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.
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.
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?
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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….
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!
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.
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…
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…