These holiday movies, the entertainment equivalent of a weighted blanket, are big business for television. They catapult the Hallmark Channel — the reigning champ of the season — into the ranks of the most-watched cable channels in the months leading up to Christmas (Hallmark was the fifth-most watched in November). Lifetime, BET and OWN also have their own original holiday movie slates, and recent years have seen streaming platforms getting a piece of the craze. Netflix has nearly a dozen original Christmas movies this year, and Hulu’s “Happiest Season,” a queer holiday rom-com starring Kristen Stewart, has topped a bunch of Christmas movie must-watch lists.
So perhaps it’s a natural evolution for Fox to have its own Christmas movie. Fox Nation launched in 2018 as a commentary-heavy subscription service with extra content from Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham and Web shows from controversial personalities such as Tomi Lahren and Trump super fans Diamond and Silk (who have since moved to up-and-coming Fox rival Newsmax). Since its debut, Fox Nation has expanded into lifestyle entertainment programming with historical documentaries, cooking shows and Christmas-themed content. But “Christmas in the Rockies” is the streamer’s first original holiday movie.
And as far as Christmas movies starring actors you’ve never heard of before — a genre unto itself — “Christmas in the Rockies” has an impressive number of the classic tropes.
Our protagonist, Katie, struggles between taking a big-city job or staying in the Rockies to help her dad after a timber accident. “There will be other jobs, but you are the only dad I have!” Katie declares. There is a widower, a common presence in the holiday movie world. The downtown has a sufficiently quaint Main Street. (It even has one shop available to buy proper snow hiking boots.) The family name and business have a holiday vibe — Jolly Lumber, owned by the Jollys, which, wow, how convenient.
Like other Christmas movies, many of which are filmed in the summer, Katie seems underdressed for the snowy weather. If we’re sitting on a blanket laid out on a snowy hill, we’re wearing more than a pair of jeans and a slim, unzipped jacket. Where is your hat, Katie?
Lighting the tree is the ultimate moment of euphoria. Christmas lights and cutout decorations must be present in every indoor scene — we even spotted Christmas wreaths in the makeshift gym where Katie trains for the lumberjack competition. (In fact, that’s one notable departure: People are hardly ever trying to get in shape in these movies.) It’s like five Christmas movies in one.
These movies rely on plot predictability, soft-lighting and plentiful Christmas treats for their warm appeal. And like other such movies, “Christmas in the Rockies” has no overt political agenda or really much mention of the religious underpinnings of the season. The general message is always family, friendship, love, the magic of the season, a steadfast devotion to a Christmas decorations, etc. You get it.
You’d never even know this was a Fox Nation movie if not for out-of-nowhere cameos from Fox hosts Doocy and Earhardt. At the beginning of the movie, Doocy casually calls Katie from Fox studios in New York to make his annual Christmas donation to Jolly Lumber (seems that call could have been an email). And then later, Earhardt does the same — plus an offer for Katie to sit on “the curvy couch” as a guest on the popular morning program “Fox & Friends.”
All of which raises several questions for us. How did Katie — who was raised in the Rockies, has plans to work at an environmental law firm and can’t stop noting that New York City is a world away from her life — befriend not one, but two Fox News hosts? Who else is in her social circle? Why didn’t Katie leverage her Fox News connections into some media attention to help her family’s business or, at the very least, a retweet of a GoFundMe page?
We get no answers from “Christmas in the Rockies.” Just plenty of ornaments, Christmas music and snow.