Tag Archives: Honesty

Christmas Advent #20 – A Magic Christmas

We’re on the home stretch! I don’t know what today will bring but I am sure as shit that it will be astronomically better than what we had to suffer through yesterday. Let not ‘A Fairytale Christmas’ darken our Christmas door like the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

The difference is, as a child, I was always fascinated with that guy and I despised the Ghost of Christmas Past. That is why we are not going to look back on yesterday for a moment longer! And awa-ay we go!

 

Oh, this time we have an aerial shot of a nice looking neighbourhood and we even get a narrator this time, telling us this is a the Carter’s family story. We lovingly drift through everyone’s room while they’re sleeping, including teenage kids Kyle and Sienna and their parents Jack and Holly.

I have never felt so informed after a minute into a Christmas film! I am honestly amazed. Other than the fact that when she wakes up she has to hear the words ‘Good morning, Mrs Carter’, I don’t know why Holly is so shit up by the alarm clock. Ace! This film is being narrated by the family dog! Really, this couldn’t get much better, right now.

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Best Christmas film character. Right up there with Jackie. I love Jackie.

Pancakes and…. eggs? For breakfast? The dog said he loves Holly’s cooking though and I am just going to trust in his judgement. Both me and Kyle are concerned by the crooked, fake Christmas tree at the foot of the stairs but I feel he is exaggerating about his friend on the basketball team getting a real, 15 foot tree every Christmas. Probably just after attention. Perhaps he will turn to drugs when he realises they are by far easier to source than attention from your family.

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I have questions… and they’re not about the tree.

Holy shit…. no… not again. Look who it is! It’s Belle’s sociopathic, egotistical and completely deaf, blind and dumb excuse of a dad! Yet why am I still happier to see this guy, two days in a row, than I was at the prospect of seeing the other Jack again?

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He knows he’s going to be a terrible father and is going to do nothing to change it

I think we should focus on the fact that Buster has not been walked this morning but instead we are far more concerned with outdoing each other in the present department.


Sienna: “Oh my gosh my phone is so slow! I’d better be getting a new smartphone for Christmas.”

Jack: “Errrr, cellphones are a little expensive, maybe you’ll get one next year.”

Kyle: “If she’s getting a new phone them I’m getting a car.”

Holly: “Well if he’s getting a car, I’m getting a new kitchen.”

Me: “This is really not how the progression of Christmas presents go, guys…”


After a family breakfast, where it appears teenagers don’t actually have the time to eat anything, we learn from the master Oracle himself, Buster, about the Carter family business that was set up in 1949 by Jack’s grandfather. It appears to be some sort of bakery which Holly manages to keep stocked on her own because Jack just wanted to travel the world and become a great writer, instead.

Prediction #1 – Jack will realise his dreams and that is what he meant when he mentioned he would be making more money next year

Prediction #2 – Jack might not love the family business right now but it will turn out to mean a lot to him when he finds his Christmas spirit


Buster: “The bakery struggles a bit financially…”

Me: “Well no shit! I’ve just watched Jack serve to people and claim it’s on the house!”


Apparently Jack likes to dabble in the stock market in every second of his free time but is not very good at it. What happened to the dream of writing and travelling the world? You have gone in a very opposite, corporate feeling direction here, buddy. Jack starts complaining about how they are barely making ends meet before he serves another person and refuses to let them pay! I have zero sympathy for this man or his financial concerns and seemingly neither does Holly when she lectures him about giving away her hard work for free.

As per usual it is a mere few days before Christmas when shit starts to kick off. Some place called ‘Fathering Pines’? is closing down but are offering great rates for their final season. I believe it is the look that Buster gives to Jack, seeing right into his very soul, that convinces the man to call a family meeting and let them all know they are off to Fathering Pines.

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Holly is the only family member left who still believes in her husband

Jack: “We are about to embark on an adventure that the Carter family has not undertaken in many, many years. Not only will it bring us closer together as a family but it will give me the opportunity to write my #1 bestselling novel.”

Holly: “Honey!”

Jack: “And I can say it in two words… Christmas Vacation!”

Me: “… How fucking long are you going for to write a novel?”


Prediction #3 – Fathering Pines will be nothing like what Jack and Holly remember it as… the place is closing down, after all

The kids really think they have more important things to do, like play major basketball games and go to their best friend’s party, but Jack is adamant that life is passing them all by. I think his children are doing just fine in the ol’ life department. I really believe this is quickly becoming about Jack’s own, personal mid-life crisis. When the man starts harping on about going off the grid with no phones, Internet or laptop I am getting flashbacks… Jack will even be writing on a typewriter!

Holly is suddenly all for this vacation and I do not understand why all of these people want to be so close to each other as a family! You’re probably not going to like what you find out about each other and realise those phones and laptops were a very healthy barrier to stop you from murdering your entire family one night for the insurance. … I’m just sayin’.


Jack: “Sienna, what did I say about the phone, sweetheart?”

Sienna: “Dad, that’s not fair at all, Kyle gets to bring his ball.”

Jack: “I hardly think that’s the same thing.”

Kyle: “Yeah, Sienna, definitely not the same thing. I mean I can’t take selfies and Snapchat with my ball.”

Sienna: “OK, but what if there’s a blizzard and an earthquake and it causes an avalanche and bears start to attack us and we’re lost and we don’t have a phone and…”

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


Prediction #4 – They are going to need to use the emergency phone Jack is locking in the car’s glove box

On their long journey Jack is trying to make his kid’s pee to a schedule and becoming very excited about how much writing he thinks he can get done. I am also very worried about the condition of these roads going up to the resort… at least Buster seems optimistic about the entire thing. I imagine the facts he is keeping from us, in order to keep up his friendly, family dog facade, is that he can’t wait to chase down the local wildlife through the woods and drag it back to the cabin for the family to scream over.

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Anyone else worried the sound of Jack’s typewriter is going to start an avalanche?

Predictably the kids are not impressed with the log cabin and the amount of dead animal heads which have been mounted to the wall. Or the fact they will be sharing a room… with a bunk-bed… And where the hell did Holly get all that fresh food from? They drove it all the way up here? I suppose… at least it would have stayed cold in the boot?

Prediction #5 – We’re going to get snowed in

After Jack spends a long time standing outside of the lodge and wondering where he would be if he was firewood he finally ropes his son into going to hunt for the stuff. I am more horrified to find that the lodge actually has central heating and the man was mildly considering making his family suffer until he could build a fire… at least Holly is there, speaking some sense. Or maybe it was the fact she saw her husband go off into the woods with their teenage son and the tiniest axe ever, to collect firewood, which made her turn the heating on. She can see two cases of hypothermia coming from a mile off.

Wilderness Jack is just returning from his expedition when a car pulls up at the resort and some guy called Robert hangs out the car door in order to hail Jack down. As this film is all about knowledge sharing we meet Robert’s wife Eva and his teenage son Tommy, who Sienna needs to immediately stop fawning over because the boy thought it prudent to wear sunglasses whilst sitting in the back of his parent’s car. No, girl, no. Think about what you’re doing.

Turns out Jack and Robert used to both come up to the resort as kids and Jack has been bringing his family here every year since. Inviting them all over for coffee the man is obviously staying in the largest lodge on site and Eva is having a panic attack when Buster runs all over their furniture. Luckily Robert remembers they have a cleaner who can fix everything right up for them so she should just chill and enjoy sitting down in their very own festive fire hazard. That’ll help her calm right down.

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Forget about the dog, concentrate on the impending doom

I am suddenly unsure whether Sienna is actually interested in Tommy or just his phone or why the boy hands it over so willingly. He is clearly not your average teenage boy who needs to keep that phone under lock and key lest his parents discover what his real interests are. God help you on your journey, Sienna.

While the kids stand out on the balcony and freeze to death the adults remain inside and discuss how Robert is actually good at capitalising on the stock market and was a millionaire before he even left college. Now he simply dabbles in anything he likes and it always seems to work out for him… as well as Eva who is the owner and executive chef of a five star restaurant in Beverly Hills.

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Eva is actually younger than Robert… but more possessed by Satan

When asked about whether Jack had actually managed to get anywhere with his writing career his first instinct is to lie as extravagantly as he can and claim he has 5 bestsellers to his name! That is… until Holly sees into the future and how fucking more awful their situation could get and informs their hosts he is just joking and making him look quite insane in the process. Never fear, though, Robert and Eva thinks running a bakery sounds just adorable. As adorable as that moose head hung up on the wall with a little Santa hat perched on top. Just… exquisite.

Despite the warring of children that want to stay to watch the big game and hear Tommy play guitar (good god no) and parents who want to get the fuck outta there before they have to jump in the hot tub with Eva and Robert we all end up back in our own, respective cabins… One where people try to force you play charades and you have to listen to the big game on the radio, instead.

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Sienna was wondering whether the fire was big enough to jump into and get out of charades

The next morning we are at war again when Robert’s family try to invite everyone for breakfast and snow mobiles and Jack just wants to… well, fuck knows what he had planned out in the wilderness for his family. Eva really hates this dog but Robert thinks Buster would look great on the back of a snowmobile so off we all head to the mountains so Jack can watch his family enjoy themselves from the edge of the forest. Now that’s what I call family bonding.


Robert: “A little perseverance, hard work, luck, you’re going to be fine! You’re gonna be writing that novel before you know it!”

Me: “I’m sure he would if he had actually sat down at any single point yet to start typing.”


Robert pulls some snowshoes out the boot of his car so he and Jack can reminisce about the great ‘Karl Carter’s Fathering Pines Winter Olympics’ which he made all of the local kids get involve with and potentially break all of their ankles whilst snowshoeing across country and hiking up mountains for a magical Christmas tree that could grant eternal happiness. As it turns out Jack and Robert always came last…

Prediction #6 – Jack is going to go off in search of that magical Christmas tree and Buster is going to have to save his ass

There is an awkward moment where Jack considers himself to be middle class and Robert things very much otherwise but we forget all about it in order to take part in a snowshoe competition which Jack spectacularly loses.

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Maybe if you were a better father you’d be able to win snowshoe competitions

I imagine that Robert and Eva are so big on spending time with Jack’s family because they don’t want to spend another single second alone with each other which leads to a debate about which wife will be cooking the best dinner that evening and how they really should all eat together more. I honestly could not think of anything worse…

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I live next to a god damn supermarket and don’t have that many condiments!

Sienna: “Hey, I’m sorry, Tommy lives really far away and I don’t have that much time with him.”

Holly: “You got him this morning! And he is just a boy, this is your family!”

Sienna: “Dad was just a boy before he became Dad to you!”

Me: “Woah there, what?!”

Kyle: “Husband to Mom.”

Sienna: “Ok, whatever, it’s the same thing.”

Me: “No one gonna correct the girl? No? OK. Good look passing your biology test.”


In an attempt to feel closer to their children they have Sienna commentate on what she would put on Facebook or Instagram if she had just taken a picture of her family and also want to hear all about the time Kyle was playing basketball with Brad at the park. It turns out their biggest concern should be the fact Holly wants to run a successful business in the modern world but doesn’t know what a hashtag is or how to use one.

Luckily Robert’s family is also shit at talking to each other and would rather take pictures of their food and send it to their friends, talk to their personal trainers and answer business calls. Sienna is trying to figure out how to use the typewriter and is probably typing the meaningful prose ‘I hate my family’ while Jack is giving Kyle some sort of back massage in front of the fire. I believe this is why we don’t have family time…

Jack has just started to actually work on his damn novel when the power goes out in the entire resort. I have a feeling that Kyle likes his dad a lot more than his sister and that’s why Jack, even more bizarrely, turns to Kyle whilst out in the darkness searching for more firewood to talk to about his sister’s boy craze.


Jack: “Hey, can I ask you something?”

Kyle: “Yeah.”

Jack: “How do you get along with your sister?”

Kyle: “I dunno, fine?”

Jack: “Something’s bothering me. Ya know… this boy thing… she won’t really talk to me about it. I mean even the sweetest of boys can break a young girl’s heart and I worry about her.”

Kyle: “Dad, don’t worry, OK? I’m gonna take good care of her.”

Me: “I’ll beat the shit out of her if she so much as looks at a boy.”


By the time Jack and Kyle have discussed the finer points of life and return to the lodge, Holly has already set the entire place up with a bunch of candles and would really rather Jack didn’t go back to working on his novel and, by association, his life long dream. I mean… can he just not, right now.

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Please note that the family have given Buster Jack’s blanket

The next morning Robert comes by to check up on everyone and reveals the fact they have a back-up generator which they have been enjoying since yesterday evening when the Carter family were beginning their slippery slope into pneumonia.


Kyle: “Hey, Mr. Jones, do you think it would be OK if erm…”

Robert: “Turn on the big game?! It’s already on, buddy!”

Me: “How many big games are there…?”


Robert mentions he has been scribbling down bits of poetry for the last few years and would love Jack to take a look at it, which really only fills me with both hilarity and dread before the Carter family basically charge the much bigger lodge they have at their disposal. Turning to family games we pitch each family against the other and learn that Sienna would rather be part of the Jones’ family and Tommy thinks ‘Ear Wax’ is a movie.

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The answer was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Beneath this there was a drawing of what looked like a flat turd. Just so you know.

After being somewhat inspired by Robert’s scribbled poems, Jack heads back to his freezing cabin so he can do some writing and leaves his family in the care of Robert. I doubt they’ll notice he has even gone. When his family do show up again Jack has written absolutely nothing and blames this on Robert showing off how great his life and finances are. Rather than listen to her husband’s miserable paranoia, Holly goes off to ‘warm up the bed’, as if she cared whether the man freezes to death or not.

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Those who can’t do, Druid

Prediction #7 – Jack will be much the richer for all the time he actually spent bonding with his family. Eye. Roll.


Holly: “So the kids are with Robert and Eva: Robert ordered some pay per view game on TV for Kyle to watch and Eva is chaperoning Tommy and Sienna in the hot tub and later…”

Jack: “Wait a second…”

Holly: “I’m going to go over and help Eva make lunch and see if we can co-exist together in the kitchen.”

Jack: “Tommy and Sienna are in the hot tub….?”

Holly: “Honey, it’s fine… and it’s the perfect time for you to get some writing done!”

Me: “Yeah, good luck with that now.”


Unable to shake the very real fear of teenage pregnancy, Jack sits outside to type in a chair he didn’t even bother to clear completely of snow. I don’t know what Buster did to deserve this but he’s sitting out there with the man, too. I at least hope that Jack is going to use up all of those discarded pages as fuel for the fire to stop his family from freezing to death… This time Jack blames his terrible writing on both Robert’s flashy wealth and the fact Buster was meant to be his muse and isn’t even paying attention to the man.

At this point it very much does not surprise me that Jack doesn’t even know what to write about or what genre to start in. Buster thinks it would be a much better idea to head over to the Jones’, just in time for Jack to walk in and overhear the kids talking about how cool Tommy’s dad is compared to theirs. Fuck knows what he did with Buster but Jack swiftly exits stage left.


Sienna: “Tommy, do you wanna get like… married so your Dad can be my Dad and… this phone, I just love it so much.”

Tommy: “Errrrr, Kyle? Do you wanna refill?”

Me: “Yeah, that’s right, run the fuck away.”

Kyle: “What would you do if Mom and Dad saw you with that?”

Sienna: “Please don’t tell them.”

Me: “He literally told them over hamburgers the other night. He literally said it, right to your Dad and nothing happened. You just concentrate on your wedding, love.”


Kyle thinks now would be a good idea to offer some brotherly advice… sitting up on the landing where a conversation can be heard from across the entire lodge, while Tommy goes to get some more drinks. Maybe that’s why Robert is sitting out on a bench, outside Jack’s cabin, just waiting for Jack to stroll past so he can offer him hot cocoa and so he doesn’t have to listen to the strange wedding plans of teenagers.

Jack attempts to tell the man they should really be spending time with their own families but falls at the final hurdle and cannot turn down one last challenge from Robert. Christ only knows what the man has dreamt up on that bench because, back in his kitchen, WWIII is about to break out when Eva and Holly both want to make their famous desserts and both think theirs would be better. Inspired by seeing their husbands struggling up the hill with some rubber rings and to their ultimate demise, both wives agree to their own competition. It’s probably for the best, having a full meal prepared for the kids when they have to break the news to them that both father’s died in a tragic, unplanned sledding accident.

All Jack has to do is win this race and Robert will forget about all those other times he beat his ass. That is… if either man could agree on who actually won… While the dad’s are arguing up a hill and the mom’s are arguing in the kitchen, Kyle thinks this would be the optimum time to pay Tommy a visit and tell the boy he will beat him into a different nationality if he hurts his sister. Isn’t everyone getting along just great!?


Holly: “Eva… this is fantastic.”

Eva: “This is awful!”

Holly: “Well… that’s a little harsh.”

Eva: “No, it’s awful because it’s so much better than mine! Oh my God, I can’t stop eating this thing!”

Me: “All I’ve ever wanted in life is a brownie that brought me to tears and I couldn’t stop eating until I caused myself diabetes. All I’ve ever wanted.”


At this point I remembered I am making beer cheese soup and pretzels for dinner and felt much better about life. After being fed all that dessert I can understand why the kids are so sad about leaving the giant lodge and having to return to their own crap shack. Meanwhile, Jack is up a mountain, offering up his family in a competition to find the giant, magic tree before the Carter’s do.

Prediction #8 – Tommy has decided that he likes Sienna enough to let their family win, even after his dad tells him that he loves him

Robert is far better at motivational speeches than Jack, who has just broke the news to his family by telling them this is actually all just a story his Dad used to tell him as a child. I should point out, at this point, that Sienna has occasionally been reading books lying around the lodge for entertainment and that her bringing a map downstairs isn’t too much of a Christmas coincidence.


Holly: “OK… We’re gonna need a map.”

Sienna: “Wait, wait! Like this one?”

Jack: “Where did you get this?”

Sienna: “I found it the other day in a book.”

Jack: “No, this is my map! I drew this when I was 9 years old.”

Me: “But you didn’t find the tree when you were 9 years old… why are you going to follow that map?”


Buster’s narration kindly tells us that sometimes, you don’t really know what you’re looking for and I can fucking believe it right then when Jack does not want to stop and check out the view and would rather reenact one of the travelling scenes from Lord of the Rings. Meanwhile, Robert has driven his family down to the town in order to ask around about this mythical tree.

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Any minute now. Orcs.

Guy: “You don’t find the sacred tree… it finds you. … But try that way.”

Me: “If it’s gonna find you anywhere, it’ll be over there.”


I am beginning to fear actual pneumonia and possible frostbite because Holly looks like she has left the cabin in her pyjama bottoms and they’re all going to die of exposure, including the Jones’ family who has stumbled upon a man…. digging snow… in the middle of some snow… who is also lost….

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This man is legit shovelling to nowhere

Prediction #9 – Both families will converge on the tree at the same time and won’t be able to decide who got their first until the kids call them out on their utter bullshit

When Jack sends his family on up ahead with the dog and the map not a single one of them questions why he’s staying behind. It’s to talk to his dead Dad, of course, and ask for help finding the tree but I adore the fact not a one of them asks what he is doing or cares about the fact he is no longer with them. Buster is their new father figure now! Probably follow a map better, too.

With absolutely no sign from above or even a single ray of light pointing them in the right direction, Jack believes Buster may be the key after all and he will lead the way. I doubt it, seeing as he’s walking at the side of Holly and is not leading anyone anywhere. Nevertheless, Buster does find them the tree which looks like a hunk of deadwood. Great for kindling, though!

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Oh… yes, erm… I’m so glad you found me!

It is at this point, when the Jones’ family appears over the horizon to see the Carter’s have found the tree first, that Jack has his breakthrough moment and realises he already has everything he needed. Including this massive dead tree in the middle of the wilderness.


Sienna: “I love you too, Dad, and I’ll stop texting on my phone so much.”

Me: “No, please don’t, it turns out you’re all really boring people.”


Robert is the only member of his family to be impressed by the hunk of kindling but they make an effort for the man, anyway. After all, he may be crazy but he does pay the bills… I like the optimism of these people that they’re all going to make it back to the cabin and be able to cook Christmas dinner without any limbs or digits falling off from the cold. Or, in fact, find their way back to the cabin at all.

It turns out dogs can sense and hear not only spirits but the spirits of magical trees, too.

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Never judge a tree by it’s rotten ass roots

I… do not understand how Tommy managed to get Sienna gift or how she managed to get one for him either, which is probably why we don’t actually ever see what the fuck those gifts are and gloss over the fact that, in the background, those two kids are passing the same gifts back and forth to each other.

Holly and Eva agree to work together and combine recipes whilst Robert and Jack believe they can buy and renovate Fathering Pines. Jack even finishes his novel and you’d have thought, after all those mere minutes of planning out his future career he might have put more than 10 seconds into the artwork of his book cover…

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Just take a moment to consider Jack actually liked and signed off on this cover

But there we have it! A completely harmless and for the most part unassuming Christmas film. Not too offensive and not too unbelievable by Christmas film standards. If you want to watch a perfectly average film, which seriously makes for a change, this season, then head over here.

Now let’s see if I’ve actually improved any at guessing over the last 20 days…

 

Prediction board – 2/9

  • Prediction #1 – Jack will realise his dreams of writing and that is what he meant when he mentioned he would be making more money next year – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #2 – Jack might not love the family business right now but it will turn out to mean a lot to him when he finds his Christmas spirit – Accccctually… no. It meant more to Holly. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #3 – Fathering Pines will be nothing like what Jack and Holly remember it as – I think the issue here is that it was everything they remembered. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #4 – They are going to need to use the emergency phone Jack is locking in the car’s glove box – No avalanche. No kidnapping. No fire. No nothing! INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #5 – We’re going to get snowed in – How did we not get snowed in!? INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #6 – Jack is going to go off in search of that magical Christmas tree and Buster is going to have to save his ass – Even if Buster had had to save his ass I don’t think he would have at this point. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #7 – Jack will be much the richer for all the time he actually spent bonding with his family. Eye. Roll. – Yyyyyup. CORRECT!
  • Prediction #8 – Tommy has decided that he likes Sienna enough to let their family win, even after his dad tells him that he loves him – No. Their family just lost naturally. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #9 – Both families will converge on the tree at the same time and won’t be able to decide who got their first until the kids call them out on their utter bullshit – Nope. Again. Robert’s family just lost naturally. INCORRECT!

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: That would have been interesting to see during an avalanche
  • Piano: No, that would have turned into a competition too, I’m sure
  • Carolling: No. Thank you producers.
  • Christmas Montage: No time! We were scaling mountains and running snowshoe races!
  • Fire Hazards: Oh yeah, Eva set up that living room well
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: Nothing. There was no actual proof that anyone died during a past Christmas! Is this the only one!?
  • Snowing on cue: We were up a snowy mountain… You do the math

 

I have somehow got even friggin worse at this game! I need to bow out quickly… and not just because my hands are legit freezing as I type.

See you tomorrow! If my hands even make it…

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Christmas Advent #19 – A Fairytale Christmas

Now… I am not trying to be mean but when I looked through my last few recorded films I wanted to get this one, with Haylie Duff in it, out of the way quicker than the others… Nothing against the woman, other than the fact she can’t spell our name properly, but ya knooooooow…. Lizzie Mcquire…

Who knows, she might pleasantly surprise me. Let’s see.

 

Ooh, this time we get a Christmas tree decorating, present wrapping, tag writing opening credits montage! The very first of it’s kind! Not quickly followed by an aerial shot of the city either. Instead we get Belle, walking down the street with some roses, hailing down work men on rooves, being handed a free wreath and giving to charity. Ain’t she just delightful?

She has only just gotten into the art…. gallery? and put her roses in a vase when Tony waltzes in with more roses and claims great minds should definitely go to dinner together. Belle’s father pops around the corner to basically give props to Tony for trying to date his daughter again before disappearing. Worst. Father. Ever. Tony decides to wage actual warfare and claims if she wants to be freed from the worst pick-up lines in history then she’s just going to have to go to dinner with him.

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Reacted no Dad ever to a man trying to date his daughter


Belle: “Look, you are smart and good-looking and charming… Any girl would be crazy to not want to go out with you but…”

Me: “I have to brain cells to rub together and I’d rather not. And no, Tony, before you say it I am not a lesbian.”

Belle: “… we’re friends.”

Me: “You’re friends with this!?”


Belle fears she may just be a challenge for Tony to overcome but legitimately can’t go to dinner because her dad is sending her off somewhere to meet with a new client. Oh christ…. her name is Belle, the estate has a library, she loves books, she’s being sent away over Christmas, it’s called A Fairytale Christmas… It’s been 6 minutes, 3 of that was ads before the film even started and I’m already wondering if I can do this. At least we can depend on the owner wanting to auction off all of the contents of his house before selling it and wants all of this done before Christmas. Tight and unreasonable deadlines are what we know around here.

Prediction #1 – Belle is going to regret agreeing to that date with Tony for when she gets back because he’s going to turn into a jealous little prick

Or maybe whoever Katie is, who he has phoned to take Belle’s place, will keep him occupied instead. I don’t think Belle’s dad should be left alone for any period of time because he stopped listening to her in order to laugh at the concept of Garfield hating Monday’s when he’s a cat. I can see why he sends his daughter out to meet the clients and deal with the finances. Her dad thinks the problem of a guy who isn’t her type but just won’t leave her alone is to simply… go out with him! Give him hope! End up with a stalker when you realise you can’t stand him! We haven’t had too many terrible parents this year but this guy has already shot to the top of the list.

We do get some aerial shots of a vineyard though, where some guy is wondering around and frowning at his grapes. Not a euphemism. I am not entirely sure whether Belle has found herself in the correct place because she is still wearing the same clothes, it’s still the day and she’s casually stepping out of a tiny car. If it was that easy to get to why were they making such a big deal about shipping her out there for Christmas?

At Vic’s Cafe we meet, presumably Vic, who is studying to be ordained online as a second job. Yeah, I see what they did there. Apparently it’s very common for people to double up on jobs around there which is an interesting theory when some towns we have already visited seem to have about 50 residents. Like that time Teddy Jr. was the local mechanic, Dr and musician

Vic is happy to assure Belle that everything is homemade and take her order but not so happy when she asks about the Lowell estate and warns her not to go there. Fortunately Angie, the estate manager, is eavesdropping from the end of the counter and pops over to introduce herself. She works for Mr Lowell and is still alive to tell the tale, which is apparently something to be admired.


Vic: “How long you in town for?”

Belle: “I guess however long it takes me to catalogue all the items in his home.”

Angie: “That is gonna be a while.”

Vic: “Yeah, hey, perfect! You know, you’ll be here for the Christmas party. Now that is quite something! Look, I can’t promise to take you as my date but I’ll save a couple of spots for you on my dance card.”

Me: “Good Christ, no.”


Hopefully Angie is willing to take us under her wing because I severely distrust everybody else right now. Belle looks to be rocking up to the estate at around midnight and I hope the guy greets her at the door with a shotgun or something. He should be suitably paranoid and alone, this time of year. Unfortunately the client is not impressed to see a woman on his porch and would much rather deal with her dad. Clearly the man hasn’t spoken to her dad at any great length and I very much suggest he gives up and takes Belle’s help.

Apparently the man inherited the house from his grandparents and simply believes its a house with way too much stuff in it.


Belle: “There’s no Christmas decorations.”

Me: “Why, you wanna catalogue those, too?”

Guy: “I plan to be out of here by Christmas.”

Belle: “Huh, that’s too bad.”

Me: “………. YOU KNEW THIS.”


I am honestly counting the minutes until this film is over but at least I get some entertainment from the guy watching Belle struggle to carry her luggage up the stairs. This guy is just a barrel of fucking laughs as he miserably informs us he doesn’t sleep in the house for personal reasons so Belle can have the master suite, he has a dog called Beast, his fiance named him and he’s not engaged anymore, thank you and goodnight. Belle has put her gloves on in order to check out all the books in the library but it’s not a fun library I mean… there’s a bible in it, for a start.

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Damn, she made it up the stairs. Will just have to try and kill her another way.

I’m not sure if we have actually heard the client’s name yet, I have not been paying attention, but the guy seems mildly surprised that books could be worth so much. Just so long as Belle knows he doesn’t need her advice and won’t be waiting on her then they should get along just grand. I’m never sure why, out of these situations, women stick around and fall in love with these men after the first meeting. Sure, maybe in real life you might miss out on talking to a guy again because you met him when he was having a bad day but I would be on the phone to my friend telling her about how this guy was a massive prick, I was going to do a shit job, steal his dog and did she wanna get cocktails when I got back?

At least Beast is happy to break into the woman’s room and spend the night with her, instead. For some reason, finding his dog gone in the night, really upsets out client which gives him reason to wonder around the house without a top on and pay a visit to Belle. Avoiding looking at the man’s abs and receiving a lecture about working until 1:30 in the morning on other work, Emily has won the battle of who Beast loves more. This should make it easier to kidnap him.

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Those abs are the main reason this man even got hired, the most you could do is make sure they were uploaded in HD quality

This guy adores being topless. He just loves it. Now he’s going for a jog around the vineyard because he can and waltzing into the kitchen so Emily can ask why the fuck he hates shirts so much. I don’t know why she bothered to make enough breakfast for him too, he clearly wasn’t going to eat it and everyone is very shocked by how much Beast loves the woman. Even Angie, who is here to give Belle the grand tour and amaze her with their grapes.

We finally learn our client’s name, Hunter, and that he was raised by his grandparents who converted the barn to throw parties in every other week. She says barn conversion but I am seeing a very poorly built barn that has not been converted and they’ve just cleared it out so they can fit tables and chairs in it occasionally… I don’t know what lies those grandparents were telling people…

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I’m no architect but I can’t help thinking structures should not have open holes in the them

Ah, fuck, Angie mentions an annual Christmas dance that his nan used to hold in the barn and we know where this is heading. Hunter hasn’t been back to the place much and recently quit his job in San Francisco so he can go and travel the world instead.

Prediction #2 – Belle demands that the annual Christmas dance be held in the barn again

Prediction #3 – Hunter is avoiding his fiance and the rest of his life to jog shirtless in Thailand instead

Hunter even has a solarium with a vase of roses in the middle. Apparently it’s strictly off limits but as his grandmother’s favourite room she planted the roses and Angie comes in to water them occasionally. I wonder if he believes they’re magical roses or just has no concept of what plants require to live. But no, really, this couldn’t be much worse.

Oh, no! It could! Tony has dropped in to speak to Belle’s dad about his date with another woman last night! I am very surprised when, asking her dad for his blessing to marry his daughter, her dad confirms she is not a deal sign off on. I doubt that mindset will last for long, though, especially when Tony mentions nudging her in the right direction. If her dad had been listening to her the other day and not laughing about Garfield in the paper, he might have heard that Tony isn’t even her type.

Back at the vineyard, Hunter is being suitably creepy by staring at the woman from about 10 feet away until she notices him and then walking off without a sound. Despite this she has left him a note to say there is some meatloaf in the fridge if he gets hungry and her handwriting can only bring me great joy. Man eats meatloaf, man probably falls in love, man has to jog it off again in the morning. I don’t know how many calories were in that thing but he’s jogged right off the estate…

Hunter is far too busy being shirtless to check out the portfolio Belle is working on and she thinks it would be a wonderful idea to clean up the solarium and pruning the roses while he is out running errands.

Prediction #4 – Hunter is eventually going to find her in there and he’s gonna be beyond pissed and want her to leave before for some reason he thought he could sell the house without her ever going in there

It very much appears as though that moment may be now as Hunter searches around the house for her and ooh! There she is! The woman has hilariously pruned the roses so much they are now just a tiny bunch and bought new flowers in which sparks of an argument where Hunter seems to think a new buyer would not care about the fact they had just purchased a solarium and just chance upon it one day like… the fuck is this? That or he just cuts it straight off the side of the building and takes it with him because he seems to think it’s not even part of the house.

The man gets so angry about the fact women don’t like being shouted at that he knocks the roses clean off their tiny table and can’t believe Belle thinks it would be OK to quit. She can’t even muster the amount of fucks it would take to kidnap the dog and so she slowly wheels her luggage away, down the garden path. I’m not sure what Angie’s actual job is because she’s always hanging around in Vic’s Cafe and… I think the owners name is Barney! I’m getting very mixed messages from everyone, even when Angie nips out to her car to shout at Hunter over the phone.


Angie: “How dare you shout at Belle! This is not how you were raised!”

Hunter: “Angie have you seen her? Is she OK?”

Me: “………. OH! That’s actual concern! I thought that was like…. but seriously, is she OK ’cause….”


I don’t know how impressed the woman is going to be to see the man arrive over her cobb salad but off he rushes, anyway. Even Beast knows how likely it is that his owner will fuck this up so is gonna wing man him. When Hunter asks Belle if they can talk outside both Angie and Barney pull faces that suggest they would rather they stay right where they are so they can hear this conversation and gossip about it later. The man apologises but notably leaves his dog out in the car… should probably… not do that if you’re gonna sit down and have lunch with these people. Oh, OK, never mind, down he goes.

The man agreed to be nicer, more civil and polite when they got back but opening Belle’s car door for her and taking her luggage is going way too fast, too soon. The man hopes that by showing Belle a picture of his dead fiance, Helen, that he was hiding behind a dresser in her room that it might explain a lot of things. I am also confused by the solarium: Hunter claims it was Helen’s favourite room and Angie claims it was his grandmother’s. Was he… dating his grandmother? They were one and the same person? Helen was a reincarnation? I don’t….

The man is now wondering around the place smiling and staring at the side of Belle’s head in a very strange, sudden and not a little creepy change of heart. When her dad calls her later that day she shouldn’t be too surprised to find Tony is having lunch with him and bribing him with wine. Apparently, if you can’t eat with the woman you love then her father is the next best thing?


Belle: “I thought you had a meeting today?”

Dad: “Well… since as it was originally your meeting I’m going to let you call them up, apologise and reschedule.”

Belle: “I think my hands are full here!”

Dad: “Listen, Belle, I have earned my leisure time.”

Belle: “Yes, Dad, I think you have but not if it’s going to interfere with business!”

Dad: “Listen, if you don’t want to call them then I’ll fire off an email and let them know that you’re out of town and it slipped your mind!”

Belle: “No! Don’t do that, I’ll… handle it.”

Dad: “Good girl. How are those e-cards coming?”

Belle: “Fine. I’ll finish them tonight.”

Dad: “You, my love! enjoy that library.”

Me: “You know what? Between your dad and Tony, Hunter is a good choice.”


It can only improve his standing when he brings her wine from their private reserve that she can drink while strolling around the vineyard. She also gets the chance to whinge about her dad and how the art gallery and auction business was originally his dream but now he’s bored of it all it’s mostly up to her to run what appears to be a very successful business. Belle’s dream is to deal in rare books. One day. Maybe when she’s killed off her father and claimed his insurance.

Hunter’s grandma loved books too, which means she can only approve of Belle from beyond the grave and is probably very opposed to her grandson trying to sell off her entire damn library. Apparently the pair realise they have been out, talking for hours, but their quarter full wine glasses beg to differ. More like 30 minutes. Tops.

It’s amazing how quickly Belle has forgotten about this man screaming at her and breaking vases this morning. Take the man’s wine and manual labour by all means but don’t forgive him that easily! Unless…. he is going to abandon his morning jog halfway through to come back to the house and cook you an inedible breakfast. Then you just leave before he can give you food poisoning in time for the holidays.

At some point they decided they would decorate the house for Christmas after all, which really is pointless seeing as this man’s plan, as far as anyone is concerned, is to leave before Christmas. No doubt this has changed but let’s just behave logically here for a moment. Heading out to cut down their own Christmas tree – because Nan and Grandad foresaw this and planted their own fir tree row – we get to witness the worst falling on the floor with the other person on top of you scene, ever. The man practically lunges at her the moment he realises she is going down. These scenes need banning. Those and the ones where women are incapable of understanding how a ladder works so simply throw themselves off the top instead.

Thank god Beast was there to break it up.


Angie: “How was your time in the woods?”

Belle: “It was… perfect.”

Angie: “That’s… an interesting choice of words.”

Me: “It is, isn’t it? I would have to believe the woman had never seen a tree in it’s natural habitat before if she came back and said that to me. Wait… where is the tree? Where’s the dog!?”


Angie tries to very unsubtly convince Hunter to hold the annual Christmas dance in the barn because they have nowhere to host it this year and it will need to be cancelled. At least the Christmas Festival hasn’t been cancelled but how could Belle possibly go when she’s so busy? I’ll tell you how, Hunter is going to readjust the deadline Belle needs to be done by, despite literally 6 seconds ago saying he couldn’t host the dance because he wants to be gone before Christmas. Go figure that one out.

Dad manages to phone from another lunch with Tony and I’m just gonna skip right ahead to the part where Tony decides to buy the estate for her because she said she loves it so much. Like legit he’s gonna buy the house for her. I…. At least elsewhere Belle and Hunter are accosted by a Santa in the street, telling them to write their letters to him and Hunter has to ruin it by wishing for Isabella. Who, ya know, Belle.

At least he tells the woman she needs to set some serious boundaries with her father after he sends her a bunch of invoices to look over. Belle is saved by the giant ‘Christmas Dance Cancelled’ sign so they can change the subject and Hunter can whinge some more about how it shouldn’t be his responsibility to be a decent human being once in a while.


Hunter: “You heard Angie’s hints…”

Belle: “Yes, she’s very subtle. I think she gets it, ya know? She knows you’ve got a lot going on.”

Hunter: “I do! You know, I don’t have time to host a Christmas party.”

Me: “Mate! You’ve been jogging around without a shirt on for 50% of this film, I think you’ve got plenty of time.”


Hunter does a complete 180 on the idea because Belle was totally cool with being mistaken for his date for the night. Can they just agree to get married and live forever in that damn house so this film can end already? Back at the house, Hunter is liquoring Belle up some more in the library but she asks for 30 minutes before he heads on in. 30 minutes so she can decorate an entire fucking tree and the room. Not only is this woman a pro but, if the montage leads us to believe anything, it’s that she somehow makes decorating very sexy so that we all get the point. It’s the equivalent of the library slipping into something more comfortable. Which is jogging bottoms and a jumper you’ve had for 6 years.

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Honest to god the only thing missing from this montage is some sexy bass in the background

When Belle shows the man some pictures she has already taken of the library he can barely recognise the place. That might be a problem when any prospective buyers that aren’t Tony rock up to view the place. Belle has been a bit heavy-handed with the editing suite, it seems. She also found a terribly constructed version of ‘The Night Before Christmas’, courtesy of Hunter, age 7, so they decide to read it together which is nothing if not painful and I don’t know how many times Hunter has repeated this book but the woman has fallen a-damn-sleep.

I am very sure the man throws an upholstered curtain over her and just leaves her to wake up with the absolute worst neck in the morning. The next morning there are many people walking around the estate with Santa hats on, so you can distinguish them as people working on the barn, and getting the entire estate ready.


Hunter: “You know, if you wanted to take the next couple of days off, I’d be fine with that.”

Belle: “Are you considering staying through Christmas?”

Hunter: “No.”

Me: “That’s… not how time works.”

Belle: “Well, if you need me for a couple of extra days I’m happy to make the time.”

Hunter: “Anything to prolong your time in this library, huh?”

Belle: “It’s…. not just the library….”

Hunter: “…..”

Me: “It’s your dog.”


For some god forsaken reason, Belle calls up her dad and invites him to the dance and Hunter was right, we need some serious boundaries in place here – Dad and Tony are only going to fuck things up for at least 10 minutes of film time and I really don’t know whether I can sit through sulking and people losing their shit over nothing.

Well, since these two have decided to start kissing and open the floodgates they apparently can’t stop, which is why it’s the perfect time for Tony to walk in. Theeeeere we go. Hunter refuses to listen to Belle telling Tony they’re not even dating, Tony is completely unphased by the fact she was kissing this other bloke, Hunter looks like he might take Tony’s offer on the house and for some reason Belle decides to go with Tony to dinner, where her Dad is waiting, instead of telling him to fuck off and go hang out with the dog some more.


Dad: “OK! Who’s hungry!?”

Belle: “I’m not going to dinner with you, Dad. Can you please give us a minute?”

Dad: “Oooooh somebody’s on edge.”

Belle: “You really don’t get it do you?”

Dad: “I am clueless!”

Me: “…. I have nothing to add here.”


Dad, having all the grace of a teenager with hearing difficulties, does not want to hear about all of his flaws and would rather just sulk and tell the woman she needs a vacation, instead. After realising her dad is possibly the worst human being on earth she returns to the house so she can go to bed and cry on the poor dog. Honestly, the entire thing is just tragic. Like… the entire film.

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A woman pointing out a mans flaws!? Must be a lesbian, or something.

I am quite amazed that Hunter is still willing to help with decorating the barn after the fallout of the previous evening but there he is, anyway! Talking to Belle is a step too far, apparently, which is only made worse when her dad and Tony rock up to help out. I think I would rather set the barn on fire with them in it… I’m unsure why her dad asks to speak with her for a moment because he moves her approximately 4 feet away and starts explaining, loudly, about how much of a prick he’s been. I assume that Hunter leaves the barn at the moment the man says ‘I’m going to change’ because he can’t possibly believe any of this shit is taking place on his property.


Angie: “Are you OK, love?”

Belle: “No. No, I don’t think so.”

Angie: “I think I have just the thing to cheer you up.”

Me: “Tequila! Which… you keep in the boot of your car… Oh, no, dresses. You don’t know me at all.”


I miss another smaller and inconsequential montage because Angie asks what the deal with Belle’s Dad is and I just can’t even begin to think of the words which would express how quickly she needs to just forget that thought and leave the country.

I assume everyone else at this dance has shown up early and dressed to do yoga so it makes our assortment of main characters even more overdressed when they pop up in the barn, one by one, like the Noah’s arc we never heard about that was full of failures and quickly shipped off to hell. Poor Hunter is trying to give the woman a corsage when Tony comes over and demands he speaks to her because he paid good petrol money to get there. I don’t know why the woman can’t let the man down as harshly as possible and really has to explain to her dad that she doesn’t want to live with Tony and why would he try and sell her like livestock to her future husband?

Saving the woman from a complete meltdown, Hunter takes her for a dance as far away from the barn as it is humanly possible to get. The next state. No, I’m kidding, they just dance around in a circle on a bridge and talk about how Hunter is dead inside. When Tony comes marching over, again, and Belle is, again, far too nice to the man and tries to explain to him that she doesn’t love him we witness one of the greatest examples of mansplaining I have ever seen in a film.

The man forcibly kisses Belle, Hunter is blind and presumes she was totally into it and he is also deaf and doesn’t hear her shouting at the man. Unfortunately, by the time Belle has turned around, Hunter has completely disappeared. I’m surprised she didn’t turn around to find his shirt, tie and jacket on the floor while he ran freely across his estate, topless, again. Tony cannot read a fucking room to save his life and turns up to discuss matters with Hunter – Christ knows how he knew where to find the man when he was last seen walking in the opposite direction. Still completely oblivious, Hunter just wants Belle to be happy and so Tony capitalises on the situation whilst drinking all of the man’s fine whiskey.


Tony: “You know, me and Belle are meant to be together. She never loved you. In fact, she never in liked you.”

Hunter: “Then why pretend?”

Tony: “The library. All she ever wanted was a library. Hate to be the one to break it to you.”

Hunter: “Of course.”

Me: “Oh, yeah, that explains it all! Women are totally fickle that way, aren’t they? Hey, high five, bro.”


When Hunter agrees to whatever deal Tony was willing to make on the house Tony turns and around and bids the man farewell with the strangest fucking noise I have ever heard. I’m very sure he calls the guy Derek, I mean… he was drinking that whiskey pretty quick, he may have done.

Belle enlists Angie’s help to find Hunter and honest to god I have not laughed so hard for an entire wrap up of a film. I… someone had to sit and edit this shit, ya know. They edited it and then were like yeah, seems legit, let’s put that out into the world! That happened and it can never be taken back.

Tony appears once more, Hunter also appears to scream at the woman and say he never wants to see her again, Tony leads Belle away and probably straight into a shotgun wedding he has set up in the back of his Jeep and then both Angie and Belle’s dad pop out the house to tell Hunter he’s a bellend. It would, of course, have helped if a) Hunter had paid any attention to Belle telling him Tony was not her boyfriend and just obsessed with her and b) if Belle had bothered to tell Hunter she loved him and not just various, surrounding people.

I believe we are actually seeing a kidnapping taking place so it’s a good job Hunter can run quickly. He’d probably run quicker if he took his shirt off but whatever, let him look around for a while. Belle stops to shout at Tony and poke him in the chest some, trying to inform the man that she doesn’t love him, before he blocks her from getting back over the bridge. Then comes the single greatest moment in cinema history.

When she can’t get around him…. she simply goes around the bridge and Tony stands there completely flummoxed by it. His face tells me he cannot believe she has just left him like she wasn’t trying to get around the man two seconds ago. This has turned into the most fascinating thing I have ever watched. We are operating on 3 Day Christmas levels of sheer wonder right now! What I find more wonderful is that when Hunter runs across the bridge to Tony he would technically have ran straight past Belle, heading in the other direction, at the same time.


Hunter: “Where is she!?”

Tony: “She’s gone.”

Hunter: “Gone? Where?”

Tony: “Back to the house.”

Hunter: “I don’t understand! She loves me!”

Tony: “I know… she went back to the house for you. It’s over, you won, she loves you.”

Hunter: “I’m going back to the house!”

Me: “I can’t breathe!”


The man then promptly runs back to the barn. I’m fucking dying here.

Hunter proposes in the middle of the barn and Belle decides to enter in the most turbulent contract she will ever face in her life. A year later they are getting married on Christmas Eve, Barney is officiating, Beast brings over the rings and WE ARE FREE!

WE’RE FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

I’m exhausted. Lose the will to live here, in even worse quality than I experienced it in.

 

Prediction board – 3/4

  • Prediction #1 – Belle is going to regret agreeing to that date with Tony for when she gets back because he’s going to turn into a jealous little prick – So very CORRECT!
  • Prediction #2 – Belle demands that the annual Christmas dance be held in the barn again – It was more like Angie but Belle helped so… CORRECT!
  • Prediction #3 – Hunter is avoiding his fiance and the rest of his life to jog shirtless in Thailand instead – Unfortunately he never got there but he wasn’t avoiding his fiance… considering she was dead, she was more avoiding him, than anything. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #4 – Hunter is eventually going to find Belle in the solarium and will be illogically pissed – Oh, very CORRECT

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: This film was so terrible I don’t think I’d have batted an eyelid to see a sleigh out in the desert
  • Piano: There was zero time for piano in this film
  • Carolling: No, thank the lord
  • Christmas Montage: Yeah… I mean I’m scarred for life from that one decorating montage but sure! CHECK!
  • Fire Hazards: Other than natural fires because… desert…. not really!
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t listen hard enough to figure out when dead relatives actually died
  • Snowing on cue: Again, film so terrible I wouldn’t have questioned it, but no

 

That was…. that was something. I thought we had had some awful films this year but… I’m going to have to do a Christmas wrap up because I really think this might have been the worst yet. Ever.

I don’t normally like to wish my life away – unless it’s the morning and I’m waiting for a suitable hour to drink – but I can’t wait for tomorrow and to forget this film ever took place. See you then!

Christmas Advent #14 – 3 Day Christmas

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

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

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

Please. Do go on.

 

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

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

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

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

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


Guy: “What did my brother want?”

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

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

Me: “Oh yeah, that ol’ chestnut.”


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

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

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

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


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

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

Martin: “Where is my daughter?”

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

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


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

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

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Regret marriage? No. Why would you say that?

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

Sam and Marilyn: “……….”

Martin: “Again… my apologies.”

Marilyn: “It happens.”

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

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

Sam: “Be scary… or be scared.”

Marilyn: “Scared is scared.”

Martin: “………….”

Me: “……………………………………………..”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Josie: “Splatter loves franks and beans….”

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

Josie: “Cereal.”

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

Me: “Like fucking hell I can’t!”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

Old Neighbour: “Why!? He’s an idiot!”

Me: “Just… glorious.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Jessie: “Paper angels!”

Jackie: “Oh, that’s a great idea.”

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Me: “But there are five of them….”


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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

Martin: “Where is he?”

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

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

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


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

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

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


Martin: “So… what is this place?”

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hey. We can dream.

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

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

 

Prediction board – 1/1

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Christmas Advent #13 – Sound of Christmas

Here we are. Day 13. Thursday 13th. Unlucky for…. no one.

My brain is suitably mushed but in one more day I will be free from work until the New Year. God bless people who just want to get drunk over Christmas and can’t possibly find the time or sobriety to open up the office. God bless wine.

I had been wondering if I needed any on hand in case this film should go the way of ‘The Sound of Music’; something I have never watched because I don’t think I could fucking cope with seeing that woman spin around on a hill and have any context for it. I like to assume she just escaped from a facility somewhere. Maybe we will experience the same but a woman will be galloping through the snowy woods, singing and slowly developing frostbite in all of her toes.

Probably best to go into this one sober so we don’t end up as that woman… Let’s begin!

 

Oh yeah. There it is. The beautiful city skyline and the festive streets. We only got one day off from this little vista, it would seem. It doesn’t last long because we are dropped straight into a music shop where some woman called Lizzie who looks horribly familiar is fawning over a grand piano neither her or her fellow music teacher can afford for their students.


Lizzie: “Couldn’t you just picture our students playing it? We could put it on the front cover of the brochure.”

Woman: “Mmmm, ‘The Brooklyn Music Institute! Now with really expensive pianos!'”

Lizzie: “See! That would make me wanna go!”

Me: “Seems to work for every other marketing campaign in the world, might as well give it a shot.”


As it turns out Lizzie is the one who teaches music and her friend looks after the finances because if it were left up to Lizzie they would be homeless and sleeping inside of their piano. In another turn of events Lizzie doesn’t like playing piano to an audience… this must make her music lessons unorthodox enough to lure in those rich parents who believe their children are gifted and only the most modern practices will really help their talents to flourish.

Meanwhile a poor teenager waits for their dad to be quite done with his work calls so they can leave the damn office and go home already. He also has a psychic PA sitting in the other room who brings things over to the guy before they’re even needed. I don’t know what this guy does, I was as about as interested in his conversation as his teenage daughter. This girl, Abigail, has been waiting to get their damn Christmas tree for 2 days already – there should be some sort of festive charity set up for the children left with single parents in Christmas films because they would have us believe they are never on the ball or pay zero attention to their kids because work comes first.

Lizzie flees the shop after a crowd have gathered to listen to her play the same piece over and over again and does not miss being on the stage. 10 years ago she totally choked during her debut concert in front of thousands of people and I’m sure that crippling embarrassment would hinder anyone for the rest of their lives. To take her mind off how shit she is, Sam, her friend, takes her off to find a Christmas tree which can cope with the pressure of being up on the stage for their Christmas concert. Love this woman.

Prediction #1 – Lizzie is gonna find a man who has enough belief in her to get her up on that stage!

Speaking of…


Dad: “You know what, let’s get out of here. Tokyo will be here in the morning.”

Me: “You can’t make those kinds of promises!”


Unfortunately for Abigail’s teenage temperament, the moment they try to leave the office some woman called Cynthia shows up who is both clearly enamoured with Brad, the dad, and with her work and offloads a shit ton of work on the man which needs to be done by…. Say it with me now folks! By the end of the year. Which is in two weeks.

Honest to God I think that should be part of the checklist next year. Maybe I won’t start until I only have 2 weeks left, either. Really give myself an unrealistic deadline.

TSOC_1
‘Do you WANT me to stab you in your sleep? WELL?!’

At least Brad knows the sullen look of a teenage girl is more terrifying than any demands a head of the company could make via Cynthia and takes his work off-road with them to go and pick out that Christmas tree. I distinctly remember the last time we picked out a tree a guy died… Obviously all of our characters have congregated at the Christmas tree lot at the same time and we also discover that Abigail is thinking about taking up piano lessons again. My god… could this be pianos big break this year!?

Prediction #2 – The new piano teacher Abigail has a lesson with tomorrow is Lizzie

Unable to multitask, by which I mean walk in a straight line and read documents, Brad promptly walks into Lizzie and drops his work everywhere. I have never once seen a man and just giggled at him because I thought he was so attractive. That’s generally how people end up being committed.

The next day Lizzie finds some student named Jordan sitting outside on the steps of the music institute and they have a nice building, ya’ll! I’m pretty sure they can afford that piano. Unfortunately Jordan keeps forgetting his sheet music at home and his teacher, Mr Flannery, is going to yell at him again. This kid is depending on scholarships in order to keep having these private lessons but hasn’t heard anything back from wherever he applied. Lizzie has zero fear about this because apparently the Christmas concert is the big fundraiser which helps the institute fund all of the scholarships themselves. … I don’t really know how this works so I am not going to question. I’m just gonna believe it will all work out OK in the end.

Prediction #3 – Abigail probably won’t be that keen on piano lessons until she spots Jordan and then will have a very renewed interest in music


Sam: “Thank god you’re here.”

Lizzie: “What’s going on!?”

Sam: “They’re selling the building!”

Lizzie: “What!? Where did you hear that!?”

Sam: “The dentist on the fourth floor, he heard it from the accountant on three who apparently has a cousin who knows someone who works on the property manager’s office.”

Me: “Oh…. yeah…. don’t we all have that same cousin…”


Lizzie is very sure they should not trust a man who works with laughing gas as a career choice and just worry about the Christmas concert which they know for a fact is going to happen. She has even decided to call it ‘The Sound of Christmas’ featuring music that spans the centuries.

Prediction #4 – The building is getting sold and the Christmas concert will face cancellation after all the hard work Lizzie just this second put into it

Outside, Brad is staking out the Institute’s building with his faithful, psychic PA, Meg and just narrowly misses spotting Lizzie as she enters one of her classrooms to teach retired student, Earl. Earl’s hands may look arthritic but he plays the first few bars of ‘The First Noel’ like a pro… until he bombs because he finds the next part tricky. Nevertheless, Lizzie is inviting him to play at the concert because there is nothing like crippling nerves to really help you get over that tricky part of a song!

Earl starts explaining that he loves playing piano more than the company he ever used to own and he should have handed it over to his son years ago. Unfortunately they are not close now but Earl does remember that his son played this very same song once, when he was younger and used to take piano lessons.

Prediction #5 – Please tell me that his son is not Brad and that Brad is not standing 10 feet away at reception…

With a little bit of bribery – namely promising the best seats in the house to Earl’s son if he agrees to play in the concert – Lizzie commences with her lesson. I guess she really does have unorthodox teaching methods… Outside in the corridor Brad does hear the song and takes a stalker’s peek through the blinds but I’m not too disheartened that he doesn’t seem to recognise what might be his own dad because he also doesn’t appear to recognise Lizzie, who he just bumped into last night. I still have high hopes.

In a terribly boring meeting with Brad and Cynthia’s boss, who wants all of this extra work done, it turns out that the Institute is the very building he wants to take over by the end of the year. Uh-oh. Brad seems to think that none of the businesses currently in the building are very essential but it might go over better with the locals if the man added a coffee shop to calm them all down. Sure, getting them off their tits on caffeine is going to calm them. A gourmet market also seems like a good idea because people need a fancy sausage roll more than they need to ever hear a piano played again. Travis, their boss, needs a signature on this contract by next week at the latest, to avoid tax, and so Cynthia jumps on this tiny deadline as an excuse to work on this some more over dinner with Brad.

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Much of the meeting was spent debating whether Cynthia could write a date with Brad into the contract and not arouse suspicion with HR

Despite the fact Abigail has a ‘thing’ at home the woman is insistent and will just be bringing the work to him that evening, instead. In better, less desperate news, everything for the Christmas concert is slowly falling into place and Lizzie is off to interview their new private student over in Manhattan. Brad just wants Abigail to know that there is no pressure for her to take up this woman on her piano lessons because the memories might be too painful… seeing as how her mother is dead and all and clearly loved the piano. Maybe she even died in a piano-related accident!? At Christmas, of course.

Brad and Lizzie are surprised to recognise each other and the woman just laughs in the man’s face some more. The tenuous connection here is that Brad knows some guy called Dave and Lizzie taught Dave’s son Evan to play the piano but now the boy just plays keyboard in rock bands instead. I mean… ya win some, you lose some. After some profound quote Brad and Abigail seem sold on the woman but she is just about to start their first piano lesson when Cynthia loudly hurricanes through much to the disapproval of Abigail.

Away from this cougar we find that both Abigail and Lizzie have similar origin stories of people dying on them and we get down to business playing a piano duet. Ain’t nothing like a piano duet and giggling at each other to bond with your future mother. In spite of all the inane giggling Lizzie is still preferable to Cynthia who is trying to insert herself into all of Brad’s spare time like an insane stalker.

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Yeah… you just think about what you’re seeing here for a moment…

Back at the Institute, Sam finds Jordan still practicing his clarinet for the Christmas concert way after hours. He is more worried that the woman just burst in because he was playing out of tune and might be about to beat him for it or something. The boy can’t practice at home because it’s too loud and his mother happily abandoned him at the school as long as there is a teacher around because I presume they also think his clarinet playing is too loud. Ain’t bad though!

Prediction #6 – There is a piano and clarinet duo coming up at this Christmas concert

Which Lizzie practically confirms by asking Abigail if she would like to play in the Christmas concert. I’m surprised she didn’t ask bloody Cynthia if she wanted to play in the concert too when she was on her way out. Now that Cynthia is out of the way Abigail can concentrate on forcing her dad to keep his promises and decorate their Christmas tree finally. I don’t believe this man has put two and two together yet and realised the place his daughter has just decided to take music lessons at is the very place they are thinking about turfing out for gourmet scotch eggs. I believe that is about to change very swiftly as Brad and Lizzie have just ran into each other in the halls.


Brad: “Lizzie!”

Lizzie: “Brad! What are you doing here?”

Brad: “Oh, I was just picking up some papers. My company is going to buy this building and turn it into high-end office space. What are you doing here?”

Me: “What could a music teacher possibly be doing at a Music Institute?”


Based on their very brief meeting Lizzie thinks this guy is decent enough to possibly change his mind and asks to have a word with him in private. Her negotiation skills… aren’t great and she is already well pissed off that this man is trying to sell a building he had no idea she worked in but at least she feels as strongly about gluten-free cookies and overpriced cheese as I do. Cheese should be available to all, not just the gourmet market audience.

Not even hearing about the Christmas concert and the scholarship programme is enough to make this man suddenly turn on his company and his own livelihood. Who would’a thunk it, huh? While Lizzie is waving the fact she used to think she liked this man in his face, like waving a treat in front of a dog’s nose, Sam and PA Meg are eavesdropping outside and not getting coffee as they first claimed.


Meg: “This just got personal… We really shouldn’t be eavesdropping.”

Sam: “You’re right, we’re terrible… But if we go around back we’d be terrible but we could hear better.”

Meg: “What are we waiting for!?”

Me: “I adore these people.”


Lizzie seems to be having a hard time grasping that if a building is for sale then, eventually, someone is going to end up buying the place and probably changing it but she is still adamant that gourmet markets suck. She is also adamant that she is saving her school and fighting the man! Not Brad but The Man. Music teacher power!

Music teacher power involves stomping back and forth in Sam’s office and screaming about how impossible Brad is whilst Samantha decorates a tiny Christmas tree. It’s her way of coping with whether trying to find out if her employee still fancies the guy or not. The one thing they can agree on is not telling the students but I do believe Lizzie may be taking a bit far by claiming if they told the students it would just ruin Christmas. I mean…

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I, personally, let a Christmas tree do all of my fortune telling for me

Elsewhere, Brad is complaining about how he’s somehow the bad guy in all of this and attempting to buy a Christmas present for Abigail with the help of his mystic PA. Meg keeps telling him that she can see the Institute’s side of the argument too and maybe he might consider trying to convince Travis not to buy the building after all? Or at the very least convince him to let them stay on the ground floor. Screw the accountant on the third floor or dental hygiene on four! Brraaaaaad… ain’t so keen.


Brad: “Isn’t this one of those times where you’re supposed to tell me what to do?”

Me: “She has literally been telling you what to do this entire time…”


Now I know Lizzie said she didn’t want to tell the students and risk ruining their entire Christmas but Earl recognises a terrible poker face when one is looming over his shoulder during his piano lesson. In return Earl ends up giving Lizzie a lesson on how to negotiate with heartless businessmen and how to never give up the advantage. Feeling much more confident Lizzie arranges Abigail’s next lesson to be hosted at the Institute and to slowly make the girl fall in love with the place, throwing in a grand tour while she’s at it.

I believe that Lizzie went around beforehand and opened up all the doors of all the kids having their music lessons so she could show Brad how much of a bastard he would be to deprive them of music. I also presume Lizzie made Jordan’s room and his dreams of going to Julliard to study music the last stop on this magical tour to hang the carrot in front of Abigail. They also just randomly leave the girl in the room where he is having his lesson so they can talk outside about Lizzie’s shameless bribery.

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Tell me my favourite part of the this scene. Go on. I know you can do it.

From the vague expression on Abigail’s face as she passes her father by I can only presume she is going to hate the man if he tries to close down the building. She’s not going to hear it from Lizzie though, who sidesteps this teenager’s questions about what the hell they keep discussing in secret and tries to assure the woman he is usually attempting to do the right thing, even if it doesn’t look like it.

Prediction #7 – Abigail is going to have a huge sway in saving the Institute otherwise she’ll never speak to her father again

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Maybe if we shake our arms hard enough our wrists will simply snap in time for Christmas?

Abigail is contemplating joining the Christmas concert brigade which is going to be completely ruined if her dad goes ahead with this business deal. That’s probably why he turns back up at the Institute to walk Lizzie home – despite not knowing where she lives and if it’s nearby – and to try and announce a cease fire before his head gets knocked clean off his shoulders. They casually discuss Brad’s deceased wife, Amy, as they walk past a bunch of people in a side alley dressed as elves and handing out hot chocolate and food as if this is totally normal behaviour. I suggest not asking what the secret ingredients are that make that hot chocolate so chronically addictive…


Lizzie: “Seems like Abigail’s doing OK. You’ve done a great job with her.”

Brad: “I don’t know if I can take too much credit for that; Amy set a really good example. And if I’m being honest… you have a small part in that too.”

Lizzie: “Me?”

Brad: “Yeah, these last couple of days… she hasn’t gone near the piano in years..”

Me: “Bit difficult considering you’ve left it smack bang in front of the living room window.”


Brad, who apparently lives on the edge, takes a candy cane from these mysterious elves and that’s probably why it immediately starts snowing in the very specific vicinity of Lizzie. I presume it’s an immediate hallucination from a contact high with the sweets. At least Cynthia is there to immediately break the good mood by phoning and confirming the building has been sold.

The next morning neither Cynthia or Travis are impressed by Brad’s suggestion to keep the music school on the ground floor and help them out with the soon to be extortionate rent.


Brad: “I have some concerns about the building in Brooklyn.”

Travis: “Specifically?”

Brad: “One of the tenants is a music school. They do a lot of great work in the community and I think we should try and help them out.”

Travis: “Help them? I don’t understand…”

Me: “I’m a generic high-up businessman in a company and I can’t possibly understand the concerns of normal people. Maybe if I had been the main character in this film but… I’m not, so…. Bye.”


Realising that the building is important to Brad Cynthia jumps at the chance to try and make herself look great but only if that involves speaking about it over dinner. Again. Tonight. She got the craaaazy eyes on her…. Catching Brad at a bad time he agrees without realising the consequences of what he has just done.

Prediction #8 – When Cynthia finds out this is all mostly to do with another woman and not his daughter like he first claimed she is going to try and turf that music school out at all costs

I am unsure why there are a bunch of kids playing instruments on a tiny stage for Sam and Lizzie when all they are interested in are talking about Brad and the fact he hasn’t even spoken to her for two days and does that constitute as being ignored? Does she even matter to him? Is he even a good guy!? None of these doubts are helped along any when Brad merely drop kicks his daughter out of the car for her lesson and Lizzie hears about his dinner date with Cynthia.

Rightly so Abigail does not give a shit about discussing her dad and how crazy Cynthia is and just wants Lizzie to help her maybe practice for the Christmas concert and if she was to maybe perform at the Christmas concert which potential piece of music out of her mother’s favourite collection would Lizzie pick just in case she decides to play after all.  I hope they did actually cast a bunch of people who could play instruments for the movie and not just have everyone fake how talented they are.

Over at the sushi restaurant Cynthia loves staring directly into Brad’s face as he tells her about his Christmas plans which maybe involve a Christmas concert on Christmas Eve and then he just pretends he can cook for the rest of the season. Once more Cynthia is trying to integrate herself into the man’s life and it turns out she hates Deborah from accounting and the woman will probably just embarrass herself again at their office Christmas party.


Brad: “I don’t remember seeing you out there last year.”

Cynthia: “Maybe nobody asked last year?”

Me: “This ain’t the fucking prom, I’m pretty sure the company asks you when they host the thing.”


You can practically see those cogs, oiled up with the crazy, spinning in her brain when Brad casually announces they will definitely have to dance this year and join Deborah from accounting out on the floor. I bet Debs can throw some serious shapes.

Prediction #9 – Cynthia thinks this is a direct invitation but Brad will end up taking Lizzie instead because that is what an actual invitation looks like

The next day Lizzie is reminding Earl, up on stage, that he shouldn’t just stare at the piano and he should remember his audience from time to time. Love… unless his audience is back-stage the man doesn’t have a fucking chance. At least move the damn piano!

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That’s right, Earl. Don’t forget to turn the entire piano around, halfway through the show, so you can see your audience

It is at this point, when Earl is asking Lizzie how the hell she copes with being on stage, that I remember her own issues and how much of a fucking hypocrite she is for laughing at the fact this man might be nervous. Earl does point this hypocrisy out but the man is far too nice and quickly goes on about how lucky all of her students are, at least, to hear her play. God damn it, Earl. He has also still not called his son because he’s probably far too busy to attend a Christmas concert on Christmas Eve, of all days…

Prediction #10 – Travis is Earl’s son! This will change everything!

While Meg is showing Brad around the venue for their Christmas party, and the specific room they will be in when they suffer through Travis’ rigid speech on corporate profits and growth, she gets the chance to prod around Brad’s brain some more and check he really does like Lizzie. She even suggests inviting the woman to the Christmas party. Please, Brad! PLEASE!

I feel sorry for Travis who has Cynthia as a PA and the woman is trying to help him do his Christmas shopping. He can’t get his dad a tie this year because apparently that’s what he got him last year so Travis settles on cufflinks, instead. Cynthia wonders what the fuck a retired man would need with cufflinks and I rest my case early on my last prediction. We can all see where this is going now. Travis is very concerned that the deal still hasn’t gone through with the Brooklyn building and really hopes this isn’t to do with Brad and his music school…. Nothing should come in the way of Travis and paying the least amount of tax possible every year on his business.

With Abigail’s next piano lesson being taught back at her home it’s the perfect time to reveal she already knows that Lizzie has a fear of playing in public. The top theories flying around the school are either a past wardrobe malfunction or a piano catching on fire. The real story of Lizzie freezing up on stage is far less interesting but she still asks Abigail to keep it a secret. It’s really…. it’s really not that bad… but whatever. Seeing as Brad is late home and Abigail needs help baking cookies for school, Lizzie decides to stick around and help.

Brad walks in just in time to hear his failure at getting home on time has earned him clean-up duty and very little else. I hope he got paid some serious overtime at the office…


Brad: “That was fun tonight. Thanks for that.”

Lizzie: “It was.”

Me: “Fun!? He wasn’t even there!”


Brad has to break the news to Lizzie that the current owners of the building already agreed to sell and the new contracts are already being drawn up. She might not be able to perform on stage but she sure as hell believes she can take on a soulless businessman and get him to change his mind about turfing them all out onto the streets.


Lizzie: “We’ll invite him to the concert. Who can resist cute kids and Christmas music?”

Me: “The 10% of the population that I belong to?”


And there it is! Lizzie is invited to the office party in order to invite Travis to the concert when he’s too drunk to deny. We’ve all be there… agreed to something while we were drunk that we instantly regretted when someone reminded us where we were supposed to be next Saturday. In all fairness the dress that Cynthia is grinning at back in her office is beautiful but it doesn’t look like she’d be able to out-dance Debs in it…

Just before Brad leaves for the office party, once more abandoning his child who is apparently old enough to be left alone at night but not old enough to use the oven to bake cookies alone, Abigail assures him it’s totally OK if he starts dating again. I mean… if he picks the wrong woman she will make his life hell but as long as Abigail approves she shouldn’t have to go out in the night and cut anyone’s brake lines.

Sam, meanwhile, is also trying to convince her friend that dating is fine and she should stop worrying about the Christmas concert because it’s already sold out and everything is ready to go. Lizzie has some serious doubts that she can face the global superpower that is Travis and she may just freeze up and fall flat on her face all over again.

I am unable to listen to the brief conversation between Meg and Travis, where she basically tells the man she is coming for him and his job one day, because behind her there is a waiter who is putting tiny appetisers on a plate for people who just point at them like cavemen. I wouldn’t mind but they’re on the same side of the table. Serve your damn self! They’re only tiny fucking quiches, by the looks of it!

Either way, Cynthia rocks up just in time to see Lizzie’s grand entrance and she also has a really pretty dress but I am also unsure if she can out-dance Debs in it. Poor Cynthia, I actually feels sorry for the woman when Brad immediately carts Lizzie off to the dance floor so they can sway around to Silent Night. Always with the silent nights… Watching them from the bar I believe Cynthia now has enough ammunition to warn Travis about the upcoming ambush and scupper all chances of Lizzie’s talk going well.

Prediction #11 – Lizzie is going to tank this chat with Travis and the only thing that will save it is the invitation to the same concert from his Dad and a change of heart

Sure enough, when Travis comes up and informs Cynthia that the contracts have come back signed and the deal has gone through on the Brooklyn building she takes one fleeting look at Brad and decides not to try and fight his corner anymore. Ahhhhhh Cynthia.

Lizzie cannot stop herself from giggling inanely at this man either and he probably just agrees to go to the concert so she will stop trying to offer him piano lessons and laughing. We narrowly miss a conversation about Earl just before Travis reveals the deal has gone through and Lizzie regrets inviting him to the concert because now she has to give up a chair to the man. Lizzie exits stage right and Brad can’t believe business works this way!

Back at rehearsals the next day Lizzie is putting her own stage failure into perspective when she thinks about losing the entire music school and maybe that’s slightly more important and a bigger loss than the part of her soul that withered up from embarrassment years ago.


Lizzie: “What are we going to tell the kids?”

Sam: “Nothing.”

Me: “You… are going to tell them eventually, right? Before they try and walk into someone’s office cubicle and play the clarinet.”


Meg’s idea of tearing up the contracts is the best one I have heard yet but she is mostly there to inform Brad that Cynthia betrayed them because she’s jealous and doomed to be alone forever. You can imagine the shock that Brad met the news with that Cynthia was casually stalking him all these years. I say casual…. she couldn’t have been more obvious than if she had just assaulted the man.


Brad: “Cynthia does not have feelings for me. We’re co-workers, we’re friends! …… Oh no…. I honestly never saw it before….”

Me: “I thought all the bottles of wine she brought to my house and all the dinners we went on were just because she was an alcoholic!”


I’m not sure what either Meg or Brad believe will talking to Cynthia will change. It’s not like, on hearing how sorry Brad is, she has the power to time travel and stall the business proposition on the music school’s building. She says she begged Travis to reconsider but I imagine that just amounted to her bringing his morning coffee and scurrying back out of the office again. It’s also amazing how quickly people give up on their Christmas loves to tell them to go and find their true soul mate, which clearly isn’t them because they’re not the main character.

It’s also amazing that Lizzie is nice enough to keep teaching Abigail at her home. I’d have forced her to get really attached to the music school so she can see it be ripped down alongside me and ruin her relationship with her father. At least she’ll be playing at the concert, I suppose, as will Earl and Jordan who are sitting out on the stage discussing the downfall of the Institute. Jordan overheard the teachers talking about the building being sold and is now just casually spreading the news around and lamenting his future dreams of Julliard. At least it seems as though Earl may have an idea…

When Abigail finally confronts her father about what his deal with Lizzie is these days he confesses to helping his company to sell the building. Cue the screaming teenager!


Brad: “Abigail, sometimes in life things don’t work out the way we want them to. It’s just… business.”

Me: “Nooooo, I think that’s just life.”

Abigail: “Dad! That school is not just business to her, it’s personal!”

Brad: “Honey… I’m sorry.”

Abigail: “No, Dad, you’re right. Sometimes things don’t work out and there’s nothing you can do.”

Me: “Like being left with you.”

Abigail: “Sometimes things break and you can’t fix them!”

Me: “Like my heart!”

Abigail: “Sometimes we lose people and we can’t get them back!”

Me: “Like my mother!! …. Jesus kid how many more of these have you got?”

Abigail: “But you can get her back and you can fix this. So fix it!”

Me: “Thank god she’s gone.”


That was some pep talk! I’d also love to see just how the man is going to fix this when really Travis’ change of heart now depends on seeing his dad perform a song he once did, himself, as a child. I don’t think Brad can claim credit for that. At least he’s giving it a good go, though, ambushing Travis in the largest meeting room where he is sitting just to sign papers. That man just loves conducting business. Unfortunately, Travis is still not willing to budge on this music school business, no matter how sentimental Brad tries to get about community and tradition. Brad is nowhere near as good at pep-talks as his daughter and his little speech ends with his impending resignation on Monday morning. I am happy to confirm that Travis is mostly unphased by this news, either, and tells Brad to leave the letter on his desk. Ruthless!

Looking around his office I believe Brad may have just realised what he has done and wondering how he is going to pay the bills from now on. I’m not sure what resolution he came up with because Earl drops by, after getting Brad’s details from Sam, to see if he can help the man out. I presume, at this point, Earl is hatching a plan to surprise his son and just scare the Christmas spirit back into him. Also to lecture him about taking away his one god damn hobby that he’s started up in his retirement.

The Christmas concert is packed out and both Lizzie and Sam are ready to smash this shit. Travis already looks as though he would rather be back at the office working than here and can’t sit through Jordan’s clarinet performance without checking his watch. Now there is a man with an excellent poker face. To say that Lizzie hates the stage she sure is comfortable with going out there to introduce all of the acts.

Abigail is finally up and Brad has at least made it in time to watch her perform and shed a tear over Joy to the World. Travis is still poker-facing and wondering how many more talented students he needs to sit and watch before finally Earl rocks up to the stage and he looks adorable. If all old people were like Earl I might actually like them.

Earl happily reveals to everyone that Travis is his son, he loves him and he hopes he enjoys the song. Cue shock for most people and Earl smashes it on stage, making his son cry. Somehow Travis is still poker-facing through those tears… the man is a pro. Everyone applauds for Earl before Brad pops up on stage and brings Lizzie and Sam on the stage, as well as all of their students.

Brad reveals casually that a) he quit his job and b) Earl is still a chairman of the board of his company and he called an emergency meeting of director’s that evening. I’m very sure Travis did not realise that his father’s company would be matching the donations to the concert and putting them all towards an endowment for the music school. They’re also aiming to make it the best music school in the country so they figured they may as well gift the place with a proper grand piano which they had hidden below the mass of Christmas decorations at the back of the hall.

When Brad asks all of the people in the audience who have ever taken piano lessons with Lizzie to stand up I can’t help but feel that there should be many more musical prodigies in Brooklyn than we know of and that Travis must feel very outnumbered in that crowd. I was hoping for a riot but everyone is being very kind instead. So kind, in fact, that Lizzie overcomes her fear of an audience and goes to play the grand piano.

She really embellishes ‘Jingle Bells‘ but everyone thinks it was wonderful, Travis and Earl are happy and the school isn’t going to be replaced with gourmet stuffed olives. I don’t see why the gourmet market couldn’t have a single stand in the music school in order to provide energy to the students between lessons but hey… what do I know.

I certainly don’t know what’s happening to the dentist on fourth or the accountant on third, that I can say. I guess Lizzie wouldn’t be too bothered about turfing them out in order to grow the school’s capacity. We never even heard who on the second floor.

That film really wasn’t so bad and I am amazed that a Christmas film allowed a piano to be played without a single person trying to carol along to it. That is a show of willpower if ever I saw one. If you want to listen to an assortment of instruments playing Christmas songs and the entire picture turned backwards and horribly centred… then get yourself over here.

I will be heading down to check out my scores.

 

Prediction board – 6/11

  • Prediction #1 – Lizzie is gonna find a man who has enough belief in her to get her up on that stage! – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #2 – The new piano teacher Abigail has a lesson with tomorrow is Lizzie – Obvs. CORRECT!
  • Prediction #3 – Abigail probably won’t be that keen on piano lessons until she spots Jordan and then will have a very renewed interest in music – Unfortunately, Jordan and his apologetic, clarinet-playing face came too late. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #4 – The building is getting sold and the Christmas concert will face cancellation after all the hard work Lizzie just this second put into it – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #5 – Please tell me that his son is not Brad and that Brad is not standing 10 feet away at reception… – INCORRECT! We were totally looking at the wrong businessman here
  • Prediction #6 – There is a piano and clarinet duo coming up at this Christmas concert – INCORRECT! They clearly thought Abigail was too young to date in this film
  • Prediction #7 – Abigail is going to have a huge sway in saving the Institute otherwise she’ll never speak to her father again – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #8 – When Cynthia finds out Brad likes another woman she is going to try and turf that music school out at all costs – INCORRECT! She really didn’t try that hard
  • Prediction #9 – Cynthia thinks Brad is taking her to the Christmas party but will end up taking Lizzie instead – CORRECT! Poor Cynthia…
  • Prediction #10 – Travis is Earl’s son! This will change everything! – A little late but still CORRECT!
  • Prediction #11 – Lizzie is going to tank negotiations with Travis and only his Dad’s invitation will save the day – Actually… Travis took Lizzie’s invitation just to be a dick. INCORRECT!

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: That would have been an interesting thing to throw into the mix…
  • Piano: SO MUCH PIANO!
  • Carolling: AND NOT A SINGLE CAROLLER IN SIGHT!
  • Christmas Montage: Music took the place of montages in this film
  • Fire Hazards: People aren’t interesting in starting fires so much these days
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: Oh hella yeah!
  • Snowing on cue: I mean… yes it did but it was so incredibly poor that no, it didn’t

 

The end is in sight and I have surpassed my initial efforts last year. I’m feeling strong and off my face on Christmas food.

LET’S GO!

 

Christmas Advent #11 – Christmas in Homestead

The days are blurring into one. The only difference about today is that I have an ungodly amount of candles burning in the living room with me. I think 12 candles is probably enough… for now.

Hey, at least I’ll get to make predictions again today!!

 

This time we get an aerial shot of Hollywood and it’s actually really jarring to see festive palm trees lining streets. I know that’s how this shit works but after so many tiny little towns with direct ties to the origin of Christmas itself it’s taking me a minute.

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Is this really all Hollywood does for Christmas or is this just another festive lie?

Prediction #1 – we’re not staying here for Christmas, the title alone tells us that (Kim, please, shut the hell up about your ‘Love In Line for Santa book title already!)

A woman in a hideous hat and over-sized sunglasses – the uniform of a Hollywood star – is sitting in the back of a car and winds down when they pull up next to a bunch of paparazzi. Jessica has just pulled up to the set and will be doing yet another film with her ex-boyfriend Vince. Now that’s awkward. I could barely sit through another friend’s wedding with my ex-boyfriend across the table and when one of the bridesmaids tried to take my bottle of wine, my only lifeline, through to the kitchen to ‘keep it safe’ during the speeches I almost ripped her arm off. She assured me she would put a label on it so no one else took it and I assured her she didn’t know my fucking name so leave my wine alone. I almost ruined that wedding on numerous occasions and legit purely by accident and account of me not wanting to be there but that is definitely a story for another time.

Back to Jessica… this looks less like a film set and more a very nice looking house. If this is her house… why has her ex-boyfriend just shown up? Jessica gets to walk into yes, her own house, while the press at the gates keep shouting thank you, presumably for the shots of her ass as she waltzes away. 


Random woman: “Hey Jess! Whaddya think?”

Jessica: “Rosalie…. what is that?”

Rosalie: “It’s a Christmas tree.”

Jessica: “Yes, it’s beautiful. Why is it in my house?”

Me: “I’m gonna take a real shot in the dark here but based on the really festive looking palm trees out on the roads…. because it’s almost Christmas?”

Rosalie: “Because it’s almost Christmas and everyone needs a tree!”

Me: “BOO-FUCKING-OOM!”


I’m not sure whether Jessica actually does hate Christmas trees but they will be spending the next 10 days in Iowa shooting a Christmas movie and she really thinks she’ll have had enough of them by then. Now… I do not work in the film industry but I can’t help feel that anything that takes 10 days to shoot is not made with the best quality. Hmm… I wonder how long any of these Christmas films take to shoot?

Rosalie informs our miserable star that her co-worker is waiting for her in the other room and Barbara, the director, will be there in a few minutes. Apparently directors should never run late, only the stars, and if Jessica had known this I presume she would have driven around the block a few more times so she could be the fashionably late one.

At Homestead Lodge meanwhile, the most glorious, well-lit, electrical draped fire hazard (my god I’ve missed these things!) some bloke is talking on the phone to maybe his Dad about both his parents going on a river cruise for Christmas because for Christ’s sake their child is grown up now and can spend Christmas on his own! They want to cruise around European rivers!

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I’ve never seen something so beautiful in my entire life…

This guy’s sister, Zoe, overhears this and demands to speak to their father because she has sense and yes he should totally enjoy the damp weather and the havoc it will play on their old, arthritic joints. Thankfully she gives us both her brother’s name, Matt, and some back story on this call so we find out the parents left the business to them (and some other woman called Sophie, maybe) so they could go off and travel the world. Must be damn good money in the Christmas lodge business! Matt does not look impressed so heads off down the hall where his daughter, Sophie, is watching her tablet with only the fixed avidity a child can achieve when staring at a piece of technology and sending herself fucking deaf if she doesn’t turn down the volume on that thing! 

Sophie is more interested in adventure and slaying dragons and oh lord, who is on that screen but Jessica. Jessica will also be staying at the lodge. Cue another obsessive child story line – hopefully all of her hopes and dreams will be crushed when she meets her hero and finds out she can barely drive her own car around, let alone slay a dragon. When Matt breaks the news to her about her grandparents she is more concerned they’re gonna miss out on meeting Jessica. I have the feeling the only one bothered about them not being there on Christmas morning is Matt…. god, some children are just so fucking needy.

Back in Hollywood Vince and Jessica are having a delightfully strenuous talk about the fact Jessica has replaced Vince with Jill for her annual Christmas trip to Fiji and he’d better not mess up this acting gig because it’s her first time producing a movie. If she is producing it… why did she pick Vince when casting….? Vince appears to be an absolute arsehole who also delights in what amounts to sexual abuse and surprises Jessica with a kiss so he can put it on social media as PR for the film. Now… ya see…. she tells him to delete the picture but doesn’t stand there and make sure he does. So he doesn’t.

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Yep, we’ll be seeing this again at some point

Prediction #2 – that picture is going to bite her in the ass just when things are going good with Matt and despite the fact she will have never worn those clothes during her filming and the lighting is very different and she is clearly in her own home he will be very annoyed by it all

Zoe is trying to get to the bottom of Matt’s mood swing and this woman is just a Pez dispenser of the back story world. Matt hates change and that is probably due to the fact his deceased wife, Melanie, is dead and Christmas was her favourite time of year. Wait… wait…. this guy is the Mayor!? And they have a town hall meeting to get to!? How did this guy become MAYOR when he can’t deal with change!?

I’m already really not so sure about this one, guys…

Prediction #3 – Matt’s ability to be Mayor will be questioned at some point but the delightful folk of… Homestead?… will rally together and save him because they know he’s such a great guy really, if a little needy


Barbara: “I don’t care that she’s making fun of your turtle. Your turtle doesn’t care either! No! He doe…. I love you. Bye.”

Me: “I’d like to hear more about this turtle…”


Barbara is leaving her kids with her husband for 10 days and fully expects to come back to a Lord of the Flies situation and I gotta say, this doesn’t seem to overly concern her! I like her. She is also, rightly, more concerned with shooting outdoors for 10 days in an Iowa December, of which Jessica wants to kick off early and will be arriving the next morning ahead of everyone else.


Jessica: “Yeah, my character grew up in the area, I just wanna get a feel for the place.”

Vince: “I don’t need to get a feel for the place. I’m playing an innkeeper, it’s not rocket science. I know because I played a rocket scientist who saved the world. … I did.”

Me: “Yeah, so back to this turtle…”


Prediction #4 – Vince is gonna have to take pointers from Matt about being an innkeeper and he’s not gonna enjoy it

Prediction #5 – Matt is gonna replace Vince in the film as the innkeeper!

As if the man didn’t already have enough to do. The same goes for Barbara who definitely needs to have wrapped up shooting by the 23rd December and Rosalie who is gently trying to force Jessica to go and see her parents rather than Fiji with Jill. Probably because Rosalie was hoping for that spare ticket to Fiji but fucking Jill broke up with her boyfriend instead. Bloody Jill…

Jessica is more confused that the Mayor of Homestead would not want the publicity of them filming in his town and Matt just wants to be able to hold all of their regular Christmas events – which are clearly too well documented and enjoyed and lured in Hollywood film makers in the first place – without being disrupted. The rest of the town could not give a shit about the Christmas tree lighting, the snowman competition or the sleigh ride traditions when Hollywood is coming and everyone votes unanimously against the Mayor and hates him even more for calling them all there that evening.

They then immediately go outside and light the fucking tree! How are ya gonna say Hollywood will mess with your tree lighting tradition when they’re not even there yet to ruin it! This man! Also, what is the deal with carollers being dressed in Victorian era clothing all of the time? Sophie lights the tree, it’s all magnificent and they return home to decorate Christmas cookies in the middle of the night because that is also completely normal.

Sophie is very concerned that Jessica won’t like her because Hayley Shepherd doesn’t like her but the other Hayley is her friend. Ooh! There’s two of me in this film!

Prediction #6 – Jessica will fucking hate Sophie like she hates all children

It must be strange for the kid whose living room is technically the Inn’s foyer but is easy enough to manage as she blasts her hearing back into the Stone Age and completely ignores her dad asking if she wants to help run errands. If that man had mentioned pie in the same room as me I would have probably broken both ankles in the act of dismounting from that sofa.

With only 11 days until Christmas Jessica is rocking up into town, forcing Rosalie to drive her. I wonder if Rosalie slayed that friggin’ dragon for her, too? Also, what about Rosalie’s Christmas? Either way Jessica is shocked to find the town has fire hazarded itself up to an inch of its life without the crew even coming and setting up the props yet. Ya might wanna ring ahead and tell them they won’t be needed anymore…

Wonderfully timed, as always, Matt rocks up at the bakery to pick up his pumpkin pies just as Jessica decides she would really like to pick up some cupcakes for the crew.


Jessica: “Oh, hi, could I get like a hundred cupcakes?”

Matt: “Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t…

Jessica: “Chocolate, vanilla, red velvet… do they have red velvet in Iowa?

Matt: “Oh, you must be with the movie.”

Jessica: “Yes! Do you want an autograph?”

Me: “Only if it’s on a cheque to pay for all these cupcakes…”

Matt: “Erm, no thanks…”

Jessica: “Oh, come on, don’t be shy. There you go. Don’t go selling that on eBay.”

Matt: “Why would I sell this?”

Me: “Red Velvet cupcakes might have made it to Iowa but e-commerce is apparently yet to arrive.”


Completely ignoring this man and waltzing out of the shop, trailing a list of demands behind her and cementing everything Matt feared about these Hollywood folk in his brain, Jessica runs into a single photographer on the way out of the bakery who has somehow gotten the funds to follow her all the way up to Homestead. I’m sure Matt will just adore that. Surely all of the journalists would be forced to stay at the Inn too? We actually know this journalist, Ian, by name and he doesn’t seem so keen on his own job, either.

I’m enjoying Gavin the bodyguard and keep hoping he will jump in front of very innocent and harmless items because this is his first gig and he takes his job very seriously. I’m surprised he hasn’t thrown Jessica straight back out the door of the Inn after seeing the potential fire hazard they’ve just stepped into.

Sophie is so caught up in her show she hasn’t realised who is sitting next to her and asking her if she’s even enjoying the thing. Cue this child losing her actual shit and cue Matt coming back with his hands full of pie. Mmmmmmmmmmmm. Jessica appears to be more concerned that her cupcake order might have gone missing seeing as this guy doesn’t even work at the bakery but hey, at least he has a nice lodge! Even Gavin is getting an introduction now, which I’m happy about because he’s doing a great job. Good job back there, buddy!

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Gavin is just stealing this scene. Stealing it.

Jessica continues to ask to be put in touch with the Mayor because apparently he’s an absolute arsehole that doesn’t even want her there. Well, isn’t this just going swimmingly? Rosalie is PA-ing the shit out of Matt’s life too when she ropes him into a tour of the town at 10 am the next morning, whether he likes it or not. I presume he may be a little tired seeing as a small armada of trucks has pulled up outside the inn at the crack of dawn in order to begin shooting. Matt goes outside to look at these like he’s never seen a truck before in his life.

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“Dragons! There are dragons in the road! Everybody up! Jessica! Slay them before they take up all the parking!”

This early alarm call clearly did nothing to affect Sophie who ambushes Gavin on the stairs in the morning and starts preaching to him about how she thinks she will need his services to take her to school and to her piano lessons to make Hayley Shepherd jealous and he’d better just take a seat on the stairs there because hashing out this deal is gonna take a while.


Sophie: “Dad said I can go on the tour. As long as I don’t bug you.”

Jessica: “You could never bug me.”

Me: “Well… that just sounds like a challenge to me.”


In order to make the entire thing even more pointless, Vince shows up! Just in time for the tour! I’m very surprised Ian isn’t following them on this tour too and they have somehow managed to bypass him as he stands outside the Inn freezing his ass off and waiting to get shots of the stars. He really isn’t too great at this…

Prediction #7 – when it matters most Ian will have a conscience because he hates being a reporter anyway

Every time Vince tries to speak people conveniently talk over him because the words escaping his face could not be a bigger waste of oxygen but at least he doesn’t seem too concerned and keeps grinning inanely at all the local people passing him by. It is of no surprise that Matt is horrified to see the middle of town packed with lighting rigs and crew members and people wheeling around clothes stands through the slush. Ya wanna hope that doesn’t freeze over in the morning. On the other hand Sophie is fucking loving it.

Whilst doing routine housekeeping back at the Inn, Zoe spots Ian through a window, tying himself to a tree so he can see directly into Jessica’s room. Well… I thought he was tied… when Zoe goes out there and screams at him he falls promptly out of the damn thing.

Prediction #8 – Side story romance for Zoe and Ian!

Jessica actually shows some sort of genuine emotion when Sophie almost gets her head taken off by a passing ladder but again, Sophie is cool with this. She would probably consider it a death well earned. Vince, however, just wants to reminisce about his and Jessica’s Christmas in Fiji that was definitely about to devolve into a conversation not meant for minors. Apparently the holidays are bringing out all of the sentimental feels in the man.


Jessica: “I’m trying to convince him we’re not stuck up movie stars and your stories about us traipsing around the globe aren’t helping. We need to find some common ground.”

Vince: “OK. Why didn’t you tell me? I gotcha… Hey Matt!”

Me: “Oh jesus….”

Vince: “I’m playing an innkeeper in this movie! Just like you! Yeah! Yeah.”

Everyone: “………….”

Me: “This man needs a script just to get through life.”


Isn’t Vince just delightful? Back at the Inn, Zoe is bringing some ice out for Ian’s knee when really she could have just left him face down in the snowdrift. For free. When questioning the man’s morals and whether he is able to feel guilt it turns out Zoe actually has big plans and wants to own a chain of these Inns by the time she’s 30. Has she told Matt? Does he know? He’s too needy for chains.

Needy Matt is being needy about his town square currently overrun with crew members because that’s where they do the tree lighting… which I’m sure they did last night. Barbara turns up just in time to tell everyone Santa got struck from the town square because he wasn’t working for them which sounds more like festive abuse to Sophie, especially when the model of Santa gets carried past like the festive Hollywood victim he is.

That evening, over what could be doing their finances or just scribbling on post-it notes, Matt can’t help discussing how entitled these Hollywood folk are with his sister and oh, did you hear the rumour that Jessica and Vince are getting back together again? We could say it should be of no concern to Matt, however…. I don’t think anyone would wish Vince upon another human being so this completely irrational question is allowed to fly.


Zoe: “Being famous can’t be easy.”

Matt: “No, you’re right, you’re right… The mansions, the private jets, it’s going to get tiring. It’s going to get really tiring.”

Zoe: “What about the constant spotlight? People are climbing trees just to get pictures of her.”

Matt: “They climb trees?”

Zoe: “Mhm.”

Matt: “OK, so, are you upset about the trees?”

Me: “You’re damn fucking right I am!!”


Matt is having a real hard time finding any sympathy for Jessica other than the fact she has been lumbered with Vince, it would seem. This grown ass man is so petulant that he can’t even hear a bad word about his snowman building skills without becoming immediately offended. The competition is apparently that evening but seeing as these people are working by candlelight and it’s already dark outside maybe the reason the man keeps building snowblobs every year is because he can’t see a fucking thing out there.

Even worse news is the fact there is a camera down on set and in order to film with one camera and/or get the other one fixed they will have to delay the snowman building competition. Heaven forbid… Matt’s already standing on the edge that no one really cares about. At least Jessica has the presence of mind to not spring any more surprises on this town’s simple Mayor but she does have the misfortune of hearing her friend, Jill, will no longer be going to Fiji with her because she got back together with her boyfriend after all. Jessica has real issues with ending phone calls and always seems to put the phone down before even she’s finished speaking.

After hearing about Jessica’s valiant effort to finish filming promptly at 7pm, in order for the competition to start, and seeing her standing across the town square like the killer in a horror film, Matt abandons his family to go and check on the crying woman in her trailer. Thank God Ian is there, creeping around the place and scaling the trees to take photos of this. I have to wonder why her trailer has such giant friggin’ windows if she knows she is constantly hounded by press….

As predicted Matt is equally as awkward with crying women as he is with women in general and suggests karaoke will cheer Jessica up and make her feel better about being utterly alone with only Vince to turn to. Karaoke certainly worked for him after his wife died. You heard it here first, folks, Matt has the ultimate cure-all. It should be of no surprise that Matt chose to sing Celine Dion that night, either.


Matt: “Now you know about it. You’re the only one who knows about it.”

Jessica: “Well your secret’s safe with me.”

Me: “And Ian lurking around outside.”


Matt doesn’t bother to invite the woman to build a snowman because perhaps those famous words would be cause for copyright infringement but one kiss on the cheek is enough to throw caution to the wind and invite her out anyway. Something Ian obviously catches on camera. At least he did something right today.

Now it amazes me that these people who live somewhere with an abundance of snow are so incredibly bad at constructing a snowman. Jessica I can forgive, but these guys? Nah. With only 20 minutes to go Jessica thinks they can probably cover up this hideous abomination with some wardrobe tricks. I hope the crew aren’t gonna miss those items…

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Well, it’s basically the John Lewis advert, isn’t it?

Let me just say that nearly all of these snowmen are dreadful but there is nothing a blue wig can’t apparently fix and for the first time in forever (don’t sue me) the Mayor and his family win the snowman building competition and the most coveted snowman building trophy!!


Matt: “I think she’s gonna sleep with that thing tonight.”

Jessica: “Tonight? When I won my Golden Globe I slept with it for a week.”

Matt: “You won a Golden Globe?”

Jessica: “Wow… You really don’t know who I am, do you?”

Matt: “No, I do! I do, you were in that movie with the…. dragons and then that other movie with the…”

Both: “Dragons.”

Me: “Literally how Mom describes every actor and actress in the world.”


Luckily Vince pops out to interrupt this re-introduction between Jessica and Matt and asks Matt if he could teach him how to build a snowman, too. I can only presume this is for some more method acting of his… Maybe in return Vince could teach Matt how to watch all of Jessica’s films without shouting at her to watch out for that dragon she’s already swinging a sword at. I hope there are dragons in this new film…

With only 9 days until Christmas I have yet to see a single scene being filmed but Ian is still skulking around and is now even taking pictures of Zoe when he encounters her on the street. The man also puts on ‘shows’ which…. I think maybe saying he showcased his work in a gallery would have been better but… he takes pictures of all the random people who inspire him. I’m not sure what Zoe inspires him to do other than fall out of trees and steal ice packs off people.

Prediction #9 – Ian’s real dream is to just be an actual photographer and not the shady bastard he currently is

Oh, looks like I spoke too soon. We actually are being subjected to an awful scene filmed between Jessica and Vince which has all the chemistry of two dead, rotting fish that have been cut out of the stomach of a bear that was found dead out in the wilderness and the wildlife rangers carted back to a partner laboratory for them to do an autopsy on to check there are no diseases running rampant through the nationally protected forest but it turned out the bear just died of a case of complete boredom. …. Yeah, that kind of chemistry.

Forgetting completely that they are broken up, Vince is still reminiscing about past Christmas gifts he bought for Jessica and the one he bought her this year too! This man is dense. He’d even very much like to go for dinner with her that evening but Jessica is pre-booked on a sleigh ride with the Mayor and his family.

There appears to be some sort of queue for a sleigh ride, as if they run every 10 minutes and pick people up from outside the Inn, where Vince is skulking around on his balcony and wondering if Matt can show him how to sit down in a sleigh for more of his method acting. I am very sure Jessica mentioned Zoe in this sleigh ride but they have left the poor woman at home so she can take pity on Ian standing outside and freezing to death and invite him in for hot chocolate, instead. He is alarmingly bad at this journalist gig seeing as his star attraction was patiently waiting 20 feet away from him and just rode off in a sleigh he could definitely have followed on foot.

Meanwhile, Jessica is playing her tiny violin as she explains how she usually ruins her family’s Christmas by bringing drama and paparazzi with her, so just goes to Fiji instead. As children are want to do, Sophie hands her an open invitation to spend Christmas with them at the Inn.

With only 7 days to go before Christmas we are now filming a scene where Vince is teaching Jessica to skate and hogging the entire rink while the rest of the town stands around and waits for them to be done. When Anna is speaking to Matt about what they both respectively asked Santa for this year Vince feels he is missing out on the spotlight so starts doing skating tricks which would really only serve to remind people if these stars weren’t showboating so much they might actually be able to get on the rink themselves before midnight.

Jessica’s first foray into producing a film looks like it might bomb and she’ll just have to stay in Homestead, pretending she never bothered trying in the first place. Invited into the inner sanctum of Sophie’s room, Jessica gets to hear about how Sophie’s dead mom loved her films too and is assured her mom is probably always thinking about her from heaven while Matt stands outside crying. Ya men can be as emotional as ya damn well please but you can’t tell me singing Celine Dion in a karaoke bar helped you get over your dead wife but start crying when a random actress compares your deceased partner to Santa Claus. I have a feeling that karaoke tip really didn’t work out as well as he first made out.

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Any excuse to go and sing more Celine Dion

6 days to go and we’re all about filming scenes these days. But only at night. There where some extras in the street behind Jessica and Vince, stealing the limelight by greeting each other and hugging each other constantly, that really distracted me. Despite Barbara saying the shot was great, probably because she was also distracted by the people in the background and missed all of the terrible acting, she wants to go again, much to Jessica’s dismay. Tonight is the great snowball fight and they can’t make the townspeople delay it any longer! No matter that it looks to be in a completely different part of town sectioned off for this very reason…

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I believe this was the first draft of The Greatest Showman

I suspect this was less about delays and more about Jessica wanting to pelt snowballs at Vince and Barbara. Even Gavin has given up his usual bodyguard duties to hammer people with frozen water. When Zoe interrupts Ian’s photography by throwing a snowball at him he promptly falls over. Again. At least he addresses the fact he is the most unstable man in the entire world and Zoe thinks it might just be karma. She’s the one person talking sense in this place…

Unfortunately, his phone also flew out of his pocket so it could conveniently go off and Zoe could read a message claiming someone is willing to double the price for the picture of Jessica. The journalist with a heart comes clean immediately leading to the standard debate between the pair, weighing up a lot of money or Zoe’s brother being ripped apart by the tabloids. When Ian promises not to sell the picture this can really only lead to one thing…

Prediction #10 – that photo is getting out either way (probably thanks to Vince) and Zoe is going to immediately blame Ian for it

Unfortunately for Gavin he is once more left alone with Sophie and begins to look a little worried when she starts asking him exactly how tall he is. She is probably planning to include him in some nefarious plot to reach a high shelf for her…

Matt has just ran after Jessica to return her phone for her because not one of these Hollywood folks has suitable pockets for the devices, when he overhears only a portion of the conversation between her and Vince where he is adamant he is not acting in his scenes and really does still love her. As much as someone with a strong jaw and low IQ can love anything outside of their own reflection, I suppose. Matt has to walk away before he hears Jessica tell Vince this is all completely ridiculous because otherwise the film would be 30 minutes shorter than the mammoth length it already feels. Vince clearly blames this entire ordeal on Matt but I really wouldn’t be too concerned about what pain the man can dish out. He’d probably need to ask Matt what his weaknesses are as an innkeeper before he could make a move. Late tax returns, I guess.

Feeling sorry for himself, Matt can be found eating an entire fruit pie out of the dish to himself. Cue a heart-to-heart with Zoe who, as any self-respecting sister would, has stolen the pie off her brother to eat during this and listens to his nonsensical rambling before hitting him with a solid metaphor about stars and gravitational pulls. That is until Jessica rocks up looking for her phone and the man literally hurtles himself out of his chair to go and get it for her before taking her out onto the freezing porch for coffee.


Matt: “What about Vince?”

Jessica: “What about him?”

Matt: “He still loves you.”

Jessica: “Yeah, and I love him.”

Me: “Like someone loves having the flu.”

Jessica: “But I’m not in love with him anymore.”

Matt: “Are you sure because he’s pretty stiff competition.”

Me: “By which I mean it’s like talking to a plank of wood most of the time.”


Matt tries to avoid this kiss by reminding Jessica she will leave in a few days and even when she suggests staying for Christmas he can’t help reminding the woman that Christmas does eventually end. Like… all over the world, it eventually ends.

The next day even Ian is learning a harsh lesson: never share your pictures with your… whoever… if you don’t want them to get sold! Now the picture of Jessica and Matt is all over t’internet and all of his hopes and dreams of starting his new life as a decent human being go up in flames. As does Rosalie’s dreams of having a nice, normal, quiet film shoot when someone from The Times calls her to let her know the world just ended.

Unfortunately, no one can get to Matt in time before he heads out the door for better reception to take a call and is hit with a shit load of paparazzi on his doorstep. At least Sophie is trying to work the cameras before she is dragged unceremoniously back into the Inn.


Rosalie: “Look, Jess, I get it. You’re stressed about the movie and Vince and suddenly you have this warm fuzzy Christmas story come to life with the beautiful family and the sleigh rides and…

Jessica: “You’re worried about my career.”

Rosalie: “No, I’m worried about my friend.”

Me: “Who I happen to work and who didn’t invite me to Fiji.”

Rosalie: “Give it all up and go live in a mountain and raise goats! I don’t care as long as you’re happy!”

Me: “PERFECT! KIERAN! I KNOW WHAT I WANNA DO WITH LIFE!”


Rosalie does, at least, draw the line at returning to Hollywood and getting back together with Vince, otherwise she will be joining me up the mountain with my goats instead.

Zoe has suddenly taken a turn on this shit storm due to the amount of calls they have had from people wanting to stay at the Inn and this would be the perfect time to start their franchise. Which, unsurprisingly, Matt is really not a fan of because change is the devil. Zoe is trying to hit him with another metaphor when Gavin turns up to check on the family, especially Sophie, who promptly invites him to her tea-party.

Gavin teaches Sophie a valuable lesson in not posting all of your damn pictures online and people in pictures on the Internet are actually people, not just pixels. There is, however, still time for him to drink some tea and hand his number over to the family in case Sophie should ever need him for anything.

Prediction #11 – Sophie is gonna need him for something like being mobbed by paparazzi

Meanwhile, Jessica is hoping some other celebrity on this big wide world will do something monumentally dumb and take the spotlight off them for a while so everything can go back to normal. As… normal as any of these people’s lives are. As predicted, Zoe doesn’t believe a word Ian is spouting about nothing being his fault and tells him to get off her damn property.

Prediction #12 – Ian will make a grand gesture with all the photos he has of Zoe and other assorted people to make her forgive him

Barbara is hoping the crew will understand they will all need to work until sunrise that evening – because this film is apparently all set at fucking midnight – and work through Christmas Eve, too. Although the crew might be cool with this, Jessica very much doubts that the town will. She certainly does believe she has a large area of impact on her, I gotta say. That’s probably what gives her a new, mystery idea, in the first place.

3 days until Christmas and another town meeting is being called with the film stars and crew involved too. The townsfolk seem to friggin’ love the fact their own Mayor was caught kissing this movie star so I can’t imagine the idea of including their Christmas Eve: Festival of Lights in the movie, as the last scene, is really going to bother them too much. There are about only 20 people in this town by the looks of it but every single one of them wants to be an extra in this final scene.

It’s strange how at all of these town meetings the Mayor appears to have zero sway. Then again, they do have to spend all year with him. They know him far too well. Storming out of the meeting, Matt is more concerned that the festival will be too big and grand and he used to take his damn wife to that thing! Unfortunately the paparazzi storm the place just in time to break up a delightful apology on Jessica’s part and away he storms once more.

The man can’t even get a moment’s peace when decorating his tree as Vince turns up to enlighten us about how this movie is going to end; Jessica is going to go back to Hollywood and that will be that, yet it seems a shame all the same. I can’t tell if this was some sort of very subtle and veiled threat or he might be encouraging the Mayor to follow his heart. I am sure Vince doesn’t really know what he meant either.

I also hope that Matt is aware Barbara has flown her entire family out to spend Christmas there. You know how he doesn’t like change!! She also reminds Jessica she needs to decide whether work or personal life come first and she simply decided work could suck it, this time. Matt was probably chasing Zoe down to inform her they had 4 more unexpected guests but instead finds her getting food ready to feed the crew with because they’re like a weird, extended family. For some reason the paparazzi have cleared off for the day but will be back tomorrow…

Now… if this is Christmas Eve then… they’ll be back Christmas Day? And if this isn’t yet Christmas Eve… why would they come back even closer to the time of the big day? They don’t know that Jessica is planning on staying for Christmas, regardless, so why wouldn’t they have headed home to camp out and wait for her there? Ah, movie plots, what wondrous things you are.

When Matt mentions their only saving grace would be another celebrity doing something dumb Zoe gets an idea and wonders off, leaving Matt to deliver food to the masses instead. This new plan involves roping in not only Ian but Vince, who offers himself up. Now… if he is still in Homestead at the time I really don’t think that’s going to help the paparazzi move on and leave the entire town alone… When he said he understood what Zoe was getting at I hope they double checked with him. Just to make sure.

Matt appears to think what a tiring crew needs in order to cheer them up is a procession of carol singers coming towards them out of the night. Sure, they might be bringing food with them but they are also bringing tunes and I don’t know how I would feel about my pie being served with a helping of ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’.

At least Sophie is still overjoyed to see Jessica every time they meet because everyone’s big plan was to leak that original picture of Jessica and Vince kissing from the beginning of the movie. HOW!? HOW IS THAT GOING TO HELP ANY!? THE PAPARAZZI ARE GONNA STAY UNTIL THE END OF SHOOTING AND ARE GONNA BE TRYING TO GET PICTURES OF MATT TO CHECK HOW HEARTBROKEN HE IS! Christ on a bike, these people.

The next day and it looks as though, somehow, Jessica is not aware of this media storm brewing around her. I am more confused by the scene being filmed in the day where they were supposed to kiss but don’t and presumably will film the kiss at some other time… despite the fact Barbara says they now need to wait until night. Their favourite. So what… is that scene just going to dramatically change from the middle of the day to the middle of the night? Man, I would love to see this film once it was finished. They should release it as some sort of bizarre sequel.

With only 20 minutes of the actual film to go, a lot of people are going to have to have a lot of changes of hearts to wrap this up neatly. Vince finally gives Jessica her Christmas present which is a tabloid article on their most recent picture together and I can’t tell what he thought the reaction would be or whether he planned to leak that picture for Christmas all along. I mean… he does explain himself eloquently enough that his present to Jessica was to save Matt’s reputation but I still really feel they went about this all wrong.

Zoe is enjoying the Inn’s porch, now completely empty of mad photographers, so much so that she is willing to freeze her ass out there on a rocking chair to take in the scenery. It also makes it much easier for Ian to find her and give her the Christmas gift every woman wants. An actual, flattering photo that they didn’t have to take themselves. He has also brought her a photo release form that she needs to sign in order for him to use the photo in a Chicago show. Luckily he even included a pen in the bag so that she could sign it for him and maybe even perhaps visit the show so she can see herself being admired by other people. Zoe is getting the best deal out of this Christmas, I feel.

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“I forgot that’s what I looked like without a Snapchat filter!”

It takes a small child to remind Matt to stop being such an arsehole and get them to the damn festival already, so he can get there just in time to invite Jessica to stay for Christmas and admit that he is, in fact, an arsehole and is also delaying the crew and everybody else filming this scene who just want to get home to their own families in order to admit this.


Matt: “Look, I know it’s tricky with your career and Vince but… we’ll figure it out. We have to try.”

Me: “OK so… when you thought she was totally, wonderfully, free and available this was all too difficult but now that you think she might have got back together with Vince this is all totally doable and you’re just happy for her to cheat on him or throw him under the tour bus. GREAT! You are definitely a completely reliable man to have around for the rest of her life. That’s just great.”


Jessica and Vince play out their last scene where she was meant to be going back to Hollywood, I presume, but instead ad libs and changes the entire direction of the movie which Vince finds very hard to keep up with. When she asks to run the scene again so they can end it with a kiss instead, Vince exits stage right and allows Matt to step up instead. I really hope they try and edit that into the film. I really do.

When we see a world premiere sign for their new film outside a cinema I am actually hopeful for a second we will get to see it but unfortunately all we get is them walking down the tiny red carpet in Homestead and onto a sleigh. I am more amazed that the place has a cinema at all and that it is casually on a residential street and right next to someone’s house.

And thank god that is over! I really would have preferred to watch the shambles of the film within a film, like that time I wanted to watch the Christmas play in Finding Father Christmas rather than the actual film. But I mean come on… that play had discount Death in it. You can’t argue with a discount version of Death.

If you would like to guess what sort of film Jessica and Barbara managed to produce then head over here. I, however, will be checking what scores I managed to rack up today.

 

Prediction board – 7.5/12

  • Prediction #1 – we’re not staying here for Christmas, the title alone tells us that (Kim, please, shut the hell up about your ‘Love In Line for Santa book title already!) – This really was more a dig at Kim who I’m still not over than a prediction but still… CORRECT
  • Prediction #2 – The picture of Jessica and Vince is going to come back and bite her in the ass – CORRECT! Although… seeing as it was intentional…. HALF A POINT!
  • Prediction #3 – Matt’s ability to be Mayor will be questioned but the townsfolk will stick up for him – INCORRECT! They didn’t even bother consulting him on most things anyway
  • Prediction #4 – Vince is gonna have to take pointers from Matt about being an innkeeper – Never actually happened… I guess it wasn’t rocket science after all. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #5 – Matt is gonna replace Vince in the film as the innkeeper! – It happened for two seconds people! That means it happened! CORRECT!
  • Prediction #6 – Jessica will fucking hate Sophie like she hates all children – INCORRECT! The woman seriously let me down
  • Prediction #7 – When it matters most Ian will have a conscience because he hates being a reporter anyway – CORRECT! He never did release that picture but he was dumb enough to send it in the first place…
  • Prediction #8 – Side story romance for Zoe and Ian! – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #9 – Ian’s real dream is to just be an actual photographer – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #10 – The photo of Jessica and Matt is getting out either way and Zoe is going to immediately blame Ian for it – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #11 – Sophie will call Gavin for help – INCORRECT! Not even to take her to a single piano lesson
  • Prediction #12 – Ian will make a grand gesture with the photos he has to make Zoe forgive him – CORRECT!

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: CHECK! They rode the thing all the damn time!
  • Piano: Pianos have once more been demoted for phones and tablets instead
  • Carolling: CHECK
  • Christmas Montage: I presume there is one in Jessica’s movie, but we missed out
  • Fire Hazards: The entire Inn! Finally!
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: CHECK
  • Snowing on cue: I wouldn’t like to say whether that was real snow or move magic so…. nooooo

 

Slowly crawling my way up my own lonely leaderboard! I realise most of my guesses were about Ian and Zoe but they were far more interesting than the actual main characters this time around.

Maybe we’ll try and avoid the Christmas movie inception feel from now on… It doesn’t work out great.

Christmas Advent #10 – The Spirit of Christmas

So… disclaimer.

I actually caught the second half of this film last year when I tried to do this self-imposed challenge the first time around but it was taking up all my time that I was meant to be spending enjoying my first Christmas in my first own home. However…. what I do remember is the main man in this film was literally the most beautiful person I had ever seen on my TV screen. I mean…. I mean…. So, yeah. When I saw this film rack up again on good ol’ Christmas 24 I was helpless to hit record. I ain’t even gonna delete this one after I’ve watched it.

I can’t possibly comment on the production value of the film because I actually don’t remember it, so prepare for a lot of me being biased here. I also won’t be making any predictions because I already saw how this film ends. At least I’m honest…. Let’s stop stalling! Let’s go see the man!

 

No big city aerial shots and festive people walking festively around, this time! This time we just got this beautiful man walking around in the woods and snow at night and checking his little pocket watch to see how much more beautiful he has become over the last 10 seconds.

Luckily a house is just in view where an olde worlde party is raring and some woman who might be called Millie or Willie storms out. I hope it’s Willie. She is chased down by another man onto the porch, just in time for our beautiful main guy to have his heart crushed as his presumably girlfriend/fiance/wife happily hugs this other mystery guy.

I really would have just kept walking if I was him and confronted them where it was at least warm and had good lighting. Not only because some unknown figure comes up behind him, smashes him around the back of the head and kills him out there in the woods. Classic woods.

Now we get to see the modern city streets, buried under snow and looking especially festive. That guy’s murder was the pre-opening credits scene. An appetiser, if you will. Not unlike the appetiser Kate probably ate at her fancy dinner date right before the guy she was seeing tells her she’s incapable of love (in so many words). Probably because she’s an attorney. I don’t imagine they have that whole ‘love’ thing down just right.


Kate: “Are you breaking up with me?”

Guy: “Yes…”

Kate: “Oh, thank God! I thought you were proposing.”

Me: “I love her.”


I love her even more when she straight up tells this guy he is right, he is not her priority when she is some sort of super attorney. Kate takes this time to run through all of her ex-boyfriends who have also claimed she is incapable of love simply because the woman refuses to pretend she cares about people when she doesn’t. She then commences to steal this guys food that he wasn’t going to finish anyway.

This incapacity to love is also probably the reason why, the next day, Kate’s boss makes her his first port of call to deal with the recently deceased Henrietta Forsyth’s will. He couldn’t possibly. He’s off to the Bahamas for Christmas. Turned out Henrietta’s main asset is a giant ass house called Hollygrove Inn and, with no heirs, the trust wants this place sold before they get hit with taxes. Before the end of the year. Which is in three weeks.

I swear to God all of the business people too impatient to wait a couple of weeks are herded into one giant pen and just randomly picked out as vague plot points for assorted Christmas films because nowhere else do you find this shit! Our office closes over Christmas. This is why I liked Mark so much! It’s a good job this film has the most beautiful man this side of Christmas in it, I tell ya.

To sweeten this absolute shit sandwich he has just delivered, Kate’s boss hints that he would be happy to put her name forward for a promotion if she manages to pull off the sale of the century but only because the Inn is apparently haunted and all the people they have sent out to appraise it have ran away and refuse to go back. This leaves it up to Kate to meet a Mr Murray on the 12th December and hold his hand while he evaluates the place.

Kate does meet Mr Murray… it just so happens to be as he is running away from the house and speeding off down the driveway. If I was Kate, walking into this house, I would be less worried about the ghosts and more worried about who keeps decorating the place for the festive season.

This is where I get a little confused as some guy pops up claiming he is closing up the Inn for the holiday season. So Henrietta owned the place but… wasn’t around and let this guy run it as an Inn and didn’t inform him when she died the place would just be turned over to a trust and then sold…. I have zero idea how this works but Walter informs Kate they actually close up over Christmas as part of a tradition. A tradition we are not going to question right now because we are reminded that Mr Murray just promptly left the premises.

Daniel the ghost has never harmed anybody but sometimes he does get assertive. I would be so very happy to see Daniel Jacob Forsyth assert himself. Kate is also happy to get assertive and reminds Walter she has a set of keys so despite the fact the Inn has closed until Boxing Day, the staff have gone home and Walter is also leaving within the hour… she will be staying and getting this damn house appraised.


Walter: “Inadvisable.”

Kate: “Because of the ghost? I don’t scare easily.”

Walter: “I’m leaving soon. You will be alone.”

Me: “Yes, thank you for explaining how being alone works again, Walter.”


To be fair, after seeing the picture of Daniel on the fireplace and hearing he was the ghost I think anyone would have been willing to stick it out for the night. Although finding someone else capable of appraising the house and completing the task within 24 hours is very optimistic on Kate’s part.

TSOC_1
“Well why didn’t you say he was a ghost!? I love haunted houses! Suddenly.”

Walter bangs on about tradition some more, making it all sound very ominous but without explaining anything whilst Kate looks at him like he is an absolute fucking idiot and she can’t believe someone left him in charge of this place. Good signal at the inn though, Kate is able to phone her boss and let him know Mr Murray is a pussy all before he flies out to the Bahamas that evening. They even have a house alarm she can set!

As soon as the clock strikes midnight Daniel casually strolls into the inn and turns off the burglar alarm which made me laugh. He either hates modern technology or is just corporeal enough to set off the alarms when he passes between zones 1 and 2. He certainly seems corporeal enough when he walks up behind Kate to inform her she is trespassing, only for her to back into a bookcase and have some sort of vase hit her in the back of the head and knock her out. I can’t help feel you probably shouldn’t attorney with a concussion.

I am enjoying that, even now, we have not seen the ghosts face properly despite the fact we saw him at the start of the film and know he is one and the same person. I don’t know if this was meant to create suspense or was included so it would be a big surprise to the not so quick masses when Kate comes upon Daniel playing the piano in the morning and he tells her she really should get the hell out of his house.

Daniel is also corporeal enough to pick Kate up and bodily throw her out of the house because that was actual concussion protocol until very recently. At least he is nice enough to throw a blanket out after her so she won’t die too quickly of exposure out on the porch. I am unsure how Kate managed to call the local police, presumably her phone is stapled to her hand, or why she thinks this man is a trespasser and called the police to deal with him when she heard the ghosts name was Daniel, saw the man in the picture and found out he was Daniel and then saw Daniel.

Does she think the police casually do exorcisms on the side of their regular duties? This woman wants a promotion but can’t put simple pieces of information together? Kate, woman, you’re letting me down!


Kate: “He was here, I swear.”

Sheriff: “Well he was probably some drifter; came in out of the cold and hightailed it out the back when he saw me. I mean, I’ll check around the area, though.”

Kate: “Well he was dressed awfully nice for a drifter. He wore a tie.”

Sheriff: “Well… some do.”

Me: “What kind of high class drifters do you get around here? Oh, do they look exactly like this one? In this picture? Whose name is Daniel and has been dead for Christ knows how many years already!?


It only gets worse when the Sheriff suggests Kate uses the alarm system and she can’t even convincingly say she remembers setting it. Lord, I had such high hopes, too. Freshening up in the bathroom the poor woman almost suffers a heart attack when she finds Daniel standing in the room who has no wish to harm her, he just really wants her to fucking leave so he can be alone. Ironically and literally impossibly, that’s my kind of man.

TSOC_2
“I’ll just continue brooding over here. Don’t mind me.”

Unfortunately Kate simply locks herself back into the bathroom with her phone and calls the Sheriff again. He presumes Kate is suffering from concussion, which she might actually be, and jokes it might just be a ghost. I honest to God cannot believe this woman hasn’t figured this out when she looked at a picture of the man twice and heard he was a ghost. There is not being easy to scare and then not being easy to scare because you’re a fucking idiot.

Thankfully Walter comes back just as she is having a revelation, looking at a newspaper clipping on Daniel’s murder, framed and hung up in the hallway alongside a picture of him, WHICH IS EXACTLY THE SAME PICTURE SHE LOOKED AT TWICE ON THE MANTELPIECE IN THE OTHER ROOM ALREADY! Walter, buddy, I’m so glad to see you. I don’t think I can spend another hour and a half with this woman.


Kate: “You knew this would happen when I said I was staying here, didn’t you!?”

Me: “HE TOLD YOU THERE WAS A GHOST!”


Kate tries to prove that Daniel isn’t a ghost by grabbing his arm and waving it around while he’s just trying to eat an apple. Like me and many others he doesn’t seem too impressed by being touched by strange humans.

Daniel has been cursed and technically comes back to life between the hours of midnight 13th December and midnight Christmas Eve. Kate may be shocked and outraged to be told about such things as ghosts and curses but I am more outraged that she thinks there is only a passing resemblance between this guy in front of her and the guy in the photo. I guess that vase hit her a little harder than I first presumed.

In an effort to prove this entire thing to the woman Daniel drags her out to the limits of the garden. I am glad he looks like he’s enjoying fucking with this woman’s mind when he falls backwards and disappears into thin air, only to be waiting for Kate on the stairs with his apple.


Kate: “Grilled cheese? I think if I came back from the dead my first meal would not be a grilled cheese.”

Daniel: “I can hear you.”

Me: “I imagine everyone in the afterlife can hear her, mate, I’d get used to it.”


The man is not big on the chit-chat when he’s trying to eat an entire turkey and I can’t blame him; when she’s not breaking up with people, downing wine and stealing their desserts Kate is actually real fucking annoying. Rather than torment Daniel in his two solid weeks on earth Walter invites Kate for a walk to explain some more about the ghosts past. That is… no one knows why the fuck he keeps coming back but Kate is just annoying and determined enough to try and find out.

Daniel, however, is not willing to waste his time on earth trying to figure this shit out. Especially not with this woman. When he first returned his cousin, Harry, was in charge of the inn but when he says they tried to figure it out I think he’s missing the key fact that the internet didn’t exist back then. I’m also going to presume cousin Harry didn’t put too much effort in to his research.

Daniel wants to move on. Kate wants to sell an inn. LET’S GO PEOPLE!

Walter, bless him, is more concerned that if the inn gets sold and people find out about Daniel (despite the fact it seems everyone knows about the haunted inn anyway) he may become a curiosity and, worse, may never be alone again. This is enough for Daniel to start answering questions but the guy remembers legit nothing about how he died. He does remember returning home from Montreal at the time, though. Hearing how this guy was ‘rum-runner’ during prohibition makes him even more attractive.

To say Walter claimed he had very little to do with Daniel after their first encounter and doesn’t know much about what happened he does mention a brother, Charles, who would happily have sold the place after their parent’s deaths. Luckily, cousin Harry kept the place going while Daniel was out bootlegging in order to get money for Millie, who he met and fell in love with at a party. During this flashback cousin Harry is wearing a decidedly modern jumper compared to everyone else and it’s kinda off-putting.

Wait…. no…. Lilly. Fuck’s. Sake.

TSOC_4
Harry founded Go Outdoors during the prohibition

After this very detailed flashback and the fact Daniel outlined this entire story was about a girl Kate has the absolute bollocks to ask if Lilly was his sweetheart. It is honest to god no fucking wonder the man just wants to be left alone for the two weeks of the year he can actually hold a knife and fork to eat with.

As far as Daniel is concerned Lilly betrayed him with his own brother. I don’t remember who murdered the guy but my bets are still with the brother. Now that we’ve opened the floodgates we now have to experience flashback after flashback, including the fact the inn is a big reason Lilly even looked at him twice. Charming.

Seeing as Daniel doesn’t need to sleep Kate’s only concern is that she stays the hell out of her room like a moody teenager. She is also forced to admit the fact she is terribly alone and will probably die that way before encountering a decidedly darker spirit on the way back to her room who likes to whisper from dark rooms and play with the doors ominously.

During even more flashbacks the next morning I have to wonder if they picked much less attractive people to play Daniel’s surrounding family so it makes him look better. There is also something of a family feud in the way Harry was not meant to be telling Charles anything and Charles is disgusted by the fact his brother will be breaking the law and Daniel is disgusted by the fact he follows his girlfriend around like a lost puppy. Tumultuous, I’m telling ya.

Kate, meanwhile, is happy to walk in on Daniel without a shirt on and trying to iron his clothes with a literal turn of the century iron. The man thinks it’s only fair his room should be off limits too which basically just requires Kate to stay out of the attic for the next two weeks. They were not, however, prepared to find Walter and Molly, the Sheriff’s sister, downstairs in the lobby. Molly’s pipes have burst (her physical pipes at her pub, not her mental ones which is the way every other fucker around here is going) and she really needs a place to continue doing business. Logically she thought the inn might be a great place to start looking.


Molly: “If there is any chance you would think about opening the tavern for the holidays I…

Daniel: “No!”

Kate: “What he means… is…. he needs more time to work out the specifics.”

Daniel: “Specifically no.”

Molly: “Hi! I’m Molly, what’s your name?”

Everyone: “……….”

Kate: “DJ.”

Daniel: “It is absolutely not DJ. A ridiculous name if I ever heard such a thing.”

Me: “He’s right. The name Daniel is still real fuckin’ common these days. Also, if Molly is as dumb as you, she will never piece together the news clippings about Daniel’s death and the very clear picture of him and the guy called Daniel who looks exactly like him and walking around the inn in period-style clothes.”


I am at a loss here, people.

Back to our regular scheduling, Daniel wants all of these people out his fucking house. In fact he thinks this might be the worst Christmas since he died.

Not even the lack of staff at the inn is enough persuade Molly and she is willing to bring her own people to work the tavern. Neither is the fact Daniel is slagging off her bartender and claiming he is far better at mixing drinks and will prove it that very night! I am more interested in his drink’s cabinet which I am impressed by but he believes is in deplorable condition. Maybe Daniel and Kate can come and stock our drink’s cabinet… I could live with a festive ghost in return for a steady supply of cocktails. I would also like to know if Kate will be charging this hefty shopping trip to the company’s account…

I do worry that Daniel’s limited cocktail repertoire will let him down and Kate’s boss is more worried that she is at some sort of party instead of selling this inn.


Sheriff: “I said what are your intentions about my sister? She likes you. … I mean, don’t worry, if you don’t like her then that’s fine but just don’t lead her on, OK?”

Me: “That is basically brother poetry.”


Thankfully Walter does like Molly so I hope he comes along soon and stops a) Daniel from letting on he has been here for decades and b) Molly from talking about the scandalous marriage of Charles and Lilly just a month after Daniel died and the baby that came way too quickly and was also probably Daniel’s.

Unfortunately the baby died after a few hours and Lilly died a few days later, the recollection of which causes Daniel to storm away into a quiet room where his inn isn’t being turned into the local watering hole.


Kate: “Why did you storm off like that?”

Me: “…. Really? …. REALLY!?”


To make it even worse Daniel didn’t even know about the baby and how Lilly died. When he returned he forbid his cousin from telling him anything past the fact Lilly had married his brother… if only he’d have stuck in there just a liiiiittle longer! Although the guy had just found out he was dead that year, so… I guess he is sort of forgiven.

In yet another flashback we find out Charles went ahead and told Lilly about Daniel’s planned bootlegging, promised he would be around for Christmas and then went ahead and did it anyway. Kate takes some serious jumps and is happy that at least she didn’t lie to her pregnant fiance, leave her alone, die and then let her die in a loveless marriage shortly afterwards. That would have been a burn if it wasn’t so completely blown out of proportion.

Walter attempts a pep talk but what it really amounts to is telling her she should argue with the ghost some more because he hasn’t had the pleasure for so many years. Wow. What a Christmas. Kate also reveals that she constantly self-sabotages relationships despite the fact Daniel has shown her no interest and continuously tells her to get the hell out of his house. She just goes from one crazy stepping stone to the next, our little attorney, here.

When Daniel returns home later that evening and hallucinates his deceased fiance I can’t imagine the first thing he wants to see in the morning is Kate rocking up with a fuck-off Christmas tree strapped to the roof of her car. Also she is meant to be selling and emptying the building, not bringing the outdoors in. Christ, and don’t even get me started on this whole planting a Christmas tree outside which Kieran is slowly getting behind too. In another seven years I might have my own nursery.

Wondering around the house Kate cannot find the ghost anywhere, presumably to get him to haul this tree off her car, but is instead lured into a room by the much less friendly entity of…. whatever the fuck was standing next to the toilet. She probably just wondered in while the poor ghost was trying to pee and they got understandably pissed off. Luckily Daniel runs in and everything is aaaaaaaaaalright.

Not wanting to stay indoors Kate forces Daniel outside to freeze his ghost butt off and help him figure out who the other ghost in the house is. The one that just wants privacy when they’re in the bathroom. We both apologise to each other just in time to decorate a Christmas tree together and remind each other that one of us hasn’t had a proper Christmas in 95 years and the other is forever alone.

This leads to Kate’s breakthrough that she may actually not even know how to love. She attributes this to her parents divorcing when she was young. Boy, if I listed all the shit I went through when I was young I could attribute so many flaws and crimes I have not committed to that shit. I am missing some sort of trick here, it seems.

Kate makes the incredibly bold promise that even if they can’t send Daniel back to whence he came she will make sure he always has a tree for Christmas. Unless she is planning on buying the inn herself I feel this may be far easier in theory than practice. I suppose, if the new tenants never changed the alarm code, she could just sneak in every year and just set one up overnight.

Daniel, in a bid to keep Kate safe, will be spending the night in her room with her, sitting in a chair and facing the other direction the entire time. She is far less welcoming of this than any person has a right to be but does admit she would buy the inn if she made even half that amount of money. In the night Daniel is roused by some noises downstairs but decides not to go and check out the ghost of his deceased fiance in favour of making sure Kate is properly tucked in. Lilly is gonna be piiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiissed.

Walter is alarmed to hear there are two ghosts at the inn and that the suspect list for Daniel’s murder now consists of his brother Charles, Lilly and a gangster called Conrad who he and Harry worked with when he was scurrying around during prohibition bringing great joy to the masses. Like a really rum-y Santa Claus. He quit Conrad’s money making scheme when he realised he was in way over his head and he probably didn’t even like rum that much in the first place.

Daniel conveniently remembers that he left Harry back in Montreal and saw Lilly out on the porch before he was cracked around the back of the head – something he had never remembered before. The time Daniel was gone to Canada is also the exact same time that he rocks back up on earth, able to make pancakes, apparently. Unfortunately some Senator has died back in the city and cut Kate’s boss’ holiday short meaning he also has to cut her ‘holiday’ short, too.

Daniel hands over his pocket watch to remind Kate to come back after dealing with the estate of the dead senator so lovingly and effectively. The thing hasn’t opened since his death and he’s not even sure it can cross the property line without simply disappearing but hey, take it anyway. It’s like the gift that just keeps on failing. (Can confirm pocket watch makes it back to Boston.)


Boss: “So all that time and you didn’t accomplish the one thing that I asked…”

Kate: “Well, I’ve been working with the ghost. Daniel is his name! We’re trying to figure out why he hasn’t crossed over to the other side in hopes that once he actually did I could bring in the appraisers and we could see the darn thing.”

Boss: “Just say you were skiing. There is nice skiing there.”

Kate: “I wasn’t skiing.”

Boss: “That’s a shame. Live a little! But not until after you get the inn appraised.”

Me: “I am getting real mixed messages from this guy. I’m not even sure what her job is anymore…”


Back at the inn, during a riveting game of chess, Walter and Daniel discuss the finer points of dating and what strange creatures women really are. Daniel even goes so far as making another appointment with a terrified looking Mr Murray to appraise the inn. Apparently he did this for Walter but I can’t imagine Walter is too struck on losing his livelihood either… Kate is alarmed to hear Mr Murray even went back but that leaves her with one week to sell the place. Due to the fact she needs to be around for the Christmas Eve party so her boss can announce her promotion she strictly cannot return to that inn. Apparently not even on the weekends. What kind of life is this woman leading?

One morning Daniel is woken up from his sleep on an outdoor concrete bench, that he is draped over like Jack Skellington after his sleigh gets shot down, by Kate playing the piano. The man had the inn appraised simply because it was what she wanted in the first place so Kate feels it is only prudent to share the birth certificate she found for his son who was named after him. As in…. first and middle names. Seeing as she listed Daniel as the father on the certificate at least Lilly was aware that the marriage was merely a cover and Charles probably just experienced something resembling happiness until everything was ripped away from him. Delightful.

Walter and Molly rock up with decorations just in time to interrupt the moment and start setting up the ballroom to host the Christmas Eve dance. It’s a shame we don’t get a terrible decorating montage and instead just switch to the poor angel on top of the tree swaying a bit as so many people stampede around on the floor. At least Kate is kind enough to return Daniel’s watch to him and put it in a tiny gift box like she’s not basically just returning a present. It’s the equivalent of giving your Mom her own tableware set for Christmas. But at least the watch opens now.

TSOC_5
“Oh, no, you shouldn’t ha…. oh, you didn’t.”

Seeing as it is Christmas Eve and the man is apt to disappear soon Kate thinks it best to kiss the man now. Unfortunately things aren’t going as well for Walter as Molly is off dancing with some random bloke and having a great time doing it. Unsure of how legal matters work Daniel stipulates that whoever buys the inn has to hold this dance every year. No matter what they turn the building into. That would be interesting to see.

With Walter stealing Molly back from the random guy and Kate being stolen by the Sheriff, Daniel has nothing to do but watch a replay of what happened that fateful night from inside the house. Following Lilly and Charles out to the porch he listens to Charles shit all over him instead of going out to the woods and finding out who killed him. Talking to himself now Daniel comes to the realisation it was his cousin that killed him all along. So much for staying in Montreal, bud.

Daniel chases Harry off into the house, with Kate in tow, where Harry admits he was threatened into killing his cousin and is hanging around the house because he has nowhere else to go. For some reason Lilly is hanging out of a doorway trying to send him a message with facial expressions alone and by god it seems to work! Apparently a little forgiveness is all that was needed, on everyone’s part, because there was just a never ending and viscous cycle of ghosts keeping each other on earth, too afraid to move on.

It’s at this point Kate pulls her sorry, not sorry about Daniel failing to move on after finding out who killed him and she’d rather have a fantastic boyfriend for 12 days of the year than simply wither up and die alone. We are forgetting the imminent sale of the inn, it would appear, but Kate is adamant she will be waiting right there for him next year and all of the following years, too.

Apparently this guy kisses so good women just pass out at his feet. I can live with that.

Although the guy has just left Kate the spiritual gift of being capable of love, and feeling love in return and having Lilly come to pick him up and ship him off to the afterlife he still thinks he might stick around, anyway. I can’t help but feel their relationship wasn’t that grand because she’s pretty cool with letting him stay with this other woman and just disappears at the property line quite casually.

TSOC_6
“Shit, Lilly, I can’t cross over. I left the oven on.”

Waking up the next morning and wondering how much she fucking drank last night she takes a call from her boss who is more just impressed she prioritised anything over her work and ain’t even mad she ran off. The good news is that Walter and Molly have joined forces to the buy the inn so at least Kate won’t seem utterly insane when she turns up every year with a Christmas tree.

And neither will it seem strange when Daniel keeps hanging around and walking through the woods to surprise people that he’s still alive. Walking through that snow seems strenuous as fuck and if I was told a part of my acting was to run on snow I would have turned that job straight down.

…. They might also need to take down all those news clippings about how Daniel died 100 years ago or so, too.

Apparently this was meant to be a romantic thriller. Is there… such a thing? I might try writing one. You can catch Daniel’s beautiful face here.

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: There was basically nothing outside the house
  • Piano: BUT THERE WAS ONE OF THESE!
  • Carolling: I don’t think carolling would have gone down well…
  • Christmas Montage: Nope but we did get many a flashback
  • Fire Hazards: You’d have thought they would be more lax about fires back then..
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: HELLA CHECK!!
  • Snowing on cue: It was of no help to us this film

 

Hey… at least I got a perfect score on predictions, non?

I have already come to terms with the fact none of the other leading men will be as attractive as Daniel. Don’t worry about it. I’m at peace with it. Kinda.

Christmas Advent #9 – 12 Gifts of Christmas

Aaaaalllll byyyyy myyyyyyseeeeeeelf. Prefer to be…. aaaaallll byyyyy MYYYYYYYself oooonce moooooore. 

No really. The house is silent and I can enjoy the brainwashing affects of Christmas films once more; something I discussed yesterday with Mother after she said they were really quite depressing when she was living on her own and the film was trying to convince her she needed a man in her life to make things complete. I informed her that was a crock of shit but she still demands I plant a fir tree in the back garden and hope for the best… Her excuse was ‘but you love trying to save the environment, I thought you’d enjoy saving a tree too.’ Almost caught me out with that too, the friggin cellar goblin.

Anyway, on with the film!

 

Cue the aerial shot of the city and festive city streets, which really should have been part of our checklist this year, and a shot of a shop window display that looks like the statue of liberty brandishing a turkey leg.

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In 2040 the Statue of Liberty will be an interactive attraction which lobs giant turkey legs at passing boats

We see two children running through a shop while two poor women run after them begging them to slow down, their joints can’t take this shit anymore. These kids would rather go see Santa than shop for a gift for their dad with their mom and Aunt Anna. Mom says she is shopping for a gift for their dad but I note she is in the women’s clothing section of the store touching party dresses so hey, who knows, this might be an interesting and open family!!

Anna promises her nieces with hot chocolate for good behaviour and is told by her sister that she really needs to stop spoiling them. No, no, you’re mistaken, that is called bribery. 


Mom: “What about this?”

Anna: “A shirt….”

Mom: “Yeah! It’s the perfect size and I think it will look good on him.”

Anna: “Mhm.”

Mom: “Uh-oh, what is it?”

Anna: “Nothing, I’m just wondering, as a present… what does this say?”

Me: “I want a divorce.”


Anna thinks her sister or maybe sister-in-law can do much better and commandeers this shop heading to destination ‘Frankie’s perfect Christmas present’. Apparently a gift wrapped basket of imported Italian spices will do the trick… They went to Italy on their honeymoon where Frankie took his wife to a million different bistros which made her fat so this year she is bringing the fat to him.

Despite the fact Anna is really good at picking gifts, ie. just pays attention to people, she is having some sort of financial difficulty and still owes her sister rent. Man, if only picking out gifts paid money…

Prediction #1 – At least someone is gonna find their dream career this Christmas

As it turns out Anna’s actual job as an artist isn’t paying any actual money either and nor will it if she is late for her appointment to see Julia at an art gallery inquiring about her first opening. Julia, or at least a woman who never confirmed she wasn’t Julia, doesn’t seem all that struck on hosting someone who is ‘between agents’ at the moment. You know, like respected and established artists.

Prediction #2 – Julia is going to regret this when Anna is much more famous and doesn’t host her work there

Anna feels the only cure for this terrible day would be coffee and almost runs into a man speaking to someone via Bluetooth, which always makes people look insane. As per usual Anna appears to know the staff at the coffee house well enough to have a ‘usual’ order and get freebies for her nieces handed over while meanwhile the business guy behind her is trying to avoid answering a call on the other line from his mother.

This guy is not having the best day and has popped in to find a cake for his assistant’s birthday that he completely forgot and has no idea what she likes. Cue Anna to the rescue which requires her to get very close to the man in order to whisper about ‘off-the-menu samplers’ that Eva never advertises but also somehow sells out of everyday… To entice this man into purchasing from the secret menu Anna shows him her own special cupcakes which is not a euphemism for anything and I kind of wish it was because the actual cupcakes she shows him are standard at best. Maybe he doesn’t get to see many cupcakes in his line of work but he seems impressed enough.

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These look like the kind of cupcakes my sister-in-law’s mother tries to make. … They taste like rubber.

Back home Anna is still moaning about the art gallery and her sister suggests she shows some more of her work. You know, like those convenient Christmas pictures she illustrates just for fun and aren’t really art. Love, your actual art clearly isn’t getting you very far right now so maybe try a different definition. This all comes back to your heart being in something again to make it extra special but Anna just wants to be taken seriously in her work, damn it! Even when her sister claims she would love to put up her Christmas artwork in the restaurant if only she would let her.

Oh good christ, if the painting Anna is holding is one of her own then Julia really didn’t miss out on anything by not bothering to look at her portfolio. Her sister isn’t too bothered that Anna is always late on rent because she gets payback in the form of free and constant babysitting. Like that evening.

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I love how she’s captured to real angular qualities of the water

At least the restaurant is doing well – it will be catering the Mayor’s annual Christmas party. I presume this is a big deal where nothing can go wrong.

Prediction #3 – by the Christmas party Anna’s work will be up in the restaurant in order to make the party extra special and the Mayor will fall in love with her work, boosting her popularity and qualifications

Back in an office the business guy is again ignoring calls from his mother in order to concentrate on this more thrilling, corporate conference calls. At least his staff are hanging around the office enjoying the cupcakes he brought back for them. A woman does answer the phone and announces the name of this office but I am not even going to attempt to decipher what she just said into that handset. It will only make me mad 40 minutes into the film where it turns out I’ve been writing the entire name.

Luckily some guy called Edward Maxwell rocks up and is able to pronounce the name Mark properly. However he does fuck up the enunciation of some woman who has called them with second thoughts about a digital campaign pitched for next Christmas. NEXT CHRISTMAS! She will be in in 6 days to see what Christmas miracle they have come up with because the fact they have an entire 6 months to dream this up just isn’t enough. NEXT CHRISTMAS!

The silver lining to this entire mess is that Mark doesn’t have to phone his mother back now because he’s far too busy and will be in meetings all day tomorrow. This apparently clashes with an appointment in his calendar labelled ‘Christmas Shopping’ but I am much more intrigued by yesterday’s appointment where he reviewed a Vacuum photo shoot. I bet they were impressed with their campaign…

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I think we all know the most important day of the year here

Prediction #4 – Anna will be doing all of his Christmas shopping for him because he is saving a campaign for NEXT CHRISTMAS

I hope he wasn’t meant to be shopping with his mother…

Back with Anna I can confirm she should definitely stick to painting Santa but she has definitely just removed that painting off the easel and put it up on the mantelpiece before some parts of it were completely dry. Unless, of course, she was just sitting in front of that easel for hours, waiting for the exact right moment to sign her initials.

It has come to my attention that people in Christmas films just adore have Christmas trees in the middle of rooms, hallways and landings where you have to fight with them just to get to the other side of the damn house. This ominous as shit tree is behind Anna as she tries to make job hunting even mildly interesting and instead turns to their trusty search engine ‘Thurbble’. I adore that name.

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That tree wasn’t there at the beginning of the scene….

Despite thinking a job where you paid to shop didn’t exist she sure does search the term ‘personal shopper’ quickly enough and even gets herself some business cards printed out to put up in Eva’s cafe. She leaves the place just in time to bump into Mark and find out he doesn’t eat sugar. Remarkable.

Prediction #5 – he is picking up her business card so he can be pleasantly surprised and shocked to see her yet again

Although he may not eat sugar he is nice enough to be pick up a dozen assorted muffins for his employees, seeing as they adored being off their faces on buttercream yesterday. And so the business card disappears into his pocket.

None of the people around the table in this meeting seem to even notice the sudden presence of muffins in the room. I don’t care how much the client hated the pitch for NEXT YEAR’s festive campaign because it was too similar to this year’s. You never ignore a free muffin. Again, not a euphemism. Mark is much better at enunciating and the woman who is not happy with NEXT YEAR’S digital campaign is Nina Collins.

Edward pops up later in the day to a) check how the brainstorming is going and b) whether Mark has made a decision on the ‘company Christmas present’ because it’s his turn this year. I am really not sure what a company Christmas present is…. Is it given to the building? The complete hierarchy? Do we all share? Is it just a strange phrase for Christmas party? Oh god, it’s not team building in disguise, is it!?

I can’t tell if Mark really thinks he is capable of pulling this off as well as creating a new pitch in 6 days or whether he just really doesn’t want Edward to hand over his turn to some guy called Terry. Maybe Terry’s idea of a company present is hunting endangered animals or something.

Prediction #6 – is Mark REALLY going to ask Anna to deal with his company present, too!?

With some help from is assistant she informs him the 11th December is too late to order gumball machines and some… kind of balls with the company logo on was done last year. What kind of friggin company presents are these!? Whose turn was it last year!? Was that you, Terry!?

Seeing as the man has been completely ignoring her Mark’s mother turns up at his office in true parent style. Apparently the man has been dodging her for an entire month. That takes some dedication, I gotta give it to him.


Mark’s Mom: “I’m not going to hold you up here. I was just in the neighbourhood and thought I would drop in and say hello.”

Me: “And the real meddling reason she is there in 3….2….1…”

Mark’s Mom: “And I was wondering what you’re doing for Christmas this year.”

Me: “Aaaaaand there it is. Look at those crazy fucking eyes.”


 

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“What do you mean I won’t have grandchildren by Christmas Day in 2 weeks!?”

Mark’s Mom’s crazy eyes may be due to the strange make-up the production team have given her but it really does bring the insanity out in them. Really she just wants her son to spend Christmas with his family and doesn’t he know that his sister and her husband are flying in this year? And on Christmas morning they were all going to go downstairs and open presents together! My God, this woman’s ideas are revolutionary! Get her to work on NEXT YEAR’s Christmas campaign!

All his mother’s visit really does is remind the man he actually needs to buy gifts for all of these persistent people and he quickly phones up Anna to help him the fuck out. Anna almost screws it up herself by cutting the man off when she thinks it might be the Hope Art Gallery instead but saves it just in time to arrange to meet at her sister’s restaurant.

Cue the alarmed reveal and her sister who keeps popping around the side of the Christmas tree to point at the back of Mark’s head and inform Anna of how cute he is during their very. important. business. conversation. Ahem. Anna does at least reveal that Mark is her first client and she is actually a painter but is still trying to make a living from that so this secret can’t come back and bite her in the ass at a later date like they usually do. The woman is getting an amazing 30 quid an hour and Mark has already put in the hard work by setting up a spreadsheet to cover the 13 shopping days left and the 12 people and 12 gifts he still needs.

Now my family is right obsessed with Christmas (if you couldn’t tell) and this isn’t a one gift and done kind of deal. They had really better be extraordinary gifts if you’re only getting one. Like the puppy I really hope to receive next year.


Anna: “A smart watch! Didn’t they just come out?”

Me: “Aren’t they… always just coming out?”


This film came out in 2015, there is really no excuse for her shock. Apparently this gift is for his oldest friend Graham Ainsley and the pair are always trying to top each other each year which is a competition that has been going on since they were roommates in prep school. Back then they were so broke they would just watch sports game and eat instant ramen.

Prediction #7 – Anna is going to get very sentimental with Mark’s gifts this year – looks like it’s instant ramen for you, Graham

Mark sets her the very easy task of buying a smart watch and…. I think this guy is just going to give her an assignment every day. Does he know she has two hands and is capable of carrying more than one bag at a time? He also happily hands over his business and, more importantly, his credit card before taking a call and leaving the restaurant. RUN, ANNA! RUN! You can buy so much before he even realises!!!!

In the tech shop Anna has found herself there are masses of fake Poinsettia’s everywhere. Yesterday Mom bought me a real one because I have about a million houseplants already and can ever say no and god damn it the cellar goblin got me again! Anyway, I took a brief 5 minutes to check out correct Poinsettia care and after deciding I totally got this in the bag I went back to watching Anna try and get a sold out smart watch. The internet, my dear. The internet. That existed back in 2015.

Anna doesn’t seem too concerned by the news that the smart watch is sold out and settles back into the massage chair the tech shop has…. weirdly…. to mull this problem over. It just so happen this chair is facing a TV with a basketball game on and the nostalgic idea I knew she was going to have suddenly springs to mind. This leads her to Mark’s office where she is met with a receptionist who only knows a few lines of speech that she simply recycles to everyone she meets.


Receptionist: “And… who may I ask is calling?”

Me: “She’s… she’s standing right in front of you… Are you going to call up to Mark to tell him you have Anna on line 1 and then try to patch an entire human being through to the 10th floor?”


I don’t know why Anna seems so incredibly nervous to be in the office building – maybe she has an aversion to a polished chrome finish or something. Either way when she gets to Mark she confirms she has Graham’s gift and hands him an envelope that is definitely not a smart watch. I somehow doubt that Anna went into five stores and checked online like she claims and probably just went with the idea she came up with in the first store but that envelope contains two courtside Knicks tickets and a gift certificate for the highest rated ramen restaurant in the city.

I would also like to hire Anna but I fear Mark has given her real high expectations for an hourly wage.

Mark is not as impressed as Anna is with her own gift ideas and is going to take some serious convincing to actually spend time with people this Christmas. He is more bemused that Anna didn’t just do what he asked her to do and used her own initiative and kind of, sort of, maybe fires her while he has a think about all of this. In the meantime his assistant, Sandy, will at least write Anna a cheque for the work she did so really nobody lost anything today and at least she remembers to give him his credit card back. Oh, his name is Marc Rehnquist. EVEN WHEN YOU THINK YOU GET A NAME AS SIMPLE AS MARK RIGHT IT JUST HAS TO BE SPELT DIFFERENT. TELL ME, HOW THE FUCK HAVE THEY DECIDED TO SPELL ANNA? IS IT JUST A SERIES OF FUCKING NUMBERS?!

Anna is quite dejected when she leaves the building but there is nothing much to fear as, on his way to a meeting, Mark asks Sandy to mail out a bunch of papers on his desk. One of which is the envelope to Graham. There is no address on this so I hope she knows what his address is and Graham is aware he can’t open this present until Christmas but… out the door it goes anyway!

Back at home at least Anna’s nieces are complimenting her artist skills and boast that their decorations are always fancier than the other neighbourhood kids. Anna tries to tell them it’s the thought that counts but can’t help being bitter about Mark rejecting her sentimental gift. The next stop on Anna’s journey to world domination is to make a website for herself and so she doesn’t notice the child who is subtly circling her and trying to strangle her with a paper chain.

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Anna really should have listened to that psychic that told her Christmas would kill her one day

At his own apartment Mark is working hard and eating… probably ramen from the local Chinese takeaway when who should turn up but Graham to thank him in person! Told you they should have put a note on that letter to say it was a Christmas present… Thankfully he can’t stay long because his wife is in the cab outside so we don’t have to listen to how much he loved the upgraded version of hoops and noodles this year.


Graham: “I mean the TV was cool but I gotta admit… I haven’t even opened it! I already had one!”

Me: “I don’t see a smart watch on that wrist of yours though. You don’t have one of those already.”


Graham is on the way to take his family away over Christmas which really just reminds Mark that he has been avidly avoiding his own for the season but at least he has come around to the idea of sentimental gifts. I would like to see Anna buy meaningful gifts for some nephews the man has probably never even seen before. Her opportunity to do so is fast coming when Mark rings her in the morning and wakes her up to meet him at the cafe/bakery.

I am happy to report that Anna at least wears tights in cold weather even when there is no snow on the ground. I’m looking at you, (). Mark admits that Graham loved his gift and he will no longer question the woman’s instincts but he does need her to help with the company gift that year. When he says he has to buy hundreds of people a gift I’m still unsure whether this is one big gift or a gift each… and how the hell is she going to make these so personal? I guess she could give Sandy a better pen for writing cheques when people get fired.


Anna: “Well, usually I ask people questions but I think I’d look pretty suspicious trawling the halls of your agency asking strangers what they want for Christmas.”

Me: “Why? The company Christmas gift isn’t a secret. They know it’s coming.”


Instead Mark decides to invite Anna to the company Christmas party tomorrow night where she can mingle with his department and get a feel for gift ideas. This of course involves her going as his date to avoid that weird stranger trawling the dance floor feel she was about to start exuding.

Prediction #8 – Mark’s mom is definitely going to hear about this and get very excited

Anna’s sister is nice enough to ditch all of her restaurant responsibilities, by which I mean literally dropping a bunch of napkins she was setting out on tables on the spot, to take Anna on a dress shopping montage where we don’t get to see the winning garment for maximum shock affect that we can experience right alongside Mark when he finally sees her.

There is much mingling going on with cocktails in what appears to be the friggin’ foyer of the building when Anna bursts in and commandeers Mark’s attention. Being very forward she goes right ahead and loosens the man tie so he doesn’t look quite so much like he’s going to pitch a new campaign to the office. Adamant that he can relax he actually does away with the tie completely and trails around after Anna while she canvases his staff who Mark is surprised to find actually have their own lives and interests.

Struggling to find one gift to rule them all, Anna suggests just giving them the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve off. I’m not sure how the major heads of the company will feel about that exactly but we’re about to find out because the very next day Edward brings it up in a meeting which leads to an even bigger meeting to announce the paid week off. Unfortunately, Mark is not so sure he’ll be taking the week off.

Over lunch with Anna and a huge bowl of pasta I am proud of he hands her another cheque with a bonus in it, despite the fact I haven’t seen her buy any other gifts for people… The man even ignores a call from work to keep eating with the woman! He loves his pizza so much he orders five from Anna’s sister to take back to the office with him. This man is heading for employee of the entire season.

Anna is feeling good, she’s paying off all her late rent, she’s being wished Merry Christmas by random people dressed as Santa in the street, she is buying a shirt I distinctly remember her telling her sister not to buy for her own husband and she is even checking out apartment’s for rent. I hate to remind her she currently only has one client and Christmas ends fairly soon… The landlord cares not what she does, only that the rent is on time, something Anna really doesn’t have a long and wonderful history with.

Prediction #9 – at some point in her future, maybe outside of this film, the rent will not be on time

Back in the real world Nina Collins is not so impressed with the pitch for NEXT YEAR that has been delivered to her because they are just not personal enough but she appreciates the hard work. One employee is freaking out that Nina has another meeting with their biggest competitor and they’re all gonna be out of a client but Mark seems pretty calm about it all.

Prediction #10 – Anna will be helping with the damn pitch, as well

Despite not eating sugar Mark turns up at the bakery to get a cupcake and runs into Anna so he can offload all his woes to her.


Anna: “What are you doing here?! Wanna join me?”

Mark: “Well, I think my company’s about to lose a huge client.”

Anna: “Uh-oh.”

Me: “Yeah, that ‘what are you doing here’ question was purely rhetorical.”

Mark: “Yeah, I’ve done hundreds of campaigns over the years but I just don’t know how to give them what they want…. You?”

Me: “Christ, well how is she gonna top that?”


Anna quickly glosses over Mark’s troubles and reveals that she is celebrating finally levelling up as an adult and moving on with her life! That means her art will have to fall at the wayside a little, however, just like Mark’s creative writing degree he decides to tell us all about! A creative writing degree and he still can’t get this pitch right… The man did go from a copywriter in a small agency to where he is now though so I can’t help feeling he is doing something right.

After a chat about each other’s family and how Mark probably won’t spend Christmas with them he decides maybe he really will call his sister that he probably hasn’t spoken to for years. Instead of going back to the office Anna decides to drag the man along with her to get the rest of the gifts from his list. I have mixed feelings about this because she either hasn’t been buying any this whole time or has just brought whatever was on the list which really defeats the whole point of her making him look amazing to all of his family and friends.


Mark: “Wasn’t the whole point of me hiring someone was so I didn’t have to go shopping?”

Anna: “Oh, come on, no ones going to miss you for one hour, are they?”

Me: “Harsh.”


Cue a shopping montage where Mark remembers what it is to not be in the office and also take many samples off some poor woman in the shop. I’m not sure what the samples are of, considering she is standing in the candle section but Mark and Anna seem to be enjoying them.

Even though Anna clearly points out the fact that they have now brought presents for everyone on Mark’s list when she asks what is next and Mark responds with the very clear fact they appear to be finished…. she looks stunned. At least the man is willing to leave a review on her website whenever the hell she gets that set up. If I was her I’d be more worried how I’m going to pay my first month’s rent. Maybe she can offer to babysit the landlord’s kids for free, too.

Seeing as the pair are awkwardly parting ways and we are only halfway through the film I really don’t know where we can go from here. We could very easily wrap this film up in the next 20 minutes with Mark’s change of Christmas spirit but I guess…. we’re here for the entire ride now.

I am happy to see that Anna appears to still be living at home with only 8 days until Christmas and rather than answer her sister’s questions about whether she’s so sad because she doesn’t get to talk to Mark anymore she goes and colours with her nieces instead. Well, she colours with one of them. The older one is dealing with green beans or something.

The Mayor’s annual Christmas meal is still taking up all of Anna’s sister’s time so she asks if she can babysit both that evening and on Sunday 21st. This date is so specific I can’t help but feel…

Prediction #11 – Mark is going to need her on 21st December and the kids are just going to have to come along with her

Back at his apartment Mark is setting up the hideous, fake white tree they brought for him whilst shopping and declares Anna wins before calling his sister. Yvonne, I think, happens to be standing next to their mother when she takes the call and that woman is looking at that phone like ‘Why the fuck is he calling you and not me?’. If he doesn’t ask for her to put Mom on the phone he is going to pay dearly for this…

Instead he arranges to meet his sister for lunch the next day and she is more worried that there is something in the water around here. The mention of his nephews just wanting to see Uncle Mark over Christmas would have me running for the hills and in all fairness he’s still not completely set on the idea either. When invited to go skating that Saturday he immediately asks if he can bring a friend along…

This leads to a strange scene where Mark rocks up at her house where she conveniently forgot to tell him she lived in her sister’s basement and before he got down the stairs she was hiding coffee mugs behind cushions. His voice really carries when he shouts though, she heard him calling her from up the stairs and across the room perfectly. He is also very impressed by all of Anna’s paintings that she has hung up around the place. I would be likely to warn him not to touch them because they’re probably all still wet when she hung them up there.

Anna is delighted that Mark will actually be spending time with his family this Christmas and will be adding a few extra gifts to the list for his family. I guess it’s harder to only give them a single gift you didn’t really put much thought into when you’re face to face with them.. He also invites Anna to skating despite the fact I don’t think she can. This should be interesting.

Eric, Yvonne, Jackson and Cooper all meet Anna, his FRIEND before she basically adopts the youngest child and leads him off into the rink to find her some skates. It shocks me that these people are always so comfortable around children… especially children on very sharp blades. I went skating once and it was the worst experience ever. I can’t even walk in a straight line, I don’t know why I thought skating was going to be a good idea.

Anna takes the chance to canvas Yvonne on what she wants for Christmas but it’s the pretty simple desire to have the entire family together for the season. At this point, unless Mark suffers a crisis of faith, it’s a done deal. Yvonne is even nice enough to suggest a hot chocolate break 2 seconds after getting on the ice so she can remove her kids from pestering their uncle and Mark can safely lead Anna around the rink without falling on her ass.

Prediction #12 – Mark will be tempted to stick with work this Christmas rather than his family but will turn up at the last minute

When his mom calls again the next day he’s going to wish he was still ignoring her calls.


Mark’s Mom: “I know how busy you are so I’ll cut right to the chase.”

Mark: “I appreciate that.”

Mark’s Mom: “I was chatting with your sister this morning and she said me you brought a… friend to the ice rink.”

Me: “She said she would cut right to the chase, not that it would be a short conversation.”


Mark’s Mom is inviting Anna to Sunday dinner at 6 that evening and has already made her mind up that that is happening before the man can answer or find out what the fuck Anna had planned. I hope she cooked enough for two extra kids she wasn’t expecting…

Anna is more excited she will have chance to find out what everyone wants for Christmas on the 21st! of December! and completely forgets it was the Mayor’s party tonight and she was supposed to be babysitting. I can’t tell if she tries to guilt her sister into letting this one slide but her sister is out that door and not having a second of it.


Anna: “Mark, hi. It’s Anna. I’m sorry to have to cancel at the very last second but I messed up. I forgot I had to babysit my nieces tonight.”

Mark: “Well that’s OK, why don’t we just bring them?”

Anna: “Really?”

Mark: “Yes. My mom loves kids plus they can hang out with the boys.”

Me: “Would have been awkward if you were using that as an excuse to get out of dinner…”


I also hope Anna remembered to take the lasagne her sister had left for them in the oven because Mark has come to pick them up and it’s time to go. Mark has even brought her a hideous necklace Anna saw whilst shopping that she just really loved which at least is sweet of him and I have decided he is one of the least annoying men out of the tragic 9 we have met already.

They get to drive down a street with some manic Christmas decorations up which reminds me of a small village just down the road from us where they all decorate their houses and allow people to come and walk around and check them out and even give donations if they feel like it. It’s the closest we’ll ever get to a living Christmas film. However, unlike Mark, I did not grow up in what looks like the honest to god biggest house on earth but at least the kid’s look impressed by it.

Before entering the house Anna reminds them to be polite and on their best behaviour so I can only hope one of them tells Mark’s mom to pass the fucking potatoes at the dinner table. When asking how Mark and Anna met Mark decides to tell his mother they definitely met when he hired her to help around the office and distracts them by mentioning how great she is at painting. Mark’s Dad is trying to get his camera to work so he can take pictures of the entire family and it looks like he might be getting a new camera for Christmas.

All his mom wants, like his sister, is for the whole family to be together at Christmas and points out a portrait painted of them the last time they were all together before Mark went off to prep school. Now. If I can get screenshots of nothing else from this film I promise I will get you a screenshot of this. I had to pause the film and laugh for 2 minutes straight because this portrait is the gift that just keeps giving. I can’t… they have to see that every day. Who the fuck are these people. I need that thing as my screensaver on every single device I own.

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Behold!


Mark: “Oh, don’t look at that.”

Me: “No, really, please, don’t fucking look at that.”

Anna: “But you look so cute.”

Me: “I can’t breathe.”


We are thankfully saved by the bell to signify the roast is done and we can all hopefully sit in a different room. I can’t decide whether Anna is looking at the portrait so much because she has a fantastic idea or she’s just keeping one eye on the painting in case they jump out of the fucking thing and come for her throat.

Prediction #13 – Anna is going to paint them a much better fucking portrait

At the end of the night Anna is pleased to hear the entire family love her but kissing her at this point would be a logistically difficult as at any point one of them is carrying the youngest niece. Isn’t that convenient. You know they can’t kiss until after some amount of strain has been put on their relationship.

After a delightful conversation with her sister where Anna admits Mark really ain’t so bad Mark turns up at his office to find Nina waiting for him with Edward. She is there to give Mark and his company a last chance to run their campaign for NEXT YEAR and just produce something special that gives them the feels.

Prediction #14 – not wanting to take away this holiday from all his staff Mark takes the blow and may have to work through his Christmas

He seems to have had a brainwave already, which is nice, and rocks up at Anna’s sisters restaurant asking for a favour. Back in yet another meeting Mark announces his revolutionary idea… it’s basically just a painting of Anna’s in a power point presentation where I have just realised Santa’s Christmas list is basically defying gravity and that’s probably why his staff don’t have the most convinced looks on their faces either.

Anna is just signing her name away on a picture we haven’t seen but is definitely a family portrait for Mark and despite the fact she has only seen their faces for one evening they will probably look a lot better than the portrait they currently have WHEN Mark shows up. Quickly throwing something over this portrait she accepts his gift of roses and prepares for this whole conversation to go downhill when he asks for her Christmas paintings and she reminds him they are just for fun and she wants to be a serious artist.


Mark: “I think you and I make a great team.”

Me: “Oh no. You have started this all wrong for what I know you are about to suggest.”

Anna: “So do I.”

Mark: “Which gave me a great idea. I think it’s time that you and I work on something a lot bigger than my Christmas gifts.”

Me: “You do not bring roses to a business pitch and change the woman’s portrait so Santa is holding a laptop.”


I could not face palm hard enough at the image of Santa holding a laptop and even if it wasn’t for the fact that Anna clearly specified she painted these things for herself I would have been outraged that he had altered my portrait so hideously. And here comes the turning moment where Anna realises Mark really is just bothered about profit margins and Mark is really bemused why Anna can’t be a serious artist while painting Santa. I mean… logistically it would be fantastic. You could relax and spend all year just painting for the one season….

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This picture is completely unrealistic. Santa is way too old to know how to work an Excel spreadsheet

Anyway. Anna is very sad and decides this would be a great time to call up about that apartment and check if it’s still available because your sister’s basement is just not enough room to be sad inside. In the office Sandy wonders if she still needs to post Anna’s new contract that Mark had drafted up without checking with anyone and serves to remind him he actually doesn’t have all of his family’s extra gifts.


Anna’s Sister: “It’s Christmas Eve. Are you really leaving? Do you have somewhere to go?”

Me: “Nah, thought I’d just pack all my shit up and go camp out on the lawn for the night.”


Anna’s feeling of betrayal has spilled over to her sister for handing her paintings over to Mark and is packing up all of her shit ready to move out after Christmas. I would have gotten over that betrayal pretty quick when considering the ability to pay rent late with no fuss.

Anna finds the incomplete check list of Mark’s extra gifts and weighs up whether to ring the man or not and tell him what he should be buying with his last few free shopping days. Mark still turns up bright and early with gifts and is met by his nephews at his mother’s house so she has much time to question him about his life choices.


Mark’s Mom: “I was hoping we might see Anna today. She’s such a lovely girl, so talented too.”

Mark: “Yeah.”

Mark’s Mom: “What’s she doing for the holiday?”

Me: “Planning my death, probably.”


Prediction #15 – Mark’s Mom is hunting Anna down and dragging her out that basement with her portrait

Anna is looking incredibly bitter while Christmas mayhem goes on around her and keeps looking at all the gifts with this weird, simpering expression that would be best slapped off her face.

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“Yes but suffered heartbreak and betrayal this Christmas.”

Anna’s Sister: “Come on, you don’t think I know when you’re pretending to have a good time?”

Me: “That was her trying!?”


Anna’s sister gives her the pep-talk of a lifetime about her art, her heart and her damn love life. This inspirational speech has Anna running off to see Mark and skipping out on Christmas dinner so this had better be good and I hope this means she will continue to live in the basement and not pay extortionate rent rates with the money she does not have.

Even at gift giving time in Mark’s house his mother is commenting about how they’re not all quite together as a family, like Anna was already part of this strange clan with a really nice house. I guess nothing is quite good enough, is it Mother?

Both Mark and Anna agree they were both wrong and both right and both overreacted which brings us to an even playing field that you could at least hope to build the stable foundations of a relationship on. Even from a completely different room his mother is meddling and interrupting their first kiss when she calls out to them.


Mark’s Mom: “Mark! Anna! Come see!”

Me: “Anna has been looking at that portrait for days. You’re calling her in like this will be a big surprise for her.”


I am going to presume they used a filter on a photograph of the family to make this portrait so I don’t know why they couldn’t have grabbed four random people and done the same for the original portrait. Or they just wanted it to look extra terrible so Anna’s would look extra amazing.

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“I guess we could… paint Anna in inside the tree or something?”

In full Mom mode now Mark’s mom states the portrait isn’t quite perfect because Anna isn’t in it. Like the woman would presumptuously paint herself into the scene of her bosses family like some crazed stalker who lives in her sister’s basement and paints pictures of Santa Claus all year round. I mean.. despite all those flaws she is still being invited to stay for dinner and to stick around for a few more Christmas’ yet.

Mark quickly takes the chance while his mother is in the other room busy with dinner to kiss the woman because isn’t she just the greatest Christmas gift he ever received. Going to be a bit difficult buying him something next year at this rate.

But that’s a wrap people! I didn’t even mind this film. Other than the very expected paddy that Anna threw when Mark butchered her painting of Santa there wasn’t any outlandish character flaws or whinging or completely illogical choices. I liked it!

Seriously, maybe actually take the time to give this one a go here. Unfortunately, I can only find that link to a tiny ass screen and some real weird voice overs on everyone. Mark doesn’t usually sound like Andre the Giant, I swear….

 

Prediction board – 8/15

  • Prediction #1 – At least someone is gonna find their dream career this Christmas – CORRECT
  • Prediction #2 – Julia is going to regret not hosting Anna’s work when she is famous and doesn’t want to know – Unless there is a sequel we will never know… INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #3 – by the Christmas party Anna’s work will be up in the restaurant and the Mayor will fall in love with her work, boosting her popularity and qualifications – I mean… her work was actually up in the restaurant anyway but it was not the Christmas paintings, as predicted. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #4 – Anna will be doing all of Mark’s Christmas shopping for him because he is saving a campaign for NEXT CHRISTMAS – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #5 – Mark will pick up Anna’s business card so he can be pleasantly surprised and shocked to see her yet again – Easy one. CORRECT!
  • Prediction #6 – is Mark REALLY going to ask Anna to deal with his company present, too!? – Yes… Yes he is. CORRECT!
  • Prediction #7 – Anna is going to get very sentimental with Mark’s gifts this year – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #8 – Mark’s mom will hear he had a date for the office Christmas party and get very excited – Apparently no one gossips anymore. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #9 – at some point in Anna’s future, maybe outside of this film, the rent will not be on time – I’m giving myself this one. Ya know why? Because she’s still in that basement! CORRECT!
  • Prediction #10 – Anna will be helping with the damn pitch, as well – In a round-about way…. yes, she did, but it wasn’t intentional so INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #11 – Mark is going to need Anna on 21st December and the kids are just going to have to come along with her – So very, very CORRECT!
  • Prediction #12 – Mark will be tempted to stick with work this Christmas rather than his family but will turn up at the last minute – The temptation really wasn’t that strong after he smashed that pitch with Santa on a laptop. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #13 – Anna is going to paint them a much better fucking portrait – Thank fucking god this was CORRECT!
  • Prediction #14 – Not wanting to take away this holiday from all his staff Mark takes the blow and may have to work through his Christmas – I think he would of, ya know… but he didn’t. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #15 – Mark’s Mom is hunting Anna down and dragging her out that basement with her portrait – Anna pulled herself out of that basement. INCORRECT!

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: Not in the city, puh-lease
  • Piano: I am very sure they have all been burnt for kindling at this point
  • Carolling: Nada
  • Christmas Montage: We were even treated to a good ol’ 90’s fashion montage today!
  • Fire Hazards: Other than the fact the woman painted in a basement… not that bad
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: Everyone was alive god damn it! EVERYONE!
  • Snowing on cue: The weather was not playing ball this time

 

I am… mildly happy with that score! This wasn’t even toooooo bad of a film – not compared to some of the train wrecks we have already witnessed, anyway. I’d be happy to see more well-portioned food knocking around the place though and we never did find out what happened to that lasagne in the oven…

Before I shed a tear of possibly wasted lasagne let’s get out of here! Until tomorrow!

Christmas Advent #8 – The Mistletoe Inn

Today we have a special guest! MMMMMMOM! Unfortunately she watched a Christmas film before she rocked up to my house yesterday and all through this film she kept telling me how great the film she watched yesterday was instead, even if there were Christians in it. She spent this film sitting in the corner, knitting and, for the most part, just shouting about how much she hated Garth.

 

Our film starts with the comfortable standard: festive streets, festive people doing shopping, everyone happy, jingling bells and one very determined looking woman. I am going to make it a goal of mine to find a film where the guy is the main character. That went so well for () on Day 1. He ended up joining a cult.

Our very determined looking woman is on the phone to her father asking if they can change that dinner arrangement to a dessert arrangement instead because she is late for book reading with Garth. Garth certainly wasn’t expecting her to show up to this author’s reading at the local bookshop. Not after he’d left her that letter in an envelope, anyway… Luckily our woman, Kim, has brought it with her so she can read it in public! Kim is quite excited to read the new chapter pages Garth had left her in an envelope so pulls them out and gets right to it. She’s even impressed with his use of adjectives… the one’s he has used to break up with her via note.

I can’t tell, when Kim proclaims she cannot believe what he has done, whether the other people at the reading turn around because she is interrupting the reading and being too loud or because they definitely want to hear more about this breakup. I would have fallen firmly into the latter group, especially when the woman looks as naturally neurotic as she does.

Garth, apparently, is getting very serious with his writing these days and is starting to contact publishers and agents to get his work out there. I hope he’s prepared to suffer months if not years of rejection letters and all of that hard work definitely not paying off…. He seems very optimistic about himself. He mentions something about his blog ‘A Dash of Romance’ which sounds incredibly boring and like that doesn’t exactly mean he is qualified to write an entire novel. What bothers Garth the most is that, in the two years they have been together, Kim has never once shown him any of her writing where as he is about to take the next step in his career.

This is not how he pictured a relationship with a fellow romance writer to be and he really needs to find someone much more serious in their writing if he going to continue in this life.


Garth: “I just… need to be with a serious writer, right now.”

Mom: “Oh, that was pathetic! What a weird man!”


Mom just loves Garth.

I miss much of what is said in the next scene when Kim rocks up to her Dad’s house due to the high-pitched squealing falling out of my face. The dad had a Leonberger! It is literally my dream dog but Kieran likes clean carpets too much and Leonbergers love mud and water too much and I would love the dog too much to stop it diving straight in! Oh, and they’re like the size and weight of a grown ass man. That too.

I dial it down just in time to hear Kim moaning how she is single again just in time for Christmas and me and Mom listing all the things about Christmas which are even better when you’re single. It mostly amounted to never having to share your food or wine but also saving money on presents. Kim is even icing gingerbread men with miserable little faces now. I can’t help but feel getting rid of Garth should have led to some sort of dinner party.


Dad: “I never liked Garth, anyway. What was his lame excuse?”

Mom: “He gets it.”


Kim vows to finish off her romance novel and show it off to anyone with eyes just to spite Garth, which I don’t think is the best motivation to complete a book but enough to get the job done. Fuck Garth. Who even is Garth, anyway? Dad does some standard Dadding and promises things will be better in the morning, however I beg to differ if Kim is going to stay up all night reading Christmas-themed romance novels to remind her of the relationship she no longer has and looking at a picture of her presumably deceased mother to remind her of the parent she no longer has. Why do people keep these family photos next to the bed where you have to be reminded constantly at your most vulnerable?!

The author of her festive read is H. G or J. Cowell (I’m sure the book said J but she said G so….) and Kim wonders what he is doing at that very moment. Probably enjoying life as a successful novelist who will never have the misfortune of dating Garth.

Kim appears to work at some sort of car dealership as the woman you have to go and see if you have sold a car so she can put another little X next to your name and see how you’re doing in this competition to… win a trip to Aruba?! What friggin’ car dealership is sending employees to Aruba if they sell the most cars? What if only one car is sold? They still technically sold the most. I have many questions about this set up but Kim has decided she will treat herself this Christmas with a ticket to a romance writing workshop in Vermont. Held only 5 days before Christmas it’s the perfect time to remove yourself from your family and responsibilities and concentrate on your pipe dream instead.

Either way the Dad seems cool with the idea of the workshop and is overjoyed Kim might actually be considering showing her damn work to someone. They are out picking a Christmas tree which just sparks Mom off again about how great that other film was that she watched and how they didn’t believe in killing the trees so decorated the ones outside…


Dad – “No, this one is too short.”

Mom: “He’s fussy like me.”

Dad – “That one is more like a Christmas shrub.”

Mom – “Yep! He ain’t wrong…. but those ones for 20 quid at Asda…”

Me – “Mother! I am not going to go and buy a tree and then dig a hole in the garden and plant it at 2pm in the afternoon in late November so you can start a festive tradition in my garden! No!”


Predictions are not a thing when you have Mom hanging around, shouting about how much she hates Garth and how easy it would be to dig a small hole in the garden… she does occasionally gift us with wisdom though. Especially when Kim’s Dad asks if she will really be home in time for Christmas, what with these Christmas blizzards which often whip up and leave people stranded with potential future spouses.

Mom Prediction #1 – “Of course she will. With a new man in tow!”

Gotta give it to her, she’s good with her predictions!

Kim has just rocked up at the writer’s retreat when some guy barrels past, running through her luggage and popping open a case. He doesn’t seem phased in the slightest that this woman has bought Christmas decorations with her. I mean… legit Christmas decorations. Including an entire string of lights. This guy, helping to pick up what looks like the Grinch’s loot after he stole Christmas, is Zeke and is also here to attend the workshop. He is taking part despite apparently already having a publisher and getting a book signed…. probably just a leaflet or something. He also works on a typewriter which gets all of the thumbs up from me. Man, I would love a typewriter.

My Nan used to have one that even had a predictably creepy key that would sometimes print and sometimes not. God only knows where she has squirrelled that away.


Zeke: “Do people still use these as alarm clocks?”

Kim: “It’s a white noise machine! It keeps me calm while I’m writing.”

Zeke: “I’ve only just met you but I’m already having a hard time picturing you calm.”

Me: “Call the burns unit.”

Mom: “Why?”

Me: “It’s a sick bur…. nevermind.”


Some woman called Samantha rocks up and starts telling Kim about the schedule and that the author H. G. Cowell will be speaking at some point to everyone there. Unfortunately Mom distracted me real bad by looking around my living room and deciding how we will decorate it this year. I watched a lot of my metaphorical money being shot out of a money gun being controlled by Mom.


Me: “Wait! What is she wearing!?”

Mom: “Oh God…”

Kim: “What happened? I thought we were meant to come dressed as our favourite literary character?”

Samantha: “Oh, no, they sent an email around cancelling that.”

Me: “Who the absolute fuck is her favourite character?”


At a cocktail party that evening Kim has graced us with her presence, kitted out in some weird white, Victorian looking hideous lace dress and a necklace with… Christmas presents on it. She is…. something. It’s fine though because Samantha is more than happy to go and get them some festive, literary themed cocktails. Me and Mom decide we would both like to attend a writing workshop and luckily the promise of a cocktail gets Kim through a short conversation with Zeke where he is quite bemused by her outfit.

Mom is so distracting I am actually shocked to see Garth at this little retreat and Mom happily reminds us that he is a massive prick. He keeps banging on about the famous author reading his work because there is actually a competition and the best people will have manuscripts read by the author before he picks one. Kim is kinda pissed off about how far Garth has managed to crawl up into this author’s colon because she was the first one who had invited him into the rectal passage in the first place. Zeke comes back to announce he fully understands Kim outfit (I’m glad someone does) and she has come dressed as The Ghost of Christmas Present! Mother now adores Zeke not only for this revelation but also the fact Garth hasn’t written his little name tag out very well and Zeke thinks his name is Garn. Look….  if that’s all it takes to win my mother’s love she should stick around and watch me struggle with American’s pronunciations during the week.

Some woman called Luann rocks up who looks to be an old hand at the writer’s workshop scene but is here purely to see the elusive H. G. Cowell who apparently no one has ever seen! Everybody is obsessed with this author because he just truly understands women and I’m starting to feel many of these women don’t actually care about writing… Either way Zeke thinks he can do better. When questioned by Luann it appears that Zeke is published but not published and his editor may be ripping his work to pieces but it will be out soon regardless. I’m unsure…. I adore writing but so far all these people are just fucking awful. Except for whichever person is standing behind that bar and making those cocktails.

Garth manages to chase Kim down and takes his glasses off to show us all his weird little shrew eyes. He’s also apparently sexist but Kim has announced this mother fucking competition is ON and she is taking Garth down. I presume that is why Kim is up so early in the morning to go jogging, helping people who have dropped presents and looking severely jolly before she slips majestically on some ice right in front of Zeke, inside a coffee shop, who comes out to help.

It turns out Kim would rather go back to the hotel and die of embarrassment alone rather than over coffee with the man so just concentrates on getting ready for their first day at the workshop instead, led diligently by Samantha who knows all and lead her off to a giant Christmas tree in the middle of the dining room. Bit inconvenient.


Samantha: “See this partridge in a pear tree thing?”

Kim: “I thought that was a quail.”

Samantha: “Well a partridge is just a quail with a better publicist.”

Me: “Let that be a lesson to us all….”


People have to pick a random, well publicised quail ornament off the tree and open the little piece of paper it’s holding. This tells them which group they will belong in for the rest of the workshop where they are paired up with a writing partner and have to complete daily assignments and attend various seminars. Me and Mom both quickly decide we do not want to attend a writing workshop anymore. It was of no surprise to anybody, except Mom, that Garth is also in Kim’s group. He teams up with the monster Luann without fuss but unfortunately Group C has odd numbers and Kim is left partnerless. Well, that sure wasn’t going to sit right with a Christmas film and Zeke pops up because his own group was too full and he was moved over here, just in time to be paired up with Kim.

Fortunately the woman in charge of their group already knows that Garth is a criticising prick as soon as look at him and let’s the entire group know that harsh and unproductive criticism will not be tolerated. While everyone else is getting to work Zeke and Kim take part in a strange game of pass the notebooks until they finally just fall on the floor.

As it turned out, earlier in the film Kim actually said whale noise, not white noise. I was mighty confused to hear the warbling whale song coming out of that tiny speaker… until it was cut off by the literal hammering of Zeke on his typewriter across the corridor.


Kim: “I’m trying to write.”

Zeke: “Yeeeeah, me too.”

Kim: “Oh, really? Because it sounds like you’re trying to send morse code down the hallway.”

Me: “He is. He is desperately asking for help to get away from you.”


Zeke is merely distracted by Kim’s fully decorated hotel room over her shoulder and that explains all the Christmas decorations she had stowed away in her luggage. He also notes the fact they are arguing below a sprig of mistletoe so I am not surprised to see him immediately run off to Kim’s room to remove himself from that potential hideous situation. He has also ran off to check out what she’s been writing: two people meet in a line to meet Santa. Kim’s imaginative title is…. Love In Line To Meet Santa. Christ on a bike. Kim thinks this is a fucking wonderful title and is pissed that Zeke should even suggest it was too obvious and not catchy enough.

At dinner with Samantha her friend thinks she has spotted the elusive author because the man is wearing tweed just like many of the men from his stories! Thank God this retreat wasn’t based out in the English countryside… I can’t help thinking if he was really that elusive he wouldn’t be casually sitting at dinner and talking to people. Kim pulls out some of Zeke’s pages for an assignment they have had to share with each other and is alarmed to find he has written that time she tripped on ice into his assignment. For some reason she is mighty pissed about this, despite the fact no one else knows, and thinks she has the rights to that scene which is technically public domain. When she chases Zeke down to scream all of this at him he is more delighted to have her assignment and discover she took his advice and changed the title. All this scene does is cement the fact this woman is a fucking annoyance into our brains and that someone really needs to save Zeke before he gets into this too far.

Their group mentor pops out to let Kim know that she actually won this first round of assignments, despite the fact she used the ol’ ‘oh no, he has children but later they just turn out to be nieces and nephews and we could have been together this entire time’ and everyone thinks this is the greatest plot twist they have ever read. Clearly none of them have ever sat around and watched Christmas24 all winter.

Garth turns up to painfully congratulate his ex-girlfriend but even when asking when she came up with this completely original story he quickly tires to hear some childhood memory she had of standing in line with her parents to meet Santa. Wanting to gossip some more with her friend Samantha comes and shoos shrew-eyed Garth away before he can waste any more of the oxygen in the foyer.

Mom’s Prediction #2 – Samantha is actually H. G. Cowell

I love this woman. I think she just loves anyone who hates Garth. She also believes that the author’s new book will be about Zeke and Kim’s romance that they discover at a romance writers convention

We are subjected to more scenes where Kim is completely resistant to feedback so I can’t help feel writing is really not the path for her… Zeke, however, has no qualms with opening up about anything and that includes the dry patch he is currently experiencing ahead of his latest book contract. Oh lord, now Mom thinks the author might be him, too. The author might be everyone, now. Except Garth.

The next morning Zeke rocks up at breakfast to suggest Kim does not go to their planned seminar ‘How Not To Get An Agent’. According to Zeke, the woman who presents that seminar is a dream crusher. It’s certainly not the plain honesty that it’s as difficult as fuck to get published or get an agent. No. It’s crushing dreams. In all fairness, knowing Kim’s disposition, it’s probably best she does avoid the seminar before she goes out and tries to break her neck on another patch of ice.

Zeke says he can cover all this shit better than that woman in the seminar and instead they go out and look at some snowmen Zeke built for this very occasion. He has even put  accessories on them from the lost and found and at this point alarm bells would be ringing in my mind because this man had been planning out the part where he gets me alone in the woods with only two snowmen has a witness to my murder. Sorry, snow-ma’ams. One snow-ma’am is the dream crusher from the seminar and the other is just the type of person Kim needs around her constantly to tell her everything will be OK.

So as it did turn out Zeke is a fucking maniac who drinks far too much coffee but he should definitely be writing children’s books because his ad lib is adorable. By the time they get back to the workshop, completely unmurdered, Samantha is just walking across the lobby after escaping the seminar which should be renamed ‘How To Never Feel Inspired Again’. Garth is the only person who is taking notes on how to crush his own dreams. Or at least Kim’s.

For their next assignment – something to do with a romantic dinner scene – Samantha thinks it would be a great idea to actually go for a romantic dinner and proposes they all go and do just that. For research, purely. Well… until she sees the guy in tweed wander past and thinks she would have a better time stalking him around the resort instead but demands that Kim and Zeke still go for a dinner that they never planned.


Zeke: “You look great.”

Me: “She looks exactly how she has looked this entire time but just wearing a dress.”


So off the pair go to dinner with Garth watching them with his tiny shrew eyes. I feel they should have been talking about their writing the entire dinner and not just after the food had gone. They think it’s perfectly acceptable to work over the dessert course which is just sacrilege. Desserts are meant for shovelling, not discussing business over. Kim zig-zags around the questions about herself like someone avoiding sniper fire because she still has issues with sharing anything so it’s completely out of character when she opens up to Zeke about her book : a woman finds herself single before Christmas after a string of failed relationships when she meets a guy who agrees to pretend to be together so they can get through the holidays. Wow.

Her deceased mother inspired her because she used to write offbeat short stories for some local newsletter but she died at Christmas a few years ago. Just tragic. Her mom read every word Kim ever wrote but since she died… nah thanks. Zeke on the other hand thinks all literature is romance because the human heart is a canvas. Just tragic. He used to have a wife and when things were good so was his writing and pay cheques but when the divorce came all he got in the settlement was writer’s block. Now he just spends his time going to conferences in the hope something will inspire him.

Honestly this entire film is just Mom switching between either Samantha or Zeke being the actual author based on every tiny thing they say.

Kim thinks a little literary exercise will help and wants to know what the most romantic detail of the entire restaurant is. I would say whatever pudding the person on the next table is eating but he goes with how shiny a spoon is because apparently it reflects just a hint of candlelight in her eyes. Those alarm bells are ringing again… Having failed to run for her life back at the restaurant the two are strolling past some carollers in a bandstand when Zeke asks what the fuck the deal with Garth is, anyway. Other than the fact he is a peacock at parties and likes to put everyone else down that’s just his usual temperament, unfortunately.

Zeke is correct in the fact if Kim wants to grow it means taking criticism sometimes but I can’t help feel he is wrong when he claims this also means standing still while people pelt snowballs at her. Which he does. The woman is wearing a very bad choice of heels and her feet are gonna straight up drop off if she spends any more time outside but instead she stands there while Zeke throws a snowball at her for every mistake she made in her last assignment, like using too many adjectives, until they fall over together in the snowbank and catch pneumonia.


Zeke strokes hair back behind Kim’s ear

Mom: “Aaaaawwww.”

Me: “I’d be like ‘get your glove out of my ear’.”


It’s a good job one of them remembers the way back to the hotel because Zeke will be reading her manuscript tonight whether she likes it or not. For a moment I thought she was going to pull the entire thing out her bag but it was just on a USB after all.

The next morning he hasn’t turned up at the group exercise and I fear that he may have been outside constructing the largest snowball on world record to catapult at Kim for all of the hideous mistakes she made in her manuscript. Unfortunately Zeke rocks up late but just in time to hear Garth being awarded this round. To top things off Garth has also written a blog post about Kim on his blog, which is nice of him, and Kim is told she needs to wait for feedback from Zeke because waiting is also part of the entire torturous journey of being published.

Kim doesn’t actually believe in herself but just really wants people to love her and tell her work is amazing which keeps getting increasingly more annoying throughout the film. Despite the fact everyone keeps saying how great her assignments are she claims she just cant take any more rejection. This woman is needy.

For once Kim actually bothers to go to a seminar where a woman is talking about H. G. Cowell’s way of writing. We are forced to believe that this woman never goes anywhere without a tree before she lights it up and puts decorations on it too. The ornaments are the characters and the concepts and the lights are points in our lives. The angel on top is our clear point of view from above that lets us look at the lives of others and the gifts underneath the tree are what people take away from what we have given. Mom just keeps really agreeing with this like she wants to go to a workshop and is shit hot at writing.

In order to give Kim her feedback, Zeke is taking her out to the Christmas market to eat crepes. I have a bad feeling about this feedback… He loves everything but he just doesn’t think its quite there yet; the characters and details don’t feel personal enough just yet and she is basically just missing descriptions. The quite literal bread and butter to that plot filling. It should not have been surprising to find out Kim doesn’t know any of these details about her own locations or characters or that she really isn’t good at taking criticism and just walks off rather than face facts.

Thankfully, Kim knows Samantha and Samantha knows wine so she is more than equipped to talk some sense into this woman who really just needs throwing under the first bus Samantha can find. Kim is more concerned that the manuscript is a piece of her soul and Zeke didn’t like that piece of her soul despite the fact he clearly said he did. Samantha has a lot of patience and a very full glass of wine, the tools required to deal with Kim, and is sure Zeke is a good guy because she has spoken to him for more then 5 minutes.

The next day all of the contestants meet with a professional panel of agents to review their work and let them know whether they should just give up and go work in retail. Zeke is hanging around the coffee machine just to wish Kim good look before her meeting and I already dread what is about to happen. She is just getting all doe-eyed over the compliments she is receiving when she is told her characters aren’t quite detailed enough and need to stop being so perfect – give them a drug or drink habit or something. The tears are basically already there by the time she is told she has a long way to go and despite the man telling her not to be discouraged (and she’s the only person he has said this to all day) she just really can’t function without constant reassurance and immediately starts crying at Zeke because they didn’t tell her they they loved her unconditionally.

To shut her cry hole Zeke takes her out for a midnight horse and carriage ride. Brave. We know how midnight carriage rides go. Looking at you here, Nick! This time we are taking a ride to celebrate a rejection (that she didn’t even get) which Zeke thinks should be savoured like a fine wine. As long as it’s wine I’ll savour anything! Offering up their rejection stories Zeke’s was actually literary but Kim’s was just some kid called Timmy saying he didn’t want to date her crazy ass in the schoolyard.

It is casually mentioned that the next day all of the writers have the day off, so Zeke is gonna take Kim off somewhere for a change of scenery and to give everyone else a break. This happens to be New York City, somewhere Kim decided to set her story without ever going and knowing no details of. We are able to get to New York on such short notice because Zeke has more frequent flier miles than he knows what to do with AND AIN’T THAT SUSPICIOUS!? According to Mother… yes. Very. They don’t even get there until that night and stay at the hotel Kim has included in her book courtesy of this guy’s massive fortune.

At least one of their rooms has a fantastic view which sparks Mom off on trying to plan a Christmas in New York despite me trying to tell her it will be expensive but someone at her work is going Thursday for a week and flying first class. Maybe she’s a bloody author too…

Samantha calls just then to inform Kim she is having dinner with Mr Tweed himself and oh, where the hell is Kim anyway? I don’t presume she actually cares where her friend is but she did miss Samantha winning this next leg of the competition! Zeke and Kim go off to explore New York and work on both her book and not getting mugged. Kim realises her book really was lacking detail but now she’s got way too much and won’t stop prattling on about the smells and sights of New York – I can only imagine.

They stop to get some roasted chestnuts, which are just weird little grim under-cooked potatoes, in my opinion, and by this time Kim has gotten used to the thundering of Zeke’s typewriter through the walls. I can’t help feel, seeing as this hotel is so expensive, they shouldn’t be able to shout through the walls to each other and ask how their books are going…

The next morning, already kitted out in the dressing gowns they will probably attempt to steal, Samantha texts Kim to let her know a huge storm is coming in, flights are getting cancelled and the author’s talk has been moved from that evening to 2pm that afternoon. Kim completely steamrolls whatever Zeke had just been about to tell her, presumably the big reveal that Kim will no doubt feel some way about.

Thankfully Samantha didn’t decide to leave the workshop to run away to New York and is on hand to submit Kim’s work on her behalf… right in front of Garth. Dumb move. Garth swoops in when the admin woman is distracted and drops Kim’s manuscript into the bin. Mom says he is a prick but by now I think that’s exactly where Kim deserves and needs to be. When she finally rocks up to the seminar she realises her name is not on board of people who won competitions but is distracted by Mr Tweed who is H. G. Cowell’s editor or…. something. And, when introducing this wonder writer, who should stroll in buuuuuuuuuuuuut ZEKE!


Kim: “……..”

Mom: “I did try to tell you.”

Me: “Yes. All movie. She tried to tell you.”


Zeke makes a lovely speech about how he used to think up stories during his work commute every day until he just happened to have all these books going, was a bestseller, wanted to remain completely anonymous and didn’t notice his second love was taking him away from his first love until the divorce punched him right in the throat. Kim is just sitting there, continuing to be an ugly crier, as she hears about how love left him with nothing but writer’s block but love has returned and he’s writing again!

Over this relationship already, Samantha just wants to know if the rumours about a new book are true but it’s actually just an 800 page anthology from his agent. I mean, against all odds when you think about who Kim actually is, I feel a book will materialise very soon. Kim may be alarmed to find she could be an inspiration to the man but I hate to remind her that he’s still not going to read her manuscript via this workshop as outlined by his agent, is he?

Kim is packing up her shit and trying to get the fuck outta dodge before Zeke rocks up and tries to explain he wanted to be liked for himself rather than a famous author, which is only fair, but this woman is dumb as shit and is actually annoyed by this revelation. And even more, she is annoyed at being an inspiration to one of her favourite authors.


Kim: “That was the worst rejection of all.”

Me: “She’s on crack.”

Mom: “Yeah. She’s like…..”

Me: “GARTH!”

Mom: “What a prick.”


Back in whatever circle of hell she presides over, Kim is trotting down the street with her Dad and really bigging herself up, claiming next year she’s gonna be speaking at a conference, not just attending and she was so made to be a writer…. Of all the things that woman may be made for it is not being a writer. Samantha calls in order to let her know she won the entire competition which really just amounts to beating Garth. In any case she will be meeting with Zeke tomorrow in case…. you know… Kim wants to tell him anything that she might not have been able to say when she was busy overreacting? Kim, still being dumb as shit, thinks nothing of it when Samantha asks her for the amended last pages of her friend’s manuscript to read through so she can conveniently, probably, hand these over to Zeke and have him arrive back in time to save the day. Jus’ sayin’.

When Kim gets home Garth is creeping around the porch so he can tell her he was totally wrong and her writing was wonderful after all. At least she is not dumb enough to take Garth back, there are apparently even limits to her stupidity. As it turns out, Garth just wants her to put a good word in for him with Cowell and you would not believe how happy Mom is that Garth will be lonely this Christmas.

Her Dad is just serving Christmas dinner when the bell rings and he doesn’t seem so surprised by a mystery visitor so sends his daughter off to open the door. It is only Zeke and a whole bunch of flowers but I imagine the dad always sends Kim to the door in the hopes someone will kidnap her and take her off his hands. To be fair, I just wanna see some more of the Leonberger who is a beautiful bambino!

This woman needs to get over whatever it is she’s not over already and just settle for a good life getting writing tips from a legit writer, some good criticism AND being able to read all of his drafts first. That would be my damn dream. Thankfully she is also not dumb enough to turn him down again, especially on Christmas day when the man just really needs a turkey dinner. They reintroduce themselves, because this is always an important part of starting over with someone that I couldn’t comment on because I have never started over with someone once I have decided they’re a prick, and he even has a present for her from a publisher! Apparently the new ending was so great that they looked over the absence of detail, warmth or realism and are thinking about publishing her work and Zeke has to keep reassuring her that they loved it.


Me: “They really loved it.”

Mom: “Your Dad’s turkey is getting cold! Do you know how long and hard it is to make a Christmas dinner and you’re out there!?!?!?! GO ON IN!”


Mother is truly outraged they are still standing out in this blizzard and leaving turkey to go cold but please note my mom thinks food is already freezing as she transfers it from the pan to the plate and actually calls you down for dinner before she even plates up…. just so ya know.

I actually couldn’t find a link for this one! I am not surprised to find that I couldn’t care less. The more people who give Kim attention is probably for the better.

 

Mom’s prediction board – 1/2

  • Mom Prediction #1 – Kim will be home in time for Christmas with a new man – I mean… he didn’t actually come back with her but I’m gonna give it to her
  • Mom’s Prediction #2 – Samantha is actually H. G. Cowell – I can’t give her this one unfortunately

 

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: CHECK!
  • Piano: These are totally out of Vogue
  • Carolling: Only in the background, as it should be
  • Christmas Montage: I…. The whole thing passed by in a sort of montage for me
  • Fire Hazards: Unfortunately safe pathways had mostly been cleared for all of the writer’s attending the workshops
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: CHECK!
  • Snowing on cue: Just when it felt like, really…

 

This was definitely not my favourite film. At all. Kim…. just Kim.

But Mom scored 50% on her predictions which ain’t that bad! Especially when she kept changing her damn mind about who was H. G. Cowell out of the million people attending this workshop.

Let’s hope for prettier criers tomorrow!

Christmas Advent #7 – My Christmas Love

So I know I should be watching films I recorded to get them off the Sky box but instead ended up recording about 10 more today… but in my defence! Ya shoulda read the descriptions. They were glorious. One involved a psychiatric ward!

This film had the honour of being picked simply because it was first in the loooong loooong list. And I can’t stop singing the title to the tune of My Endless Love. Maybe we can get a whole remix recorded… Damn. On with the film!

 

The opening scenes of Christmas films are usually my favourite and always involve people walking around on busy streets and lots of people being festive. This one isn’t any different but first we are treated to some very exclusive tastes in Christmas baubles…

When our main woman is trotting off down a very snowy road I cannot help staring at her in horror because she is not even wearing tights! Her legs are going to drop right off! And why are you wearing heels when there is snow on the ground!?

This absolutely insane woman bursts into a cafe where the hostess appears to know her well enough to hug her, offer her her usual booth and knows this woman is insane enough to not question why she is dressed for pneumonia. Apparently she is actually here for a date but that still does not excuse the clothing choices.

I am unsure if she is a dreaded ‘people person’ or is just nosy as fuck because she starts talking to the guy a table over dressed in a suit and double, triple-checking the ring he has bought. I mean it’s one thing telling the guy he’s left the tag on his suit, which he rips off in a way liable to cause a tear right through the armpit, and another to ask to see the ring.

Which is hideous.


Woman: “Do you mind if I see the ring?”

Mystery Man: “Is is that obvious?”

Woman: “Nooooooo, it’s…. yeah”

Me: “Well he was staring at it two fucking seconds ago…”

Woman: “My gosh that’s so pretty. You have to relax, she’s definitely gonna say yes.”

Mystery Man: “If I can ask her… this is the third time I’ve brought it with me.”

Me: “Does she also wonder why you’re always wearing a suit these days?”


Cynthia is so about this wedding proposal she gives away her regular booth to the hopeless groom-to-be because apparently it’s more romantic. That may be so but that giant circular table is going to make it a little difficult for him to get down on one knee and propose to the woman without the table decorations blocking his face. Our main woman’s date, Alex, shows up to celebrate their 5 month anniversary so…. is it still a date if you’re together already? I don’t know the logistics of relationships, despite being in one for 5 years. I don’t believe we dated.

While the woman who is about to get engaged walks in dressed like an actual Christmas present, Alex has bought one for our main woman. Cynthia said she would rather him bring this early Christmas gift to the farm with them so she can open it there but it turns out… Alex isn’t so sure about this relationship. I am very sure it may be down to the two weeks Cynthia wants him to spend with her family on their farm over Christmas after only 5 months. And what about the man’s own family? Huh? Huh!?

Our main woman goes from about 0 – 100 in 0.2 seconds flat, which I feel is going to be a frequent occurrence in this film, and decides to compliment the soon to be engaged couple before stealing both cupcakes she ordered and is yet to pay for and swiping that early Christmas gift. Alex…. mate…. you dodged a bullet. What woman goes out in that weather without at least wearing tights?

It’s all fine though because there are many eligible bros playing basketball together – one of whom is her employee who she calls over to her apartment to help her get over being dumped. Is that what bosses do? I’ve never received that call before… and let’s be honest, I wouldn’t be answering the phone to my boss anyway. He should have just kept playing basketball and having a good time. Instead the guy is now being subjected to hearing about failed relationships, Christmas travel, our main woman’s family and farm and her little sister’s Christmas wedding.

Prediction #1 – she is taking her employee on this trip instead because her family were expecting this mystical boyfriend

This employee just can’t help mentioning the right guy is out there somewhere for her and I can’t help but feel if he’s not put off by her drinking out of a ‘I love Mom’ mug then he is the right guy for her. This family seems…. well, as dysfunctional and all up in each other’s business as every other family in Christmas films. The people just can’t let each other be.

And score! The very next day we are taking our employee as our plus one to the wedding. Or maybe just because our woman needed someone to carry her… easel. I’m not sure if we’ve actually heard her name yet but her caller ID said Cynthia so I’m taking a stab in the dark here that her name may be Cynthia. At least we can’t mishear spelling… looking at you America.

Preparing for this trip of unknown length Cynthia mentions the deadline on that book they need to meet so I guess this has quickly become a working trip rather than anything anyone will actually enjoy. Cynthia also says the magic words that this will be the first Christmas the family has celebrated since her mother passed away. Despite her involve and probably depressed family she thinks she’s doing her employee a favour because he was going to be alone on Christmas anyway. I would…. I would rather that…

The man also hasn’t dated in the last decade, which I presume is conveniently the same amount of time he’s been in love with his boss. He, on the other hand, is able to count all 6 relationships that Cynthia has had and crashed into the side of a mountain in the past 2 years on his hands.


Cynthia: “At least you haven’t screwed up literally 5 relationships in the last 2 years.”

Employee: “…. Ronaldo….”

Cynthia: “Argh! Stop! He doesn’t count!”

Employee: “….?”

Cynthia: “Because I can’t handle two hands.”

Me: “Wait… everyone has two hands… you dumped him because… ohhhhhhhhh that guy was counting on two hands!”


Just as Cynthia is claiming everything is going to be perfect this Christmas she gets pulled over by the police just as she is entering Quechee….. Queeeecheeeeee. What a place to say you grew up in. I wished I lived somewhere with a name like Quechee.

Scott, the alarmingly young police guy, has pulled Cynthia over because that’s apparently what policemen do when they see someone they recognise driving down their hometown road. We finally learn the employee’s name – Liam – and the fact he ‘draws pictures’ by which he means he is an illustrator. We only discover this because Scott immediately presumes that Cynthia is now married to the guy and she quickly waves her hand in Liam’s face and confirms he is nothing but a work friend.

Prediction #2 – Cynthia and Scott used to date

Apparently Cynthia’s sister… Janice? Jan? Jans? J….. fuck it, I don’t know what he said but she’s been telling everyone Cynthia is coming to screw up her wedding because her big sister gets waaaaaaaaaaaay too excited about weddings. As far as I can see the woman gets way too excited about everything. Some may find this endearing but me and her sister are very much on the other side of the fence. I am enjoying Liam though, he’s played by the sex pest teacher from the Netflix Scream series but I can enjoy his face this time because he’s not trying to have sex with a teenager in every episode.

And score!! In a delightful conversation between boss and employee we find out Scott was Cynthia’s first boyfriend, which also explains why there were so many shots of these two guys face’s when Scott suggested he and Cynthia should hang out sometime while she’s back home.

Cynthia moans that there are no lights or Christmas decorations up at the house so sends Liam on in to face her sister JANET while she goes looking for her Dad in his giant workshop, barn thing. Two seconds in the empty room tells her he has abandoned ship and neither has Liam gone into the house because apparently Janet is quite terrifying. I hope the man sitting at the counter and typing at 60 miles per hour is Janet’s fiance because it would explain the absolute look of terror on his face. Or maybe he’s just typing so quickly he’s about to shift into a different dimension. Either was this is Roger and soon he will be part of this terrible, terrible family dynamic. Or maybe that’s the reason for the terrified look…

Oh, it also turns out that guy from the cafe was named Jason not Alex and yes, it turns out everyone knows that Cynthia is overbearing as shit in a relationship and apparently this spills over into everyone else’s relationships and this whole family has really annoying voices. Cynthia also writes ‘Felicia Flowers‘ books and apparently they are so good because she ‘writes what she knows’. I dread to think what these books are about and how many children she might be convincing to go out in winter with no tights on.

According to Janet their Dad is struggling a little and will be even more so when she moves out with Roger, her fiance. They haven’t even had time to put up the Christmas decorations, like ol’ Cynthia eagle-eyes hadn’t already noticed.


Dad: “That sounds like my girl!”

Me: “Yeah, well, I’m pretty sure all the neighbourhood dogs know she’s home by now, too.”


Cynthia immediately shirks all responsibilities by prattling on about Christmas decorations and dragging every other fucker into this decorating frenzy with her. Only Liam truly suffers as he is elected the main victim that she will be carting off around town to buy supplies. I don’t know why Liam seems so awkward with this family when Cynthia leaves him with them to go and get changed. They all clearly know him and the fact he should be married to their relative by now.


Dad: “But if you do get any designs on my daughter then remember I’m a hunter. A good one.”

Liam: “Good to know.”

Roger: “He gives me that speech every day.”

Me: “I love how completely fucking terrified Roger is all of the time. Maybe if he stopped looking so much like a deer in the headlights the Dad would stop trying to gun him down so much.”


Apparently Roger also has mystical powers and can teleport from one side of a room to the other which doesn’t escape Liam’s notice when he asks how the hell he got behind him so quickly to be terrified in another spot of the kitchen. On our journeys it turns out Cynthia just happens to know every eligible batchelor in Quechee and when picking up a wreath we meet Grant, who she used to date in high school. I feel Liam should be running the fuck away because Grant is overseeing a fundraiser and these men are just EVERYWHERE. Cynthia just keeps telling everyone that she and Liam are simply friends and nothing more, much to the increasing decline of that man’s self-esteem.

Grant offers Cynthia a wreath from his private reserve in a box under the table because apparently, every year, 5 minutes before closing there is just a tidal wave of single moms who end up having to pick through the scraps of what people have left in their wake. Grant keeps the box hidden for them because they deserve good-looking wreaths more than any other member of society so their ungrateful children can not appreciate them for the festive season. Clearly these single mothers have not got to grips with using their children as slave labour to churn out beautiful looking Christmas decorations all day while they’re out at work. Call it a game or an educational experience, whatever, just get those wreaths made, kids.


Cynthia: “How did we ever break up!? Crazy!”

Grant: “….”

Liam: “Ya know they all look the same to me sooooo let’s go back.”

Me: “Before we meet any more of your ex-boyfriends that you are still overly forward with.”


Prediction #3 – Grant is serious competition for Liam. This is a race.

Cynthia continues to be consistently overbearing and is making cookies because the biscuit barrel was empty but she refuses to go store to buy Christmas cookies. Instead she will just use other people’s ingredients they so carelessly left lying around in cupboards. Even Liam is asking if today’s plans involve meeting more ex-boyfriends throughout this entire conversation there are many shots of a partridge in a pear tree in a cage that is being walked up the drive by a woman. When Cynthia opens the door to her this woman starts belting out the first line of ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ and looking very pleased with herself before she simply hands the cage over and gets the fuck outta there.


Cynthia: “Can you give me some more information? Is this for me? Do you have a business card?”

Me: “Does it even come with care instructions? The fuck do you do with a partridge in a cage with a fake pear tree? Who runs a business like this!?”


This incredibly thoughtful gift comes with a very considerate note saying ‘Merry Christmas To My One True Love’ with absolutely no name from either the sender or to the recipient. Cynthia immediately jumps to 100mph and claims this is a romantic Christmas mystery. A Christery, if you will. That’s right, she went there. Janet has clearly never seen an actual tree because her main concern is where Cynthia will plant that plastic tree back in her apartment. I would really be more concerned about where you’re going to plant that live friggin’ bird right now.

Prediction #4 – Liam is sending the gifts because he has suffered enough time with her to know she adores both Christmas and needless romance

Janet has to leave this madness because she has a wedding to plan and a house to sell. I hope….. I hope not the house her dad is currently living in and that’s what she really meant when she said he might struggle once she moved in with Roger…. you know… on account of suddenly being homeless and all.


Liam: “How do you know this is for you? Janet is the one getting married.”

Cynthia: “Janet is marrying her accountant.”

Me: “That’s the most logical thing you’ve said so far.”


Liam wants to ask if Roger sent this caged insanity anyway and I presume this is just a cover to mask the fact he is sending the gifts. He’d better be anyway, I want my own points. We are treated to a Christmas decorating montage where, for a woman so obsessed with dating everyone and being in love all of the time, she is really fucking blind to the man allowing her to boss him around and decorate her family home and dance on her porch with her. All of these films would be at least 40 minutes shorter if they weren’t all so romantically blind and lived in reality.

The family, at least, appreciate Liam’s hard work and Janet recalls that one year a tree lost all its needles because 8 year old Cynthia didn’t know that trees don’t drink eggnog. At 8 years old I really feel something of this sort should have been covered in school or…. you know, your general life. Liam can’t help taking the chance to ask Roger if he sent the bird but at the first mention of a Christmas wedding Roger is praising the logistics of it all. Everyone has the day off so everyone can come and your Christmas list becomes your wedding gift list. This man is nothing if not logical and that is exactly why he would never order that fucking bird.

The time has actually come for Cynthia and Liam to do some actual work and it is at the point where Cynthia is just throwing ideas around that I realise she hasn’t even written this book that needs illustrating and is making it up as she goes along. She also expects Liam to draw along like a terrible episode with Bob Ross. That is until she gets distracted by a wedding dress she finds in some sort of crawl space that fits her perfectly but was actually her mom’s.

Prediction #5 – Cynthia is going to ruin the wedding by making it a double wedding and wearing that dress!

Cynthia keeps banging on about the fun surprises her mom and dad would leave for each other and if Liam has been hanging around with her for as long as he definitely has he is the one sending the gifts. It is at the point Cynthia waltzes off, shirking her work responsibilities now, to show her sister this dress and I am alarmed that she’s wearing such weird thin heels indoors. You’re at home and there is snow everywhere! Wear trainers before you trip over that damn dress and break your neck.


Cynthia: “Look what I found! You’ll never guess where it was.”

Janet: “In the closet upstairs in a box labelled ‘Mom’s wedding gown’?”

Me: “Well that all seems to check out. Sorry for wasting your time, madam.”


Cynthia tries to make a case for Janet wearing her dead mother’s dress and how dare could she go and pick her own wedding dress without her big sister anyway? Janet claims she has bought a dress which can actually be worn again! and Cynthia shoots her own argument right in the face by demanding a wedding dress should only be worn once because it’s special. Buh-bye deceased woman’s wedding dress. Buh-bye now.

Luckily the second day of Christmas is here and I’ve just realised how many fucking birds are in this song when those damn turtle doves show up. The place is gonna be overrun, it’s a good job they live on a farm where I have seen zero farm work and in fact zero livestock. Once more the delivery woman sings at Cynthia before running away and there’s a whole deal about why turtle doves are called turtle doves.

Cynthia is quite confused because they don’t look like turtles or eat turtles so apparently we’re at a loss and definitely won’t be googling the answer any time soon. (Spoiler: it’s because of the turr noise they make which lead to their Latin name turtur. Hell yeah.)


Dad: “You remind me of your mother.”

Me: “Oh, was she batshit insane, too?”


Cynthia is totally cool with dragging her Dad along to the local pet store to see who bought these birds because I presume the woman always needs to be supervised. She also just cannot let a surprise be a surprise and wants to ruin the entire thing for herself. It turns out the woman who owns the pet shop is madly in love Cynthia’s dad and again for a woman people claim just loves romance she is completely fucking blind. The nice, not crazy, woman informs us she can’t actually sell turtle doves because you need a special permit just to import them in which she certainly doesn’t do because she’s not fucking nuts. Unfortunate we are just in time for Scott to turn up with some fliers for the Quechee carnival. Cynthia begins to suspect it might actually be Scott sending the gifts but I can legit already say no, the man can’t even remember to give out fliers, he ain’t gonna remember the entire ’12 days of Christmas’ song. However we do get free tickets to the carnival!!

At this point Kieran joins me during an ad break so he hasn’t yet experienced the wonders of Cynthia’s voice or general existence.

Cynthia has left these birds in all their original tiny cages, which is unimaginably cruel, and Liam doesn’t even get chance to draw them like he wants to because now three french hens have turned up and Cynthia immediately needs to find out where they came from. She takes them off to the city to visit a pet shop that has the permit to import turtle doves… or at least that is what I thought was happening because the next moment we’re in a giant office building. Liam suggests they just don’t ruin the surprise like normal people whilst Cynthia is busy pretending she and Liam are from animal services.

Liam is meant to be acting tough so introduces himself as the bad cop which apparently works because the office guy hands over a file to them. The person sending the gifts will remain anonymous until the last gift is sent, as per the instructions in a letter they received which no, they are not handing over to Cynthia.

At least the next set of birds are fake before actual animal control drops in on their asses. Janet once more has an excuse to escape this mad house of birds because she has cakes to taste. Cynthia keeps banging on about Grant, much to Liam’s horror, and although Liam clearly didn’t expect to be here to see this outpouring of crazy at least now he can stop her from getting engaged to Grant in the space of two weeks.

At lunch with Grant she signs some of her own books for him to give to nieces and nephews and I gotta say… those books look hefty for children’s books and nothing at all like the picture books I was expecting. The illustrations that we very briefly see on the cover also look nothing like the illustrative skills we have already seen from Liam making me question whether they could have found better props, at least.

Speaking of Liam, all he wants to do is draw these fucking birds. So much so he has even moved himself out to the barn in order to get some peace and quiet except now Scott is interrupting him whilst looking for Cynthia. He even mentions the gifts she has been receiving. How does everyone know about the secret admirer suddenly? Other than the fact Cynthia legitimately cannot keep her mouth shut… Liam just keeps drawing these gifts and says it’s just something hes working on….

Prediction #6 – Liam is working on a giant flip-book to commemorate all this effort he has gone to

Meanwhile, back on the date, Cynthia is getting real fucking weird and incredibly forward with poor Grant before…. I actually paused the film to laugh at this. Cynthia is pawing at the man’s hand like a limpet when the waitress addresses him as ‘father’. Grant takes his scarf off to reveal his dog collar. Grant’s neck has always been covered and he’s just terribly Christian now and is real big about this confession Cynthia was about to make presuming he was the one sending the gifts.

The next day even Dad finds an excuse to leave the house so he doesn’t have to watch his one insane daughter try to fit five tiny golden rings on her fingers like inedible hula-hoops. Janet thinks it might be Scott and Cynthia thinks it’s Jason, despite the fact he broke up with her. According to Cynthia’s misfiring brain cells that was just a big fake-out. Honestly, this woman deserves to be alone forever.

She is so obsessed that she drives all the way back to the city and Jason’s apartment only to find another woman in it. This woman is a terrible burden on the environment, society… the galaxy! I’m more surprised that Scott isn’t there to meet her on her way back into town and pull her over again. Finally Cynthia does the sensible thing and gives. the fuck. up.


Janet: “It’s so obviously who your one true love is, the answer is literally right in front of your face.”

Liam: “It is?”

Janet: “Scott.”

Me: “Someone called the motherfucking ambulance because this guy just got burnt.


The next day all day Janet really wants to do is just plan her fucking wedding but instead Cynthia and Liam are having a pillow fight with 6 giant pillows with geese on to the point she can’t even hear her own phone call. Damn it. I was really hoping for 6 actual geese on this day….

Even Kieran comments how dangerous this pillow fight is when the Dad starts flinging pillows at people and making this site a potential fire hazard. The boy just knows.

The terrible duo have gone Christmas shopping, probably because her family have requested Liam gets her out the fucking house for a few hours, and for some reason Liam is buying presents for Janet and the dad. Liam already has something for Cynthia, which I presume is a wedding proposal, and all Cynthia wants to talk about is Scott. This woman is the most fickle person on earth; Liam needs to hurtle himself to the hills before he marries her only for her to fall in love with the local barista four weeks later. Cynthia has a MOMENT of clarity where she asks if it might be Liam and he fully admits it before holding his hands up and going ‘naaaaaaaaaah’. He probably realised if he admits it she might actually turn her sights on him.

Cynthia has set up an adorably insane little chart on the fridge and every morning she crosses off the next gift. Day seven is seven bottles of  ‘Swan’s Champage’ which I can get behind! Let’s all get rat arsed in the name of Christmas and all that! By the way, their dad is not good at pouring champagne. They’ll be drinking froth for hours before they get any actual liquid.


Dad: “It’s time for a toast your mother always used to make. To family… past, present and future. Let you always be in our hearts, if not in our hands.”

Me: “…… In our hands……”


Cynthia once more blows off work obligations to go and have a date with Scott who she is suddenly having all of the feels for. I can’t tell if Liam desperately tries to set those chickens free of their tiny prison because of animal cruelty or to distract Cynthia and make her late for her date. Even after falling on the man this woman is unphased! If films have taught men anything it’s that when a woman falls on you she will immediately and literally fall for you at the exact same time.


Dad: “Why aren’t you spending Christmas with your girlfriend?”

Liam: “I don’t have one.”

Kieran: “The Dad is like ‘HA! You nerd’.”


While playing chess Dad is giving double advice, telling Liam to just make a damn move and even if it’s the wrong move at least he will have tried. Unfortunately Cynthia interrupts and is wearing her damn date outfit again. You know, the one without the tights!! Liam attempts to remind her that on the drive into town she wasn’t even that keen on Scott and now she’s obsessed with him. Despite the fact the man professes he cares about her, and asks her to slow the fuck down and stop getting herself hurt she experiences immediate amnesia of that scene the moment she opens the door to Scott and some carollers who start belting out a song at her.

I would literally have walked back into that house and slammed the door on him. Nuh thanks. At least the carollers look interested in Liam but he does the sensible thing and slams the door on them.


Scott: “You know, most of all people just call me when they need help.”

Me: “Well………. you’re the police………”


Cynthia is impressed when, on the date, Scott remembers she likes cupcakes and this means he knows her far better than she ever presumed. Woman, within the first 5 minutes of watching this film I knew you loved cupcakes. What is your god damn deal? Liam is casually drawing pictures of Cynthia herself when she rocks back up with Scott and, on her very doorstep, he essentially takes the credit for the mystery gifts. What an absolute prick.

Prediction #7 – All will eventually be revealed about Scott at an unfortunate moment and that will be this relationship’s demise

We now have 8 maids with raw milk in pails dancing around the house, just to make things even more awkward. At least they piss off afterwards and don’t just hang around the house like the birds they’ve shoved out in the barn thing. We find Roger working on something finance-y on his laptop and he does not look like he has fucking relaxed at all. It’s really no surprise when Janet shouts at him after catching him reading a wedding magazine. She is really against a big ol’ wedding and just wants something small, calm and simple. Roger looks real crestfallen about making the effort but Janet reminds him where going around chasing giant romantic gestures gets you. It gets you on the same psych ward as her big sister. Unfortunately, Cynthia was listening to the part where Janet reminds her fiance that chasing romance has gotten Cynthia nowhere but I get the distinct feeling that is not going to even put a dent in her manic disposition.

Liam is out chopping wood at the work barn thing when Scott comes up asking for advice on his big date with Cynthia that evening. It turns out he really doesn’t know her that well and it doesn’t strike him as strange at all to be asking her employee for dating advice… Unfortunately me and Kieran just cannot figure out what the hell the man has planned. Whatever it is, Liam does not think it’s suitable for cold weather which Scott somehow forgot about, despite standing in actual snow at the time. Whilst it is also snowing. I can’t even…


Scott: “I’m thinking (unintelligible words).”

Me: “Pot pie?”

Kieran: “Popeye?”

Me: “What the actual fuck is this man saying?”


Even the dad is legitimately astounded by Liam’s stupidity which lead him to give Scott some sound dating advice. He probably goes back into the house to get his hunting rifle out and just put the man out of his misery.

Scott has taken Cynthia off to the community centre for their annual Christmas cotillion, so it’s a good job she was dressed appropriately despite not knowing where the fuck they were going at all. The woman just will not stop giggling and having the greatest time ever. She’s not right, I swear to God. The highlight of this dance was Kieran playing Super Mario Odyssey next to me and shouting “YOSHI!? OH MY GOD I’M YOSHI!”

The next day all Cynthia can talk about is Scott and how great he is and Liam is quite surprised to hear Scott take credit for sending the mystery gifts. I feel he is about to break the snooker cue he is playing with right over his own face in a bid to end this actual nightmare. Even worse, Cynthia is now ditching Liam and taking Scott to the wedding instead because apparently they will get to dance and… that will just be better, don’t you think? Liam, seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you? I assume he just agrees for an easy life and hopes he can escape this hellhole and take the birds with him while everyone else is busy getting married.

Prediction #8 – Scott’s lies will be revealed at the wedding and Cynthia really will ruin her little sister’s big day because it will be so dramatic

The next day even Roger manages to smile and look like he is actually enjoying himself with the 9 ladies dancing around the hallway. Cynthia rocks up with her phone two seconds too late and asks if they can do it again only for Liam to notice someone called Maggie amongst the dancers. She responds by shouting LEMUR especially loudly which I suppose you can get away with when you went to college with someone. Why is it that whenever old acquaintances see each other with someone they immediately ask whether they are a boyfriend or girlfriend. How about asking their fucking name first? Why are you all so obsessed about dating?

Prediction #9 – Maggie serves no real purpose other than to make Cynthia realise she is medically a moron

Liam and Maggie are happy talking in the foreground while Cynthia downs wine in the background. For once, seeing someone down a glass of wine does not make them any more relatable to me. I just think she’s really adding to her problems. She also thinks it’s a big deal they’re going to the carnival together when neither of them are even from around here. Her dad tries to explain there is not a monopoly on the Quechee carnival but she is not even listening when he suggests she might actually be interested in Liam. Instead she is too busy chewing her hair and preparing to cough up one hell of a furball later.

I dread to think how crazy Cynthia will get now she is trying to be in love with Scott and jealous over Maggie at the same time. Her little brain will just explode. They have also just abandoned the 10 lords-a-leaping to go to the carnival instead, the former of which are hammering on the doorway in vain and hurtling themselves around the driveway.

At one of the stalls Roger is having a crisis of faith but luckily it is Grant’s booth he has gone to. Roger wonders if withholding information is the same as lying to someone and he just wanted to surprise someone he loves. Grant is very open about being a father now and doesn’t even have his scarf wrapped around his neck properly so he feels fully qualified to tell the man it will all work out no matter what he does. I have a feeling Janet probably won’t enjoy whatever the plan is. Meanwhile Maggie is being very forward and informs Liam he is very clearly in love with his boss so she may as well just serve as a tool to make the woman jealous. Maggie knows not of which bear she pokes.

Their dad can be found briefly hanging out with pet shop owner who is nice enough to give him some free cookies to him. It almost looks as though everyone is getting sorted on a relationship level… that is, until the woman suggests the dad needs to look after himself and not stay cooped up in the house all the time. She asks if he’s going to stay for the jamboree but the dad quickly makes his escape. She pushed one jamboree too far, it would seem.


Pet Shop Woman: “Are you sticking around for the big jamboree?”

Kieran: “Hayley, are you sticking around for the big jamboree?”

Me: “No, I’m too sober for that.”


This evening when Cynthia and Scott are saying goodbye at the door she is much less bothered about kissing him and more interested about getting in the damn house. Probably not wearing any tights again and realised she has actual frostbite coming. It was at this point I really had to check how long of this nightmare fuel was left and found the fire would still be going strong for another 30 minutes.

Fortunately Liam is waiting just inside the door, at midnight, to serve her Irish coffee without the coffee. I really don’t know why he is still trying with this woman. I can’t tell if it’s endearing or a sign he is the dumbest human on earth right after Cynthia herself. Maybe they are made for each other. Cynthia is very happy to hear how it’s never going to work out between Maggie and Liam but claims she is still ready to settle on Scott, despite the fact she is aware it makes no sense herself.

Liam just wants to make sure Cynthia is happy and unfortunately she says the words ‘you are such a good friend’. Now… me and Kieran watched a programme once where this guy was saying goodbye to a woman at her door and went ‘you are such a good friend’ before very slowly leaning in to kiss her. The whole thing was very awkward and for about two weeks later Kieran would constantly come up to me and say those words before dramatically trying to kiss me while I laughed openly and loudly in his face from both hysteria and gut-wrenching embarrassment for the actors who had to do this in the first place.

Because of this I almost missed the moment Janet comes out in her wedding dress that Cynthia promised not to comment on, and is doing quite a good job, until Janet then asks her what she thinks…….. It’s a fucking hideous wedding dress, I gotta say. Janet really just wants a simple and quiet wedding so now is probably not a good time to tell her there is an alarming band of pipers outside who the dad has casually just bribed with a hot breakfast in order to have them help set up the wedding venue for the rehearsal.

I’m enjoying the wedding venue because it’s the closest thing I’ve seen to a fire hazard all film. Scott and Cynthia can’t help talking through Roger’s speech which is not only rude but surely now he has ruined the surprise for Janet and she has to listen to how great she is again in a few days and pretend she hasn’t already heard all of this before. Either way, Scott mentions he has a big surprise for her at this rehearsal and in a moment of sanity she suggests that maybe Scott shouldn’t spring his surprise at the rehearsal because it might overshadow the entire thing. Scott admits that maybe 12 pipers piping would be a bit too much during someone else’s wedding rehearsal at which point Cynthia gets REAL fucking crazy. We had seen nothing yet.


Cynthia: “It’s 12 drummers drumming. The pipers came today.”

Scott: “Oh…”

Cynthia: “Do you… do you even know the song?”

Scott: “Yeah.”

Cynthia: “Why don’t you sing it?”

Scott: “Right now?”

Cynthia: “Yes, right now.”


Unsurprisingly Scott did not know the correct lyrics to the song but I died at the point where Cynthia had to remind Scott how to count with this brutal fucking line.


Cynthia: “It’s 8 because numbers go like this. 7, 8, 9.”

Kieran: “What a bitch.”

Me: “What a hero.”


Cynthia stalks out of the wedding rehearsal, which I suppose is better than overshadowing the actual wedding, and she is pisssssssssssssssssssed that Scott has been lying to her for a week and taking credit for someone else’s work. Cynthia is horrified to hear that Scott might really think she was shallow enough to value these gifts and showy romantic gestures over an actual connection with another human being. To which both me and Kieran look at the TV and go “Errrrrrrrrrrrr………. yeah?”

Cynthia breaks up with Scott in a spectacular fashion where she tells him just how fucking wonderful he is but just not wonderful enough to be able to count to 10 or date her. Luckily Liam is still up and working so she can run in and start feeling him up and tell him how much she missed him at the rehearsal dinner…. you know…. despite the fact she uninvited him.

Cynthia finally reveals she knows Liam is the one sending her the gifts and he rightly points out that is because there is no other eligible batchelor left in the town. Liam is apparently over this shit which makes no sense because she has done much worse and he was still there at midnight showing up with whiskey. I understand people have limits but the director’s really should have made it clear that Liam even had a limit much sooner than this. Now he looks as crazy as Cynthia as she stands there and demands this man be her leftovers while she cries and whinges and he goes to find a motel so he can get the fuck out of there in the morning. So…. if Liam isn’t sending those gifts… who the fuck is?

Prediction #11 – With no other avenue left to turn down… the dead mom is sending the gifts from beyond the grave to remind her family that life still goes on without her and really she’ll always be there… and so will all those fucking birds

That evening, when everyone is back home, even Janet admits it wouldn’t be a normal day if it wasn’t completely absorbed by Cynthia and her drama and ain’t even bothered she walked out on her rehearsal. She’s probably relieved. It is at this point that Janet finds Roger’s plans to go to the Caribbean for a week on their honeymoon and thinks this is some very rare strain of a romantic infection Cynthia has passed on to Roger with her mere presence alone. How could he possibly think she could leave her father alone for one week when soon she will be moving out entirely!? For God’s sake Roger, it’s clearly just logic! Why would you ever think that?

Romance is apparently pulling the family apart and everything is so terrible Janet actually turns to Cynthia and champagne for advice. Sure, because patient zero is going to be of any help.

Janet doesn’t have a single romantic bone in her body and only said yes to marrying Roger because it made sense at the time. Despite that foreboding cloud of doom rolling in off the horizon she really does just want him to be happy. Janet doesn’t want to be in love properly because, when someone inevitably dies first, it’s awful and heartbreaking. Cynthia points out she has clearly fallen in love with Roger anyway so it’s all too late and she may as well just fate her impending death with a husband. More importantly I adore the giant swigs they are taking from this bottle. Now that I can finally appreciate.

Cynthia admits that Scott was a giant mistake but mentions nothing of Liam, which is strange that no one has asked where the man who was living in their house has gone. Cynthia is gonna stop chasing romance down like a caveman with a fucking spear but seeing as we heard this a mere 40 minutes before I really don’t hold out much hope.

The 12th day of Christmas involves every fucker dancing around the drive with only one tiny van in the background which apparently brought them all here. Not that is Christmas magic. The woman kindly sings the entire song for us once more and at one point I am sure they are about to get another seven bottles of that champagne back! Well, if the troupe are carrying off the champagne they’d better take all the birds with them because Cynthia was adamant on keeping them out in the cold barn.

Unfortunately, despite taking everything else, they hand back the partridge in the pear tree and I imagine the poor bird is screaming for them to just take him back through the little gilded bars. This time the cage has a letter with ‘Thomas’ on it and this whole time they were for the dad, presumably from his dead wife. Fuck you Cynthia. Fuck. You. There is a very long letter from the mother to remind the dad to keep living and keep being happy instead of moping around and Cynthia apologises for stealing all of the limelight yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet again.

Cynthia decides to steal the limelight again 0.2 seconds later by claiming she has her entire life wrong and she doesn’t need someone to do romantic things for her, she needs someone to torture. I mean! Do romantic things for. So obviously she needs to run off to the bus station in order to stop Liam from returning to a city she has clearly already shown she is happy to drive back to on short notice. She executes this plan to stop Liam by jumping in front of a bus and bleating his name at the thing until it drives off and reveals him on a bench.

For a moment Cynthia believes he is still there because he changed his mind but it turns out that wasn’t even his bus. You know… because more than one bus does run through the place and they don’t all have to work on Cynthia’s schedule. At least she was considerate enough to  bring him back his sketchbook but she does not start strong when she starts repeating ‘It’s you’ over and over again. Liam is clearly worried how much of his life he must give up to convince this woman he did not send her all those birds but she clears up the fact she just meant she has always wanted a love story but it’s very important to be good friends first. Thank god she understands that much about relationships, the amount I have seen based on arguments in these films are alarming.

But it’s fine! Everyone loves each other and he can be plus one at the wedding again and he forgives her for being a complete nut job because he is also technically insane. Roger still looks mildly terrified at his wedding but at least Janet is wearing her mother’s dress and not the hideous material box she wanted to wear before. There is a strange cut scene from Grant starting the wedding to Roger talking about their honeymoon which amounts to the complete sentence: ‘we are gathered here today…. for an all exclusive resort!’. So at least they’re going on holiday properly and at least the dad asks the pet shop owner to dance with him because his dead wife would have wanted that for him.


Dad: Would you like to dance?”

Kieran: “No, I can’t think of anything worse right now.”


That’s the real reason I love this man…. sometimes it’s like listening to myself.

Maggie and Scott take an interest in each other and I hope she doesn’t mind that the man is a police officer and carries a gun but can’t count to ten. We end with some very alarming and intricate dances going on on the dance floor and some casual animal cruelty as we pan away to see they’ve hung the turtle doves up there, above the loud dance floor in their tiny, tiny cage.

If you would like to watch the growth of a small menagerie in a tiny box in the corner of the screen, head over here.

 

Prediction board – 5.5/10

  • Prediction #1 – Cynthia takes Liam home with her because her family were expecting a boyfriend – technically it was more a plus one but whatever. I suffered for this. CORRECT!
  • Prediction #2 – Cynthia and Scott used to date – easy CORRECT!
  • Prediction #3 – Grant is serious competition for Liam – I believe the only thing Grant is serious competition for is the devil, these days. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #4 – Liam is the mystery gift giver – sadly INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #5 – Cynthia is going to ruin the wedding by making it a double wedding and wearing that dress! – Looking back on it I am so very glad this didn’t happen, she would have squealed the entire time. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #6 – Liam is working on a giant flip-book to commemorate all this effort he has gone to – Ya know, I don’t even know what he was working on! It certainly wasn’t the deadline, that’s for sure. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #7 – All will be revealed about Scott at an unfortunate moment, ending the relationship – this was an easy shot. CORRECT!
  • Prediction #8 – Scott’s lies will be revealed at the wedding and Cynthia will ruin her little sister’s big day – hey, it happened at the rehearsal so I’m giving myself half a point to make myself feel better.
  • Prediction #9 – Maggie serves no real purpose other than to make Cynthia realise she is medically a moron – we didn’t Maggie for that but CORRECT!
  • Prediction #11 – The mom planned the gifts to remind her family life goes on without her – CORRECT!

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: Horses are a thing of Christmas past
  • Piano: As is gathering around a piano
  • Carolling: Unfortunately there was a dose of daily carolling in this one
  • Christmas Montage: A Christmas decorating montage!
  • Fire Hazards: I was bitterly, bitterly disappointed that everyone could always safely reach an exit in this film
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: CHECK!
  • Snowing on cue: It snowed pretty much as and when it felt like it. As nature should

 

This was definitely not my favourite film. If it wasn’t for Liam’s face I would have turned it off 10 minutes into hearing Cynthia’s voice.

I don’t even remember making most of those predictions so I suppose scoring just over half is good enough for me.

Let’s hope for people who speak in a more comfortable, human range tomorrow!