I’m going into this film hoping it is not a bizarre, festive spin-off of Sex in the City which I never watched and don’t plan on starting now.
First we see a woman, Wendy, taking her daughter, Grace, to meet the school bus. We have a horrifying encounter with the school bus driver, Bob Henderson, who is creepy as all hell and definitely wants to follow Wendy home, kill her and wear her skin for Christmas. Wendy throws her kid on to the bus with this homicidal maniac and wonders off down the main street, bidding everyone a good morning and generally being cheerfully irritating. I presume everyone just nods and waves because she’s clinically insane and they don’t want to enrage her. When she walks into her own shop there is another woman there and everyone is just as excitable as each other.
Wendy is suddenly no longer cheerful when she gets an eviction notice, but the crazy woman with her just wants to go out and get some butter for her shortbread. At the ice rink, later that day, Grace is smashing it and skating around a questionably placed Christmas tree in the middle of the rink. Crazy finally confronts Wendy about the notice and it turns out Crazy is actually her mom… figures. Apparently Wendy also put her life on hold since Grace’s dad left her, pregnant and alone, 6 years ago.
Wendy: “I can’t just leave, Grace is in school.”
Crazy: “She’s in kindergarten, what’s she gonna miss?”
Me: “Oh, I don’t know, a basic education?”
Wendy is gonna leave Crazy to stay on the sinking ship of her dead husband’s store and just like that she’s uprooting and relocating because debt collectors don’t follow you, apparently.
Wendy: “Say goodnight, Gracie.”
Grace: “Goodnight Gracie.”
Kieran: “I don’t like that child.”
Crazy is in the kitchen working out the failing accounts and suggests going to see someone called Angie who has a part in some show. Anyway, god knows who Angie is but Wendy is going to stay there, make some money and she’s going to make it back in time to save the store. That’s the plan anyway.
The city is not like their little town and instead of Santa’s and people putting up decorations there are just homeless people on benches and a homeless drunk Santa who is asking for beer. At Angie’s apartment, Wendy appears to not know how to use a buzzer and keeps irritating the residents, when Angie shows up to the rescue and lets them up.
Grace: “Where’s your Christmas tree?”
Angie: “Oh, I don’t have one. I’m trying to preserve the environment.”
Me: “Could….. could get a tiny live one in a pot….. just turn your heating off. That also helps preserve the environment.”
Angie is going to take Wendy over to the department store she works at because they’re always after people at Christmas. Fuck knows where Grace is gonna go.
Angie, leaving – “You guys settle in and I’ll see you later! I’m so happy you’re here, love you!”
Me: “So happy you’re running out of the apartment….”
On the way to the store Angie mentions the boss, who comes around every now and again to make the rounds and check it’s all cool. Prediction #1 – he’ll be nice and young and she’ll fall in love with him. Angie is gonna take them to HR, which just sounds like a barrel of laughs, and around the store Grace is singing along with the carol singers dotted around the place. I’d have chucked her down the escalator.
Outside a sinister-looking woman is on her way through the store and walks straight through the carollers with her shifty looking body guard. That is Teanna – the shop hired her to fix things because she’s a marketing genius. Angie works in the toy department with the Santa grotto and, across the department, Wendy catches sight of some guy performing magic tricks for kids. Whether he works there or not remains to be seen.
Man: “Is there something I can help you with?”
Wendy: “Oh, we’re just looking for my friend, Angie. She’s taking us to HR to get a temporary job.”
Man: “Oh good, we can always use extra hands at Christmas.”
Wendy: “You work here?”
Tom: “You could say that. I’m Tom.”
Wendy: “I’m Wendy.”
Grace: “And I’m Grace.”
Kieran: “Fuck off, Grace!”
Tom has just offered Wendy a job to start RIGHT NOW and put Grace in the day care when Teanna shows up and demands that her bodyguard measures Grace. There is no reason for this and absolutely nothing comes of it. As Teanna is shouting more orders her bodyguard fights with a toy cheetah….. this is all just wonderful.
You get two breaks, a lunch hour and you even get a Christmas bonus because, in Wendy’s words, this place is legit. Apparently Angie could afford to send her mom on a spa trip because of the bonus last year. I think I need to start working in American department stores… Oh jesus, we now switch to Angie welcoming kids to toy land by singing a made up song to them.
Teanna turns up and thinks this noise should cease immediately. Some kid gets up out of the audience and leads Wendy off to her untimely demise up a ladder. When she is trying to get some teddy bear for this kid off the top shelf she obviously falls off and almost into Tom’s waiting arms.
Teanna thinks more appropriate music for the toy department would be a man, with no shirt on, prancing around in tight red trousers and a Santa hat. She makes sure this is playing on all of the TVs while her bodyguard dances along because, hey, he has dreams too. Meanwhile, Wendy is accosted by the store Santa who is shouting with excitement at her about being in Moscow and it was cold and oh christ get away from me, man!
Tom is not impressed with Teanna and his… older relative reveals that the board insisted they hire her, it wasn’t his idea. She literally announces herself into her office by saying ‘have no fear, Teanna’s here’. These two men don’t look particularly convinced, especially when she wants to scrap the bonuses. They refuse and she aims for the day care instead. That is also staying but the funding is being cut by half. Apparently some investor is gonna get the store back into the black. I think they could do that just by getting rid of Teanna’s temporary office and all of its furnishings. When she requests that her bodyguard dials someone for her I’m pleasantly surprised he knows how to operate a phone. After some bad news on the phone, fuck knows what about, the bodyguard sprays Teanna with perfume then wafts it around a bit to calm her down.
Prediction #2 – the boydguard will be saved with Christmas spirit and turn on Teanna. Grace is moaning there is nothing Christmassy to do in the city, despite the fact she spent all day in the day care making Christmas trees and other festive shit. Angie comments how much Wendy likes Tom after only one meeting and so obviously he turns up at the store again the next day. Tom is meant to have business with Teanna, who I’m sure is now trying to marry Tom herself in order to inherit the store, but Tom is more interested in going skating with Wendy instead.
Angie is talking about Wendy’s responsibility with the cash deposit box in great detail. Prediction #3 – Teanna will set Wendy up to make it look like she fucked it with the cash deposit box and stole from the store.
Wendy: “I’m not here to find a date, I’m here to save my father’s store.”
Angie: “Why can’t you do both?”
Me: “You’re a woman. Multitask.”
Meanwhile, Teanna is googling Wendy and believes the woman may have an agenda, just like she does. Prediction #4 – Teanna will spin the fact Wendy’s store is going under as her agenda and that she needs money to keep it afloat.
Tom is prattling on about how great Christmas used to be with his uncle Harry to Wendy and she sends Grace off to the playground lest her child die of boredom. His mom was never around and his dad died…. so Harry is his uncle but he’s also talking about him like he’s dead which is another habit people get into in Christmas films. Despite the fact that they agreed to go skating that has apparently been forgotten about at the end of Tom’s long ass ramble. Grace comments off-hand that the Santa at the store already knew about Wendy’s candy store and its troubles and my Prediction #5 – store Santa is the real Santa.
Kieran: “That kid’s voice really…. really irritates me.”
See where we’re at with this film already? A call with her mom and Wendy doesn’t seem to notice that any of this phone call is extremely suspicious. We see Crazy with a guy who looks like a banker and she tells Wendy not to worry about the store. The whole thing looks a lot like the sort of phone negotiations which happen during a hostage situation and after the phone has been tapped.
Bruno is falling prey to Christmas spirit already when it comes to being distracted by Grace and Teanna has to scream at him some more to get him to follow her around like a puppy. She also demands that Tom meet her in her office that evening and she’s running through that place like a whirlwind… or diarrhoea, take your pick. Another run in with Santa leaves him knowing Wendy’s secret wishes – I couldn’t tell you what they were, Kieran keeps interrupting and talking to me at the worst times – and Wendy is left doing that nervous laugh people do when they have no idea what someone was talking about just now. She is talking to Grace in day care about her own Christmas wish list when Bruno, the bodyguard as it turns out, walks in, tells the day care woman she is fired after her shift, then leaves with a small Christmas decoration. Because life.
In the office Teanna rocks up with a whole bottle of champagne in an attempt to get Tom smashed off his face and propose to her. Apparently the investor is not interested in bailing out the shop unless he marries her and Tom understandably starts bleating for Harry because shes touching his knee and he’s freaking the fuck out.
Kieran: “Is she alright?”
Me: “Not at all.”
At the end of her shift, Wendy is cleaning up everyone’s shit when she finds Tom on the main floor playing Christmas songs on the piano. Wendy comes up and almost gives the man a heart attack by shouting how amazing it sounds loudly and excitedly. Tom is concerned that if Wendy gets enough money to save her store that she’ll piss off back home, like transport doesn’t exist and he can never visit. Wendy and Tom share their Christmas traditions and they both involve a lot of piano playing, because if you’ve bothered to get a piano on set you might as well use it, and oh jesus now they’re both singing to it and have alarmingly good voices which I believe is another Christmas film requirement.
Amongst the clothes Teanna and Harry are watching because that’s not creepy at all. Teanna looks pissed off that she isn’t singing but I guess she could just join in if she needed to. It’s at a particular point where they just sing ‘Noel’ over and over again that Wendy thinks she may be a little bit in love with this man, so obviously Teanna interrupts them by saying goodnight very loudly to everyone but Wendy. Tom gives her a lift home and Wendy is just babbling on about Christmas trees and…. when Tom goes to kiss her Wendy really ruins the moment by saying…
Wendy: “Oh no, she’s right upstairs.”
Me: “….. What?”
Doesn’t mean you have to go and take him up to your apartment, love! Just kiss the man and leave! Coming up to the store, Teanna has changed the window to some hideous ass display and Wendy looks quite put out for some reason. The piano is also being replaced with women dressed as Mrs. Claus, handing out food, and a guy with his shirt off looking around the place vacantly.
In the day care the kids are now being brainwashed by being made to watch advertising for the store instead of any of the activities they were doing before. They appear to have gotten rid of the staff and replaced them with a TV.
There is a bizarre montage where kids are going nuts in the toy department and fights are breaking out and it appears to be directly linked to the advertising. I mean the shelves are empty but…. the horror. To stop the children from killing him, one staff member just lobs candy canes at them, instead. Angie complains that this new work environment is no longer conducive to helping her relax before her opening night and two scenes later her show is over and apparently Angie was great…. I don’t even know what this woman is doing, to be honest with you. When they get back to the apartment Tom is waiting for them in the hallway with a real Christmas tree he chopped down from his Uncle’s land. I hope his Uncle is aware.
Wendy: “I don’t know what to say.”
Me: “How do you not know what to say? It’s easy. ‘You crazy bastard, what are you doing hanging around outside people’s apartments with Christmas trees?'”
I find the pictures of this man with no top on plastered all over the toy department – apparently for the benefit of the moms – weird and creepy. Angie is trying to convince Wendy to give up her father’s shop in order to live life but this leads to a small argument and Wendy wonders off whilst Angie looks on in quiet, Christmas despair.
Teanna is putting the idea that someone is stealing from the toy department into Tom’s head then distracts him by mentioning ‘Operation Santa Claus’. No more info on this, just some sinister undertones. Wendy is having a breakdown and I’m not sure what she’s done with her child but its OK because Santa is there to give her a pep talk. Santa starts talking about the naughty list and how she came close to getting on it once by tying someone to a tree but, again, she doesn’t seem overly phased by this man who knows everything about her.
Back on the phone with Crazy the hostage negotiations are apparently going badly because she seems distant and teary and keeps saying she loves Wendy. God only knows what she has planned back there but shes talking to the banking guy again.
Wendy: “Angie there you are! Here, try these, put it in your mouth.”
Me: “I’ve never heard that one before…”
Angie has bad news – her play has been cancelled because attendance was low and no one wants to see a Christmas play at Christmas. They want to see them mid-June at least. I’m not sure the massive tree now taking up her living room is making her feel any better but she puts a brave face on it for the annoying kid. Wendy is going around handing out handmade cookies at the store and Grace finds Bruno so she can give him some too. He looks quite overwhelmed; I think hes thawing nicely.
Wendy bribes Tom with cookies before asking if she can have her bonus early. When he says he can’t, Tom looks like hes about to burst into tears and tells her that there will be no bonuses this year. He does offer to help personally but instead she starts becoming hysterical and babbling about day care again, carting Grace off deeper into the store.
In the day care there is some kid who is always there called William (apparently, anyway, I didn’t notice him before) and he reveals hes never been to see the Santa in the toy department. He gets put in the day care because his mom can’t shop properly if he’s with her. I understand how she feels. Wendy takes Grace and Will to see Santa, but instead there’s just a bunch of muscly guys without tops on where Santa used to be. Teanna is watching over all of this and reveals she fired Santa aka Nick.
Muscly Guy #1: “Christmas is awesome, bro.”
Muscly Guy #2: “Absolutely, I love it.”
Muscly Guy #1: “Check this one out.”
Me: “This is gonna take on a whole new meaning of Mommy kissing Santa Claus….”
Wendy is still barraging Tom about the real meaning of Christmas, despite the fact I’m sure he doesn’t want these men prancing around his store either. Predicatably, at the end of the shift after Wendy has locked up the cash, Teanna asks her to take something to the warehouse so she can make it look like Wendy has been tea leafing everything she can get her hands on. She also bodges the sales report and makes it look like Wendy has managed to steal $2500 in the few short days she has been there.
Grace: “Mommy, when do we get to go home?”
Wendy: “Soon, I promised grandma we’d be home in time for Christmas.”
Me: “And there’s only half hour left of the film so…. very soon.”
Wendy finds the cash bag in her purse where Teanna planted it and thinks she was so tired she put it there herself. That is when Teanna pops up to confront Wendy when Tom is also inconveniently there. Oh and there is the cash bag in Wendy’s bag. Tom is adamant that this is all horseshit but for some reason, the thing which brings a tear to Wendy’s eye, is the fact Tom helped sign off on firing Santa. That’s it for Wendy and she is outta there.
Wendy: “Tom is not who I thought he was! She has brainwashed him!”
Angie: “Go back to the apartment and I will bring Gracie home after my shift.”
Wendy: “Will you really?”
Me: “Wendy has just realised she could run away and start a new life right now and no one could find her….”
Back in his office, having a crisis of faith, Tom finally gets around to trying Wendy’s cookies, except he doesn’t get to this time either because he reads the note she left to him and darts off somewhere. Wendy passes by the carol singers on her way down the street who are conveniently singing traditional songs next to a very modern Christmas window with pink Christmas tress to really give us a stark comparison. Tom is on the warpath to find Teanna and finds a fax coming through in her office, on a very crumpled piece of paper which suggests they have done this scene many times, stating Teanna must replace Harry in the company for the deal to go through.
In the park Wendy is approached by stalker Santa and they are talking about wishes when it turns out her dead Dad’s last Christmas wish was that Wendy should follow her heart and be happy no matter where it takes her. Wendy realises this man is the real Santa Claus with minimal fuss. Santa is convincing Wendy that Tom is totally cool when it starts snowing and Santa disappears on the spot.
Tom has delivered the new contracts to Harry and they decide they don’t need Teanna’s money anyway. Fuck Teanna. …. I hope Bruno turns out OK though, he’s adorably stupid. Teanna is requesting he books her holidays over Christmas and leaves him behind when he forgets her gloves, making him walk back to her apartment instead. Yeah, he’s totally on the way out of this shit show.
Tom shows up at Angie’s apartment asking for help because he knows the entire stealing thing was a massive, horrible ruse, so they’re off to the store and redecorating it again, just 3 adults and a child. Guess Wendy really was serious when she thought about dragging Grace out of school. She may not know the alphabet but she sure as shit knows how to decorate a tree. During the montage Bruno shows up and asks what he can do to help and I think I’m in love with this stupid looking man – I blame the fact it’s snowing outside and has been all morning for this sentimentality.
Teanna is off across the store but can’t find Bruno or her glove although it’s been like 14 hours so she can’t have needed them that badly. Taking the lift up to the toy department she is horrified to find the entire place rammed with customers and they’ve even set up dancing panda figures around Santa’s now empty chair. When Teanna starts barking orders at Bruno he looks even more vacant than usual. When she turns the TV on again the only people enjoying it are the half-dressed employees she bought in, so Angie gets up to start singing carols instead and apparently Bruno is the only one who can operate a remote and turn the TVs off while everyone else sings songs with Angie. Even our slow, vacant Bruno.
Teanna is doing her very best not to sing along with them and now the entire store is apparently singing along too…. including people standing outside like some weird….. festive virus just took over the city. When Teanna thinks she still has the upper hand here she has some very distracting, expressive eyebrows before throwing a strop just as Santa comes back to tell her shes on the naughty list. Santa saves the day and Tom fires Teanna. Unfortunately, and bizarrely, for the woman, on her way out her heel breaks and she sort of just limps across the shop floor.
Some guy from a theatre group was present for Angie’s sing-along and gave her his card, which is lucky. Tom is still harping on about Wendy staying but she’s adamant on going back home to look after her own, much smaller, store. Apparently she’s going right now and isn’t even going to finish her shift.
Maybe we’ll find out what ol’ Crazy has been up to this whole time….. turns out the store has gone and I feel she had something to do with that. The store sold for juuuuust enough to take care of her, funnily enough. Grace is off to go skating in her new pink skates and Wendy’s main concern is that there will be hot cider waiting for her when she gets back. Priorities. She’s doing them right.
Walking past the candy shop, which is up for sale, Tom is there with her Christmas bonus like a beautiful Christmas angel bringing good news and funding. Harry brought back the bonuses and he’s also drawing up plans for new departments – one of them is a candy shop and he wants Wendy to run it because that ties everything up nicely.
Tom: “I see you have your skates, why don’t we head down to the rink?”
Wendy: “Oh no, I don’t skate, remember?”
Tom: “I’ll teach you.”
Me: “If her Dad couldn’t teach her for 20 years how are you gonna do it in one montage?”
Oh but everything is possible at Christmas! I believe it may be a requirement to be able to ice skate if you are hired for a Christmas film and just like that, during a skating montage, the film is over.
Prediction Table – 4.5/5
- Prediction #1 – the owner of the store will be young, handsome and good-looking and Wendy will fall in love with him – I don’t actually know… I think the owner was Harry but he was never there….
- Prediction #2 – Bruno will be saved by the spirit of Christmas – CORRECT
- Prediction #3 – Teanna will set Wendy up to look like she fucked with the cash deposit box – CORRECT
- Prediction #4 – Teanna will pin the fact Wendy’s store is going under as the reason why she needs money – CORRECT
- Prediction #5 – store Santa is the real Santa – CORRECT