Fast forward to the presents
By Ben Joseph
It's YOU again.
This is you.
CUT TO: YOU and the ROCKEFELLER CENTER CHRISTMAS TREE.
This is your holiday. You
understand it's not for everyone,
but you like it OK.
TITLE CARD: THE SIX CHRISTMAS MOVIES YOU'LL LIVE THROUGH
And these are the six Christmas
movies you'll live through.
TITLE CARD: THE CARTOON
INT. SUBURBAN HOUSE - ANIMATED
DARKNESS. RED NUMBERS tell us it's 4:55 AM. Two EYES open.
You feel like you just ate Lucky
Charms for six weeks straight. Only
the marshmallows, of course.
LIGHTS ON. YOU - age 4, a cartoon - hop out of bed and shove
your face against the window. It's snowing outside!
You burst into your PARENT'S BEDROOM and wake them up.
Why sleep? There's no school. Every
meal is followed by cookies. Every
cookie is followed by toys.
You ZOOM back and forth through frame, first carrying
nothing, then COOKIES, then PRESENTS.
MATCH CUT TO: In an ANIMATED SCHEMATIC, 12 TODDLERS in
HARNESSES run in a circle, turning a giant POWER TURBINE.
Ethics aside, scientists say a
dozen four-year-olds under the
influence of Christmas could power
Missouri for the next 500 years.
BACK TO SCENE. As the Narrator talks, fictional characters,
all ready for Christmas, join you by the the CHRISTMAS TREE.
All your favorite people love this
holiday. The Turtles, Pikachu,
Phineas, Ferb, John McClane, even
Spongebob. They all have Christmas
specials. Because Christmas-
(you mouth it to camera)
-is the mother-f*cking best.
REVEAL: Your mom stares down at you, horrified.
You play by the tree as your parents argue in BG:
You let him watch Die Hard?!
It's a classic!
TITLE CARD: THE (ACTUAL) CLASSIC
INT. SUBURBAN HOUSE - LIVE ACTION, VINTAGE B&W
You, in pajamas, eat from a CAN OF FROSTING under the tree.
Then, suddenly, it's no longer OK
to spend all day eating frosting in
your Spiderman onesie.
Two hands yank you out from under the tree. In QUICK SHOTS,
you're GROOMED and DRESSED for a holiday photo.
Suddenly, you're a small, adorable
prop in somebody's else's movie.
Your FAMILY, in ELEGANT 1930s WARDROBE, poses for a holiday
portrait. You fidget irritably.
This suit itches.
You're at dinner, MEAT and CRANBERRY SAUCE in front of you.
These are not cookies.
You sit and watch It's a Wonderful Life with your parents.
This is not Donkey's Christmas
Good Christmas stories have color
and 3D and talking dinosaurs
wearing Santa hats.
You sit by the tree, unimpressed by a wooden BALL & CUP TOY.
How could a Christmas like this be
fun for anybody?
As you sit bored, your parents kiss romantically in the
background, mirroring a scene from It's a Wonderful Life.
TITLE CARD: THE COMEDY
INT. SUBURBAN HOUSE - LIVE-ACTION, COLOR
You, now a TEENAGER, sit on a couch, surrounded by laughing
RED-FACED RELATIVES in awful CHRISTMAS SWEATERS.
When did your Christmas turn into a
series of broad comedic set-pieces?
You stand up and walk through the house.
The alcoholic relatives, the
obnoxious neighbors, the inevitable
You pass a DRUNK COUPLE FIGHTING, a NEIGHBOR in the window,
and your UNCLE, failing to put the star on the tree.
It might be funny on a screen
Actually, it wasn't really that
funny there, either.
ULTRA QUICK CUTS: Posters for AWFUL CHRISTMAS COMEDIES.
(Four Christmases, Christmas with the Kranks, Deck the
Halls, Jingle All The Way, Fred Claus, etc.)
You step OUTSIDE for a breath of fresh air.
This holiday is just a cynical cash
grab with no real heart. Two thumbs
down. Total waste of time.
Then, you spot HER, next door, also seeking refuge from her
family. She smiles. Waves.
Well, maybe not a total waste.
Your UNCLE, tied to a plastic reindeer with Christmas
lights, falls through frame, hitting the ground hard.
(quiet, in pain)
Oh, that's my femur.
You should probably take him to the
TITLE: THE ROMANCE
EXT. THE CITY - LIVE ACTION
You, now in your 20s, walk with her on a cold winter's day.
You never thought this would be
your type of movie.
You're both on a MATTRESS in your apartment, kissing gently.
Two average young people-
You stare at camera. The Narrator SIGHS and starts over.
Two successful, charismatic,
beautiful young lovers-
Better. Kissing her, you motion for him to keep it coming.
-who are also good at sex and
cooking and Scrabble-
You sit on the couch with Her, laughing at the TV.
-brought together by some holiday
coincidence fall madly, deeply,
perfectly in love.
Also the guy secretly fights space
Josh gives camera a thumbs up.
But there's always that stupid
second act. Holiday stress leads to
fractures, fractures becomes
cracks, and cracks threaten to
split the whole thing apart.
QUICK SHOTS: Angry phone calls. You spot her shopping with
another man. She waits with dinner but you never show up. A
fight. Finally, she storms out, SLAMMING THE DOOR.
But, hey, this is the movies. It
always works out.
You stare at the door.
It works out, right?
TITLE CARD: THE CHRISTMAS CAROL
INT. VICTORIAN OFFICE - LIVE ACTION
YOU, in 18th century garb, work at a MUSTY OLD COMPUTER.
You know this one, right? It's the
story of a successful, hardworking
man who can't get any work done
because his stupid friends and
family keep bothering him.
(on the phone)
I'm sorry, Mom! I just can't make
it home this year!
(listens for a beat)
Because I have a job, that's why!
(you hang up)
(soft, under your breath)
At your desk, you efficiently wrap presents.
You sent presents. For dad, you
even found that Japanese thing that
makes coffee and lentils at the
same time. What more do they want?!
You load the gifts onto an ORPHAN BOY and get back to work.
You can't afford any distractions.
Not now. At least there's no such
thing as ghosts from the past-
The bell above the door RINGS. You look up. It's HER.
(a little bashful)
Of your stunned expression, we FADE TO BLACK.
This last movie isn't great.
A LENS CAP comes off. YOU, a little older, stare down into
camera. The image quality is grainy, home video.
What the hell is AEB-
The cinematographer clearly has no
idea what he's doing.
Yeah- Just- Give me a sec-
Our screen turns SEPIA, then NEON, then OFF. CUT TO:
JITTERY FOOTAGE of your LIVING ROOM, ready for Christmas.
The actors miss their cues. Stammer
through their lies. Act without any
SHE enters, sleepy, with a BABY. You push camera at her.
Oh, f*ck, he just spit up on me. I
need to change-
Still, it has a certain charm to
it. An authenticity.
You set up the camera and join your family on the couch. A
NATURAL, IMPROVISED conversation ensues along these lines:
Are you sure you set the timer?
Yeah, I'm sure- You get the dog?
No, I thought you-
Sandy! Come here Sandy!
It's not perfect. It's not
beautiful. Sometimes, there's puke
on it. But it's always yours.
DOG NOISES approach camera from O.S.
Sandy, be careful. / STOP!
Camera starts to FALL OVER. SNAP. FREEZE FRAME on a
CHRISTMAS CARD of the FAMILY, scared, lunging toward camera.