Tag Archives: Review

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.

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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.

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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.

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‘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.

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‘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.

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‘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.

TSOC_2
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.

TSOC_3
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…

TSOC_4
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.

TSOC_5
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

TSOC_7
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!

TSOC_8
That’s right, Earl. Don’t forget to turn the entire piano around, halfway through the show, so you can see your audience

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Lizzie: “It was.”

Me: “Fun!? He wasn’t even there!”


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Sam: “Nothing.”

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


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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Brad: “Honey… I’m sorry.”

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

Me: “Like being left with you.”

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

Me: “Like my heart!”

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

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

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

Me: “Thank god she’s gone.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will be heading down to check out my scores.

 

Prediction board – 6/11

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

 

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

 

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

LET’S GO!

 

Christmas Advent #12 – Christmas With a View

I accidentally started playing my recording of Killer in My Village instead of this Christmas film to begin with and god damn if I didn’t get distracted for at least 20 minutes before I realised what I was meant to be doing.

I’m alone! I have candles! I’m ready to predict that the people in this film will be enjoying good views! Or at least preparing to be bitterly disappointed. Let’s face it, it’s usually the latter with these things…. So let’s get started, shall we!

 

My…. God…. The irony that a film purporting great views should not start with a city skyline but a woman rolling out dough, instead! Although if you’re as hungry as I am you would definitely call this the better view. This one is apparently based on the book ‘The Maverick’s Christmas Homecoming’ so let’s see how good of a job they’ve done. As much as I adore reading, no book is going to show me this woman sifting icing sugar over a monumental gingerbread house in real time.

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All that passive-aggressiveness is finally worth it come Christmas time…

She does, however, get her standard mom face on when her daughter, Clara, turns up late because the roads were a mess which is why she told her to come early and avoid that. Clara also gets her standard daughter face on by complimenting her mother’s gingerbread carpentry and hoping her parent will really just love her for once in her life.

Our mother is being featured in ‘Seasons’ magazine for their Christmas edition, which explains the fuck off gingerbread house. When someone called Bonnie from work calls Clara, our dearest mother is once more disapproving as shit when her child has to go and miss out on baking Christmas cookies. There is some mention of a husband in the past tense, which is always promising for Christmas, and away her daughter flies.

I was actually a little terrified when some cooking programme came on with a terrible green-screen in kitchen and flames everywhere. I mean… the green screen wasn’t on fire or anything but the show is called ‘Can You Stand the Heat‘ so… take a wild guess what their logo looks like. The hostess introduces this final episode with the first contestant Mike Mahoney who comes on and just screams at everyone loudly in an effort to get them all pumped up but instead probably just has his agent calling the asylum they have on speed dial again.

Next is Charles Shaunassy (maybe) the tortured artist of cakes and pastry who drifts around the studio in silence before taking down his man bun in a glorious show of hair that is completely unhygienic for the kitchen. Finally we have the crowd’s favourite celebrity chef and batchelor Shane Rourke who even an adoring crowd of random kitchen staff watching from a restaurant love and cheer.

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One of us. One of us.

For some reason we kick Charles off first so he can get really pissed off about life before announcing Shane the winner and everyone cheers. Who should turn up but Clara, informing her staff to get back to work, as their manager. Apparently she used to have a restaurant in Chicago that was great and might as well just own this one too instead of letting people like Shane take all the glory on national TV.

Prediction #1 – Clara and Shane are going to end up as the power couple of the world

OK, no, this restaurant actually does have views through a fuck-off glass window. That’s not enough for one guy though who keeps clapping until Clara comes over so he can tell her that after eating half of his steak it wasn’t rare enough for him and he just isn’t in love with it. The guy sounds vaguely like Buffalo Bill from ‘The Silence of the Lambs‘ so that should tell you everything you need to know about the guy. His date seems to think the same as she promptly gets up and walks off, preferring to just stand outside and freeze her ass off while waiting for a cab than sit with this neanderthal for a second longer.

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Just look at that view! The table settings are glorious…

A car is pulling up to the restaurant/maybe resort late that evening whilst Clara and Bonnie are having a very important conversation in the lobby on their way out.


Bonnie: “Yeah, just a sec, I need to use the bathroom.”

Clara: “You just went to the bathroom.”

Bonnie: “Yeah, I gotta go again.”

Clara: “Have you been stealing cheese from the kitchen again?”

Bonnie: “So?”

Clara: “So you’re lactose intolerant!”

Me: “That is not the way I thought that conversation was about to go…”


Clara is waiting for her errant friend when the one and only Shane Rourke walks into the place and signs in at the desk. Clara is alarmed enough to drop her friends bag and the entire block of cheese she was hiding in there which she has to inform the man she is actually just holding for a friend. Like seriously. This woman also needs to stop wearing a necklace with her name on if she wants people to stop guessing her damn name. Start wearing one with random names on to throw them off.

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That cheese wedge is gonna go far. The acting here is sublime.

Bonnie returns from the bathroom just in time to lose her shit over their new guest and is delighted to hear that the man handled her cheese already. Clara carts her friend out of the building before she can cause any more damage and to let Shane wonder around the lobby, smile at Christmas trees and look at an old Polaroid of two people decorating their own tree in peace. Probably a good idea because Bonnie is still losing her shit about Shane staying at the resort outside in the car park and looks to remain the same for the entire journey home.

I don’t like the fact it takes Clara three attempts to start the car…

Prediction #2 – at some point that car is breaking down and she will get stranded and maybe even have to stay at the resort herself

The next day some guy who looks alarmingly like the receptionist from the front desk is giving the entire kitchen staff a pep talk on how busy Christmas is likely to be this year. Thankfully this man has decided to hire Shane as the new head chef in order to help with the busy season and something about marketing opportunities…


Clara: “Hi, I’m Clara. We met last night.”

Shane: “Of course. Cheese Girl.”

Bonnie: “Actually, no! I’m Cheese Girl! No, that was my purse cheese… but who cares!? I’m Bonnie and you’re Shane!”

Me: “Well… at least he knows you’re liable to steal cheese from the kitchens now.”


This woman cannot stop telling people about her lactose intolerance and lets Shane wander away to meet the rest of his staff just long enough to get her crazy eyes on and tell Clara how much she can tell that she likes him. Bonnie already has some wonderfully insane plan to find out if the man likes her friend too which can only end in more cheese theft. Or a festive kitchen montage where everyone else seems to be doing work around Bonnie while she simply fights with a coffee machine.

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I haven’t seen this much crazy since Mark’s mom came to visit the office

At least she seems to get on well with the clients, by which I mean standing over them while they eat and talking about… jeans and skiing… Clara is pulled away just in time to deal with two middle-aged white women, both called Janice, both drunk and both really in love with wearing fur. Oh and both weirdly in love with Shane. Ignoring the fact the man is pretty busy they still demand on him coming out and saying hi to them.

Shane is happy to take the time to go and see the women which he informs Clara of by shouting at her over the counter from 2 feet away. I think this was meant to portray how noisy a working kitchen is but as the background noise wasn’t that loud it just suggested Shane may be very hard of hearing from all the times he’s had to listen to pots and pans being smashed together. Bonnie seems to think the man is incredibly smooth even though he is literally just standing there and talking to two women. She is very easily impressed it would seem.

Hugh Peters the maybe boss and possible receptionist of this resort asks to whisk Clara away again which leads to a strange conversation where Bonnie thought her bosses actual name was Peters and he went by Mr First Name. It’s probably best the woman just stays up in the mountain serving drinks…

Taking the opportunity while Clara is busy, Bonnie tells Shane all about her life when he brings her a drink.


Bonnie: “Well I bet you have a lot of lady fans, huh?”

Shane: “Yeah… I guess.”

Bonnie: “OK, I see where this is headed. I should probably tell you I have a boyfriend, just to be clear.”

Shane: “Oh…. OK, yeah…. thank you…”

Bonnie: “He’s a city planner. His name’s Clive. You know…. Bonnie and Clive like Bonnie and Clyde instead of Clyde it’s Clive?”

Me: “Cheese thief and a great conversationalist. Isn’t she just a catch.”


Thankfully Shane turns the conversation to Clara so he can hear how she had her own restaurant in Chicago for a few years but it didn’t quite work out and now she’s back and dreadfully alone and would definitely say yes to a boyfriend. Shane is very invested in this woman already and wants to know exactly why Clara is sitting across the other side of the restaurant and really enjoying a conversation with her boss which never happens.

Prediction #3 – Peters Peters probably is interested in his restaurant manager too

At the end of a long and perilous looking drive Shane pops out into some sort of house when there is a mental frame where everything zooms in suddenly and almost gave me vertigo. I’m still unsure where the hell he is but some woman comes to tell him all of the ornaments he is admiring on their tree are all unique and donated by the local artists for charity auction. This mystery woman is Jackie and her mystery husband is Frank and mystery Jackie knows people’s coffee order just by saying their name and looking at them.

I really don’t know what’s going on here other than these people at Mountain View… Inn?…. telling Shane that Clara is their favourite staff member over at the resort, she’s practically like a daughter to them and she used to work for them before disappearing to Chicago. Please tell me this man isn’t tracking down all of Clara’s acquaintances so he can better stalk her… He says he’s interested in more of the older, family run resorts in the area and their history but I’m hearing stalker.

Prediction #4 – Shane is going to save Mountain View resort because that other big one is taking up all the business and as basically this couple’s daughter they will happily pass it over to Shane and Clara to look after

I dread to think how much food might actually have got wasted for all of these kitchen scenes and everything looks very salad-y and slightly under cooked. Shane seems to be immediately infatuated with poor Clara and is still around once everyone else has gone home so he can cook dinner for the woman to say thanks for helping out. The man is meant to be good at this but Clara believes she can do better and elects herself to cook their dinner instead which will no doubt impress Shane into a marriage proposal there and then.

I am more horrified at the transitional scene of people skiing outside in the fucking dark. It’s dangerous enough in the day. Are there no policies for this!? Does the resort just hope they lose a few every night so they can cram more people in through the doors? While people are outside breaking their spines Shane and Clara have time to briefly discuss how her restaurant failed because it got too big, eat pudding and smile at each other.

Lo and behold Clara’s car is already in the garage after just one scene and now she needs a ride home because that chocolate cake made her approximately one hour too late for the last bus home. It was probably worth it… when isn’t cake worth it? At the end of this lift home we find out Shane is impressed with any person who doesn’t like in a hotel building, so much so that he just has to kiss the woman to make sure she is even real.


Clara: “Wow, I can’t believe I’m kissing a celebrity.”

Me: “Bit of a…. weird thing to say…”

Clara: “What’s wrong?”

Shane: “I…. I just don’t know if this is the best idea. I just get a lot of attention from the show, I didn’t even know you watched it.”

Clara: “I don’t. I don’t watch your show.”

Me: “Kick him while he’s down.”

Clara: “I was just saying I’m surprised… like in a good way.”

Shane: “Wait, I don’t think I’m explaining this right…”

Clara: “You’re definitely not.”

Me: “And I’m not going to stick around to hear you explain it, either!”


Clara bolts from that car as if her life depended on it and into her apartment building which Shane was so impressed with five seconds ago. What he will not be impressed with is the two Janice’s creeping around the resort after him the next morning in the absolute loudest fucking way on account of them both wearing fuck off heels and a lot of fur.

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These are the opening scenes to War of the Planet of the Janice

Meanwhile, everyone’s favourite boss Hugh is waiting for Clara outside of her apartment with coffee and checking that she really is OK because she can’t keep the crippling embarrassment off her face. As long as Hugh doesn’t turn out to be a massive bellend, which let’s face it, is highly likely, he’s really not so bad himself. While Clara is going off to attend some sort of business meeting, Shane is hiding out at the Mountain View resort and complimenting Jackie’s eggs florentine. He’s probably going to offer to work there just to get the secret recipe from the kitchen staff because he seems to be in love with these eggs.

The man asks for two coffees to go, presumably as some sort of apology gift to Clara, so I hope that woman has a strong bladder. As it turns out this big meeting is taking place at the Mountain View resort where Clara and Hugh spot Shane’s car. Isn’t this going to be just wonderful.

Prediction #5 – on hearing Hugh’s idea to take over Mountain View resort, Shane is going to side with Jackie and Frank and battle it out with the bigger resort and Clara

Shane is busy smiling at Christmas trees again and so never sees the two Janice’s thundering down upon him and cornering him at his table. Cue Clara and Hugh walking in so everything can look as awkward as is humanly possible. Jackie and Frank may consider Clara as their daughter right now but I get the distinct feeling that may change slightly in the next 10 minutes or so.


Clara: “Jackie, Frank, this is Hugh Peters. He owns the restaurant I work at.”

Frank: “Ohhhhh that’s right, the… the…. something or other.”

Hugh: “Summit.”

Frank: “Yeah, sounds about right, yeah.”

Me: “I am immediately opening a restaurant and calling it ‘The Something Or Other’ which has an adjoining lounge called ‘Sounds About Right, Yeah’.”


Despite telling Hugh there is absolutely nothing wrong, Clara cannot help breaking her neck to frequently look over at Shane and the Janice’s table before the women stomp out after the man like a two-woman herd of elephants. Unfortunately we don’t even get to hear the business proposal they are there to discuss but Jackie and Frank seem cool with it because when has Clara ever steered them wrong before?

Prediction #6 – Hugh has betrayed us all and probably put something in the contract like kicking Frank and Jackie out is part of the takeover or some other bollocks

Before they are able to leave Jackie mentions they also met someone else who works at Hugh’s resort and that he was actually by the day before, too. Clara greets this message as if the entire mountain and it’s inhabitants are hers to own and how dare he move around a public space without her permission. I really do feel some unhealthy competition coming on.

The restaurant is closed that evening for their annual Charity Dinner which, although in the spirit of Christmas, can only be an even better gift if it drums up some good publicity for them. Shane is unable to stop staring at Clara through Hugh’s little pep talk and is probably still just star struck by the fact she owns an apartment so now would obviously be a wonderful time for a call from Clara’s mother on speakerphone in the bathroom with Bonnie.


Clara’s Mom: “I called to remind you about our family Christmas dinner.”

Clara: “Yes, it is on my radar and scheduled in.”

Clara’s Mom: “Will you be bringing someone other than Bonnie this year?”

Me: “Oh my god, the woman is standing right there!”


Luckily Bonnie gives no shits because she’s doing Christmas with her own boyfriend which makes Clara’s mother infinitely more proud of Bonnie than her own daughter who manages a 5 star restaurant on top of a cliff. Seeing as her daughter is such a failure she has to remind her not to be damn late for this Christmas dinner. Again.

Prediction #7 – Clara will probably be late for dinner and they might be down one Bonnie but will be up one Shane

In a sort of montage of all the food the charity dinner has to offer I am mesmerised by the way people are cutting wedges of cheese and popping them out of the wheel with one single motion. Honestly. Watch this film for this scene alone, I had to watch it like three times.

There is some woman at the charity dinner who really just loves seeing Clara and Bonnie every year and so can’t help asking about their love lives. Clara is saved by the Hugh when he calls her over to meet some no doubt high profile people and the entire time Shane is lurking around in the doorway smiling to himself and watching her. Now… this would have you believe he was actually seeing her face when he was doing this but to make it even worse he was just smiling at the back of her head that entire time. Knowing Shane, however, he might have been smiling at the tower of candied clementines shaped into a Christmas tree. You know how he loves those things.

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“Oh my God, did the tower of clementines even notice me? What if I walk past them and make a fool out of myself?”

Done with the high profile guests Clara storms past Shane without a word and I can’t really blame her because he’s been staring at the back of her head like a creepy stalker. Cue the awkward conversation where Clara brings up Shane’s breakfast with the Janice’s and Shane tries to approach the subject of their kiss but instead ends up asking how her car is doing instead. This is all in the guise of trying to offer her a lift home but when she refuses he puts on his perfect Matt the Mayor impersonation and starts mumbling about Hugh instead.

Shane thinks that the restaurant reception area is a perfect time to start explaining to Clara that he would like to explain how he rudely misjudged her back at his place. Now… this started off sounded mildly creepy and clearly Clara’s face thought so too but it gets weirder when he offers to cook her dinner. The man clearly said he was staying in a hotel so unless his hotel suite is bigger than Clara’s entire apartment and has it’s own kitchen… then I presume he’s gonna go right ahead and use the hotel’s kitchen despite the fact they are currently standing in a restaurant with a fully stocked and serviced kitchen.

Wait… this man lives at the resort…. and yes his room is as big as Clara’s entire apartment. So dropping her off at home is really going out of his way. Shane is too bothered with staring at Clara some more to pay attention to his hands and knocks the pepper shaker out of the overhead cupboard. I have many questions about why the fuck a chef keeps that there but either way he splashes hot milk on himself and has to take his top off. Ya know… of all the films so far this is the first one where our man has had to get undressed. Normally they’re wrapped up to the fucking hilt in thermals while the women wear the highest heels they can find.

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But the recipe said add pepper to taste. How is he supposed to taste it, otherwise?

With Shane and Clara making out on his room’s balcony and prattling on about the view and only half of this film left I a) don’t really see where this is going other than the predictions made already and b) fear they are going to try and cram a lot into the second half of this film. We still need the betrayal, the big misunderstanding and the heartbreak before it can all work out and this man turns up at Clara’s Christmas dinner, probably uninvited and as a surprise to everyone.

Shane assures Clara that he is not the guy the show made him out to be and why are people skiing around in the night again!? Honestly the film could end right here and I don’t think anyone would be missing out on much. Shane is just all about the assurances these days and wants Clara to know she is a strong, independent female who don’t need no man… not one who isn’t a chef, anyway. This film might actually be taking a new direction when Clara mulls with the idea of opening up her own place again and I am just not used to seeing people kissing so much in these films. It’s normally a one and done kind of deal, ya know.

If we’re being treated to a Christmas montage of Clara and Shane having a great time together then you know tragedy cannot be far behind them. We also find out the man can’t ski for shit which amuses me no end. The glasses of wine that are served to Bonnie and Clara so they can have a good gossip one evening are literally as big as their faces!! I need them!

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One day I’ll look at Kieran with that same expression I save for wine…

When Hugh calls Clara into his office the next day it is of no surprise that he has some concerns that she may have been spending all of her down time with Shane and hasn’t actually worked on their proposal at all. The woman best be getting paid overtime to work on that proposal in her own, personal time… I presume not as Hugh pulls out an early Christmas gift that turns out to be the classic piece of expensive jewellery all fictional men fall back on in these situations. It’s also some sort of bribery piece as he would really love all of this deal to be hashed out before the New Year.

Why are people always on the same friggin’ deadline in Christmas films!? Plan your projects accordingly, people!

When Clara shows some doubts that Jackie and Frank are willing to ruin their own holiday to work on a business deal, Hugh pulls out even more bribery… the man is good. Whether this other surprise project is real or not he had lined up Clara to run a new restaurant in New York, where she apparently really wants to go, and she cannae do that if she is hashing out the deal with the Mountain View Resort.

When Clara agrees to help speed up this Mountain View deal you can practically see her soul withering away into the distance.

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Clara watched her soul drift through the open window as she wondered how good her new necklace would look on her.

Prediction #8 – Shane will convince Clara she can open up her own restaurant without the help of Hugh bloody Peters


Clara: “So, I’ve been meaning to ask, what are you doing for Christmas?”

Shane: “I don’t know, I haven’t really thought about it. … I might go back to the city.”

Clara: “Well, that makes sense, I’m sure you probably want to see your family. Have you… told me about your family yet?”

Me: “How would you… not remember?”

Shane: “Ya know… I don’t think I have…”

Me: “How would you not remember!? It’s been like 2 days!”


At the mention of parents Shane’s face gets that specific ‘yeah, my parents died at Christmas a few years back/it was their favourite season’ look that only occurs in these films. Completely ignoring that expression Clara steamrolls into revealing the big secret deal she and Hugh have been working on to renovate the Mountain View Resort into a boutique hotel that she would be running for 6 months. Now… if she was going to be sticking around and running the place for 6 months anyway I don’t see what the rush is to seal the deal so she can also go and work in New York…

Shane offers some truth bombs about the fact Clara is only involved because of her connection to Jackie and Frank and they were more likely to trust her than Peters. Cue the slightly bullheaded and illogical overreaction. I’m not saying I wouldn’t also be a little irritated with the guy for pissing on my parade but I am nothing if not logical and his answers at least make sense… unlike that time in the car.


Clara: “Why are you being so negative? I thought you’d be happy for me!”

Me: “… It’s been 2 days!!”


Apparently when Shane took the job at The Summit he made a few calls and Hugh does not have the best reputation. I’m not sure what that says about either guy that they ended up working together anyway. Clara briefly tries to bring sexism into this but fails miserably. You really need to pick your feminism battles.

The final straw that sends Clara packing out of Shane’s apartment is the mention of her failed business attempt in Chicago. It’s pretty much tantamount to telling Kim she needs to work on her character detail. At least I can confirm that Clara was not late to the family Christmas dinner and was right on time for all that parental passive aggression.


Clara’s Mom: “Maybe next year we’ll have a full house, right Clara?! HAHAHA I’m kidding!”

Me: “She isn’t. She’s bitterly disappointed in you.”


Clara is blissfully ignored for the remainder of the meal while her Mom bangs on to her little sister about all the wonderful things going on in her life instead. So much more successful than that awful first child of hers, anyway. Unable to hear any more of the oxygen being sucked out of the room while her mother talks about how she thinks her photo shoot went and how she deserves the front cover, Clara pretends to clear plates so she can call Bonnie. You know it’s bad when you have to phone the woman who keeps cheese in her purse for some normalcy on your Christmas Eve.

I am very surprised when Clara’s Mom allows her to go and meet Bonnie for a drink instead of forcing her to sit around and listen to how her little sister and husband are her favourite couple of all time. Also I’m very sure both Bonnie and Clara are drinking and driving… Probably a good job because Bonnie has just revealed that she’s engaged to city planner Clive.

I adore the fact that answering a call from their boss basically means having to answer with ‘Hey, Hugh!’ and makes everyone sound overbearingly posh. Apparently his ex-wife just dropped his kids off unannounced which means Clara should put that phone down immediately and run the fuck away. It’s also very unfortunate that he needs her to go to the restaurant to pick up some papers which Bonnie is just overjoyed about and ropes Clive in to drive them up there.

Prediction #9 – Clara is gonna see something she doesn’t like in those papers

I don’t think it was the best idea to unleash a drunk Bonnie on the empty restaurant as she immediately starts breaking into Hugh’s filing cabinets and pulling out brown envelopes to compare contracts with Clara and check they have the right files. Bonnie pulls out an entire envelope that is just full of parking lot plans and we can only all presume Hugh was planning on turning the entire mountain into a parking lot for his mini empire. Fuck trees, eh, Hugh?

While the Scooby Gang are off to break into Clive’s office now, Shane is dropping in on Jackie and Frank who have the words ‘parking attendants’ stamped firmly into their futures. The man gets offered food and drink as soon as he walks in the door. I want to live with these people. As it turns out, Shane has been trying to track down where his parents had the picture taken of them decorating a tree, which he’s been carrying around with him. He knew it was somewhere on an American mountainside and… that’s about it. The photo was taken in the 80’s but it just happens Frank and Jackie had a fire in ’92 that destroyed all their old records. Gosh darn it!

It was at this point I was so shocked to see Jackie using her husband’s motherfucking glasses as a magnifying glass that I accidentally turned the entire Sky box off instead of just rewinding it. She then commences to open up the trunk they have been using as a coffee table and pulls out some sort of tin box that had an ornament in it. This ornament never got sold because it was made by Jackie’s mother the year they built the resort and every year they ask the guests to put it up on the tree to make them feel at home. I can only presume the ornament they are hanging up in the picture is the same one and we’ll just have to depend on Jackie’s glasses for that.

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Jackie didn’t let the lack of a magnifying glass prevent her from solving murders

Instead of doing the honours of putting the ornament up on the tree he decides he would rather share it with someone else. They’re apparently cool with the man completely breaking Christmas tradition but… whatever. Back with the Scooby Gang it turns out Hugh has been making ‘exploratory proposals’ for condos and parking lots rather than the boutique hotel he first proposed. The man has betrayed us all!!

Christmas morning rolls around and Clara’s mom is already dressed in a power suit to serve up breakfast to the masses. I don’t remember Clara being that drunk but her mother found all of her documents scattered around the foyer instead of… ya know… anywhere safe.

Knowing how unreliable her car is I, personally, wouldn’t be driving anywhere through the snow in it but Clara rushes off to confront her boss anyway. She needn’t have bothered revealing herself as a tea leaf because Frank and Jackie called him that morning, as an early Christmas gift, and told him the deal was off with not much convincing from Shane. Hugh is having a wonderful Christmas! Unexpected kids, no deal, his restaurant manager just quit… and is now stranded on his drive in her broken down car.

Luckily all love interests in Christmas films are adept at stalking and Shane turns up to give her a lift home. He had already done the rounds of both her mother’s house, then Bonnie’s house, where they told him all about their festive crime spree, and finally ended up on Hugh’s driveway right alongside her. There is a well-timed train passing by, so the pair have plenty of time to stop and discuss Shane’s real motive for taking a job up a mountainside so he can search for where his parents spent their honeymoon.

After struggling through their own lives – their honeymoon was the only holiday out of New York they ever took in their entire existences – Shane had promised them when he started to get famous he would eventually slow down and start up a little ol’ place like the one they visited for their honeymoon. Of course he did not do this and then his parents promptly died before he could keep his promise.

Back at Mountain View Resort Jackie and Frank are standing around just waiting for the pair to rock up and to serve them dinner. Not before Shane and Clara have hung this ornament up on the tree, though. It’s funny how Clara recognises that ornament immediately from a picture she looked at for nigh on two seconds in the car but it took Jackie to Sherlock Holmes the place up before she noticed it. So we can go full circle, Frank is there with his turn of the century Polaroid camera so maybe in 30 years Shane and Clara’s kids can hunt down the location of their first Christmas on very little information too.

As it turns out they won’t have to hunt far because Clara’s Christmas present that year is Frank and Jackie’s hotel which they are selling to her and she is being financed by Shane himself.


Shane: “You can fix this place up any way you want. Jackie and Frank have agreed to stick around and work for you. I mean I’d like to hand in my resume for head chef and do all the cooking… minus the eggs florentine.”

Me: “I fucking knew this was all about those eggs!”


Clara is feeling festive enough to share this venture with Shane but he really should know she only bought him a scarf in return for this business opportunity… At least her mom may finally be proud and why is Clive so buff!? Where he hell is he a city planner of!? Ahem…

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When I said I plan the city I mean I build it manually, myself, brick by brick

Shane is never going to get a moments piece with Clara’s mother around the place… her Christmas gift to him is an autographed copy of her two page spread article in the Seasons magazine… and hey, does he have any contacts in the gourmet gingerbread world that she’s thinking of setting up in?

 

If you want to see how you should handle insane in-laws at Christmas while French subtitles fly around your head then I believe you want to go over here. Unless you have the actual patience of Shane Rourke I find the only sure-fire way of dealing with in-laws is to stay as far away as you can possibly get…

Now, let’s see what abysmal scores I got today.

 

Prediction board – 6.5/9

  • Prediction #1 – Clara and Shane are going to end up as the power couple of the world – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #2 – At some point Carla’s car will break down and leave her stranded somewhere – Like her ex-bosses driveway… CORRECT!
  • Prediction #3 – Peters Peters probably is interested in his restaurant manager, too – I…. still don’t know, ya know! Was it genuine interest or just bribery? Half a point!
  • Prediction #4 – Shane is going to save Mountain View resort and as basically this couple’s daughter they will happily pass it over to Shane and Clara to look after – HELLA CORRECT!
  • Prediction #5 – On hearing Hugh’s idea to take over Mountain View resort, Shane is going to side with Jackie and Frank and battle it out with the bigger resort and Clara – Unfortunately everyone found out far too late and took action far too swiftly for a battle. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #6 – Hugh has betrayed us all and probably put something in the contract like kicking Frank and Jackie out is part of the takeover – Hugh did us proud. CORRECT!
  • Prediction #7 – Clara will probably be late for dinner and they might be down one Bonnie but will be up one Shane – Unfortunately this didn’t happen in time. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #8 – Shane will convince Clara she can open up her own restaurant without the help of Hugh bloody Peters – Technically…. yes, but he had to fund the shit out of it. Still… CORRECT!
  • Prediction #9 – Clara is gonna see something she doesn’t like in those papers – Easy! CORRECT!

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: That would have been interesting to see working it’s way up the mountain…
  • Piano: I would say I’m missing impromptu piano choruses but that would be tempting fate
  • Carolling: NADA!
  • Christmas Montage: They were amazing… festive food montages… the cheese
  • Fire Hazards: Unfortunately Hugh was nothing if not a sharp businessman who would not be sued for anything, including death by Christmas decorations
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: We tripled down on this one!
  • Snowing on cue: We were up a mountain, how was it not going to snow on cue?

 

I feel that 12 days in is good going before my brain feels like it’s turning to a festive mush, dotted with tinsel and glitter and smelling faintly of pine needles. That’s where we’re at right now… but just like Holly’s deranged father hurtling towards a tree in a horse and sleigh in the middle of the night… I guess we’re here until the end of the ride.

See ya tomorrow, folks!

 

Christmas Advent #11 – Christmas in Homestead

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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


Random woman: “Hey Jess! Whaddya think?”

Jessica: “Rosalie…. what is that?”

Rosalie: “It’s a Christmas tree.”

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

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

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

Me: “BOO-FUCKING-OOM!”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

Me: “Yeah, so back to this turtle…”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Matt: “Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t…

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

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

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

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

Matt: “Erm, no thanks…”

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

Matt: “Why would I sell this?”

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


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

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

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

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Gavin is just stealing this scene. Stealing it.

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

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

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


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

Jessica: “You could never bug me.”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Me: “Oh jesus….”

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

Everyone: “………….”

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


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

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

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


Zoe: “Being famous can’t be easy.”

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

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

Matt: “They climb trees?”

Zoe: “Mhm.”

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

Me: “And Ian lurking around outside.”


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

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

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

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


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

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

Matt: “You won a Golden Globe?”

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

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

Both: “Dragons.”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Any excuse to go and sing more Celine Dion

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

CIH_8
I believe this was the first draft of The Greatest Showman

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

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

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

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

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

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


Matt: “What about Vince?”

Jessica: “What about him?”

Matt: “He still loves you.”

Jessica: “Yeah, and I love him.”

Me: “Like someone loves having the flu.”

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

 

Prediction board – 7.5/12

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

 

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

 

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

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

Christmas Advent #10 – The Spirit of Christmas

So… disclaimer.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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


Kate: “Are you breaking up with me?”

Guy: “Yes…”

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

Me: “I love her.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Walter: “Inadvisable.”

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Kate: “He was here, I swear.”

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

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

Sheriff: “Well… some do.”

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


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

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

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

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


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

Me: “HE TOLD YOU THERE WAS A GHOST!”


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

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

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


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

Daniel: “I can hear you.”

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


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

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

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

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

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

Wait…. no…. Lilly. Fuck’s. Sake.

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Harry founded Go Outdoors during the prohibition

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

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

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

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

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


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

Daniel: “No!”

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

Daniel: “Specifically no.”

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

Everyone: “……….”

Kate: “DJ.”

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

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


I am at a loss here, people.

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

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

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


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

Me: “That is basically brother poetry.”


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

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


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

Me: “…. Really? …. REALLY!?”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Kate: “I wasn’t skiing.”

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

Christmas Advent #9 – 12 Gifts of Christmas

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

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

Anyway, on with the film!

 

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

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

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

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


Mom: “What about this?”

Anna: “A shirt….”

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

Anna: “Mhm.”

Mom: “Uh-oh, what is it?”

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

Me: “I want a divorce.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Anna: “Uh-oh.”

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

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

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


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

After a chat about each other’s family and how Mark probably won’t spend Christmas with them he decides maybe he really will call his sister that he probably hasn’t spoken to for years. Instead of going back to the office Anna decides to drag the man along with her to get the rest of the gifts from his list. I have mixed feelings about this because she either hasn’t been buying any this whole time or has just brought whatever was on the list which really defeats the whole point of her making him look amazing to all of his family and friends.


Mark: “Wasn’t the whole point of me hiring someone was so I didn’t have to go shopping?”

Anna: “Oh, come on, no ones going to miss you for one hour, are they?”

Me: “Harsh.”


Cue a shopping montage where Mark remembers what it is to not be in the office and also take many samples off some poor woman in the shop. I’m not sure what the samples are of, considering she is standing in the candle section but Mark and Anna seem to be enjoying them.

Even though Anna clearly points out the fact that they have now brought presents for everyone on Mark’s list when she asks what is next and Mark responds with the very clear fact they appear to be finished…. she looks stunned. At least the man is willing to leave a review on her website whenever the hell she gets that set up. If I was her I’d be more worried how I’m going to pay my first month’s rent. Maybe she can offer to babysit the landlord’s kids for free, too.

Seeing as the pair are awkwardly parting ways and we are only halfway through the film I really don’t know where we can go from here. We could very easily wrap this film up in the next 20 minutes with Mark’s change of Christmas spirit but I guess…. we’re here for the entire ride now.

I am happy to see that Anna appears to still be living at home with only 8 days until Christmas and rather than answer her sister’s questions about whether she’s so sad because she doesn’t get to talk to Mark anymore she goes and colours with her nieces instead. Well, she colours with one of them. The older one is dealing with green beans or something.

The Mayor’s annual Christmas meal is still taking up all of Anna’s sister’s time so she asks if she can babysit both that evening and on Sunday 21st. This date is so specific I can’t help but feel…

Prediction #11 – Mark is going to need her on 21st December and the kids are just going to have to come along with her

Back at his apartment Mark is setting up the hideous, fake white tree they brought for him whilst shopping and declares Anna wins before calling his sister. Yvonne, I think, happens to be standing next to their mother when she takes the call and that woman is looking at that phone like ‘Why the fuck is he calling you and not me?’. If he doesn’t ask for her to put Mom on the phone he is going to pay dearly for this…

Instead he arranges to meet his sister for lunch the next day and she is more worried that there is something in the water around here. The mention of his nephews just wanting to see Uncle Mark over Christmas would have me running for the hills and in all fairness he’s still not completely set on the idea either. When invited to go skating that Saturday he immediately asks if he can bring a friend along…

This leads to a strange scene where Mark rocks up at her house where she conveniently forgot to tell him she lived in her sister’s basement and before he got down the stairs she was hiding coffee mugs behind cushions. His voice really carries when he shouts though, she heard him calling her from up the stairs and across the room perfectly. He is also very impressed by all of Anna’s paintings that she has hung up around the place. I would be likely to warn him not to touch them because they’re probably all still wet when she hung them up there.

Anna is delighted that Mark will actually be spending time with his family this Christmas and will be adding a few extra gifts to the list for his family. I guess it’s harder to only give them a single gift you didn’t really put much thought into when you’re face to face with them.. He also invites Anna to skating despite the fact I don’t think she can. This should be interesting.

Eric, Yvonne, Jackson and Cooper all meet Anna, his FRIEND before she basically adopts the youngest child and leads him off into the rink to find her some skates. It shocks me that these people are always so comfortable around children… especially children on very sharp blades. I went skating once and it was the worst experience ever. I can’t even walk in a straight line, I don’t know why I thought skating was going to be a good idea.

Anna takes the chance to canvas Yvonne on what she wants for Christmas but it’s the pretty simple desire to have the entire family together for the season. At this point, unless Mark suffers a crisis of faith, it’s a done deal. Yvonne is even nice enough to suggest a hot chocolate break 2 seconds after getting on the ice so she can remove her kids from pestering their uncle and Mark can safely lead Anna around the rink without falling on her ass.

Prediction #12 – Mark will be tempted to stick with work this Christmas rather than his family but will turn up at the last minute

When his mom calls again the next day he’s going to wish he was still ignoring her calls.


Mark’s Mom: “I know how busy you are so I’ll cut right to the chase.”

Mark: “I appreciate that.”

Mark’s Mom: “I was chatting with your sister this morning and she said me you brought a… friend to the ice rink.”

Me: “She said she would cut right to the chase, not that it would be a short conversation.”


Mark’s Mom is inviting Anna to Sunday dinner at 6 that evening and has already made her mind up that that is happening before the man can answer or find out what the fuck Anna had planned. I hope she cooked enough for two extra kids she wasn’t expecting…

Anna is more excited she will have chance to find out what everyone wants for Christmas on the 21st! of December! and completely forgets it was the Mayor’s party tonight and she was supposed to be babysitting. I can’t tell if she tries to guilt her sister into letting this one slide but her sister is out that door and not having a second of it.


Anna: “Mark, hi. It’s Anna. I’m sorry to have to cancel at the very last second but I messed up. I forgot I had to babysit my nieces tonight.”

Mark: “Well that’s OK, why don’t we just bring them?”

Anna: “Really?”

Mark: “Yes. My mom loves kids plus they can hang out with the boys.”

Me: “Would have been awkward if you were using that as an excuse to get out of dinner…”


I also hope Anna remembered to take the lasagne her sister had left for them in the oven because Mark has come to pick them up and it’s time to go. Mark has even brought her a hideous necklace Anna saw whilst shopping that she just really loved which at least is sweet of him and I have decided he is one of the least annoying men out of the tragic 9 we have met already.

They get to drive down a street with some manic Christmas decorations up which reminds me of a small village just down the road from us where they all decorate their houses and allow people to come and walk around and check them out and even give donations if they feel like it. It’s the closest we’ll ever get to a living Christmas film. However, unlike Mark, I did not grow up in what looks like the honest to god biggest house on earth but at least the kid’s look impressed by it.

Before entering the house Anna reminds them to be polite and on their best behaviour so I can only hope one of them tells Mark’s mom to pass the fucking potatoes at the dinner table. When asking how Mark and Anna met Mark decides to tell his mother they definitely met when he hired her to help around the office and distracts them by mentioning how great she is at painting. Mark’s Dad is trying to get his camera to work so he can take pictures of the entire family and it looks like he might be getting a new camera for Christmas.

All his mom wants, like his sister, is for the whole family to be together at Christmas and points out a portrait painted of them the last time they were all together before Mark went off to prep school. Now. If I can get screenshots of nothing else from this film I promise I will get you a screenshot of this. I had to pause the film and laugh for 2 minutes straight because this portrait is the gift that just keeps giving. I can’t… they have to see that every day. Who the fuck are these people. I need that thing as my screensaver on every single device I own.

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Behold!


Mark: “Oh, don’t look at that.”

Me: “No, really, please, don’t fucking look at that.”

Anna: “But you look so cute.”

Me: “I can’t breathe.”


We are thankfully saved by the bell to signify the roast is done and we can all hopefully sit in a different room. I can’t decide whether Anna is looking at the portrait so much because she has a fantastic idea or she’s just keeping one eye on the painting in case they jump out of the fucking thing and come for her throat.

Prediction #13 – Anna is going to paint them a much better fucking portrait

At the end of the night Anna is pleased to hear the entire family love her but kissing her at this point would be a logistically difficult as at any point one of them is carrying the youngest niece. Isn’t that convenient. You know they can’t kiss until after some amount of strain has been put on their relationship.

After a delightful conversation with her sister where Anna admits Mark really ain’t so bad Mark turns up at his office to find Nina waiting for him with Edward. She is there to give Mark and his company a last chance to run their campaign for NEXT YEAR and just produce something special that gives them the feels.

Prediction #14 – not wanting to take away this holiday from all his staff Mark takes the blow and may have to work through his Christmas

He seems to have had a brainwave already, which is nice, and rocks up at Anna’s sisters restaurant asking for a favour. Back in yet another meeting Mark announces his revolutionary idea… it’s basically just a painting of Anna’s in a power point presentation where I have just realised Santa’s Christmas list is basically defying gravity and that’s probably why his staff don’t have the most convinced looks on their faces either.

Anna is just signing her name away on a picture we haven’t seen but is definitely a family portrait for Mark and despite the fact she has only seen their faces for one evening they will probably look a lot better than the portrait they currently have WHEN Mark shows up. Quickly throwing something over this portrait she accepts his gift of roses and prepares for this whole conversation to go downhill when he asks for her Christmas paintings and she reminds him they are just for fun and she wants to be a serious artist.


Mark: “I think you and I make a great team.”

Me: “Oh no. You have started this all wrong for what I know you are about to suggest.”

Anna: “So do I.”

Mark: “Which gave me a great idea. I think it’s time that you and I work on something a lot bigger than my Christmas gifts.”

Me: “You do not bring roses to a business pitch and change the woman’s portrait so Santa is holding a laptop.”


I could not face palm hard enough at the image of Santa holding a laptop and even if it wasn’t for the fact that Anna clearly specified she painted these things for herself I would have been outraged that he had altered my portrait so hideously. And here comes the turning moment where Anna realises Mark really is just bothered about profit margins and Mark is really bemused why Anna can’t be a serious artist while painting Santa. I mean… logistically it would be fantastic. You could relax and spend all year just painting for the one season….

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This picture is completely unrealistic. Santa is way too old to know how to work an Excel spreadsheet

Anyway. Anna is very sad and decides this would be a great time to call up about that apartment and check if it’s still available because your sister’s basement is just not enough room to be sad inside. In the office Sandy wonders if she still needs to post Anna’s new contract that Mark had drafted up without checking with anyone and serves to remind him he actually doesn’t have all of his family’s extra gifts.


Anna’s Sister: “It’s Christmas Eve. Are you really leaving? Do you have somewhere to go?”

Me: “Nah, thought I’d just pack all my shit up and go camp out on the lawn for the night.”


Anna’s feeling of betrayal has spilled over to her sister for handing her paintings over to Mark and is packing up all of her shit ready to move out after Christmas. I would have gotten over that betrayal pretty quick when considering the ability to pay rent late with no fuss.

Anna finds the incomplete check list of Mark’s extra gifts and weighs up whether to ring the man or not and tell him what he should be buying with his last few free shopping days. Mark still turns up bright and early with gifts and is met by his nephews at his mother’s house so she has much time to question him about his life choices.


Mark’s Mom: “I was hoping we might see Anna today. She’s such a lovely girl, so talented too.”

Mark: “Yeah.”

Mark’s Mom: “What’s she doing for the holiday?”

Me: “Planning my death, probably.”


Prediction #15 – Mark’s Mom is hunting Anna down and dragging her out that basement with her portrait

Anna is looking incredibly bitter while Christmas mayhem goes on around her and keeps looking at all the gifts with this weird, simpering expression that would be best slapped off her face.

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“Yes but suffered heartbreak and betrayal this Christmas.”

Anna’s Sister: “Come on, you don’t think I know when you’re pretending to have a good time?”

Me: “That was her trying!?”


Anna’s sister gives her the pep-talk of a lifetime about her art, her heart and her damn love life. This inspirational speech has Anna running off to see Mark and skipping out on Christmas dinner so this had better be good and I hope this means she will continue to live in the basement and not pay extortionate rent rates with the money she does not have.

Even at gift giving time in Mark’s house his mother is commenting about how they’re not all quite together as a family, like Anna was already part of this strange clan with a really nice house. I guess nothing is quite good enough, is it Mother?

Both Mark and Anna agree they were both wrong and both right and both overreacted which brings us to an even playing field that you could at least hope to build the stable foundations of a relationship on. Even from a completely different room his mother is meddling and interrupting their first kiss when she calls out to them.


Mark’s Mom: “Mark! Anna! Come see!”

Me: “Anna has been looking at that portrait for days. You’re calling her in like this will be a big surprise for her.”


I am going to presume they used a filter on a photograph of the family to make this portrait so I don’t know why they couldn’t have grabbed four random people and done the same for the original portrait. Or they just wanted it to look extra terrible so Anna’s would look extra amazing.

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“I guess we could… paint Anna in inside the tree or something?”

In full Mom mode now Mark’s mom states the portrait isn’t quite perfect because Anna isn’t in it. Like the woman would presumptuously paint herself into the scene of her bosses family like some crazed stalker who lives in her sister’s basement and paints pictures of Santa Claus all year round. I mean.. despite all those flaws she is still being invited to stay for dinner and to stick around for a few more Christmas’ yet.

Mark quickly takes the chance while his mother is in the other room busy with dinner to kiss the woman because isn’t she just the greatest Christmas gift he ever received. Going to be a bit difficult buying him something next year at this rate.

But that’s a wrap people! I didn’t even mind this film. Other than the very expected paddy that Anna threw when Mark butchered her painting of Santa there wasn’t any outlandish character flaws or whinging or completely illogical choices. I liked it!

Seriously, maybe actually take the time to give this one a go here. Unfortunately, I can only find that link to a tiny ass screen and some real weird voice overs on everyone. Mark doesn’t usually sound like Andre the Giant, I swear….

 

Prediction board – 8/15

  • Prediction #1 – At least someone is gonna find their dream career this Christmas – CORRECT
  • Prediction #2 – Julia is going to regret not hosting Anna’s work when she is famous and doesn’t want to know – Unless there is a sequel we will never know… INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #3 – by the Christmas party Anna’s work will be up in the restaurant and the Mayor will fall in love with her work, boosting her popularity and qualifications – I mean… her work was actually up in the restaurant anyway but it was not the Christmas paintings, as predicted. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #4 – Anna will be doing all of Mark’s Christmas shopping for him because he is saving a campaign for NEXT CHRISTMAS – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #5 – Mark will pick up Anna’s business card so he can be pleasantly surprised and shocked to see her yet again – Easy one. CORRECT!
  • Prediction #6 – is Mark REALLY going to ask Anna to deal with his company present, too!? – Yes… Yes he is. CORRECT!
  • Prediction #7 – Anna is going to get very sentimental with Mark’s gifts this year – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #8 – Mark’s mom will hear he had a date for the office Christmas party and get very excited – Apparently no one gossips anymore. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #9 – at some point in Anna’s future, maybe outside of this film, the rent will not be on time – I’m giving myself this one. Ya know why? Because she’s still in that basement! CORRECT!
  • Prediction #10 – Anna will be helping with the damn pitch, as well – In a round-about way…. yes, she did, but it wasn’t intentional so INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #11 – Mark is going to need Anna on 21st December and the kids are just going to have to come along with her – So very, very CORRECT!
  • Prediction #12 – Mark will be tempted to stick with work this Christmas rather than his family but will turn up at the last minute – The temptation really wasn’t that strong after he smashed that pitch with Santa on a laptop. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #13 – Anna is going to paint them a much better fucking portrait – Thank fucking god this was CORRECT!
  • Prediction #14 – Not wanting to take away this holiday from all his staff Mark takes the blow and may have to work through his Christmas – I think he would of, ya know… but he didn’t. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #15 – Mark’s Mom is hunting Anna down and dragging her out that basement with her portrait – Anna pulled herself out of that basement. INCORRECT!

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: Not in the city, puh-lease
  • Piano: I am very sure they have all been burnt for kindling at this point
  • Carolling: Nada
  • Christmas Montage: We were even treated to a good ol’ 90’s fashion montage today!
  • Fire Hazards: Other than the fact the woman painted in a basement… not that bad
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: Everyone was alive god damn it! EVERYONE!
  • Snowing on cue: The weather was not playing ball this time

 

I am… mildly happy with that score! This wasn’t even toooooo bad of a film – not compared to some of the train wrecks we have already witnessed, anyway. I’d be happy to see more well-portioned food knocking around the place though and we never did find out what happened to that lasagne in the oven…

Before I shed a tear of possibly wasted lasagne let’s get out of here! Until tomorrow!

Christmas Advent #8 – The Mistletoe Inn

Today we have a special guest! MMMMMMOM! Unfortunately she watched a Christmas film before she rocked up to my house yesterday and all through this film she kept telling me how great the film she watched yesterday was instead, even if there were Christians in it. She spent this film sitting in the corner, knitting and, for the most part, just shouting about how much she hated Garth.

 

Our film starts with the comfortable standard: festive streets, festive people doing shopping, everyone happy, jingling bells and one very determined looking woman. I am going to make it a goal of mine to find a film where the guy is the main character. That went so well for () on Day 1. He ended up joining a cult.

Our very determined looking woman is on the phone to her father asking if they can change that dinner arrangement to a dessert arrangement instead because she is late for book reading with Garth. Garth certainly wasn’t expecting her to show up to this author’s reading at the local bookshop. Not after he’d left her that letter in an envelope, anyway… Luckily our woman, Kim, has brought it with her so she can read it in public! Kim is quite excited to read the new chapter pages Garth had left her in an envelope so pulls them out and gets right to it. She’s even impressed with his use of adjectives… the one’s he has used to break up with her via note.

I can’t tell, when Kim proclaims she cannot believe what he has done, whether the other people at the reading turn around because she is interrupting the reading and being too loud or because they definitely want to hear more about this breakup. I would have fallen firmly into the latter group, especially when the woman looks as naturally neurotic as she does.

Garth, apparently, is getting very serious with his writing these days and is starting to contact publishers and agents to get his work out there. I hope he’s prepared to suffer months if not years of rejection letters and all of that hard work definitely not paying off…. He seems very optimistic about himself. He mentions something about his blog ‘A Dash of Romance’ which sounds incredibly boring and like that doesn’t exactly mean he is qualified to write an entire novel. What bothers Garth the most is that, in the two years they have been together, Kim has never once shown him any of her writing where as he is about to take the next step in his career.

This is not how he pictured a relationship with a fellow romance writer to be and he really needs to find someone much more serious in their writing if he going to continue in this life.


Garth: “I just… need to be with a serious writer, right now.”

Mom: “Oh, that was pathetic! What a weird man!”


Mom just loves Garth.

I miss much of what is said in the next scene when Kim rocks up to her Dad’s house due to the high-pitched squealing falling out of my face. The dad had a Leonberger! It is literally my dream dog but Kieran likes clean carpets too much and Leonbergers love mud and water too much and I would love the dog too much to stop it diving straight in! Oh, and they’re like the size and weight of a grown ass man. That too.

I dial it down just in time to hear Kim moaning how she is single again just in time for Christmas and me and Mom listing all the things about Christmas which are even better when you’re single. It mostly amounted to never having to share your food or wine but also saving money on presents. Kim is even icing gingerbread men with miserable little faces now. I can’t help but feel getting rid of Garth should have led to some sort of dinner party.


Dad: “I never liked Garth, anyway. What was his lame excuse?”

Mom: “He gets it.”


Kim vows to finish off her romance novel and show it off to anyone with eyes just to spite Garth, which I don’t think is the best motivation to complete a book but enough to get the job done. Fuck Garth. Who even is Garth, anyway? Dad does some standard Dadding and promises things will be better in the morning, however I beg to differ if Kim is going to stay up all night reading Christmas-themed romance novels to remind her of the relationship she no longer has and looking at a picture of her presumably deceased mother to remind her of the parent she no longer has. Why do people keep these family photos next to the bed where you have to be reminded constantly at your most vulnerable?!

The author of her festive read is H. G or J. Cowell (I’m sure the book said J but she said G so….) and Kim wonders what he is doing at that very moment. Probably enjoying life as a successful novelist who will never have the misfortune of dating Garth.

Kim appears to work at some sort of car dealership as the woman you have to go and see if you have sold a car so she can put another little X next to your name and see how you’re doing in this competition to… win a trip to Aruba?! What friggin’ car dealership is sending employees to Aruba if they sell the most cars? What if only one car is sold? They still technically sold the most. I have many questions about this set up but Kim has decided she will treat herself this Christmas with a ticket to a romance writing workshop in Vermont. Held only 5 days before Christmas it’s the perfect time to remove yourself from your family and responsibilities and concentrate on your pipe dream instead.

Either way the Dad seems cool with the idea of the workshop and is overjoyed Kim might actually be considering showing her damn work to someone. They are out picking a Christmas tree which just sparks Mom off again about how great that other film was that she watched and how they didn’t believe in killing the trees so decorated the ones outside…


Dad – “No, this one is too short.”

Mom: “He’s fussy like me.”

Dad – “That one is more like a Christmas shrub.”

Mom – “Yep! He ain’t wrong…. but those ones for 20 quid at Asda…”

Me – “Mother! I am not going to go and buy a tree and then dig a hole in the garden and plant it at 2pm in the afternoon in late November so you can start a festive tradition in my garden! No!”


Predictions are not a thing when you have Mom hanging around, shouting about how much she hates Garth and how easy it would be to dig a small hole in the garden… she does occasionally gift us with wisdom though. Especially when Kim’s Dad asks if she will really be home in time for Christmas, what with these Christmas blizzards which often whip up and leave people stranded with potential future spouses.

Mom Prediction #1 – “Of course she will. With a new man in tow!”

Gotta give it to her, she’s good with her predictions!

Kim has just rocked up at the writer’s retreat when some guy barrels past, running through her luggage and popping open a case. He doesn’t seem phased in the slightest that this woman has bought Christmas decorations with her. I mean… legit Christmas decorations. Including an entire string of lights. This guy, helping to pick up what looks like the Grinch’s loot after he stole Christmas, is Zeke and is also here to attend the workshop. He is taking part despite apparently already having a publisher and getting a book signed…. probably just a leaflet or something. He also works on a typewriter which gets all of the thumbs up from me. Man, I would love a typewriter.

My Nan used to have one that even had a predictably creepy key that would sometimes print and sometimes not. God only knows where she has squirrelled that away.


Zeke: “Do people still use these as alarm clocks?”

Kim: “It’s a white noise machine! It keeps me calm while I’m writing.”

Zeke: “I’ve only just met you but I’m already having a hard time picturing you calm.”

Me: “Call the burns unit.”

Mom: “Why?”

Me: “It’s a sick bur…. nevermind.”


Some woman called Samantha rocks up and starts telling Kim about the schedule and that the author H. G. Cowell will be speaking at some point to everyone there. Unfortunately Mom distracted me real bad by looking around my living room and deciding how we will decorate it this year. I watched a lot of my metaphorical money being shot out of a money gun being controlled by Mom.


Me: “Wait! What is she wearing!?”

Mom: “Oh God…”

Kim: “What happened? I thought we were meant to come dressed as our favourite literary character?”

Samantha: “Oh, no, they sent an email around cancelling that.”

Me: “Who the absolute fuck is her favourite character?”


At a cocktail party that evening Kim has graced us with her presence, kitted out in some weird white, Victorian looking hideous lace dress and a necklace with… Christmas presents on it. She is…. something. It’s fine though because Samantha is more than happy to go and get them some festive, literary themed cocktails. Me and Mom decide we would both like to attend a writing workshop and luckily the promise of a cocktail gets Kim through a short conversation with Zeke where he is quite bemused by her outfit.

Mom is so distracting I am actually shocked to see Garth at this little retreat and Mom happily reminds us that he is a massive prick. He keeps banging on about the famous author reading his work because there is actually a competition and the best people will have manuscripts read by the author before he picks one. Kim is kinda pissed off about how far Garth has managed to crawl up into this author’s colon because she was the first one who had invited him into the rectal passage in the first place. Zeke comes back to announce he fully understands Kim outfit (I’m glad someone does) and she has come dressed as The Ghost of Christmas Present! Mother now adores Zeke not only for this revelation but also the fact Garth hasn’t written his little name tag out very well and Zeke thinks his name is Garn. Look….  if that’s all it takes to win my mother’s love she should stick around and watch me struggle with American’s pronunciations during the week.

Some woman called Luann rocks up who looks to be an old hand at the writer’s workshop scene but is here purely to see the elusive H. G. Cowell who apparently no one has ever seen! Everybody is obsessed with this author because he just truly understands women and I’m starting to feel many of these women don’t actually care about writing… Either way Zeke thinks he can do better. When questioned by Luann it appears that Zeke is published but not published and his editor may be ripping his work to pieces but it will be out soon regardless. I’m unsure…. I adore writing but so far all these people are just fucking awful. Except for whichever person is standing behind that bar and making those cocktails.

Garth manages to chase Kim down and takes his glasses off to show us all his weird little shrew eyes. He’s also apparently sexist but Kim has announced this mother fucking competition is ON and she is taking Garth down. I presume that is why Kim is up so early in the morning to go jogging, helping people who have dropped presents and looking severely jolly before she slips majestically on some ice right in front of Zeke, inside a coffee shop, who comes out to help.

It turns out Kim would rather go back to the hotel and die of embarrassment alone rather than over coffee with the man so just concentrates on getting ready for their first day at the workshop instead, led diligently by Samantha who knows all and lead her off to a giant Christmas tree in the middle of the dining room. Bit inconvenient.


Samantha: “See this partridge in a pear tree thing?”

Kim: “I thought that was a quail.”

Samantha: “Well a partridge is just a quail with a better publicist.”

Me: “Let that be a lesson to us all….”


People have to pick a random, well publicised quail ornament off the tree and open the little piece of paper it’s holding. This tells them which group they will belong in for the rest of the workshop where they are paired up with a writing partner and have to complete daily assignments and attend various seminars. Me and Mom both quickly decide we do not want to attend a writing workshop anymore. It was of no surprise to anybody, except Mom, that Garth is also in Kim’s group. He teams up with the monster Luann without fuss but unfortunately Group C has odd numbers and Kim is left partnerless. Well, that sure wasn’t going to sit right with a Christmas film and Zeke pops up because his own group was too full and he was moved over here, just in time to be paired up with Kim.

Fortunately the woman in charge of their group already knows that Garth is a criticising prick as soon as look at him and let’s the entire group know that harsh and unproductive criticism will not be tolerated. While everyone else is getting to work Zeke and Kim take part in a strange game of pass the notebooks until they finally just fall on the floor.

As it turned out, earlier in the film Kim actually said whale noise, not white noise. I was mighty confused to hear the warbling whale song coming out of that tiny speaker… until it was cut off by the literal hammering of Zeke on his typewriter across the corridor.


Kim: “I’m trying to write.”

Zeke: “Yeeeeah, me too.”

Kim: “Oh, really? Because it sounds like you’re trying to send morse code down the hallway.”

Me: “He is. He is desperately asking for help to get away from you.”


Zeke is merely distracted by Kim’s fully decorated hotel room over her shoulder and that explains all the Christmas decorations she had stowed away in her luggage. He also notes the fact they are arguing below a sprig of mistletoe so I am not surprised to see him immediately run off to Kim’s room to remove himself from that potential hideous situation. He has also ran off to check out what she’s been writing: two people meet in a line to meet Santa. Kim’s imaginative title is…. Love In Line To Meet Santa. Christ on a bike. Kim thinks this is a fucking wonderful title and is pissed that Zeke should even suggest it was too obvious and not catchy enough.

At dinner with Samantha her friend thinks she has spotted the elusive author because the man is wearing tweed just like many of the men from his stories! Thank God this retreat wasn’t based out in the English countryside… I can’t help thinking if he was really that elusive he wouldn’t be casually sitting at dinner and talking to people. Kim pulls out some of Zeke’s pages for an assignment they have had to share with each other and is alarmed to find he has written that time she tripped on ice into his assignment. For some reason she is mighty pissed about this, despite the fact no one else knows, and thinks she has the rights to that scene which is technically public domain. When she chases Zeke down to scream all of this at him he is more delighted to have her assignment and discover she took his advice and changed the title. All this scene does is cement the fact this woman is a fucking annoyance into our brains and that someone really needs to save Zeke before he gets into this too far.

Their group mentor pops out to let Kim know that she actually won this first round of assignments, despite the fact she used the ol’ ‘oh no, he has children but later they just turn out to be nieces and nephews and we could have been together this entire time’ and everyone thinks this is the greatest plot twist they have ever read. Clearly none of them have ever sat around and watched Christmas24 all winter.

Garth turns up to painfully congratulate his ex-girlfriend but even when asking when she came up with this completely original story he quickly tires to hear some childhood memory she had of standing in line with her parents to meet Santa. Wanting to gossip some more with her friend Samantha comes and shoos shrew-eyed Garth away before he can waste any more of the oxygen in the foyer.

Mom’s Prediction #2 – Samantha is actually H. G. Cowell

I love this woman. I think she just loves anyone who hates Garth. She also believes that the author’s new book will be about Zeke and Kim’s romance that they discover at a romance writers convention

We are subjected to more scenes where Kim is completely resistant to feedback so I can’t help feel writing is really not the path for her… Zeke, however, has no qualms with opening up about anything and that includes the dry patch he is currently experiencing ahead of his latest book contract. Oh lord, now Mom thinks the author might be him, too. The author might be everyone, now. Except Garth.

The next morning Zeke rocks up at breakfast to suggest Kim does not go to their planned seminar ‘How Not To Get An Agent’. According to Zeke, the woman who presents that seminar is a dream crusher. It’s certainly not the plain honesty that it’s as difficult as fuck to get published or get an agent. No. It’s crushing dreams. In all fairness, knowing Kim’s disposition, it’s probably best she does avoid the seminar before she goes out and tries to break her neck on another patch of ice.

Zeke says he can cover all this shit better than that woman in the seminar and instead they go out and look at some snowmen Zeke built for this very occasion. He has even put  accessories on them from the lost and found and at this point alarm bells would be ringing in my mind because this man had been planning out the part where he gets me alone in the woods with only two snowmen has a witness to my murder. Sorry, snow-ma’ams. One snow-ma’am is the dream crusher from the seminar and the other is just the type of person Kim needs around her constantly to tell her everything will be OK.

So as it did turn out Zeke is a fucking maniac who drinks far too much coffee but he should definitely be writing children’s books because his ad lib is adorable. By the time they get back to the workshop, completely unmurdered, Samantha is just walking across the lobby after escaping the seminar which should be renamed ‘How To Never Feel Inspired Again’. Garth is the only person who is taking notes on how to crush his own dreams. Or at least Kim’s.

For their next assignment – something to do with a romantic dinner scene – Samantha thinks it would be a great idea to actually go for a romantic dinner and proposes they all go and do just that. For research, purely. Well… until she sees the guy in tweed wander past and thinks she would have a better time stalking him around the resort instead but demands that Kim and Zeke still go for a dinner that they never planned.


Zeke: “You look great.”

Me: “She looks exactly how she has looked this entire time but just wearing a dress.”


So off the pair go to dinner with Garth watching them with his tiny shrew eyes. I feel they should have been talking about their writing the entire dinner and not just after the food had gone. They think it’s perfectly acceptable to work over the dessert course which is just sacrilege. Desserts are meant for shovelling, not discussing business over. Kim zig-zags around the questions about herself like someone avoiding sniper fire because she still has issues with sharing anything so it’s completely out of character when she opens up to Zeke about her book : a woman finds herself single before Christmas after a string of failed relationships when she meets a guy who agrees to pretend to be together so they can get through the holidays. Wow.

Her deceased mother inspired her because she used to write offbeat short stories for some local newsletter but she died at Christmas a few years ago. Just tragic. Her mom read every word Kim ever wrote but since she died… nah thanks. Zeke on the other hand thinks all literature is romance because the human heart is a canvas. Just tragic. He used to have a wife and when things were good so was his writing and pay cheques but when the divorce came all he got in the settlement was writer’s block. Now he just spends his time going to conferences in the hope something will inspire him.

Honestly this entire film is just Mom switching between either Samantha or Zeke being the actual author based on every tiny thing they say.

Kim thinks a little literary exercise will help and wants to know what the most romantic detail of the entire restaurant is. I would say whatever pudding the person on the next table is eating but he goes with how shiny a spoon is because apparently it reflects just a hint of candlelight in her eyes. Those alarm bells are ringing again… Having failed to run for her life back at the restaurant the two are strolling past some carollers in a bandstand when Zeke asks what the fuck the deal with Garth is, anyway. Other than the fact he is a peacock at parties and likes to put everyone else down that’s just his usual temperament, unfortunately.

Zeke is correct in the fact if Kim wants to grow it means taking criticism sometimes but I can’t help feel he is wrong when he claims this also means standing still while people pelt snowballs at her. Which he does. The woman is wearing a very bad choice of heels and her feet are gonna straight up drop off if she spends any more time outside but instead she stands there while Zeke throws a snowball at her for every mistake she made in her last assignment, like using too many adjectives, until they fall over together in the snowbank and catch pneumonia.


Zeke strokes hair back behind Kim’s ear

Mom: “Aaaaawwww.”

Me: “I’d be like ‘get your glove out of my ear’.”


It’s a good job one of them remembers the way back to the hotel because Zeke will be reading her manuscript tonight whether she likes it or not. For a moment I thought she was going to pull the entire thing out her bag but it was just on a USB after all.

The next morning he hasn’t turned up at the group exercise and I fear that he may have been outside constructing the largest snowball on world record to catapult at Kim for all of the hideous mistakes she made in her manuscript. Unfortunately Zeke rocks up late but just in time to hear Garth being awarded this round. To top things off Garth has also written a blog post about Kim on his blog, which is nice of him, and Kim is told she needs to wait for feedback from Zeke because waiting is also part of the entire torturous journey of being published.

Kim doesn’t actually believe in herself but just really wants people to love her and tell her work is amazing which keeps getting increasingly more annoying throughout the film. Despite the fact everyone keeps saying how great her assignments are she claims she just cant take any more rejection. This woman is needy.

For once Kim actually bothers to go to a seminar where a woman is talking about H. G. Cowell’s way of writing. We are forced to believe that this woman never goes anywhere without a tree before she lights it up and puts decorations on it too. The ornaments are the characters and the concepts and the lights are points in our lives. The angel on top is our clear point of view from above that lets us look at the lives of others and the gifts underneath the tree are what people take away from what we have given. Mom just keeps really agreeing with this like she wants to go to a workshop and is shit hot at writing.

In order to give Kim her feedback, Zeke is taking her out to the Christmas market to eat crepes. I have a bad feeling about this feedback… He loves everything but he just doesn’t think its quite there yet; the characters and details don’t feel personal enough just yet and she is basically just missing descriptions. The quite literal bread and butter to that plot filling. It should not have been surprising to find out Kim doesn’t know any of these details about her own locations or characters or that she really isn’t good at taking criticism and just walks off rather than face facts.

Thankfully, Kim knows Samantha and Samantha knows wine so she is more than equipped to talk some sense into this woman who really just needs throwing under the first bus Samantha can find. Kim is more concerned that the manuscript is a piece of her soul and Zeke didn’t like that piece of her soul despite the fact he clearly said he did. Samantha has a lot of patience and a very full glass of wine, the tools required to deal with Kim, and is sure Zeke is a good guy because she has spoken to him for more then 5 minutes.

The next day all of the contestants meet with a professional panel of agents to review their work and let them know whether they should just give up and go work in retail. Zeke is hanging around the coffee machine just to wish Kim good look before her meeting and I already dread what is about to happen. She is just getting all doe-eyed over the compliments she is receiving when she is told her characters aren’t quite detailed enough and need to stop being so perfect – give them a drug or drink habit or something. The tears are basically already there by the time she is told she has a long way to go and despite the man telling her not to be discouraged (and she’s the only person he has said this to all day) she just really can’t function without constant reassurance and immediately starts crying at Zeke because they didn’t tell her they they loved her unconditionally.

To shut her cry hole Zeke takes her out for a midnight horse and carriage ride. Brave. We know how midnight carriage rides go. Looking at you here, Nick! This time we are taking a ride to celebrate a rejection (that she didn’t even get) which Zeke thinks should be savoured like a fine wine. As long as it’s wine I’ll savour anything! Offering up their rejection stories Zeke’s was actually literary but Kim’s was just some kid called Timmy saying he didn’t want to date her crazy ass in the schoolyard.

It is casually mentioned that the next day all of the writers have the day off, so Zeke is gonna take Kim off somewhere for a change of scenery and to give everyone else a break. This happens to be New York City, somewhere Kim decided to set her story without ever going and knowing no details of. We are able to get to New York on such short notice because Zeke has more frequent flier miles than he knows what to do with AND AIN’T THAT SUSPICIOUS!? According to Mother… yes. Very. They don’t even get there until that night and stay at the hotel Kim has included in her book courtesy of this guy’s massive fortune.

At least one of their rooms has a fantastic view which sparks Mom off on trying to plan a Christmas in New York despite me trying to tell her it will be expensive but someone at her work is going Thursday for a week and flying first class. Maybe she’s a bloody author too…

Samantha calls just then to inform Kim she is having dinner with Mr Tweed himself and oh, where the hell is Kim anyway? I don’t presume she actually cares where her friend is but she did miss Samantha winning this next leg of the competition! Zeke and Kim go off to explore New York and work on both her book and not getting mugged. Kim realises her book really was lacking detail but now she’s got way too much and won’t stop prattling on about the smells and sights of New York – I can only imagine.

They stop to get some roasted chestnuts, which are just weird little grim under-cooked potatoes, in my opinion, and by this time Kim has gotten used to the thundering of Zeke’s typewriter through the walls. I can’t help feel, seeing as this hotel is so expensive, they shouldn’t be able to shout through the walls to each other and ask how their books are going…

The next morning, already kitted out in the dressing gowns they will probably attempt to steal, Samantha texts Kim to let her know a huge storm is coming in, flights are getting cancelled and the author’s talk has been moved from that evening to 2pm that afternoon. Kim completely steamrolls whatever Zeke had just been about to tell her, presumably the big reveal that Kim will no doubt feel some way about.

Thankfully Samantha didn’t decide to leave the workshop to run away to New York and is on hand to submit Kim’s work on her behalf… right in front of Garth. Dumb move. Garth swoops in when the admin woman is distracted and drops Kim’s manuscript into the bin. Mom says he is a prick but by now I think that’s exactly where Kim deserves and needs to be. When she finally rocks up to the seminar she realises her name is not on board of people who won competitions but is distracted by Mr Tweed who is H. G. Cowell’s editor or…. something. And, when introducing this wonder writer, who should stroll in buuuuuuuuuuuuut ZEKE!


Kim: “……..”

Mom: “I did try to tell you.”

Me: “Yes. All movie. She tried to tell you.”


Zeke makes a lovely speech about how he used to think up stories during his work commute every day until he just happened to have all these books going, was a bestseller, wanted to remain completely anonymous and didn’t notice his second love was taking him away from his first love until the divorce punched him right in the throat. Kim is just sitting there, continuing to be an ugly crier, as she hears about how love left him with nothing but writer’s block but love has returned and he’s writing again!

Over this relationship already, Samantha just wants to know if the rumours about a new book are true but it’s actually just an 800 page anthology from his agent. I mean, against all odds when you think about who Kim actually is, I feel a book will materialise very soon. Kim may be alarmed to find she could be an inspiration to the man but I hate to remind her that he’s still not going to read her manuscript via this workshop as outlined by his agent, is he?

Kim is packing up her shit and trying to get the fuck outta dodge before Zeke rocks up and tries to explain he wanted to be liked for himself rather than a famous author, which is only fair, but this woman is dumb as shit and is actually annoyed by this revelation. And even more, she is annoyed at being an inspiration to one of her favourite authors.


Kim: “That was the worst rejection of all.”

Me: “She’s on crack.”

Mom: “Yeah. She’s like…..”

Me: “GARTH!”

Mom: “What a prick.”


Back in whatever circle of hell she presides over, Kim is trotting down the street with her Dad and really bigging herself up, claiming next year she’s gonna be speaking at a conference, not just attending and she was so made to be a writer…. Of all the things that woman may be made for it is not being a writer. Samantha calls in order to let her know she won the entire competition which really just amounts to beating Garth. In any case she will be meeting with Zeke tomorrow in case…. you know… Kim wants to tell him anything that she might not have been able to say when she was busy overreacting? Kim, still being dumb as shit, thinks nothing of it when Samantha asks her for the amended last pages of her friend’s manuscript to read through so she can conveniently, probably, hand these over to Zeke and have him arrive back in time to save the day. Jus’ sayin’.

When Kim gets home Garth is creeping around the porch so he can tell her he was totally wrong and her writing was wonderful after all. At least she is not dumb enough to take Garth back, there are apparently even limits to her stupidity. As it turns out, Garth just wants her to put a good word in for him with Cowell and you would not believe how happy Mom is that Garth will be lonely this Christmas.

Her Dad is just serving Christmas dinner when the bell rings and he doesn’t seem so surprised by a mystery visitor so sends his daughter off to open the door. It is only Zeke and a whole bunch of flowers but I imagine the dad always sends Kim to the door in the hopes someone will kidnap her and take her off his hands. To be fair, I just wanna see some more of the Leonberger who is a beautiful bambino!

This woman needs to get over whatever it is she’s not over already and just settle for a good life getting writing tips from a legit writer, some good criticism AND being able to read all of his drafts first. That would be my damn dream. Thankfully she is also not dumb enough to turn him down again, especially on Christmas day when the man just really needs a turkey dinner. They reintroduce themselves, because this is always an important part of starting over with someone that I couldn’t comment on because I have never started over with someone once I have decided they’re a prick, and he even has a present for her from a publisher! Apparently the new ending was so great that they looked over the absence of detail, warmth or realism and are thinking about publishing her work and Zeke has to keep reassuring her that they loved it.


Me: “They really loved it.”

Mom: “Your Dad’s turkey is getting cold! Do you know how long and hard it is to make a Christmas dinner and you’re out there!?!?!?! GO ON IN!”


Mother is truly outraged they are still standing out in this blizzard and leaving turkey to go cold but please note my mom thinks food is already freezing as she transfers it from the pan to the plate and actually calls you down for dinner before she even plates up…. just so ya know.

I actually couldn’t find a link for this one! I am not surprised to find that I couldn’t care less. The more people who give Kim attention is probably for the better.

 

Mom’s prediction board – 1/2

  • Mom Prediction #1 – Kim will be home in time for Christmas with a new man – I mean… he didn’t actually come back with her but I’m gonna give it to her
  • Mom’s Prediction #2 – Samantha is actually H. G. Cowell – I can’t give her this one unfortunately

 

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: CHECK!
  • Piano: These are totally out of Vogue
  • Carolling: Only in the background, as it should be
  • Christmas Montage: I…. The whole thing passed by in a sort of montage for me
  • Fire Hazards: Unfortunately safe pathways had mostly been cleared for all of the writer’s attending the workshops
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: CHECK!
  • Snowing on cue: Just when it felt like, really…

 

This was definitely not my favourite film. At all. Kim…. just Kim.

But Mom scored 50% on her predictions which ain’t that bad! Especially when she kept changing her damn mind about who was H. G. Cowell out of the million people attending this workshop.

Let’s hope for prettier criers tomorrow!