Despite the fact that I have taken up a large portion of the Sky box’s memory with recordings of Christmas films, from True Christmas and Christmas24, today I turned to Netflix. In these times at least you can always depend on Netflix. It’s always got your back, bro.
Anyway, today I offer you… a Christmas Inheritance. Not the interesting kind of inheritance, just a blog post on a film, really. So, before you come to me looking for that ol’ payday from a deceased relative… awa-ay we go!
I’ve just realised this film is one hour and 44 minutes long and that is actually the length of the film because Netflix has no ads. I mean thank god but… sigh. We get the obligatory shot of the city from above and it turns out that seeing people from this height really freaks me out…
Dropping in on a very expensive looking party, everyone is clinking glasses and saying cheers. Probably congratulating each other on another year of being functioning alcoholics. There are a lot of signs around which say ‘Toys for Tots’ and I can’t tell if this is a charity gala or simply celebrating another great Christmas campaign for ‘Home & Hearth’.
If you ask me Home & Hearth sounds more geared to people who like to go out hunting every weekend while wearing tweed. The only toys they’re handing down to their children are a guide to ‘My First Rifle’.
Either way, a woman is going around looking for Miss Langford and whenever the guests tell her they, unfortunately, have not seen her, this woman gives them the kind of smile you’d give a senile old relative when they tell you for the 502nd time that day that ‘things were better in their day’. You know, back when you could catch hypothermia from visiting the outside toilet in the dead of night or when they really started to get into the swing of fucking up the planet. Those good old days!
This woman spys a Mr Pittman who is more concerned with his phone and tries to ward her off by simply running away. This woman is relentless, however, and turns out she is Mrs Worthington and is chair to the ‘Toys for Tots’ committee. Mr Pittman gives no shits and continues to finish off his messages, which appear to be him closing some sort of business deal. Turns out Miss Langford is his fiance and should have given a presentation on behalf of Home & Hearth 20 minutes ago.
Miss Langford, however, is busy taking her heels off and doing gymnastics in the lobby for a crowd. Apparently this is how you get donations off people for charity. I would be a lot more willing to talk to those people on the street if they went cartwheeling around the place in a bid for people’s time. When some mystery guy says he will quadruple his donation if Miss Langford can vault over a Toys for Tots display, you know it’s all going to go terribly wrong.
Both Mrs Worthington and this cartwheeling woman’s fiance turn up just in time to watch the show. In all fairness the woman vaults the display just fine but Mrs Worthington decides the best time to call out her name would be on her landing. Miss Langford goes tumbling back into the Christmas tree and all is well with the world. My GOD those pine needles would hurt…. I think she styles it out in front of all the press gathered around.
The next day, predictably, it is all over the papers and everyone is gathered around the office to read about the infamous ‘Party Heiress’. Her Dad is marching around the halls looking for her and finds her in a board room dreaming up new taglines for the company. Dad is taking no prisoners.
Dad: “I just spent an hour with Mrs Worthington, talking her off a ledge.”
Me: “Bit of a dramatic reaction but alright.”
Ellen thinks this can all be cleared up by informing him someone dared her in the name of charity so get off her case already. It turns out that, after all this, Dad can no longer retire like he wanted because otherwise the whole company might go cartwheeling into a tree under her ruling. Speaking with his assistant, Alice, he worries that he might have spoilt Ellen after her mother died (yawn) and probably shouldn’t have bought her so many Ferrari’s for Christmas. I can tell you something, if you want to become completely desensitised to death.. watch Christmas films. It’s amazing anyone comes out alive.
Alice presents… I still don’t know this guys name… a wooden box and claims it is his turn to write the Christmas letter this year. Maybe I’ve been listening to too many horror and true crime podcasts of late but this looks to me like some sort of ominous festive ritual. It definitely isn’t… I just wish it was.
Ellen: “Hey, Dad? I was just wondering if you wanted to grab lunch.”
Me: “Which you are obviously also paying for.”
Dad: “I’m sorry sweetie, I have a conference call at one o’clock.”
Me: “He clearly knows he will have to pay for lunch.”
Alice: “I’ll move that to three.”
Me: “Good God, Alice! Stop being so efficient!”
At a predictably very fancy restaurant Ellen wants to make amends for the way she flew into that Christmas tree and wants to prove herself responsible and not just a cartwheeling drunk.
Prediction #1 – Ellen doesn’t seem her own fiance’s type… he’s probably just in it for the business she’s going to inherit
Her initial idea of another fundraiser for Toys for Tots at Valentine’s day, with all of the same press involved no doubt to film her crashing into a giant inflatable heart, doesn’t wash too well with her Dad. He wants Ellen to concentrate more on the spirit of the company and the look Ellen gives him suggests he might have been right about retiring early after all. For some reason she is having a real hard time imagining the regular people, who live in small towns, and actually buy their products, so Dad decides a business trip is in order.
Ellen will be delivering the Christmas letters to a guy named Uncle Zeke in somewhere called Snow Falls that she doesn’t seem keen on. Apparently Snow Falls is where all of this began and where Ellen can find her festive spirit.
Prediction #2 – Ellen will find a new festive man to go along with her new festive spirit
Prediction #3 – Snow Falls is probably where Dad met Mom and maybe where she also died, hence why Ellen seemed pretty reluctant to go
Back at their apartment Ellen’s fiance seems more concerned that she has to leave tonight and their tickets to Maui are non-refundable, rather than the fact they only have a bottle of water and two lemons in their fridge. I know which one I’m more concerned about. There are suddenly a lot more clauses to this trip than I ever imagined and her fiance settles on the bottle of water so he can hear out this insane plot. I’d have rather have seen him casually chewing on a lemon, but hey.
Ellen will be gone until Christmas Eve so should be back in plenty of time for… Maui? If their holiday was that far away I’m not sure why he brought it up in the first place. She also needs to do the entire trip on 100 bucks with a round-trip ticket because that’s all her Dad and Uncle Zeke had when they started out. I feel it’s kind of cheating, then, that she gets to stay at Uncle Zeke’s inn. I think she should have to find and pay for her own accommodation. Let’s see her do that! She is also not allowed to use her credit cards, or in fact use her own name, so that people treat her normally and not like she is going to inherit a multi-million dollar company. I hate to tell her if people have eyes and the Internet then they probably know who she is already but whatever.
That multi-million dollar company is the part her fiance is most interested in because she will be inheriting that if she manages to complete this insane task. He does have a few questions about the mass of letters in the box though and on the back of a greetings card is the entire original business plan for Home & Hearth gifts. I can tell you it is legit the kind of plan I write up when I want to escape the inevitable march to death and boredom that is working in digital marketing. My plans also usually end with ‘International Business!’ too.
Now… this is the part I’m confused by. Dad and Uncle Zeke have been writing each other letters every year, like a newsletter of what happened to them in those 365 days, yet they deliver the letters and box personally so… so what is the point of the fucking letters!? If you’re going to see the man anyway!? What is this madness!? And does that mean only the guy delivering the box writes the letter? Then how do you know what’s been happening to the other guy? How did these people start such a successful business when they can’t even get these simple logistics right?!
Either way the Dad is there to bid Ellen farewell at the bus station which came as a surprise to her because she was expecting to travel by plane. Dad makes sure to strip Ellen of her credit cards and apparently she keeps these loose in her bag and her bra. This woman is a liability.
More questions are raised when Ellen is walking down the coach, looking for her seat, but can’t see any seat numbers. Which raises the question… what the fuck was she looking at on her ticket if no seat numbers exist!? An elderly woman kindly explains to her she just needs to sit her ass down and that there are no call buttons on a bus to order wine.
Kathy: “I’m Kathy Martin.”
Ellen: “I’m Ellen L…. Never mind.”
Me: “Oh my god, woman, you are so shit at this whole living thing.”
Prediction #4 – Kathy will be getting off at Snow Falls too and is kindly going to take us under her wing because you can’t just order wine whenever you feel like it… unfortunately
The moment the bus pulls up there are people dressed in Victorian clothes, carolling and I just already cannot. Ellen almost forgets she actually has suitcases to pick up and is surprised when the bus driver doesn’t have change for her single 100 dollar bill so she can tip him. What ensues is some strange carry-on film where a guy carrying a tree knocks into one of her many suitcases she has left in the middle of the pavement, the suitcase glides gracefully into the middle of the road and a taxi driver hits it, spewing her belongings everywhere.
I’ve never seen a taxi driver that young before but the pair are just young and arguing enough to spell true love.
Prediction #5 – Ellen’s future life now involves inheriting a taxi firm, too
Whilst helping her pick up clothes there is a very odd moment when they both grab some blue…. I don’t even know what it is, but the music that plays and the face the guy pulls suggests it was some ultra-sexy lingerie. It wasn’t. It looked like a blue dressing gown at best. If that’s his idea of a good time this town is smaller than I thought.
He does think this is the perfect time to offer her a cab ride though because, as it turns out, he is the only taxi driver in town and cell reception is non-existent here. Good job he ran down her case when he did. If you ask me, during their ride through town, the place looks pretty well established to say they only need one taxi driver. Maybe they have really good pavements and a solid snow shoveling company in town.
Taxi Guy: “So you’re from New York.
Ellen: “Yeah, how did you know?”
Taxi Guy: “Ah, you just got that look.”
Ellen: “What look?”
Taxi Guy: “Erm… just… you were on the second bus of the day and the second bus of the day is New York.”
Me: “Yeah, you got that second bus of the day kinda look about ya.”
Turns out Taxi Guy went to New York but came straight back.
Prediction #6 – Taxi Guy is very close to Zeke and wants nothing to do with whatever reason Dad and Zeke no longer work together full-time
Taxi Guy brings Ellen’s luggage into the inn and I’m disappointed to say there is a pretty clear path to the exit making this a no fire-hazard zone. As it turns out Taxi Guy is actually the manager of the inn and only drives the taxi when some guy called Herman, who I believe is sitting in the lobby, is suffering from gout. Ya know… that ol’ chestnut.
Our taxi driver finally introduces himself as Jake Collins but unfortunately Zeke left town that morning, as we are informed by a woman called Kelly, who is handing out Christmas cookies to the people chilling in the lobby. Apparently Zeke has gone on some sort of nature commune which is very common and no one ever knows where it is he wonders off to. Kind of reckless, if you ask me. No wonder he appointed somebody else as manager to the inn in case he never makes it back one day.
Jake: “Kelly, he say when he’s gonna be back?”
Kelly: “You’ve met Zeke, right?”
Me: “Well… isn’t that a relief that you’ve met your own boss, buddy.”
Zeke cannot be contacted by phone, we don’t know when he’ll be back and he apparently didn’t know that Ellen was coming who, on introducing herself, calls herself Ellen Langflondon. She then decides Ellen London would probably be less suspicious… except for that whole syllable she has just decided to drop off the beginning of her surname. Apparently there is a landline in her room but she will be charged for it. Good job the cookies are free!
When Ellen calls her Dad, which she is being charged for, may I remind you, he doesn’t seem particularly surprised by the news Zeke is missing.
Dad: “Really? He’s not there? Ha, that’s just like him. Ever since he’s retired he’s lost all track of time.”
Me: “Well I guess that explains the Victorian carollers, then.”
Dad suggests that Ellen just sits tight and enjoys herself until Zeke gets back, despite the fact there are now only three days until Christmas Eve. Previously she said she would be back on Christmas Eve so I don’t know why she is suddenly so concerned with the timing of all this other than to unsubtly give viewers the sense of time that Zeke has clearly lost. Bored of this conversation Dad pretends they have a terrible connection and puts the phone down on her, which I adore. Ellen promptly tries to break the inn’s property by slamming the phone into her suitcase, which promptly falls onto the floor.
Also it turned out that blue thing was a nightdress and I stand by my initial reaction that Jake’s idea of a good time is very simple. He’d be an easy date.
Jake turns up with change for her 100 and the bad news that Debbie’s cafe around the corner is the only room service Ellen will be getting. At least Ellen comments on that fact it gets dark very quickly around these parts because it’s pitch black by the time they’re walking to the cafe. I’m not sure how long these roads are but the corner seems pretty far from the inn.
Jake gives money to some guy on the street for playing a harmonica, who thanks him by name, and despite the man calling Ellen beautiful she simply walks off. Ellen comments she’s kind of on a budget and can’t be handing money out to every man who plays her a harmonica ballad and compliments her which, rightly, Jake finds kinda unbelievable. Her coat probably cost more than my entire house.
Ellen: “My fiance says that giving money to the homeless actually hurts them.”
Jake: “That’s ridiculous.”
Me: “Not if you’re giving them hard change and pelt it at them, I guess? Which I do not encourage. Ellen, don’t do that.”
Debbie’s cafe looks like the place to be… and is probably the only place to be, in reality… and turns out Debbie is Jake’s aunt. That woman has a lot preserves behind the bar… Debbie is played by Andie MacDowell, so I obviously already love her because the 90’s did happen, but she also cooks food and can give me pickles straight from the jar so I’m pretty much solidly on her team. Bonus points if she kills a man.
After we clear up the fact Ellen is merely a guest at the inn and not Jake’s date, Debbie is worried that Ellen is going to miss dinner with Santa. This is a charity event they set up in the village hall, for the kids, to raise money and the basic flyer immediately puts a sparkle in Ellen’s eye.
Prediction #7 – Ellen is going to throw all of her charity expertise at this and have the company back it for mega small-town brownie points
Prediction #8 – The planning of the charity will probably go too far and Jake will claim it’s all about appearances with her and she will find her true spirit or some bollocks
Jake: “Miss London has a complicated relationship with charity.”
Ellen: “I do not! I don’t…”
Me: “No, you really do, the last event you threw, you… literally threw yourself into their tree and missed your own speech because you were busy doing gymnastics for donations. It’s extremely complicated.”
Apparently Zeke comes into the cafe all the time and I’m unsure if he actually does (which seems likely, it’s probably the only place around where you can consume that many pickles at once) or if Debbie is just trying to get Ellen to stay and have dinner with Santa. As it turns out there is a commemorative plaque above one of the tables where Dad (Jim, finally) and Zeke came up with the idea of Home & Hearth gifts. I would like to point out there is an old photo of them and a newer one and the same sign is still up on the wall behind them. Simple editing would have gotten rid of that, people, or are you trying to convince me Debbie just keeps printing out the same sign every year so it looks fresh?
When it comes to the question of how Ellen knows Zeke I am surprised she manages to give the mostly coherent answer that she is a friend of the family and doesn’t just change her name to another capital city of the world. Apparently Debbie and Jim dated all through senior year of high school before he met Nora, Ellen’s mom, who was apparently adorable and smart and even Debbie had to love her. They even got married at the inn.
Debbie recalls that Nora passed away 10 years ago so that Ellen can look particularly forlorn before remembering that Ellen actually needs feeding and leaves her with Jake to look over the menu.
Prediction #9 – We’re gonna get Jim and Debbie back together because what is better than second prize after first prize dies!?
Looking for a suitable distraction Ellen spots a picture of Debbie behind the counter which basically looks as though she is naked and holding a microphone. Apparently Debbie sang with a bunch of local bands and was very good at it. Cue the awkward questioning about Jake’s life and how big city life ain’t the one for him before he gets up to change the song on the jukebox because he can’t stand the song Silent Night. In all fairness, neither can I.
Prediction #10 – Jake went to New York for a relationship and it didn’t really pan out as expected
Debbie comes over to a) check out why Jake is beating up her jukebox which defiantly continues to sing Silent Night and b) tell him Ellen seems nice. Jake is not interested in Ellen in the slightest, all he cares about is getting a new goddamn song.
Debbie: “Jacob, you can’t keep yourself closed off. It’s not healthy.”
Me: “Nah, I think I could lead a full and happy life without ever hearing Silent Night again.”
Insisting that he is fine he continues hitting the jukebox until it stops playing altogether.
For some reason some very sinister music starts playing as we check out the inn but it turns out it’s just Ellen’s meditating music which gets interrupted by the Victorian carollers outside. Ellen decides to settle down and read to this hideous backing track but freaks the fuck out when she feels something in the bed with her. Jake is immediately to the rescue – as half-arsed as his rescue attempt is – and turns out Ellen was freaking out over a hot water bottle.
Jake: “You were almost bitten by a… hot water bottle.”
Ellen: “A what?”
Jake: “A bottle full of hot water.”
Me: “In all fairness, when you put it like that, it sounds pretty fucking bizarre.”
Jake shoos away the crowd who have gathered outside, who were hoping to see this woman mauled to death, presumably, and tries to explain what a hot water bottle actually is. I know we are meant to be getting the message Jake is not so secretly interested in this woman but I’m not sure he has to look at her ass every time she turns around to prove it.
At breakfast the next morning a guy called Captain Williams, who is either drinking cider or piss, complains that Jake has served them whipped cream, not clotted cream. As much of a sin as that is it can’t be helped when Debbie never sent over clotted cream along with the breakfast.
That breakfast is pretty big and there are pastries and bread everywhere. Debbie is seriously an entire one-woman show… or just getting rid of old stock from the cafe. Maybe the clotted cream was too far gone to pass off as edible anymore.
Ellen watches Jake deal with the grisly old guy by refunding him credit to the same amount a pot of clotted cream would have cost and is quite impressed. Turns out Captain Williams comes back every year to spend Christmas at the inn since his wife died. Presumably he moans at everyone on an annual basis too.
Ellen receives a call from her fiance at the desk who is pretty pissed off he hasn’t been able to get hold of her via mobile all morning. Jake feels that sanding behind the desk and looking predictably awkward is better than going back to talk to Captain Williams and, despite Ellen trying to be sweet, her fiance is just ranting about cell phone service and when the hell is she getting back, anyway? Tonight is his office Christmas ‘thing’ and he would like to make an entrance so she’d better be back.
Gray: “Can’t you just drop the letters off and come back home?”
Ellen: “I’m really sorry, babe, but it doesn’t work that way. The tradition is that I have to give him the letters in person.”
Gray: “Tradition!? What is this, ‘Fiddler on the Roof‘?”
Me: “Now I’ve never watched that film and have no idea what it’s about but I get the feeling it might not be about the Christmas tradition of dropping off hand-written letters….”
An awkward conversation later, when Ellen claims she is stuck in Snow Falls, which goes down well with Jake behind her, followed by the fact Karen from accounting will be at the party, so at least Gray will have someone to talk to, which actually does go down well with Jake, the lines go down and we don’t have to listen to Gray anymore.
Taking her anger out on Jake, Ellen complains some more about Zeke not being there and the fact Jake didn’t bother to mystically get hold of him without a phone or the man’s co-ordinates.
It is at this point that Ellen lets Jake know she doesn’t actually have enough money to stay another night – something her father must have forgotten about when he kindly extended her stay without any of her credit cards – and is going to just figure it out on her own. Killing two birds with one stone, Jake offers Ellen the role of housekeeper in order to stay at the inn. Their regular housekeeper is on vacation and Kelly is off sick so now it is down to Ellen to help clean 8 rooms by that afternoon. The room Jake lets her into appears to have endured some sort of Santa orgy and they have also left most of their belongings on the floor and… draped over the lampshade….
Who leaves an inn without their bra and hangs it up on the Christmas tree instead? It’s like -10 out there. Unless you actually want your nipples to be able to cut glass you are going nowhere without a bra!
Ellen has a wonderful time cleaning, which involves definitely not sorting the rubbish into recycling piles, knocking over and smashing a vase, falling backwards into her entire cleaning cart and literally exploding the entire vacuum cleaner by hoovering up someone’s boxers, covering the entire room in dust.
Inevitably this leads to the question of what Ellen even does for a living. Seeing a sign behind Jake advertising a local bake-off Ellen decides to claim she is a baker. Now…. Debbie exists. She has met Debbie… yet she still thinks this would be a fantastic fake career for herself. I am not surprised when, two seconds later, Debbie is fitting her out with an apron and Ellen looks like she would rather die.
Prediction #11 – Debbie will find out who Ellen really is first – before she poisons the clients – and will keep this secret for her even whilst trying to force her nephew and this terrible liar together
I had to pause the film for a while here as I had just tipped up a packet of crisps to get the last bits out and instead of following the usually constant law of gravity, they decided to shoot out sideways and ended up in my hair.
Now that I have picked Jalapeno and Cheddar crisps out of my hair… Debbie has tasked Ellen with separating the eggs. I beg to everything I have ever known in this world that she merely places all the eggs out on the counter and literally separates them.
Whilst Ellen is probably trashing her kitchen, Debbie is getting distracted by a picture out in the cafe of a family who I presume to be Jim, Nora and tiny Ellen. We zoom in on Nora, who looks alarmingly like Ellen (because how else are people meant to recognise the children of their dead parents?) before she returns to the kitchen where Ellen has actually… done nothing.
Inevitably, Debbie drops the bombshell that she knows who Ellen really is but if Jim thought sending his daughter out with 100 quid cash and no credit cards was a good idea then she might as well stand by him and keep her secret. Instead of simply telling Debbie what she is really there for Ellen just vaguely claims she is there to learn something from the people of Snow Falls. I mean yes, she is, but as far as she is concerned she is really just there to hand deliver a box of letters then get the hell out of dodge before she starves to death or blows up the inn.
In return Debbie shares the fact that Jake was once married to a Wall Street broker who he met in college and shortly after she left him for one of her very wealthy clients. I guess that’s what Wall Street does to a woman! Debbie is still insistent on shipping Ellen and Jake’s relationship and tells Ellen she really doesn’t want to see Jake get hurt… which, you know, he might do when he finds out who Ellen is and starts having flashbacks to Wall Street.
Insisting that she is just there to learn, Debbie decides to do the impossible. She is going to teach Ellen how to bake.
The next moment there is a blizzard causing hell in town and poor Baxter, the homeless harmonica player, is trying to huddle under his blanket on the floor in a very exposed and windy corner. I’m not entirely sure how long the man has been homeless for…
Prediction #12 – I really hope we go and pick up Baxter before he freezes to death, maybe Ellen will even have a change of heart about this whole charity thing and learn how to do it properly
At the inn, Ellen’s Christmas cookies are going down well and will hopefully have no lasting effects. Captain Williams marches up to alert them they are out of honey and wants to see the manager. On cue Jake bursts in, towing what appears to be half the town and a crying baby behind him. Asking the cop who has also tumbled into the inn what in God’s name is going on, he informs Ellen that power is out in the East side of town, the temperature is verging on dangerous and they have managed to get most people to the shelters.
The cop leaves just as Jake is also heading back out to get more firewood. Ellen rightly does the math and is confused about how they are going to house all of these people with no vacancies. I fear room sharing is afoot. Bagsy not sharing with the crying child!! Put that in with Captain Williams. He will be overjoyed, I’m sure.
Prediction #13 – A wild one, but I really hope Kathy from the bus turns back up and gives Captain Williams something to be less miserable about
Ellen mutters something about people not being left out in the cold and grabs her coat before heading out, despite Debbie reminding her it is freezing outside and she is not properly equipped for this climate.
When Jake comes back in with firewood Debbie breaks the news that Ellen has wondered off into the night but she turns up pretty much immediately with Baxter. Baxter is adorable and simply doesn’t want to cause trouble but people be vacating seats so he can sit by the fire and… get wet because there are giant clumps of snow in his hair. Probably… get the man a towel instead of a hot chocolate, Deb….
Jake: “Why did you go out there by yourself? You should have come to get me or told the sheriff.”
Ellen: “Well everyone was busy.”
Jake: “That weather out there is no joke, you are way under-dressed.”
Ellen: “You were worried about me…”
Me: “Yes, for the 0.2 seconds that I heard you had gone out at all, apparently. So worried I have to shout at you in the middle of the lobby.”
Jake wonders off because it’s easier to make a bigger fire and probably set the entire inn alight than try and pretend he’s not madly in love with this woman for saving his best friend. Afterwards Jake is assigning people to rooms and will be bunking with Baxter downstairs and seriously, the power is still working in this part of town, let the man go have a hot shower or something! Other guests are offering their sofa’s up and some poor newly weds offer theirs only to have Captain Williams claim it so he can give up his room. If they can get through this night they’ll get through anything.
Peculiarly, on getting a complete room, he gives this to another couple rather than to the mom, her young daughter and baby… presumably so Ellen can offer up her room in the next second. Apparently this inspires some serious feels in Jake but really this relocation makes no sense. The young child is more concerned that they’ll be snowed in for the next two days and Santa will never find them while the mother is concerned about her crying baby and the fact her husband Dennis, stationed over in Germany, might not be home in time for Christmas.
The sound of the screaming child is driving me insane throughout this so even when it gets handed over to Ellen and predictably stops crying I am so delighted for her. Just… for the love of God don’t let go of that child.
Prediction #14 – After the feels of room sharing Jake is going to be simply enamoured with Ellen when he sees her holding this now wonderfully quiet child
At least Ellen does the sensible thing and offers the family up the bed. There is a moment of panic when the small child seems to have forgotten her stuffed dog, Douglas, and Ellen offers up a stuffed bear wearing a Santa costume that came with the room instead. In rolls Jake with fresh blankets and the poor mother has to stand there awkwardly while he smiles at Ellen for 6 fractions of a second too long before finally leaving the room.
It is at this point that Ellen realises Jake is much nicer than her own fiance and heads downstairs in the middle of the night to start clearing up. Noticing a light on behind a door she lets herself in and walks right in on some sort of study where Jake is sketching out some animals. I’m not entirely sure how many artists Ellen has met before now but she claims Jake is one simply because he was holding a pencil in his hand and drawing with it.
Getting distracted on her way out by the veritable amount of tat around the room, Jake explains they are all items for the silent auction, also held at Santa’s dinner. They were trying to raise money for the local soup kitchen but it doesn’t appear to be going all that well. Jake gifts Ellen a wobbling Santa, seeing as they apparently have a million, but I notice it goes right back on the shelf straight after she promises to cherish it forever. It turns out the haul for the auction is pretty dire this year and also happens to be the day after tomorrow.
Prediction #15 – Ellen will swoop in and save the auction at any means necessary
Spotting some more sketches of Jake’s she suggests they are pretty adorable and he should probably do something with them. Again, she tries to leave the study and again gets distracted and starts a new conversation about how much Jake just loves to help people. This is short lived before she grabs her wobbly Santa and attempts to make a break for it… only to be invited on a walk.
Jake: “Hold on. Erm… do you wanna go for a walk?”
Jake: “I wanna show you something?”
Me: “It’s definitely the burial site of all of his victims. You wondered why everyone checked out today at the same time? This is it. He is not interested in repeat customers. You take that Santa and you run and you keep on running until exposure finally gets you.”
Exposure may take a little longer than usual because Jake has decided to lend Ellen a coat and his hat for this little excursion where she immediately starts handing out business advice. What is it with these Christmas films these days….?
When Ellen comments on New York she lets slip that she full well knows about his past and Debbie may have just divulged his history to this complete stranger. I love, in films, where the characters will be in a completely different location but are only just continuing the conversation they were having seconds before. Do they walk to the new location in silence or just keep explaining the same story, over and over again, in different words until they make it to the mark? I like to think it’s the former.
Turns out Jake was a daydreamy art student and out of nowhere, during a romantic dinner, his now ex-wife told him it was over right as they start playing Silent Night. Ouch. Wanting to avoid talking about the classical workings of Silent Night for much longer, Ellen reminds him he was meant to be showing her something and out they pop into a clearing with a bunch of lights strung up and a shit load of ice sculptures.
Jake designs them and Martin, his buddy, uses the designs to teach his classes at the college. Apparently they’re a big hit with the tourists who drop by during Christmas and, considering one of Ellen’s business tips to Jake was to take some bolder approaches… this may include drawing in tourists. Like a trap. Where they will stay at the inn and Jake will inevitably kill them! …. Ahem… With kindness, I’m sure.
Prediction #16 – Ellen is going to try and make these sculptures into money makers
We all admit that, we guess, we’re all not that bad and apparently Ellen thinks this is her cue to tell Jake her mom died when she was a teenager. Her mom came from a beautiful little town that she could never bring herself to go back to and instead just turned to partying and flinging herself into Christmas trees. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel because Jake has unknowingly been teaching her that some things matter after all.
For some bizarre reason Jake asks if this is the part where they are supposed to kiss, which traditionally yes it is, but then Ellen bails at the very last second and there is a whole scene where they just babble mindlessly about how great Jake’s company is and how they came out to look at nothing but it wasn’t nothing it’s all very beautiful and really Ellen had better just get the fuck outta there.
Ellen: “I should go…”
Jake: “Going the wrong way!”
Ellen: “YUP! Yup!”
Me: “I’m feeling all of this, right now.”
Sneaking back into her room Ellen freely admits to herself she has no idea what she is doing before wobbly Santa apparently gives her an idea. This involves sneaking into Jake’s study and stealing a bunch of leaflets for the silent auction.
The next day Ellen runs off to Debbie and asks for a favour. This involves a bollock load of baking in a montage and presumably all of these baked goods will be helping towards the auction. Ellen appears to be going to all of the local establishments in the area in Debbie’s van and if the are willing to both donate something and put a leaflet in their shop window she will give them a jar of baked goods. They must have some serious spirit around here because this certainly isn’t how commerce works.
Inevitably we come up against the guy who ‘already pays his taxes’ and is ironically the one guy running the modern tech shop in town. Being offered cookies and told it’s simply the right thing to do has him donating up an Apple monitor, which is fair enough because no one in their right mind would be buying that shit, anyway. Debbie’s car is beginning to look like both an eye sore and an actual hazard by the time she is tying the boot shut with bungee cord.
Jake is just leaving the inn with the local Sheriff when Ellen pulls up in the gift-mobile. Jake is much better at acting cynical and sarcastic than genuinely impressed and it just sounds like he’s talking to a small child for a moment there. Once more Ellen has to cover up her big ol’ marketing persona (again, pretty badly) and tells him he probably just shouldn’t question her at all.
Prediction #17 – Jake is gonna be mighty pissed that she’s been lying to him this entire time when she knew about his painful past like that was somehow her fault
Just as Jake is thanking Ellen and giving her a much longer than needed hug, which even the Sheriff is looking at with some amusement, who should pull up but our dear…. old… Gray.
Jake rightly looks like he would rather the porch swallow him whole and Gray can’t help feeling Ellen doesn’t need rescuing from the storm after all… I honestly could not help laughing through this entire thing, I adored how wonderfully awkward it was with even the Sheriff wondering when the fuck the roads into town had opened up and let this guy in. Tense introductions completed, poor Sheriff Paul Greenleaf having to introduce himself, bless him, Ellen escorts Gray into the inn before anyone can die.
Ellen: “You didn’t have to be so rude out there.
Gray: “Oh well, excuse me, I’ll try and be more polite the next time some guy is all over my fiance.”
Ellen: “He was thanking me. I bailed him out, helped him with a charity auction, that’s all.”
Gray: “Look, I thought you came here to deliver these Christmas letters and now you’re what, Mother Theresa of Snow Falls?”
Me: “OK, I kinda enjoy this guy.”
Gray: “Come on, let’s get you packed and get you out of here.”
Ellen: “I can’t leave yet! Uncle Zeke still hasn’t shown up.”
Me: “Fuck me! I forgot about Uncle Zeke! Christ… I hope he’s still alive after that blizzard…”
Gray is more concerned with their flight to Maui in 24 hours which… I guess if fair enough because those tickets are non-refundable but Ellen is a new woman now! She can’t be going off and partying on a beach when there could be an old Uncle out there, freezing to death!
Prediction #18 – Gray is gonna see that baby and it’s going to start screaming and Ellen is going to start having major second thoughts
Ellen gives Uncle Zeke a deadline for tomorrow morning and if he still hasn’t shown up she will leave the cards and explain to her father she is a failure after all, I guess. Ellen ships Gray off to her room while she goes to help Debbie with Christmas tea, but not before reminding him she is not Ellen Langford around here.
Prediction #19 – Gray is gonna forget and Jake will inevitably be there to hear the slip-up from the one person who definitely shouldn’t have told him
Gray doesn’t even question what the fuck Christmas tea is until it’s too late and realises there are kids running wild and a baby crying in the room he was going to take a nap in. Fucks knows what he’s gonna do with his time now…
Ellen shows up at the town hall which… looks like the church to me…. to grab the keys to what I now believe is just a communal car everybody shares. Maybe the town hall is just attached to the church… Either way, Jake is there to greet her and hand over the keys before we have a brief conversation about how rude Gray is and how they actually didn’t kiss last night anyway. Jake apologises anyway, considering he knew she was engaged.
Jake: “You’ve been up front with me from the start and I should have respected that…. The thing is…”
Ellen: “…. Jake… “
Me: “Oh, that’s going to be painful.”
Jake: “Just hear me out on this… The thing is it’s been a long time since I felt like I could trust anyone and erm… I dunno; you’re different, you’re honest and it was just nice to feel that way again but I let my feelings get the best of me and I’m sorry.”
Me: “Oh that man’s going to have a straight up breakdown when he finds out…”
Unfortunately just as Ellen is going to let him know the truth, which would be a good time, a volunteer setting up the stage asks for his help and he runs off to stop someone from being crushed by the background. Deciding the man is far too nice to be honest to, apparently, Ellen rushes off before he can return and have his meltdown in the middle of the town hall. Instead, she has the pleasure of returning back to the inn and her miserable fiance.
No wonder she throws herself at serving guests, the alternative is hearing Gray complain about the lack of signal and the fact he will not eat the Christmas cookies she has baked. When Ellen admits she is helping around the inn because she ran out of money Gray is quite frankly terrified that she didn’t call him or her Dad and is enjoying being treated like a normal person. He doesn’t even compliment her cookies, of which he finally eats one, and personally that would have been the moment I dumped him, let alone him telling me I would never be a normal person and fit in with regular ol’ people.
Thankfully Debbie was there to witness Ellen’s visual heartbreak…
Prediction #20 – Luckily Debbie will be there to talk sense into Jake after he has inevitably found out who she is and has stormed off feeling betrayed
Ellen thinks it is finally time to start reading the letters she actually came to deliver and the history of her father’s company and friendship with Uncle Zeke, including photos of her growing up which she can reminisce over. Then, of course, we come across letters cataloging her mother’s illness, eventual demise and how important both Ellen and Zeke are to her Dad.
The small child Ellen is now sharing her room with comes in to inform her they are out of hot chocolate downstairs, so get yo’ ass back out there and start making drinks! Not before she has given Ellen the Santa teddy and a hug though. Ya know… for moral support.
Passing by Debbie’s pickle emporium Jake thinks he might as well go in and enjoy a stiff drink, only to find Gray already set up at the bar. I’m not mistaken, that man is not used to drinking out of a martini glass because he spills some of it down his front when he takes a sip.
Jake is much more used to drinking out of any kind of glass and doesn’t manage to spill it down himself when Gray starts to tell him about his family and their lack of tradition in the face of just buying shiny new things every year. Gray is, I think, meant to be mildly drunk and comes right out with Ellen’s full name which Jake takes a while to cotton on to. Gray hilariously tells Jake to forget any of that just happened before Jake swiftly leaves the bar.
I’m glad to see Baxter is still on the couch back at the house but am most confused by how Jake decides to google stalk Ellen. Instead of just searching for her name, he prefers to go for the term ‘Langford daughter Home & Hearth gifts’ and promptly comes across a video of her falling into a Christmas tree. Ah. Perfect.
Of course, despite everything he knows and has learnt about the woman Jake is gonna be miserable about it and blame her for his previous divorce. In the lobby he is skulking around while Ellen says goodbye to the family she bunked with and gives away the Santa Teddy that I am very sure came with the room…. I hope so, anyway. Gray follows shortly after with her luggage, commenting about how much better the hotel in Maui will be.
Ellen tries to hand the box of letters over to Jake but unfortunately he can’t take it because, as his little sign clearly says ‘Management will not be responsible for valuables’. He’s got a right face on him in this scene and asks whether the bill we be paid by her boyfriend or her dad’s multi-million pound company.
Jake: “We may not have cell service here but we do have the Internet.”
Me: “Then how the fuck did no one know who she was before now!?”
Still in the midst of his massive bitch-fest, Jake dramatically rips up her bill and says they should probably just be honoured that she stayed. Bidding her a Merry Christmas he exits stage right and Ellen continues to stand there trying not to cry about the entire thing. I really don’t know why people don’t just explain everything and keep talking until someone god damn listens instead of bleating the occasional sound and wondering off defeated instead.
Debbie pulls up just in time to say goodbye and will no doubt storm into that inn and kick the shit out of her nephew. Not before she has gifted Ellen with her own monogrammed oven mitts and passed on her greetings to her father. Seeing as Ellen thanks Debbie for keeping her secret I’m gonna presume she went right ahead and assumed correctly it was Gray that couldn’t hold his liquor. He also can’t hold his patience when he starts honking the horn of his car. He has a flight to Maui to catch.
He can go with Karen from accounting for all I would care…
When Debbie enters the inn it is eerily quiet and, even creepier, Silent Night is playing from Jake’s study. Personally I just wouldn’t go in and would presume he had finally decided he had had enough of life. Fortunately for everyone he is just sitting there staring at a wobbly Santa instead and Debbie thinks they should probably talk about it.
Checking the box of letters Ellen realises she doesn’t have the letter from this year. Apparently her Dad simply must have written a letter and I can’t help but feel she definitely would have read that when she was scouring the box the day before… Either way she demands they go back to the inn and Gray demands they fuck off these stupid traditions and just find a gas station instead. From the look Ellen gives the satnav when it starts speaking I think she may be done with technology.
At the very tiny gas station Gray parks up conveniently in front of a bus that is heading back to Snow Falls and unless Ellen is about to commit grand theft auto I believe she is getting on that bus. Not before she has confronted Gray about the fact he couldn’t keep a damn secret for 24 hours.
Deciding she belongs with Gray less than she belongs in Snow Falls she drops his ring in the cup holder and gets on that bus. That was some fortunate movie-esque timing, I must say so. Thankfully she remembers to pick up the box of letters but she legit now has no other belongings with her…
At Santa’s dinner everyone is having a wonderful ol’ time and some crazy woman is up on stage singing. I hope Debbie gets up on stage after this… I also really hope Santa isn’t Jake…. That’s going to make this inevitable chat a little aw… OH THANK GOD there he is in a suit.
Jake hilariously avoids eye contact with Ellen while she asks about this missing letter and tells him she basically abandoned her fiance and I can’t stop laughing. He’s like a petulant teenager. He finally manages to make some sort of eye contact when she shows him she isn’t wearing her ring anymore but is still at a loss. Nevertheless he has framed his sketches and put them up for auction like she suggested which Ellen thinks is sweet enough to divulge her feelings.
Just as Jake is about to stop being such a prick some people come past and he pretends Ellen is a guest who really needs to buy something at the auction or get the hell out. Thank god for wobbly Santa!
Ellen: “How much is this worth?”
Jake: “A gift expert once told me… at least $1,000,000.”
Me: “…. Please tell me you didn’t just give away a mil of your dad’s company for wobbly Santa.”
SANTA IS UNCLE ZEKE!!!!! He hasn’t revealed it yet but I have this revelation two seconds before he reveals he received a letter from a very special friend and begins to read it out to the crowd. I hope it’s not personal…
In reality it’s just asking for Zeke’s blessing to make Ellen the new CEO of Home & Hearth and explaining why she has been incognito. This is quite the revelation to everyone else in the room that she had met and I wonder how Jake would have taken the news if he had learnt this way. Probably still been a miserable little shit about it.
Zeke: “Congratulations, honey. It couldn’t have happened to a finer young lady.”
Me: “He clearly hasn’t watched the Christmas tree video.”
Turns out Zeke was just camping out so he wouldn’t get in the way and she would be forced to stay and get to know everyone. Her Dad also turns up, who is pretty relieved she came back after all, otherwise this would have been quite embarrassing. Turns out he never did put his letter in the box anyway. Classic Dad trick.
Even the tech shop guy has to admit she’s a pro for getting him to donate a free item. This entire time, while Ellen is showing her Dad the auction and suggesting a new festive collection next year, Debbie has been hanging around in the background and keeping an eye on Jim so she can pounce on him the second he is free.
I’ve just realised that means Jim has been back here every year and just not really bothered to check in on Debbie. Will be difficult to avoid her now because she’s up on stage to sing! Unfortunately she’s singing Silent Night as a duet with the other crazy stage woman.
Getting over his fear Jake asks her to dance to this horrible hymn of betrayal and I fear it might become his new favourite song instead. God help us all.
Now that Ellen no longer has a fiance it’s totally fine to kiss her and get in everyone’s way on the tiny dance floor. I would have liked to have seen this film played out by watching someone bump into them, fall over and sprain an ankle but alas, the credits start before we get to see that happen.
You know, compared to some of the car crashes I have witnessed this year this film was kinda fun! Explains why I made 20 friggin predictions! Watch a homeless guy get saved from a blizzard here!
Prediction board – 13/20
- Prediction #1 – Gray is just after Ellen’s inheritance – I’m not sure, ya know – he certainly asked a lot of questions about it but was mostly just concerned with getting to Maui on time… HALF A POINT
- Prediction #2 – Ellen will find a new festive man to go along with her new festive spirit – CORRECT
- Prediction #3 – Snow Falls is probably where Dad met Mom and maybe where she also died, hence why Ellen seemed pretty reluctant to go – CORRECT
- Prediction #4 – Kathy will be getting off at Snow Falls too and is kindly going to take us under her wing – We never saw Kathy again and you don’t know how disappointed I was by that… INCORRECT
- Prediction #5 – Ellen’s future life now involves inheriting a taxi firm, too – technically INCORRECT, not even Jake’s future involves the taxi firm unless that guy dies of gout
- Prediction #6 – Jake is very close to Zeke and wants nothing to do with whatever reason Dad and Zeke no longer work together full-time – Jake had his own issues on this subject – INCORRECT
- Prediction #7 – Ellen is going to throw all of her charity expertise at the auction and have the company back it for mega small-town brownie points – CORRECT!
- Prediction #8 – The planning of the charity will probably go too far and Jake will claim Ellen is just shallow – unfortunately INCORRECT! Gray came back to ruin things instead
- Prediction #9 – We’re gonna get Jim and Debbie back together – CORRECT!
- Prediction #10 – Jake went to New York for a relationship and it didn’t really pan out as expected – CORRECT
- Prediction #11 – Debbie will find out who Ellen really is first and keep her secret – CORRECT!
- Prediction #12 – Ellen will save Baxter from a blizzard that would surely kill him – CORRECT! Thank christ
- Prediction #13 – Kathy turns back up and gives Captain Williams something to be less miserable about – do I really need to remind myself that Kathy never came back…. INCORRECT
- Prediction #14 – After the feels of room sharing Jake is going to be simply enamoured with Ellen when he sees her holding a baby – CORRECT! So cliche
- Prediction #15 – Ellen will swoop in and save the auction – CORRECT
- Prediction #16 – Ellen is going to try and make these sculptures into money makers – INCORRECT! I mean even at the time I was wondering about the logistics of trying to sell them but thought I’d throw it out there anyway
- Prediction #17 – Jake is gonna be mighty pissed that Ellen lied about her identity this entire time after a tragic past – CORRECT! That guy was moody as fuck
- Prediction #18 – Gray is gonna see that baby and it’s going to start screaming and Ellen is going to start having major second thoughts – INCORRECT! Ellen wasn’t even around to see this, she had already buggered off
- Prediction #19 – Gray will reveal who Ellen really is to Jake – CORRECT!
- Prediction #20 – Debbie will be there to try and talk sense into Jake after the big reveal – I… presume so? We didn’t get to see this dressing down but she did say they should probably talk… HALF A POINT!
- Horse and Sleigh: We only got a taxi driver that runs down suitcases
- Piano: There may have been one at the auction but I was too busy trying to avoid the live singing of Silent Night to look
- Carolling: Strictly Victorian era appropriate
- Christmas Montage: Let’s be honest, I should probably change this section to ‘Marketing Montage’ -.-
- Fire Hazards: Only when Jake decided to start building up that fire in an overcrowded hotel
- Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: We don’t actually know when Ellen’s mom died so we’re gonna pass on this one
- Snowing on cue: I mean… we got a blizzard but it wasn’t exactly on cue
OK, so I wasted some guesses on Kathy but she was so worth it! I’m sad she never showed up again in Snow Falls and mysteriously disappeared after getting off the bus.
Still, that film was kind of fun. I have high hopes that tomorrow’s film won’t be a drag either.