http://www.ibtimes.com/hallmark-channels-sweetest-christmas-premiere-meet-cast-watch-trailer-2612373

Christmas Advent #2 – The Sweetest Christmas

After yesterday’s disappointing film (I still want to kill Andy….) I was hoping for better today, so I picked a film which appeared to involve a lot of cake. If this doesn’t involve a lot of cake now… let’s just say Andy has it coming to her.

We start off with Gretchen from Mean Girls masquerading as a woman who apparently bakes Christmassy goods. Her hair is no longer so big. She does not hold on to secrets now.

We drop in on her forcing her two young nieces to help with a photo shoot, by sprinkling fake snow over gingerbread Santa and his reindeer whilst she takes pictures on her phone. She then claims she will send the photos off via email and hope for the best. Now…. she does this in about three clicks of her phone…. They must have bloody good internet because I know mine would take 5 minutes just to attach the photos to the email and then the entire thing would crash while I was trying to send it because life.

Kylie, as she is known, has since made a giant ass gingerbread house and is still being pestered by children because she is a baking slave and what does she think she’s doing pondering her life choices, bring us some god damn cookies, woman.


Child #1: “Oh but Mom, we want to bake like Aunt Kylie.”

Brother-in-law/Possible Actual Brother/All Round Prick: “You see the great thing about pretend baking is that it can happen just as easily in the living room. Far away from real hot ovens.”

Me: “Aunt Kylie is smiling but she’s thinking…. What an absolute twat.”

Sister/Sister-in-law: “Kylie, this is even better than that sleigh you made a few weeks ago.”

Kylie: “You think? You talking about the one for the American Gingerbread Competition?”

Me: “Well I dunno, Kylie? How many fucking gingerbread sleighs have you made lately?”

Kylie: “Let’s hope so because that one didn’t even get me a rejection letter.”

Sister/Sister-in-law: “You still haven’t heard back!?”

Kylie: “No.”

Sister/Sister-in-law: “Eurgh, that’s a shame, we really could have used that prize money.”

Kylie: “Oh come on, who needs $25,000.”

Me: “WHAT!?”

Sister/Sister-in-law: “OK… don’t tell me you made this for the Hockey Homes Christmas party?”

Kieran: “She must love baking.”

Me: “I should fucking think she does for $25,000!”


I didn’t realise there was such money in gingerbread architecture….

Moving on we learn that Kylie went to culinary school, was a pastry chef in one of the only 8 restaurants they have in this town, before the owner sold the place and they could no longer afford a pastry chef. She is now a receptionist for…. I’m really not sure what Hockey Homes is and I keep imagining people living in ice rinks…. and is waiting to pay off her culinary school debt.


Sister: “You’ve had an unlucky year, sis.”

Kylie: “Unlucky? I’m not unlucky. I have a sister who lets me live here for free.”

Sister: “You have to pay me in cookies.”

Me: “I could live with that. The sooner she gives them all chronic diabetes, weight and heart issues the sooner the house becomes hers.”

Kieran: “….”


Kylie has also applied for a start up loan for her online cake busines, kyliescakes.com.

….. Let’s just shelf that for now. It’s not even worth analysing the thought which went into this script writing.

They also mention a phantom boyfriend Alex, or ‘Mr Business’ and how this man has been acting very suspiciously about their anniversary dinner coming up. Kylie obviously presumes the man is going to propose to her. I immediately assume that the man is leaving her because he’s concerned for his health, but it’s cool, because another guy will rock up who appreciates her cooking and she’ll be madly in love with him in time for Christmas. It’ll all work out, folks.

It’s at this point Kylie walks into work and it turns out the name of the company is ‘Hawkey Homes’ and they are a real estate agents. I shit you not…. they are saying Hockey. They are saying Hockey Homes. I am imagining ice rink homes and that is final.

So Kylie sits herself down at her desk and her ass has barely touched that seat when she hears a disembodied voice from somewhere above in the office.


Disembodied Voice: “What is with this coffee maker?”

Me: “God?”


Kylie seems totally cool with hearing voices in her head and marches up the stairs to help Jesus’ Dad with his Tassimo. Oh no, my apologies, it’s Alex and he can’t work a coffee maker.

When Kylie hints at their ‘big event’ which happens to be that evening Alex looks completely nonplussed and starts prattling on about the office Christmas party instead. Another woman rocks up, also excited about this party, and Kylie has to specify to this man she means their anniversary dinner. It appears this other woman is his PA or something because she has been trying to figure out where the hell he is taking Kylie for dinner but he has insisted, this year, he wants to plan it all himself. …. That’s just asking for trouble.

Regardless, this conversation ends with Alex/God showing his true colours.



Alex: “I know with your help we can sleigh it. Yeah? Get it?”

Me: “I see a life of misery ahead. Dump him now.”


That evening Alex is leading Kylie through the street blindfolded, so the big restaurant reveal is a surprise, and no one seems bothered by this. For all they know they could have witnessed the world’s slowest kidnapping with the world’s chattiest hostage bragging about how her nose had been to culinary school. Alright, Kylie, wind it in.

So, predictably, Alex has made a reservation at the one restaurant Kylie has never visited because her old boyfriend appears to manage the place. Alex knew nothing of this, other than he was the boy in her old prom photo, and neither does he seem to care. Kylie on the other hand clearly has issues – I, personally, would have been using the fact I knew the manager to get discounted pizza every weekend – but these guys are just all flustered.

Alex makes an excuse to step out for a moment when some buyers ring him, but he may have just rang himself because he quite frankly doesn’t give a shit about any of this anymore. Kylie and Nick are left to discuss Kylie’s culinary skills and how she’s wasting her life as God’s receptionist. That’s when Bobby, Nick’s kid, rocks up with half a pizza on a plate that spins around and calls it his new invention. He even stamps Kylie’s hand with a little pizza logo and says it’s for his friends. That kid knows how to make an entrance.

Then, at dinner, things get a little awkward.


Kylie: “This is an amazing meal with an amazing guy at a restaurant that is Christmas itself…”

Me: “What, spinning pizza?”

Kylie… “and its so…. Alex, that’s why I love you.”

Alex: “I know how much you love Christmas and with that holiday spirit I know this is going to be the best Christmas party we’ve ever had.”

Kylie: “I was actually hoping for an ‘I love you too’ but…”

Alex: “Oh, you know I do. But lately it’s so much more than that. This past year you’ve filled gaps I didn’t even know existed.”

Kylie: “That’s so sweet. I feel the same way.”

Alex: I know this is not the job you dreamed of and I want you to have a bigger role in my life… a role I didn’t think anyone could fill. Kylie… I want you to be my office manager. It’s a lot of work but with your culinary school debt you could use raise and…”

Kylie: “Did you bring me here to tell me about a promotion?”

Alex: “I wanted it to be special. I was so impressed with video conferencing system you installed.”


Must have been a bloody good system. I’ve certainly never received a promotion for never bothering to install a conferencing system at the office.

Anyway, Kylie ends their relationship because after her boyfriend did not propose to her, in a scenario she had entirely fabricated in her own mind, she was bitterly disappointed that real Alex had failed to do something that imaginary Alex definitely, 100% knew about. Legit logic. Thumbs up to Kylie.

Although, in all fairness to the woman, the man did cover the table in rose petals in order to announce a promotion… on the other hand office manager money could be good.

Not surprisingly when she leaves the restaurant she immediately runs into Nick who was grabbing decorations from his car. I’m not sure decorating the restaurant whilst people are eating in it is the best idea he’s ever had but he already left his kid to roam the restaurant with his spinning pizza plate, so whatever.

The next day at work everything is super, super awkward and everyone is staring at Kylie and her still, as yet, unnamed friend as they carry cartons of eggnog around the corridor. They probably don’t even know that she broke up with Alex yet, they’re probably just wondering if Kylie will be able to fit 8 cartons of eggnogg into the staff fridge without touching their lunches in there. Alex is feeling the effects though and doesn’t even acknowledge Kylie, who appears to have still taken the promotion regardless (I see how this works).

After an unfortunate phone call where her start up loan has been denied, her friend hands her a letter that the bin men found behind the rubbish. Alarmingly it is not covered in crap or bin juice but what it is is a congratulatory letter from the American Gingerbread Competition to say Kylie has made it through to the semi-finals.

When Kylie rocks up at home the fire alarm is going off and everyone looks a bit panicked. It turns out her nieces tried ‘baking’ and almost set fire to the house, or at least it appears that way from the scorch marks on the side of the cupboard. Her sister claims the oven is broken, although the next shot reveals what looks like melted plastic toys on an oven rack. I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure the oven still works, you just need to clean it, throw away your oven rack and be prepared for the next few meals to taste like burning plastic.



Prick of a brother-in-law: “Good news, we will have a new oven by Christmas.”

Kylie: “Christmas!?”

Sister: “OK. Calm down. That’s only 7 days.”

Kylie: “The competition is in 6 days. What am I gonna do?!”

Me: “Stop entering competitions that end on Christmas Eve.”


So Kylie and her sister are walking around the streets, trying to figure our whose house she can take over in order to use their oven and probably try to live there rent free for the next 6 days too.

She is just checking out a…. gingerbread cookbook written by the godmother of gingerbread…. when Bobby comes running over and hugs her like he totally knows the woman and she’s not a complete stranger he stamped with a pizza one time.


Nick: “Am I really running into you twice in one week?”

Kylie: “Is that too weird?”

Nick: “Slightly weird.”


No, not weird at all. The first time she turned up at your restaurant and you happen to live in the same village. In fact, I find it weirder that you haven’t seen each other at all.

After a bizarre conversation where Bobby’s old karate teacher is on maternity leave and the new one is having some sort of raffle and Bobby doesn’t want to submit a lasagne and one of Nick’s managers left on short notice…. all of this somehow culminates in Kylie offering to help. I am unsure whether she’s offering to help with the weird ass raffle or she’s just got a new job as a manager but either way she’s thinking of poaching one of Nick’s ovens for her gingerbread.

The whole conversation goes well and Nick agrees to this when all of a sudden a woman rocks up at the restaurant and he grabs his son and his coat and off they go. For some reason Kylie is quite put out by this, where in reality she should be concentrating on her gingerbread and not her old prom date. It’s alright though, two scenes later they reveal it’s just the babysitter.

After a quick brainstorming session about what Kylie will make for this competition, both herself and Nick are blown away by the thought of building the Golden Gate Bridge from cookie, candy canes and liquorice. That is until Ralphie, the chef, rightly puts them in their place and tells them there ain’t nothing Christmassy about a bridge that people frequently like to jump off (in fewer words) and they should probably just build Santa’s village, you unimaginative, stupid arseholes (again, fewer words).

6am the next morning Ralphie has taken Kylie and Bobby to the big ol’ warehouse made for shop and restaurant owners that, if you ask me, is just a supermarket Ralphie has driven them out to. We discover that the reason Kylie and Nick broke up in the first place is because, illogically, she didn’t want to be responsible for taking up all of his time when his family needed him. Also his mom had died because someone always dies in these half-baked, diversions into the past.

Kylie and her sister are out shopping for various Christmassy plants and trimmings when Kylie gets it into her head to buy Nick a Christmas tree after hearing he didn’t have time to put one up. Nothing screams Christmas stalker like turning up at someone’s house with an evergreen!

Unfortunately Alex decides to show up because he has apparently been doing some stalking of his own and picks out a tree for Kylie that looks like it’s on it’s last legs. He is still apologising for being standoffish at work as he walks off to a car and gets the man to tie the tree onto the roof. I’m not even sure if that’s her car but she doesn’t seem to care. Alex is more interested in the media attention the Gingerbread competition gets and offers to sponsor Kylie in the competition. He even offers to buy all of her equipment, let her use the chef’s kitchen in their model home and, and this is the part I can’t believe she turns down, get her a Hockey Homes apron! After a thanks but no thanks she gets into her car, forgetting she has left her sister wondering around amongst the trees, and drives off with her new tree.

I really hope she hasn’t imagined Nick being happy about this, because when she turns up and the real one isn’t elated she’ll probably break up with him too. As it turns out… Nick isn’t initially happy about this crazy woman who has turned up at his house with a tree and questioned his parenting skills. He does, however, say he’ll pay her back which would be great considering Alex bought her the tree in the first place. Kylie just made some dollar dollar bills, ya’ll.

At the infamous office Christmas party Kylie gets a call to say the caterers Alex hired have broken down outside of Atlanta, 16 miles away. I do not understand for the first second why a man would hire a caterer from so far away but it falls down to Nick to deliver an emergency amount of pizza from down the road.

Meanwhile Alex is trying to figure out how to get back into Kylie’s good books and decides this can definitely be achieved by making the grandest gesture of all…. because I mean, if the woman won’t even accept your sponsorship for a gingerbread competition that doesn’t mean she won’t accept your hand in marriage.

Kylie doesn’t give a damn anyway, she’s busy helping Nick decorate his tree and falling off the ladder because it’s a well-known fact that women cannot climb up ladders without falling into people’s arms. It’s an occupational hazard. After Nick pulls out a carousel from the attic, which he apparently bought after a day out at the fair with Kylie, the moment is ruined by Bobby, who totally did not listen when he was told to wait for the cupcakes to cool down before decorating them.


Nick: “In the restaurant this is what we would call a do-over.”

Kylie: “I’ve also heard you say to work with what you’ve got.”

Nick, laughing at the cupcakes his son has tried to decorate: “…. And what is that?”

Me: “Might as well just tell him he’ll never amount to anything while you’re at it, love.”


Turns out Bobby may be a little bit in love with his new karate teacher, also.

Back in the kitchen Kylie decides to burn herself on a tray where Nick immediately jumps into action with a bag of ice. Let me tell you, I burn myself every time I use the oven and when I blistered my actual fingertips one day Kieran did not jump into action. Kieran was far too busy being in another room.

During a quick walk because Nick clearly fears Kylie is about to poke her own eye out with a skewer if she doesn’t take a break, she decides the best way to loosen up is to throw dirty gutter snow at Nick and have a dirty gutter snow snowball fight in the middle of the street. I’d have poked her eye out with the damn skewer myself if she’d thrown that at me.

Kylie is just giving Bobby a tour of Santa’s gingerbread village – where by the way I clearly see his face touch a roof – when Nick comes in and drops the ultimate bombshell (way bigger than Alex’s future proposal, whenever the hell that’s coming). Kylie’s gingerbread making idol has decided to enter the competition, despite being from another country and being famous enough already to have written multiple books. I get the feeling she should be hosting, not competing. I also get the feeling Alex has something to do with this.

There is a twist to this year’s competition, though:


Announcer: “Now, we have some new rules this year. Contestants are now allowed an AA battery device in their construction, as long as the remainder of the house is entirely edible.”


I think they should have kicked it up a notch. I think they should have demanded any lights included in the competition were powered by gingerbread alone.

They would have had time, there were only four bloody contestants, including the infamous godmother of gingerbread who shows up being sponsored by the one and only Hawkey Homes. Alex clearly has businessman brain. Yes people! She actually pronounces it correctly!

Anyway, Kylie is freaking the fuck out. On top of that Nick has used his Christmas bonus to buy a million tickets for everyone to attend the gingerbread competition she is certain she will lose because she doesn’t even know whether she should be using edible stained glass in her windows or not. Instead of deciding on a god damn idea already Kylie runs off to an inn I have not heard mentioned once during this film but turns out to be where the competition is hosted.

After leaving a vague voicemail for Nick she hears God… again. Upstairs in the inn Alex and the actual godmother of gingerbread are planning something that sounds suspiciously like a wedding cake.


Alex: “Stay away. You can’t look inside this booth.”

Kylie: “You don’t have to be so secretive anymore. I’m withdrawing from the competition.”

Godmother of gingerbread: “But you must come.”

Alex: “You’ll ruin everything.”

Me: “Bit harsh.”

Kylie: “I thought you’d be happy. Now you have an even better chance of winning.”

Godmother of gingerbread: “You think I need you to withdraw in order to win?”


Stay in your lane, Kylie.

Alex caves and asks for a moment alone with Kylie in order to show her their entry into the competition. I am not sure why she is so impressed by the one storey gingerbread shop when she has created an entire village herself, but whatever.

On closer inspection there is a ring on a little stand, floating around in cotton wool that suddenly lights up and pops the ring out, and the whole thing looks like it just got vomited out by a sheep. Getting a sheep to vomit engagement rings on command would be a pretty grand gesture, I have to admit, but that is not what’s happening here.

Either way Nick pops up on the balcony at the wrong time, which is confusing because that means he came in via the roof and we should probably examine that a little more as I think he might be Santa, and is pretty pissed off to see Kylie being proposed to by another man. Even when she confirms she turned Alex down he ain’t having it, he’s had enough, man.

So Nick has disappeared and Kylie decides she can fix the entire thing with gingerbread in 12 hours. God only knows what happened to Santa’s village after driving everyone insane about it for 6 days, but she has other ideas.

On the big day Kylie has mere seconds to reveal her entry before she is disqualified from this high-stake competition and pops out of her booth with what looks like half a face mask peeling off her face. I believe it is meant to be food or edible glue to symbolise to the viewer she has been up all night working on this but in reality… she looks like a lizard person.

What Kylie reveals is a gingerbread carousel that spins around and around on that little pizza plate invention Bobby came up with a million hours ago. Now…. I am unsure how she made that spinning plate and base out of gingerbread, I was joking when I said it needed to be powered by gingerbread too, but who gives a damn because she totes just won $25,000 and gets to eat an entire carousel!!!!

Nick is very impressed by this carousel even though 12 hours ago he was throwing the strop of the century and off they go to visit the very same carousel they rode around on when they were kids.

 

Well… didn’t we know that was all going to end so neatly? By the end of this adventure I’m pretty sure we will have revealed all of the secrets to the Christmas film formula.

Except for Alex…. I feel sorry for Alex. I believe all of the jilted husbands, wives, fiances and partners of Christmas films – the people who are cast away for a shiny new Christmas love interest – should have their own films. I’d totally watch those….

Until tomorrow, folks!

 

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http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/a-rose-for-christmas

Christmas Advent #1 – A Rose for Christmas

So. Ok. I already knew Christmas channels existed where a plethora of straight-to-TV films are rolled out 24 hours a day (disclaimer: even when they say Christmas24…  They don’t mean it. It’s more like Christmas 16 but that sounds like the media nickname given to a group of victims who were killed by a festive spree killer dressed as Santa).

For this merry ass time of year I thought I would subject myself, my family and friends to a Christmas film a day until the big day. Not your big, budget films who may have seen the bright lights of a cinema screening – I ain’t interested in those, that’s what Sky Christmas is for – but the low-budget, homely, bizarre, nonsensical ramblings of the straight-to-TV variety.

Thank god Christmas 16 exists because it’s gonna see me through this one.

So let’s get this show on the road folks! It’s time to welcome in the season with *extra extra long drum roll*

A Rose for Christmas

We start straight off with a montage of people parading through the streets on very non-Christmassy floats while a Christmas song plays in the background… I’m already all over this.

We quickly drop in to a woman teaching a high school art class where all the students look as if they could be the same age as her and are suspiciously hiding their faces by all turning away from the camera. This, however, gives us a great view of their artwork and I have to say… I hope none of them are pinning their hopes and dreams on this art degree.

The woman is trying to tell the students their art will look amazing no matter what happens because it’s Christmas and Christmas apparently makes people blind. One student, Eric, is more interested in his phone than painting a bunch of festive candles but seems very cool about the teacher removing his phone from his hand and replacing it with a paint brush.


Unnamed woman: “You know how you love lifting weights? Why don’t we try lifting a paint brush?”

Eric: “…. OK….”

Me: “…. She knows that was his mobile, right? Not a modern, compact weight that allows you to send messages, take calls and connect to wifi?”


Quickly moving on from this and Eric’s confused expression we are dropped into a suspiciously festive boardroom that’s been decorated as if people need visual cues to tell them it’s Christmas. …. Odd…..

Standing in front of that infamous boardroom Christmas tree we all have in the office, a young, generic looking man in a suit is speaking to a bunch of older partners and telling them they will need to work Christmas because he kindly moved a January deadline hella forward for them.

One guy, who I presume is the boss, seems pretty happy about this and loudly proclaims in front of everyone that ‘Bulldozer Cliff’ has struck again and done a fantastic job… although not everyone seems to think so. The rest of the partners are leaving the room and glaring back at ‘Bulldozer Cliff’, although it’s hard to tell whether they’re angry about the deadline or just cannot fucking believe the madness that leaves their bosses mouth every time he thinks up a new nickname for them.

It’s safe to say everyone hates Cliff…. Apparently even the boss does, as he tells his employee they are shipping him off to California where he will…. I’m sorry what was that? He will be supervising the building of their ‘Rose Parade’ float? To increase the companies visibility to competitors and clients overseas?

Now… we don’t have a lot of floats and parades in England so I am not the governing body on commercial floats, but the very fact I am overseas and don’t know shit about this tells me… a float is not the wisest way to spend your advertising budget (albeit it will move so slowly people could probably read the full terms and conditions without having to turn their heads too far).

Time for a subplot! The art teacher apparently does not show her own art work to anyone. At this early in the game I’m going to say the last person she ever showed her work to then died in a tragic, festive accident and she’s never had the heart to end another man’s life like that.

When Cliff lands in California he arrives at the warehouse and promptly interrupts people at work, only to have the guy welding together two pieces of metal together take their face guard off and turn out to be our beloved, selfish art teacher.



Cliff: “I’m from North Lake financial. You’re building our float.”

Woman: “Oh yeah, I think you’re due tomorrow?”

Cliff: “Yeah, I’m early.”

Me: “… Is that correct meeting etiquette? Are you allowed to be that early?”


After some further awkward conversation and discovering this woman’s name is Andy….


Cliff: “Sorry if I came on a little too strong earlier.”

Me: “Two seconds ago.”

Cliff: “At the office they call me ‘The Bulldozer’. Any obstacle in my way I knock it over.”

Me: “I think he has the wrong demolition equipment….”


There is no time to be any more awkward because she receives a call and is rushing off to the Dr’s where her Dad is waiting and insisting he’s totally grand and not dying from the stress of arranging a parade.

Without giving Andy much of a choice the Dr offers her up to take over the entire parade and no one really puts up much of a fight – if you ask me Andy looked pretty happy about it and I fear mutiny is afoot.

Cliff, when delivered with the news that Andy’s Dad completely forgot to ask for float decorating volunteers (and sounds like he should have been checked for dementia rather than stress), putting them behind schedule, gives us a quick marketing lesson and reveals his strategy to attract volunteers. I tell you, I can’t wait to see what Tweets this man is gonna come up with…

It’s at this point I realise I want to kill Andy. Not only did she spray some nondescript, float decorating spray all over Cliff’s new suit three times but she’s a sarcastic little shit. Not in the charming or ‘life made me like this’ kind of way either, but in the straight up please, someone just slap her kind of way.

After Cliff’s failed attempt at marketing (what are these people doing!?) we then go around ambushing students, bribing them with pizza and, in one case, manipulating poor Eric into helping with the float by having his gym teacher offer to raise his overall grades if he does it.

Even with the dregs of the town waiting outside of the warehouse to volunteer, Cliff is adamant on interviewing these people because he is business man, hear him roar:


Cristine: “I’m trying to do one thing a day that scares me. Last week I tried rye bread.”

Cliff: “Rye bread!? Making it….?”

Cristine: “Eating it.”

Me: ” Don’t blame her. Rye bread is death.”


Every one of these interviews goes terribly but they’re so desperate they end up hiring anyone they can get their hands on. This culminates in an interesting discovery…


*Eric, pinning green flowers on the float*

Andy: “Hey Eric, I think the flowers here are supposed to be red.”

Eric: “Oh. OK.”

*Eric continues to use green flowers.*

Andy: “Wait a minute… has Eric been having trouble with colours?”

Me: “If by trouble you mean being colourblind, then yes. Also, is she just gonna let him keep on gluing green flowers in the wrong place?”



Motherfucking colourblind, people. Didn’t see it coming. Now just to solve the mystery of why Andy doesn’t share her artwork.

At this point Cliff just wants to try and find some common ground with this psychotic woman so he can get through Christmas without ending up in jail. After a bizarre conversation in the street where they establish that a) they remember each other’s names and b) Cliff has a mother (plot twist of the century) we head back to the warehouse and Andy claims they’ve worked it all out.

I mean…. I don’t know, maybe she just inherently distrusts anything that hasn’t been cultivated in a womb for 9 months.

Now we’re back on track it’s time to start handing out jobs:


Andy: “Ashley & Lou you will be on decorating duty with Emily. And Mary & Elliott if you could finish the critters, we need those by today. And Eric… I think I owe you an apology, you’re colourblind, aren’t you?”

Me: “Well fuck me, I hope he wasn’t trying to keep this a secret.”


This woman….

Andy kidnaps Cliff in order to buy some missing supplies where a carefully crafted chain of events, involving inflated produce prices and a supplier in China, takes place in order for us to learn that Cliff speaks Mandarin and drives a hard bargain. I am betting this information/skill does not serve us beyond this purpose of impressing Andy and making sure they pull off the greatest Rose Parade float in history.

Cliff, however, finally gets a sneak peak at some of Andy’s artwork. He is so impressed he tells her she should sell this white-washed painting of trees at an art auction he’s heard of at some point during his stay.

… I saw it too. It was shit and I can confirm everyone’s regular blind, not just colourblind.

So after outing Eric and his condition, Andy sent Eric and Christine on recon to check out the competition. It turns out the other floats are shit hot and theirs doesn’t even have flowers glued on in the right places.

As it so conveniently turns out one of their team members has experience with hydraulics, another is great at physics and…. you know, let’s not even go into it because they finish this day by floating a giant ass beaver-bear hybrid along the warehouse ceiling and dumping it on top of the unfinished float.

They finish the day nicely by Cliff revealing he has bought Andy an early Christmas present. He has entered her into the art auction to showcase the work she was so clearly very confident about in her own home – so confident she covered it all with sheets and asked no one to look because, I don’t know, the sheer beauty and realism might blind them (I’m beginning to see a running theme here, and it’s not Christmas spirit).


Cliff: “It’s done. Look, they’ve released the programme.”

Andy: “Why would you do that?”

Cliff: “Challenge yourself, remember? That’s a two way street.”

Andy: “For me to fail miserably?”

Me: “At least someone’s talking sense around here….”


Andy is pissed, stares at her painting forlornly for a while and Cliff goes to talk to her father in a restaurant, because that’s what you do when the condescending woman you have been paired with gets angry at you for coming up with a batshit crazy idea you came up with without consulting anyone else first.

It’s during a float decorating, tree painting montage I realise these people cannot have day jobs.

After much team-bonding Cliff starts handing out gifts to everyone, having used his ‘business sources’. For a husband and wife who were only helping with the float because their children had left home and were travelling the world, he had arranged a Skype call in the office for them… something they could have arranged themselves if they actually cared about technology, time zones or their children.

Now, throughout the entire film Cliff is adamant that he has friends in town for Christmas so has no time for making plans. On Christmas Day, on a hunch, Andy goes over to the man’s hotel to find him alone. Now… if I had known he was lying about these friends I would presume the man wanted to be alone and was just far too polite to say so but oh no, she drags him out of the hotel and forces him to her house for family dinner.

Part of family tradition is to go out in Christmas jumpers and play ball in the park. This is followed by forcing people to sing rounds of Christmas carols while another family member plays the obligatory Christmas piano.

At this point Cliff and Andy are quite close and he’s even stuck around to look at an album of ‘family floats’ while they sit out on the porch. In reality I would have left the moment I found out sports were involved.

Actually, in reality, I would never have answered my hotel door.

We also discover that Andy is terrified to show off her artwork because, on a previous occasion, her paintings had been panned by critics and no one liked them. I mean… should probably trust their judgement, right? I guess we can only hope the people at the art auction have all been drinking whatever is in the water around there because it’s the only way to explain all of the serious ocular issues that keep cropping up.

On a quick test of the float, where a giant bear holding a fishing rod slowly rotates on the spot, something goes wrong with the hydraulics (surprise, surprise) and the whole thing has to be removed in order for the under-qualified volunteer to recheck his handy work. The other volunteers continue to decorate which appears to involve the women sitting around pulling the petals off flowers. I don’t… I’m not big on flowers or anything but I’m sure… I mean… gluing a petal on a float isn’t going to prevent it from shrivelling up and dying, right? This float is going to be rolling down the street covered in decaying plant life.

Aside from their questionable float choices Andy also has to rock up in the required transforming, extravagant outfit in order to attend the art auction/gala. There was no mention of this gala. Cliff is predictably impressed and off they go to the auction where he has to start the bidding process on her painting of her father’s house which I like to call ‘The Winter Shack’. It looks hairy for a moment or so there when no one, understandably, takes an interest but it all works out in the end and she raises an impressive 4 grand for charity.

As it turns out Andy and the other women had been pulling petals off flowers for hours on end in order for her to throw them around the place with Cliff. Just as his boss turns up. Oh boy, he is not impressed. Especially by the fact there is a bear, which he did not order!, with a detached head. He didn’t even want the bear in the first place but fuck me, if he’s getting a bear he wants it to have a damn head on its shoulders.


Boss – “I’m sure you had good intentions… but Cliff said you were out of your depth and this float would be a disaster with you in charge. It appears he was right.”

*Drops bombshell and walks off*

Andy: “You said that?”

Cliff: “No. Y-yes… but I didn’t know what I was talking about, I didn’t know you yet. I was just venting.”

Andy: “I can’t believe you would say that to him. I would expect that from art critics but not you, you never believed in me.”


…. This is why I am done with this woman.

In addition Cliff’s boss is so pissed he even threatens the man and his job if he doesn’t scrap the hydraulics and…. the water feature? On a float? There must be some serious money in this business…. Regardless, Cliff takes all the blame and attempts to leave town until Andy crops up again, fucking shit up.

Dragging the man back to the warehouse the rest of the team are waiting for them and at this point I am convinced she has actually locked them in there and won’t let them leave. We try for a pep talk but the man who was so sure of his hydraulic knowledge before all of this went tits up has some doubts:


Random man: “The hydraulics still don’t work, the bear isn’t finished and we’re thousands of flowers short…. am I missing anything?”

Me: “You’re a thousand flowers short because Andy was throwing them around the place earlier… try the floor.”


After corralling an entire football team, buying flowers at extortionate prices, letting a stressed out Dad look at the hydraulics and bribing float inspectors… it is time for the test. The test where the float stands still and the float inspectors don’t even check the whole thing won’t set alight when it starts driving down the street. But it passed so who cares!

We move on to celebrate New Year’s Eve where Andy and Cliff are totally in love now because being locked in a warehouse for three weeks decorating a float will do that to you.

When the float parade rocks through town and the finished float drives past…. it is nightmarish at best. There is a giant bear, sitting next to a stream, fishing. He appears to have caught a small child with a severe disfigurement on the end of his line who, in turn, is also fishing.

I don’t know what the message was. I don’t know what the company it was promoting was. I don’t understand why people had to live in a warehouse for this and I don’t understand why people are applauding it. None of this makes sense without my own theory that there is something in the water and if everyone had stuck to alcohol they would have been safer.

Whilst the team are watching the floats from a balcony, Cliff’s boss rocks up and apologises for being a total dick earlier about the dismembered bear. He offers Cliff his dream job in the Singapore office but…. but Cliff turns it down because he’s gonna be the manager of an art gallery instead.

To be honest, Cliff’s boss takes this news so well and with so little fuss I think he was as sick of these people as I was. He looks the kind of man who lives off a steady diet of fine, aged whiskey so I presume he had not touched the water and thought everyone was fucking insane.

If you really feel the need to watch this film in a tiny box in the corner of a screen, then feel free to do so here.

If you want to read last year’s Christmas movie review (I recommend it), you can find it here.

Otherwise, look forward to tomorrow guys.

Oranges

Since getting a new Receptionist/Office Manager at work things have been going…. downhill.

The other week a roof tile fell in and all the toilets flooded. I know it seems like this probably wasn’t the Office Manager’s fault but when the problem was reported to her and she simply replied with ‘Oh, I’ll see if I can call someone’ while the tiles were collapsing and toilet water was flooding out into the hallway and down the elevator shaft….. well, you know.

For some of our more delicate employee’s the simple change from free clementines and tangerines to full blown, fuck-off oranges has been…. traumatic to say the least.

Here was CW2’s run in with his first office orange:

God, I can’t peel this at all.

Oh for god’s sake it’s covered in the white stuff. I hate the white stuff.

I still haven’t peeled it and I’m getting juice everywhere.

I’ve got juice down me.

I’ve got juice in my keyboard.

Oh, buzzin’! I’ve got a segment!!

…. I just got stabbed in the face with a seed…

I don’t even like oranges…

I’ve got orange juice in my eye!!

And finally, we closed this event with CW2 choking on his orange before giving up and declaring his hatred for the office fruit.

 

To Shop or Not To Die

Me – “We’re going shopping next week!”

Mom – “Oh! That reminds me I need to cancel my bowel screening.”

Me – “….. Are you cancelling a bowel screening to go shopping?”

Mom – “……….”

Me – “The fuck is wrong with you? I mean…. at least make my day and tell them that’s the reason when you cancel it.”

Mom – “No, I’m gonna tell them there’s been a death in the family.”

Me – “Why has someone got to die!? Why do you immediately go so dramatic!? Just say you’re at work that day!”

Mom – “Well mine sounds more believable.”

Me – “More believable than having a job!? And when you say ‘Oh, yeah, but can I rearrange for next week?’ they’ll be like ‘Oh…. Wasn’t a close relative then?’

Mom – “Well I’ll just say it’s the funeral instead, then.”

Me – “Just say you gotta work man! Why has someone got to die so you can go shopping!?”