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Christmas Advent #11 – Winter Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Catherine looks like a mannequin here…

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

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

 


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

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


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

Me: “Fucking. Idiot.”


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Margaret: “Here we are again. Christmas.”

Miranda: “Here we are…”

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


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

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“Ohhhh I fucked up.”

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

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

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


Ian: “It’s called the Rose Cottage.”

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

 


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

Miranda: “….. Does he like ducks?”

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


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


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

Miranda: “What kind of questions?”

Annie: “About you and your family?”

Miranda: “So what did you say?”

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

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


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


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

Miranda: “Oh?”

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

 


Ian: “I had a feeling he’d show up.”

Miranda: “You did?”

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

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

 

 


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

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


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

Me: “You were interrupted once. ONCE.”


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

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


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

Me: “It’s been a year! Jesus Christ!”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Death can often be found hanging around fire hazards

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

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

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

 


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

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


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

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


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

Me: “2D and… papery.”


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

 

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


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

Ian: “We’re doing this again?”

Me: “Even Ian is sick of this shit.”


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Me: “Get the fuck away from me kid!”


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

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

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

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

 

Prediction Board – 2.5/5

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

Christmas Advent #1 – A Rose for Christmas

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

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

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

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

A Rose for Christmas

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

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

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


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

Eric: “…. OK….”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

Cliff: “Yeah, I’m early.”

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


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


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

Me: “Two seconds ago.”

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Cliff: “Rye bread!? Making it….?”

Cristine: “Eating it.”

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


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


*Eric, pinning green flowers on the float*

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

Eric: “Oh. OK.”

*Eric continues to use green flowers.*

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

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



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

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

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

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


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

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


This woman….

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Andy: “Why would you do that?”

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

Andy: “For me to fail miserably?”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

*Drops bombshell and walks off*

Andy: “You said that?”

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Otherwise, look forward to tomorrow guys.

End of Days

Tomorrow, CW4 is leaving us to move to London. He is…. he is……

He is about as stealthy as the T-Rex from Jurassic park and when he visits the floor above ours in the building…. we can track his progress across the floor. He is also the reason restraining orders exist, I am sure. He is obsessively bulking and gyming all of the time.

When not stomping around looking for food or being reported by women he is most likely to be found complaining about how he doesn’t have a can of Stella in his hand.

So here I have documented his best (this being the operative word) moments, including the entirety of our last pub meal together. He actually leaves tomorrow, but myself and two other people are not around, so unfortunately I will be missing the moment he gets gifted with his leaving presents, including ‘The Wankers Guide to Masturbation‘. Which you can buy here. Forever alone, I guess.


CW1: “Wait, let’s see if we can hear him!”

All listening to CW4 walk around on the floor above us.

Everyone: “Yup!”

Me: “Imagine trying to go ghost hunting with him, you’d be screwed. ‘I think I hear something…. Wait, someone check CW4 wasn’t moving around in a neighbouring town.’

CW1: “In a hostage situation, if we were hiding, I’d be like ‘You can get the hell away from me.’

CW5: “Imagine his SAS training…”

Me: “Yeah, if he parachuted in on the roof of a skyscraper they’d hear him down on the third floor.”

CW3: “Can we ask him to walk…”

CW5: “Normally? I can try, I mean… Right now it just sounds like he’s trying to break his own feet.”

CW1: “But he’s not hurting anyone right now except his own feet.”

Me: “And the structural integrity of the building. If this place falls down they’ll need to do an investigation into CW4.”

CW4 returns…

CW1: “We can hear you upstairs. We tested this time.”

CW4: “I think you’re joking though.”

Me: “We are not.”

CW1: “For lent we think you should give up storming.”

CW4: “I can’t even give up smoking, let alone storming.”

Me: “Storming is life!”

CW6: “That needs to be a t-shirt.”


Myself and CW3 pretending to shoot ourselves in the head due to regular CW4 bullshit.

Me: “Actually that kinda hurt, my nails are too long.”


CW4, during office table tennis tournament: “I’ve got my last match tomorrow. Someone’s gonna lose.”

Me: “Yes; statistically someone will lose.”

CW4: “Yeah, but pray it isn’t me.”

Me: “You want me to pray for you?”

CW3: “Hayley doesn’t pray.”

CW6: “If Hayley prayed for you, you’d burst into flames.”

Me: “I probably wouldn’t even mean to. It would just happen.”


CW4: “I didn’t like the man who presented. He kept doing weird hand movements.”

Everyone, watching CW4 flap his arms around: “…….”

CW4: “What was it CW3 said? He said limp….”

Me: “Limp-wristed?”

CW4: “No, no, Limp Biscuit!”

Me: “Oh my God, Fred Durst was presenting at a Google Training day!?”

CW4: “I don’t think that was his name.”

Everyone: “…………….”


CW4: “Is psychology the one where you have to answer riddles?”

Me: “I’m not trying to Indiana Jones my way into a tomb…”

CW4: “No, like if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around.”

CW5: “That’s philosophy.”

CW4: “What’s that?”

CW5: “You literally just…… Never mind.”


More than once CW5 has put pepper into CW4’s tea.

CW5: “For his last day I was going to prank him by putting cyanide in his tea.”

Me: “That’s a big step up from pepper.”

CW5: “It’s the natural progression.”

Me: “I mean… whether he leaves on his own two feet or he’s carried out, the important thing is he is leaving.”


The Final Meal

It should be noted that CW4 did invite the receptionist who he is not so secretly in love with.

She said she’d come along.

She did not.


CW4: “I feel so stressed.”

CW5: “Well most people have a break between jobs. You leave Friday, move to London during the weekend and start work on Monday.”

CW4: “Yeah, that was a dick move.”

Me – “That should probably be written on his gravestone. ‘Here lies CW4. That was a dick move.'”

CW4: “The only day of rest I’ll have is the Saturday. Every Saturday, on my way to Asda, I go to the park with a can of beer, smoke a cig and watch the swans.”

Me: “I can’t, I’m actually dying right now. I can’t breathe.”

CW6: “Do you ever reflect on your previous weeks there?”

CW4: “Yes!”

Me – “The bench feels a bit different today…”

CW4: “I don’t sit down.”

Me: “Oh shit, he doesn’t even have time to sit. He’s got places to stomp.”


CW1: “So who is getting him smashed at the social?”

CW4: “I’m not going.”

Everyone: “What!? Why aren’t you going?”

CW4: “Well why are none of you going? CW6 never goes. CW3 is on holiday. CW7’s wife is pregnant. CW1 has a wedding. Hayley…”

Me: “I hate people.”

CW4: “Hayley hates people! Why do I have to go!?”

CW1: “Because it’s your last one!”

Me: “It’s not on rest day is it? He can’t go on his rest day.”

CW4: “Nah, that’s not it.”

CW1: “Then what is it?”

CW4, looking wistfully at the ceiling: “………………..”

CW6: “I’ve never seen him so quiet.”

Me: “I imagine that’s the face he pulls when he’s watching the swans.”

CW6: “I hope he has sad music playing in the background…”


CW1: “Highlights? Lowlights? Speech?”

CW6: “Yeah! Speech!”

Me: “Shouldn’t he wait for tomorrow on his actual last day?”

CW6: “But a lot of us aren’t here.”

Me: “I know.”


CW4: “I don’t think I had any problems with any of you. I mean, I’ve never worked with you two. (Me and CW1.) I wish I had.”

CW3: “Hayley doesn’t.”


CW4, talking about the receptionist: “I asked her to thread my eyebrows and I wondered how that would work because I’ve only ever had them done by a dude….”

Me: “Yeah… women have opposable thumbs too.”

CW4: “Actually, I was thinking about the view I would have when she leans over…”

Everyone: “OH DEAR JESUS CW4!”

CW5, downing beer.


CW4: “I said I’d have to cut down my drinking when I move to London, but that’s not gonna happen, is it?”

CW6: “Nah mate.”

CW1: “You might have to when it’s 10 quid a pint.”

CW4: “I’m gonna have to find a new park…”

CW6: “Do you name the swans when you’re there?”

CW4: “I named one Daniel.”


Getting back to work and seeing the receptionist has put up a sign at the desk.

CW3: “Ooh, receptionist is currently unavailable.”

Me: “That’s just for CW4’s benefit.”


CW5: “How do you think he’ll react to the book we got him?”

CW3, putting on a voice: “Huh, huh, huh, you guys know me so well.”

Me: “Yeah, that’s it. I don’t even need to be here tomorrow.”


CW6 found a video that sums up both a) CW4’s natural stomp and b) the video we made of all the guys trying to reinact that natural stomp, which I can’t include here because here doesn’t technically exist, as far as they are concerned.

For other CW4 related posts, if you’re really that interested, check out the below because… HE AIN’T EVER COMIN’ BACK!
(I realised this is a bit confusing as someone left and he changed from CW5 to CW4…. I’m sure you can figure out which speaker he is from the dumbassery leaving his mouth, though.)

The ‘H’ is Silent
Fire Drill 101
Technique
Paranoia
Skincare
Laughter is the Best Medicine
Morals
Bro’s Gold