you've heard about attempts to start a cult centered around Sofia Boutella is...probably true.

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