Tag Archives: Children

Christmas Advent #14 – 3 Day Christmas

Usually, when I pick films, I just hit record on a bunch of films and see what pops out the other side. When it comes to actually watching them I check all of the recordings and read the synopsis. That is exactly why I chose this film for Day 14:

A father is convinced that his family needs to reconnect with each other. He has the perfect answer: lock them in the house over Christmas without heating or power. That should do the trick!

Now come on. Please. I have nothing but the highest of hopes for this clearly delusional man. We’ve done anonymous Christmas gifts and Christmas weddings and music lessons and saving Christmas tree nurseries. Now it’s time for a hostage situation.

Please. Do go on.

 

This film even opens up with home movie style shots of Christmas’ past and two brothers constantly being dicks to each other…. wait… that one kid got a gun!! You’re giving the kid who keeps picking on his younger brother a gun!? You’re about to lose a son, people.

Back in the present one of the kids is all grown up and sitting in traffic while the radio tells him there will be no snow this Christmas but they will be getting 60mph winds, so there is that to look forward to. The reason for this hold-up in traffic? Well….

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I don’t believe the stop sign is needed. I believe the floating port-a-loo would do the trick alone.

Another film and another teenage girl. I have a feeling this one isn’t quite as loving and charitable as Abigail from yesterday… and probably neither are her younger brother and sister who are all knocking around the house, bored. Back in the traffic jam and all of the construction workers stop in order to watch the inevitable happen, a rope snaps on a portable toilet and the thing comes down on our main guy’s car. Now… I really think it should have smashed straight through the window but instead he appears to just get toilet juice all over his car that he happily clears off with the windscreen wipers. Guy must be a modern day Buddha.

This guy is apparently in accounting and I’m confused why all of his staff seem to be standing around in the foyer all dressed up. Is he late for a party in… the middle of the day? He’s handing gifts out either way while some woman hounds him into his office telling him his brother called a million times and there is some guy waiting for him in his office, who also brought her a Christmas jumper that she is being made to wear. I have…. I have so many questions but no words with which to phrase them, right now.


Guy: “What did my brother want?”

Woman: “He wouldn’t say, he was talking so fast. Something about ‘the end is near’ or ‘beer’ or ‘peer’…. The end is beer? Could that be it?”

Guy: “No, no, no, it’s Armageddon again. Perfect.”

Me: “Oh yeah, that ol’ chestnut.”


The guy waiting for our main man in the office is ‘The Muffin King’ and this man is very confident about his new selection of iced bran muffins which he is calling ‘Bran New’. Get it? He has even brought an entire basket of them over, which is nice. In return our main man hands him a hefty folder which are, apparently, the Muffin King’s taxes for the year. Donald The Muffin King just really wants to hear that he never has to pay taxes again and I really don’t know who is more insane: our guy’s brother who has managed to ring all of the phones in the office simultaneously or The Muffin King who is pissed that the woman is no longer wearing the ‘gift’ he gave her.

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The face of a woman who will try to break news to you gently but will ultimately fail

Martin, our man, assures his assistant she should go and enjoy the party which actually is happening out in the office in the middle of the day in order to answer the phone to his brother, Sam. I hope Sam is the kid who owns the gun, it makes sense that he would believe in the end of the world by now.

Martin abandons his own work place in order to drive up to Sam’s house which is surrounded by chain link fence and barbed wire but he does seem to have let a bunch of garden gnomes in, which is nice of him. Martin is greeted by having an American football launched at his groin which really just confirms Sam is the older, insane brother. As a gift to the entire family he has stored up provisions for the end of the world in his basement. So thoughtful! I mean… the barrel of rain water should probably be outside collecting resources but hey, we’re cool man! But down that football!


Sam: “Food, shelter… and if I don’t have it I can make it. Or kill it.”

Me: “This is the first time I’ve really felt like I’m in a realistic American setting…”

Martin: “Where is my daughter?”

Sam: “In the house. She might even be sober by now….”

Me: “Immediately abort creepy Uncle’s house! Abort! Abort! Abort!”


If you ask me his daughter seems very much sober because she can look at the moose head on the wall and accurately assess that yes, it is disgusting. Her cousin Corey (or possibly Gorey, I’m not ruling it out of this family) is an absolute prick and has all the makings of a serial killer, I swear to god. This is quickly turning into some sort of outback Christmas tale that I am fully invested in.

I am slightly confused why Martin’s daughter is there in the first place, however, as he seemed shocked she was there at all and she was annoyed he had taken so long to get there. I don’t…. How did she even get through the security measures at the bottom of the drive?

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Regret marriage? No. Why would you say that?

Girl: “Bye Uncle Sammy-Sam, Aunt Marilyn. Absolutely love what you’ve done with the place. The tinfoil window dressings! Very… redneck bunker chic. Lovin’ it!”

Sam and Marilyn: “……….”

Martin: “Again… my apologies.”

Marilyn: “It happens.”

Sam: “Take control, Marty. A ripper is rising and you’re going under. A little Christmas gift for you and the fam. Read it, watch it, do it. We did it. Saved our lives. ‘Course, I was always more prepared to handle that kinda thing.”

Martin: “You have become a very scary guy, Sam.”

Sam: “Be scary… or be scared.”

Marilyn: “Scared is scared.”

Martin: “………….”

Me: “……………………………………………..”


What the fuck?! Whaaaaat the fuuuuuuck!? I don’t know whether… I just don’t know how I’m supposed to… I can’t even. What is this. Do I love it or do I hate it and I’m just too shocked to realise it, yet? Sam hands over something called ‘3 Day Test’ which is apparently both a book and DVD in one, if we are supposed to follow his instructions on it. I can’t believe that, based on the title of this film, Martin is actually going to follow his mental brother’s advice. I guess these things really do run in the family.

Out in the car Martin’s daughter is trying to convince her dad she did not go off to college and start drinking… although… I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what happens in life. She blames it on her creepy ass Uncle just trying to yank her dad’s chain and also begins to  explain away being arrested, too. Apparently she was escorted to her Uncle’s house and it was not by the police. Unfortunately, the moment Martin hears the name Regis – which belongs to some hairy guy with tattoos – he can’t keep his shit together and his daughter simply clams up and demands to be taken home.

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I thought we had seen the gates of hell already, this year. I was wrong.

Back at home Martin notices the absence of his wife by pulling into the garage and seeing her car is not also there. I’m not sure if he’s supposed to know but she left a message for him that she would be back late from class because it was her big night. Martin looks more confused about what the fuck her ‘big night’ might be than he is by the leak in his ceiling that is being dealt with by a large bucket underneath it. Even stranger is his youngest daughter, possibly Josie, sitting in the dark and watching some Christian guy preaching on the TV, looking for all the world as though she may well have died a few days ago and no one has noticed.

When Martin tries to turn the light on his desk on she promptly demands they are turned off and instead of greeting the man herself merely holds her creepy-ass doll up for him to kiss. It gets fucking weirder when she holds the doll up to her ear, turns the TV off and informs her dad that Tina said they were rude just now and he could actually turn the lights on if he wanted.

Why in christ’s name would he want to lock himself in a house with these people for 3 days? Apparently Josie has told Tina they shouldn’t watch so much TV but the doll wants what the doll wants and I presume if she doesn’t get what she wants then she threatens to murder the entire family in their sleep.

Worried that his daughter, or Tina, have not eaten yet he asks where the hell her brother is. The answer to that is… keeping an eye on his sister via a camera mounted on a remote controlled car. Martin attempts to get his son, maybe Adam, to come down for dinner – stopping to turn a light on over a portrait of his father first – but Adam appears to communicate with one of those displays where you can type stuff in and it scrolls across to show the message. If that display is to be believed then Adam already ate. Kinda selfish.

At the dinner table Josie is feeding their pregnant dog, Splatter, with hot dogs off her plate and wondering when the puppies will arrive.

Prediction #1 – Probably at Christmas when you’re all locked in and it will really help bring you all together

I don’t have the mental capacity to make that many predictions about this film because I am mostly caught between staring in horror and typing furiously. I can’t quite believe what is happening in front of me.


Martin: “I thought you loved franks and beans?”

Josie: “Splatter loves franks and beans….”

Martin: “Well what do you like to eat, then?”

Josie: “Cereal.”

Martin: “You can’t have cereal for dinner.”

Me: “Like fucking hell I can’t!”


The mom finally returns and is just as fucking crazy as the rest of them. She wants to hear nothing about her daughter possibly spending the money she left for them to order pizza on buying booze for her boyfriend instead and would rather go and buy a Christmas tree. Martin is left at the table to talk to Tina about how a toilet fell on him today.

I have never experienced anything like what happens next. Josie is running around picking a tree that Tina likes and telling the Santa at the lot he’s not real because Tina said so, Adam is measuring trees with some weird ass device to find the perfect one, I don’t know why Lu, the eldest daughter, bothered to come because she already wants to go and Martin is shouting about being shown the good stuff. That is until he sees a tree that is about 20 feet high and has to go through it with a chainsaw to try and wedge it into the corner of the living room.

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Ya never know, the tree may help to keep the leaking ceiling up.

Josie is actually Jessie and one time she forced Martin to pay £413.16 to throw a birthday party for her doll, Tina. Martin is also very concerned that his son keeps spying on people with his toys whereas his wife is just happy the boy can spell and has good grammar. By the way, that leaking is the shower and his wife just really wants it fixed. Martin has no idea what classes his wife is even taking these days because he doesn’t pay attention and she thinks he should really just try actually talking to his children once in a while.

Haven forbid this argument leads us down to Martin’s desk where he starts watching the ‘3 Day Test’ DVD. The moment this insane American dressed in Army pants starts shouting at the camera in the middle of the woods about how kids are slaves to technology I can literally feel their freedom withering away. This guys suggests cutting off every single utility into the house and locking the doors for 3 full days, like his grown ass wife and teenage daughter aren’t capable of unlocking the front fucking door. Also, where will the dog go to take a shit?

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I suggest you do not go around messing with utility poles. In fact, don’t even touch one.

Apparently the only way to do this exercise properly is to spring it on your family without notice and at the most inappropriate time because that’s when real emergencies arise. The real world doesn’t wait for you to be done in the shower before a plane drops into your garden and cuts the heads clean off your garden gnomes with the landing gear and neither will this guy. By the looks of it neither will Martin.

I’m not sure what happened in the rest of that DVD or if Martin can actually read but he turns off the power first so can no longer see what he’s doing… a quick referral back to the book and there is large, bold font telling him to do this last, you fucking moron. Creeping around the neighbourhood and house Martin slowly steals all of his family’s belongings and slowly takes away their abilities to cook, clean or call for help. Thank fuck he doesn’t take Tina away otherwise that doll would have possessed the shit out him and sent him flying off the roof in the early morning.

I have to presume Martin is just slow because it is morning again by the time he is spray painting his windows black and has put up various signs in the windows about how his family is desperate and unplugged…. The elderly woman next door appears to appreciate his work though and watches the madman slowly and methodically ruin all of the windows of his house until he is ready to wake his family up and break the bad news to them.

Martin has gone legit insane and is willing to have them all die from pneumonia if that’s what it takes to feel closer to his family. It is at this very moment that the grubbiest looking news van and crew pull up looking for the ‘toilet guy’ and think the whole ordeal may have hit him a little harder than they first thought.

Indoors Martin is trying to convince his children that they are all slaves to oil until his wife, Jackie, has truly had enough and rips his dumb ass hat off his head to make sure he hears her when she shouts at him to turn the heating back on. The woman just wants to go Christmas shopping (a bit late, if you ask me) and not have a husband who is related to a batshit insane survivalist.


Martin: “I used to love Christmas! Where did it go!? But now Christmas is just another excuse for everyone to melt their credit cards, go further into debt and then expect me to fix it!”

Me: “Ohhhhh so that’s what this is about.”


Wanting to save her children from certain death she gathers them up in order to escape this hell hole and I can only presume she will run into the news crew as she leaves the house. The news crew have much bigger fish to fry out on the street, though.


Old Neighbour: “What do you two bozos think you’re doing!?”

Camera Guy: “We came to do a story on your neighbour.”

Old Neighbour: “Why!? He’s an idiot!”

Me: “Just… glorious.”


The crew don’t have too long to try and get the scoop on how it feels to get hit by a toilet because our old neighbour has already called the cops on Martin. Apparently she didn’t appreciate his work as much as I first thought… But fair enough, she thinks his family is being held hostage and she has taken action! It’s only going to look good for Martin when they see him arranging the living room furniture in order for him to set up their new sleeping quarters.

The real irony here is that Martin is going around screaming at his family for being too suggestible to technology and modern life when, after one DVD and a booklet, he has tried to lock his entire family in the house for three days and worry about things like not knowing how socks are made. As Martin is sat, alone, in his living room and surrounded by camping gear he hears a police siren outside.

The man was supposed to have blacked out the windows but, for the purposes of the film, he apparently forgot one so he could look out between the blinds and see his family – escaping the house via the garage – being herded away by an armed SWAT team before turning the guns on the house. When an army official asks Martin to leave the house via the front door he decides to do so whilst holding a frying pan up like a weapon. Good job the local news crew was there to watch this man get tied up on his lawn and accused of holding his family hostage.

Jackie comes to the rescue when she realises her husband is the only one with a job and if they take him away the shower will never get fixed, adamant they were not being held hostage. The kid’s faces seem to say differently but I am not surprised that the army immediately back off and apologise for the mistake. ‘Oh, no, I am very happy in this cult and they definitely have not threatened to kill me if I ever try to leave or get help from the outside world. Not at all. You just go home now, officer, and please pay no attention to the wild gestures I am trying to make with my eyes that I definitely DONT. NEED. SAVING. IMMEDIATELY.’

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It was unspoken during the film but I believe this woman was actually the devil

To top off the fact he probably just cost the government thousands of pounds in order to get the SWAT team out there on his front lawn, the camera guy from the local news hollers at him from behind the police tape asking what it feels like to be hit with a toilet. Yeah, that’s really gonna help him stay calm during this hostage situation, bud.

Despite the fact that Martin looks suitably fucked up after his encounter with the SWAT team and would probably be willing to finally back down, Jackie decides this is the moment to agree to the whole thing. It’s at this point she also breaks it to the kids they literally have zero gifts for Christmas. What has she been doing with all her time when she’s not working? I’ve also just thought that this man did not prepare beforehand for this ’emergency’ by getting non-perishable food in and their fridge and freezer has been off for about 4 hours already so… they’re all gonna look really great in 3 days time?

5 minutes in and the kids are already arguing. Adam even throws Tina into a tent because she’s just a fucking doll and definitely doesn’t eat clay. Yeah. For the next 3 days they will be drinking the water out of the toilet tanks and also searching for firewood….

Predition #2 – in the spirit of Christmas will Martin will need to chop up that damn tree and throw it on the fire

Martin is honest to god the most suggestible man on earth. The book tells him to burn the furniture so he looks around, looking past the giant tree in the corner, and starts wondering if he can burn the sofa. When his wife rightly believes she might actually like something to sit on after this hell is over, they head down to the basement where there is plenty of wooden furniture to burn but Martin is too sentimental about it all to do it himself. Jackie, however, does not care about Martin’s dad enough to try and save his old desk and commences to chop it up into tiny pieces for the fire.

As entertainment Martin thinks they should decorate the tree but not with the perfectly good ornaments they have up in the attic! Oh no. He wants to decorate with things that are just lying around the house! I wonder if he could make them all some tinfoil hats while he’s at it…


Jessie: “Paper angels!”

Jackie: “Oh, that’s a great idea.”

Martin: “There’s our angel! We’ll make stars made out of aluminium foil and strings of cranberry and popcorn!”

Jackie: “Which of course we will get from the cranberry and popcorn tree in our kitchen.”

Martin: “Come on, team, where’s your Christmas spirit!? You think they used to make Christmas decorations out of old cheap ornaments and tacky tinsel?”

Me: “Nooooo but I do believe they might have had access to cranberries and popcorn before they decided to decorate a tree with them….”


Out in the van we learn that the camera man might be little more than the local pervert who thinks reality TV is the way forward and the only show worth watching would be him on a deserted island with 10 supermodels. Ja. I can only hazard a guess that that would be a very real hostage situation…

Martin thinks that the perfect time to ask your wife whether she has ever regretted marrying you is when you have just locked her in a house with no heating, power or water for 3 days. Correct me if I’m wrong but I would have plenty regrets at that point, namely the fact I hadn’t cracked him over the back of the head with the frying pan the moment he dropped his guard.

In the middle of the night Sam and his son think it would be a wonderful idea to break in, steal half of the food and then wake everyone up by screaming at them and shining torches into their eyes.


Sam: “That’s right! It’s your Uncle Sam and I want you and you and you and you.”

Me: “But there are five of them….”


Unsure of which family member he has just cast loose and whether his son’s name is Gordon, Corey or… Nightcrawler…. Sam goes on to explain how life in a post-apocalyptic situation really works.


Sam: “Locking yourself inside! Nice, Marty, but that’s only the half of it. When the real battle starts the marauders will come and they’ll take your food and then they’ll take your women and children to start a new world.”

Me: “Abort mission! Abort! Abort! Abort!”


I do believe that Sam is threatening to return every night and seeing as he took the food tonight I really wouldn’t put it past him to actually take the women and children tomorrow… I think you actually need to call the cops on that guy…. And whoever had this idea and wrote this script really needs to take a good long look at themselves and what drives their characters… He then shoots his brother right in the chest with a paintball before leaving. Grand.


Jackie: “The power is going back on! We are returning to Earth!”

Martin: “You mean that same Earth with all that weird weather, random acts of violence and bomb-crazy dictators making every day a guessing game!?”

Me: “I believe the words you’re after are ‘Hey, how about we build a bomb shelter and I stop locking us all indoors?'”

Martin: “I’m tired of living in the dark!”

Me: “How in good god’s name is locking yourself in the house for 3 days suddenly going to enlighten you to all of Earth’s problems!? Other than the fact Trump would probably adore visiting a man who thinks the world is going to end and then you can ask him about raking the fucking living room carpet to stop it from catching on fire in the night.”


Martin still thinks they can make it through the next 2 days by surviving on a jar of pickles and burning his jumper for warmth and my god if this woman doesn’t fucking agree to stick it out with him. I hope she is documenting everything so that in 2 days time she can head right to a solicitor and start drawing herself up a very attractive set of divorce papers.

It is whilst they are trying to tidy up the living room – fuck knows why – that Martin and Jackie find out about A-Dog Productions from a bunch of discs he has left carelessly in their new bomb shelter. Their son has been downloading music and films online to then sell on to his friends and buy all the equipment in his room. Jackie is concerned this is actually illegal. Martin is concerned that he thought he was the one who bought all that stuff.


Lu: “Mom, seriously, I need to let Regis know I’m OK. I don’t want him to worry. How can I do that?”

Me: “Set fire to the house. Send a fucking smoke signal.”


Martin is losing his shit over Regis once more, who actually plays football and isn’t covered in hair but does have a tattoo which matches Lu’s. The way this man freaks out you would presume he was from the turn of the century and still thinks that cameras can steal your soul. Which, by the way he thinks the world is going, he probably thinks is very correct. Jackie suggests the man doesn’t go and talk to their daughter while he’s experiencing a hot flush but off he rushes anyway.

When Lu breaks the news to him that she doesn’t actually have a tattoo and he can stop having a heart attack he suggests they start talking about everything like they are best friends. Lu points out the fact he’s already had 17 years and never bothered to talk to her before so she doubts 3 days is gonna change much and would he please get out of her room and leave her alone, already? She would like to freeze to death in peace. Thanks.

Now that she doesn’t have a tattoo Martin is suddenly worried they haven’t prepared their daughter properly for the world and at 17 she might not be ready for college after all. I swear to god he thinks she’s going to get hit by an atomic bomb the second she leaves her dorm. Jackie thinks they may have a bigger problem because Adam has gone missing but at least Tina knows where they can find him?


Jessie: “Daddy… I’m not allowed to tell but I think Tina knows where Adam is.”

Martin: “Where is he?”

Jessie: “Adam will get mad if I tell so maybe Tina can tell you instead?”

Martin: “Jessie…. Tina is a doll. She’s 8 inches of cotton, plastic and a bad wig that’s going to cost me around £10,000 in birthday parties for the next 20 years, OK? Maybe we could just talk to each other directly, wouldn’t that be nice?”

Me: “Oh lord you gonna end up cursed, man.”


This appears to just be a roadshow of Martin going around and apologising to his family for being psychotic. Unfortunately I believe I was right about Tina being a living, cursed doll because I don’t think Jessie could manufacture that frown on her doll’s face, yet after Martin has apologised to her she goes back to looking like a normal doll. This family has so many issues they need to look into in another day’s time….

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It ain’t fuckin’ right, I’m tellin’ ya!

Turns out Adam was just hiding in the attic the entire time because apparently, when people search an entire house what they mean is they forget they have that mass of space upstairs that is still technically a part of their home. That or Jackie just couldn’t be bothered to look that hard.


Martin: “So… what is this place?”

Me: “It’s the attic, Martin. It’s your attic.”


I can only dread to think how Martin is going to broach the subject of illegally downloading music and films to sell when he has lost touch with reality and I’m sure his former reality didn’t know that much about the internet to begin with. Seeing as I was right, Martin quickly moves on to talking about his family and how he would go hunting and kill animals to win their love. …… We’re basically watching how, out of two brothers, one basically became a serial killing marauder and the other narrowly missed murdering to became… an accountant. We also learn that Martin was a bit of a prick in other ways, like growing his hair long and stealing acid wash jeans to get his Dad’s attention when it turned out he didn’t like gutting deer.

What I adore more is, when wondering how they can fix their broken relationship and their son’s illegal activities, Martin simply tells his son to sit there and think about a solution while he leaves to go be crazy somewhere else. Well wasn’t that a delightful moment of bonding, kids? There is still an hour left of this film so I guess that is why we’re back outside in the news van listening to the pervert making up a new show called ‘Redneck Redo’ where they polish a turd and send it on a date with a supermodel. I assume the turd is the pervert, again.


Camera Guy: “Is there any idea floating around in that extremely goofy brain of your’s that doesn’t completely degrade women?”

Pervert Guy: “What are you talking about!? I love women! All women!”

Me: “Yeah, I think that’s kinda the problem…”


On the pervert’s admission that he loves all women that is the old neighbour’s cue to knock on the van’s door and invite the pervert in for… a cup of something nice and hot to warm him up. I don’t even want to get into the sex drive that old people have in this area, there must be something in the teabags or coffee granules.

Swiftly moving on, Splatter is having puppies on the kitchen floor and everyone gathers around to watch from a safe distance and think about the miracle of life. Probably. This is just in time for, the next day, that bad weather the news guy was talking about to hit the town and knock over most of Martin’s signs he left dotted around the lawn. The weather didn’t stop Sam, however, who has broken in yet again and stolen all the dogs and Tina. How heavily do these people sleep!?

Also I am unsure when Christmas Day is, seeing as Jackie was banging on about having no presents… This time Martin and his family mean war and they’re going to wage it on the other half of their family. Apparently this means calling the camera crew into the house and watching Martin poke through that leak in the ceiling which has slowly been getting bigger over the last 6 months from when he first claimed he would fix it.


Martin: “Couple of days ago I told Don Brandle that I would tear apart my own house to find a tax deduction? Then I got to thinking… Over 50% of my tax payments go to some part of the Department of Defence, which is around $630,000,000. 2% of which goes to Civil Defence which is constructing shelters and early warning systems. So then, I thought, why can’t this test be a part of that budget? And have it be deductible! So based on my salary that deduction would end up being around $9,232.16. If Sam wants a war he’ll get a war but we’ll have the other Uncle Sam pay for it! It’s brilliant! Oh and this test will be televised. The IRS is gonna want proof of the test.”

Me: “I genuinely believe I need Martin as my accountant. I don’t even need an accountant.”


The entire family, except for Lu, is ready to destroy the house in order to set some major traps for Sam to walk into that night. The news crew, however, have just got the news that the wind knocked out the power across the entire city and now everyone is out on their lawns waving their arms around because that is what you do when the power goes out.

We then experience a home makeover montage with some footage from the camera crew covering the delightful, festive story about a man who went crazy in 3 days and covered his bath in clingfilm. As far as I remember Sam rarely took tours of the house so I am intrigued to see if he will be visiting every single room of the house that they have booby-trapped in order to set everything off. I also wonder how they’re going to hide the news crew when Sam breaks in…

Oh, I see, Day 4 is Christmas Day. Either way Sam and his son are back, dressed as Santa, and this time Sam goes and checks out the sleeping bags the family should have been in. This makes me worry, a lot, about what the man has been doing on his nightly visits before now. After the first encounter with Uncle Sam where we throw him down the stairs Jessie valiantly leaves Tina behind on the stairs where Sam dropped her. I hope Jessie and Tina have formed a bond strong enough that she overlooks being abandoned that one time…

Meanwhile their cousin is trying to eat clay muffins and getting glued to a sheet pan. It’s best you don’t think too hard about it. Just the sight of that child makes me worry about all the women who are going to end up murdered in his future. It turns out Sam has brought his paint gun with him again, which should be fun, and is also happy to abandon his son to the horrors of the house and national embarrassment when the camera crew film him rolling around on some tarpaulin, covered in washing up liquid and feathers.

Sam, meanwhile, is following all of the wires up into the attic where Adam and Jessie have been camped out watching the proceedings on some screens with power that they managed to source from somewhere. Sam starts laughing manically when he finds the children, another huge red flag, before Martin turns up and throws a football at his crotch. That ol’ family favourite.

Sam chases his brother off through the house with his paint gun and they end up in the bathroom together. I hope he’s gonna push his brother into that cling filmed bath which is now full before he wraps him up and drowns him. I’m not actually sure what the family planned and I’m going to let you watch this whole thing for yourself so you can marvel in the shit show with true wonder.

Everything ends up wonderfully, the family gets to go back outside again, the power appears to be on once more, they’re going to get the puppies back and the pervert comes up with a reality show that doesn’t involve super models.

I fear that Tina may still be a little pissed off about being left on the stairs though as the very last shot is her looking angry again. Maybe the sequel will be the family locked in the house for eternity with the doll as she rips their souls apart slowly, one by one.

Hey. We can dream.

If you want to be creeped out by someone else’s Uncle then please, head over here. I promise the man will deliver on withering your soul up just a little. If you like your soul… probably stay away from that.

I was also far too mesmerised by the entire thing to make any real predictions, so let’s see what we’ve got here.

 

Prediction board – 1/1

  • Prediction #1 – Splatter will have puppies at Christmas when you’re all locked in and it will really help bring you all together – CORRECT!

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: I can only imagine what damage we could have done with that
  • Piano: Thank God, no
  • Carolling: NO
  • Christmas Montage: There was a lot of preparing the house for internal warfare
  • Fire Hazards: Once Martin got involved with that fire then yes, the entire house
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: Oh… my…. god… I was so wrapped up in this film being batshit I didn’t even realise!
  • Snowing on cue: No snow, just hurricane-ing on cue

 

I finally did it! I finally got a perfect score! Because I didn’t know what the hell I was watching!

cannot imagine we are going to experience anything like this again this Christmas – unless I can find that film where a patient at the local psych ward decides to bring Christmas to the other patients, I’ve lost it somewhere – so this may actually end up being the highlight of the year.

God help us. Please. No. Not this. Bring on tomorrow.

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Christmas Advent #3 – Love You Like Christmas

Let’s see what material we can get from today’s film. I’m also hoping for better predictions this time around… I’m still not nailing this.

 

This film starts with a manic sequence where everything is sped up and we see a bunch of Christmassy locations around the city. I already had a massive headache and after that, quite frankly, I feel nauseas. Luckily we slow down just in time to follow a woman through the usual big city crowds, talking to herself and convincing herself it’s going to be a great Christmas. She looks bizarrely happy to see her own office building in an expression no one has ever pulled when approaching work.

Not in my family, anyway.

Business lady is far more concerned with marketing Christmas than she is about enjoying it. What worries me more is she has only just started to think about Christmas on the 1st December. Woman! I was seeing Christmas displays before Halloween had even happened this year! Her assistant Roz, on the other hand, is already hoping it will snow.

We quickly skim over the mention of her Mother dying and Christmas never being the same as a child but we skim over it too quickly to find out if it was a tragic Christmas death. Damn! Business lady is whisked away to a meeting with a client, where some guy tells the client that Maddie, our woman, is the best Christmas marketer they’ve got. We’re still skirting the fact they are only just thinking about Christmas profit on the 1st December and their campaign won’t even be live until the end of the week. I work in marketing. We start getting Christmas plans sent over by the end of September. Maybe this client really does need Maddie because I am astonished by his business expertise or lack thereof.

Prediction #1 – the client is going to show some sort of interest in Maddie but, ultimately, he’s just not going to be… Christmassy enough for her by the end of the film

As per usual I feel an uptick in my affinity to this woman the moment she starts eating leftover takeaway and drinking red wine out of a normal glass. That’s my kinda girl. When she gets into bed there is a conveniently placed photo of a dead loved one where it can’t be missed and we have to be reminded of their absence every single day.

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I find crushing depression really helps me get to sleep at night

A strange time lapse would have you believe Maddie sleeps approximately 10 seconds per night before her alarm goes off. Maybe that’s why her wardrobe is incredibly boring and is full of white blouses and various, muted blazers so she can’t make a fool out of herself. I can confirm, in the next scene, the black blouse and white blazer she is wearing was not only definitely not what she picked but didn’t even exist in that woman’s wardrobe. She’s currently operating on ‘Shaft’ levels of continuity errors.

There is some worry she won’t be able to attend a famous fashion designer’s wedding, who is responsible for moving Maddie into this new fancy office, despite the fact the wedding is still 10 days away. She can set up a marketing campaign in 7 days but prepare for a wedding with her limited wardrobe? Oh, no, no, people. It turns out she is also afraid of flying and so will have to take the train to Denver. I have a feeling that’s going to take a long time.

Prediction #2 – Maddie is not getting on that train

Before Roz can confirm either way, Maddie’s cousin Teddy calls to let her know his Mother’s classic Mustang Flashback (I shrug) is free to a good home because he is leaving the country. Apparently Maddie is obsessed with this car. So obsessed she ditches all plans of catching the train and decides to take the car instead! One point down already!


Teddy: “I got a new job. I’m moving to London.”

Maddie: “Congratulations! That sounds exciting.”

Me: “It really isn’t. Don’t go. Stay right where you are.”


Prediction #3 – That car is going to break down on the way to Denver, but it’s cool because someone who loves old muscle cars is going to be right on hand to help out

Apparently Aunt Vivian was a flamboyant substitute Mom to Maddie and she is taking the car in her honour. Teddy is a little concerned about the bad weather which is heading to Denver, and which he conveniently knows about, but Maddie is just sure she will get there before then. Probably because she is setting out 9 days in advance.

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Nice knowin’ ya, car

Maddie eventually gets stuck in traffic caused by an absolute, veritable fuck load of Christmas trees that have fallen off the back of a truck and somehow managed to spread across the entire interstate. Maddie and the guy trying to clean this mess up lock eyes while mystical twinkling sounds start up in the background.

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Yeah… people often look at me like that, too

I’m very sure this man introduces himself as Kibben and claims he has called highway patrol to help get these all cleared up. I would loved to have heard that conversation… The Time Management Director who is also stuck in this traffic is not as enamoured by Kibben’s charming buffoonery and thinks it is very inconsiderate to lay your trees out on the interstate like this. Maddie is shocked to find these trees actually belong to Kibben, despite the fact he was standing amongst them, wearing heavy-duty gloves, was moving them back onto his own truck and was the one who called highway patrol. I honest to god believe this woman thought the trees grew that way. Horizontally. Straight through the concrete.

Prediction  #4 – She may have no concept of how trees grow but Maddie is still going to find enough common ground with Kibben to fall madly in love

Despite defending Kibben against the ‘Time Lord’ she still gets back into her car and almost trashes it immediately by driving along the hard shoulder which is completely snowed over. By some miracle the car pulls through and she is back on the road to Denver. At a fork in the road she takes some time to deliberate before just simply trusting her instincts and turning right. What crazy ass person does not take a satnav or a map or check their damn phone before driving across the country!? No wonder you set out 9 days before the wedding!

She is, however, just entering somewhere called Christmas Valley and doesn’t that sound like fun! Except for the other 10 months of the year, of course.

Prediction  #5 – Maddie should have brought along a satnav because she is no longer heading towards Denver

Prediction  #6 – Maddie will not make the wedding in time (somehow) but she’s going to find she doesn’t really care anyway

Just as we enter the valley the car considerately and lovingly breaks down at the nearest gas station, where a young man, who looks alarmingly like her cousin Teddy, is playing the guitar on the doorstep. In his expert opinion they need to run more tests to be sure what’s wrong with the car. This man is doing triple time because he sounds like the local mechanic, musician and doctor right now.

Despite the car being old as shit, Maddie is still surprised when the Teddy Jr says it might take a few days to order in the parts and keeps banging on about Denver. I thought she set out 9 days in advance… how long was she stuck in that traffic jam for!? Either way, she admits defeat pretty quickly and just asks for somewhere to stay instead.


Maddie: “Ok… is there a motel around here?”

Teddy Jr.: “Eurgh, about 60 miles down the way? But there’s a boarding house. I can take you over there if you want.”

Maddie: “A boarding house?”

Me: “Hotel, motel, boarding house, hostel, murderer’s personal address… they’re all essentially the same thing.”


So much goes on in the next scene when Teddy Jr drops Maddie off at the boarding house I can’t even keep up. The family who own it are mental: they have a dog named Rowdy, a random small girl named Jo knocking around, the wife, Pam, thinks every new lodger is just a friend she hasn’t met yet and the husband, Bob, really likes shaking people’s hands because he’s a travelling salesman and makes terrible Dad jokes.

And then there is this….

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Jeremy… Christmas….

Jeremy Christmas founded the town 100 years ago (nice, round numbers are easier to remember) and he just played up his resemblance to Santa… but only from the chin up, because he was actually short and skinny from the neck down. People… what is going on here. Jeremy’s wife was Pam’s Grandfather’s cousin because if I have to suffer this shit, so do you.


Pam: “When I got the place I felt an obligation to keep up the Christmas theme.”

Maddie: “Well, you certainly managed to do that.”

Pam: “In an over the top, wall to wall sort of way.”

Maddie: “It works, though. I was stranded and you’ve managed to distract me.”

Me: “Now I just fear for my life.” 


Maddie is too tired to spend one more second with these grinning freaks and goes up to her room. For some reason she keeps commenting that she has no idea where she is, although a giant sign on the way into town and Teddy Jr from the garage have both told her this is Christmas Valley. Where that may be is of no consequence because she will never…. leave… again….

Prediction  #7 – Random kid Jo who stays at the boarding house while her Dad isn’t around is probably Kibben’s kid and he’s not around because he’s dropping trees on the interstate


Jo: “Maddie and I have the same hair colour.”

Pam: “Yeah, you do.”

Jo: “But she has the prettiest eyes.”

Pam: “Yeah, she does.”

Jo: “Maddie is gonna love this!”

Me: “Fuuuucking hell, this kid has out-crazied Pam.”


Breakfast is waiting for Maddie downstairs – green eggs and Christmas cookies in honour of the season – as well as another healthy dose of insanity. Apparently Bob used to sell encyclopedias but he only had volume 1, which apparently only covered the letter ‘A’ and now he knows everything about words beginning with the letter ‘A’. After the most boring quick fire round of ‘A’ related questions Maddie just takes her breakfast to her room so she can work some more.

It’s no wonder her work is suddenly so pressing when she’s been on the road for the last god knows how many days. I can only imagine how many emails the woman has come back to. On the phone Roz is asking questions about every tiny noise she hears in the background but, in all fairness, everyone just keeps interrupting Maddie while she tries to work. Jo even goes as far to start asking her for relationship advice.

Why would she be doing this, you ask? Well, because her Mom’s dead. Classic Christmas. On the guise of taking Rowdy for a walk before Jo goes home… Jo simply walks Maddie to her home instead. It’s all strange but Kibben is waiting for us there and he is, of course, Jo’s Dad. Kibben makes the big reveal that his farmhouse actually has indoor plumbing so why doesn’t Maddie come on in for a spell! Ya patronising shit. He also has a lot of questions about Maddie and her life until she thinks she should probably get back to the lodge because it’s getting dark outside. Kibben offers her a lift and two seconds later, in the car, it is pitch black outside leading me to wonder where the man parked his fucking car. Pam is probably also wondering where the hell Jo took her dog off to.

It always amazes me in these films that, even people who are meant to dislike children, are so nice to any kid they come across. I would literally be staring at it in horror the entire time and asking it to please stop talking to me and leave me alone. Despite all of this Pam is just certain that Maddie and Kibben are a great fit and it doesn’t matter that she lives in New York or has a wedding in Denver she needs to get to. If love is gonna happen, it will happen.

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Bob was just remembering why he became a travelling salesman in the first place

The next morning Maddie decides to walk into town to get breakfast. It’s hard to tell whether she was put off by the boarding houses’ steady diet of green eggs and sugar cookies or the ever changing decorations out on the lawn…

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I presume they are tethered to the ground so they can’t murder guests in their sleep

Maddie accosts random people in the street, asking where is a good place to eat in town. Preferably that doesn’t serve green eggs. Maddie is directed to ‘Stan’s’ across the street which is actually owned by his niece, Holly, because Stan got married and moved away like… a fortnight ago. Holly was the former Miss Ohio runner up, I’ll have you know.

Skulking around in the corner and jumping in on conversations he wasn’t involved in, is our one and only Kibben. To distract herself from this creepy stalker, Maddie helps Holly reinvent her business with a few small changes – rename it Holly’s (ingenious) and make it into a festive fire hazard, like everywhere else in this godforsaken valley. Everyone seems amazed by Maddie’s idea to turn this into a festive themed restaurant, I presume to make Maddie appear far better at her job than the fact she can just use common sense and has a pair of eyes.


Maddie: “Christmas is about memories, that’s what makes it such a good marketing tool. Ooh, maybe you could have a jukebox which only plays Christmas music.”

Me: “Kill me.”

Kibben: “That sounds like a pretty calculated take on Christmas.”

Maddie: “Well, that calculated take has earned me a pretty good living.”

Kibben: “I just don’t think the holiday’s should be about dollars and cents.”

Me: “What do you give your kid for Christmas, then? Memories of her deceased Mother? A Christmas tree that’s been rolling around on the interstate?”


During this entire exchange there is an, as yet, unnamed man watching the entire thing and enjoying it immensely whilst completing his crossword. Kibben thinks now is the perfect time to try out his newest pick-up and goodbye line: ‘You look really pretty when you talk marketing.’ It sounds like the title of a contemporary country song.

Back at the boarding house Pam is quilting a bunch of Christmas squares because ‘it puts her in the Christmas mood’. I have the slightest suggestion that it may be easier to get into the Christmas mood if you didn’t live in Christmas Valley or have a picture of Jeremy Christmas on your wall 24/7 but… what do I know. Jo is back to hang around with Maddie because she’s needy as fuck.

Apparently you can’t be in a room with Bob without asking him to define every ‘A’ word on the planet and it fucking turns out he’s a travelling salesman right now and has a rented room at the boarding house. I thought he and Pam were married! He sure is very familiar with everyone here…  

Prediction  #8 – Bob is in love with Pam… or at least her cooking

Maddie is back at Stan’s because she is not so in love with Pam’s cooking and who do we find again but Kibben. Holly has already Christmas-sed up the place and the crossword guy is also there again, asking leading questions in the hope of prodding Maddie and Kibben closer together.  Although Maddie has just ordered an omelette she wanders off with Kibben to drop trees over the interstate again and it is at this point that I realise… HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, HIS NAME IS KEVIN. FOR FUCK’S SAKE.

Enunciate your words, America! You make Kevin sound like fucking Kibben.

I ain’t changing it now.

I find Maddie a whole lot more relatable the moment she plants a baby baby Christmas tree and starts telling it she wants it to go to a good home. I can get behind crazy talking to the plants. Unfortunately the trees that Kibben threw across the highway were too damaged to sell and the year before that there was a flood that killed a bunch of his crop too. I think someone’s trying to tell him something… Kibben continues to worry about his business and his farm and has decided to plant the 100 or so baby trees he still has left before the farm goes completely bankrupt as a sentimental gesture to the land.

Prediction  #9 – Marketing expert Maddie is gonna come straight to the rescue and save Kibben’s tree business too

We have the compulsory conversation where Kibben finds out Maddie is not close to her Father and her Mother died when she was a child so everyone can say how sorry they are and meet another broken soul.


Maddie: “You know, fatherhood is your best feature.”

Me: “You two fucking deserve each other with those pick-up lines.”


Maddie is still panicking about this wedding, despite the fact she is planning to get there the day before it even happens, so this warrants a trip to the garage to check on her car but Teddy Jr. is too busy playing his guitar and singing. Turns out he has a band and they’re trying to get their name out there but there is a lot of competition… I’m just amazed he’s managed to amass a band from the residents of Christmas Valley. I wonder if crossword guy is in it, too. Maddie cannot help herself from dispersing some more pearls of wisdom to Teddy Jr, either. She’s like a marketing advice Pez dispenser.


Maddie: “Get some buzz going! Maybe a Christmas song! That’s an easy sell this time of year.”

Me: “Oh, sure, only the hardest fucking genre you can ever hope to write an original and good song in…. ever.”


Luckily, Kibben turns up just as she is leaving the garage so they can have another heart to heart and Maddie can admit she’s terrified of flying.


Kibben: “Can I give you a lift?”

Maddie: “No, too much adrenaline. I need to walk it off.”

Kibben: “Is it because I drop my trees?”

Me: “No, it’s because you’re stalking me.”


To be honest, I am more terrified that in the next shot of the boarding house those creepy carolling figures are missing from the lawn. Guess they weren’t tied down well enough…

In some bizarre turn of events Maddie reveals she would like to get Jo a gift before she leaves but all the kid wants is to spend more time with the marketing extraordinaire. Vomitous. This is how we come to be back at the farm and making Christmas wreaths in some sort of shed. I can only hope someone does us the pleasure of hanging up her completely misshapen attempt at a circle.

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Nevermind, Maddie’s just gonna hang it up on her face instead

They are interrupted by another phone call from New York and Maddie’s boss, who is expecting a presentation for their newest client on how his sales are doing. Now I’ve been watching this film with at least 80% of all my attention and I can confirm… this woman really hasn’t managed to get that much work done. Maddie tries to get back to this whole festive get-together but is consistently interrupted by work until she just has to admit defeat and bitterly disappoint Jo, who has no concept of a career or successful business. Yet.

Holly’s cafe is now doing crazy business and they’re even going to host a re-opening on Christmas Eve which we are all invited to. Even the crossword guy is making a dig at Maddie’s phone now when it continues to go off. The thing is in her hand, I have no idea why she can’t put it on silent for two seconds. Kibben, who is also obviously there because Maddie cannot be in a scene without him, tries to mansplain Maddie about how being attached to your phone all the time is really just a substitute to ever connecting to another human being. I am on the side of Maddie when she ditches this conversation to answer a call from Teddy Jr. but quickly switch loyalty to Luke, the chef, who points out that, yet again, that woman did not even eat the omelette she ordered. I can only imagine she is the only person in town willing to eat an egg-white omelette.

At the garage it turns out the part that turned up for the car is the wrong one and the new part won’t be here for…. well either one or two days. You know what delivery services are like. In an effort to figure out how she’s gonna spin this to her boss, Maddie takes Rowdy for a walk but it looks like that dog did not want to be out in the snow with this crazy woman in heeled boots. Surprise, surprise, our friendly neighbourhood stalker pulls up to save the day and her shoes.


Maddie: “Where’s Jo?”

Kibben: “She went over to Pam’s looking for you.”

Maddie: “I really want to see her before I go.”

Kibben: “Listen, you’ve made a very big impression on her.”

Maddie: “I didn’t think I had a maternal bone in my body but…”

Me: “You clearly just weren’t committed enough.”


I’m really not sure how terrible this flood last year was but Kibben mentions it again in conjunction with a whole bunch of struggling farms. I can’t help but feel a flood that drowned out the entirety of Ohio should have been worldwide news.

Maddie is happy to let this stalker not only cut off a phone call she was receiving but also try and kiss her before they are, thankfully, interrupted by Jo who wants to collect pine cones. Apparently it’s a sort of Easter egg hunt that her Mom made up and she probably should have lead with that fact because I thought the girl was just hoarding like a squirrel.

In the face of her stalker and this obsessed child, Maddie is actually becoming fond of Christmas. If I was in her position I would have snow-shoed it to Denver and hoped for hypothermia to finish me off.

In the cafe, the place is becoming more and more of a fire hazard by the second and I can’t wait for the whole place to go up in flames when some oil accidentally spits over a bunch of wiring. Luke is also starting to get the hang of Maddie and her terrible eating habits.


Luke: “Egg white omelette, coming right up.”

Maddie: “Add anything you like!”

Luke: “The Maddie special!”

Me: “A plate of egg whites which no one eats and gets left on the side to go cold.”


Sitting next to Kibben, Maddie finally raises the topic of the fact one of them is definitely stalking the other. Roy, the crossword guy, had hoped she was just there to see him. I have a feeling Roy would be entirely less annoying than Kibben, who seems disappointed that Maddie can’t bake with Jo that afternoon because she has a job she needs to do which he has been aware of this entire time and shouldn’t be surprised.

Somehow she still finds the time to bake fruit cake with the child and Kibben comes back to find them throwing icing sugar at each other. That’s a dangerous game to play! Maddie is terrible at cooking and her attempt at cake actually manages to bend a fork, so it’s probably a good thing her car is finally ready by the next morning. Clearly Maddie was a little excited at the prospect of braining people to death with her doorstop fruit cake because she’s not quite so eager to leave Christmas Valley anymore.

After all this stalking the woman doesn’t even bother to say a proper goodbye to Kibben and Jo, but she does leave a present for Jo with Pam – a dress to wear to Holly’s grand re-opening of the cafe. To add insult to injury she actually stops by the cafe to say goodbye to them too before leaving. Thinking she has finally escaped, Maddie is not paying full attention when a photo-shopped Reindeer appears in the middle of the road and she swerves into some boulders outside of someone’s fence. This ‘mint condition’ car is having no luck under Maddie’s reign.

After shouting at the reindeer and threatening to sue Santa, Teddy Jr turns up to tow the car away and doesn’t seem too surprised to be there. Kibben is, reliably, there to give her a lift back into the valley. After wincing some, Kibben carries her 3 feet up the path towards her Christmas doom.

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Oh, look, there are the gates of hell

Once more their fantastical kiss is interrupted, this time by Pam and Bob who, for some reason, have hung up Maddie’s wreath on the boarding house door. Maybe they were the ones who planted the reindeer and hung it up for either her grand welcome home or mourning her death. Whichever happened first.

This interruption leads to possibly my favourite line in a script to date.


Bob: “You’re just in time for dinner!”

Kibben: “Ah, Bob! Can you help me with the…. bags Bob, Bob and bags. Bags Bob.”


Do with that what you will.

Again, trying to come up with an excuse to tell to her boss, they contemplate telling him Ohio is having the worst snow storm in years. I don’t know… if they know the Internet exists down there, in Christmas Valley… But never fear! Right on cue, it starts to snow!

This of course will no doubt slow down the delivery of a new bumper and headlight that Teddy Jr has had to order in. I am slightly confused how time works in Christmas Valley because we’re cool with the parts taking one or two days but are now more concerned about Christmas being only 12 days away. She has been stuck in the Valley for some time. She set out on the 2nd of December! When is this wedding!?


Maddie’s Boss: “What’s going on?”

Maddie: “Well, there was a reindeer in the road.”

Maddie’s Boss: “An actual reindeer?”

Maddie: “Yes and then I…. I ran into a fence and now I need a new bumper.”

Maddie’s Boss: “Can’t you just rent a car?”

Maddie: “There was a snowstorm here and now all the roads are closed, I twisted my ankle, I… you know, it’s still pretty swollen.”

Me: “And then! There was an eagle! And it just swooped in!”


I am no longer sure what work Maddie has promised to get done. Get to the wedding on time? Give a presentation? Get back before Christmas? It’s all very confusing right now and she just gets distracted by the quilt Pam is furiously sewing up instead. I know that tactic. ‘I have so much work to do I couldn’t possibly do anything right now.’ Works every time.

Apparently, now a big part of the town having been there for what feels like a million years, Maddie is at the stage where she can say hello to strangers on the street and they will reply to her without fearing for their lives. It seems no one can help opening up to Maddie now because Polly, Luke and Roy are just dishing out the news that Kibben is going to lose the farm to anyone that will listen. I can’t help feel whatever bank employee told Roy this news was breaking all sorts of confidentiality agreements but hey, small town.


Maddie: “I don’t accept that! He and Jo belong on that farm!”

Me: “Or in a supervised facility.”


For some reason Luke is drafted into taking Maddie up to the farm and reminds her she probably shouldn’t mention this whole business to Kibben. He claims it would hurt the man’s pride but I feel it’s probably more to do with the fact no one should even friggin’ know.

Maddie did not listen to a word Luke had to say because in the next second she is demanding they can do something to save the farm. Luke tries to make the man feel better by letting him know these trees are the most beautiful and most fragrant trees in the entire state and he wouldn’t buy a tree from anywhere else… despite the fact that, if the farm fails in a few months time, he will literally have no other option but to do that.

As predicted, Maddie thinks this would be a great tagline to brand the trees.


Maddie: “That’s good. I can work with that.”

Kibben: “Work with what?”

Maddie: “These trees need to be branded.”

Luke: “Erm, young lady, these are trees, not cattle.”

Me: “Always got food on the brain, my man.”


As everyone comes around to the idea and they all keep repeating the phrase ‘Tyler Christmas Trees’ to each other until it sticks – which is pretty much a 101 of marketing – Maddie makes the decision that she doesn’t even need real, paying clients anyway.

At an actual marketing 101, Maddie gives them the rundown of branding and comes up with some more marketing ideas. Even Bob the salesman is jumping in on this one, repeating what Maddie has just said using slightly different words and showing us he is legit the master of salesmen everywhere. Suddenly there is going to be a photo shoot happening and Jo is involved, the dog is involved, the farm is involved, it’s all involved!

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‘And this is where the fire extinguisher used to be, but we got rid of it to make way for some more electrical goods. Really livens up the place.’

Wanting this whole photo shoot to be fully authentic, Maddie stages it to an inch of it’s life, even getting Jo to pose whilst hanging ornaments on the tree next to a giant pile of presents and a roaring fire somewhere on the scene. I get the impression that this marketing is merely going to depress people when they realise their Christmas is nothing like the one being advertised and likely never will be. Personally, however, I prefer my Christmas’ with my Mom screaming at Christmas lights getting tangled up because past Mom was like ‘fuck future me, she can deal with this’ while packing them up the previous year. I enjoy the fact she has a million replacement bulbs because she always breaks one. I don’t particularly enjoy the fact these lights are a million years old and the plug for them is being held together by masking tape but the very real risk of a fire is basically part of the family, by now. I love how drunk we all get before we try and play board games and I adore the fact we all hate and actively avoid the Queen’s speech.

However… I don’t know if capturing all that in a photo to brand your trees with is the greatest marketing move ever made.

Back to the film. While Maddie is continuing to stage the tree to an inch of it’s life (and will probably just keep going until it falls over into the log burner) Bob realises he is seeing the perfect Christmas right in front of his very eyes.

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‘Make sure the timestamp and camera settings make the final cut, too.’

Luckily Kibben walks in just in time to see, quote: ‘The prettiest picture I’ve ever seen.’ Which is probably a good job because Maddie and Bob waste no time in marketing the shit out of these Tyler Christmas Trees. Understandably no Christmas tree selling lot wants Christmas trees right now. Not because these trees are no good but, predictably… because it’s so close to friggin Christmas! Maddie keeps trying to insist this is her speciality and turns to a grass-roots movement instead which, due to politics, only has terrible connotations in my mind.

Fortunately, here, it just means dropping a bunch of trees off at Teddy Jr’s service and gas station. I don’t know how many people are actually passing through Christmas Valley that want to lug a tree around with them for miles and risk another interstate pile-up the likes Kibben has never seen… or, in fact, who Teddy Jr’s boss that we have also never seen is, but there are a lot of people pawing at these trees.

Even Holly is helping out by setting up a free hot chocolate stand which I would totally have turned up for.


Maddie: “Maybe we should do this every Christmas?”

Holly: “I was thinking the same thing!”

Me: “Oh…. sure, I mean… that was meant to be a hint that I…. stick around but… sure yeah, you go back to the cafe. Business is…. business is good…. Cool….”


At this point I can’t tell which people are helping tie bows on the trees and which are actually paying customers but Kibben and Luke still have time to discuss how terrible it would be to see Maddie go. Without getting trampled by reindeer on the way out of town.

I am brushing over the fact Pam has bought three trees to give as gifts to people so we can continue planning how we’re gonna hit the big Christmas tree lots. This is starting to sound more like a heist, which I am all for. Marketing is so boring when you could be heisting instead. I feel with only 10 days left until Christmas, a heist would be more successful, too.

During business negotiations with a lot owner, a family happen to come by, spot the Tyler Christmas Tree and claim they have just found their perfect tree. If Maddie really is worth her salt in marketing she definitely planted that family. In fact, they’re not even a family. Just three randomly assorted actors.

Travelling around the country with Bob, Maddie realises this should be his everyday life! You know… if he wasn’t hanging around the boarding house and eating green eggs all of the time.


Maddie: “You know… what you do about Pam is up to you but… think it’s time you made a move. I’m jus’ sayin’.”

Me: “Yes. Kill her.”

Bob: “‘Jus’ sayin’.’ What about you and Kibben?”

Me: “Yes. Kill him.”


Maddie’s work are still trying to get her to… ya know… work and she informs Roz to get everything ready for the presentation because she will be home in a few days to present it.

Prediction  #10 – Sure, Maddie will go home, but she ain’t gonna like it. Which will suit Roz just fine because she appeared to love Christmas more than Maddie anyway

Whilst listening to Teddy Jr’s Christmas song, which apparently he and his band had time to go and record and transfer to CD, we all get together and join in a montage to help market more trees.


Kibben: “Come with me, you gotta see this.

Maddie: “I have so much work to do!”

Me: “Don’t worry about it. I doubt you’ll have a job in the next 20 minutes or so, anyway.”


Kibben drives them off down ‘memory interstate’ and recalls how they first met. Now would actually be a terrible time to bring up that memory when he is once more driving around with trees in the back of the truck. Apparently we can’t stop bringing up the memories because Maddie admits this is the best Christmas she can even remember having. A Christmas where she was stalked by a guy, fell prey to the obsessions of a small child and worked the entire time.

Christmas. She’s doing it right.

I had actually forgotten all about this woman’s car but thank god she dropped in to check on it so Teddy Jr could invite us to carolling with his band and the entire town! Maddie doesn’t seem too concerned that she will have left town by then and I don’t blame her. Unfortunately for us…

Prediction  #11 – We’re going carolling

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‘Take me with you! Please! She’s crazy!’

During yet another phone call from the office, Maddie totally promises her boss that she will be at her desk first thing Monday morning. This doesn’t fill me with too much confidence seeing as what preceded it was a lie about her definitely not swollen ankle still causing her some trouble. Good god the woman wants to stay another day so she can actually go carolling. And spend more time with that child. If this is what Christmas Valley does to people I will be taking a sharp left at that fork in the road.


Maddie: “I like him… a lot…. but I have to go home! He and I are just friends and I need to accept that.”

Pam: “You can’t control how you feel!”

Me: “Oh, Pam, from that crazy look in your eye I really don’t doubt it.”


Cue…. carolling. I’m slightly confused about who makes up Teddy’s band because it appears there are just two of them on acoustic guitars, wondering the streets with the entire town and the entire town’s candle supply at night. Bob finally holds Pam’s hand, Maddie does a horrible mid-song adlib.

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‘I told you the lights would attract them!’

This time Maddie interrupts her own potential first kiss with Kibben by yelling ‘I can’t!’ in the man’s face. She promptly friend zones him and bids him goodnight. In all fairness the technique seemed to work very well for her… before she ruins it and utilises every mixed signal on the bandwidth by going back and kissing him in something that looks like a grappling match.


Kibben: “You know what I understand? You’re running away from what you feel.”

Maddie: “I’m not running away, I’m going home!”

Kibben: “To what!?”

Me: “…. Harsh.”


I don’t know how Bob and Pam didn’t come and disrupt this shouting when the last time this pair were on their porch they showed up like ninjas. Maddie manages to sum up her life as including her job and her apartment and decides they should probably wrap up this argument before she loses it.

The next morning the people of the valley line up to say goodbye to Maddie, one by one. Ol’ crazy-eyed Pam gifts her with the quilt she’s been working on this entire time, so I’m starting to suspect Pam of perpetually delaying Maddie until she had finished her masterpiece. This set-up also makes for an incredibly awkward second goodbye between Kibben and Maddie, where all of their friends and acquaintances can watch. Wait, where the hell was the crossword guy!?

Outraged that he didn’t even turn up to say goodbye (probably), Maddie drives back to New York in double time and drags herself back down the busy street which is decidedly less festive and more concrete than Christmas Valley.

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Now that’s the look of a woman turning up to work!

With Christmas only five days away Maddie is beginning to realise the cyclical futility of the marketing world whilst all Roz wants to do is tell her how many meetings she has that day. Time, as always, moves differently in film and Maddie isn’t even prepping for her presentation until the next day, making me think she could probably have stayed in Christmas Valley indefinitely and the whole thing would have just kept getting pushed back. During her prep for the meeting Roz drops off a present from Jo, all the way from Christmas Valley itself.

It actually looks more like a care package of a pine cone, very old doorstop fruitcake and a framed picture of what is essentially, now, the marketing image for Taylor’s Christmas Trees. Nice. It would probably be good for Maddie to remember one successful marketing campaign of her life, because I feel this one is not going to be a particular highlight.

Maddie delivers the beginning of her presentation with a slightly mad look in her eye as she brandishes a pen at this room full of people. You can almost see the breakdown about to happen. Even her boss seems ready to avert disaster but instead Maddie just lets loose. Much to my horror Maddie leaves the office because, if she hurries, she can get there before Christmas. God help us all….

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‘Today my look was inspired by Meeting Room 4.’

Apparently Maddie has a very uneventful trip back to Ohio and makes it in time for Holly’s Christmas Eve re-opening. Kibben is me in this scene as he is completely ignorant to the fact Maddie has walked through the doors and the room has gone quiet while everyone waves at her. Kibben is far too interested in checking out the buffet.

Teddy Jr. and his band are at hand to play their new Christmas song right on cue and I still don’t know how many people even make up this band. Everyone has a nice dance together and Maddie gets to spend Christmas with her new, absolutely bat-shit insane family.

Feel free to watch the chronicles of one child’s journey into obsession here.

 

Prediction board – 9.5/11

  • Prediction #1 – the client is going to show some sort of interest in Maddie – unfortunately this one didn’t pan out
  • Prediction #2 – Maddie is not getting on that train – CORRECT! Maddie instead thought driving across the country was more economically friendly
  • Prediction #3 – Maddie’s car will break down but someone who loves old muscle cars will fix it right up – half a point, the car broke down only
  • Prediction  #4 – Maddie will fall madly in love with Kibben – obviously. CORRECT.
  • Prediction  #5 – Maddie is no longer heading towards Denver – CORRECT! Maddie is an idiot
  • Prediction  #6 – Maddie will not make the wedding in time and won’t even care – CORRECT!
  • Prediction  #7 – Jo is Kibben’s daughter – CORRECT!
  • Prediction  #8 – Bob is in love with Pam… or at least her cooking – CHEQUE PLEASE!
  • Prediction  #9 – Marketing expert Maddie is going to rescue Kibben’s business – CORRECT! And wasn’t that a wild ride
  • Prediction  #10 – Maddie will go home and hate everything – CORRECT!
  • Prediction  #11 – We’re going carolling – Really… I wish I hadn’t been right about this one

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: Not a single horse
  • Piano: Teddy Jr. played the wrong instrument for Christmas
  • Carolling: Too much of it
  • Christmas Montage: A Christmas decorating montage! With original corny Christmas song!
  • Fire Hazards: Arguably everything was a fire hazard with Ol’ Crazy Pam around
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: CHECK! We doubled down on this one
  • Snowing on cue: CHECK

 

So… Sure, I took some easy guesses on this one but I feel better for it!

On to tomorrow!

Christmas Advent #1 – The Christmas Gift

Now, I’m hoping unlike last year I will actually be able to make it through the entire advent without losing my tiny mind and suffering from an overload of Christmas cheese. Unfortunately, I don’t mean legit Christmas cheese; I would throw myself into a genuine cheese coma in a heartbeat.

Let’s also not forget our daily Christmas predictions either! If I manage to get through the entire 25 days we can do a grand total of just how many families the spirit of Christmas tore apart this year!

Nevertheless! Let’s begin our shit-show Christmas journey with a gift. Ya know… the true meaning of Christmas.

 

So I watched the short opening credits for this film in absolute amazement and horror. This is the first time we’ve gone so old with a festive film – there will be no texting dead parents on an unlimited tariff here.

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Not even the Youtube controls can take away from this hideousness

We open up on a very snowy Georgetown where people have no regard for spooking horses because an olde school taxi backfires loudly as it passes a horse drawn carriage. In all honesty if I was that horse I would have spooked at the mere site of this travelling circus.

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Christine should have been a festive film and she should have looked like this

The taxi driver pulls up outside a building and starts bleating ‘Susan’ as if he has never actually said the word before and is still trying to get to grips with the pronunciation. For some reason this actually works and out pops the Mom from Malcolm in the Middle. For some reason Bud, the taxi guy, tells her she is his first stop today despite the fact she doesn’t get in the cab and no one gets out… He then asks her not to forget him and she confirms he is the first in line and not to worry before he drives off…. They might not be worried but I certainly fucking am.

As is required with all small town films everyone waves to Bud as he drives past, honking his horn freely and basically just making noise, both audibly and visually. Bud briefly stops to scream at a bunch of kids to write letters (hopefully to Santa and not to inmates at the local penitentiary) before continuing on to the service station again for no other reason than to be told he needs to look after his car otherwise it’s gonna break the fuck down. Bud is already irritating the hell out of me and is using god knows how much fuel just doing laps of this godforsaken town.

On his tour of the town Bud drives past a guy called Jake, who has just left the bank of Georgetown looking mightily pissed off while someone chases after him trying to explain something or other. Unable to read a room or the local high street, Bud hangs out of his window to remind Jake his kids still need to write their letters. From the look Jake gives him his kids might actually be writing to the local penitentiary before Christmas is through.

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You’re gonna wish your car wasn’t so noticeable now, Bud

I hope to good christ someone kills Bud soon as he finishes bleating at everyone and rocks up at a hotel. I can’t tell if he lives here or what but they appear to have a desk in the lobby which handily has a copy of motor repairs. Realising his car really is fucked, like everyone has been telling him, Bud immediately starts writing a letter to Santa and to be honest I’m just surprised he can write at all.

Having had enough of Bud’s shit we end up in New York where architect Mr George Billings turns up at his office and not one god damn person will leave him alone. The man just keeps charging through the office, ignoring everything his staff are telling him about an important meeting, and instead is more excited to put a tiny piano in a giant doll’s house that is taking up most of his desk. I presume Alex is his daughter and he assumes she is just gonna love this eyesore.

There is a terribly boring meeting where people discuss where to build shit and the CEO of the company apparently really loves… trees.


Thomas Renfield: “People… we’re putting our money into year-round living. We’re selling clean air. 24 hour security. Trees. Lots of trees. Shade.

Me: “Huh… apparently trees are sentient and in the security business now.”


I forgot this was an old school meeting, a time before everyone was forced to endure lengthy powerpoint presentations. I much preferred the grand unveiling of this bad boy and plans to build a new estate somewhere up north.

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Not sure if brown land mass or coffee stains

Cue a strange self-help session between Renfield and George where we lightly skim across the fact George has recently lost his wife, been throwing himself into his work and Christmas is a terrible time to try and get over a loved one. Thanks for reminding us, Tom. Either way we’re off to Georgetown, Colorado!

Prediction #1: George is gonna fall in love with Susan up there in the mountains.


George: “You want me to go there and survey the area.”

Renfield: “Two days, tops.”

George: “Just like Vermont last year?”

Renfield: “Exactly the same, you go in as a tourist.”

George: “So as not to make anybody suspicious and drive the real estate prices up.”

Me: “Thank you for that wonderfully scripted business plan, gentlemen.”


Prediction #2: George is totally gonna give the game up at some point and betray his company in the name of Christmas spirit and not making a profit off these people or their tiny town. Fuck trees.

George goes back to his office and packs a bunch of loose pencils and assorted protractors into a briefcase because apparently architects like to travel light.

Back at home there are a bunch of kids running around an old woman in the kitchen whilst shouting about butter. This is why I hate children. George waits until his daughter’s friends have gone home and she is getting ready for bed bed to break the news they’re leaving in two days for Colorado. Merry Christmas, kid.


Alex: “Daddy, but my friends are here.”

George: “You can make new friends in Colorado.”

Me: “… But you’re only going for two days…”


Prediction #3: They get snowed in at Colorado and have to stay at that terrible hotel with Bud in the lobby writing letters to Santa.

Bud would live for this next part where George suggests Alex writes a letter to Santa so he knows where they’ve gone. George does a 4 minute, poignant sketch whilst describing Christmas in his small, childhood town which we don’t even get to see! Which leads me to believe what he handed to his daughter was just a mess of doodles. He probably just drew some dicks or something.


Alex: “This Christmas… I’ll have you all to myself.”

Me: “… SHE KILLED YOUR WIFE!”


Prediction #4: Alex killed her Mom so there was more Christmas cheer to go around.

Bud is back, stalking Susan down the street so he can hand her his god damn letter. Unfortunately for George and the rest of humanity it looks like Bud is the one picking them up from the airport.


Bud: “Did you write yours yet?”

Susan: “Ahhhh no, not yet.”

Bud: “Susan, you spend so much time helping others with their letters, it’s time you paid attention to writing your own.”

Me: “Why, are they all illiterate? If Bud can fucking write, anyone can.”


Prediction #5: Susan hasn’t written her letter because she probably suffered some tragic past and doesn’t believe her wish for a family will come true but it will and she will gain both a husband and a murderous little daughter in the very near future.

There’s an awkward moment when Bud’s car backfires even though he’s not even in the damn thing and the engine isn’t running, which doesn’t fill me with confidence for this trip to the airport.

Prediction 3 edit: Bud’s car breaks down when he is supposed to take them back to the airport and they miss their flight.

In the street Susan thinks this is the perfect time to tell two children how sorry she is their Father lost the ranch, just before Christmas, and to see them have to go. Both kids ride off on a horse without saying a word because the high street is not a place to bring up the family’s financial struggles.

Meanwhile, getting off the plane, some crazed woman named Joanne seems to have grown very attached to George and Alex and wishes them a very Merry Christmas before disappearing.

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That’s the face of a Christmas homewrecker if ever I saw one

Prediction #6: Joanne pops back up at some point and puts strain on George and Susan’s relationship


Oh… the faces on these people when Bud and that car turn up…. Apparently Bud has been doing this for 40 years in the same friggin’ car and don’t I believe it. All the way back to the town Bud is holding up traffic because his cab goes about 2 miles per hour and I pray he doesn’t charge them via the meter.

OK so…. I don’t know why she did but thank god Alex brought along the sketch George did earlier in the movie which we never got to see because it is glorious. 

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Please note he originally sketched this with a single pencil…

Apparently Georgetown looks so much like the place George was born but I am personally thankful it looks nothing like it. That is the stuff of nightmares. Thank Christ he bought those protractors with him.

Bud hints at some 100 year old legend but doesn’t actually explain anything, even when the kid asks him outright what the hell he’s whittling on about.


George: “Get back inside, Alex.”

Me: “Yeah, Alex. Get back inside that rusty death trap with the Christmas decorations on it.”


Instead of dropping them at the hotel, Bud drops them at the Post Office where Susan works because George already has photos he needs to send off to New York right away! Luckily Alex lags behind so she is outside to witness Bud’s car finally break down in all it’s glory. The whole town gathers around the car, like monkey’s at a safari park, and Alex gives them all a look which suggests she sees their primitive behaviour and is not a fan. They didn’t behave like this in New York.

George isn’t too surprised when she delivers the bad news to him and is probably, and rightly, more concerned that the post office is a complete fire hazard! Yes! We are officially back! (Note to self: Announce fire hazard of the year once this fever dream is all over.)

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You’re right to look worried, kid. They weren’t fussy about smoking indoors back then. One spark and you’re all done for.

A whole queue of people are waiting to hand in their Christmas letters to Susan on Letter Day (which is a national holiday) and one kid basically hands over a package, which in this day and age would cost him a fortune to post. Finally George gets up to the counter and is alarmed to find out it’s only open to receiving Santa’s letters and certainly not some real world letter like sending film negatives over to New York for a job.

George is fucking baffled and tries to pull his New York businessman shit with Susan who is not having it and I love her. Nothing like a bit of hatred to really build a long-lasting relationship on!

At the hotel we walk in on some woman getting kids ready to play angels in what I presume is a nativity play and not their regular daytime attire. Even worse it turns out this woman is Hennie, Bud’s sister, and they run the hotel together. I can’t even at this point. The man owns two businesses and still needs a loan off Santa to fix his car.

Alex wants to help them light up some tree but Hennie tells her she needs to write her letter to Santa first. Alex immediately rushes off to do just that whilst George looks on and wonders why the fuck she never listens to him when he asks her to do something first time. Just before Alex is led off to her room by Bud, and probably to a Business 101 lecture, Hennie suddenly, and without warning, recruits Alex as a shepherd in her play.


George: “We won’t be here for Christmas.”

Hennie: “We’re short on shepherds this year.”

Me: “Oh well, better scrap all those plans you had, then. Georgetown needs underqualified shepherds.”


It’s only now that George starts questioning the fact everyone believes in Santa and that they’re all quite mad up here. It’s taken him long enough; I called the madness the moment I saw Bud’s taxi. Hennie ominously confirms tonight all will be made clear… maybe it’s the night they get a care package of all their medication dropped off or something.

I have to say I am impressed by the hotel’s capacity to catch on fire too.

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Serving at this hotel automatically qualifies you for Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge

Bud explains he can’t take George and Alex back to the airport and some guy called Hank will be doing it instead, totally blowing my prediction out of the water. George basically reveals that even he knows Bud has asked for a new motor for Christmas but explains this again to his daughter, just in case her tiny, infantile brain couldn’t grasp the simple grown up conversation. In all fairness the kid probably wasn’t listening because there was an icecream sundae in front of her. I know I wouldn’t have been.

The moment Susan steps into the hotel Hennie is trying to set her up with George because apparently the entire town knows she is desperate for a man. She calls her Aunt Hennie but I can’t tell if it’s actually familial or just a really small town.

Susan had actually turned up to see if they could get a boy called…. Scruff? … back into the pageant even though he turned Hennie down point blank. Can’t say I blame him at this point.


Hennie: “He’s here!”

Susan: “Who’s here?”

Hennie: “A man!”

Me: “It’s really refreshing to see a woman with such high standards on screen.”


Cue the terribly awkward interruption of George and Alex’s dinner when Susan is basically thrown down into a seat by Hennie. This prompts an apology from both adults about their recent behaviour and I’m sad we’re not seeing more sass from Susan. Another argument is brewing though, I’d bet my Christmas on it.

George is called away to answer a phone call and just happily hands the care of his daughter over to this postal service employee, regardless of whether either of them were happy about it. Don’t forget, you can offer anyone up for anything at Christmas and they can’t say no! The man even requests Susan finds them a tour guide for tomorrow to take a look around Georgetown, as if she doesn’t have enough to do with all these Santa letters rushing in. She has to agree though because Christmas.

Back in New York Renfield looks drunk as fuck but he’s been waiting for George to get to the damn phone for so long he probably had time to plough through a mini bar. George tries to blame Letter Day for his own late post and promises he’ll call tomorrow. In a perfect power play Renfield pulls the ‘No, I’ll call you‘ card and demands a full report by then too.


George: “The whole town was mailing letters to erm… Santa Claus.”

Renfield: “Santa Claus?”

George: “Everyone I’ve met believes in Santa Claus. It has to do with some legend.” 

Renfield: “Legend?”

George: “Well I’ll find out more tonight when we light the tree.”

Renfield: “Tree?

Me: “Fuck, he really is drunk if he’s forgotten what trees are…”


There are some seriously sinister overtones to that call and I don’t know how long Renfield just kept repeating words back to George because a lot of time has passed and now it’s dark outside.

I hope the entire town didn’t turn out to this tree lighting ceremony because it amounts to about 50 people, but we’re all out there greeting each other and giving a special round of applause to ‘our friends from New York’ which is currently just Alex. Luckily Susan can be trusted and did not just kidnap the child, which would have made for an awkward applause to… no one.

George turns up just in time to hear about the legend of Georgetown and how a 100 years ago their forefathers were caught in a blizzard and almost starved to death. Santa turned up, apparently also lost in this blizzard on Christmas Eve because the satnav was yet to be invented, asking for some food but was denied because the forefathers were probably already drawing straws to see who they would eat next. Fortunately for Santa some kid took pity on him, stole a bunch of food and went out to feed him. Santa, in a turn of events, said he would reward the kid 100 times over before disappearing on his no doubt usual mince pie and brandy trail across the world. Fuck starving travellers. However on Christmas Day they woke up to a shit load of food, blankets, toys and a convenient trail into a valley that is presumably now Georgetown. Santa had the touch of Jesus about him in those times.

At some point during the story some kid turns up on a horse. Alex spots him and is either plotting to be charitable to the kid, the need for which is signified by the dirt all over his face, OR she’s planning on murdering him too and taking his horse.

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‘And then all I need to do is murder Dad… dress the horse up in his clothes, give him Dad’s boarding pass back to New York and then me and the stranger’s horse can live happily ever after!’

For some reason the town welcomes their Christmas tree into the world by singing ‘Oh Christmas Tree’ loudly at it every year. Susan and George start singing at each other like a weird sing-off and I don’t know about you, I don’t even like making eye contact with my friends when I speak to them, let alone sing at a stranger I just met and argued with that morning.

The next morning Alex rocks up at the post office, already confident to roam the town on her own, to drop off both her letter to Santa and her Dad’s boring business correspondence. I am horrified to learn that Bud is also the fucking assistant post master as well. Next it will turn out he’s the 100 year old boy from the legend.

Susan pops out from behind the counter to announce she will be their tour guide today and without consulting Alex or her father agrees to have Alex back for pageant practice at 3pm sharp. Susan finally hands over her letter to Santa but it’s probably just a wish that both George and his child go back to New York and she never has to give another damn tour again.

Three seconds later Susan is speeding them around the town in a horse and carriage in a possible attempt to kill them all off and make doubly sure she never has to see them again. In honour of the horse and carriage I have added an extra generic Christmas counter this year at the end of the post.

On this tour it turns out that no one actually knows what miracle is going to befall the town, so instead they just build the worst snowman I have ever seen. Now is the perfect time to reveal that George is an architect so that Susan can look at the terribly constructed snowman like…. ‘Wait, what?’ Alex continues to drop him in the shit by mentioning he recently built a ski resort over in Vermont and Susan begins to fear he may have the same ideas about Georgetown. In the child’s defence she does try and immediately flick her father back out of the shit by revealing they’re actually there on vacation because her Mom died last Christmas.

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“George… have you ever even seen a man before?”

Susan has an awful lot of information to digest here and think she may as well continue taking them down this depressing road. We pass through a valley which used to belong to Jake Richards and stop outside his house with a sign advertising his 160 acres are being foreclosed by the bank and are for sale.

We come across the guy from the bank putting the sign up and I feel a little conflicted as it turns out he is Bob Truesdale and also the Mayor of Georgetown. Susan wants to know more about when Jake and his children will be made homeless but Bob is more concerned whether George is having a good vacation or not. Rather than face this crushing defeat we go back to Susan’s to drink hot chocolate and admire her photos.

It turns out Susan was mostly raised here but spent 10 years in Denver. When her Dad died she came back to sell the house but instead decided Denver life wasn’t for her anymore, took over her Dad’s job as post master and forged a new life which she doesn’t. Want. Ruined. By. George’s. Ski. Resort.

We have some bizarre arguments about whose hometown was better and whose hometown isn’t even on the map anymore because shopping centres and… Look, I don’t know, but Susan has George all figured out whilst Alex just wants to ride around in the sleigh some more. To avoid any more awkward conversation George decides pageant practice would actually be a great way to kill the afternoon.

After all that George still has the confidence to basically invite Susan to the dance in town tonight. This man is either as clueless as Bud or has the unassailable confidence typical of his species.

Pageant practice is an absolute train wreck and looks like it might top () for worst play ever. During all this George has been sketching out his visions for the future and proving protractors can do your art the world of good. Not good enough to stop him tearing up his future vision and having a change of heart about the entire thing, though.

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When you want to make a diverse Sims neighbourhood but don’t have 18 hours to waste on each individual household

George calls his doubts over to Renfield, but not before checking whether Alex’s fuck off doll’s house will get there in time for Christmas with express shipping. Those forefathers could have lived in that box during that blizzard, it’s ridiculous!

Back to business, George just wants Renfield to leave the damn town alone and go butcher someone else’s hometown instead of this one. Not listening for one second Renfield simply demands that George holds a town meeting tomorrow night and it was only at this point I realised George was in Georgetown and no one could have come up with any better name for the main character. ‘Make it as easy to remember as possible, guys! Bud ain’t so bright.’

Never one to let something dent his unassailable confidence George can be found that evening, dancing with Susan in a bar that is far too small for this live band and Christmas hoedown that is being thrown. Everything about that place is a fire hazard from the giant hanging candy canes, the live band on a tiny balcony, the fake snow on the floor and the overcrowding. Oh. And the highly flammable booze.

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This is what hell looks like

That mysterious, grubby child shows up on his horse again and hangs around by the door watching the other kids play some macabre game that looks like assault as they drag another child around by the arms and force him to kiss an unsuspecting and now very unhappy girl. The grubby child is the one and only Scruff and… I have questions.

Is his actual name Scruff? Did his parents somehow know or dream of a child that was perpetually covered in dirt 24/7? Or did he just decide he was going to live up to their expectations? If that’s just his nickname what the hell is his real name!? And why do the adults also call him Scruff? WHO CALLS THEIR KID SCRUFF!? AND IS IT SHORT FOR SCRUFFINGTON?!

Either way these other kids give Scruff some shit because… he’s moving. The kid has literal dirt wiped across his face but these kids decide to taunt the boy with a situation that is completely out of his control. Go and wash your damn face! If you don’t have running water there is god damn snow outside! Go melt it in a bucket!

I’m still clearly and completely bemused by this character but Alex is either still willing to be charitable or murder the kid for his horse because she stays behind to stare at him some more.


Scruff: “Who are you?”

Alex: “They call me Alex.”

Me: “Because that is my name. Now, I have some questions….”


Either way that kid is out of there with the first barrage of Alex’s questions about the ranch. He didn’t come here tonight to be asked questions, he came to be mocked some more by the village kids! Scruff rides off into the distance without even a backward glance at Alex while she stands in the street and watches her future horse/father leave her out in the cold.

Susan decides she has had one spinning-on-the-spot-dance too many and George casually leaves his child with all these complete strangers while he walks the postmaster home (the current one, not the old deceased one).


Susan: “You know, when I see Bud’s cab or hear it sputter and clatter down the street… I can’t help thinking of this place. Our town.”

Me: “Maybe because… you’re standing in it at the time?”


In a very vague and poetic way Susan is basically telling George to not dare build a new fucking estate in Georgetown and how about he helps build them a new summer theatre instead. There is some strange talk about everybody who walks everybody home being special and after reminding the woman she has no partner George thinks that’s the perfect time to kiss her. You know, because she’s free and single.

What is even stranger is he appears to go home and report all of this to Alex as an alternative bed time story. If I had to listen to George recount his days to me I’d never sleep again. On being asked if he thinks he could ever be in love again, George decides to break into song and honest to god, me and Alex both have the same expression the entire time because how much fucking eggnog did the man drink tonight? And it just doesn’t. Stop.

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‘I can’t wait to replace him with that horse.’

Alex is once more left unsupervised which, at this point, I’m thrilled for her to be away from that singing psycho and is sledding down a hill with a bunch of her new friends because fuck old New York friends. At the bottom of the hill Scruff is waiting, not at all ominously like a horror movie villain, on his horse and casually tells Alex to get on and ride off with him. Neither Alex or the kid who runs back up the hill with the sled find this behaviour strange in the slightest but maybe she just finally sees her chance to capture that horse.

Back in town George is awkwardly hanging around listening to the guys’ conversation down at the service station. This is where he finds out the guys have pooled together to buy a new motor for Bud’s cab and they pray it gets there on time, otherwise it will shatter everyone’s illusion that Santa is real and why are the adults sending letters to Santa and believing in him if they’re the ones buying the presents anyway!? Either way, George needs a car for mystery business – probably gonna find a hilltop to yodel from or something.


Bob: “Anything I can help you with?”

George: “Yeah, I was wondering if I could borrow or rent a car.”

Bob: “What for?”

Me: “For hurtling towards a cliff but bailing at the last second so I can watch the car fly into the ravine and explode at the bottom. Why, what do you use your car for?”


I wish it was the latter but in fact George just wanted to go to the ranch and at this point everyone becomes ve-ery cagey and Bob offers to take him over there because he was already heading that way. How George is getting back and in how many black bags… well that remains to be seen.

Somehow even Bob knows that George works for Renfield and has spoken to him on the phone this morning. Bob, however, seems totally for this idea and I knew I didn’t trust him and his banker ways.

Meanwhile Scruff has taken Alex off to his ‘hideout’ which he doubly confirms no one knows about. Be creepier, kid, be creepier. He has, however, gone to the effort of cheering it up with Christmas decorations so at least you have something to look at while you’re being murdered. Scruff is quite disillusioned by these letters to Santa and the question of believing in Santa comes up. When we hit subject of ‘giving’ we are ‘gifted’ with… Look, I’m just glad I wasn’t drinking red wine because it would have been spit clear across the room.

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All drawn with one pencil, would you believe?

Scruff: “This is a hawk. He’s my favourite. You take it.”

Alex: “But it’s your favourite.”

Scruff: “I got plenty more.”

Me: “Oh no, you mistake me. I can’t take this because it is pure nightmare fuel. Please cease drawing immediately.”


Moving swiftly on from that, Bob gently breaks the news to Jake that he needs to move out on Boxing Day by marching up to the man and telling him he needs to move out on Boxing Day (affectionately referred to here as… the day after Christmas. Come on people, you have Letter Day but not Boxing Day?!) Jake mistakes George for the buyer, which he categorically is not, and Bob throws him under the bus by saying ‘We-ell he basically is.’

As expected George is no longer on the Renfield boat and invites Jake to the town meeting tonight to try and help him fight the entire thing. All this without even asking why the ranch and land was being seized by the bank in the first place. Turns out no one is good at ranching in this country and a load of people are having to give up their homes because of it.

This is the perfect time for Renfield and his board of directors to show up with the longest cigarette I have seen in the history of people smoking cigarettes on film.

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It was a different time in the 80’s, kid! The summers were long and the cigarettes were longer!

The primates are back again and at the sight of a limo they’re crowding around ready to pull the aerial off and chew on the wing mirrors. Alex, meanwhile, is pondering over this picture of a hawk and bemoaning the harshness of the world. Right there with ya, kid. When asked what the hell she even wants for Christmas Alex confirms a doll house, much to her Dad’s relief, two seconds before she says she has changed her mind and would rather see Scruff get his ranch back. Weeeeelllll fuck. I’d like to see you sing your way out of this one, George.

(Note: I would not like to see that. That was merely there for comic effect and a reference to your strange past behaviour. Please do not sing your way out of this one.)

All the way to the town meeting George is still telling Renfield he can’t buy the town without offering more advice than the fact they all believe in Santa. As far as arguments go it’s not the best I’ve ever heard. None of the town looks very trusting of Renfield when he claims he is the Christmas miracle the legend foretold and he is bringing cash registers to their every day lives. Renfield continues to throw George under the bus and for some reason the man just gives up trying to argue, leading to everyone hating his face.

Susan is vocally opposed to the idea and Bud stands up just so he can ask Renfield if he believes in Santa Claus. The townsfolk are very disturbed by the tiny model of Renfield’s proposed plans but I am more disturbed by this woman who has very prematurely grey hair. Maybe she accidentally heard George singing.

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There is some sass going on in this crowd tonight

George is still trying to convince people he never wanted this, even whilst Susan and Alex are storming angrily out of the meeting. Bud and Hennie are still on George’s side but Renfield might be on the fence because he tells the man he’s fired. It is of no surprise when Alex runs off at the sight of her father but I’m more alarmed that no one goes after the girl who has just run off, crying, into the night. That was apparently a bad idea because now she has gone missing.

Not only is the girl clearly running off to Scruff’s hideout but a blizzard is blowing up. I’m hoping for a Santa hallucination here, guys! Everyone is dragged into the search for Alex and we finally realise Scruff may be able to help us out here. I still can’t believe everyone is calling this kid Scruff like it’s a legitimate name that needs no questioning and is even better when used in a dramatic scene.

Apparently we need to take two trucks up to the hideout because one Jeep wasn’t enough to carry all 5 people up the hill… Just a note, Scruff’s younger brother is either called Judas or Judith. Neither would surprise me. But it’s fine! The girl’s fine. Probably just a concussion from that beam that fell on her. No biggie.

The next day a new disaster strikes because no one can find a motor as old as the one Bud needs whilst the man himself is restless as shit, just waiting around for Christmas morning. Upstairs Hennie develops a strange twitch when she starts talking about Santa and fortunately Scruff turns up to say goodbye to Alex before it develops into a full-blown medical condition.

In only the way young children can be, their goodbye is blunt and to the point. As an adult you don’t get people looking you dead in the eye as you confess your Dad got fired over this shit before abruptly announcing they think they’ll be going now.

Meanwhile I immensely enjoyed Susan’s greeting to George when he turns up at her door again.


Susan: “Coffee’s hot.”

Me: “Yes it is. I think I’ll be going now.”


George’s apology is predictably ham-fisted and quickly becomes a rant about how everyone just needs to give in to Renfield and stop believing in legends and miracles before it does a complete U-turn and he then declares he needs to stop the man. Tonight. I’m not sure how he wants people to react here so it’s probably just best to hunker down and wait for Hurricane George to pass on through.

We get to witness the wonderful spectacle of the nativity play which is basically every child’s memory of Christmas throughout all of primary school… except I remember all of mine going much better and we at least knew how to pronounce the word Bethlehem correctly. Seriously, these kids were allowed to sing an entire song about the little town of Bethelhem. Not only did this song go on forever but everyone was encouraged to join in halfway through and this is the moment I remembered I needed to take my anti-depressants. Fact.

Also I am very sure Alex was supposed to be a shepherd due to the national shortage so I guess Hennie is just a pathological liar and merely lives to lure children into her plays of delusion and mispronunciation.

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Making friends outside of New York was a big mistake

All that being said… the pastor believes so much in what George has requested to say that evening that he actually gives up his entire slot in their usual scheduling to allow the man to make his speech. Right on time Renfield and his cronies turn up at the church to hear the man out. By which I mean… right on time because they missed these kids butchering the name of a town that is well over 2000 years old.

As per his apology to Susan this quickly becomes a rant about how Renfield is going to trash Georgetown and their legend while a kid dressed as a wizard stands behind him. Wizards are wise too, ya know.


George: “For those of you whom I haven’t met…”

Me: “And fucked up your livelihoods already.”

George: “… my name is George Billings. My daughter and I have been part of your town for only a few days.”

Me: “But have already fucked this place up so much.”

George: “I wanted to speak to you tonight as someone who has lost something.”

Me: “My sanity.”

George: “More than once.”

Me: “Ooh…. no, still applicable.”


George really plays up the whole Jake Richard’s ranch ordeal and likens everyone to the boy in the legend who fed Santa 100 years ago to see if that will provoke any kind of response. They’re a tough crowd, so the man thinks now would be a great time to ask them all to sacrifice their own homes instead of the out-of-date date tinned goods from the back of the cupboard.


George: “Now there’s a way to help Jake and his family. If each of you were to go to Bob Truesdale at his bank and tell him that you’ll put up your home and your business as collateral to pay off what Jake owes… you can give the Richards’ family not just a second mortgage… but a second life.”

Me: “WOAH! GEORGE, NO!”

George: “Now I’m not asking you anything more than I’m asking myself.”

Me: “You don’t even have a job anymore! You have to give up your home!”

George: “I’ve got some savings…”

Me: “I’ve got fucking savings George but they ain’t gonna cover a whole frickin’ ranch!”


On the one hand… a businessman who will offer me money for my home and livelihood, on the other a singing architect who wants me to give my house up to the bank to protect a business which failed once already as did others like it across the country. Tough choice.

Please note the wizard looks displeased by the end of George’s speech and that guy is wise. Maybe he should have rallied the troops instead.

Much to my little surprise, because this is Christmas and people are lunatics, Bob even puts up his own house and the bank. I don’t know if putting up the very same bank that is dealing with the transaction as collateral is legally sound but… whatever.


Pastor guy: “Traditionally we all go outside, light a candle and gather at the tree for a final hymn.”

Me: “To bring about the end of days.”

Pastor guy: “Tonight, I propose we go to the Richards’ home, light a candle…”

Me: “And burn the place down!!”

Pastor guy: “… and wish our neighbours a Merry Christmas and the happiest New Years.”

Me: “Burning the place down would solve a lot of… never mind. They probably have premium ‘festive fire hazard’ insurance out on these places anyway.”


Cue Bob ripping up his contract with Renfield which amounted to a very aged looking single piece of paper, George resigning from a job he was fired from and the entire town driving to the valley like a creepy funeral procession.

The Richards’ family are moving out at that precise moment, because isn’t the evening of Christmas Eve a most wonderful time to move house?, and probably think the townsfolk are coming up here to lynch them or something. Turns out Scruff little brother is a sister and called Judith. I preferred my version.

On hearing the news Jake looks more pissed off that they couldn’t have come around and told him this before he started packing up his belongings. Also, how terribly timed would it have been if he had already moved out, 2 days ahead of schedule, and now the entire town is basically being used as collateral for an empty ranch. When Jake has no response the townsfolk start belting Silent Night at him in unison and honestly I don’t blame the man for pulling his kids in close because this mob just turned creepy as fuck. It looks and sounds like the indoctrination to a cult.

Before this point I never found the lyric ‘sleep in heavenly peace’ too sinister but now I’ll never think of it in the same way again.

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Welcome to the cult. On Sundays we sing.

Finally, forgetting about the cult murders of the previous night, it is Christmas Day: Alex gets her doll house, Hank got a new coat and new shoes, Bob got a new tie, some random guy got a year’s supply of bay rum but was only holding one bottle and I fear for him, Bud magically got a new motor which we all gather around and just take turns laughing in order to admire the car, George gets a girlfriend and Susan gets herself one hell of a burden because George has no job, house or prospects and gave away all his savings, so he will be sponging off her for a while.

And that folks! Is the end! I can’t believe I sat through an hour and a half of this…

Please feel free to watch George’s riveting and powerful speech here. Prepare to be moved… out of whatever room this is occurring in.

 

Prediction board – 2.5/6

  • Prediction #1 – George is gonna fall in love with Susan up there in the mountains – saw that one coming a mile off.
  • Prediction #2 – George will change his mind about profiting off the town – it was rambling and long and there were many U-turns and songs but we got there!
  • Prediction #3 – Bud’s car breaks down and they have to stay in Georgetown – Bud’s car did break down but unfortunately the man arranged alternative, if not as festive, transport. Half a point!
  • Prediction #4 – Alex killed her Mom so there was more Christmas to go around – I mean this was the wild card but I still think that kid has the potential to murder.
  • Prediction #5 – Susan will wish for a family in her letter because running the Post Office is lonely work – We never found out and after watching the film I find it hard to believe she wished for George specifically after meeting the man.
  • Prediction #6 – Joanne pops back up at some point and puts strain on George and Susan’s relationship – She never even showed back up, she was pointless! What’s more is I presumed everyone had multiple day jobs to save on casting costs, so they probably spent all their money to get Joanne The Homewrecker two minutes of air time and Bud just had to deal with working three jobs.

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: CHECK
  • Piano: It’s tiny and a toy but CHECK
  • Carolling: CHECK
  • Christmas Montage: Damn… not a single ‘tage.
  • Fire Hazards: Not one but three! CHECK
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: CHECK
  • Snowing on cue: We blizzard-ed on cue, man!

 

It’s been a long time and I’m clearly rusty. Hopefully we’ll do better tomorrow.

See you then!

 

Apples & Pears

Mom – “I bought Matt some canisters to store his tea and coffee in and they range in size. So the biggest one has apples on it and that’s where his tea goes. Then the next is pears and that’s where his coffee goes.”

Me – “You already have this planned out for him, I see…”

Matt – “Apples for your tea, pears for your coffee; that’s how the old saying goes isn’t it?”

Mother’s Love

Mom – “Oh my god! I think I’ve just bit my tongue off!”

Mom commences to show us all her now bleeding tongue.

Chartlotte 2.0 – “Eurgh!”

Matt – “Oh, that’s bad…”

Me – “Well, you’ve bitten your tongue. You haven’t bitten it off.”

Mom – “Owwwwwww.”

Me – “How old are you?”

Mom – “…..”

Me – “Don’t give me that look, you’re the one who still hasn’t learnt the layout of your mouth yet.”

Mom, looking to Matt for sympathy – “But look at it!”

Matt – “Well, you’re never gonna get a man like that, are ya?”

Me – “Not if you go everywhere tongue first.”

Mom – “I fucking hate my kids.”

 

 

Christmas Advent #11 – Winter Wedding

Right guys, I owe you. There was no blog post yesterday because me and Kieran were busy busting my Mom out of our house. She had been stranded with us since Friday because of the snow. This resulted in getting to Mom’s house then needing to be dug out of the snow all over again once we got to her street.

It was also Kieran’s birthday, but that’s sort of secondary to the great escape of 2017.

So, because I owe you big time and 2 posts today, I am gonna make our missed Day #11 film major. Seriously. Who would have thought, while trawling through Now TV movies I would come across the one, the only, the motherfucking sequel to Finding Father Christmas, our day #4 movie! (Looking back I have just found out that WordPress never updated and published the final version of this old review and so an incomplete bunch of gibberish has been up since the 4th instead. Way to go, internet!) Yes. It exists. And we are going in.

Welcome back Miranda! Who, as we remember, originally came from the city and she appears to be packing up all of her clothes to head back up to Vermont, where Ian is being manly and planing some wood. I hope Miranda isn’t leaving that Christmas tree plugged in while she travels across the country with her mahoosive suitcases packed with presents…

Back in the office she is handing out gift bags to everyone because she was injected with the Christmas spirit last year and has carried it on into this film. Annie, her PA, gets an extra special present that she can’t open until Christmas. As usual, all PA’s are just obsessed with their bosses getting engaged and married off… probably so they will leave work to start a family and at least stop harassing them whilst they’re on maternity leave.

Back at the inn, which I am happy to report is still a fire hazard, even Ian’s Mom is hinting that he should propose to the woman.

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Catherine looks like a mannequin here…

Catherine: “You never know, if all goes well, she might not want to leave this time.”

Me: “Yeah Ian, just throw an engagement ring at the problem.”

 


We all remember Ian’s tactics from the last film; every time Miranda hinted at leaving Carlton Heath he would throw something at her to delay her. Not literally, although that would have been hilarious.

In the busy airport where Ian should be picking Miranda up – but is stuck in traffic – some guy she hasn’t seen for at least 2 years, because after that fateful Christmas they decided they should take a break, shows up. I can see why they decided to take a break. Josh looks like he’s melting. Miranda straight up tells the man what happened in her last movie and how she found her father, despite the fact this is a huge family secret and she promised she would never tell another living soul.


Miranda: “Josh, I really wanna tell you something but promise me you won’t tell anyone.”

Me: “Fucking. Idiot.”


She tells Josh who her father was, who immediately shouts loudly that her father is James Whitcomb because he is apparently hard of fucking hearing.


Miranda: “My family trusts me not to tell this secret.”

Me: “Well, they gone done fucked up then, didn’t they?”


There is a bizarre moment when a guy bumps into them at their table and we see him just long enough I feel this is an important scene. Prediction #1 – he heard everything and he’s gonna run off and report this to someone.

Prediction #2 – for good measure, Josh is back to try and ruin Miranda’s relationship.

Ian turns up just as Josh is leaving and rightly comments that he’s an hour late and she’s already busy trying to run off with other men. Because Miranda just loves the sound of her own voice she commences to spend the entire journey back to town telling Ian about this ancient boyfriend and now, presumably, Ian knows more about Josh than his own parents do.

God help us all, Ian is playing Scrooge again in the play this town hosts every year to commemorate James Whitcomb. Up at Ellie and Peter’s house the Children of the Damned are back too. The devil boy has grown and appears to be the same kid but the girl is apparently suffering from some Benjamin Button syndrome and actually looks younger than before. Almost as if she were a completely different child… For some reason Miranda is staying with Ellie and not up at the inn with Ian, which would frankly make more sense.

Whilst unpacking, Miranda receives a call from an unknown number that she declines because, quite rightly, you should never answer those damn things. After ignoring that, she is off to the theatre where she stares longingly at the outside plaque with her father’s name on it. Apparently we are over our fear of theatres and she going around looking at all of the James Whitcomb memorabilia. Up pops Margaret, who definitely wasn’t this invested in the town or play last year but is required to make more of an appearance this time around.


Margaret: “Here we are again. Christmas.”

Miranda: “Here we are…”

Me: “With my husband’s illegitimate child!”


Of course, this is when ol’ Marge thanks Miranda for her discretion with the family’s secret and believes people out in the big, wide world would use the secret to their advantage, making them all fodder for the tabloid. Miranda straight up lies to Margaret, but when she comments she’s glad Miranda never told anyone, the look on Miranda’s face should give the whole game away. Woman needs to play more poker.

Engaging_2
“Ohhhh I fucked up.”

This doesn’t appear to weight too much on her mind though, until Miranda gets a message from an unknown number with an attachment – a picture of James Whitcomb hanging a wreath up. When she asks who this mystery person is they claim they are the ghost of Christmas past.

Unbelievably, she tells Ian because people are usually much sneakier about this shit and it gets them into a world of trouble. Ian is claiming this is one of their relatives and in some weird secret Santa-esque tradition, someone has pulled her name out of a hat in order to pick who will harass her this winter. It’s at this point when his parents show up and I realise the Christmas movie circuit is small and the same people keep popping up. His Dad is also the Dad of Mary in the Christmas Lodge. This man loves lodges. His face must just scream ‘hey, I wanna be involved in anything to do with wooden buildings that cater for people over the holidays!’.

Out in the car, Ian is checking he hasn’t lost the engagement ring he’s been carting around for all of our benefits at home and takes Miranda off to some house, because he needs her opinion on it. I say house, it’s out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by trees and it’s no wonder it’s his favourite place in town; there is no one around and plenty of trees to chop down for wood.


Ian: “It’s called the Rose Cottage.”

Miranda: “How did you find this!? Oh, Ian…. this isn’t yours is it?”

Ian: “No, I’m just working on it. The cottage belongs to Margaret.”

Miranda: “Really? I don’t remember the family saying anything about this place.”

Me: “Good job, you’d have told Josh he could crash there while you tell him more of your family secrets.”


Ian is renovating the place for Margaret because Christmas isn’t complete without a good renovation. Prediction #3 – Margaret will give them the house as long as she hasn’t killed Miranda by then.

Ian is about to propose when Ellie and the kids suddenly show up. Bad timing. Ellie is inviting Miranda to go Christmas shopping with these kids and as we all remember they will be off their faces on sugar from hot chocolate and candy canes. After Ian’s babbling to cover up what just happened, Miranda looks at him like he’s clinically insane and thinks shopping with hyperactive children might be better.

They are out trying to find a present for their Dad, Pete, when they walk past a shop and his son randomly points out a life-sized, wooden duck carving.

 


Devil Child #1: “What about that for Dad?”

Miranda: “….. Does he like ducks?”

Me: “Doesn’t matter, he will learn to love it.”


He’d better because now he’s got one for Christmas. Miranda is now showing Ellie this mystery text and message, but she is also clueless about the entire thing. They have just rocked up to the inn, where they have now changed tradition in order to include Miranda, and are going for hot chocolate after shopping. She is about to go in when Annie calls from the office about some guy hounding her.


Annie: “When I told him you were gone he started asking questions.”

Miranda: “What kind of questions?”

Annie: “About you and your family?”

Miranda: “So what did you say?”

Annie: “Nothing. It’s nobody’s business.”

Me: “Correct answer, Annie! Thank God you were there to take that call and not Miranda.”


We are about to settle down for hot chocolate when josh shows up. For fuck’s sake, will this woman ever get this damn drink? Ellie and the kids don’t look particularly bothered by this man that has just stolen away Miranda to another table. Apparently, Josh was inspired by Miranda’s story of this town and decided to just fly up here. He is again loudly announcing the news about her father and the man just needs to shut up and leave. When Catherine sees Josh she looks less concerned that their future daughter-in-law is talking to this mystery man and more interested in Josh herself.


Josh: “This town, as lovely as it is, it’s not the only reason I drove up here.”

Miranda: “Oh?”

Josh: “I wanted to see you. To ask if you were seeing anybody else?”

Me: “It would have been easier and cheaper to just find her on Facebook and…. whatever. Whatever.”


Despite the fact she breaks the news that she is definitely seeing someone and sends him awkwardly on his way I’m calling Prediction #2 as complete. She is trying to get back to her hot chocolate when he says he needs to talk to her some more outside. Josh apparently wants to get Danny, his lawyer brother, involved in case she needs representing in a law case against the family to make sure she gets her inheritance. He is sure James would have left her a hefty estate…. despite the fact the man didn’t know she existed. She probably should have blabbed that little fact along with the rest of the story, too.

Ian rocks up and the devil children tell him where Miranda is. He sees them out on the porch, having a heated debate about how much Josh didn’t tell anyone about her father, before he hands her his number and email address. You know, in case she needs to talk about things because her family who fully understand what is happening wouldn’t be any good at that job.

Miranda finally makes it back to the table when the devil children mention that Ian had to go and rush off to the theatre. The irony, she’s just got her hot chocolate and now she wants to neck it, running the risk of burning her mouth, and rush off to the theatre also.

There she finds Peter, who introduces Natalie – she is up from the city doing research on James Whitcomb. It’s the 30th anniversary of him saving the theatre and the 30th anniversary of the play, to boot.

Pete seems absolutely unconcerned by the fact he introduces Miranda as ‘a family friend visiting from Seattle’ and Miranda runs off out of the theatre because that is all too much for her to cope with. Later on, Ian finds her on bench, but it’s dark now so she’s been out there for quite some time. Ian doesn’t seem too bothered by Josh being there and, in fact, sort of made his own Christmas prediction.

 


Ian: “I had a feeling he’d show up.”

Miranda: “You did?”

Ian: “I saw him at the airport. That look on his face?”

Me: “What? That ‘ooh, here’s an opportunity to stalk my ex-girlfriend’ look?”

 

 


Apparently it’s all cool because Ian does not see this man as a threat and is all ready to challenge him to a duel in case he doesn’t leave town. Skimming over that, Ian leads her off somewhere…. I’m not sure what building this is but Miranda wants to know why they are here when he opens the doors again and there is that one-horse open sleigh he was so patronising about the first time around.

Catherine and Andrew rush off to plug in some lights, which light up all of the trees down the avenue as Ian rushes them off down there. They don’t go too far when they’re out again and heading to a lit up gazebo.


Ian: “I’ve been trying to find the right moment since you got here but we keep being interrupted.”

Me: “You were interrupted once. ONCE.”


Miranda almost ruins the entire proposal by getting ahead of herself and even pisses off Prancer with her city ways. Ian waffles on before he finally gets around to proposing and makes her a wear a god awful ring. Prediction #4 – the engagement gets called off at least once.

Now everyone’s proposing and Andrew is proposing a toast back at the house. Even Natalie, the reporter woman, is there at this time of family togetherness.


Andrew: “The only thing I have to say is… what took you so long?”

Me: “It’s been a year! Jesus Christ!”


Margaret is discussing the reporter with Miranda and it feels a lot like a fishing expedition into checking she didn’t spill any more beans. Back to the forward children, devil child #2 runs up and asks to be a flower girl at this future wedding.

Whilst peeling wallpaper off the walls, Ian is reciting his lines. He is shit at both of the jobs he is doing right now. Miranda is too distracted by finding the perfect spot for a Christmas tree in this renovation project that doesn’t even belong to her. Yet.

I missed something here because suddenly Ian and Miranda have taken on the mantle of being Father Christmas and his wife at the grand Christmas tree lighting. I was too busy checking how to look after my Christmas tree to make sure it doesn’t die too quickly indoors.

Miranda catches sight of devil child #1 looking morose by the log burner and heads over there to check what’s going on. After a heart felt conversation where he reveals he likes to eavesdrop on conversations and knows exactly who Miranda is, apparently witnessing a hug between Miranda and this child is reason enough for everyone to stop and watch with joy. Miranda receives another message, this time it’s a picture of herself with Josh in the background, asking if she really is James’ daughter. Fuck knows when that was taken, it makes no sense. Again, she doesn’t seem too weighed down by the guilt and continues on with her life.

Again, I got a bit distracted because my lounge bottoms tucked into my thermal socks make it look like I have tumours in my ankles. This bought me hilarious joy for a few minutes before I managed to get back to the film.

Natalie is in the study with Margaret and is letting James take credit for Miranda’s mother’s poetry, right in front of Miranda. Marge and Miranda are just spinning web after web of lies here to cover Natalie’s questions and she doesn’t look like she is quite buying this whole family friend bollocks.

Miranda shows Ian the second message and reveals that she told Josh the very thing she shouldn’t have told anyone. Apparently because he was supportive two years ago this means she could tell him everything now and oh! apparently Josh is also a psychologist, so patient confidentiality is his bag. Miranda feels the need to zoom in on Josh in the picture, despite the fact it is very clear who he is, and they come to the conclusion he couldn’t possibly have taken the picture from that far away because he is not Stretch Armstrong.

Engaging_3
Oh that’s Josh? I never would have recognised him from this angle and this distance!

Ian confirms they should contact Josh and see if he saw anything when she gets an unknown call from Natalie. As a class A reporter she doesn’t think the story she was here for is the real money-maker and she thinks there is something she is missing. Miranda doesn’t really give much away, for once, but does ascertain it was not Natalie who called her all those other times.

Outside the town’s border, up pops a suspicious looking man who looks a lot like that guy from the airport. Hmmmm. Margaret is checking out the cottage Ian is working on and manages to peel wallpaper much better than he does in 2 seconds flat, uncovering some sort of writing on the wall which makes her look kinda hesitant about life. We catch Ian doing his favourite thing in the world, chopping wood, when Miranda brings him some cider because axes and alcohol are a legit sensible combination. I’m starting to feel American cider is not quite like English cider.

Ian vows not to let this mystery messenger ruin Christmas and off they go to pick a tree and put it up at the renovation site because fire hazards are life. Miranda spots some of the lettering beneath the lifted wallpaper and on uncovering it reveals the words ‘May Truth and Grace Reside Here’. I, personally, wouldn’t want that hanging around in my house but each to their own.

Back at the inn a Mr. Decker, the shady guy, is complimenting everything he can find. between compliments he starts grilling Catherine on everything James Whitcomb and she invites him to the play that night as the whole family will be there. Well done, Catherine, you still haven’t fucked up as much as Miranda.

Apparently, back at the house, Marge covered up the words as it used to be her first home. I’m calling she originally had twins called Truth and Grace and something terrible happened. Prediction #5.

The show is about to go on, and I wonder if we will see more of it this time than last film, when Miranda takes her seat with Ian’s parents. Shady, shady Decker is also in the audience, keeping a beady eye on the entire proceedings. OOh, looks like we are going to see more of the play this year….. and I kind of wish we weren’t. DEATH IS BACK THOUGH!

Engaging_4
Death can often be found hanging around fire hazards

Sorry, guys. It’s at this point I realised, whilst looking for the actor who played Death fabulously that… Sky movies is lying to me. This film isn’t called Winter Wedding at all. It’s called Engaging Father Christmas! (And Death still doesn’t get any credit on IMDB.)

Ian acts the entire play without really turning away from the audience like a bizarre, front facing version of Egyptian paintings, and I hope there is not a third instalment of this franchise where we have to sit through the entire thing.

After the show, Peter runs into Mr. Shady, aka. Steve, who reveals the fact he is aware this man has a sister. Shady Steve is a writer, which puts Peter on the warpath and, sure enough, he heads right for Miranda at the after party. Peter makes the big reveal in front of Margaret and Miranda finally has to come clean that she told everyone that could listen about her family. Miranda shows them the messages and photos she has been receiving and they’re off to hunt down Shady Steve to see if she recognises him from the airport.

 


Miranda: “I can go over there first thing tomorrow and try to explain.”

Me: “Explain what? More of the truth?”


Ian walks in just as Peter is suggesting a lawyer could help because Marge is piiiiissed. Rightly so.

That makes Prediction #1 correct! When Steve leaves the inn the next day Miranda is waiting for him outside, like a crazy stalker, before she leads them off to….. I think this is the church but I’m not sure.


Steve: “This place is like one big Christmas card!”

Me: “2D and… papery.”


Miranda pleads with the man that he doesn’t write his article because the feelings and relationships of a woman he doesn’t know outweighs his next pay cheque greatly.

 

Steve appears to be attempting blackmail and if Miranda doesn’t give him an interview he will write whatever the hell he likes about her father and her family. Isn’t this just going swimmingly? She has been given a 24 hour deadline to see the man before he leaves for Christmas eve. Miranda’s favourite past time is now sitting outside the inn and waiting for people because she is sitting there when Ian pops out.


Miranda: “I think I need to go back to Seattle…”

Ian: “We’re doing this again?”

Me: “Even Ian is sick of this shit.”


Apparently Ian has ran out of gifts to throw at the woman to stall her, but Miranda thinks if she is back in Seattle when the story comes out she will be less of an embarrassment to everyone. Ian DOES have a trick up his sleeve though and asks to show her something before she makes up her mind. Back at the Rose Cottage he reveals that Margaret is ready to sell the place (despite it not being finished) and Ian is ready to buy (despite living on a wood cutters wage). We are privy to an argument about how running away and leaving this very second are two totally different things in Miranda’s mind and Ian keeps waffling on about how he will always love her even if no one else will.

Miranda walks off, still with this engagement ring on her finger, and to combat his woes Ian decides to work on the house in the middle of the night. Apparently ol’ Marge also walks around in the middle of the night with no coat on because she drops in when she saw the lights on.

Margaret does not appear to be surprised when she hears Miranda is leaving (again) and sees they have uncovered the words on the wall. Again it is snowing at a convenient time, which makes Miranda pause long enough to stop packing and contemplate her life over hot cider, which begins her downward slope into alcoholism. She has passed out on the chair, probably from the cider, and wakes up to a text from Margaret asking to meet her at the cottage.


Margaret: “This is where we always put our Christmas tree, too.”

Me: “In the middle of the room, where it is the most inconvenient to everyone.”


Even Margaret is jumping down Miranda’s throat to inform her that her plan is bullshit and she needs to stay in the town so Margaret can look at her with bitter disappointment for the rest of her life. Margaret begins telling the story of how they ended up living there, which appears to end with the line ‘how we ended up in Carlton Heath I’ll never know’. Truly enlightening, Marge.

Turns out Truth and Grace are not dead twins but just two qualities in life that James thought were important. Clearly when he told Margaret about his affair she covered up the words because the entire thing was just a massive lie, as are most lessons in life. Seeing those words again, however, she has had a change of heart and believes everyone should know the truth and they will tackle it with grace. Awwwwww.

Margaret looks like she is gonna put a spin on this breaking news story and make some of her own capital off it. Smart business woman 101. She phones Natalie and decides she will let her run with the news instead of Shady Steve.

Ian is out collecting more wood when Miranda shows back up because this woman is flaky and unreliable as all hell and he is signing himself up for a life of this nonsense.

Natalie, predictably, is finding this whole story unbelievable to say the least when Margaret and Miranda are recounting the entire thing to her. She’s probably worried her editors will throw the entire thing out as fanciful festive fiction. Marge is now setting Natalie deadlines to get her story written because business woman is everyone’s boss and they will follow her god damn orders if they don’t want to be fired. From life.

Finally! at the end of the film! we have our first Christmas montage! where everyone we have met so far is reading and reacting to the article, including Shady Steve who has just lost the ability to pay his bills for the month. Again, Miranda is waiting outside the inn for him, so she can rub it into his face some more.

Around the Christmas tree Marge and Peter give Miranda the key to the Rose Cottage as her present.


Devil Child #1: “Grandma said we can call you Aunt Miranda.”

Me: “Get the fuck away from me kid!”


The entire family and Ian’s parents get together for a big speech and it appears that Miranda is going to be forced to stay in Vermont because fuck Seattle and her job there. Ian is clearly making enough as a wood cutter for her to retire early and become a house wife.

We end the film with Miranda deciding that their new house would be the perfect place to get married next Christmas and god help us all if there will not be another of these films.

And so it ends… less of a Winter Wedding, which Sky lied to us about, and entirely a Christmas engagement (although she isn’t engaged to Father Christmas so I still feel as though we have been lied to here). You can watch the film here, although they appear to have cut out the part with the duck for some reason…

Now… to go back and painstakingly relive the first film while I fix the unedited review….

 

Prediction Board – 2.5/5

  • Prediction #1 – the man who bumped into Miranda at the airport was up to no good – CORRECT
  • Prediction #2 – Josh was only present to try and ruin her relationship – Technically correct but he really wasn’t very good at it
  • Prediction #3 – Margaret would give Miranda and Ian the Rose Cottage – CORRECT
  • Prediction #4 – the engagement gets called off – again, sort of correct, but as Miranda didn’t give the ring back when she walked off, and never even managed to leave town thank to that cider, I’ll give up this point
  • Prediction #5 – Truth and Grace are dead twins – totally not correct