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Christmas Advent #12 – Christmas with Holly

Now, I’m hoping unlike Now TV that this film isn’t lying to me and has given it’s read identity. Let’s jump straight in and make this short and sweet because I have food to prepare.

Already we have some intrigue as this guy is late to what looks like his own wedding. Everyone stands up and a guy even starts playing the organ when this man bursts into the church but it turns out that isn’t the groom after all. Who I presume is the maid of honour goes to break the news to the bride, who is having a small, quiet breakdown in another room.


Bride: “He’s not coming….”

Maid of Honour: “Maybe he’s stuck in traffic?”

Me: “Yeah, in a different state, maybe.”


The bride is going to resort to plan B which appears to be openly crying and looking around in wonder. I don’t think this woman ever wanted to get married at all!

At a primary school we see a young handsome guy (who I know was far more handsome in any of the other things I have seen him in when he didn’t have such stupid hair) waiting outside the principal’s office with a young relative. The guy is called in because a large concern for the school is that Holly, the young girl, is still turning in incomplete homework assignments and this man appears to have been completing homework for her, ie. colouring in a flower.


Man: “Come on, this is first grade and her mother died 3 months ago.”

Me: “Fucking hell! And they’re concerned about the fact she doesn’t want to colour in their damn flowers!”


Apparently Holly hasn’t spoken since the incident which… the school probably should have led with, rather than the whole flower thing. Due to the fact she has withdrawn into this introverted shell the school want to put her back into kindergarten for a year… because that will help with her feeling displaced in the world.

Mark, this girl’s Uncle, appears to be packing up the entire house into the back of his van and just wants to go back home to escape from the hideous school systems in Seattle. Calling in a favour with a friend he sets Holly up in a new school to start after Thanksgiving, just like that! A woman, Shelby, appears at the door who appears to be dating Mark and is not too impressed he is moving 6 hours away to Friday Harbour, an island, to be with his family. Prediction #1 – Shelby is being dropped for the jilted bride the second he lays eyes on her…. wherever she is. They convince themselves unconvincingly it will all work out and Shelby presumes it will be OK for her to drop by in a few days once they are settled.

Speaking of our jilted bride, Maggie, here she is! On the same boat as Mark with her maid of honour and her dog, Olive or… Oliver, that remains to be seen. Holly has just dropped her bear when Maggie comes along and returns it to her where it turns out both herself and the child are wearing the same pink converse. Still no word from Holly.

Turns out Olive will a) eat anything and b) is maid of honour’s old flatmates dog, who pawned her off on this woman whilst she went travelling. I hope this flatmate doesn’t expect Olive to be waiting for her when she gets home because her friend is trying to convince this dog to become an island canine.

Apparently Mark owns a coffee store in town which is good to know because Maggie owns one now, too! She has moved her ‘Magic Toyshop’ from Seattle to this island and inside there appears to be some woman who is ignoring everything Maggie wanted for the store and is doing her own thing. I have no idea who this woman is but she’s annoying as all hell and I think Maggie should slap her into a different postcode. Just like that Maggie has booted her out of the store with what looks like a cheque whilst outside MOH battles with Olive who has decided to lie down in the middle of the street as sad dogs at Christmas are prone to doing.

Turns out that woman was a store manager and Katie, the MOH, is now being roped in to helping with the shop instead. Maggie is convinced Black Friday is as big on the island as in the city and sends Katie off to find teenagers who are willing to work it. At some point she has also agreed to take on Olive, which is nice for the dog.

Mark has just bought Holly home where she is unresponsive to Uncle Scott’s secret handshake. You will be pleased to know, however, that Uncle Scott is renovating a house!! Uncle Alex is knocking around the house in his underwear making himself some breakfast and appears to be some sort of health freak/hippy. Living in half renovated houses appears to be the thing to do around Christmas because fuck heating and properly insulated walls. Now it turns out all of the brothers will be living in the renovation site and helping patch the place up.

 


Alex: “You know I had a bear growing up. His name was Frankie bear. He was the coolest bear… but Scott poured chocolate syrup on his head…”

Holly: “….”

Alex: “Then the cat ate him.”

Mark: “The cat was never the same after that.”

Me: “Because it was dead.”


Both Alex and Scott are alarmed by the amount of pink going on in Holly’s new room and she probably just wants them all to piss off while she organises her multi-coloured pipe cleaners. At bed time Uncle Mark does a strange impression of crickets during the bed time story but at least Holly appears to be enjoying it and humours the man.

When Mark wakes up in the morning, where I am starting to become a fan of his hairstyle, he finds Holly sleeping on the floor with him in a spare room instead of the bed he carted all the way from Seattle for her. Looks like Holly starts her new job in the coffee shop today because no one else will take her and leaves her with his employee Carrie… Carol…. Kara…. Either way she is far too enthusiastic. Outside the shop Mark runs into Maggie, who is walking Olive, when he gets a call from Shelby. Making Maggie stand there awkwardly, while he takes this call, we establish we’re probably already bored of Shelby and afterwards continue to discuss Olive, until he gets another call which terminates this pointless conversation about how Olive is basically Maggie’s dog now and she might as well just come to terms with it.

Now, not being a man I am unsure how this works, but it appears to take all three brother’s to figure out how to throw a Thanksgiving dinner for Holly which is not what they usually do but they’re gonna take a crack at it.

Scott thinks a good way to wake his younger sibling is to start hammering down bits of foundation in the room he is sleeping in. They are making all of this far more complicated than it needs to be and Alex is deep frying a turkey outside in a vat. Inside Scott has forgotten all about the sweet potatoes topped with marshmellows and is about to start a legitimate fire. Mark drops the turkey into the oil which starts an oil fire, but luckily that’s outside and next to the ocean.

Holly gets sick of these grown ass men arguing with each other and takes the entire pie they have given her off to her room to wallow in food pity. Mark is hanging around on a bridge feeling similarly sorry for himself when Maggie comes jogging by. These guys don’t celebrate Thanksgiving anymore because one year their Dad never returned from a business trip. Figures.

Maggie is boring the shit out of her new employees for the grand opening whilst Olive looks on with the face of reality – ain’t no one interested in Black Friday weekend on an island. Shelby has turned up though and this kid might not be talking but she sure as shit ain’t impressed by this woman. It doesn’t help any when Shelby is trying to dress the child like a small doll. Walking down the high street Holly is in that toy shop like a shot, despite the fact Shelby wants to do some of her own shopping and is hating this child more and more by the second. Olive appears to have remembered Holly and runs right up to the kid to lick her.

Awkward introductions done, Maggie offers the shop up to Holly whenever she feels like visiting the resident dog. Shelby gets mightily fed up of this woman and carts them all out of the shop bu Katie saves the day by pointing out neither of them were wearing wedding or an engagement ring. Christmas lesson incoming – it’s OK to break up relationships as long as you’re doing it out of the kindness of your heart….

Holly’s first day at school is underway and I hope Mark explained that she isn’t speaking because a lot of the other kids are already looking at her like she’s sprouted tentacles. Maggie is seeing her sister/friend off the island and despite the fact she said she is not keeping Olive, Olive is staying on the island with her. Mark decides he will try and join Holly for lunch, under the guise of bringing her her forgotten lunch, and he just makes the entire thing weird and awkward with the other kids.

All of the brothers are waiting for updates on Holly and how she’s doing on her first day. Alex, who was never popular and always concentrated on school work, is now making Scott paranoid that the other kids are making fun of her. One day in this school and the teachers are already recommended doctors and therapists for the girl. Shelby is trying to get Mark off the island for the weekend when he realises Holly is missing so puts the phone down on her. The man is running around the streets wildly when really there is only one place to look. Maggie apparently wasn’t too fussed that this kid wondered in one her ones and was just showing her around some very alternative doll’s/fairy house.

Scott is having doubts about letting Holly live with them at this renovation site and probably could have referred to her as something other than a ‘burden’ which just leads to another argument. It seems bad but really, this is the closest any of these Christmas films have been to real sibling relationships. Sub-plot, back home Katie saw Tim, who was apparently Maggie’s runaway groom, and he’s engaged again! It’s been 6 months though so, whatever.

Over at the bar everything is cleared up when Maggie meets Scott and… Cara…. Carol…. something…. and they reveal Holly is just their niece so she can feel even less guilt about breaking up this man’s relationship.

At the beach Alex is trying to get Holly to check out the rock pools and explaining why he will be moving to Maine soon to research lobsters. I’m presuming Holly will speak at any moment just to ask him to shut up but she does crack a smile when he gives her a star fish to hold. That qualifies as serious bonding with this child. Maggie only drops in to the sandwich store to pick up donuts when Mark is following her off down the street trying to convince her to drink coffee. Maggie thinks now will be a good time to show off her river dance skills and ends up flat on her face before limping off to the shop.

Alex has just received a call to inform him he has lost his grant to head up to Maine and study lobster. Never fear, though, his food is amazing and Holly has left a shopping list on the fridge for them which consists of cookies, chocolate milk, mac n cheese and carrots. I am all for that except for the blaringly obvious. That evening Mark receives a call from the island, during his dinner date out with Shelby in Seattle, that Holly has got a fever. Realising that Shelby hates children, Mark decides he’d rather just leave after a strange conversation where he seems to have forgotten this child is not actually his.

Back on the island… which is 6 hours away if I remember correctly… Holly looks fine, if you ask me. Maggie has made a new friend in… Carol…. and meets her at the bar, where her new friend is trying to set her up with any member of the band her step-brother is in. In a tenuous link between Maggie and the island it turns out she always wanted to open a store here and almost gave up on that dream when she almost got married. Unfortunately she just told Carol about her river dance that went wrong, and Carol immediately asks her brother to play something ‘Irish’ which is apparently in every band’s repertoire.

Back at the shop Maggie is explaining how the fairy living in the house needs to be given a name in order for her to stay when Uncle Mark is there to drag her off to her job at the coffee shop. She has barely left the shop when she runs back in and announces she would like to call the fairy Victoria. This is huge, guys, The kid is speaking!

At home her mass of Uncles bombard her by asking who her favourite uncle is, which Alex wins presumably because he a) didn’t call her a burden, b) doesn’t make her work in a coffee shop and c) gave her a star fish to hold. Mark brings over a gift box of coffee and food to Maggie, in order to thank her for talking about fairies incessantly to his niece, and invites her out on a date which brings a tear to her eye.

Over this dinner they share sob stories and discuss how depressing and scary the entire world is. Unfortunately Kieran’s aunt decided to drop by with his birthday cards and I have no idea why their date just went horribly wrong and why Mark is walking off looking so disappointed. Either way, Mark is doing a terrible job of decorating the tree and instead decides to break the news to Holly that her Mother is dead. And god knows what happened to her Dad, which is something I have only just thought of, as it has not been mentioned once this entire time.

CONFIRMED! Katie and Maggie are sisters, only an hour and a half in to the film. She also nicely wraps up the fact Mark was interested in her but she totally shot him down after their first date. Katie shouts at her a bunch to inform her she’s a friggin’ idiot and Maggie goes out to look at the sea for a bit with Olive and contemplate life. Elsewhere on the beach, Alex is looking after Holly and celebrating his new grant whilst Mark and Scott are grabbing Holly’s Christmas decorations from their deceased sibling’s house.

At a giant Friday Harbour boat parade, which actually looks pretty cool and all the boats are lit up and sailing around. Holly weirdly and creepily asks if Uncle Mark can be her Dad, because that’s not worrying at all, when Maggie shows up, hopefully to apologise for being a moron.

I’m hungry, I’m wrapping this up. Everything ends wonderfully, Mark forgives this laughing weirdo and we OH HOLY LIGHTBULBS they have covered the house in Christmas lights…. renovations are always good for fire hazards. Around Christmas dinner all these brothers decide they will continue to live together and all be one giant, happy family. Cue Olive who is dressed for Christmas and Maggie has bought Holly the fairy doll house as a Christmas present.

Happy ending. Everyone’s feeling warm and fuzzy. I’m hungry. Off we go.

 

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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.

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“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.

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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!

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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

Christmas Advent #10 – Christmas Wedding Planner

OK guys, I’m not gonna lie… this is less of a crappy Christmas film review and more like a review of Mom’s reactions to the crappy Christmas film. I vaguely know what happened in those two hours but much of it is pieced together from the tried and tested story line that Christmas films follow without fail.

So, we are in the middle of some mad amount of snow here in England and for some reason the house is really cold – bad insulation, I’m sure. We had just got settled down after a long ten minutes of trying to keep every body part covered, with Mom one end of the sofa and me the other, under a mass of blankets.


Me: “Right! Christmas film!”

Mom: “….. You’re facing the wrong way, now….”

Me: “FOR FUCK’S SAKE!”


We had also been decorating the house all day for Christmas and Mom was adamant that I should have a wreath hanging up in every single god damn room.


Mom: “Look! They’ve got two or three holly leaves outside the house… did I say leaves?”

Me: “Yes, Mom, they’ve just got three leaves hanging up outside….”


We’re introduced to a woman in the ‘business of love’ as she has decided to become a wedding planner. She is currently tackling her first job and planning her cousin’s wedding who is much more like a sister to her. Kelsie, the wedding planner, is super stressed so obviously she runs into someone at the coffee shop and has to babble profusely to show how stressed she is. As this is a thoroughly modern film and we get to see the texts she is sending floating around on the screen, yet we still have to hear her inner monologue as she types out her own messages. It’s already all quite annoying.

Kelsie then walks into handsome man #1 and we are unfortunately privy to more of her private thoughts like a weird festive version of Bridget Jones. She lets this mystery man go first because she bumped into him, except this man is also getting 12 coffees, 12 muffins and a blueberry scone. She is gonna be soooo late to this party she organised herself.

Whilst in the coffee shop her cousin phones to request ice sculptors. Almost before the phone has gone down Kelsie’s aunt pops up on the other side of the screen. She has heard ice sculptors are being requested and she would really rather not. Witch.

 


Kelsie: “Can I get a blueberry scone?”

Barista: “I’m sorry, I just sold the last one to that handsome gentleman.”

Me: “Thanks for spelling that out for us.”


She chases this man down, rambles something about a therapist, and offers to pay him double for the scone which he turns down. He also turns down triple. He also turns down 7 dollars and a gift card to an unknowable shop. He must really love blueberry scones.


Barista: “I have a plain scone and blueberries from my lunch?”

Mom: “Awwwww that was nice of him. I don’t know what he expected her to do but… it was a nice thought.”


Despite the fact she is late to this party, Kelsie is taking time outside the house to text some anonymous person. When she finally shifts her ass into gear her cousin, Emily, has requested to be announced to the room and Kelsie sets off to do this until she stops to have a charming conversation with her Aunt Olivia. Her cousin has been standing in this room for a long time before she manages to get announced to the party and it was not worth waiting that 5 minutes for.

It turns out the guy from the coffee shop bought the scone for Aunt Olivia, which Kelsie was also trying to do, and now he knows everyone’s names too. Aunty Olivia introduces Kelsie to the editor or manager of some wedding magazine, who I believe she is probably trying to impress. She gives the wedding photographer’s name to the woman in secret and I can’t tell wither she was impressed or didn’t know who the fuck Kelsie was on about at all.

Handsome man #1 is Connor and he is also Emily’s ex-boyfriend. Due to this previous occupation he could apparently be planning to ruin the wedding or Kelsie’s new business or even steal all the family’s money…. however it is that he plans to do all of this. Kelsie keeps telling herself she is a fierce warrior for some reason but it never really works out. Obviously she walks over to Connor and jumps to some major conclusions about his tea leafing ways before Aunt Olivia makes a speech about Emily and her fiance, Todd.


Connor: “Seems like a nice guy.”

Me: “Wooooooow look at her fiance. Doesn’t he just look like the most vacant person ever.”


Connor can’t promise the wedding wont be ruined after all and Kelsie flails her arms at a bunch of people in order to follow him out the house and into his car. Connor reveals he a private investigator, hired to look into Todd, which to Kelsie means someone hired him to ruin the wedding. She just can’t get that delusion out of her head. Whenver Kelsie stops to listen to her inner monologue everyone around her must wonder what the fuck she is doing and whether she’s alright because she stops for quite lengthy periods of time to make weird faces and look around suspiciously. Connor, bizarrely, offers to be a team and she can help out to make sure the wedding doesn’t get ruined. He does tell her where he’ll be that evening though in case she changes her mind but to me it just sounds like slave labour.


Mom, realising this film was just a recording and not live: “Can we get this film over quicker by not watching adverts?”


Kelsie keeps texting this anonymous person, so knowing Christmas films it’s probably a dead relative. At the dress fitting Kelsie runs through the three bridesmaids: Jealousy, Bitterness & Clumsiness. Emily wants to get out of wearing the traditional family dress and basically asks how they can sugar coat this turd of news and let her mother know. Apparently Kelsie is doing this right now over text before she has to take a call from the mystery man himself. The backdrop of the restaurant looks rather festive.


Me: “We should have had some giant bows.”

Both looking around

Mom: “WHERE!?”

Me: ….. OK, maybe not in here…”

Mom: “The fireplace looks good.”

Me: “Well just look there and….. over by the curtains…. and…. the chair looks more festive and…. this blanket! And those thermal socks on the floor add a festive…. flair….”


All of the bridesmaids were discussing Connor which I totally missed this when Clumsy throws cookies around the place. It’s alright though because Emily pops out in her dress.


Mom: “That’s awful.”

Me: “Huh? OH. Oh.”


Todd is at the door now, so Emily is carted off to get changed again before they let him in. Todd just wanted to drop by with surprises for the bridesmaids and Emily, which appears to be jewellery. Showing him out, Kelsie stands next to the door to take yet another call – this time from the caterer – when she sees Todd outside flirting with the receptionist and standing under some mistletoe. Kelsie cares not that the caterer is going through a divorce so can’t make the wedding and is more concerned by Todd giving what appears to be his number to the receptionist in her notebook. At the desk Kelsie thinks about looking in the notebook and is about to see what Todd wrote when Emily pops out again.


Mom: “She’s the most simple wedding planner I’ve ever met. Surely she’s there to tell the bride she looks hideous. Tell her to pick another and don’t be surprised if he cheats on you if that’s what you turn up in.”

Me: “Maybe you should be a wedding planner?”

 


 

Some guy called….. Charl? Charles? Sharl? something is at the house and he is either the caterer, the wedding cake maker or a mad scientist. For some reason Emily wants to make gingerberad for the first time ever and wants to give this to all of her guests to presumably give them food poisoning. At this point Kieran walks in and the next thing I know, Michelle, the receptionist, is in the house. Apparently there has been an elaborate plan to get into Michelle’s bag and so Kelsie can check out the notebook.

Kelsie caves and visits Connor who is sitting in the same place in the restaurant like hes been expecting her these past three days. He also has his files all over the table taking the ‘private’ out of ‘private detective’. There is an odd conversation where they try and order each others food when the the waiter pops up and appears to know Connor well. There appears to be some issue with Kelsie ordering the lobster for him so I’m presuming he’s allergic.

The big reveal here is that Todd’s family aren’t as well off as everyone thinks but as we’re suggesting bankruptcy here Connor believes they may just be after money. He also wants to use yet another party that Kelsie has planned to check out Todd’s finances.


Mom: “How do you know he’s not a fraud?”

Me: “What, Connor?”

Mom: “Yeah, he might want to get into his computer to steal the money!”


Good point, but it turns out Connor owns the resraurant he always sitting in with the mad chef/waiter who won’t stop talking and at any rate we could just kill the man with a lobster. Aunt Olivia is running late because she doesn’t want to hear about Tim and Linda’s boat (Todd’s parents) and there was a break from the film here whilst I laughed at Mom at the end of the sofa, caccooned in three blankets.


Mom: “You need more candles in here.”

Me: “I could set fire to those I MEAN LIGHT!”

Mom: “I’ve only just put that garland up there, you won’t fucking set fire to it.”


I was starting my own fire hazard instead of watching the film and looking out for all of their fire hazards. To say these people are supposedly bankrupt they still live in a big ol’ house they could sell to make money. They also have a boat they cold sell. There is a horrible moment when Kelsie is not paying attention to Linda and agrees to let her sing for her son’s first dance because she sounds like Celine Dion apparently.


Me: “…..”

Mom, hiding face

Linda: “Who do I need to kill to get a drink around here?”

Me: “But I like her, she’s relatable.”

Mom: “Wait! You missed it! There’s a pregnant woman carrying drinks around!”


Kelsie chases Connor down through the house and into the study, where he is casually trying to get on Tim’s computer by guessing the password. Apparently this is easy because people always pick someting arrogant.


Mom: “Name of the boat.”

Kelsie, babbling on about finding the password

Mom: “The name. Of. The boat.”


They have just made it into the laptop when Tim walks in to his own study as is his right. Kelsie starts madly kissing Connor in an attempt to make all of this look very casual. Even more bizarre is the fact Tim actually leaves them to it.


Mom: “This film is so bad it’s made me sober.”

Kieran: “I’m going to watch the football.”

Mom: “I’d rather watch the football.”

Kieran: “I’d rather watch the fireplace thing they have between the films. I’d rather watch 2 hours of that.”


Back to the film….


Mom: “OH MY GOD WHAT IS WITH THIS WOMAN AND THIS STUPID THING ON HER HEAD ALL THE WHILE!?”


Or maybe not… In all fairness Aunt Olivia is always wearing embellished head bands but the fact she is a grown ass woman means she has no excuse. She is also against this news of Kelsie making out with Connor but is happy for her to go off and test a bunch of cakes with Emily in front of the cake guy/mad scientist. There is something wrong with him in which he believes he is not good enough and wants them all to give up on him.


Cake guy: “Please, just give up on me. I put a whole lemon in that cake…. a whole lemon. What was I thinking?”

Mom: “Is everybody who lives in this village a fucking idiot?”


Back at her apartment that night Kelsie is still texting some anonymous person with ‘charming’ accounts of her day.


Mom: “She goes to be with all the lights on.”


I have no idea what’s going on at this point, all Iknow is my Mother is sober and Kieran has disappeared into the upper regions of the house. Oh, and Connor thinks Kelsie is actually quite smart.


Kelsie: “I’m only sitting because I want to.”

Mom, look of despair

Me, dying with laughter

Mom: “How does she know he’s not fleecing them to keep his business open because no one is ever in that restaurant but them two!”


Kelsie is giving away Todd’s Wednesday plans with Michelle so they can follow him and make sure he isn’t…. I don’t know, the worst person on earth.


Me, skipping the ads: “It’s ok, we only have 50 minutes left.”

Mom: “You said that half an hour ago.”

Me: “That’s because time is actually going backwards watching this film.”

Mom: “Oh god, she has binoculars.”


There is some weird, terrible tailing of the victim and music is playing so I feel a montage coming on, which it does, while Todd walks up and down the street.


Me: “Is he…. Is he just walking up and down the street?”

Mom: “Well he’s been walking for 48 hours because them two have gone home and changed their clothes since.”


Suddenly we’re not following Todd and Connor and Kelsie are sitting in a restaurant.


Me: “Is this his restaurant? Oh wait, no, it can’t be, it’s full.”

Mom: “Yes, his restaurant doesn’t have people in.”


The waiter belives these people are engaged in some forbidden love and that calls for Shiraz. When Kelsie starts thinking to herself as she texts we realised we hadn’t heard it for a while but apparently Connor can hear thoughts because he heard her text. CALLED IT. SHE’S TEXTING HER DEAD MOM. He’s probably wondering why the fuck this woman is apparently texting and paying the phone bill of a dead woman.


Kelsie: “I know it sounds crazy but… We have to keep the people we love close.”

Me: “Yeah, but not pay their phone bill for them.”

Mom: “So does she go back and answer herself?”

Me: “Does her mom even have a phone?”

Mom: “Maybe she’s put the phone in the coffin with her? But then how does she carge it up in the coffin?”

Me: “Can’t be in the coffin then. She has to have a phone or the message wouldn’t send. She’s got her Mom stuffed in a chair like Norman Bates!”


They now have food and candles, which is really just drawing attention to these forbidden lovers, and they’re pretty distracted to say theyre tailing Todd.


Connor: “It’s funny, you’re not the pain the ass I thought you were gonna be.”

Me: “You’re worse. Why is he touching her?! Why are they holding hands!?”

Mom: “They’ll be planning their own wedding in a second. Can’t be worse than the job they’re doing already.”


When Todd turns up with Michelle, Kelsie turns on that shit fierce warrior she’s always banging on about and marches over there, shouting about some engagement with her cousin. Now Connor is there and Todd is all defensive because apparently Todd is just trying to buy Emily her dress, which is meant to be a surprise because he has known Michelle for years. Her husband actually set this whole thing up as he owns the restaurant. Connor decides it’s time to take crazy home. When Todd confronts him, probably to give him business advice on how to run a restaurant, Connor is hardpressed not to punch Todd in the face and manages to walk away.


Mom: “Walk away Connor. Walk awaaaaaaay. Con…. CON AIR! He so-no never mind.”


For some reason Kelsie keeps hanging around with Aunt Olivia, despite the fact she’s a dick. Mom is also calling that Aunt Olivia is the one who hired Connor in the first place. There appears to be some sort of black mail in his history and they paid Connor to never talk to Emily again….. Oh I don’t know. Whatever it is, obviously Kelsie immediately goes to confront Connor about it but we have no idea what she’s gone to confront him about because we’ve lost the will to live.


Mom: “Quick! Fast forward the adverts!”

Me: “We’ve got 30 minutes left!”

Mom: “YOU TOLD ME…”

Me: “I said 50 minutes last time, not 15!”

Mom: “Actually, we should probably watch the adverts, it might make a nice break from the film.”


Kelsie walks into her apartment and her phone starts ringing.


Mom: “Well it ain’t your mother ringing.”


I  straight up died. That one caught me by surprise.


Me: “Do we drink Baileys or wine?”

Mom: “I ain’t drank any Baileys! If I have, this film’s sucked it out of me!”

Me: “I said do we, not did we!”

Mom: “I was gonna say! This fucking film, I never even tasted it.”


At the church, which may or may not be the rehearsel because everyone is wearing black, Kelsie apologises to Todd but hes more complimentary than offended. As far as I can tell a) Connor was planning to get back into her good books and b) this is the wedding despite all of the sombre clothing. Kelsie runs over to the restaurant when George (the waiter guy, apparently) tells her the freezer’s broke, which would ruin… whatever catering he was suddenly doing until it turns out it was all Connor’s idea and everything is fine. Connor does want to speak to her though and try to make this all better.

Connor just wanted to show her the deeds to the restaurant. George was gonna lose the place and Connor took what he thought was a loan from Emily’s Dad but turned out he told Connor never to go back or he would tell Emily he had blackmailed the family.

Suddenly the pregnant woman from the party is back and Mom is calling that the baby is Todd’s. Just as we get past the part where people should stand up if they’ve got any issues with the wedding – which are numerous – Connor bursts in better late than never with the pregnant lady. Aunt Olivia demands he is allowed to speak and we find out the pregnant lady is Monica, a former maid to Todd’s family. They kept her employed throughout the pregnancy until they found out the father was in fact Todd and then they promptly fired her. Because an angry pregnant woman is no threat whatsoever, oh no.

Kelsie looks more pissed off that she planned a whole wedding her cousin has just ran out of. When Todd tries to run up to Connor and beat him up he just falls over and stays on the floor for a bit instead. Kelsie goes out to speak to Emily, who is dismayed she didn’t know, although this is like being expected to know your cousin is still texting her dead mother and paying the phone bill for it. We are also expected to believe that Emily would rather ask how Kelsie’s love life is going with her ex after her own wedding was just ruined.

Ans out pops Connor! Emily graciously leaves the pair to chat and it turns out the dead uncle hired Connor….


Mom: The uncle who died!? How did he know!?”

Connor: “He called me near the end and heard from one of his friends I was a P.I. now. He felt something didn’t feel right about Todd.”

Me: “But…. the pregnant woman…. and he was already dead…. these two things aren’t connected.”

Mom: “She must be 18 1/2 months pregnant at least.”


Out in the courtyard there is an argument about who is going to end the wedding, because everyone ia just glad it’s over, before Connor thinks everyone should stay because hes gonna propose and they’re gonna go inside and get married.


Mom: “They get married quickly in these films.”

Me: “Do you think they have shorter life spans so they have to get evetything in quicker?”

Mom: “Oh good, she’s wearing the family dress.”

Me: “It makes her look pregnant.”

Mom: “You did say they move quick in these movies.”

Me: “Look Mom, the next film is called ‘Will You MERRY Me’.”

Mom: “Right. Film’s over. I think I need a stiff brandy…..”


When asked to review this film mom gave the following statement.

Best. Film. Ever

 

 

http://www.tvguide.com/celebrities/jenny-mccarthy/photos/190142/22023/

Christmas Advent #5 – Santa Baby

It’s Christmas; a time when the days grow shorter and on weekdays so do the reviews, because as much as I love Christmas, I love eating and sleeping between work more.

Before I even touched this film I checked the synopsis and made sure there we no no actual babies involved. I think we’re safe.

Within 2 seconds this is already my favourite film when we see a Santa on the street, handing out candy canes, get knocked on his face when a woman pulls up and throws open her car door into him. She doesn’t even notice Santa when she starts shouting for her assistant, Donna, to go go go and why the hell are the streets closed on Thanksgiving for a parade – she’s late for her meeting with Grant.

Eventually she erupts into a large meeting room with the most 90’s design of everything ever – it was never even that 90’s in the actual 90’s. Lots of people are depending on this woman who turns out to be called Mary Class. She is very obviously Santa’s child and its so obvious it’s not even a prediction. The board members don’t give a shit who she might be they want to hear good news.


Hamilton: “We are all here waiting to be impressed.”

Me: “Then you’re all in the wrong meeting room.”


This woman is doing everything by email because fuck paper, save the trees!! But the board look quite put out by Mary’s presentation showing them a scary, giant, plummeting graph which is their sales forecast.

These people run the Spotlight department store and they want to know how they can save themselves. Well, Mary has a simple solution for that, you just put the name of your company in front of everything. Spotlight water. Spotlight toasters. Spotlight hats. Destination shopping means going to Spotlight, not the mall.

At this point she has said the word too many times and it has lost all meaning, taking my interest with it.

Back in her office she is celebrating with Grant by getting drunk.


Grant: “Hamilton was so impressed he’s put me in charge of New Business and Development.”

Me: “Grant, you say those words like you’re not really sure what they mean….”


Oh, turns out Grant and Mary are together, which makes for suspicious business decisions if you ask me, when Donna walks in to ruin the moment. Not that it matters, their relationship will be doomed the second she goes away and meets a Christmas stranger. Prediction #1. 

Grant reminds her about the long Thanksgiving weekend they have planned with his parents – which makes no sense because the road has been closed for Thanksgiving so it’s already happening, they’re too late – which Mary is dismayed about because she cant afford to take a 4 day weekend, she’s a serious business woman! Instead, for some reason, on hearing this weekend is 4 days long, she is no longer going at all. Apparently she’s such a serious business woman she can’t even do a 2 day weekend.

The following conversation is how I wish all of my relationships were planned:


Grant: “Dinner, when I get back, then? Luigi’s? Monday?”

Mary: “Ooh, no, Monday is no good. Lunch, Wednesday?”

Grant: “No, I have racquetball with Harmon. How about drinks?”

Mary: “No chance.”

Grant: “Brunch on Sunday?”

Mary: “Coffee, 8:30, a week on Tuesday?”

Grant: “Can we make it 9:15?”

Mary: “Perfect!”


The only difference here is I would never turn down those drinks

In the absence of Donna and Grant, Mary is working for an unknown length of time, falling off chairs, drinking coffee from two different mugs, making her hair crazy and embodying every woman ever who has had to pull an all-nighter. What she doesn’t do is embody me by being on a treadmill while a parade passes by outside the window (another one!?). When the phone starts ringing next to two glasses of champagne, because apparently that’s what gets you through exercising and parades, I am sure Donna is going for the bottle but instead she picks up the phone.

When Mary hears it’s her mother on the phone she falls straight off the treadmill and into a pile of boxes, which is exactly how I feel every time I start making any sort of progress. The Mom is the harbinger of a Christmas casualty and Mary has to go back home. Her Dad’s had a heart attack, which is a favourite illness of Christmas, and would like Mary to come back to Polaris. Donna is happily helping Mary pick out clothes in the belief she may be able to take a rest herself with her maniacal boss out of town.


Donna: “Is this the heavy coat?”

Mary: “No, the green one.”

Donna: “I can’t see a green coat in here, only this sleeping bag.”

Mary: “No, that’s it.”

Me: “Maybe I should start rolling out coats up, tying them with rope and shoving them in the bottom of the wardrobe too?”


As it turns out that green sleeping bag is for Donna and she’s coming on this trip too because they’re joined at the hip. I’m not sure how Donna feels about this but, as an assistant, she clearly has no feelings.

We are up in Polaris where a quick conversation tells us one guy is going to be spending Christmas with his huskies, which he calls ‘eating beef jerky with the boys’. Of course this is when Mary rocks up and signals the fact this guy will be her new conquest. Gooooodbyyyyyye Grant.

Across the yard the mysterious dog man sees these two women talking to the dogs, who are waiting in the kennels for their next job, and, despite being able to walk over to these women in about 10 steps, this man decides this journey warrants getting on the back of his sled and having the huskies pull him over there. When he addresses the women there is a sudden MAD wind that ruffles Mary’s hair and uncovers a truly sinister smile – the entire thing can only be described as the homecoming of Satan.

When Mary addresses this guy as Luke she has clearly already forgotten about Grant and their coffee date a week on Tuesday. Meanwhile Donna is back there in her green sleeping bag wondering when the fuck she can get inside and stop carrying all of Mary’s belongings. Confirming my suspicion that Satan is back at the North Pole, Mary waits until Luke is standing on the back of his sled before she makes him use the word to make the dogs go, resulting in him flying into a snowbank and probably almost breaking his back.

This entire cast has serious issues with falling over and it’s usually Mary knocking them down. She should have been called ‘The Bulldozer’ instead of Cliff from film #1… Anyway, off they go through the wilderness to find her parents.


Donna: “It’s beautiful.”

Luke: “You city fools, we call those trees.”

Me: “Yeah, thanks for clearing that up Luke. I was just about to ask how you fit all of the employees into these really thin skyscrapers everywhere…. Ya fucking prick.”

 


Donna understandably begins freaking out when they pass various signs warning about avalanches and Luke begins shouting louder, because that will obviously help the matter. Weirdly the signal is great there in the valley because Mary gets a call from Grant which is cut short when she mentions they will be going through a tunnel. Donna is freaking out again because what tunnel? There’s just a mountain up ahead! But through the weird visual effects we pop out the other end into what appears to be Santa’s Village and everyone is just aware of it. There is a little village and some guy is walking reindeer and there is a model train with MOTHERFUCKING ELVES!


Donna: “This is where you grew up?”

Mary: “It’s a bit much, isn’t it?”

Me: “I dunno…. it’s like your Dad being God and Jesus saying heaven was a bit much and that’s why he went down to earth to become a storyteller.”


However I am happy to confirm that Santa knows better and there really isn’t much fear of a fire hazard anywhere. I’m big on this issue now. There are a bunch of jingling elves who are chanting and just generally making everything horrible. It gets even more horrible when they greet Donna by rubbing themselves on her. Luckily Luke comes to the rescue and distracts them with letters which is like cat nip to these guys until they get over excited and throw the entire bag around. When Donna sees a letter addressed to Santa in the North Pole she is very accepting of her boss’ dad being Santa Claus. It’s time to leave Donna to the sexual harassment elves whilst Mary goes off to find her family.


Mrs. Claus: “Where did this scrawny girl come from!? Oh my, look at you! You’re as skinny as a rail! And what happened to your hair, it used to be so long?”

Mary: “Good to see you too, Mom.”

Me: “If you replaced the words ‘scrawny’ with ‘fat’ and ‘long’ with ‘neat’ then you have my usual greeting.”

Mrs. Claus: “Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to make a fuss but you can hardly blame me. It’s been 6 years!”

Mary: “4, Mom.”

Me: “It’s nice to know that mother’s across the universe like to fabricate their own reality and not just mine.”


Mary tries to go unpack but is sent off to see Santa Claus instead. I presumed the man was immune to such things as heart disease and being short of breath but it makes a lot more sense when we see the big ass Santa sleeping in what looks to be the comfiest chair ever. When Santa wakes to find Mary looming over him he looks like he’s about to have another heart attack. After the initial shock he isn’t too bothered because he insists he’s fine and goes back to sleep to prove it because who needs visitors when they’re not sick? Not him.

I have to say, when we find Mrs. Claus preparing a giant breakfast of meat and pancakes the next day for her husband and Mary loses her nut because it appears Santa’s unhealthy diet may be coming back to bite him in the artery, I did not see this film taking this route. At all. I was more concerned about there being babies involved, not high cholesterol.


Mary: “What is all that stuff?”

Mrs. Claus: “Breakfast for your father.”

Mary, binning the food: “Did you ever think this might be the problem?”

Me: “And there goes Mrs. Claus’ plan to claim on the insurance.”


Still, there was no need to throw the food in the bin. This argument is continued over some very efficient pastry rolling and cookie cutting between the two. Donna asks if elves can’t learn a few things and help out with the family business, but as it turns out all of the elves are bumbling idiots. Mary offers herself up instead but Santa ain’t having that shit.


Santa: “No no no.”

Mrs. Claus: “Don’t you mean Ho Ho Ho, dear?”


Yeah, I really didn’t see any of this coming, hence the lack of predictions. At this point the only thing I can feel confident in predicting is that someone will fall over again, yet I cannot stop watching (and not only because I need a review for day #5). Santa tries to get up but is pushed back down by his wife, telling him he can hardly move. I mean sure, moving is a problem when people are holding you in your seat.


Santa: “She can’t do this! Mary is just a girl!”

Mary: “HUH!?”

Me: “YEAH WHAT!?”


Apparently Christmas is much too big a responsibility for the soft, mushy brains of women. Even the head strong women are not up to it. They’ll just go around changing everything and forgetting about tradition, which is the argument Santa is bringing to the table. Mary would like to point out there is a difference between traditional and primitive but I mean, I don’t know… I think I prefer the primitive, heathen Christmas where my only job is to get drunk and not attend church.

Mary has decided she’s staying to run Christmas and poor Donna is now trapped in the North Pole because screw her own family who have probably reported her missing at this point. Mary finds a box full of all of her old ideas about the stuff they could do for Christmas but Santa rejected because he was too scared to try them out. When it was clear he was never going to listen Mary gave up and went to be a business woman where everyone has to listen to her, instead. Mary is definitely gonna fuck up Christmas but Donna seems more than happy to help. The sooner they set the Christmas Village on fire the sooner she can go home.

In the workshop the elves are busy faffing around and falling off ladders into Christmas trees. Gary the head elf stops the entire work production when Mary enters the room in order for her to announce she’s taking over Christmas this year. Luke has also wondered in to hear Mary’s pep talk and watch her spit hot chocolate all over an elf in the front row when she mistakes it for coffee. You’d have thought she’d have tasted hot chocolate before, living in Santa’s Village and everything.

Mary is clearly trying to start a mutiny here and soon the elves are gonna want a union. Luke isn’t so sure and Luke would be right. The elves are understandably nonplussed because everything she just said makes no sense to them. I would be more confused about the daily productivity reports Mary has asked for, which is a favourite of managers who forget that reporting on productivity would actually impact productivity because employees are too busy making reports and not producing what they’re paid for. Business failure 101.

To keep her quiet while Mary sets off down her war path, Donna is put in charge of the naughty and nice list and told to check it twice. Mary is going nuts with the power and the excellent phone signal she still gets doesn’t help because Grant is in touch and wants to know when she’s coming back. I’m not even sure what he’s doing back because he should be with his parents for Thanksgiving and not in the office. He’s also gone ahead and told the Spotlight board that Mary can have some sort of product testing report back before Christmas. Merry Christmas Surprise!

Gary the elf couldn’t find any productivity reports because no one knows what they are, so bought candy canes instead, which I think is a fair trade. In answer to this Mary asks him to get a bunch of elves together and is again stopping productivity in order to form a focus group for her spotlight work back home because Grant so kindly brought this forward 3 weeks.


Mary: “Skip, if I gave you a toaster, what would your reaction be?”

Skip: “You’re giving me the toaster? Me?”

Other elves: “Wow.”

Skip: “Oh well…. I don’t know what to say! I love it.”

Mary: “Good, an honest reaction. What exactly do you love about the toaster?”

Skip: “Wow, I mean… the fact you gave it to me, it’s like the happiest day of my life.”

Me: “Like the happiest day of his life. Like.”


Of course this reminded me of the time Matt bought Mom a birthday card that said she was ‘like’ a mother to him and I had a small hysterical fit for a while but while I was busy doing that, the elves were losing their tiny minds over this toaster. The unadulterated joy they all have for this toaster I wish I felt for anything in my life. When Mary pulls out a red toaster, for comparison, a battle breaks out over toasters that I’m not entirely sure they even know what to do with. Seeing as Mary is so busy, Luke is roped into decorating the tree with Mrs. Claus, who is trying to set him up with Mary because that worked out so well last time, for whatever reason.

Mary turns up with a note the size of a novelty cheque. with glitter and tinsel exploding off it, which is the most fantastic note from the elves telling her her mother needs to see her urgently. The minute her daughter turns up Mrs. Claus makes a thinly veiled excuse to make a break for it and leave the two alone. Mary apologises for… whatever it is she did to Luke when they were younger, but Luke fakes being totally cool with this and makes a break for it because he’s late to eat beef jerky with the boys.

Back at Mary’s office the elves have cut her reports up into snowflake garlands which are pro but unreadable. Elsewhere the elves are trying to pull Santa around in a wheelchair but they’re having no luck and Mrs. Claus catches him in the slowest getaway known to man.


Santa: “Drs, what do they know? It’s leeches one century and low-carbs the next.”

Me: “…. Just how ill is Father Christmas?”


Mary is trying to find places where they can boost productivity because that’s the buzzword of the film when they come across the mail room. One elf is sitting on a big chair at the head of the room and reading out each letter individually before the elves applaud take it away to be sorted according to some unknowable system. Donna is let loose on this process because she didn’t already have enough to do with the naughty and nice list which she hasn’t even checked once at this point.

Mary is now chimney testing, apparently, but gets stuck upside down which causes the elves to panic, shouting ‘fire’ over and over again. There is no fire, and I doubt the elves travel with Mary in case there ever is a fire, but they use the fire extinguisher on her anyway and pull her out of there. Santa is marking her work and marks her down for not eating all of the cookies, only half-filling the stockings and arranging a joyless stack of presents.


Santa: “I have been doing this for centuries and haven’t had a complaint yet.”

Mary: “With that attitude the Wright brothers would still be making bicycles.”

Santa: “Don’t get me started on the Wright brothers. ‘First to fly’ my rosy red cheeks.”

Me: “I didn’t know there was such beef between Santa and the Wright brothers.”


Mary has just realised she is technically in charge of the naughty list and can change it however she sees fit, so she tells Santa to stuff his naughty list because she can do whatever the fuck she likes now, apparently. Later that evening Mrs. Claus walks into the living room and is feeling nostalgic when she sees Mary working on a laptop, checking out her progress reports because apparently that’s a familiar site.

She wants to get her story straight because in the next breath she’s claiming Mary hasn’t been back home for 10 years because moms like to make that shit up. She claims Mary should be meeting her father halfway and that everything is about compromise, including their marriage. Mary is happy to point out that Santa compromises on nothing and now Mrs. Claus is clearly considering going back to force-feeding the man pancakes again until his heart explodes.

The next time Luke turns up at the mail room to deliver his letters Mary has magicked up desks and computers for the elves to sort through letters much more efficiently by email. We’re ignoring the fact Skip is trying to use a mouse as a shaver and we’re also glossing over Bob the IT guy who is a regular human being in Santa’s Village, setting up email accounts for elves. Luke is confused by all of this because some things are sacred and should not be sent by email.


Donna: “How did you get this job?”

Bob: “Temp agency. They take that ‘willing to relocate’ box really seriously.”

Me: “What in God’s fucking name…”


Luke has bought along some ribbon candy for Mary in her office because hopefully that will help her loosen the hell up. Along with the candy are some parcels labelled specifically for Mary to open immediately. Apparently Grant has her address at the North Pole and no one thinks anything of him sending her freshly ground coffee. This is literally the least secret place ever. Mary has to rush off to prevent an elf being killed by a toy machine and Grant finds all of this very suspicious.

He demands to speak to the office mail room to see where they’ve been shipping all the Mary Class documents because it’s cool for her to leave the forwarding address lying around everywhere she goes like a friggin’ calling card.

In the barn Mary is trying to hook the reindeer up to the sleigh, one of whom promptly knocks her down and tells her to stay in her lane. Santa turns up and teaches us an important lesson… everyone and everything can be motivated by food. In this case its a carrot but hey, each to their own.


Santa: “I hope you weren’t thinking about taking her up?”

Mary: “I’m not old enough to borrow the family car?”

Santa: “It’s a lot more complicated than that.”

Me: “Dadsplaining.”


As it turns out, reindeer have another precondition for flying, they fly for carrots and people who believe in Christmas only because there is a difference between knowing and believing… but seeing is also believing so how can Mary not believe in Christmas right now? We find her walking around in circles with a reindeer for a while until Luke shows up again and clearly believes in Christmas because they’re cool with him. Or he smells of carrots, either or.

In about two seconds Mary is knocked down by a reindeer again, but I believe they’ve just taken offence to her hideous hat which does not blow away when she borrows Luke’s dogs and hooks them up to the sleigh to get some practice in.


Luke: “Now if we just tie the reindeer to the dogs we’ll be in business.”

Me: “I need to see that on a Christmas card. Immediately.”


He carts her off to look at a big frozen love heart carved into the ice with their initials on it because he definitely hasn’t been thinking about her at all while she was gone. He also has the same condition we see in many men where they are required to live in the same village their entire lives and just wait for eligible women to fall into their laps.


Mary: “I’m sorry about what happened between us. I know I left kind of quick.”

Luke: “Quick? I came to pick you up for a movie and your parents told me you had moved.”

Me: “That’s how I wanna go.”


It turns out, when she returned 4 years ago, Luke wasn’t there, which explains Grant, I suppose. We’re sitting around reminiscing with Luke, mom, Donna and Bob the IT guy when and IN COMES GRANT. I wanted to predict this but this film is just so bizarre and everyone excepts everything so readily that it’s difficult to call them. Mrs. Claus, however, is in love with Grant when he comes in throwing around presents bottles of wine.

Apparently Grant is there to help, despite not knowing a) what she was doing or b) she was overworked.


Mary: “Luke, this is Grant. He is…”

Donna: “Her boyfriend.”

Mrs. Claus: “Boyfriend?”

Mary: “Grant? This is Luke. This is my… this is… he’s the mailman.”

Me: “Well, makes as much sense for the mailman to be there as Bob the IT guy.”


Awkward introductions complete, Luke is outta there and he’s never coming back. Mrs. Claus would usually be on his side but she just looks happy to have some wine that’s not been mulled. Grant, also, doesn’t seem to be bothered after his drive through a mountain and Mary feels she needs to explain. She feels she can do this by showing him around, so obviously they go to see the elves in the workshop. Grant is still none the wiser about who these tiny people skipping around producing toys on a major scale are, so I can only hope that when he meets her dad it might finally dawn on him.


Grant: “Why don’t I just get out of your hair? I’ll work on the Spotlight stuff in my room.”

Me: “a) you said you were there to HELP and b) what makes you think you have a room? and c) where are you going!? how do you know where this room is!?”


In our very first montage Santa is pissed about the IKEA-esque flat pack party the elves are having whilst putting up machines for toy making and even Gary is producing glittery progress reports these days. For some reason Luke is still hanging around, despite the fact mailmen don’t usually come in and have dinner with your family when they deliver the mail, but poor Skip is left alone to wrap presents when all of his team are stolen to help with production.

Donna is trying to check the naughty list but Bob insists on throwing shit at her, which seems to bring her much joy and she won’t be laughing so much when he throws a monitor at her, and the elves are also introduced to cameras.

As it turns out the elves still stop for cookie breaks every 17 minutes because they have the right work ethic and work is done between breaks, not the other way around. Mary bans all breaks, which is gonna make productivity go right down, and she also wants an update on Donna and Bob. She doesn’t have a black eye so I’m presuming he hasn’t thrown anything heavier than paper yet. Donna also asks about Luke, despite Grant being there, because the North Pole has made left her a changed woman.


Donna: “What happens in the North Pole stays in the North Pole.”

Me: “Yes, but let’s cover this again…. Grant is here.”


When she gets back Santa is in Mary’s office, messing with shit and playing with staplers, as far as I can tell. When Bob comes to give an update about the letters, and how these are all electronic now, Santa looks at him like he has no idea who the fuck that man walking around his toy shop is. Mary asks Donna to lead her father away, who has upgraded to getting around with a walking frame now, so Santa takes the time to ask Donna what she would like for Christmas this year because she’s the only one listening to him anymore.

Elsewhere Grant is now into art and has asked the elves to draw up his next business idea. He has really made a thing of destination shopping and suddenly Grant is up to date about Santa’s Village and wants to turn it into a resort. WHEN DID HE FIND OUT!?


Mary: “Grant, you can’t bring people here.”

Me: “Why not, everyone else does.”

Grant: “Did you think you could keep it all a secret forever?”

Mary: “This place has been a secret forever and will stay that way.”

Me: “Explain Bob the IT guy.”


Mary asks for the plans to be destroyed as if their very existence will make it reality, which knowing this film it’s possible, and Grant is gonna double cross her like Burke tried with Ripley. Finally Grant is meeting Santa like this is totally all fine and everyone’s sitting down for dinner. Santa is drinking quite heavily and I find this odd. The only person missing is Bob the IT guy.

Grant is asking a lot of questions about the surrounding property and land, ignoring the flaming death stares Mary is giving him. He is also interested in a deer head hung up over the fire place.


Grant: “I can’t help noticing your interesting trophy.”

Santa: “I’m afraid me and Blitzen had a bit of a spat in 1981. He left me no choice.”


Despite the fact everyone else around the table is laughing Mary still has to explain to Grant that her Dad is only joking – he’s not that smart, for business purposes. Grant thinks this is the perfect time to task for his Christmas wish and proposes to Mary by kneeling next to her and smiling at everyone else in the room before she has even answered. Then he has to get up and run after her when she makes a break for it and this whole time Santa just wanted someone to pass him the god damn butter.


Grant: “What’s wrong?”

Mary: “Grant, Grant, Grant.”

Grant: “Not exactly the reaction I was hoping for.”

Mary: “What are you thinking?”

Grant: “Gee, I don’t know maybe I love you and we should be together for rest of our lives?”

Mary: “Yeah, but why now?”

Me: “Yeah, why can’t you make it later when the rest of or lives is much shorter?”


Mary asks for time to think it all through, even though apparently time wont change how Grant feels about her. … It might when she ditches him for Luke, though. Donna is now doing a relay with Grant and when he leaves the kitchen she enters. Mary is jut standing in there eating cake when they both realise Grant didn’t even bring a ring so can’t have been planning it like he said he was. I don’t know what that whole conversation was about, I was distracted by the cake.


Santa: “Evening-before pie?”

Me: “Erm, yes please.”


Santa steps out to give Luke some encouragement because he’s been hanging around for a million years and should just date his daughter already because fuck Grant, that shady little prick. Donna claims she has brought Bob some leftovers but notices he is not wearing anything Christmassy and so these mythical leftovers must literally disappear from her hands, because that woman does not hand that man one single scrap of food during this scene. Instead she has brought him mistletoe because… apparently he can wear her instead and she’s pretty Christmassy. Thinking back to the woman who showed up in a green sleeping back, who’d have thought Donna could become this new woman!? She must really love computers.

Back in her room Mary is going through old albums and oh… how I wish I could find this film somewhere to include screenshots of the terribly photoshopped, old photos of her and Luke which made me laugh so hard I gave myself a headache.

There is an uptick when Gary brings in the next progress report that productivity is up by a mil!


Mary: “Is that right?”

Gary: “You betcha!”

Mary: “You mean to tell me we’re making a million more toys than we were before?”

Gary: “A million times more? I wish, if anything we’re falling way behind.”

Mary: “You still don’t know what productivity means, do you?”

Gary: “It’s when you have… so….no.”

Mary: “What about all the reports?”

Gary: “You told me you wanted to see reports saying productivity was up and that’s what I gave you.”

Me: “I’m trying this at work.”


None of Mary’s changes are working and now Santa is all like HA. When she is told one of her machines isn’t working this is the last straw. Opening up the machine she finds all the elves are in there making the toys. According to Gary the gears and cogs got in the way and its news to Gary that the machine should have been making the toys at all. When Mary asks Gary what the hell he’s been doing this entire time he just walks off. I’m trying that at work, too.

Mary is out playing a solo game of ice hockey out on the ice because she’s as pissed as all hell when Luke turns up aaaaaagain.

 


Luke: “Have you been crying?”

Me: “She’s crying NOW. Use your present tense, man!”


Mary thinks she’s ruined Christmas from fucking up and business-ing the Village place to death and it’s all very definitely her fault. I mean she’s correct, I don’t know why Luke is trying to make her feel any better. I don’t know whether it’s because he was wearing mittens but when he goes to wipe a tear from her cheek he doesn’t wipe it away. He wipes it towards her nose. They have a touching conversation about their past when Mary finally feels ready to kiss Luke. Prediction #1 fired!!

SUDDENLY!  Grant is there! Making a lot of noise starting up his snowmobile and somehow managing to look pissed off despite having huge wrap-around sunglasses on. When he roars off into the distance I’m really not sure how he got there in the first place without them hearing. He must have literally just dropped out the fucking sky.


Grant: “Cheating on me, Mary? Me? And with that iceberg hillbilly!?

Me, snorting water across the room


Grant tries to leave the room with his rendering of the North Pole retreat and, you know what, it’s so easy to get there just let him have it, man! She shouldn’t be leaving her address around the place, anyway. My eye started twitching at this point and got distracting so all I know is Grant pretty much just walked out, Mary was crying and Santa looked disappointed that his home was about to be made into a resort.

We find Donna asleep in the wapping room with Bob the IT guys because apparently that shit is comfy to sleep on. Like the good assistant she is she rushes to Mary’s side, who is suffering from depression now its Christmas Eve and she just gave away her parent’s address to everyone she knew. She calls another meeting that can be summed up with the words ‘I fucked up, guys’.

As it’s Christmas Eve and they’re behind on all of the toy making, she thinks now is the perfect time for breaks and lets them listen to Slade instead while they drink what is probably hot coco punch and eat cookies. In all the confusion Mary makes a break for it, followed by Santa, who finds her sitting out in the sleigh.


Mary: “I really blew it. How could I have been so wrong about somebody? What if I ruined everything?”

Santa: “You just have to believe, Mary.”

Me: “What, believe she ruined everything? Easy.”


Santa drags her off to show her a bunch of toys he made with his own hands since she took over, like he used to do in the old days when there were less children or something, but apparently now they have enough toys to get going thanks to Santa. For some reason, in the toy shop, Mrs. Claus is trying to pull away the toy machine with rope and elves when Luke turns up because news travels fast through the mountain pass and he heard what happened with Grant. Then they are off in the sleigh because Mary believes that she fucked up enough to get the reindeer off the ground.

Grant is rushing to the chopper which he got from…. Where? He will use this to get to the airport, to catch a plane back home to the board room where the people are already waiting. Now I’m not sure, but I think he might have called them prematurely away from their families for this. The helicopter guy is more concerned by the sleigh chasing him down and apparently we’re back in the city and the helicopter has taken him the entire way there? I’ve lost all sense of space and time, I guess Santa’s Village does that to you.

After a high octane helicopter/sleigh chase where the helicopter out runs Santa’s reindeer, Grant is suddenly at the office with this world class idea for Santa’s Village Resort. Apparently he wants to spent 90 mil in northern Canada and they actually look impresssed by this picture. Somehow the board doesn’t see Mary fly past the giant window in front of them in her sleigh and head for the roof.

She runs in just in time, covering up her Santa suit with a coat, and the board seem to think this is her proposal. She kiboshs Grant’s idea by mentioning the words ‘avalanche’, ’30 below’ and ‘Inuit town’. Then she spins the story that Grant has lost his tiny mind and needs to take some rest because hes babbling about Santa’s Village and we all know that’s insane. Grant tries to disprove this with the single picture of a man, walking two reindeer, that he took with his phone and which Mary passes off as the petting zoo. Suddenly the boss is demoting Grant because mental health isn’t a problem.


Mary: “Don’t be too hard on Grant.”

Hamilton: “Don’t worry. It is the season of forgiveness after all.” *pushes elevator button for ground floor*

Mary: “Oh, actually I’m going up.” *points up and reveals white fur-trimmed sleeve under coat*

Hamilton: “Oh, I see.”

Me: “See what? A woman wearing a white furry jumper under her coat?”

Mary: “Thanks for understanding. Is there anything I can do for you?”


Hamilton then pulls an old school toy train out of nowhere and I can’t tell what’s supposed to be wrong with it but I replayed this part multiple times and all I can hear him say is:

“I was hoping to handle a beer with my grandson.”

I mean…. I’ve lost interest at this point but I do know prediction #1 and only came true so I am at 1/1 right now!

Mary runs back up to the roof where she left Luke and the reindeer and off she goes delivering presents around the world like the efficient business woman she is. She has, however, brought internet to Santa’s Village and he is looking at planning a holiday for himself when he hears Mary coming – because she has to deliver presents to her own family – and drops out the chimmney.

Everyone is very happy to see each other again and it looks as though she’s never going back to the city again, whilst Grant is committed to a mental health facility.

Again, I can’t find a link to this one but apparently there were 2!!!

 

 

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

Christmas Advent #2 – The Sweetest Christmas

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kylie: “No.”

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

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

Me: “WHAT!?”

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

Kieran: “She must love baking.”

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

Kieran: “….”


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

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

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

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

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


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

Me: “God?”


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

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

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



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

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


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

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

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

Then, at dinner, things get a little awkward.


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

Me: “What, spinning pizza?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Kylie: “Christmas!?”

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

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

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


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

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


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

Kylie: “Is that too weird?”

Nick: “Slightly weird.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

Godmother of gingerbread: “But you must come.”

Alex: “You’ll ruin everything.”

Me: “Bit harsh.”

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

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


Stay in your lane, Kylie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Until tomorrow, folks!

 

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

Christmas Advent #1 – A Rose for Christmas

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

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

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

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

A Rose for Christmas

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

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

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


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

Eric: “…. OK….”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

Cliff: “Yeah, I’m early.”

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


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


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

Me: “Two seconds ago.”

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Cliff: “Rye bread!? Making it….?”

Cristine: “Eating it.”

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


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


*Eric, pinning green flowers on the float*

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

Eric: “Oh. OK.”

*Eric continues to use green flowers.*

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

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



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

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

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

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


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

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


This woman….

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Andy: “Why would you do that?”

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

Andy: “For me to fail miserably?”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

*Drops bombshell and walks off*

Andy: “You said that?”

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Otherwise, look forward to tomorrow guys.

Nan-isms

On the Jungle Book remake:

We’re not watching that again, I know all the lines. I’m the stand-in in case anything goes wrong.

On the film Titanic:

I’ve seen that bloody film so often I know the time on the Captain’s watch.

On a TV series on Netflix:

Emma: We watched this before but I don’t remember what happens in it…

Nan: I do.

 On me leaving the house:

Me: Right, I’m going now. I’ll pop down again soon.

Nan: Is that a promise or a threat?

Who’s Who

Please note: when Mom says ‘Gary Oldman’ she pronounces this as ‘Gary Old Man’

Me and Kieran entered the living room halfway through a film she was watching

Kieran – “Oh, it’s got Kevin Costner in it.”

Mom – “It’s also got whatshername in it… Him! Tommy Lee Jones!”

Me – “Whatshername… Tommy Lee Jones….”

Mom – “And it’s got that man who played the Oldman vampire.”

Kieran – “Gary Oldman?”

Mom – “Yeah!”

Me – “Mom… do you think Gary Oldman is an actual vampire? And the film ‘Dracula’ was just a bizarre documentary of his life?”

Mom – And it’s got Ryan…”

Me and Kieran – “Gosling?”

Mom – “No, the one that was married to Scarlett Johnson.”

Me – “Oh dear Christ…”

Kieran – “Oh look, there’s Gary Oldman the vampire!”

Me – “Bit brave, meeting everyone on the beach…”

London is a Scottish America

Me, watching ‘London has Fallen‘ – “How does he seem to know where he’s going so well to protect the President? I wouldn’t know where the hell I was in London if my helicopter had just been blown out the sky… and he’s American!”

Mom – “He’s not American.”

Me – “…. Yes he is.”

Mom – “No he isn’t! Gerard Butler is Scottish!”

Me – “OH! So because Gerard Butler, the actor, is Scottish then every character he plays has a working knowledge of London… Which STILL makes no sense!”