Tag Archives: Review

Christmas Advent #22 – Christmas Next Door

It’s 6:54 on a Saturday morning…. Let’s just get on with it and see how awake I am by the end of this.

 

Cue city skyline, festive streets and a skating rink. At least I can always rely on Christmas film opening scenes to have my back. Wait, WHAT!? There is a woman, out on her front lawn just jamming a fuck off bow onto a life-like deer decoration. I really think that should count as both animal cruelty and a crime against fashion.

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The reindeer is watching where she’s going to try and shove that bow very closely

Oh great, Jessie Metcalfe has just pulled up in a sports car to tell this woman the entire street is insane and he would rather not turn his entire home into a fire hazard, thank you and goodbye. The residents of this street seem REALLY against this man who won’t decorate his house. Even this woman’s friend is trying to tell April if she puts one more decoration up in this house she will have turned into a crazy cat lady. That is until she spots two wooden cut outs of Santa beside the chair and loses her tiny mind.

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That’s not joy. That’s a cry for help from someone being held hostage by two wooden Santa cut-outs

Friend: “Oh my god! You still have these!?”

April: “Er, yeah, forever! Do you remember why Mom and Dad gave me these?”

Friend/Sister?: “Yes, I do. It was so you could get your picture taken with Santa Claus, even though you were too old to sit on this lap at the mall, and you cried all the way home.”

April: “No, I’m sorry. You can never be too old to sit on Santa’s lap.”

Me: “…. It’s too early for this shit.”

April: “Here, take a picture of me to send Mom.”

Friend/Sister?: “She will love it.”

Me: “Yeah, I’m sure she’ll really appreciate it.”


There is something which sounds a lot like a riot outside but apparently it’s just Jessie Metcalfe and his buddies and we don’t seem concerned that he might be starting WWIII out there. April has a really hard time understanding that not everyone is quite as crazy as her and I really don’t think adding wine to this mix is going to help any… Meanwhile, Jessie is with his buddies watching football and… what, do they have the fucking windows open or something? How is April hearing him from two doors down!?

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think he might be a happy batchelor…

Maybe it was simply seeing all those bros but when I stretched I managed to high five myself. Although… on closer inspection of these ‘bros’ I feel they’re probably married with kids and so ensues a conversation where two of them try to convince Jessie Metcalfe that he’s missing out. I don’t know about you but their opinions did absolutely nothing for me.


Jessie Metcalfe: “Look, it’s not that I don’t like kids, I’m crazy about my sister’s.”

Friend 1: “Then why’d d’you buy this big house?”

Me: “What does living in a big house have to do with not having children…? Do we all have to live in tiny bungalows?”


I have no idea what Jessie Metcalfe’s character’s name is but it sounds a lot like his friend calls him Uncle Claire. I mean, I’m all for this, and it turns out Uncle Claire won’t be going skiing this Christmas because Bridgette, who he has only been seeing for a few months and is not his girlfriend, is not a fan of the outdoors, either. There’s a lot of things she ain’t but I wonder what she is.

Prediction #1 – Bridgette is neurotic as all hell

Uncle Claire writes books, one of them even being a cookbook, and makes a mean guacamole, we are lead to believe. In complete opposition of this fun, giant house where we get to eat pizza and watch grown ass men run head-first into each other on TV, we go back to Santa’s workshop where we get to drink wine and be driven insane by April and her need for her sister to be engaged already. Her sister is in some sort of orchestra and she really thinks April should audition. Can’t wait to see what instrument this woman can play… Probably that weird stick with bells on.

The woman can’t audition without suffering from hiccups and still can’t get over her first audition where something so terrible happened she has taken it into adulthood with her to put her off ever playing music in front of an audience again. Let that be a lesson learnt.

Oh christ, she plays and teaches the violin. I do not mind when the conversation quickly diverts to her sister and how her boyfriend Steve has only recently bought a restaurant and is now working around the clock. People love owning restaurants in Christmas films, it’s one of the things we can really take away with us from this years advent challenge.

The next day Jessie gets a calls from his mom where she lectures him about letting his niece and nephew down and…. this incredibly successful and eligible batchelor is called Eric. That is a huge disappointment after Uncle Claire… Uncle Claire is also a huge disappointment himself because he has gone to his agent to ask for another extension on his book. I guess there is only so much you can write about enjoying single life.


Agent: “Just between us… what’s taking you so long? I mean it’s not like you’re writing ‘War and Peace’.”

Me: “See? He gets it.”


Eric is getting tired of writing the same thing over and over again so goes home and turns up his stereo to help him concentrate. I don’t know how good the acoustics are in this street or how thin the walls are or even how good April’s hearing is but Eric’s music really puts her off her violin lesson she is teaching. HOW DOES SHE KEEP HEARING THIS MAN!? Unfortunately, while seeing out her student, she runs into a guy called Conrad and I can’t tell whether we all universally hate Conrad or she was just startled that the man was standing on her lawn, waiting for her. Conrad is also not a fan of the lack of decorations outside Eric’s house but the author has more important things to do like be out of coffee and need to go to the store.

I am hoping that Conrad lives between April and Eric, otherwise he is just hanging around on people’s lawns and waiting for them to leave their houses. There is a guy like that on Mom’s street dubbed as ‘Irish Mick’ who walks up and down the street all day long, hoping he might catch you on the way out so he can tell you how cold the weather is lately. Conrad, however, is offering up the services of the neighbourhood to decorate Eric’s house free of charge and with no input from him required.

Prediction #2 – When Eric finally requires the neighbours help they will be more than delighted to ferret around in their garages and slap all of their back-up Christmas decorations on the man’s lawn

Having this crazy guy camp out outside his house is the least of his problems because Nick, his agent, is calling and Eric is getting no more extensions to keep pumping out the drivel he has been capable of over the last decade. Just dedicate a paragraph to how big your TV is and be done with it. It is at this point I find a dog hair in my water, which is strange because we don’t own one.

Moving swiftly on… April rocks up at Steve’s restaurant with her violin. Unfortunately she is late for… something with Steve and her sister because she just had to play at a wedding and had to redo the wedding march three times because the groom kept trying to make a break for it. This also means she lost her chance for a surprise dinner date with Steve’s friend the ER doctor which would have been quite awkward because she is actually there to play violin and accompany her sister on the piano. Maybe she could have taken mouthfuls of dinner between verses, or something. Either way, Eric has just waltzed in with presumably Bridgette of the great indoors.

I don’t know about you but I would not appreciate April walking around the tables and playing her violin when I was trying to eat. This also means Eric recognises her and puts her off her music when Bridgette realises that is the music teacher with the annoying students her not-boyfriend has been telling her about the past few months. April interrupts their conversation about not-boyfriend and girlfriend plans over the festive season, which is probably for the best because I believe Eric was going to try and let her down not so gently, in a public place.

Oh, how about that, Eric’s sister won’t be making it back home just yet and has called up their mother to inform her a massive snow storm has thoughtfully cancelled everyone’s flights for the foreseeable future. It may just be me but their parent looks overjoyed that her daughter possibly won’t be back for a week and now she gets the grandchildren all to herself. I am starting to wonder if Eric’s sister and her husband may be making this snow storm up so they don’t have to go home for Christmas this year.

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‘Oh, honey! How thoughtful to get me such a lovely, early Christmas present!’

April also gets an early Christmas present from her sister, who is about as thoughtful as the snow storm, and has booked April in for an audition with her orchestra. That audition she clearly wanted no part of. Eric’s mom suddenly becomes everyone’s mom when she phones her son, pretending to have the flu, and tells him he’s going to need to take his niece and nephew in for the festive season.

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Shit… why did I lie so publicly about liking my sister’s kids?

Eric: “How long does the flu usually last?”

Eric’s Mom: “Oh, at my age… who knows?”

Me: “Might last forever! I might just simply die!”


I understand the man’s frustration, the difference being my brother would rather trust a babysitter they had never even met before than drop his kids off with me for a few days. They certainly wouldn’t come back the same way they had left and they would have added quite a few choice words to their vocabularies. It is complete news to us that Eric thinks he suffers from some sort of Christmas jinx and that is why he usually leaves town for the season. I can only feel the fact he has to give up his over-compensating sports car and take his sister’s car instead, to even fit these children in, feeds directly into his delusion that he is cursed.


Nephew: “Nice driving, Uncle Eric.”

Eric: “What? I’m not used to driving this boat.”

Me: “I think I might know where you’re going wrong…”


These kids are immediately on the ball and ask why the hell Uncle Eric hates Christmas so much and where is their Christmas tree and cookies and stockings and strings of popcorn, damn it! What sort of Christmas hell is this, Uncle Eric!? I can’t believe that in this man’s giant house he only has one bedroom and is having to sleep on the sofa… One call from his sister kicking his ass into gear later, we are at the Christmas tree lot, trying out best not to pick a tree which looks like it’s been infested by bugs.

In a scenario much like Martin’s, when he picks his over-sized tree, Eric ends up bringing back a fir monster, just in time for April to see and watch him total Conrad’s lawn decorations in his attempt to get the thing off the roof of his car. We meet Chelsea and Liam, finally learn each other’s names and find out Eric has no Christmas tree ornaments.

Prediction #3 – April has more than enough ornaments to share

Bingo! April kidnaps the kids and takes them back to her house, filling their head with all sorts of festive decorating ideas that Eric wants no part of.

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April made all of her Christmas hostages learn a simple choreographed dance to perform inside of their glass cells

I can confirm the tree that they come back to decorate is not the same one they picked up and their festive cheer is really adding to Eric’s festive drought issues. The man won’t even let April climb a tiny ladder to put more decorations on because that is apparently how he broke his leg 6 years ago. I am going to say it was more than likely a faulty ladder or his inability to climb vertically than anything to do with Christmas being out to kill him. It’s out to kill a lot of people but a single batchelor really doesn’t fit the bill. Maybe once he’s married to April and has kids of his own he can really start looking of his shoulder with any real sense of dread.

Probably fearing electrocution, Eric passes the switching on of the Christmas lights to Chelsea. She doesn’t have a book to write.

Prediction #4 – Eric lost the love of his life over Christmas and that’s why he thinks he’s cursed and April is going to break that curse

I adore the Santa which has made it’s way onto Eric’s lawn the next day but immediately confused as to why April is outside putting up more decorations. She is a one woman fire-hazard all on her own.

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Oh, he’ll never notice that.

April and her sister’s mother will be joining them for Christmas day, just in time to meet Eric no doubt, who her sister is just full of questions about. Now… when April finally tells her sister Eric’s full name the penny drops and her sister tells her how Steve owns all of his books. This man’s face is on the front of every single one of his books so how did she not know who he was when she was staring at him in the restaurant while her sister played violin over his table!?


Sister: “His books are part of the reason why Steve still has not proposed.”

Me: “I’m hearing part of the reason. Could the other part possibly be your batshit insane sister?”

April: “What kind of books does he write?”

Sister: “The kind which give men great reasons to stay single.”

Me: “Well then they’re clearly not that good because Steve has been dating you for years already.”


Eric’s mom is having the best Christmas of her life, pretending to have the flu and no grandchildren running around the place. Eric, on the other hand? Still can’t write anything and is having to keep his relatives occupied by playing video games with them. I don’t know why they couldn’t have done this on their own but… When the kids bring up the fact they need to buy their parent’s Christmas presents I am immediately thrown off by the fact they actually need to go and buy supplies. That’s not… shopping for presents. That’s making them. Eric just wants to buy people gift cards and be done with it but is unable to withstand the pressure these kids are applying.

Prediction #5 – Bridgette will go down terribly with these children and so Eric will dump her for the violin teacher two doors down that they truly love

As predicted, Eric runs into April whilst Christmas shopping and she is way too excited to hear that Chelsea and Liam are with him. Or rather… waiting in line with Bridgette to meet Santa. Oh…. Christ no.

Prediction #6 – April is going to go and meet Santa too

April takes her chance and whisks Eric away in order to help him buy a present for his mom. Meanwhile, Bridgette is wondering how fucking long this is going to take because, as a not-girlfriend, she is not required to look after these children. We also hear that the one year Eric bothered to buy people presents they were in his car when it got stolen at the mall. So far we have breaking a leg and losing a car as to the reasons why Eric doesn’t celebrate Christmas. With another hour to go I can’t wait to hear what else the man has.

Settling on handmade jewellery for his mother, directed by April, Eric does something which freaks me out a little. In order to check how it looks he asks if April would try it on. I don’t…. It just feels strange. Like you’re looking at this woman and trying to imagine her as your mom… it’s all…. very odd. Which leads us straight into the revelation that April is single and isn’t that a surprise.

Luckily Bridgette is there to ruin the moment and text for help from the queue to meet Santa about 10 feet away from where Eric is admiring April’s neck and trying to super impose his mother’s face on hers. After a fun-filled day with these kids it is no wonder they’ve all passed out on the sofa when Eric’s mom rings him up. I feel he probably shouldn’t have muted the weather man, who was just commenting on the strange week of weather they will be getting, to listen to his mom pretend to cough some more.

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God, he’d better be buying this. I’ve got the book club around at 2.

Prediction #7 – Thoughtful snow storm is on the way to… Eric’s neighbourhood

Eric bravely leaves his relatives to make their own Christmas cards on his very expensive glass table in order to pretend to work on his book some more.

Prediction #8 – His next book will be the beginning of a new series about how men should commit to relationships and how to survive with women

Prediction #9 – Eric’s new book will inspire Steve to propose to his girlfriend because the man can’t live without directions from a book

April’s sister is always wearing really nice kimono jackets and I’ll say! Here we are at day 22 and April’s Christmas audition is also set for the 22nd December. Kismet! April tries to enjoy her Christmas baking scene but can’t stop staring at that reminder on the fridge that she’ll be getting hiccups in a few days time. Not listening to a word his relatives have just said, Eric happily sends them over to April’s house for more glue and a million hours later realises they’re no longer in the house. I am really surprised they can’t hear him calling them from his own living room, we hear everything fucking else around here.

We finally learn April’s sister is called Elaine and is helping his niece and nephew make Christmas cookies.

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Elaine is laughing because if she does not she will murder this man and force him to make Steve marry her

April is going to have a busy 22nd! That’s the day of the neighbourhood Christmas carolling, too! That’s if anyone makes it that long, it looks as though the cookies are being decorated with PVC glue. Eric never even makes it out the door because he gets distracted by April’s extensive record collection which used to belong to her dad and we hear how he used to be a Jazz pianist and Eric suggests there is more to him than being a batchelor writer.

Lawn Santa thought that would be the perfect time to creep back on to Eric’s lawn until Eric brandishes him over his head like Leatherface brandishing his chainsaw. Packing the kids off into their room, Eric tries to unwind with his bros  but keeps finding glitter all over the place.


Eric: “Erm… can you not leave your empty beer cans lying around? There are kids in the house, ya know?”

Me: “I can’t even begin to understand that opinion of an empty beer can.”


Eric’s bros are worried that the ‘last man standing’ might be going down in a ball of flames and soon they’ll have nowhere to go to play poker until 2 in the morning. That’s fair but at least he’ll be busy whilst April is on a date with the ER doctor at Steve’s restaurant. As soon as the ER doctor gets up Elaine is sitting in his seat, bugging April about the audition and handing over Eric’s books in order for Eric to sign.

Prediction #10 – April is going to check out some of these books and wonder who the fuck this guy even is

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April loves a good picture book

Of course Eric is just letting his bros out the door when April is being dropped off by the ER doctor. He is feeling some way about this but I am more concerned that she is not carrying a single book on her when she marches up to her house. You had one job, April!

The next day a snowman has joined Santa on Eric’s lawn and he finally decides to confront Conrad about it who is adamant it is the work of Christmas elves and not him. I get the feeling that Eric should stop throwing them on the curb outside his house and the reason they keep coming back is some innocent pedestrian thinks they have been blown off the lawn and keeps returning them. Try throwing them in the nearest skip. If they come back then you know they’re possessed and you need to contact your local priest.

Thankfully April’s violin music calms him down just enough to head inside and fold some washing up, which he is still doing when she brings his books over to be signed for Steve. Despite the fact that he was just folding his washing up right in front of them, April points out the stockings the kids have made from Eric’s socks and hung up, much to his alarm. Apparently asking April about her late night is more important than saving his socks and making sure the woman definitely doesn’t have a boyfriend.

Eric signs these books with the generic messages authors have to keep on hand before complimenting April on her music skills and offering to help her with her hiccup issue when auditioning. Eric immediately asks his phone, like the woman has never thought about googling how to get over it herself and, if she hasn’t, then she’s clearly been living under a tinsel-covered rock. One of the methods to reduce stage fright is to laugh as much as you can and I can only imagine who much more insane that would make the woman look at the side of the stage.


Eric: “OK, well method 4 seems a little more reasonable. Imagine every seat in the audience is filled with a clone of your favourite person, preferably someone who encourages you.”

April: “Well that seems more reasonable.”

Me: “It sounds about as reasonable as imagining everyone naked, which is also one of the worst pieces of advice ever. You’re supposed to be concentrating on your music, not the new robot uprising which would definitely happen and then the clones start ripping each other apart and the music just makes them angrier until they all turn on you and start detaching your limbs like you weren’t a fleshy human. So… don’t do that.”


Prediction #11 – Eric is gonna rock up at the audition and all will be well, no hiccups included

The next evening Eric and Bridgette are heading off to a Christmas party with his agent and she is less than happy to find these kids hopping in the back of the car and coming along for the ride. Not even the promise that they will be locked up in another room with some Christmas films is enough to put a smile on this woman’s face. Not even alcohol is enough to put a smile on this woman’s face!

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For God’s sake someone put a drink in that woman’s hand before she kills a man!

Nick is concerned his client is going to miss the deadline of his book and breach his contract, which would be fun Christmas viewing, but simply walks off and hopes for the best. God knows how the rest of that evening went because the next day April is offering to take Chelsea and Liam ice skating when Eric will be too busy being a failing writer. Or, rather, he lied and is trying to make the existence of his niece and nephew up to his not-girlfriend by cooking her dinner, which goes well right up until the point it turns out she hates children and Eric is nothing like his books promised her. If Bridgette is happy to date that kind of guy then I think it’s fair to throw her out to the wolves already.

I presume the children probably revealed Eric’s real plans that evening because April is well aware his date has gone terribly when he turns up early to the ice rink and forces him into some skates. It also turns out April did read those books she was holding on to and tells the man he really needs to find some new material because it seems a lot like he’s saying the same thing over and over again but in different words. Smashed it, April! This is of course the perfect time for Eric to walk April two houses down the street and hear how much she loves Christmas.


April: “Gosh, how can you deny that Christmas is just the best time of year? The air, so cool and crisp, you can smell fireplaces…”

Me: “You can smell fireplaces? You should really probably go and check that out…”


We finally find out that Eric proposed to someone in the past, right there on Christmas Eve, but she had fallen in love with someone else by then. I think feeling you have a Christmas curse because of this one incidence and never celebrating Christmas again is a bit far but… he’s made a somewhat successful career out of it so who am I to say? Cue the kids interrupting their first kiss before it can materialise – because we have to save these things until the end of the film – and everyone goes their separate ways. Until the morning, that is…

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I got laaaawn ornameeeeeents, they’re multiplyyyyyin’

The kids are overjoyed about these multiplying lawn ornaments and Eric finally gives up and lets the elves have their way. There has also been a bizarre lump of snow on his lawn this whole time that I just cannot work out. It’s not like he’s been clearing the drive every day and dumping it there because it hasn’t changed for the entire film. Maybe it will all crumble away at some point and we’ll find another fucking lawn ornament.

Meanwhile, April is feeling confident enough to call ahead and confirm she will be at the audition later that day. She really did leave that a bit late… Eric is also sending over new pages to his agent and is HOLY FUCK WHAT IS THAT!?

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Just. Look. At this. Look at this!

Jesus Christ it’s like finding weird symbols out in the woods made of sticks and you realise you’re on cult property now. Otherwise known as April’s front lawn. She’s mithering around and rearranging the ornaments to distract herself from the upcoming audition which means she is perfectly placed for Eric to come up, tell her to play the festive piece he has heard her practicing and return her plate that I didn’t know he had even stolen. At least April is glad to hear he’s exploring a new avenue for his writing and she inspired the entire thing.

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Catching pneumonia is all part of leading a happy batchelor lifestyle

The woman cannot help mentioning the neighbourhood Christmas carolling again before she marches away to audition in what can only be described as a kill room. Maybe they picked it because the hundreds of screaming victims before her have proven how wonderful the acoustics are in there.

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Oh an audition you say? Here? In this sterile empty room? Sure, that seems legit.

While April is playing with absolutely zero hiccups we are treated to a very short Christmas montage where Chelsea and Liam are putting even more fucking decorations on that damn tree! Unfortunately, Eric has to drag them away from this pointless activity to go and see his agent Nick who is worried the publisher may not like the new pages as much as he did. Eric is still nice enough to give his agent a present that the man is just shocked is not in the shape of a gift card.

I still cannot get over Eric’s beige jumper and maybe that’s why Conrad initially looks so shocked to see the man joining them for carolling. The men shake on the fact they have come to the mutual agreement that Conrad is completely fucking insane before everyone walks off into the night to stand threateningly in front of people’s houses.

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Just keep smiling, honey. Don’t show them your fear.

We all take a break for hot chocolate and cookies which also gives Eric the perfect opportunity to ask how the audition went and invite April to watch a movie with Chelsea and Liam that evening. This means it is the perfect time to encounter Bridgette on Eric’s doorstep and April quickly runs away because that woman has a mean scowl on her. Bridgette merely rocked up to tell the man he shouldn’t be a part of the dating world, for the good of the community, and April turns around just in time to see the man kissing the woman on the cheek.

Completely oblivious the next morning, while dropping these kids off with April, Eric tries to rearrange the movie night and April stares at him in horror as she thinks he is trying to cheat on his girlfriend with her because claiming she is working slamming the door in his face. No doubt Eric wants to attribute this to the Christmas curse but there is no way he can blame the curse when his agent meets with him to tell him the publishers adore his new book and want to sign him up for two sequels.

I really do believe the man just said he would be calling his book ‘Uncle Christmas’…. What are these people seeing in him!? April is helping Chelsea and Liam wrap presents which is when she comes across a necklace Eric has brought. Apparently it is not for their Nan, who Eric has already bought a gift for which clearly goes against April’s original advice to the man, and so presumes it must be for Bridgette. The kids don’t bother to correct the woman on this point and nor do they bother to look out the window where Eric has pulled back up with a car jammed full of lawn ornaments.

I adore his mother on the phone who has claimed the Dr wants her to rest indoors for one more day… as she is waltzing around the streets doing her Christmas shopping. Luckily Eric is far too happy about the news from his publisher to question all of the background noise in his mother’s house and even shares the good news with April when picking the kids back up. It is only now that the man thinks there may be anything wrong with the woman because she keeps turning him down but, as always in these films, only gives a vague reason as to why. If she had just shouted at the man that morning this would have been all cleared up already…

But theeeeeeeeen we wouldn’t be waking up on Christmas Eve to a far too happy Uncle that is forcing his relatives back out on the ice rink to meet up with his bro’s kids. It also turns out bro #1 was the guy who kept putting ornaments on Eric’s lawn so it’s a good job he didn’t go too crazy at Conrad. Back at home, while cutting out pieces of foam into nondescript shapes, the kids reveal to Eric that April thinks he is buying necklaces for Bridgette. Unfortunately his message to her goes unheard because she is back to playing at the restaurant with Elaine.

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Save the all caps and urgency for a real emergency, buddy!

We get a surprise visit from Eric’s sister, brother-in-law and mother who come by with a mass of presents and his mother finally reveals she was never ill at all. If me and my future kids ever have the misfortune of me being a mother she is all of my mother goals. At least the entire family is impressed by his massive Christmas tree and his cooking but not impressed enough with him to actually read any of his books.

Inspired by his entire family asking who April even is and why he’s such an idiot, Eric rushes out to the restaurant and demands to talk to the woman between the tables, chasing her around while she tries to drown him out with her violin. April is so shocked by the fact he actually brought this hideous necklace for her she simply passes her violin to the nearest customer… which she might want back because she passed her audition.

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April had really been hoping this necklace was for Bridgette so she’d never have to see it again

April, being the kind of woman she is, is more than happy to go back and meet Eric’s entire family but they cannot do this until it has begun snowing on cue and the film has ended.

Ya know… this film really wasn’t all that offensive. Especially when I consider how early I started watching the damn thing. If you don’t want to be too offended either, head right on over here.

Now…

 

Prediction board – 5/11

  • Prediction #1 – Bridgette is neurotic as all hell – Oooooh yeah. CORRECT!
  • Prediction #2 – When Eric finally requires the neighbours help they will be more than delighted to ferret around in their garages and slap all of their back-up Christmas decorations on the man’s lawn – Turns out this was never needed because Eric found the Christmas cheer all on his own. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #3 – April has more than enough ornaments to share – Hell. Yes. CORRECT!
  • Prediction #4 – Eric lost the love of his life over Christmas and that’s why he thinks he’s cursed and April is going to break that curse – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #5 – Bridgette will go down terribly with these children and so Eric will dump her for the violin teacher two doors down that they truly love – Those kids felt nothing for Bridgette! I don’t know whether that’s actually worse! They literally cared so little for her that they had no feelings whatsoever! INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #6 – April is going to go and meet Santa too – I really thought this was coming! But no. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #7 – Thoughtful snow storm is on the way to… Eric’s neighbourhood – Not a single snow storm, either! How incredibly unthoughtful of it. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #8 – His next book will be the beginning of a new series about how men should commit to relationships and how to survive with women – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #9 – Eric’s new book will inspire Steve to propose to his girlfriend because the man can’t live without directions from a book – We can only presume here and as this is a big life event for Steve I will not say he did marry into this batshit insane family. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #10 – April is going to check out some of these books and wonder who the fuck this guy even is – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #11 – Eric is gonna rock up at the audition and all will be well, no hiccups included – Disappointingly he did not show up naked and laughing manically to try and alleviate April’s stress. INCORRECT!

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: Well, if Eric had had one in his house April probably would have heard the fucking thing.
  • Piano: There was a piano! It only accompanied April but it was there! CHECK!
  • Carolling: Carolling in cult-size proportions! CHECK!
  • Christmas Montage: It was short lived but it was there. CHECK!
  • Fire Hazards: Despite it being in snow, every single person’s god damn lawn was a fire hazard. It was beautiful. CHECK!
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: I…. I don’t know!
  • Snowing on cue: I think it snowed a bit… it wasn’t exactly on cue though.

 

Today wasn’t quite as painful as yesterday but my god it’s taken about 3 hours just to review this damn film. Good job needing to be at work on time isn’t a thing right now! Although I feel early morning’s are not good for my predicting skills.

In fact, this year, apparently nothing is good for my predicting skills. Looking at you, tomorrow.

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Christmas Advent #21 – A Christmas Wedding Date

What’s even more common at Christmas than an unrealistic business deadline? A Christmas wedding which eats into everybody’s own, personal celebration time!

I am starting this one very early in the morning so… we’ll see how this goes. When I look around I’m still unsure what my bleary ass eyes are trying to tell me, sometimes. And, for better or worse (ahhhhhhhhhhh see what I did there without meaning to!), I cannot find as link to this film. Just so you know. In advance. So! Let’s get into it!

 

Festive streets. Check. Office buildings. Check. Homeless Santa. Check. Giant Christmas lights that look like weapons of mass destruction. Check. Oh, should have guessed weapons of mass destruction were mentioned, there’s Trump tower! Just can’t keep away from anything that looks like a bomb, can he?

Some woman, living in the kind of apartment I’ve always wanted, is carrying a mirror around with her and brushing her hair 100 times. You have to have very specific hair in order to do that. If I do that either the brush gets stuck or my hair quadruples in size. Either way she hasn’t bothered with the top of her hair so when she assures herself she looks fabulous she can only mean from the ears down.

I’m not surprised she lives with alone with a cat because she keeps talking to herself and loves grooming. Oh, also, she’s being fired. Looks like she did too good of a job, merging those two banks that she was so proud to read about in the paper this morning, and now she’s no longer needed. I find the set up of this guys office bizarre and he has his back to his own door… That’s the sign of a massive bellend if ever I saw one.


Guy: “Becks, now don’t get angry, business is business, you know that. Here. A token of our appreciation.”

Becky: “It says ‘To Barry’.”

Guy: “Ooh! Here you go!”

Me: “Oh my god… is Barry getting fired too!?”


Yes he is. On meeting Barry I worry that, when he says he’s going down to Florida to spend Christmas with his folks, that he is never coming back. And his ‘folks’ won’t have seen him either. Oh, Barry. Becky has her own concerns, though, because the lucky bride has rang her up to ask where her RSVP is and she thinks Becky should get over her doubts about coming home, her dad has been dead for 3 years already, isn’t that long enough? Who cares if you have a strained relationship with your mom? Pffffft.

Becky… I don’t know what is going on with this woman… When she phones people up, trying to sell herself for a new job, she keeps asking to meet up with them on Christmas Day and then seems offended when no one will be in. Honestly, the most interesting part of the film so far is her cat. I am mesmerised by it.

With absolutely nothing else to do, Becky decides to head on home for the Christmas Eve wedding and cannot avoid the perky taxi driver who just wants to be everyone’s best friend. God help us all.


Taxi Guy: “Ah! Christmas weddings are the best! Who’s the lucky guy?”

Becky: “Oh, no, no, it’s not me. I’m just a guest.”

Taxi Guy: “Oh, sorry, Miss.”

Becky: “Don’t be. I mean, honestly, who has time for relationships these days? And marriage? It seems like one big investment.”

Taxi Guy: “Big investment?”

Becky: “Yeah, and like many investments a lot of them go bust.”

Taxi Guy: “Oh, I never figured marriage that way. I always thought of marriage as a gift you give yourself.”

Me: “And I have never, not once, thought of marriage that way.”


Taxi Guy is way too busy trying to convince Becky that marriage is the best thing that could ever happen to a person and seems not to have noticed that, around here, the rules of the road are completely different to everywhere else in the world. Apparently, here, people are allowed to pull off their drives without checking for traffic and you happen to be driving past then that is your fault.

Prediction #1 – Becky will blame banging her head in the taxi on the fact all this weird shit starts happening to her – like the Christmas feels.

For some really fucking bizarre reason this guy is handing out Christmas ornaments to his passengers and everything looks like a dual purpose weapon in this film. The guy also claims he only knows Becky’s name because it was on her luggage tag but both me and Kieran believe…

Prediction #2 – Taxi Guy is Santa! And has shaved his beard off for the warmer climate

I can’t wait to see how and why Becky’s relationship with her mother is so strained when her mother seems delighted to see her and has even made her her favourite cookies. Maybe Becky’s issue with her parent was the fact she kept feeding her carbs. Isn’t that the ultimate form of motherly love? Seeing as the woman is far too busy waiting for her daughter to return and baking cookies, she never got around to redecorating any of the rooms and Becky has to face a picture of… Chad. It’s basically a cube with hair, wearing a football jersey.

Prediction #3 – Chad is invited to this wedding and Becky will need to forgive him or even possibly fall in love with him over the span of one evening


Becky: “So are you going to the wedding?”

Mom: “Unfortunately I’ve got to open the diner. It’s pretty dead around the holidays but the sign says ‘Open 7 Days a Week’.”

Becky: “Well, business is business, right?”

Mom: “Well, there are people who depend on me, you know? Folks with no family? Where would they go if I wasn’t there for them?”

Me: “I think the point is they wouldn’t go anywhere. They’d stay home.”


The more and more I see these pair together, the more and more I get the distinct feeling most of the issues actually lie with Becky. Feeling a little guilty about the fact she abandoned her mother, alone, after her father died Becky decides the most she can do is give her that Christmas ornament from beardless Santa. I, personally, would have plunged it into the side of her neck but her mother is far too nice and hangs it up on the tree, instead.

The next morning Becky realises she is way late for the wedding when her mother calls her to check she is awake and that the wedding starts at 1pm sharp. I hate sunny Christmas films, probably because we never actually get a white Christmas around here and this all feels way too real. Either way, Becky is working her way down that sunny street and leaving a trail of destruction behind her as she interacts with every person who just wants to get through their Christmas Eve.


Girl Scout: “Would you like to buy some Christmas cookies?”

Becky: “Cookies? No, I don’t want to buy any cookies. Cookies make you fat and especially around the holidays there is a lot of temptation. So no, I don’t want to buy your cookies.”

Me: “Could have just walked past her and ignored her…”


On entering the blast radius of the wedding venue, Becky is accosted by someone called Jenny who used to be fat and now has fake boobs that she wants people to touch. When someone called Molly walks out in an identical dress I realise these are bridesmaids and Becky probably feels a way about not being asked to be her best friends bridesmaid, despite the fact she hasn’t spoken to or visited these people for 3 years.

This is the worst wedding ever. Worse than the two I actually attended and inadvertently almost ruined. Jenna is being lead down the aisle by Chad who almost bolts at the sight of Becky and when Alison, the actual bride, shows up, the woman at the keyboard…. well I don’t know what the fuck that was, quite frankly. This entire thing is a shit show.

I recognise that vicar!! Or whatever you call them. I am very sure he is normally on the Christmas circuit, too. At least Becky feels the same way I do about this guy inviting God down to this little love-fest. Maybe if they had actually invited God he would have remembered to bring the rings, unlike Mark’s best man who has to borrow a random one from the crowd, instead. Such a beautiful ceremony.

The way Becky marches up to the bar after that train crash you would have thought she was going for the hard liquor but lets us all down by ordering a water. There is a strange interaction with some drunken guy who is a sex pest and… why has Chad’s coach been invited to this wedding? Either way, he thinks it’s probably best to go over to Becky and ask her to stop shaking the wedding gifts that are not hers. Oh, fucking hell, these two greet each other by…. singing to each other. Singing to each other.

Apparently no on has seen this woman for 10 years, 4 months and 3 days but her dad only died years ago. Personally I would have ran the fuck away from Chad when I realised he had been counting the days we were apart because that makes him either a very accurate stalker or he has been counting down the hours to his sweet revenge. Thank god she was only drinking water! It’s going to make navigating out of this hell hole much easier.

Chad is delighted hear that Becky is married to her job and has lead a boring life whilst he went away to Paris, learnt to cook, fell in love and now owns a restaurant.


Chad: “I thought I had everything figured out but… I figured wrong. That fell apart 3 years ago.”

Me: “Were you… were you dating Becky’s Dad?”

Becky: “I’m sorry.”

Chad: “Oh, it’s OK, we weren’t meant to be together. She was always on the go, always had some place else she needed to be that was more important…”

Me: “Like the grave…”


When Molly interrupts this delightful conversation about hating women who are too busy to settle down, by kissing Chad, Becky thinks that some things never change. I mean… the man was very clearly not enjoying that but, whatever. Luckily our attention is diverted by the sex pest and the best man who are doing shot and shouting about their old football team. Doesn’t this day just keep getting better? Yes, it does, because when Molly laughs she snorts like a legit pig.

Prediction #4 – A million years ago Becky thought Chad was cheating on her with Molly and left before he could explain

I thought this shit was over but now we’re being forced to sit down and eat while Alison hand feeds Mark wedding cake at the top table. Vomitous. I look up when Jenna starts speaking and am alarmed by the fact she seems to have broken her own wrist just to get out of this never ending event. The conversation has turned to having crushes on teachers and why Becky and Chad’s relationship failed so, I don’t blame her.

I’m glad Molly has been dragged away but am worried for my very soul that someone has called her up and handed her a mic. That voice. That laugh. I thought we had it bad with Cynthia but she’s got nothing on Molly, here. When Molly cannot help making fun of Becky everyone seems alarmed when the woman storms out of the venue and why she didn’t find that joke funny about her being forever alone and living with a beautiful cat as amusing as the rest of the guests. With absolutely nowhere else to go she wonders the street, crying, until she finds her way to her mother’s diner and hogs the women’s bathroom.

I don’t know how long she was moping in there for but Chad has had time to turn up and order apple pie and coffee in that time. He manages to cheer Becky up when he informs her Molly is still a cocktail waitress and has gotten nowhere with her life but when Becky claims that’s totally cool because she has everything she could ever want I adore her mom’s face across the counter, clearly calling bullshit.

Still being hopelessly in love with Becky, Chad thinks they should take another chance together and this woman just keeps saying ‘business is business’ to people like it actually matters to them and she couldn’t possibly hang around until lunch tomorrow with the man when she needs to get home, feed her cat and find a job. Not appreciating the truth bombs being thrown at her from every direction now, Becky heads on home to have a lie down and think about all the people she has already been mean to in the past 24 hours and how much she probably still loves Chad.

And that is why, the next morning, she wakes up to find it is Christmas Eve all over again! Not that she realises this when she checks her phone in the morning and has to have her mom explain it to her while dragging her luggage to the curb and thinking she has a taxi to catch. Worried that her mother may be getting dementia it takes the paper boy lobbing the Christmas Eve edition at Becky to start believing something may be up. Like… reliving the same day over and over again or seeing Santa in the reflection of a shop window. Becky is completely unphased that she is talking to this spectral man who is not really there and just keeps shouting at him about how he was supposed to have picked her up.

As predicted Becky blames that bump to her head for her hallucinations and none of this is down to fate trying to show her how jaded she has become in the last 10 years, 4 months and 3 days. All Becky needs to discover is why the hell she has been put in this never ending cycle and it will all go away. Oh christ… that means she has to keep sitting through that wedding, over and over again. Please woman! For the love of god just find your soul so we can get out of here! What I do adore is Becky coming to terms with this horror show.


Becky: “Do you ever get the feeling that you’ve done something before?”

Chad: “Like deja vu?”

Becky: “No, like you and I, having this conversation in this exact same spot.”

Me: “Yeah. Deja vu.”


Becky has turned to the hard liquor during her second run through and is also freaking out Chad when she starts predicting what will happen next and why the hell couldn’t she have warned the man about that fucking oncoming laugh from Molly? How many times? At least Becky has the presence of mind to leave before Molly’s speech and call the airline asking for an earlier flight out of this hellhole. Unfortunately, Santa is on the other end of the phone and lectures her on her lack of Christmas spirit.

I am comforted to find that this film is only an hour and 45 minutes long and, with adverts, that should make the entire thing a lot less painful. Becky thinks it would be prudent to drop in on the vicar and ask him what he meant in his wedding speech about a master plan for everyone’s lives but ends up just freaking the guy out because he hadn’t shown anyone his speech yet. Which he was writing… a few hours before the wedding… I have zero idea how to vicar but I would definitely just have a stock speech I pulled out at every event.

Somehow the woman has managed to make her day worse by getting water thrown over her on the way to the wedding. The weather is… pretty hot I mean… it would have dried in a few minutes if she had let it but she, instead, elects for the most hideous dress she can get hold of in the hopes it might ward of sex pests.

Becky seems to be having a lot more fun this time around, which also includes doing shots with the sex pest. Apparently bright colours and alcohol attract them so… you should probably avoid all of that. Alcohol also makes you slightly insane when you bump into your ex-boyfriend. Fair warning.


Chad: “Who are you? What happened to the old Rebecca? The one that I fell in love with.”

Becky: “The one you cheated on? Yeah, she’s gone now. She’s been replaced by a better Rebecca.”

Me: “The drunk, colourblind one.”


The next run through, Becky manages to get herself escorted off the property and sent to jail. She is right, the new Rebecca is way better than the old one. Her mom attributes her daughter’s crazed ramblings about being ‘stuck’ to being under a lot of stress from work. She does actually give some sound advice about trying something completely new when you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, which is nice, and is very touched when Becky asks to spend the day with her and ends up being dragged to the diner.


Mom: “Well, it’s not the same since your father passed away but… I really can’t imagine this town without it.”

Becky: “So many memories…”

Mom: “Oh… all of them good ones.”

Me: “Not a single robbery at gun point? Not one brawl? Wow.”


Becky is all forgiven by her Mom because it’s Christmas and she’s very lonely at this time of year so I feel that Becky is well on the way to escaping Christmas Eve.

For some reason Becky has only just remembered she has a company credit card but the day she bothered to buy herself a new car and fancy dress merely ends with her sitting around, eating popcorn and being lectured by Santa on the TV about her materialistic ways. Eurgh, that means more bonding time with her mom. Again. Day after day. At least she is eating something new every day and is actually present at the diner when Alison turns up for her pre-wedding coffee.

This film is sending some real mixed messages about women needing to be very thin and not eat cheese, bacon, pancakes or ice-cream. Alison is also there to break the news to her best friend that Chad never cheated on her with Molly and she’s a total idiot for thinking so. That’s probably why, after the ceremony, Becky decides to approach Chad by singing to him, instead and heading outside for a drink. People are very OK with being sang at, around here.

Despite hearing from her best friend that Chad never cheated on her, Becky still claims he did, right to his face… and no one seems bothered enough to properly correct her and tell her what really happened! There is still half an hour left of this film, other than that revelation, what the hell could be left?


Becky: “So what do you do for fun?”

Chad: “I don’t even know where to start.”

Becky: “Well, what about ice skating.”

Chad: “Ice skating? You hated ice skating.”

Becky: “Well, no, I hated falling down. But people change.”

Me: “Now I simply adore falling down.”


The next run through of Christmas Eve, Becky signs up for both ice skating lessons and baking lessons from her own mother. If she kept fucking up this day she could become a pro skater and baker in time for the Christmas Day she actually gets to enjoy. Now I can’t even balance properly on my own two feet so I was predictably awful at balancing on two thin blades ON ICE.

Eventually the woman begins to improve so I guess she just wasted a good 6 years of her life attending the same wedding over and over again. To the point of falling asleep during the ceremony, which I cannot blame her for, and stalking Chad to the skating rink early on Christmas Eve morning so she can sing her way into the room and announce her arrival.


Becky: “They’re having a Christmas Eve morning special. Wanna be my partner?”

Chad: “I haven’t seen you in over 10 years and the first thing you ask me is to go ice skating with you?”

Me: “Actually, the first thing she did is sing to you so this request is dramatically more normal.”


Becky is now freaking out everyone in town with her expanse of knowledge of them and all of their inner workings but that’s apparently OK and no one is going to report her to the police because she is bribing them with cigars.

I am confident that when Becky buys out the entire girl scout’s cookie stock and starts handing them out to people on the street that this is the final run-through and we’ll never have to deal with this awful wedding ceremony again. Although… Becky has been working dramatically on improving the entire thing which is astounding, seeing as she only has a few hours every morning to sort this shit out.

I missed (I say ‘missed’) a bit when Kieran started talking to me but it appears that Chad and Becky have completely ditched the wedding so she can invite Chad to a tiny, hidden table and serve him a meal she cooked for him. In order to end this hellish day Becky invited her mom to the reception, just in time to hear Becky giving her own speech about how great everyone is and how she has become a totally different person in, apparently, only 24 hours. I’m surprised her mom isn’t getting her committed.

Both me and Kieran are perturbed to see the sex pest inviting Becky’s mom to dance, which Becky doesn’t notice because she’s too busy staring at Chad and reminiscing about the last 6 years she has spent reliving the same day.

To prevent from confusing herself, I feel that Becky should have gone to bed wearing different clothes and doing her hair differently so she could tell she wasn’t damned to an eternity of terrible wedding receptions and doesn’t keep talking to random Christmas ornaments given to her by taxi drivers.


Becky: “Why are you so shiny when I’m so blue?”

Me: “Well, that’s just a question for the ages, isn’t it.”


Chad is nice enough to turn up at her house, cook her breakfast and make sure it is portable in case she doesn’t have time to eat it before her flight. Still worried she may take that flight I am confused why he also pops a marriage proposal. He was really setting himself up for potential misery with that little stunt…

I do appreciate, however, that when Becky heads out to tell Santa the taxi driver she won’t need that lift to the airport after all and is never leaving home again… she doesn’t actually have a job she needs to get back to. She does have an apartment to sell but that’s about all.

Honestly guys, I think you should appreciate the fact there was no link to this film so you couldn’t possibly be tempted to go and check it out for yourself. I took this one for the team!

 

 

Prediction board – 3/4

  • Prediction #1 – Becky will blame banging her head in the taxi on the fact all this weird shit starts happening to her – CORRECT! It was fun to watch her hit her head though.
  • Prediction #2 – Taxi Guy is Santa! And has shaved his beard off for the warmer climate – I…. still don’t really know who the taxi guy was… INCORRECT?
  • Prediction #3 – Chad is invited to this wedding and Becky will need to forgive him or even possibly fall in love with him over the span of one evening – I mean, technically it was more over like 6,000 years of Becky’s limbo-ed soul time but as far as Chad is concerned… CORRECT!
  • Prediction #4 – A million years ago Becky thought Chad was cheating on her with Molly and left before he could explain – CORRECT and CHECK to the eye roll.

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: I believe in this case this would have been classed as animal cruelty
  • Piano: The singing was enough, let’s not give them a musical instrument, too
  • Carolling: Does the impromptu singing from Becky and Chad count?
  • Christmas Montage: No one deserved a montage today
  • Fire Hazards: Only the wedding guests after taking all those shots
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: I wasn’t paying enough attention to know when Becky’s Dad died.
  • Snowing on cue: We’ve had many a sunny Christmas film, this year! I guess you have to include non-snowy states, too.

 

I now know that trying to watch a ‘cheery’ and ‘uplifting’ Christmas film so early in the morning is a terrible deal. For me. Unfortunately I’m going to have to make a few more bad business decisions because early morning is the only time left for me to review.

God. Help me. Tomorrow. Or whenever you’re ready, buddy.

Christmas Advent #20 – A Magic Christmas

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Buster: “The bakery struggles a bit financially…”

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


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

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

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

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

Holly: “Honey!”

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Forget about the dog, concentrate on the impending doom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me: “Woah there, what?!”

Kyle: “Husband to Mom.”

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

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


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

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

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


Jack: “Hey, can I ask you something?”

Kyle: “Yeah.”

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

Kyle: “I dunno, fine?”

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Me: “How many big games are there…?”


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

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

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

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Those who can’t do, Druid

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


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

Jack: “Wait a second…”

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

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

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

Me: “Yeah, good luck with that now.”


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

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


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

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

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

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

Sienna: “Please don’t tell them.”

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


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

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

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


Holly: “Eva… this is fantastic.”

Eva: “This is awful!”

Holly: “Well… that’s a little harsh.”

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

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


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

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

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


Holly: “OK… We’re gonna need a map.”

Sienna: “Wait, wait! Like this one?”

Jack: “Where did you get this?”

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

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

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


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

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Any minute now. Orcs.

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

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


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

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This man is legit shovelling to nowhere

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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Never judge a tree by it’s rotten ass roots

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

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

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

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

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

 

Prediction board – 2/9

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

 

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

 

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

See you tomorrow! If my hands even make it…

Christmas Advent #19 – A Fairytale Christmas

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

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

 

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

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

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


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

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

Belle: “… we’re friends.”

Me: “You’re friends with this!?”


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

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

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

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

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

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


Vic: “How long you in town for?”

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

Angie: “That is gonna be a while.”

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

Me: “Good Christ, no.”


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

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


Belle: “There’s no Christmas decorations.”

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

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

Belle: “Huh, that’s too bad.”

Me: “………. YOU KNEW THIS.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Thank god Beast was there to break it up.


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

Belle: “It was… perfect.”

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

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


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

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

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


Hunter: “You heard Angie’s hints…”

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Belle: “Are you considering staying through Christmas?”

Hunter: “No.”

Me: “That’s… not how time works.”

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

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

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

Hunter: “…..”

Me: “It’s your dog.”


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

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


Dad: “OK! Who’s hungry!?”

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

Dad: “Oooooh somebody’s on edge.”

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

Dad: “I am clueless!”

Me: “…. I have nothing to add here.”


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

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

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


Angie: “Are you OK, love?”

Belle: “No. No, I don’t think so.”

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Hunter: “Then why pretend?”

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

Hunter: “Of course.”

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


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

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

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

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

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


Hunter: “Where is she!?”

Tony: “She’s gone.”

Hunter: “Gone? Where?”

Tony: “Back to the house.”

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

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

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

Me: “I can’t breathe!”


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

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

WE’RE FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

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

 

Prediction board – 3/4

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

 

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

 

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

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

Christmas Advent #18 – A Taste Of Christmas

I’m really hoping for food in this film but I feel we could also swing into ‘why I oughta’! I’ll show you a taste of Christmas!’ territory and… ya know, I’d also be happy with that. But seriously, we have no seen enough Christmas food yet. Last year we got an entire Gingerbread competition. This year? Mmmmm not sure Carla’s mom would have been too impressed by the offering’s of Jackie’s support group. Probably would have started an all out gingerbread war.

Let’s do a crossover sequel! It would be perfect! Ohhhh Taste of Christmas, you already have so much to live up to!

 

Not an aerial shot of the city in sight…. hmmmm. OK. Instead some woman is checking herself in the mirror to make sure she really does remember how to wear a scarf and… god I hope she hasn’t just left her house empty while the fire is still going. There were some boxes by the front door but I was far too concerned with the very real fire hazard that was happening before my eyes.

For some reason, on a stroll down the street, she finds the sign for Al’s Baitshop and Electronics, advertising there Christmas bait at 50% off, just hilarious. Woman! He’s doing the best he can to make live bait sexy! In fact, she seems to be treating every local shop this way until a guy named Eddie, up a ladder and hanging lights on the lampposts, stops Emily, our complete maniac, to say hi. She’s just come back to town which might explain why she keeps laughing at everything and why everyone keeps greeting her.

Next is banker James who sent her a letter about her grandmother’s estate and would she mind coming to see him when she gets it? Shit. Sorry Grandma. Emily seems completely unphased by this but James watches her go just long enough for me to think…

Prediction #1 – There are some strange clauses in order to inherit Grandma’s estate

This woman is getting around! Next we find her with Ollie who is presumably head of the local newspaper and thanking him for writing a beautiful obituary. Grandma has been dead 4 long months but Emily is already back and running her bakery, which was also named after her! I hope… she knows how to run a bakery? There is a strange moment where Emily is walking down even more street and looks down a side alley to find Ed at the bottom, casually playing with some more lights and staring back at her. No one seems concerned about this and Emily goes to open up shop.

Her assistant, Cody from Bate’s Motel, is both late and working on eating them out of a business. Emily is actually a lawyer but categorically did not move back to Nelson Creek to stop being so lonely and find love. Oh, well…. too bad, Emily. In fact I believe you have just turned your open/closed sign over on the face of your next true love, waiting creepily outside the door!

We are treated to a wonderfully terrible French? accent while the man admires a till from the turn of the century and probably just hopes the shop takes card as well as shillings. Our plucky assistant is on hand to divulge her boss’ entire life story before she disappears to answer a phone. Why is everyone’s speciality either a macaron or a macaroon? Emily has chosen almond macaroons and I’m not sure she actually offers the man one but he takes one anyway so he can profess how great they are.


Gerard: “Incroyable! What’s your secret!?”

Emily: “Errrr… their double-baked.”

Me: “As you would have seen, on the sign in the display, if you hadn’t gone around stealing them instead.”


Outside Eddie has the misfortune of running into Adele, who is the new store manager of ‘Forge Mart’, and has just set up a sign outside because she hates last minute shoppers. Isn’t that… just going to attract them? Especially now she has demanded Eddie strings some lights up on it, too? I don’t think… I don’t know…

Emily is certain she had met Gerard before and was so distracted by him and his French accent she never saw a parcel get delivered and simply left on the floor of the shop. Suspicious. God, I wish I could get screenshots of this film. Behind the counter is a giant wall with little signs on showing off all the flavours of everything the shop has to offer. Including… ‘carrott’. CARROTT. I am too busy checking the other flavours for more glaring illiteracy and almost miss the fact Emily and her assistant have pulled out a giant home-made advent calendar in the shape of a house. Emily gushes over the memory of getting a Christmas calendar every year when she was little like that’s not something over 50% of the population also do.


Assistant: “Well, it’s December 1st. You gotta open the door.”

Emily: “What? Now?”

Me: “There more I learn about you the more I am sure you are not qualified to run this business.”


Inside there is a suitably creepy note about someone having a secret and Emily will just have to keep opening doors to figure out which murderous bastard is after her from the town. What a delightful Christmas gift… My bets are on Eddie whose secret is that he is trying to fleece kind old Grandma Pam out of a Christmas tree for $65 in his weird side alley tree lot. Grandma Pam’s granddaughter, Chloe, calls out to Emily as she passes to announce that it is Christmas tree day and also look at this French guy who just turned up to buy a wreath.

Chloe is very easily distracted and this time asks for a quarter to go run off and put it in a charity worker’s bucket who definitely wasn’t there two seconds ago… I fear kidnap is afoot… It also turns out that this guy selling Christmas trees for extortionate prices is Jock or John but looks exactly like Eddie on account of them both wearing hats and having the same face. This is going to get confusing very quickly.

Grandma Pam is trying to lug this tree around because she refuses to pay Jock’s $20 delivery fee but Chloe is still begging for this quarter so that both she and the charity worker can grin at each other for two seconds too long. I don’t like any of these people so far… Meanwhile, Emily is being told by James the banker that she either needs to sell the bakery or the house otherwise the bank will be coming for her to help pay off her late grandmother’s debt. A debt that she wracked up by taking out a loan to put Emily through law school.

Prediction #2 – Baking and lawyer powers to the rescue!

James keeps piling on the bad news by also informing the woman that Forge Mart has a new store manager who has decided to start baking their own goods in-house and thinks Emily would struggle to sell the bakery with this new competition looming. We only have until the end of the month (yawn) to sort this whole shit storm out.

Prediction #3 – Gerard is the baker at the test kitchen at Forge Mart!

Thank god I made that prediction in time! The next second Emily is scoping out the competition’s long ass queue to check out Forge Mart’s new French bakery. Emily immediately slips on her crazy lady facade and is angry at the man for not immediately stating his business the moment he met her and already feels betrayed. At least her rage enables her to remember that Gerard used to own a bakery near Central Park which she interned at one summer. When Emily sees a sign for double-baked almond macaroons she loses her shit just a little bit.


Emily: “Hang on… you came into my bakery just to spy on me!? Where I used to work they would call that corporate espionage.”

Gerard: “Espionage?”

Emily: “Yeah, you were trying to be all charming and French…”

Gerard: “But I am French.”

Me: “Mmmmm debatable.”

Emily: “Just so you could talk me out of my recipes!”

Gerard: “But that’s not your recipe, that’s an eclair au chocolat.”

Me: “Then why in God’s name have you put them next to the sign for macaroons!”

Emily: “I don’t care what it is! Who did you steal this one from!?”


Emily doesn’t even give a shit anymore and Gerard tries to imply that she stole recipes from her own grandmother. As she barges her way out of the store she comes across Adele, the new manager, who is equally concerned that Emily was trying to steal their ideas and should ban her from the store. Gerard laments the fact he would have hired her if she a) didn’t already have a job and b) wasn’t so crazy but Adele is confident point a) won’t be a problem for much longer.


Adele: “Ooh, this looks like we’re in France.”

Me: “I’ve been to France and they didn’t feel the need to hang up their own flags every 2 feet in order to remember which country they were supposed to be in…”


Emily probably shouldn’t have left her assistant alone for so long because she is casually informing Ollie about the calendar and their first clue. Then again, if she didn’t want people to ask about it she shouldn’t have left it on the counter… Ollie is just trying to get a picture of the thing for the paper but Emily won’t stop ranting about Gerard and I hope Ollie just goes with the first shot he gets and prints it.

Prediction #4 – The mystery of the advent calendar will actually be wonderful publicity for the bakery

Today’s clue rambles on about surprises and Ollie takes an unflattering picture but it seems to do the trick because the next day Emily appears to have stolen Gerard’s queue in order to check out the advent calendar. Also, people keep complimenting each other on their poinsettias which I find a little strange… Emily has no concept of suspense or maximising her publicity and tries to open the last door way ahead of time, much to the horror of her crowd.

Two old women just want to live through Emily and demand she goes back to opening the doors in the order they were meant to be opened in. Day 3’s clue prattles on about following your dreams even if things aren’t what they seem and this is apparently too much for one woman who has to leave because of the romance of it all. She was actually meant to be dropping off those poinsettias for Emily but instead jabs them at James on his way in the door and asks if he can walk the 6 steps across the shop and drop them off instead. This of course leads Emily to believe James has brought her flowers because the old women interrupt him when he’s trying to explain about the crazy lady that just left the shop. At least business is picking up?

The townsfolk even think it would be a good idea to open the calendar at the same time every day so they can all congregate, be nosy and buy enough sweets to give themselves diabetes. Emily’s grandmother contributed a lot to Nelson Creek. Emily will be contributing a national health crisis. Her assistant is hanging around long after the bakery has closed, probably to avoid going home to her child, who I think is actually Chloe, and posts a picture of the advent calendar on t’Internet.

Prediction #5 – Attention just became national

Adele is not impressed by the publicity her competition is getting which has actually lead Emily to lock away the calendar in a cabinet, with Ed’s help. From the way he is tenderly levelling the now framed article on her, from the local newspaper, I would say my bets are still with him for sending the calendar.

Prediction #6 – Gerard will turn on his boss because Emily is actually the lesser of two evil’s

Prediction #7 – Someone is going to break into that cupboard and either steal the calendar or reveal who it is was from, leaking it to the press and hoping to ruin the big surprise – more than likely Adele

Prediction #8 – Actually, it was from Grandma

Emily is putting her new flowers in the window when she finds what looks like a little tin angel but I can’t be sure because the sun is shining on the TV and I’m too lazy to get up and close the curtains.


Emily: “Huh! My Grandma had one just like this!”

Me: “Well, seeing as this is her shop I would say it’s more than likely hers, don’t you think?”


Emily is now in prime position to look across the road and see Gerard handing out free samples on the street, much to her horror. Not to be outdone, the woman attempts to do the same but instead almost gets hit by traffic when she storms over there with her own plate of goods. Despite the fact Emily has already mentioned her internship at Gerard’s cafe in New York, he pretends that this second mention of the place has suddenly jogged his memory and dubs her ‘Raspberry Lady’ because she asked them to be removed from her plate on account of not liking them. I’m with her on this one.

The pair should not be left alone together. Now they have both entered into the Christmas Fair in a few weeks to try and decide who the townsfolk like better. I’m not entirely sure the answers to her rage are to complain about the man in front of a customer and then commence to eat her own stock… Ollie is having better luck living out his dreams as an investigative reporter, asking the local bartender who he think sent the calendar. On account of today’s clue mentioning a place where people gather and have fun together Ollie has found himself at the bar.

Every business is capitalising off the woman and the bartender has even started a pool to guess the secret admire for $5. Bet no one is brave enough to guess Grandma! Ollie throws in Art, the bartender, as a complete wildcard and man I hope it turns out he’s right! The only other guesses on the board are, predictably, for Eddie and James.

Unaware that a bar full of people are taking bets out on her, Emily is at home looking through old boxes and wishing her Nan was there to tell her what to do. She even goes so far as to put the old tin angel on the fireplace to watch over and probably experience some sort of poltergeist activity at some point. It happens a lot in these films and not one person is concerned enough to move home…

The next day Emily has a crowd waiting for the daily clue, including one man behind the till who I really hope works there occasionally… It would actually be an opportune moment to rob the place without anyone paying the slightest bit of attention. Good for him! We also learn that life is a series of crossroads but as long as you stay true to yourself you’ll be grand. Emily has also set up a little board in the baker where she pins the clues every day – apparently she’s not so bothered about those going missing – before she hits us with this revelation.


Emily: “I think the answers are in the clues…”

Me: “Woman, it’s been 40 minutes and 5 film days… what the fuck is wrong with you.”


These old women are still living their best lives through Emily and are even feeling a touch of Miss Marple about them and oh my god that guy didn’t work there! This guy just pulled off the robbery of the century… Not that Emily cares because she thinks if she plies all of the possible suspects with their favourite treats then… I don’t know, maybe someone will just come spilling out of them. WHY IS JAMES ALWAYS CARRYING POINSETTIAS AROUND WITH HIM!? IS NO ONE GOING TO ASK!? And why is Chuck/Jock/Jack on the list of possible suspects? Did she think being sold an overpriced tree was his way of flirting with her? In that case he’s in love with Grandma Pam and you need to step the hell back.

I’m not sure what the actual plan was here but, either way, if Emily is moping around on her sofa I assume it didn’t work out the way she wanted. Her assistant turns up with Chloe, who has made her a gift, and wants to know where the woman’s tree is. Cue Chuck/Jock/Jack at the door, delivering the tree as promised. I don’t know why Emily checks what his name is because she went and delivered him muffins yesterday… Chloe has made a paper angel for Emily which she jabs at random into the branches.

When Emily’s assistant offers an invitation to go carolling with them I don’t think she was including Chuck/Jock/Jack who was also casually looking at the photos on her mantelpiece and probably stole the angel while he was at it. I’m not sure why the man agreed to go when he can’t even sing but at least Gerard and Eddie were there to try and impress with their vocal skills. The creepy charity worker is also back to shake her bells at Chloe and start grinning at her again. This has all the makings of a Christmas horror story…

Glossing over the fact that Chuck/Jock/Jack has been in town for approximately 2 seconds he believes he is also in the running for this great relationship race and thinks Emily invited him despite the fact that it was her assistant who asked… I think he’s been huffing too much pine out there in his Christmas tree lot… Gerard cares very little about this man’s delusional ramblings and quickly leaves him alone in the town square before he suffers from a contact high.

I don’t know if Art the bartender wanted to keep his pool secret but Ollie has reported about it in the paper so it’s too fucking late now. He also gets a call from a local TV station about reporting on the calendar and when they ask him for an interview he informs them he is also the Mayor. I really don’t know how much of that is true… but it’s too late now because we’re at open mic night and crazy poinsettia lady can sing real nice like.

Gerard takes the opportunity to quiz James on all of the women in his life. Emily’s assistant, Chey, is defined by her nose ring and the fact she’s a good mother, Ivy, the crazy lady is defined by plants (there are worse things) and Emily is defined by baking and swigging beer (possibly my favourite of the three).

Ivy just wants to know who Emily actually fancies and for some reason we keep zooming in on the ring of keys Eddie has attached to his belt. Yes, we know he has a copy of the key to the cabinet. Yes, we know eventually it’s going to go missing and someone is going to steal the calendar or ruin Christmas, whichever comes first.


Ivy: “Is it true that men in the city just walk right up to you and start talking?”

Me: “I’m not sure being asked for your money and your phone counts as flirting…”


Prediction #9 – Ivy and James will get together instead

Gerard orders the women three shots from across the bar, which is sweet, and Art explains that it is tradition for the men of our species to buy the women a drink in order to get their attention. I’d like to see this mating ritual featured in Attenborough’s next documentary series. Just give us a 10 minute slot during an episode, that’s all we need.

Poor Gerard believes the women at the other table are laughing and toasting their shots because they’re having a great time when in reality they’re just trying to figure out how to call the man a snake in French. To be fair his constant staring at the table is starting to become more and more sinister by the second. Ivy distracts us by reciting today’s clue about speaking from the heart which only encourages Emily to march over to Gerard to confront the man about the Christmas Fair. James promptly and sensibly excuses himself from this war zone before he can get caught in the crazy blast radius.

Trying to prove to the woman that he is not a complete arsehole, Gerard invites Emily to his kitchen as two friends who may like to bake together and has also found the time to order her another beer. This woman is gonna be rat arsed by the time she leaves this place… The alcohol probably goes a long way to accepting this invite to bake after hours at Forge Mart and also to get up on stage and sing the ’12 Days of Christmas’ to this group of people. Going with a crowd pleaser she gets the entire bar involved and thank Christ on a bike we don’t have to sit through the entire thing…

The next day Gerard is furious that his gold leaf has not been delivered and it’s probably over with Emily and Chey, instead. I hope she uses it for the Christmas Fair… Adele thinks this whole Christmas calendar craze, which is robbing her of her customers, calls for more drastic action but Emily and Gerard think a cooking montage of chocolate ganache truffles is the way to go instead. This festive bonding time is coming just in time for Adele to steal that calendar and all blame to fall on Gerard so Emily can feel misplaced betrayal.

Especially after she has just opened up about missing the opportunity to move back home before Grandma croaked it. Now, if a man I barely knew and hated 80% of the time suddenly picked up food and tried to hand feed me I would not happily be trying to chew his hand off. I would also make sure I had finished my wine before packing up my stuff and making a break for it.

really wish I could take screenshots of this film because Emily finds a random box in the bakery kitchen and when she opens it it literally illuminates her face. I mean, I think we’ve found Gerard’s gold leaf but come fucking on. You could have just had an actual shot of it and Emily still looking as puzzled as she does now about being blinded by this random box. We have also skipped many a day of Christmas because we are now on Day 16, all of which have been published in the paper so Ivy can read over them and think about how lonely she is.

Prediction #10 – James is always carrying poinsettias around with him because he genuinely is in love with Ivy and keeps buying them from her!

Gerard pops into her shop looking for flowers which are more warm than hot, more hi than hello, more look than a leer and more smile than a smirk. Ivy understands every fucking word of this and pulls out a ready made arrangement for this very purpose. I would find this strange but this woman… I imagine she has an arrangement for every possible situation on earth in that shop. She promises not to tell anyone that Gerard is buying or sending flowers and rushes over to the bakery to find out what she missed from the old women.

They have narrowed their suspicions down to four contestants: Chuck/Jock/Jack, Eddie, James and Gerard. You know… the people it has always been because there are apparently no other men in this town and did they seriously call people all the way over here for this!? They might be retired but other people still have jobs, ya know! Emily is totally cool with her love life being discussed by the town, so much so she is offering them free biscuits and paying no attention to Adele marching around outside the shop and taking pictures of her through the window. A natural stalker, she is not.

She does, however, make an excellent shit stirrer! Emily decided to use the gold leaf on the cookies which she genuinely was going to use in the Christmas Fair (amazing!) and when she shows Gerard the picture he storms across the road, ignoring the very creepy grinning charity worker and unleashing all of his European fury. Trust me, we’re good at it.

Despite the fact he watches Chey and Emily try and figure out who even ordered the gold leaf he claims everyone is a thief, slams the door so hard the bell falls off the door and causes Emily to rush out of her own bakery to start a war in the middle of the street. Ivy thinks this would be the perfect moment to deliver the flowers from Gerard and Emily is so enraged she shuts everyone out of her shop, including poor Chey who just wants to pay the damn bills.

Gerard could not possibly think about baking for the Christmas Fair without his gold leaf and concedes so he won’t have to be screamed at some more in public. Adele, meanwhile, is sitting in what appears to be a shack and trying to report Emily’s bakery for a health violation. With everything going so right for the woman, James thinks this would be a wonderful time to call and remind her she does need to sell one of her grandma’s properties before the bank rips it from her cold, floury hands. In good news, however, the bakery’s bank deposits are through the roof this season! That’s a good sign, non?

I don’t know why the whole town has congregated to bowl together, you’d have had to drag me kicking and screaming from my house where, if you had managed to get me to the bowling alley, I would have used a ball break my own ankles and get out of playing. Emily is obviously paired with Gerard who shouts ‘goal!’ after all of his strikes and seems to very much grasp the fundamentals of bowling. I really don’t know how much more time has passed because the man mentions Emily won the Christmas Fair, which is news to me. Adele is pretty good at bowling and Chuck/Jock/Jake is very interested in Eddie’s keys so I can only imagine when the two of them are going to help each other right out of this Christmas nightmare they have found themselves in.

Eddie comes to the rescue when Chuck/Jock/Jack becomes a leering pervert but Emily really could have dealt with it herself by just breaking the man’s fingers. Unfortunately, Adele is going to win unless Gerard can perform a miracle, which he is likely to do and in return is allowed to ask Emily any question he likes whenever he gets a strike. All he’s really concerned about is when she learnt to bake, what cookies she first made and what’s her favourite thing to bake. When she was 5, gingerbread men and bread. See! I listen! The man manages to get a perfect score and during all the excitement Chuck has managed to steal away the cabinet key in order to ruin Emily’s big day.

Most men would rather just call a woman lesbian if they get turned down, rather than wonder what it is about themselves a woman might find so repulsive and possibly improve their character in any way shape and form (because how could you possibly improve on perfection), however Chuck is in such denial he is willing to go much further than that. At least Adele is a fan of this scheme.

With only one more day to go Emily still has zero clue who this guy is but think it’s more important to ruin Chey’s Christmas by telling her about the debt her grandma was in and how she will likely have to sell both the house and bakery to help pay it off. Due to the shop having no bell on the door, neither of the women see the health inspector turn up until some weird wild west music plays in the background. David Rosales would like to inspect your kitchen now, please.

The man has come equipped with his own little testing kit and after 30 minutes deems the kitchen spotless. Not being a complete moron about where an anonymous tip might have come from he heads over to Forge Mart, with his entrance music in tow, and performs another spot inspection in the bakery. As it turns out he isn’t able to get that far because Adele doesn’t even have a food prep license and I believe Gerard may be out of a job. Bring in Chuck, then. Come on. Let’s get this over with. Oh, look, a news van!

I really can’t believe Chuck’s first point of call is to seriously just try the door to the bakery and hope it had been left open…. Like she would lock away an advent calendar but forget to lock the fucking shop. Jesus Christ. Failing the front door the man casually climbs on the roof and trips through the skylight. Double thumbs up to this guy…

Ollie rocks up with the TV crew before Emily has even got through the door and I am mildly surprised to see the advent calendar still in the cabinet. Maybe we are yet to find Chuck’s crushed body in the kitchen, impaled on a cake stand. Oh, shit, I wasn’t half wrong. Emily’s interview is interrupted by Chuck rolling around the floor of the kitchen covered in flour and… how did he manage to get cookies on top of himself….? Kinda awkward, seeing as Ollie just mentioned they never experience crime around these parts.


Emily: “Chuck, please tell me what you’re doing here. Tell me what you’re doing here!”

Ollie: “Are you OK?”

Emily: “We’re going to call the police!”

Ollie: “No! No police. It’s just a misunderstanding, we can’t have a scene.”

Me: “Says the man who invited a TV crew over…”


It takes approximately 0.4 seconds for Chuck to point the finger at Adele and the poor advent calendar is left to sit there while Emily and Chey clean up the bakery. Ivy delivers the news that Adele’s bakery has been shut down and Gerard is out of job which should be no trouble for the man, considering Emily owns the bakery over the road. Adele’s Christmas is set to be the best one yet when she tries to ignore the call she is receiving from Forge Mart headquarters but in other parts of the town the TV crew are having a much nicer time.

Art has even brought his own pool with him to the bakery for the great unveiling where someone even took a chance and bet on Emily herself. The man has managed to raise $500 for the winner. Luckily the two old women are sitting at the front of the crowd, knitting, and spilling all sorts of tea which I already guessed about pairing people up. Ollie starts off the festivities and Emily steps forward to give a terrible speech no one much cares about before she opens the last door.

Cracked it!!! Grandma did it in order to spend one last Christmas with Emily! And fuck me Gerard guessed right! Everyone is very emotional, James admits he lives Ivy and Art hunts down Gerard, where he is standing literally across the road, in order to let him know. He is also standing in just the right spot to see Adele getting into a car with Chuck and driving off into the distance. I am very sure they are now fugitives…


Old woman: “Well, I didn’t see that coming!”

Ollie: “That’s why they call it the news. It never grows old.”

Me: “Try living in 2018.”


Gerard waits until everyone has left the bakery, including Chey leaving with Eddie, before he pops on over to help her pack up for the night. The woman is still trying to blame him for attempting to put her out of business until he admits he is an actual secret admirer of hers and she invites him to bake with her again sometime. Which, from the way he’s kissing the woman, might actually be a metaphor for something this time.

I’m not sure if it’s a Christmas tradition for all the main characters in the film to get together and eat together for Christmas but that is what’s happening and Emily even finds another tin angel to put on the mantelpiece which I fear is more like a harbinger of death than a sweet reminder from her grandma. Art and his wife came over to cook so that Emily could enjoy one last Christmas in her grandma’s house and the woman just conveniently forgot to mention that Forge Mart called her yesterday and asked if she would stock their bakery too. No doubt to stop her from suing their asses for a lot more money.

Without even looking at this contract James is positive she will be able to keep the house if they can work something out. Chey stays in work, Gerard has a new job, Chloe WHAT IS WITH THIS CHARITY WORKER WHO…. only Chloe can see. If that was grandma then she is creepy as all holy hell and if it wasn’t grandma then what the fuck is happening here!? Oh, yeah, that was grandma. Be creepier, ghost nan!!

We end on a delightful montage of the shop doing well the next Christmas and some generic French music rolls for the credits.

I mean… I have some serious questions about grandma…

 

If you couldn’t tell from the lack of screenshots for this post, I could not find a link to this film anywhere but neither did I over-tax myself with searching… Maybe you can do better.

Oh, also, while just searching for this film in general it turns out it also goes under the name ‘The Christmas Calendar’. In case you want to relive this film over and over and over again.

 

Prediction board – 5/10

  • Prediction #1 – There are some strange clauses in order to inherit Grandma’s estate – Nah, not really, she was just terrible at finances. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #2 – Baking and lawyer powers to the rescue! – Errrrrm, again? Nope. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #3 – Gerard is the baker at the test kitchen at Forge Mart! – Finally! CORRECT!
  • Prediction #4 – The mystery of the advent calendar will actually be wonderful publicity for the bakery – So very CORRECT!
  • Prediction #5 – Attention on the advent calendar just became national – OK… maybe it was more local… INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #6 – Gerard will turn on his boss because Emily is actually the lesser of two evil’s – Unfortunately he never got the chance… I’m sure he would have, though! Still. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #7 – Someone is going to break into that cupboard and either steal the calendar or reveal who it is was from, leaking it to the press and hoping to ruin the big surprise – Again, no one got the chance because they are friggin’ useless. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #8 – Actually, the calendar was from Grandma – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #9 – Ivy and James will get together instead – God bless you crazy Ivy. CORRECT!
  • Prediction #10 – James is always carrying poinsettias around with him because he genuinely is in love with Ivy and keeps buying them from her! – That’s potentially the most adorable thing we’ve heard this season. Homes for plants! CORRECT!

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: I don’t think the horses were allowed due to hygiene restrictions
  • Piano: You can’t bake and play at Christmas! That would be a double Christmas threat
  • Carolling: It was more like a strange singing competition but yeah. Sure. CHECK.
  • Christmas Montage: I’m not complaining about the amount of food montages we have been treated to this year. CHECK.
  • Fire Hazards: No. How boring.
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: Grandma! Left alone and terribly lonely! CHECK.
  • Snowing on cue: Due to the amount of arguments that took place on the streets, I don’t think adding snow and ice to the equation would have been the best idea..

 

I am so good at scoring 50% these days…. What has happened to me!? I don’t have that many days left to pick this up, either.

We’re gonna charge straight into tomorrow and get this shit down!

Christmas Advent #17 – Romance At Reindeer Lodge

After 17 days I have had enough of weddings, children and marketing experts working on 2 week deadlines before the New Year. That is why I have chosen this film, advertised to me constantly during my foray into the Christmas24 world, where I hope there will be none of this. I am very sure it’s just people trying to have a holiday.

But if there are no real reindeer knocking around and derailing people into nearby fences then I will be bitterly, bitterly disappointed.

 

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Classy motherfucker, ain’t ya?

Our initial Christmas tree opening scenes, which I get very excited about, are quickly ruined by an aerial shot of a city at night before we drop promptly into an office party. One woman, Maude, is still working her butt off and looking very un-festive when her friend, Karen, rocks up to tell her Santa is likely to lob a lump of coal at her head for working so close to Christmas. Yes, let us all believe in Santa and this very important rule of his. Please. Before we get concussion.

Not even the fact Derek from accounting has been asking about her is enough to lose interest in this business proposal she is drawing up. In all fairness I would rather continue to work than go out and face an accountant who likes the sound of his own voice but here we are anyway, grabbing a glass of champagne and talking about true love.

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Colonial chic was really in this year

Maude: “Yeah, I’m engaged… To Manchester Software. We’re spending Christmas together here in the office.”

Karen: “So you’re working through another holiday?”

Maude: “I am. Don’t think of it as work, think of it as love.”

Me: “This woman is on crack.”


I…. don’t know how this continues to fucking happen. This woman’s name is Molly, not Maude. How, in fucks name, when you shorten her name to ‘Mol’ can you possibly make it sound like Maude!? Twice! Also, I was kinda looking forward to a unique name we have not already encountered in another bloody film before it. And… she dresses like a Maude.

As it turns out Molly did too good of a job this year on the software because their manager would love to reward everyone by closing the office until the New Year and paying them their regular pay for 2 weeks. This is. The best boss. Ever. The man is even going to change the alarm codes so Molly can’t try and sneak in and torch the place in her misplaced anger.

Over in… somewhere else… an office guy bids farewell to Jared, another office guy, and wishes him a safe trip. I have a feeling this may be a working Christmas as he tries to clear some account from the company books by the end of the year. Well ain’t that just another convenient 2 week deadline? Meanwhile, Molly has been unable to look up from her phone long enough to notice the metric shit ton of Christmas lights that are strung up around her, prompting Karen to invite her friend over for Christmas.


Molly: “You guys are the sweetest. I appreciate it but…”

Karen: “What?”

Molly: “I’m not very good company at Christmas.”

Me: “I like to sit and think about how I am completely alone since my parents died and how hard it is to survive their favourite time of the year without them… It keeps me pretty busy.”


Looks like I counted out Molly’s mother a little too quickly because the woman is on the phone to her daughter the next morning. Her mother is going off on a cruise, probably trying to sail away from the prevailing grief for her deceased husband and getting really fucking drunk at the bar in the process. The next event happens very quickly… Molly turns on the radio, calls into a competition for a holiday to Jamaica she just heard about, wins right there on the phone and then immediately packs her bags.

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I doubt a radio station that doesn’t have the money for it’s own logo is going to send you to Jamaica…

On account of the giant sun hat the woman is wearing she didn’t notice Jared standing in line to board the flight and steals his place. The man is a little confused by her attire, which is pretty summery, and has to wonder if the woman has ever been to Jamaica before.

Prediction #1 – Oh, you meant small town Jamaica that’s up a hill somewhere in the northern hemisphere!

Unfortunately the woman ignores all of Jared’s efforts to inform her she isn’t going where she thinks she’s going because she’s on a very important call with someone called Mr Roberts  who never received his proposal and she can’t check where it got to because the office is closed. That’s a bit of a bastard. After the third attempt Jared gives up but at least the woman at reception is nice enough to point out to him that they’re actually flying to Jamaica, Vermont. I wonder how long it will take Molly to freeze to death and become an international symbol of geographical ignorance?

The flight the pair are on is minuscule and I would be dying. No. No thank you. Especially having to sit opposite from Molly for 2 hours who has just found out she is on the way to Vermont, wants the plane turned around and can’t believe this tiny plane doesn’t have Internet access. Considering the plane is excruciatingly tiny the air steward has to take drink orders on a notepad.

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Just looking at this makes me nervous

In reality Jared would despise the sight of Molly by now and her ‘can I talk to your manager’ haircut but he still seems pretty taken by the woman. With absolutely no other choice when the airport actually closes down the night, Molly has to go with the old guy, Chris, who has been waiting for her to show up so he can escort her back to his lodge where there is a pre-paid suite all set up and waiting for her. The guy would have had me at pre-paid but Molly takes about 2 minutes more of convincing before she gets her ass into gear.


Molly: “Airports don’t close.”

Chris: “Well, this one does and it’s a long walk back into town from here.”

Molly: “You know, I can probably come with you and figure all this out in the morning.”

Chris: “Well, that’s the Christmas spirit!”

Me: “Is it?”


Chris prattles on about a big snow storm coming that they will be lucky to avoid at all now he spent the last few minutes trying to convince Molly to get in his car, where she also finds Jared waiting, another guest at the lodge. Priceless.

Prediction #2 – Molly is going to get snowed in for the entire festive period and be unable to work and it will be healthy for her

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I have some questions…

Arriving safely at the lodge in Chris’ death-mobile they are met with a pretty friggin’ impressive lodge. Apparently Chris never finished the lights before his guests arrived and I’m really not surprised seeing as the damn building is so big. He really should have gone with that excuse, rather than claiming that Christmas simply came to early and having me fear for his long-term memory. Personally, Molly never saw the point of putting lights up just to take them down again after a few weeks and has clearly never lived in an area where the lights stay up all year round to avoid that hassle.

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Good luck navigating this when you’re still half asleep and on fire!

I am happy to confirm the lodge would be quite difficult to navigate in a fire and fucking hell Zelda Spellman is married to Chris!  I watched another Christmas film with her in the other day (for fun, can you believe) where she was a completely needy psychopath worried that her mother was inevitably going to die one day! Now she is simply called Penny and wants nothing more than to burn her guests alive. She also looks like a glimpse into the future of how Molly will look in a few years. Jared should take a good, hard look at Penny and be sure this is what he wants…

Penny had a feeling that this would happen and assures Molly she asked the radio station to make sure they told contestants they would be heading for Vermont. I would have adored this mix-up… It’s motherfuckin’ Zelda Spellman and she knows how to decorate for accidental fires in every single room of the house. She has even provided all guests with hideous Christmas nightgowns from the turn of the century in case they get cold. I hope she’s provided the same for the men, too.

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I’m so happy with this death trap I could cry…

Now is the perfect time to reveal the lodge has no Internet access for relaxing purposes but I wouldn’t be too fussed because I just heard the words ‘Happy Hour’. Molly heads over to Jared’s room to interrupt his call with his office, where I predict the below two seconds before we see him turn over a file with ‘Reindeer Lodge’ printed on the front.

Prediction #3 – Jared is there to try and sell Reindeer Lodge or boot Zelda out of her home for not paying rent

I don’t know whether I am more outraged that this man is trying to make Zelda homeless or that Molly doesn’t appear to have brought a charger with her for her own phone… For someone so plugged into technology all the time you never go anywhere without a charger… Jared suggests she tries to get the airline to contact her via the hotel instead, which I suppose she has to do through fucking telepathy seeing as she can’t get a hold of them right now.


Jared: “Look, about earlier, I really didn’t know that you didn’t know…”

Molly: “That I was going to the wrong Jamaica?”

Me: “Yes he fucking did! Why else would he be trying to warn you the entire time?!”


After blatantly lying to the woman’s face we head downstairs for happy hour where two other guests are talking to Chris about the reindeer in the area and how shy they are where strangers are concerned. Yes! Real reindeer, here we come! Eventually. When they’re used to strangers.

Prediction #4 – At some point a reindeer will take a specific liking to Molly and Jared will look fondly on as she is floored by nature… metaphorically speaking, not like the reindeer is going to trample her or anything

Greg and Kayla are at the lodge to celebrate their first wedding anniversary. It’s kind of a working anniversary as the pair of them are photographers and are working on their first Christmas-themed book which they hope will include reindeer in their natural habitat. The lodge actually is actually on a 1,000 acre large registered nature preserve, just to complicate things for Jared, somewhat.

Prediction #5 – Jared’s company wants to make the place into a multi-storey car park or ski resort or something

Prediction #6 – Jared will decide that nature is more important than people dying on ski slopes and also wants to preserve the place where he met his future wife so they can spend all of their wedding anniversaries there too

Prediction #7 – Molly will already have bonded with the reindeer far too much when she hears of Jared’s plan and feels utterly betrayed

Prediction #8 – Molly will probably offer her own marketing expertise to help save the lodge

Jesus… I’m tired after that. I deserve a mince pie…. I should point out that this entire time Chris has been sitting in the corner and whittling away at a piece of wood so when Molly notices a bunch of shelves with carvings on she can ask him if he did them all himself. 2 minutes in and the woman is already falling prey to Christmas, just as it should be.

Happy hour turns out to be milk and cookies and you know… I think I could live with that. I need to go and find my own Reindeer Lodge. In fact, I should go and just open my own failing lodge up a mountain somewhere because if these films have taught me anything it’s that you don’t even need to be good at business, eventually a bunch of strangers will come along, perform a Christmas miracle and help you out of debt. It’s just the way the world works, ya know?

Zelda is more concerned that Christmas Eve is a week away and her tree still isn’t up. At least she can rope the guests into helping them decorate the place… more? The next day Molly rushes down in her hideous Christmas nightgown to answer a call from the airline and I fear that Chris, Greg and Kayla haven’t moved because they’re still in the exact same placed as the night before. Still riding that milk and cookies high, I guess.

Molly is trying to talk on the phone when Penny (Zelda) presents Greg with a jar of what are apparently questions and asks him to read out the Christmas question for the day. I am intrigued…


Greg: “In the 12 days of Christmas how many pipers are piping?”

Greg and Kayla: “On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…”

Molly: “11 days!?”

Me: “Oh, is she just… imbued with a Christmas magic she didn’t even know about?”


Ya see… the woman has been told she is stuck there until the end of the week unless the airline has a cancellation so I really don’t see why she doesn’t just wind the fuck down and take her pre-paid holiday! Seeing as Molly technically got the answer to today’s question correct she gets to do the honours of opening the advent calendar, which involves both chocolate and daily mantras. Zelda is really about mental health around here… Molly is told that every Christmas is a journey so just give in already.

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Bet Chris whittled that…

Prediction #9 – Molly will get the chance to leave early but in the end will not take it

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Alright, Santa, it’s not a competition…

Someone has been nice enough to take everyone into town, so Molly can get some decent clothing, where there appears to be a shop that specialises in jumpers and I adore everything about it. I want to live there. I want to be Mayor of wherever the hell this is.


Shopkeeper: “Reindeer Lodge! Well, I haven’t heard about the place in years!”

Me: “How? You live in the same fucking area…”

Shopkeeper: “I used to take my kids up there when they were little. They used to have those reindeer tours, do they still have those tours?”

Kayla: “We haven’t seen any reindeer yet but we’re hoping.”

Shopkeeper: “Oh, I don’t think people are interested in that kind of thing anymore. Maybe if you had a ninja reindeer robot but…”

Me: “Says the woman stocking a llama Christmas jumper and making all of this so much worse…”


All Molly asks for is something a little less festive and the tone this woman takes makes me think she has gone round back to pull out her specialised ‘funeral attire’ range. I’ll you fucking less festive! Kayla admits to business being slow lately so she wants this anniversary to be on point and seems a little surprised that Molly ain’t that struck on Christmas. I have also seen far less festive jumpers hanging up than the… thing… that the shopkeeper rushes out of the back room with. Even worse, Molly appears to buy the damn thing.

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This is the least festive jumper she has. Just think about that for a second.

Kayla: “So, anybody special back home?”

Molly: “Oh, I’m not a ‘relationship’ person.”

Kayla: “That is ridiculous. I believe there’s someone out there for everyone.”

Molly: “Why do married people always say that to single peopl….”

Kayla: “Hi, honeybunch!”

Greg: “I got some great shots for the book, all we need now are those reindeer photos.”

Molly: “You really like reindeer, don’t you?”

Kayla: “Oh, his grandmother…”

Me: “Is a reindeer!?”

Kayla: “Always says that a reindeer is the symbol of true love.”

Me: “Damn.”

Greg: “It’s actually a Nordic myth, Grandma is very old world.”

Kayla: “Yeah, I know it sounds a little weird but she always says that when a couple first meets they go into the wilderness under a full moon and then see a reindeer.”

Greg: “It means they are destined to be together.”

Kayla: “Forever.”

Me: “That or they kill each other in a bitter battle of survival out in the woods, I guess.”

Molly: “You learn something new every Christmas.”

Me: “Like Greg’s grandma is the head of a cult!”


The book is being dedicated to the one and the same grandma so they desperately need those reindeer photos to remind her of all those favourite, festive ritual sacrifices under the full moon. With nothing better to do Molly is searching for a charger for her phone and hearing tales from the locals about how no one thinks about Reindeer lodge anymore but all seem to have fond memories of the place.

Prediction #10 – The whole town will come to the lodge’s aid because they all love reindeer around these here parts

Jared had actually bought the last charger and was going to gift it to Molly on Christmas but seeing as she is so desperate for the thing he hands it over without a fight. Molly demands she gets him something in return which leads her over to a reindeer ornament that looks like it’s been crafted (expertly) out of tin foil. Apparently all of them are unique and hand-crafted right there in Jamaica and it’s also noteworthy that, one time, her dad bought her something very similar.

Prediction #11 – Molly will find very personal ties to Reindeer lodge which will only reinforce her endeavours to save the place

Jared settles on letting Molly buy him Vermont’s own version of Jamaican rum punch from a place down the street. Hot buttered rum… holy fuck let me at it! I immediately paused the film in order to Google this cocktail and check the cupboard for rum. Apparently it dates back to colonial days! This film has just come full circle! Molly should have just rocked up in her office gear!

When Jared asks about the deal with the reindeer ornament Molly is very forthcoming and explains how they had very little money, as a family, and would have to make their own ornaments but she could never get the reindeer right. Then, one Christmas Eve, her dad got stuck in a snowstorm, which it sounds like he never returned from, but had left a gift for her under the tree which was a perfectly carved reindeer he had made for her. These reindeer are getting serious air time in this film without even needing to turn up.

Molly’s mom now lives in Florida with her new family and although they’re great and live in Florida where she could be riding rollercoasters all year long she just doesn’t feel like she belongs anywhere anymore. Awwww. Jared is not so forthcoming with the sob story of how it’s just him and his dad and they’re not even close so quickly distracts Molly by asking a horse and carriage to take them up to the lodge. THERE IS A DOG SITTING NEXT TO THE DRIVER! I’M DONE HERE.

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Do me a favour and just stare at this screenshot until you start to see a dog

I had to rewind this because when they finally turn up at the lodge and Greg gets a picture of them in the carriage there is no dog… Maybe he fell off halfway up to the lodge but I like to believe that he was another paying customer and got dropped off on the way. Everyone else has been busy finishing setting up the lights and it is a tradition for Penny to bring out hot chocolate and to toast the lights when they’re turned on.

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There’s a reason all of these small businesses are failing financially. It’s glaringly obvious.

There is a brief moment when a tiny red dot appears on Chris’ head and I fear the snipers have finally found him but it’s just more Christmas lights. I also hope that Greg and Kayla have asked for Molly and Jared’s permission to use their photo in their book… something Ian was kind enough to ask about a few Christmas’ ago. Molly might have changed her mind about Christmas lights being worthless but that all really depends on whether the snowman outside of her window turns around in the night and threatens to murder her in her sleep.

RARL_13
They say his head spins around and he projectile vomits sleet

In the next room Jared might also be changing his mind about Reindeer Lodge when he phones up his boss to let him know the place really isn’t just a property and he’s gotten himself into a little situation, up on that mountain. We never hear the rest of this conversation but I really hope that he hasn’t already shipped this relationship with Molly when he has known her for roughly 24 hours. Or maybe he was referring to the abundance of Christmas lights that have appeared this morning that definitely weren’t there last night. They’re multiplying…

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I can safely say we have never seen a curtain of lights before

Jared: “Any sign of those reindeer yet?”

Chris: “No, not yet, but you never know. They have a habit of making an appearance when you least expect it.”

Me: “I’m not sure… when that would be in a place called Reindeer Lodge where people come to see the reindeer…”


Chris has been banished to the porch in order to continue his whittling and my god, I honestly believe the situation Jared was referring to was his interest in Molly. He is even asking the man to show him how to whittle so he can make her a god damn reindeer and profess his everlasting love under the full moon.

Prediction #12 – See above


Molly: “Please let me know if you have another cancellation! Yes, Merry Christmas to you too. Oh! Let me help you!”

Penny: “Thank you! So no luck with the airline?”

Molly: “Still no cancellations. They’re fully booked until the New Year.”

Me: “But you just said… another cancellation… implying there had already been one… What?”


Molly assures Penny she is having a good time but she really didn’t plan to spend her Christmas looking out of the kitchen window, watching Jared chop firewood, and decorating Christmas cookies with Zelda Spellman. His head bobbing around in the background through the window is actually pretty distracting… which is why Penny sends Molly out there to offer the man a cookie from the damned.

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‘Kill…. me….’

Molly claims she helped make this delicious gingerbread man without specifying she only iced the damn thing and as instant karma the in-house photographers appear to get a picture of the pair. As more karma for taking credit for Penny’s baking, Chris appears out of the woods to announce they have some reindeer problems.

Prediction #13 – The reindeer have escaped! Guess they really will turn up when you least expect it… probably when you’re trying to drive out of town

Aaaaaand no, the reindeer are sick and need quarantining for their own protection. Greg and Kayla really wanted a picture of those reindeer for their book and now it looks completely unlikely that will happen. Grandma gonna be pissed… Luckily Greg gets to open the advent calendar today claiming a Christmas surprise will come his way. In order to cheer the man up everyone elects to help put up the tree which… Jared may or may not have chopped up for firewood… At least that’s cheered Greg up.

We’re going on a tree hunt! We learn that Jared works in real estate finance and works for his father! No wonder the two aren’t close…


Jared: “I was one of those boarding school kids who barely came home.”

Molly: “Even at Christmas?”

Jared: “Well I had my own tree in my room. My dad would send me money for gifts, I’d buy them, wrap them up and put them under the tree and then on Christmas day I would open them up and pretend to be surprised. Well, not every year….”

Molly: “Jared, that is the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Me: “You don’t get out much, do you?”


Electing not to tell Molly about the current state of the world Jared assures her that sometimes peace and quiet is nice, alone and away from the big cities. At least this Christmas Jared believes he is not alone and Molly ruins their moment when she promptly trips over a branch and floors the man. They had plenty of time to get that kiss over and done with but for the film’s sake Kayla and Greg call them over because they’ve found the stables where they believe the reindeer to be.


Kayla: “What are you doing? Greg! Chris said the reindeer were sick.”

Greg: “I’m not going to bother them I just want to get one picture.”

Me: “In their natural habitat: the barn.”


Listening to no one Greg spies something off and breaks into the barn to reveal… there are no reindeer.

Prediction #14 – There are no reindeer! 

Literally a second later Chris appears to confirm the same thing. Thank you, buddy! But also… what? Chris has zero idea what happened to the reindeer but one day they simply wondered away and never came back. Seeing as they’re on a nature reserve, Chris didn’t see why he should try and hunt them down and let them go on their merry way.

Prediction #15 – The reindeer will be back just in time to stop Greg and Kayla being sacrificed by the cult and to save the lodge


Chris: “Would you have come to a place called Reindeer Lodge if you weren’t going to see any reindeer?”

Me: “Errrr… yes?”


It’s no wonder no one has been up to take part in the reindeer tours! Although if they treated it like a safari tour or a zoo they could just claim the customers had been unlucky that day. The amount of times I’ve been to Cheshire Zoo and seen nothing is in no way able to put me off… and Cheshire Zoo sure aren’t wanting for money like Craig and Penny are. Greg seems very upset about not having picture of reindeer for this book dedicated to his grandma…

Penny is also doing a damn terrible job of pretending she wasn’t crying when Molly walks in.


Penny: “We got some bad news in the mail, today. I guess we’ve fallen a bit behind on… the bills and things.”

Me: “Take some of those lights down. That might help.”

Molly: “Will it help when the reindeer come back?”

Penny: “I’m afraid that really won’t make much difference. People aren’t too interested in our reindeer tours these days… Sign of the times, I guess: why come all the way up here to see a real reindeer when you can just watch them on your phone?”

Me: “Well… because you don’t have any actual reindeer, for a start.”


Feeling bad that she has been moaning this entire time Molly looks like she is about to join her future self in crying at the thought of losing her future home. I suppose that’s why she feels like she can go through her future self’s mail and check out their eviction notice which, if Jared’s call is to be believed, they only have until Christmas Eve to sort out other accommodation.

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I think the real question is what would you do if you met your future self running a failing lodge up in the mountains?

Molly pulls Jared away from tree decorating in order to let him in on this little secret but doesn’t get very far before Kayla storms through the place, crying and claiming everything is wrong. The drama! Apparently the couple have had a bad year and they were really counting on this book to work out and have started fighting over it.

Prediction #16 – The book will also really help with publicity for the place

Jared is on hand to skulk around the bottom of the stairs and eavesdrop on Molly trying to assure Kayla that her relationship is not like Christmas lights and will still be up all year round! This really only encourages Jared, from the look on his face, and soon everyone is helping Penny to decorate the tree with ornaments, which were all given to them by various visitors staying at the lodge and so we can take a trip down memory lane and get sentimental over the place in order to save it. Even Greg shows up to help.

I’m surprised Penny doesn’t roll out the hot chocolate to commemorate the lighting of the Christmas tree, too. Chris assures his wife that even next Christmas everything will be just fine which is probably why we find Jared sitting out on the porch, whittling in secret, before he is interrupted by Molly. The woman really wants to help the lodge and clearly puts the fear of god into the man when he thinks about her discovering his secret and never celebrating Christmas again.

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Fuuuuuuuuuuuck

Despite the fact Jared can only ‘kinda’ cook that doesn’t stop him and Molly heading into town to pick up all the ingredients for a Christmas dinner from a list Kayla has written them which lists an active ingredient as either cranberries or Ecuador… Molly has never made a Christmas dinner, Jared can only kinda cook and Kayla doesn’t have eligible writing. I wonder what Greg is going to bring to the table.

Even the checkout girl is harping on about Reindeer Lodge and how it used to be a family tradition. I can’t help feel all of these people must know there are no reindeer, like they stopped going because no one was seeing any reindeer… Either way, Molly has contacted a reindeer preserve in Quebec with an over-population problem who are willing to help. Let’s just casually forget that an entire other herd didn’t just go missing, they’re probably still in the reserve and that if the first herd didn’t like the area around the lodge why would the second? And what if they meet up and fight to the death? It will be Grandma’s full moon cult killings all over again!

Jared doesn’t try too hard to put the woman off the idea, despite it making his alter ego’s life more difficult, and even lets her tell everybody else about their plan, to get the entire town to help import these reindeer across Canada, over dinner that evening (which looks fine, by the way). Kayla thinks they could hold a charity auction but Penny fears they have nothing to offer. If this is going to save Greg’s book then he is all for helping out, and offers the townsfolk not only their photographs in this silent auction but also a chance to meet the author’s of the upcoming book ‘Christmas in Jamaica’. I think they should offer up some of Chris’ carvings, too.

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This woman just wants to watch the world burn.

At this point, during the preparing montage where we decorate the stables, I am very sure we could have made all of this money from opening up a nursery specialising in selling poinsettias across the country. They are everywhere in this film. When Penny finds everyone exhausted after a hard day’s work she leaves them sleeping in front of the unattended fire and just hopes she will get a chance to cash in on both their home insurance and Chris’ life insurance at the same time. It’s merely her Plan B. Nothing serious.

Even random people are now helping to put up the signs for the auction around town when who should roll up but Jared’s father, asking for directions to the lodge. Chris brings in a CD player into the stables that he used to use to play music for the reindeer.

Prediction #17 – The music will bring the reindeer back

Prediction #18 – Jared’s father will reveal why his son is really there ungraciously and probably severe any remaining familial ties they had by trying to make him choose between business or the lodge

Prediction #19 – After spending two seconds at the lodge, Jared’s father will probably come around and at the risk of losing his son, decide not to try and foreclose the lodge

Seriously, I can’t stop with this film and that only means I’ll probably be fucking wrong by a landslide. Molly and Jared are left alone in the stable which gives them plenty of time to start dancing to the music and for, predictably, Jared’s dad to show up at the worst possible moment.


Jared: “Did you mean what you said to Kayla?”

Molly: “You heard that?”

Me: “Seeing as that was now a few days ago I am surprised she immediately knew what the man was referencing… he could have been talking about them discussing how they best liked their bacon cooked from this morning.”


Being introduced to William, Jared’s dad, is enough to send Molly storming off out of the barn and pointing out all the moments where Jared could have come clean about what he was really doing there.


Jared: “What was I supposed to say? ‘Oh, you won a trip? I’m here to foreclose on two sweet, old people and their reindeer ranch.'”

Molly: “No, but I would have appreciated the truth.”

Me: “I would have just thought you were Satan the entire time.”


Penny interrupts this revelation that Jared was terrified of losing the woman to let Molly know she has a call. Predictably, there is a cancellation that Molly can catch the next day and Penny is very concerned that she will be missing Christmas if she is flying around, instead. I am unsure whether Penny and Chris knew what Jared was doing there, I presume so… I would have been bribing him a lot more, in that case.

Jared is furious at his father for ruining his Christmas and it’s probably not a great idea to anger the man if you want to convince him not to sell the place. I’d do it out of spite for being shouted at and told I’d ruined Christmas. Meanwhile, Molly is helping Kayla get ready for, technically, her first big show and can’t help asking why the woman is leaving the lodge and Jared behind her. Kayla promptly hands all the clothes Molly has just packed back to her and I would, legit, have admitted defeat at that point because fuck packing.

As per usual we have to wait just long enough to presume no one is coming to the auction and, unfortunately, have Jared’s dad turn up to see the empty stable. At least Penny is willing to offer the man a cookie after Molly and Jared have abandoned ship to probably go argue some more. Oh! And here’s everyone now!


Shopkeeper: “Hey! I was just telling Molly and Kayla here why we’re all so late! Mrs Elliott’s cows got out and blocked the main highway. Nobody could pass! We all had to take the side road!”

Me: “Good God I need to live here.”


I really want my biggest concern in life to be the fact I can’t get up to the silent auction, being held in a stable, to bid on a painting, to help fund the relocation of a herd of reindeer, to our town’s own nature reserve because the highway was blocked by cows. That’s all I’ve ever wanted 2 days before Christmas.

Jared will not give up on hounding Molly around the stable and thinks the best way he can do this is by appearing out of nowhere and saying ‘Congratulations’ very loudly.


Jared: “Are you really leaving tomorrow?”

Molly: “Yeah, I have to get back to work. It’s where I belong.”

Me: “That and the fact you never got back to that client who is still waiting to receive that proposal you promised you’d look into…”

Jared: “I thought you weren’t sure about that.”

Molly: “Yeah…”

Jared: “What if you belong here? With me.”

Me: “What!? You don’t even fucking live here!”


Let’s just… think about Jared’s relocation plans for a minute while he apologises and tells the woman he’s in love with her. Oh look! It’s a full moon!

Prediction #20 – Molly is gonna find Jared’s whittled reindeer under the full moon and just know they are meant to be together. Forever. Just like Grandma planned all along and is part of her diabolical plan…

Jared’s father can’t help noticing the amount of times Molly has stormed away from his son in the past 6 hours so goes out to talk to him while he tries to whittle away at this reindeer. He needs to hurry up, Molly still needs to find that somewhere before she leaves to prove me right. Apparently, Jared’s grandfather used to do the same thing and clearly the talent wasn’t hereditary because Jared’s reindeer sucks. William has decided he actually needs to improve his relationship with his son, powered by Christmas cheer and his oncoming retirement, which is why he is not going to rip the lodge out from under Penny and Chris’ feet and leave them homeless.


William: “I know I’ll never be able to make up all those years to you but… to me that’s just a figure on a balance sheet. All these people up here, tonight, it’s obviously much more than that.”

Jared: “It’s a part of the town, it’s… they love it. I’ve only been here a little while, I can tell, why?”

William: “I knew you had something else on your mind. I could hear it in your voice on the phone.”

Me: “That and the fact he told you he had his doubts and had found himself in a bit of situation, yeah, sure.”


I am surprised that Jared didn’t continue to hound Molly and give her the good news but instead chose to wait until the next morning, at the very last moment, as she has already said goodbye to people, opened the Christmas advent calendar and is heading to the airport. Opening the advent calendar message of the day it tells her ‘the best Christmas gift is love’ which she feels she is severely lacking in right then and would rather just eat the chocolate, thanks.

Speaking of last minute, Molly decides to call that client while she is waiting in line to check in as if she didn’t have signal the entire time at the lodge…


Molly: “Hi Mr Roberts! It’s Molly Clarke from Manchester Software, we spoke last week about the proposal. Well, I know it’s Christmas Eve bu… No, I do have a life, I… Not a problem, we can speak after the holidays. Bye.”

Me: “Now that man knows how to celebrate Christmas!”


God fucking damn it. When looking in her case for her ID she instead finds the occult reindeer that Jared carved for her. What happened to leaving it outside under the full moon for her to find!? Out in the wilderness, buddy!! I would hardly call a local Vermont airport the motherfuckin’ wilderness! It has Christmas decorations and closes at night! Help me out there!

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Jared really captured the eyes…

Back at the lodge Jared is ‘gifting’ the owners with a ‘Vermont Gift Deed’ which will be set up as a permanent trust so the lodge will belong to them and the town forever. I’m not sure… where the fact the place is on a registered nature reserve comes into all of this because OHHHHH those extra lights were on the back porch. That explains it.

Also, seeing as the full moon is actually good for at least 6 days (by the naked eye, anyway) Jared is able to stand out on the lawn, staring up at it and be more easily accessible for Molly to stroll back and find him.


Molly: “I found this in my bag.”

Jared: “I didn’t know what else to do.”

Me: “Except find her and explain that the lodge was no longer in danger? Bother to say goodbye? You thought sneaking into her room and planting a hand-carved, wooden reindeer in her suitcase was the way to go?”


I swear to GOD the reindeer that are strolling through the woods are the exact same fucking green-screened reindeer that knocked Maddie off the road. Penny is also claiming that the Christmas miracle of true love brought them back and everyone sneaks up in order to watch reindeer casually stroll around Penny and Chris. I hope they’ve apologised for fucking off and almost putting the couple out of a home.

And there we have it! If you want to watch some beautiful whittling then head right here.

Now let’s look at these predictions I am aware I have done terribly on.

 

Prediction board – 11/20

  • Prediction #1 – Oh, you meant small town Jamaica that’s up a hill somewhere in the northern hemisphere! – CORRECT.
  • Prediction #2 – Molly is going to get snowed in for the entire festive period and be unable to work and it will be healthy for her – INCORRECT! She actually found another hobby to work on.
  • Prediction #3 – Jared is there to try and sell Reindeer Lodge or boot Zelda out of her home for not paying rent – Oh boy, yes. CORRECT!
  • Prediction #4 – At some point a reindeer will take a specific liking to Molly and Jared will look fondly on – Unfortunately this never occurred, I would have liked to have seen her reaction to a real-life reindeer. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #5 – Jared’s company wants to make the place into a multi-storey car park or ski resort or something – CORRECT! People just love good real estate.
  • Prediction #6 – Jared will decide that nature is more important than people dying on ski slopes and also wants to preserve the place where he met his future wife – CORRECT! Good for you, buddy.
  • Prediction #7 – Molly will already have bonded with the reindeer far too much when she hears of Jared’s plan and feels utterly betrayed – INCORRECT! She actually bonded with her future self
  • Prediction #8 – Molly will probably offer her own marketing expertise to help save the lodge – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #9 – Molly will get the chance to leave early but in the end will not take it – CORRECT! Stopped by a tiny-eyed reindeer
  • Prediction #10 – The whole town will come to the lodge’s aid because they all love reindeer around these here parts – HELL YEAH! CORRECT!
  • Prediction #11 – Molly will find very personal ties to Reindeer lodge which will only reinforce her endeavours to save the place – Mmmmmm, nothing really came of this. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #12 – Molly will find this whittled reindeer out in the wilderness under the light of a full moon – Make that in the middle of the day under the fluorescent lights of the airport check in desk. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #13 – The reindeer have escaped! – We’ll never know… that is the reindeer’s secret and theirs alone…. UNKNOWN!
  • Prediction #14 – There are no reindeer!  – CORRECT! Phew, just in time.
  • Prediction #15 – The reindeer will be back just in time to stop Greg and Kayla being sacrificed by the cult and to save the lodge – Although this would have been a good alternative ending… CORRECT!
  • Prediction #16 – The book will also really help with publicity for the place – We can only assume so but… sure! CORRECT!
  • Prediction #17 – Chris playing their favourite music will bring the reindeer back – Unfortunately…. no. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #18 – Jared’s father will reveal why his son is really there ungraciously and probably severe any remaining familial ties they had by trying to make him choose between business or the lodge – Ooooooh so close. Half a point.
  • Prediction #19 – After spending two seconds at the lodge, Jared’s father will probably come around and at the risk of losing his son, decide not to try and foreclose the lodge – CORRECT! That Christmas spirit can do weird things to ya
  • Prediction #20 – Molly is gonna find Jared’s whittled reindeer under the full moon and just know they are meant to be together. Forever. Just like Grandma planned all along and is part of her diabolical plan… – INCORRECT! Sorry Grandma.

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: If they didn’t even have wild reindeer they weren’t going to have tame horses
  • Piano: I think we’ve had our piano fix for this year already
  • Carolling: Thank GOD no.
  • Christmas Montage: A festive stable decorating montage!
  • Fire Hazards: I have never been so amazed in all of my life by one person’s affinity with a fire hazard
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: Errrrr…. sure
  • Snowing on cue: All of the god damn time

 

20 god damn predictions! But hey, at least I got over 50% non?

Ya know… the past few films really haven’t been all that bad. I don’t feel completely traumatised, at least. Let’s see what the remaining days can do to me.

Christmas Advent #16 – Marry Me At Christmas

So after the excitement of actually watching a Christmas film yesterday I decided to go with something which seems a little more predictable. I also couldn’t stop staring at the two main characters.

Not in a good way. Something about them disturbs me. I think it’s the fact they could actually be siblings and are clearly only falling in love with each other because they vaguely remind each other of their own faces.

There’s just…. something. I am hoping it gets more infuriating in movement and I will be squarely back where I am most comfortable with these films. Angry, disbelieving and losing all hope in humanity. Perfect!

 

Score! We’re right back at festive streets and people doing festive things for our opening credits. Even the owner of ‘Paper Moon Bridal’ is hanging decorations up on the shop front in the hope one of them will fall down and knock a pedestrian out. As it turns out our main woman, Maddie, owns this place with her friend who is very concerned they won’t even make it past 1st January when the rent goes up. Maddie believes wholeheartedly that expanding the store to jewellery and accessories, as well as utilising social media, will make up the difference and save the day.

She keeps mentioning the name of the place but it just keeps sounding like ‘Pools Pool’… either way, I have news for all of the local businesses in Pools Pool. If you didn’t have so many damn decorations and lights up you might save enough on your electricity bills to make up the extra rent! Sigh… at least it’s going to make for some wonderful fire hazards, I guess. Speaking of which, Maddie has gone home to scav some lights off her parents who are decorating their tree like Blackpool Illuminations. They guide a small aircraft down with that thing.

MMAC_1
‘What!? The 8:45 from Manchester is going to be early!? I’m not ready yet!’

There is a casual, parental mention of Ted who left 3 years ago and also left a thoroughly barren dating scene in his wake. Maybe one day Maddie won’t be quite so alone, eh? The next day Maddie encounters a woman named Ginger Blake and her fiance Oliver. I’d love to know his surname, too… The pair want an express wedding, set for Christmas Eve, because Oliver recently got accepted to medical residency programme in London (DON’T GO, BUDDY! SAVE YOURSELF!) where he will be performing cardio thoracic surgery day in, day out. The pair just wants to get married before they take a one-way trip to hell.

It’s Fool’s Gold! Jesus Christ, Maddie, learn to speak. Ginger can manage it. Ginger helped to design the town’s website a few months ago and fell in love with it, so she is back to help Mayor Marsha with all of the site’s Christmas content. In the month that Oliver has off before they ship out they thought they would just get the entire thing over with and plan a rush job. Maddie, at least, is grateful for this entirely unplanned endeavour and can fit the woman in tomorrow for what will likely be a wedding dress montage.

Over in maybe Hollywood we are treated to a giant billboard featuring the actor Johnny Blake in… pause for suspense… ‘Fire’s Edge 2’! Cue the explosion. Johnny himself is trying to walk into a restaurant where people immediately start taking photos of him and his agent loudly calls his name to signal him to her table. I don’t know if he wanted the entire building to know he had arrived but… they do now.


Barbara: “So! What did ya wanna talk about? Wait! Before you answer…”

Me: “Because as your agent I frankly don’t care about your human rights or needs…”

Barbara: “… here is the script for Fire’s Edge 3.”


From the look on Johnny’s face I really think he is done with playing around so close to fire after two feature length films of dodging flames. The guy cannot even have a regular conversation without people waving at him, eavesdropping on his conversations, taking selfies with him in the background or wordlessly dropping photographs of him on the table for him to sign.

MMAC_2
Let’s just take a moment to think… that man carries this photo of Johnny around with him 24/7…

Johnny is actually heading out of town tomorrow morning, despite his photo shoot and meeting with the Fire’s Edge 3 director, and tells Barbara where he will be staying so he can forward all of her inability to listen to a word he has to say. He does also mention that he will be staying in Fool’s Gold in front of the crazy fans too so… I can oooonly imagine.

Back in Fool’s Gold we see a shot of a gingerbread house just before Maddie spots the actual Ginger out on the street and calls out her name. It’s like a very simplified version of ‘say what you see’ except you don’t even have to finish the entire word if you don’t feel like it. At least when Ginger spots the edible house she is able to point and use her words properly, leading them over to Shelby who is randomly decorating the house outdoors. Without checking Ginger’s credentials or experience with an icing bag, Shelby puts Ginger to work on continuing to ice the roof.

MMAC_3
‘No, of course I’m not drawing a giant penis on the side of this house. Why would you ask that…?’

Even Shelby is shocked to hear to hear that Ginger has exactly zero plans or booking for her wedding. Not even a colour scheme. All Ginger wanted was to be unobtrusive as possible on everyone’s Christmas plans. Shelby finds this hilarious before she puts Maddie forward for the job of wedding planner. What’s more shocking is that Ginger just presumes that every woman who works in a bridal shop is a wedding planner and was kind of hoping Maddie would be planning her wedding this entire time. Despite giving her no direction.

I don’t know what is wrong with Shelby, she just keeps laughing at everything. It’s not a bad thing I just think she’s spent too long outside huffing those icing sugar fumes, that’s all. She needs to tag someone else in for a few rounds before she becomes delirious.

Prediction #1 – Wedding planning is a perfect way of expanding the business and it’s all going to go just fine and Maddie will become famous for it


Ginger: “But… there’s no one else here who can help me.”

Shelby: “There’s really not…”

Ginger: “… I guess we can get married at the courthouse. Not exactly the wedding of my dreams…”

Shelby: “It’s really not…”

Me: “This woman is killing it on just 3 words per sentence! Love Shelby!”


When checking in with Isabelle, her business partner, Maddie hasn’t even finished writing the fucking message before her friend has replied. She really wants to check in with her just to make sure she is doing her actual job from time to time. It’s about this time that Johnny pulls into Fool’s Gold and appears to have been doodling on the back of his new script rather than keeping his eyes on the road.

MMAC_4
For a drawing it’s merely average. For a drawing that was done while the person should have been driving, it’s extraordinary.

Prediction #2 – Johnny just wanted to illustrate or work behind the scenes and instead got cast because of his generic Hollywood star looks

For a moment I worry that Fool’s Gold has no Internet or cinema but eventually the woman behind the counter at the local cafe recognises him and does not buy the fact he has just given his name as Steve.

Prediction #3 – Maddie will actually have zero idea who this guy is and Steve’s secret will be safe with the barista

God damn it if Maddie and Ginger don’t stroll into that cafe and burst my god damn bubble. Maddie recognises him immediately and can’t help harping on about how gorgeous the man is before Ginger breaks the news that it’s actually just her brother. Well… I guess it was pointless trying to call himself Steve because his sister has just screamed his damn across the cafe to get his attention. I also don’t think he would have been too shit hot at responding every time someone called out the name ‘Steve’.

Ginger wasn’t even expecting the man so early but seeing as he is paying for the entire thing she can’t exactly be mad about it either. Johnny takes being recognised as a massive star far better than Shane ever did and simply believes Maddie is suffering from some huge brain trauma because she keeps regurgitating everything that’s just been said to her. When Isabelle calls, to ask if Maddie can stop at the supply store on the way back, the woman does not for a second believe that Maddie is having coffee with Johnny Blake. Also there multiple magazines with his face all over them right next to where she is standing so I really don’t think the alter ego Steve is ever coming back after this single scene. I miss him already.

Some of the shine immediately begins to wear off when the man calls her Maggie and questions her ability to plan weddings. He also climbs up onto his pedestal pretty quickly when he tries to suggest she only wants publicity for planning Ginger’s wedding. That’s not only hard to Maddie but also his poor sister. Maddie might have agreed to plan this wedding, again, but she hasn’t forgot about how annoying Johnny is and calls him Jimmy before collecting some wedding magazines. It appears this coffee shop is also part of a book store, which really just doubles the amount of people who are going to come in and recognise the man.

Maddie has just finished assuring him that Fool’s Gold is a safe space where no one will bother him when we cue in crazy Gladys.


Gladys: “Hello Maddie! Doing a little Christmas shopping!?”

Maddie: “Actually, no, Gladys. I’m planning a wedding.”

Gladys: “Oh! Finally!”

Me: “Gladys is too crazy to know she’s got sick burns so I’ll say it for her.”


The woman immediately wants a selfie with Johnny and even when Maddie successfully fields her off he agrees anyway. I have the feeling he brings on a lot of his own misery and we shouldn’t feel too sorry for him. Gladys pulls out a turn of the century camera and almost blinds the man in order to get a shot of him.

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Fuck me, they were right! Cameras really do steal your soul!

Quickly glossing over the fact Gladys thinks the Internet is for hipsters and the only place she will be posting that photo is on her fridge, Maddie distracts the siblings with wedding magazines. Johnny doesn’t need a magazine in order to put on a terrible accent and declare they should theme the wedding ‘Christmas in Scotland’, where everything is plaid.


Ginger: “Johnny, this doesn’t need to be a Hollywood production.”

Johnny: “I know, I know, I know. I’m sorry I’m just… really excited for ya and seeing as Mom and Dad aren’t here…”

Me: “AND THERE IT IS!”


During a display of sibling love which is a completely alien and unsettling concept for me, Isabelle is walking past and has to believe her eyes when she sees Johnny in person. Maddie tries to shoo the woman away without looking like a psychopath but not before Isabelle has tried to get a picture.

Prediction #4 – Isabelle will break the Internet and the wedding when she decides to include this on their social media for publicity and to stop the business from failing

Prediction #5 – We’re gonna have to go for a real understated wedding like… actually at the courthouse


Isabelle: “Maddie! I thought you were coming back to the store! I’ve been dying!”

Me: “And you didn’t think you needed to go to a hospital for that?”


Unfortunately, Maddie has to break the news to her business partner that they will not be using the man for monetary gain, something that they quickly disagree on but is skirted around when Maddie says she will definitely sort some sort of price out with them and will definitely be bringing extra money in at the end of the quarter. Definitely.

Ginger and her fiance are burning through the list of venues Maddie had lined up because, and I quote, ‘the art gallery was too artsy’. A giant pavilion might encourage it to rain, so that’s out too. I don’t know how long Ginger and Oliver took to get another refill on cider but the next think I know Maddie and Johnny are taking a stroll down the main street and I am drinking a Bailey’s hot chocolate. How did that happen!?

We learn that Johnny does not carry cash on him, only credit cards, and that Maddie has no idea how to negotiate for… anything.


Maddie: “I made a list of what wedding planners make priced low to high. I figured something in the middle would be fair.”

Johnny: “That doesn’t seem like enough.”

Me: “Christ, who has she used as her examples…”

Maddie: “No, that’s OK.”

Johnny: “Are you sure? I can pay you more?”

Maddie: “Oh, yeah! I’m making a profit, it’s fine.”

Johnny: “You are the worst negotiator I have ever met in my entire life.”

Maddie: “I know…. I think I paid twice as much for my first car than it was worth.”

Me: “If these films were more realistic about their main characters being so charitable and not expecting much in return, they would all be homeless and bankrupt every year…”


This delightful conversation is cut short when Ginger has to help the Mayor with site issues and will need to push their next meeting back until that evening. They just… came from one… I don’t….. Nevermind. Johnny is unable to comprehend why Maddie is walking so slow – an affliction I also suffer with as I am so used to being late to everything – and why the hell she has to say hello to everyone that they pass. We also learn that she used to be engaged to her next door neighbour but, ultimately, they had different life goals. She was probably crazy and he was probably not.

Johnny is relieved to hear there is a gym down the road which he can run away to and escape Isabelle as she dives out of the shop and loses her tiny mind about this man being Johnny Blake. We escape her madness by trying wedding dresses on with Ginger – all of which she hates. I hope we have enough time before Christmas for those extra wedding dresses Maddie has ordered to arrive… Meanwhile, Johnny is just trying to draw his little heart out and avoid calls from his agent.

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Oh, Johnny, look how much more you can get done when you’re not fucking driving

Barbara: “Did you read the Fire’s Edge script yet?”

Johnny: “I’m gonna have to get back to you, I’m only about halfway through.”

Barbara: “Then what did you think about the Hawaii scene at the beginning?”

Johnny: “Loved it.”

Barbara: “There is no Hawaii scene…”

Johnny: “Have the writer put one in.”

Barbara: “Johnny, no….!”

Johnny: “I’ve gotta go Barb. Bye!”

Me: “This man is so good at bluffing he is willing to change reality just to make it work.”


Johnny appears to have turned up an hour early to a meeting with Maddie in order to show her he bought gloves and forgot what they feel like to wear. Johnny has a guy for everything, one for importing reindeer, one for creating snow in case it didn’t comply on the big day, but he doesn’t have a tree guy and becomes unproportionately excited to go and pick up a tree with Maddie. This also involves walking down the street with it instead of just driving to pick it up.

Maddie shows some lumberjack style prowess when she shoulders the tree on her own and marches off so for whatever bizarre reason, Johnny thinks now would be a great time to lob a snowball at the woman. The pair start a snowball fight in the middle of the street with no regard to innocent passersby before Maddie finally makes it home to decorate her tree in peace. That peace lasts for all of two seconds when she is flicking through a magazine and sees an article on Johnny with someone who may or may not be his girlfriend.

That doesn’t stop her from introducing the man to her parents the very next morning. Her mother has no regard for actors and thinks she recognises the man from a local convenience store. Actually, I think Maddie’s mom may just live in the basement because when Ginger turns up with her fiance she also has no idea what the fuck coding is and doesn’t bat an eyelid at the mention of the Fool’s Gold community website. Ya know what.. it’s probably better down there than in human town, love.


Ginger: “You know what all of this reminds me of?”

Johnny: “Yeah, I know….”

Me: “Care to…. elaborate? Oh, wait, no, we’re only 40 minutes into the film, you couldn’t possibly reveal something so meaningful just yet.”


Prediction #6 – One Christmas their parents took them to a place much like this because they adored the season and after growing up in Florida they thought their kids deserved some snow

Maddie’s mom invites everyone back to her basement for their annual dessert pot-luck dinner where the woman does not waste a single second in showing Johnny all of Maddie’s baby photos. I don’t know how long he had been sitting there, staring at these things, but the moment he sees a child standing around on their own, on the stairs, he immediately makes a break for it to introduce himself. This kid is called Connor, he loves action movie fights, he knows karate and he kicks Johnny’s ass in the middle of the hallway.


Maddie: “That was very nice of you.”

Johnny: “Best part of the job.”

Me: “WHAT!?”


Skimming over the fact that being an actor also entails getting your ass kicked by 6 year old’s on a regular basis we indoctrinate Johnny into the town’s tradition by having Gladys hand feed him fruit cake which he has to convince her is just grand and has not robbed his body of every drop of moisture it ever had. Maddie’s dad has even taken to calling Johnny ‘JB’, they’re such bessie mates, and is very concerned when they find the man has left his bag at their house.

Luckily the man didn’t get very far before he stopped to stare at snow, so Maddie catches him out on the lawn and subjects herself to another awkward farewell between the pair. The next morning, while discussing wedding invitations, Johnny is hell bent on making everything perfect, even if that means trying to sell his sister on the idea of a reclaimed wooden box that smells like pine when you open it and the invitation is attached to a handmade, glass bauble which is also a wedding keepsake. I think I need this man to come and plan my wedding for me and just let him go. All I need to do is turned up and be surprised.

Barbara is still trying to hound Johnny down about this script and this time their call is interrupted by a bunch of carollers, volunteers from the town, strolling down the street who conveniently stop in front of Ginger so she can film them for the website. She would like the idea of them singing at her wedding, too, and I can’t help but feel they have been stalking this woman in order to get a second job out of it because they start singing some tune that is very fitting and perfectly synchronised. I don’t trust these guys… Even worse when they wander off down the street, still singing to themselves. From festive to harbinger in 0.2 seconds flat.

Whilst roaming the Christmas market with Isabelle and her mother, Maddie is forced to listen about how much happier she is when Johnny is around. It is some luck then that her mother spots Johnny standing around on his own and promptly invites him over. Her dad then literally appears out of nowhere with a flask of hot chocolate to offer the man, too. The man is like a ninja but maybe he was just really excited about the annual Christmas tree lighting and was staking out a front row spot.

Apparently Johnny is now obsessed with gloves because he is wearing another pair when the magic of the moment forces him to hold Maddie’s hand. Right before his Hollywood ego gets the better of him and he asks if the people behind them could maybe stop being so obsessed with him for two seconds and put their cameras down? The people behind are more bothered about why this strange man is telling them to stop taking pictures of the tree lighting. The flash has never bothered the tree before…

Johnny is all about sitting outside and sketching, these days, and Isabelle is still all about selling this possible love interest for publicity to save their shop. Between Isabelle, who looks like she is going to start stalking the pair, and Ginger, who pretends the website has crashed in order to send Maddie and Johnny off to the caterers on their own, Maddie is going to just have to deal with people trying to hold her hand. As predicted Isabelle takes some terrible quality photos of the man in their wedding shop but only manages to catch the back of Maddie’s head.

Prediction #7 – There will be national coverage and trying to identify the back of Maddie’s head

Prediction #8 – Barbara is going to hear about this and think it’s great publicity for the new installment of Fire’s Edge

Maddie does not let this guy down gently and the two of them continue to say what they don’t really mean so we can apply the appropriate mid-film stress on their growing relationship. Unfortunately, it’s quite difficult not to fall in love with the man when she sees him out on the street fussing a dog and his sister is adamant that Maddie is avoiding her brother.


Maddie: “We should talk about the groom’s cake!”

Me: “Groom’s cake? Why the hell does he get his own cake?”

Ginger: “Oliver! Why don’t you tell Maddie what you have in mind for the cake?”

Oliver: “Errr, a cake shaped like a heart?”

Maddie: “That’s actually really sweet…”

Ginger: “A biologically accurate human heart.”

Me: “Forget everything I said! Get that man a cake!”


Maddie is also for the idea and I had better see that man cutting into a biologically accurate heart made of cake at his wedding! It is not surprising that Maddie eventually runs into Johnny although I am surprised to hear it’s been a few days. I expected her to fail by the same afternoon. She tries to escape this conversation but is immediately drawn back in when Johnny admits he cannot for the life of him find a Christmas present for Ginger. I don’t know why he’s wondering around the market in Fool’s Gold and struggling when the Internet still exists.

Maddie seems to think a necklace with a pine tree engraved on it, which symbolises a strong family, would do the trick. That means Maddie and Johnny are in juuuuust the right place for Shelby to start panicking nearby because Santa has the flu and never showed up. I mean… rightly! Did you want him coughing into the upturned faces of children as they told him their greatest wishes and passing the bug around the entire town!?

Prediction #9 – Quickly! Before it happens! Johnny will offer to be Santa!

Phew! Just in time.

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That’s a reeeeeal nice watch you got there, Santa.

Try not to fall in love with the man when he is so good with children now, Maddie. This would actually put me off the man but she’s WOAH this kid just asked Santa to resurrect his Dad for Christmas. Johnny suggests continuing to talk to the man every night before bed because he can still hear him and is always there for him. Yeah, that worked out so well for John, in a previous film, but clearly Johnny can’t help thinking about his own deceased parents and thus making Maddie feel even more sorry for him. She might as well just start planning her own wedding right now.

I. Am. Horrified. To learn that those extra dresses Maddie was ordering in is actually just one dress that she is hedging all of her bets on and with only a week left to go before the big day. You might wanna stop inviting Ginger to all of those pot-luck dessert parties then…

It turns out Johnny actually ordered the dress, which is a relief because Ginger hates it, but that doesn’t change the fact Maddie has still only ordered one dress and it’s still not even here yet.

Ginger does what no regular sister would do and is nice enough to try the dress on for him, anyway. Everyone agrees it’s hideous, Isabelle finds the actual dress in a box under a desk (just in time) and Ginger is finally happy with her damn dress.

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‘Human contact… it’s been so long…’

Maddie manages to invite herself on a date with Johnny when everyone else suddenly has other plans but damn it, I would not miss out on the bar’s seasonal Candy Cane Martini for the world! And if this isn’t a date then Maddie sure is putting in a lot of effort to pick the right dress, recruiting Isabelle in order for her friend to point out this would be wonderful publicity but also maybe it’s time she actually thought about dating again.

Prediction #10 – By the time Isabelle realises Maddie actually really likes the guy those pictures will already be up and it will be too late

Maddie suggests joining the door-to-door carolling that is taking place that night which I think would be a wonderful idea after a few Martinis. Maybe the bar is their first stop. Shake off the nerves and the ability to hold a tune.


Johnny: “Mistletoe.”

Maddie: “What do friends do when they’re standing under mistletoe?”

Me: “Keep walking?”

Johnny: “I believe, traditionally, it’s a high-five.”

Me: “You learn something new every day.”


Maddie takes the high-five then immediately looks pissed off that she had to take the high-five so… I really hope she’s not going to quickly devolve into the illogical madness that usually grips these women. Her arguments that Johnny will go back to wherever he came from as soon as the wedding is over have been sound enough so far but there is only so many more times she can recite those words with any conviction; we’re over halfway through the film.

I am so incredibly jealous of their cocktails right now… Except for one monstrosity that is meant to be shared…

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Your children should be supervised when drinking this sharing cocktail

It is just when Johnny has to leave to take another call that who should walk in by ex-fiance Ted and his new girlfriend. She dodged a bullet there… It also appears that Ted and Mary have come all the way from Silicone Valley just to hunt down Johnny Blake. Maddie takes perverse and deserved pleasure when Johnny returns to their table and Mary loses her tiny little mind over the man.


Johnny: “That’s the guy that broke your heart?”

Me: “Yeah, I know, buddy. I thought the same.”


This near run in with Maddie’s ex-fiance is the reason Johnny tries to kiss the woman and the reason Maddie has a stark reminder what happens when one person wants to run a wedding shop and the other one wants to dress like he’s a teenager. It’s safe to say that it doesn’t go that well but Ginger really wants to hear all about it the next morning when she is making her own… things. The things you put on tables so people know where to sit and it doesn’t just turn into a riot of people trying to find the seats closest to the bar and furthest from the head table so they don’t have to pretend to listen to speeches. I got distracted here by trying to convince a stray cat to walk through the patio doors but I did hear something about Maddie being the maid of honour.

The cat elected not to come inside but Maddie does rock up at a ridiculous sized house where Johnny is staying to drop off the materials for party favours. The man has even just made cookies and it is one of these that finally convinces the woman to come inside. Maybe that’s where I went wrong with the cat. I lacked cookies and charm.

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This is Johnny’s charming face. That is Maddie’s ‘you cut that out right fucking now’ finger.

I am learning that relationship’s have a lot more promise if people just admit they like each other but pretend they can’t be together and then continue on their merry lives. There is a whole lot less arguing, this way. Considering the woman said she is busy, she can’t help stopping to fully decorate a tree that Johnny inconsiderately bought into somebody else’s property and then left without decorations.


Johnny: “I forgot how much I love doing this.”

Maddie: “Why did you stop?”

Johnny: “My parents died and it was too hard. That was our favourite time together as a family and it was just gone.”

Maddie: “Ginger mentioned it was just the two of you but I didn’t want to pry… Johnny, I’m really sorry…”

Me: “Woman, where the fuck have you been this whole time?”


After being genuinely shocked to hear the fate of her client’s parents Maddie is just unable to be charmed by the man’s tragic past. Ginger is also elated to find out that the pair are still together and even interrupts Oliver’s careful dissection of a banana to let him know the good news before she eats the thing.

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Have you seen this banana? Well, if you picked it up and ate it you’re a complete moron.

Oliver: “Are you aware you just ate my patient?”

Ginger: “….. Sorry….”

Me: “What, did you think… is that a normal way to peel bananas? You didn’t wonder what was going on here?”


Maddie finally manages to pull herself out of Johnny’s house but not before she sees some of his sketches and claims the man is an artist. When I see someone who can draw well I don’t immediately brand them an artist. I tend to lead with ‘wow! you can draw really well!’ but you really gotta lead people in these films.

With the wedding in 3 days Johnny has to leave for a last minute meeting in LA.

Prediction #11 – He is finally going to let his agent know he doesn’t want to be in yet another Fire’s Edge film

Unfortunately, Maddie’s Dad turns the TV on just as the news is reporting on Johnny having a very intimate meal with his Fire’s Edge co-star Natalie.

Prediction #12 – She was overjoyed to hear that the man was escaping their fucking awful franchise

Maddie affectionately brands the man a ‘cheque book’ and regrets everything she has literally not done up until this point. They are not in a relationship and they haven’t even kissed, I do not know why she thinks she has made the most terrible mistake on earth. Plus, Isabelle didn’t even manage to get a shot of her face when she was talking to the man so I really don’t think anyone on earth cares, either.

With only 20 minutes of the film left I believe Johnny will be explaining very promptly and just in time to overshadow his little sister’s wedding. The man elects to take refuge in Maddie’s house on his return because he is being hounded by the paparazzi and so ensues an argument where he believes Maddie is responsible for leaking a bunch of pictures of him on the Internet and she believes he already has a girlfriend and we come to an understanding of mutual distrust.

Maddie even storms into her shop in order to inform Isabelle that they will be splitting up the business and inadvertently announces her new career in wedding planning at the same time. That’s probably why Isabelle delivers the veil to the church early so she can try and explain why she doubted her friend’s ability to plan a good wedding and betray their long-standing friendship. At least the woman had the decency to explain to Johnny it was all her fault but I really don’t think now is the time to tell Maddie they didn’t even need Johnny for the publicity because Maddie’s idea boards alone have been drumming up traffic. Isabelle, give me that fucking spade. That hole is deep enough already.

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We are gathered here today to experience an electrical malfunction that will wipe out two families and a wedding planner.

Considering Isabelle’s prowess on social media, Maddie decides to forgive the woman because she can’t be bothered to run their multiple accounts and be heartbroken at the same time. On the way to the wedding venue, Johnny gets accosted by Maddie’s dad, Ed, who starts this conversation by admitting he never had a son but would like to try and impart some fatherly advice. This should be interesting…


Johnny: “After that dinner in LA I made a decision; told my agent it was time to make some changes, start heading down a different path.”

Ed: “Yeah, and what path is that?”

Johnny: “A path that leads here. This is the first time in my life that I have actually felt whole. I don’t wanna lose that. I think I’ve made enough money where… I don’t have to. I could actually live here and work when I want to work.”

Me: “My god… someone who actually considers the financial implications of moving somewhere before they do it…”

Ed: “Sounds like you’ve found a little something called balance.”

Johnny: “Yeah, but if Maddie’s not with me, what’s the point? I don’t want to be here without her.”

Ed: “I’ve got one question: Why aren’t you telling her all this?”

Me: “…. Because you made me sit down on this fucking bench with you.”


Ed thinks the perfect time for Johnny to get Maddie to listen to him would be when they have to walk down the aisle together after Ginger and Oliver are married. He seems to think this is the perfect, private moment that Johnny has been waiting for… forgetting the church full of people who will probably be there to watch the wedding… How adorable, Ed has found himself a son and Johnny has found himself a surrogate father.

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If Ginger is going to turn up looking like that then I’ll marry her!

Ginger has nerves of fucking steel and is not concerned about her upcoming nuptials but is more concerned about giving Maddie a pep-talk about why she belongs with her brother. Johnny thinks the perfect time to make his sister cry, by mentioning their parents, would be right before he walks her down the aisle and she will never get the chance to marry this man again, for the first time, without make-up melting off down her face. To get through the incredibly boring affair that is a wedding the film turns it into some strange montage that I am actually grateful for.

Maddie and Johnny wait patiently for everyone to file out of the building so that they can reconcile when Johnny gives her a gift of his own fucking drawings. If this is all it took I would have been throwing pictures at random guys throughout my entire informative teenage years. The surprises just keep on coming when he informs the woman he bought the house he was staying in, conveniently, and will be avoiding LA like the plag…. WHY is there a cowboy steering this horse and sleigh and carting Ginger and Oliver away into the night?

If you want to watch the newlyweds get willingly shanghaied then look this way. I wouldn’t worry about her too much, I’m sure Johnny has a guy for that, too.

Now let’s look at these predictions I am aware I have done terribly on.

 

Prediction board – 6/12

  • Prediction #1 – Wedding planning is a perfect way of expanding the business and it’s all going to go just fine and Maddie will become famous for it – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #2 – Johnny just wanted to illustrate or work behind the scenes and instead got cast because of his generic Hollywood star looks – CORRECT! Two in a row, this is a rare occurrence for me
  • Prediction #3 – Maddie will actually have zero idea who Johnny is and Steve’s secret will be safe with the barista – INCORRECT! Everyone knows who Johnny is
  • Prediction #4 – Isabelle will break the Internet and the wedding when she decides to include photos of Johnny on their social media for publicity and to stop the business from failing – Eventually… yes, but she didn’t break the Internet. Half a point!
  • Prediction #5 – We’re gonna have to go for a real understated wedding like… actually at the courthouse – INCORRECT! I would have loved a courthouse wedding…
  • Prediction #6 – One Christmas, Johnny and Ginger’s parents took them to a place much like this because they adored the season and after growing up in Florida they thought their kids deserved some snow – I don’t know when the kids ever experienced a Christmas much like this but… apparently they did. INCORRECT?
  • Prediction #7 – There will be national coverage and trying to identify the back of Maddie’s head – National coverage, yes, but Isabelle took a lot more pictures so we have no doubt who Maddie is. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #8 – Barbara is going to hear about this media storm and think it’s great publicity for the new installment of Fire’s Edge – INCORRECT! Barbara may not be a great agent after all…
  • Prediction #9 – Quickly! Before it happens! Johnny will offer to be Santa! – Thank God. Just in time. CORRECT!
  • Prediction #10 – By the time Isabelle realises Maddie actually really likes Johnny, those pictures will already be up and it will be too late – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #11 – Johnny is finally going to let his agent know he doesn’t want to be in yet another Fire’s Edge film – Jesus Christ, it took long enough. CORRECT!
  • Prediction #12 – Johnny’s co-worker was so overjoyed because she heard the man was finally escaping their fucking awful franchise – Ya know what… sure. CORRECT!

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: Not one that we rode on
  • Piano: I don’t think I could have coped…
  • Carolling: Weird and sinister, my favourite type. CHECK.
  • Christmas Montage: A wedding montage to save us from complete boredom
  • Fire Hazards: Maddie’s mom was all about fire hazards and cramming many people into one house to maximise her efforts
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: Doubled down on this one!
  • Snowing on cue: Yes, the snow really played ball for us this film

 

In motion I was correct, those two people got a lot less creepy together but I was still mildly unsettled by the entire family… Except maybe Ginger. I’m still in love with Ginger’s wedding face.

I have entered the Jackie and Ginger fan clubs. I doubt I’m going to collect many more Christmas characters to subscribe to this year. But… let’s remain hopeful for a Christmas miracle!

Until tomorrow!

Christmas Advent #15 – My One Christmas Wish

After the weirdness of yesterdaycould have picked a run-of-the-mill film where some grown ass woman returns to her hometown and finds love and ends up just conveniently getting out of her apartment lease in the big city and giving up her job and everything works out OK but… ya know, that film really stuck with me!

Unfortunately that means the creepy as fuck Uncle stuck with me too but I suppose the world isn’t all rainbows, fairy tales and happy endings; sometimes there are marauders who want to steal your children and your dogs. So today we are watching a film where a lonely student places an ad for a family she can spend her Christmas with.

Yeah, because letting the world know you have no real family ties or close friends nearby and want to stay in someone’s house over Christmas is a sure fire way of ensuring you survive until the New Year. So let’s see how this one pans out, I guess?

 

This film merely opens up on some shop front and the fact this student appears to be living above it. It looks as though the girl has a lot of trophies in karate or something where you kick people and that appears to be the only true pervert Uncle deterrent so she should be grand. She knows what she’s doing.

On her way across campus our girl, maybe Jackie (another Jackie who knows karate!?), is accosted by some freshmen called Nick who would really like her to spend Thanksgiving with him in the freshman dorms despite the fact she is 26 and he is only 18. Jackie seems against this age gap. After dropping some papers in at someones office it appears everyone is aware Jackie is incredibly lonely and has no plans for Thanksgiving.

The woman appears to fill her time by walking dogs, home tutoring kids and teaching self-defence. What a life! Her friend at karate is trying desperately to get out of a Thanksgiving dinner with her boyfriend’s parents, which I totally feel her pain about, and tries to gatecrash Jackie’s… ya know… that dinner she doesn’t have planned. Fortunately she is saved by the bell and gets a message from Dr Cicero from the psych department, the woman she dropped her papers off to. Man, I hope Jackie’s OK!! I’m already invested in her.

Jackie is apparently slaying her psych degree, so much so that she has been put forward for Group Leader for a support group on campus for troubled teens. The other Group Leader quit suddenly and now they’re up shit creek without a paddle.

Prediction #1 – If Nick finds out she is running this group he is going to be there like a shot

Prediction #2 – Will turn out Nick is genuinely a troubled teen

Jackie has returned as an adult to college, which is totally admirable and no wonder the freshman’s are enamoured with her, but the Dr believes that’s how you know someone really wants to be there or not. Why else would you want to hang around teenagers with raging hormones day in, day out?


Jackie: “I’d really like to help but I’m crazy busy. 4 classes, 3 jobs, 2 hours of sleep.”

Me: “This is like the 12 days of Christmas all over again…”

Dr Cicero: “I know all that but it will count as credit towards your major and…”

Me: “And I think you can do without the 2 hours of sleep. You’re just wasting time, there.”


It turns out the support group is for girls so we are going to redact Prediction #2. Struck from the record! Even if Nick is actually troubled we probably aren’t going to find out in this film. Ooooorrrr any film.

Jackie’s first meeting with the group is that very afternoon and shit just got serious because these kids are required by the court to attend these meetings. If they don’t they get shipped off to Juvi. I’m just wondering where the hell Jackie is going to find the time to write an ad and spend Christmas with anyone else when she will be busy walking dogs and visiting student’s in prison.

As predicted these teenage girls do not give a shit about being there and fall into the categories of loud-mouth, tomboy, obsessed with phone and probably sending nudes and actually damaged. Otherwise known as Ava, Chloe, Lauren and Becky. Becky does not speak. Ever. I mean… no has checked whether the girl is fucking mute or not but Chloe will take her hat off the day that Becky finally speaks. We all know that hat is coming off at some point but I would love to know what terrible haircut she is trying to hide under there.


Jackie: “Anyone have any plans for Thanksgiving?”

Ava: “Why don’t you tell us about your Thanksgiving? Let me guess…. the nice house, the nice family, everyone taking turns saying what they’re thankful for but the really tough question is… will it be pumpkin or apple pie? Or both!?”

Me: “Actually, kid, I’ll be spending Thanksgiving alone, in my dorm, eating a microwave meal for one and wondering if I am destined to spend eternity staring at the same four walls. What about you?”


Ava really doesn’t want to be there, she’d rather be shoplifting, so I guess that’s where she wonders off to when she leaves the class early. I mean… technically she showed up but apparently Jackie will still have to report her. I’d say that was a good first session! Really got off to a good start!

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Part of the Christmas spirit is this shopkeeper allowing Freddie to hang around under his awning

Elsewhere Jackie is, predictably, friends with the homeless guy outside the local shop and gives him some money for food. Freddie never spends Jackie’s money on alcohol, he promises! The suspicious glance he quickly follows up with before he runs off has me believing sliiiiightly otherwise. That night Jackie has some dream as herself as a child standing around in the doorway of what looks like an abandoned house.

Prediction #3 – Jackie was promptly abandoned as a child and that is why she currently has no family

At Jackie’s church group singing rehearsal some new guy called Trevor comes up to tell her she has a great voice. Trevor joined last week and still doesn’t know anyone outside of the church which is why he’s giving Jackie a ride back to campus and yes, she knows that she is old for a college student. Oh, shit, Trevor is actually the new choir leader!!

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Be real with me guys, do choir leaders really look like this, sometimes? Because, if so…

Back at Jackie’s apartment her still unnamed friend is hanging out so they can complain about how busy Jackie is all of the time and how she should probably look after herself occasionally. But can Jackie also make a green bean casserole for her friend to try and impress her boyfriend’s parents with while she’s over there, occasionally looking after herself. A part of me wishes I was as shit hot, organised and bossin’ it as Jackie but the more sensible part knows that I really like to sit down.

On her way out to get some groceries she encounters Freddie. Even he is going to be spending Thanksgiving with people – all his buddies over at the shelter who are being served dinner. At least her friend calls to let her know the green bean casserole was a success and is Jackie at her dinner yet? The answer is no, Jackie is going to eat a sandwich and the park and hang out with some stray dog but she doesn’t tell her friend that, obvs. I would prefer Jackie’s Thanksgiving, to be fair.

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It’s like looking directly into my own, personal heaven…

Even Dr Cicero, at their next meeting about the support group, knows that Jackie has got her shit together. That’s all she sees! Unfortunately that is turning out to be a problem for the teenage girls because they are intimidated by how done-up and organised this woman is. They just wanna see Jackie get drunk and send nudes to random people on the internet. At least Jackie leaves with the Dr’s phone number and home address in case she ever wants to drop by and discuss how awful teenage girls can be. Who doesn’t want to discuss that?

At the next meeting Jackie doesn’t seem to concerned that when Ava rocks up late and throws her bag on the desk, Chloe immediately does away with it. Maybe the kid was just being polite but I fear ulterior drug mule activities are happening right under that woman’s nose. Maybe Chloe sews the drugs into the lining of her hat? When Jackie opens up about how she spends her Thanksgiving alone and how they all hate the holidays because they have terrible, lonely memories every year the girls are slightly more forthcoming. Except for Ava who hates emotions and storms out.


Jackie, writing in diary: “I don’t know how to reach these girls. I failed with Ava again and I have this feeling it’s only the first time.”

Me: “Well again would imply… it’s at least the second time but… OK”

Jackie: “Becky still hasn’t spoken yet but I know she’s got something to say.”

Me: “As most people do.”

Jackie: “And Chloe… all those quips and jabs is just a cover up for what’s underneath. Kind of like her hat!”

Me: “Yes! Thank you! Someone check her hair under that damn hat!”

Jackie: “Lauren, she’s all over the map and when she finally looks up from her phone, she’s going to realise that she’s alone. Maybe she already knows.”

Me: “That’s generally why kids look at their phones in the first place and woman! Stop falling asleep in your damn armchair!”


Jackie has another dream of her childhood where her Dad is raging through the house and screaming at her for singing ‘her mother’s song’ and if she didn’t want her Dad to find her she probably shouldn’t have started singing in the first place. At their karate lesson the next day, Jackie’s friend thinks this would be the perfect time to try and make Jackie admit she has zero plans for Christmas and ooh, what are these memories that the support group have been dredging up? Jackie, rightly, thinks they should probably concentrate on teaching rather than crying all the way down memory lane.

This woman is so busy that every new scene she’s at another bloody job or hobby. This time she is at choir practice and offers up the very same song she dreamt about, singing it for the entire choir. Her mom’s song turns out to be an actual song but it has an alarmingly similar melody to a children’s nursery rhyme and I spent 5 minutes trying to figure it out but all lullaby knowledge has vacated my brain. I will probably remember it in a week’s time and ending up shouting some random song title across a busy room.

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Jackie is a god damn angel, I’m actually in love with her

Either way, everyone is very impressed, almost as if they had never heard the woman sing on her own before… Some choir this is! Also, that appears to be the end of the choir rehearsal. Hell, if she only has to go there for 5 minutes a day she should have tons more time! Trevor hangs back until everyone else has vacated so he can tell Jackie how great she sounded and that his parents hated him too!


Trevor: “One question, though. Isn’t the line ‘God is nigh’ not ‘Goodnight’?”

Jackie: “Oh, well my parents didn’t believe in that. It was my mother’s remix. Keep the soothing, omit the religion.”

Me: “Well I’ve found my new mantra for life!”


At the next support group meeting, Jackie has them all sitting around in a circle so she can tell them about all of her tragic past Christmas’, like the year her dad turned up at the group home she was in to take away her Christmas gifts and tell her they didn’t accept charity… before he left again until the next year. What a guy. Of course this is the point where her friend has for some reason come to the group and overhears this through the door. Oh, boy, she has a face of thunder on her, right now.

Jackie and her friend wander around the park and have a heart-to-heart on the matter. We learn the Jackie’s mother was addicted to drugs and one time even sold her for some – I bet that was an adventure – and she hasn’t seen her dad since she was a kid. I adore the contrast of people in the background wishing each other a Merry Christmas while Jackie admits to running away from herself and being forced to feel sadness.

We’re not gonna be mad at her for it, though, because the still unnamed friend takes Jackie to go and get her nails done, which is sweet. The next day Jackie goes to visit Dr Cicero, maybe to show her nails, on the way out for Christmas decorations. Despite the fact that Ava is actually showing up for lessons now and staying for the entire duration, Jackie thinks putting her in charge was a mistake and that by three meetings in these girl’s definitely should have had some life-altering epiphany of sorts.

Dr Cicero also shares that Becky once took her friends car for a joyride, got into an accident and hurt the driver of the other car. She hasn’t spoken since. Fuck knows where she really went on that journey, then. I was expecting her to have killed a guy in order to just stop talking. Even worse is the fact that they actually started with 9 girls in the group and all but one have ended up back in Juvenile Hall. That’s promising.

Looking at Jackie’s apartment she should be damn proud of herself. Of course I am heartbroken that the only gift under her tree appears to have been bought by herself and oh my god woman sleep in your actual damn bed! That’s what it’s there for! 

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This woman does have a bed, I saw it with my own eyes!

Back to these dreams… we pick up right where left off in the last dream, like Jackie just runs a mini-series in her mind every night. After the brief outrage of her dad he had disappeared again and 3 days later she was taken away by Social Services. And hey, that was just her worst Christmas. After sharing this at her next meeting, Jackie thinks it would be a good idea to go around the group and hear about everyone’s worst Christmas. I don’t blame Becky for refusing to speak some more, Jesus Christ, what a terrible topic of conversation.


Jackie: “Ava? You have something to say?”

Me: “She generally fucking does…”

Ava: “Yeah… nice nails…”

Me: “The woman has just told you about how tragic her life has been for the past 26 years. Let her get her damn nails done, kid!”


Discussing the current situation with her friend (seriously, what is this woman’s name!?) her friend thinks she knows exactly what Jackie needs and she knows exactly where to find it. Craigslist can offer you anything. Including a family for Christmas. This friend wants Jackie dead, I just know it.

At least Trevor seems to be on Jackie’s side and is still giving her lifts home after practice. He’s also trying to take her for coffee but Jackie knows exactly where coffee can lead a woman and turns him down because she’s way too busy for marriage and kids. She could at least offer the man her entire itinerary so he can see how legit busy the woman is and doesn’t just think she’s scared of monogamy. She could have told him she had another support group she had to get to and lead.


Jackie: “Thank you guys so much for sharing today.”

Lauren: “I’m not going to sell drugs anymore.”

Me: “OH!”

Chloe: “And I’m not going to take them.”

Me: “OH! I…. I don’t think it’s that easy, but…

Jackie: “And?”

Lauren: “No more drinking.”

Chloe: “Right.”

Me: “Jackie’s running her own motherfuckin’ AA meeting over here.”


As Ava failed to turn up once more and Jackie definitely should have reported her for it by now, she heads off to the orphanage to find her but failing that she wanders the streets until she sees the kid stealing from a shop. And getting caught. Staging an intervention before the guy calls the cops Jackie pays the man and I don’t even know what the fuck this child was trying to steal. Looked like a green make-up palette.

Jackie is once more there to offer up her own life story about being too old to get adopted from the orphanage and for a child who doesn’t turn up for group most days, Ava sure is bothered that they might kick her out of it. Being the absolute fucking angel that she is Jackie will not be reporting her and sending her off to Juvenile Hall. Instead… they’re gonna go play basketball together.


Jackie: “Baby steps, Ava. Some things have to change.”

Me: “Like this idea you have that you can pull off green make-up.”


I want to take Jackie in for Christmas. I will do it. The woman is adorable.

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‘I don’t know what the hell she’s talking about, I definitely could have pulled off that green make-up.’

Inspired by her breakthrough with Ava, Jackie takes a trip to the house she grew up in. Not knowing whether the guy around the side of the house, with his head in the bonnet of a car, is actually her dad or not she simply hedges her bets and presumes he is. Thankfully she’s right but the man don’t seem too struck on seeing her there. He’s nice enough to offer a beer, at least.

The man also has his Christmas sorted: baked ham at the neighbours and then watching TV in peace. None of that which involves Jackie. Before she leaves she wants to know why, before he abandoned her, he left a cuddly lion behind and his answer if very simply that it’s the bravest animal in the entire kingdom. I guess that subliminal message he tried to leave behind for his small child didn’t really work out there, did it, bud?

Prediction #4 – We will see her Dad at Christmas because this meeting has reminded him he does actually have a daughter

Prediction #5 – Jackie is wandering the streets crying and singing to herself so Trevor will probably drive past

After her brief foray into madness, Jackie calls her friend over to her apartment so she can not be surprised that her father hasn’t changed in all of these years. This is probably the reason that Jackie thinks her friends idea about advertising for a family for Christmas is a great idea and writes up an ad that looks more like another hostage situation. God help us all…. For a woman studying psychology I think she needs to stop for maybe just one second and look at what she is doing here.

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Because. She really. Needs it. Like what… to cannibalise? Mug? Assume their identities?

Prediction #6 – Those kids from the support group are gonna see the ad and do it for the money… or, you know, the family and all that

I really think she should have given it more than 12 hours before checking on her ad and getting depressed about it but at least she makes group interesting. Today they will be building the houses they always dreamed of out of gingerbread. There is definitely not enough gingerbread to go around these kids who have been thinking up dream houses for the past 6 years or so. Some of them are gonna want castles.

Ava turns up late enough so she can call the idea stupid and Becky can finally speak by shouting at her and putting her in her place. That of course means Chloe’s cap has to come off where everyone starts chanting ‘take it off’ and gets immediately swept up in a group mentality kind of deal which always ends in murder. I can also say the hair underneath that cap is far too healthy to belong to a drug and alcohol abuser. Also, for the sake of hygiene, she probably should have kept the hat on.

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I want to live in the house with the 10 foot penis outside of it.

We get our gingerbread house making/team bonding montage before Dr Cicero, or Sharon, can pop out of her office and thank Jackie for all of her hard work. In a bid to end the conversation about what Jackie has planned for Christmas she breaks a piece of her gingerbread house off to shut the woman up and make a run for it. At least her ad has had 6 replies by the time she gets home and with her friends help they scour through the people who are most likely to be Jackie’s future murderers.


Trevor: “Craigslist? That’s actually brilliant.”

Me: “No it isn’t! Stop telling her it was a good idea!”


At least it appears that, during her conversation with Trevor, he will also be telling people he is going out of town for Christmas whilst simply hiding out in his apartment. The most the woman could have done was offered to have him around and make a green bean casserole but she has her eyes set on her new family… so it’s a good job she now has 62 messages. I should mention that many of these replies are from people who also don’t have families so we can see where this is heading and, to be honest, it’s all just vaguely depressing. Now I really want to adopt Jackie.

It looks as though Jackie has just given herself another job of replying to all of these lonely people on the Internet and finding them families. Somehow she is going to throw the biggest Christmas party of all time and invite every single person who replied to her ad. Luckily she knows Sharon, who allows her to use a room at the campus and didn’t seem too surprised to find Jackie had no family to spend Christmas with but does check out the ad after Jackie has left which does surprise her.

Jackie’s friend will be sticking around to help with the 44 people showing up at this party and feeding them with food donations from many of the local supermarkets. She is also there to witness Jackie receive a call from a local reporter who wants to cover the party. Using the support group as slave labour at their next meeting she ropes them in to decorating the giant room and offers them an invite to the party in return.

This support group montage is a mini one because it’s more important for us to drop by Jackie’s apartment where she is baking a million pies for the party. Her friend drops around to give her an early Christmas present – a dress for the party – and in return gets a cookbook because Jackie is fed up of feeding the grown-ass woman and baking her green bean casserole.

All of the girls have made the effort for the party, which is adorable, but we still have to suffer the obligatory scenes where everyone worries no one will show up and this is just proof that they will be forever alone until all the guests start streaming in. This includes a 13 year old kid called Max who has rocked up here on his own and is quite alarming.

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At least they all got dressed up in order to find out that no one loves them.

Being quite adorable, Chloe thinks she might just stick around at the edges of the group because she is the youngest one and has more time to find a family than the others. Thankfully Jackie just throws her at the nearest couple so she can wander around and meet up with Trevor who she is now willing to have a relationship with. Credit to the man, he is willing to go and walk dogs with her every day. Jackie even comes out of this with a business card from the TV reporter who thinks she might have a future in TV.

As required by all films we have to experience more drama: Ava has not found a family at the party that wants to stick around and talk to her which is annoying because some of the other girls have legit family that just don’t want to know them. She abandons the party in order for Jackie to follow her and divulge more of her past, namely spending a year in Juvenile Detention and hating every second of it.

Again, being the absolute motherfuckin’ angel that she is, Jackie offers to speak to the orphanage about Ava spending Christmas with her seeing as neither one of them found their family that year. It is also no surprise that at the Christmas church service Trevor has decided to utilise Jackie, front and centre, where she is killing it and going home and probably falling asleep in that fucking chair again!

Oh. My God. We are just now finding out that Jackie’s friend is called Kate. Just now. At the end of the film. Kate is trying to abandon her Christmas at the cabin with her boyfriend and his family to stay with Jackie and keep her company. Jackie manages to herd her back out the door because she won’t be spending Christmas alone after all.

Ava got her the best gift of all: a mix-tape of her favourite songs, all legally downloaded and paid for! Wow, this kid really has turned it around. In return Jackie gives Ava that damn green make-up because she figured she had already paid for it. On the way to their restaurant reservation Ava asks if they can drop by Sharon’s house so she can drop off her mix-tape as well. The whole thing is simply a ploy to get Jackie to the house and fuck off their reservation because Sharon and her massive family want to be Jackie and Ava’s family this Christmas. Ain’t that sweet.


Sharon: “We only have one rule, though. Bruce? Everyone must wear an ugly Christmas sweater.”

Jackie: “Oh, wow, I don’t know what to say.”

Kieran walks in, singing: “I got a gun. You better run.”

Me: “Well, fuck me, that took a turn.”


Finding their hideous Christmas jumpers hilarious we are treated to a festive montage where I see kids not wearing hideous jumpers. How the hell did they get out of it? There are also more hideous cardigans and gilets than sweaters but I’m going to give it to them anyway.

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If you don’t laugh you’ll cry and start setting fire to things with wild abandon

We all group together for a family photo and everyone is very happy, now…. during the credits there are pictures of actual people (not that the actors weren’t real humans) which leads me to believe this story was based on real life. So I’m also confused by the usual film warning that the characters were all fictional and any similarities to people in real life is just a coincidence. And I don’t remember seeing anything about it being based on real life…. So that’s a Christmas mystery for ya’ll to look into!

My lack of predictions is always a good sign I was actually enjoying a film, discounting yesterday where it was my horror which prevented me from playing the guessing game.

If you want to enjoy one of these films in a tiny box then please, head over here. Come and join the Jackie fan club with me. As it turns out the ad for the film, just before the film began, claims it’s based on a true story so… apologies for promptly ruining this mystery… Let’s… just move on.

 

Prediction board – 1/Technically 5

  • Prediction #1 – If Nick finds out that Jackie is running a support group he is going to be there like a shot – INCORRECT! Nick did not meet the criteria to be supported
  • Prediction #2 – Will turn out Nick is genuinely a troubled teen – REDACTED! Whether the kid was truly troubled or not
  • Prediction #3 – Jackie was promptly abandoned as a child and that is why she currently has no family – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #4 – We will see Jackie’s Dad at Christmas because their meeting has reminded him he does actually have a daughter – Errrrr… sorry Jackie… INCORRECT! But you got one better! You got a psychiatrist and her family for Christmas!
  • Prediction #5 – Jackie is wandering the streets crying and singing to herself so Trevor will probably drive past – INCORRECT! Unfortunately she made that journey alone
  • Prediction #6 – Those kids from the support group are gonna see the ad and do it for the money… or, you know, the family and all that – INCORRECT! Jackie roped them in for free

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: To be fair, I’m surprised that Jackie wasn’t also a fucking horse and carriage driver to add to her impressive resume but… Nope.
  • Piano: I’m kinda thankful there was no piano this time around. There was already way too much going on here
  • Carolling: NADA!
  • Christmas Montage: Assembling and decorating montages! CHECK!
  • Fire Hazards: Clear paths to exits all around!
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: Well…. There was just a lot of missing parents in this film so… let’s say CHECK!
  • Snowing on cue: This was not a snowing kind of climate…

 

We have had too much of a good run, by which I now mean enjoying two films in a row. TWO! What is happening!?

I need to stop enjoying these films and making much better predictions with my time… Let’s see what run-of-the-mill Christmas formula I can dig up tomorrow.

Christmas Advent #14 – 3 Day Christmas

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

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

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

Please. Do go on.

 

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

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

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

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

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


Guy: “What did my brother want?”

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

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

Me: “Oh yeah, that ol’ chestnut.”


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

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

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

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


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

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

Martin: “Where is my daughter?”

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

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


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

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

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Regret marriage? No. Why would you say that?

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

Sam and Marilyn: “……….”

Martin: “Again… my apologies.”

Marilyn: “It happens.”

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

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

Sam: “Be scary… or be scared.”

Marilyn: “Scared is scared.”

Martin: “………….”

Me: “……………………………………………..”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Josie: “Splatter loves franks and beans….”

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

Josie: “Cereal.”

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

Me: “Like fucking hell I can’t!”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

Old Neighbour: “Why!? He’s an idiot!”

Me: “Just… glorious.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Jessie: “Paper angels!”

Jackie: “Oh, that’s a great idea.”

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Me: “But there are five of them….”


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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

Martin: “Where is he?”

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

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

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


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

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

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


Martin: “So… what is this place?”

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hey. We can dream.

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

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

 

Prediction board – 1/1

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Christmas Advent #13 – Sound of Christmas

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

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

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

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

 

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Speaking of…


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sam: “Thank god you’re here.”

Lizzie: “What’s going on!?”

Sam: “They’re selling the building!”

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Brad: “Lizzie!”

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Meg: “What are we waiting for!?”

Me: “I adore these people.”


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Lizzie: “Me?”

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

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


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

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


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

Travis: “Specifically?”

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Cynthia: “Maybe nobody asked last year?”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Lizzie: “It was.”

Me: “Fun!? He wasn’t even there!”


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Sam: “Nothing.”

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


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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Brad: “Honey… I’m sorry.”

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

Me: “Like being left with you.”

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

Me: “Like my heart!”

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

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

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

Me: “Thank god she’s gone.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will be heading down to check out my scores.

 

Prediction board – 6/11

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

 

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

 

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

LET’S GO!