Fast forward to the presents
By Ben Joseph
It's YOU again. NARRATOR (V.O.) This is you. CUT TO: YOU and the ROCKEFELLER CENTER CHRISTMAS TREE. NARRATOR (V.O.) 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 NARRATOR (V.O.) 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. NARRATOR (V.O.) 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. NARRATOR (V.O.) 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. NARRATOR (V.O.) 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. NARRATOR (V.O.) 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: MOM You let him watch Die Hard?! DAD 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. NARRATOR (V.O.) 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. NARRATOR (V.O.) 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. NARRATOR (V.O.) This suit itches. You're at dinner, MEAT and CRANBERRY SAUCE in front of you. NARRATOR (V.O.) These are not cookies. You sit and watch It's a Wonderful Life with your parents. NARRATOR (V.O.) This is not Donkey's Christmas Shrektacular. (beat) 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. NARRATOR (V.O.) 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. NARRATOR (V.O.) When did your Christmas turn into a series of broad comedic set-pieces? You stand up and walk through the house. NARRATOR (V.O.) The alcoholic relatives, the obnoxious neighbors, the inevitable decoration-related accidents. You pass a DRUNK COUPLE FIGHTING, a NEIGHBOR in the window, and your UNCLE, failing to put the star on the tree. NARRATOR (V.O.) It might be funny on a screen somewhere- (beat) 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. NARRATOR (V.O.) 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. NARRATOR (V.O.) Well, maybe not a total waste. Your UNCLE, tied to a plastic reindeer with Christmas lights, falls through frame, hitting the ground hard. UNCLE (quiet, in pain) Oh, that's my femur. NARRATOR (V.O.) You should probably take him to the hospital. TITLE: THE ROMANCE EXT. THE CITY - LIVE ACTION You, now in your 20s, walk with her on a cold winter's day. NARRATOR (V.O.) You never thought this would be your type of movie. You're both on a MATTRESS in your apartment, kissing gently. NARRATOR (V.O.) Two average young people- You stare at camera. The Narrator SIGHS and starts over. NARRATOR (V.O.) Two successful, charismatic, beautiful young lovers- Better. Kissing her, you motion for him to keep it coming. NARRATOR (V.O.) (quicker) -who are also good at sex and cooking and Scrabble- You sit on the couch with Her, laughing at the TV. NARRATOR (V.O.) -brought together by some holiday coincidence fall madly, deeply, perfectly in love. (beat, quick) Also the guy secretly fights space crime. Josh gives camera a thumbs up. NARRATOR (V.O.) 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. NARRATOR (V.O.) But, hey, this is the movies. It always works out. You stare at the door. NARRATOR (V.O.) 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. NARRATOR (V.O.) 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. YOU (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) Bah! (soft, under your breath) Humbug. At your desk, you efficiently wrap presents. NARRATOR (V.O.) 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. NARRATOR (V.O.) 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. HER (a little bashful) Merry Christmas? Of your stunned expression, we FADE TO BLACK. NARRATOR (V.O.) 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. YOU What the hell is AEB- NARRATOR (V.O.) The cinematographer clearly has no idea what he's doing. HER (O.S.) Ready? YOU (adjusting settings) 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. NARRATOR (V.O.) The actors miss their cues. Stammer through their lies. Act without any clear motivation. SHE enters, sleepy, with a BABY. You push camera at her. YOU Hello gorgeous. HER (laughing) Shut-up. (beat) Oh, f*ck, he just spit up on me. I need to change- NARRATOR (V.O.) 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: HER Are you sure you set the timer? YOU Yeah, I'm sure- You get the dog? HER No, I thought you- YOU (to O.S.) Sandy! Come here Sandy! NARRATOR (V.O.) 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. YOU/HER Sandy, be careful. / STOP! Camera starts to FALL OVER. SNAP. FREEZE FRAME on a CHRISTMAS CARD of the FAMILY, scared, lunging toward camera. NARRATOR (V.O.) Merry Christmas. END.