Our company made us travel down to London to take part in some awful training session where they collected 80 people in one tiny apartment (called an anomalous space because… London) and ultimately tried to nicely shoehorn everyone into one of four personality categories.
After reading some random statements and scoring them 1-4 based on how accurate they were about ourselves we put our scores into a turn of the century excel doc and out popped our answers. You were either a Thinker, Mover, Connector or Planner.
Either way this has absolutely no bearing on our lives other than to perhaps help the company understand in how many ways people could really despise their jobs and ultimately never feel any type of joy.
CW3: “I can’t be bothered with these calls…. that’s because I’m a ‘Mover’.”
CW1: “Fucking Mover… CW4, what were you? I bet you were a Connector.”
CW4: “Actually I was a Planner, but I think the spreadsheet was broke.”
CW2: “Yeah, my team was getting really angry about their results.”
CW1: “Wow…. Hayley, what were you? I bet you were a Thinker.”
Me: “Yep, and I can’t help thinking you are all absolute pricks.”
This genuine movie category on Now TV, where I presume an employee is fascinated with Bruce Willis and, failing approval to have a whole category dedicated to him alone, used this work around, throwing a few other bald men into the mix to cover their real motives:
Now, I’m hoping unlike Now TV that this film isn’t lying to me and has given it’s real identity. Let’s jump straight in and make this short and sweet because I have food to prepare.
Already we have some intrigue as this guy is late to what looks like his own wedding. Everyone stands up and a guy even starts playing the organ when this man bursts into the church but it turns out that isn’t the groom after all. Who I presume is the maid of honour goes to break the news to the bride, who is having a small, quiet breakdown in another room.
Bride: “He’s not coming….”
Maid of Honour: “Maybe he’s stuck in traffic?”
Me: “Yeah, in a different state, maybe.”
The bride is going to resort to plan B which appears to be openly crying and looking around in wonder. I don’t think this woman ever wanted to get married at all!
At a primary school we see a young handsome guy (who I know was far more handsome in any of the other things I have seen him in when he didn’t have such stupid hair) waiting outside the principal’s office with a young relative. The guy is called in because a large concern for the school is that Holly, the young girl, is still turning in incomplete homework assignments and this man appears to have been completing homework for her, ie. colouring in a flower.
Man: “Come on, this is first grade and her mother died 3 months ago.”
Me: “Fucking hell! And they’re concerned about the fact she doesn’t want to colour in their damn flowers!”
Apparently Holly hasn’t spoken since the incident which… the school probably should have led with, rather than the whole flower thing. Due to the fact she has withdrawn into this introverted shell the school want to put her back into kindergarten for a year… because that will help with her feeling displaced in the world.
Mark, this girl’s Uncle, appears to be packing up the entire house into the back of his van and just wants to go back home to escape from the hideous school systems in Seattle. Calling in a favour with a friend he sets Holly up in a new school to start after Thanksgiving, just like that! A woman, Shelby, appears at the door who appears to be dating Mark and is not too impressed he is moving 6 hours away to Friday Harbour, an island, to be with his family. Prediction #1 – Shelby is being dropped for the jilted bride the second he lays eyes on her…. wherever she is. They convince themselves unconvincingly it will all work out and Shelby presumes it will be OK for her to drop by in a few days once they are settled.
Speaking of our jilted bride, Maggie, here she is! On the same boat as Mark with her maid of honour and her dog, Olive or… Oliver, that remains to be seen. Holly has just dropped her bear when Maggie comes along and returns it to her where it turns out both herself and the child are wearing the same pink converse. Still no word from Holly.
Turns out Olive will a) eat anything and b) is maid of honour’s old flatmates dog, who pawned her off on this woman whilst she went travelling. I hope this flatmate doesn’t expect Olive to be waiting for her when she gets home because her friend is trying to convince this dog to become an island canine.
Apparently Mark owns a coffee store in town which is good to know because Maggie owns one now, too! She has moved her ‘Magic Toyshop’ from Seattle to this island and inside there appears to be some woman who is ignoring everything Maggie wanted for the store and is doing her own thing. I have no idea who this woman is but she’s annoying as all hell and I think Maggie should slap her into a different postcode. Just like that Maggie has booted her out of the store with what looks like a cheque whilst outside MOH battles with Olive who has decided to lie down in the middle of the street as sad dogs at Christmas are prone to doing.
Turns out that woman was a store manager and Katie, the MOH, is now being roped in to helping with the shop instead. Maggie is convinced Black Friday is as big on the island as in the city and sends Katie off to find teenagers who are willing to work it. At some point she has also agreed to take on Olive, which is nice for the dog.
Mark has just bought Holly home where she is unresponsive to Uncle Scott’s secret handshake. You will be pleased to know, however, that Uncle Scott is renovating a house!! Uncle Alex is knocking around the house in his underwear making himself some breakfast and appears to be some sort of health freak/hippy. Living in half renovated houses appears to be the thing to do around Christmas because fuck heating and properly insulated walls. Now it turns out all of the brothers will be living in the renovation site and helping patch the place up.
Alex: “You know I had a bear growing up. His name was Frankie bear. He was the coolest bear… but Scott poured chocolate syrup on his head…”
Alex: “Then the cat ate him.”
Mark: “The cat was never the same after that.”
Me: “Because it was dead.”
Both Alex and Scott are alarmed by the amount of pink going on in Holly’s new room and she probably just wants them all to piss off while she organises her multi-coloured pipe cleaners. At bed time Uncle Mark does a strange impression of crickets during the bed time story but at least Holly appears to be enjoying it and humours the man.
When Mark wakes up in the morning, where I am starting to become a fan of his hairstyle, he finds Holly sleeping on the floor with him in a spare room instead of the bed he carted all the way from Seattle for her. Looks like Holly starts her new job in the coffee shop today because no one else will take her and leaves her with his employee Carrie… Carol…. Kara…. Either way she is far too enthusiastic. Outside the shop Mark runs into Maggie, who is walking Olive, when he gets a call from Shelby. Making Maggie stand there awkwardly, while he takes this call, we establish we’re probably already bored of Shelby and afterwards continue to discuss Olive, until he gets another call which terminates this pointless conversation about how Olive is basically Maggie’s dog now and she might as well just come to terms with it.
Now, not being a man I am unsure how this works, but it appears to take all three brother’s to figure out how to throw a Thanksgiving dinner for Holly which is not what they usually do but they’re gonna take a crack at it.
Scott thinks a good way to wake his younger sibling is to start hammering down bits of foundation in the room he is sleeping in. They are making all of this far more complicated than it needs to be and Alex is deep frying a turkey outside in a vat. Inside Scott has forgotten all about the sweet potatoes topped with marshmellows and is about to start a legitimate fire. Mark drops the turkey into the oil which starts an oil fire, but luckily that’s outside and next to the ocean.
Holly gets sick of these grown ass men arguing with each other and takes the entire pie they have given her off to her room to wallow in food pity. Mark is hanging around on a bridge feeling similarly sorry for himself when Maggie comes jogging by. These guys don’t celebrate Thanksgiving anymore because one year their Dad never returned from a business trip. Figures.
Maggie is boring the shit out of her new employees for the grand opening whilst Olive looks on with the face of reality – ain’t no one interested in Black Friday weekend on an island. Shelby has turned up though and this kid might not be talking but she sure as shit ain’t impressed by this woman. It doesn’t help any when Shelby is trying to dress the child like a small doll. Walking down the high street Holly is in that toy shop like a shot, despite the fact Shelby wants to do some of her own shopping and is hating this child more and more by the second. Olive appears to have remembered Holly and runs right up to the kid to lick her.
Awkward introductions done, Maggie offers the shop up to Holly whenever she feels like visiting the resident dog. Shelby gets mightily fed up of this woman and carts them all out of the shop bu Katie saves the day by pointing out neither of them were wearing wedding or an engagement ring. Christmas lesson incoming – it’s OK to break up relationships as long as you’re doing it out of the kindness of your heart….
Holly’s first day at school is underway and I hope Mark explained that she isn’t speaking because a lot of the other kids are already looking at her like she’s sprouted tentacles. Maggie is seeing her sister/friend off the island and despite the fact she said she is not keeping Olive, Olive is staying on the island with her. Mark decides he will try and join Holly for lunch, under the guise of bringing her her forgotten lunch, and he just makes the entire thing weird and awkward with the other kids.
All of the brothers are waiting for updates on Holly and how she’s doing on her first day. Alex, who was never popular and always concentrated on school work, is now making Scott paranoid that the other kids are making fun of her. One day in this school and the teachers are already recommended doctors and therapists for the girl. Shelby is trying to get Mark off the island for the weekend when he realises Holly is missing so puts the phone down on her. The man is running around the streets wildly when really there is only one place to look. Maggie apparently wasn’t too fussed that this kid wondered in one her ones and was just showing her around some very alternative doll’s/fairy house.
Scott is having doubts about letting Holly live with them at this renovation site and probably could have referred to her as something other than a ‘burden’ which just leads to another argument. It seems bad but really, this is the closest any of these Christmas films have been to real sibling relationships. Sub-plot, back home Katie saw Tim, who was apparently Maggie’s runaway groom, and he’s engaged again! It’s been 6 months though so, whatever.
Over at the bar everything is cleared up when Maggie meets Scott and… Cara…. Carol…. something…. and they reveal Holly is just their niece so she can feel even less guilt about breaking up this man’s relationship.
At the beach Alex is trying to get Holly to check out the rock pools and explaining why he will be moving to Maine soon to research lobsters. I’m presuming Holly will speak at any moment just to ask him to shut up but she does crack a smile when he gives her a star fish to hold. That qualifies as serious bonding with this child. Maggie only drops in to the sandwich store to pick up donuts when Mark is following her off down the street trying to convince her to drink coffee. Maggie thinks now will be a good time to show off her river dance skills and ends up flat on her face before limping off to the shop.
Alex has just received a call to inform him he has lost his grant to head up to Maine and study lobster. Never fear, though, his food is amazing and Holly has left a shopping list on the fridge for them which consists of cookies, chocolate milk, mac n cheese and carrots. I am all for that except for the blaringly obvious. That evening Mark receives a call from the island, during his dinner date out with Shelby in Seattle, that Holly has got a fever. Realising that Shelby hates children, Mark decides he’d rather just leave after a strange conversation where he seems to have forgotten this child is not actually his.
Back on the island… which is 6 hours away if I remember correctly… Holly looks fine, if you ask me. Maggie has made a new friend in… Carol…. and meets her at the bar, where her new friend is trying to set her up with any member of the band her step-brother is in. In a tenuous link between Maggie and the island it turns out she always wanted to open a store here and almost gave up on that dream when she almost got married. Unfortunately she just told Carol about her river dance that went wrong, and Carol immediately asks her brother to play something ‘Irish’ which is apparently in every band’s repertoire.
Back at the shop Maggie is explaining how the fairy living in the house needs to be given a name in order for her to stay when Uncle Mark is there to drag her off to her job at the coffee shop. She has barely left the shop when she runs back in and announces she would like to call the fairy Victoria. This is huge, guys, The kid is speaking!
At home her mass of Uncles bombard her by asking who her favourite uncle is, which Alex wins presumably because he a) didn’t call her a burden, b) doesn’t make her work in a coffee shop and c) gave her a star fish to hold. Mark brings over a gift box of coffee and food to Maggie, in order to thank her for talking about fairies incessantly to his niece, and invites her out on a date which brings a tear to her eye.
Over this dinner they share sob stories and discuss how depressing and scary the entire world is. Unfortunately Kieran’s aunt decided to drop by with his birthday cards and I have no idea why their date just went horribly wrong and why Mark is walking off looking so disappointed. Either way, Mark is doing a terrible job of decorating the tree and instead decides to break the news to Holly that her Mother is dead. And god knows what happened to her Dad, which is something I have only just thought of, as it has not been mentioned once this entire time.
CONFIRMED! Katie and Maggie are sisters, only an hour and a half in to the film. She also nicely wraps up the fact Mark was interested in her but she totally shot him down after their first date. Katie shouts at her a bunch to inform her she’s a friggin’ idiot and Maggie goes out to look at the sea for a bit with Olive and contemplate life. Elsewhere on the beach, Alex is looking after Holly and celebrating his new grant whilst Mark and Scott are grabbing Holly’s Christmas decorations from their deceased sibling’s house.
At a giant Friday Harbour boat parade, which actually looks pretty cool and all the boats are lit up and sailing around. Holly weirdly and creepily asks if Uncle Mark can be her Dad, because that’s not worrying at all, when Maggie shows up, hopefully to apologise for being a moron.
I’m hungry, I’m wrapping this up. Everything ends wonderfully, Mark forgives this laughing weirdo and we OH HOLY LIGHTBULBS they have covered the house in Christmas lights…. renovations are always good for fire hazards. Around Christmas dinner all these brothers decide they will continue to live together and all be one giant, happy family. Cue Olive who is dressed for Christmas and Maggie has bought Holly the fairy doll house as a Christmas present.
Happy ending. Everyone’s feeling warm and fuzzy. I’m hungry. Off we go.
Right guys, I owe you. There was no blog post yesterday because me and Kieran were busy busting my Mom out of our house. She had been stranded with us since Friday because of the snow. This resulted in getting to Mom’s house then needing to be dug out of the snow all over again once we got to her street.
It was also Kieran’s birthday, but that’s sort of secondary to the great escape of 2017.
So, because I owe you big time and 2 posts today, I am gonna make our missed Day #11 film major. Seriously. Who would have thought, while trawling through Now TV movies I would come across the one, the only, the motherfucking sequel to Finding Father Christmas, our day #4 movie! (Looking back I have just found out that WordPress never updated and published the final version of this old review and so an incomplete bunch of gibberish has been up since the 4th instead. Way to go, internet!) Yes. It exists. And we are going in.
Welcome back Miranda! Who, as we remember, originally came from the city and she appears to be packing up all of her clothes to head back up to Vermont, where Ian is being manly and planing some wood. I hope Miranda isn’t leaving that Christmas tree plugged in while she travels across the country with her mahoosive suitcases packed with presents…
Back in the office she is handing out gift bags to everyone because she was injected with the Christmas spirit last year and has carried it on into this film. Annie, her PA, gets an extra special present that she can’t open until Christmas. As usual, all PA’s are just obsessed with their bosses getting engaged and married off… probably so they will leave work to start a family and at least stop harassing them whilst they’re on maternity leave.
Back at the inn, which I am happy to report is still a fire hazard, even Ian’s Mom is hinting that he should propose to the woman.
Catherine: “You never know, if all goes well, she might not want to leave this time.”
Me: “Yeah Ian, just throw an engagement ring at the problem.”
We all remember Ian’s tactics from the last film; every time Miranda hinted at leaving Carlton Heath he would throw something at her to delay her. Not literally, although that would have been hilarious.
In the busy airport where Ian should be picking Miranda up – but is stuck in traffic – some guy she hasn’t seen for at least 2 years, because after that fateful Christmas they decided they should take a break, shows up. I can see why they decided to take a break. Josh looks like he’s melting. Miranda straight up tells the man what happened in her last movie and how she found her father, despite the fact this is a huge family secret and she promised she would never tell another living soul.
Miranda: “Josh, I really wanna tell you something but promise me you won’t tell anyone.”
Me: “Fucking. Idiot.”
She tells Josh who her father was, who immediately shouts loudly that her father is James Whitcomb because he is apparently hard of fucking hearing.
Miranda: “My family trusts me not to tell this secret.”
Me: “Well, they gone done fucked up then, didn’t they?”
There is a bizarre moment when a guy bumps into them at their table and we see him just long enough I feel this is an important scene. Prediction #1 – he heard everything and he’s gonna run off and report this to someone.
Prediction #2 – for good measure, Josh is back to try and ruin Miranda’s relationship.
Ian turns up just as Josh is leaving and rightly comments that he’s an hour late and she’s already busy trying to run off with other men. Because Miranda just loves the sound of her own voice she commences to spend the entire journey back to town telling Ian about this ancient boyfriend and now, presumably, Ian knows more about Josh than his own parents do.
God help us all, Ian is playing Scrooge again in the play this town hosts every year to commemorate James Whitcomb. Up at Ellie and Peter’s house the Children of the Damned are back too. The devil boy has grown and appears to be the same kid but the girl is apparently suffering from some Benjamin Button syndrome and actually looks younger than before. Almost as if she were a completely different child… For some reason Miranda is staying with Ellie and not up at the inn with Ian, which would frankly make more sense.
Whilst unpacking, Miranda receives a call from an unknown number that she declines because, quite rightly, you should never answer those damn things. After ignoring that, she is off to the theatre where she stares longingly at the outside plaque with her father’s name on it. Apparently we are over our fear of theatres and she going around looking at all of the James Whitcomb memorabilia. Up pops Margaret, who definitely wasn’t this invested in the town or play last year but is required to make more of an appearance this time around.
Margaret: “Here we are again. Christmas.”
Miranda: “Here we are…”
Me: “With my husband’s illegitimate child!”
Of course, this is when ol’ Marge thanks Miranda for her discretion with the family’s secret and believes people out in the big, wide world would use the secret to their advantage, making them all fodder for the tabloid. Miranda straight up lies to Margaret, but when she comments she’s glad Miranda never told anyone, the look on Miranda’s face should give the whole game away. Woman needs to play more poker.
This doesn’t appear to weight too much on her mind though, until Miranda gets a message from an unknown number with an attachment – a picture of James Whitcomb hanging a wreath up. When she asks who this mystery person is they claim they are the ghost of Christmas past.
Unbelievably, she tells Ian because people are usually much sneakier about this shit and it gets them into a world of trouble. Ian is claiming this is one of their relatives and in some weird secret Santa-esque tradition, someone has pulled her name out of a hat in order to pick who will harass her this winter. It’s at this point when his parents show up and I realise the Christmas movie circuit is small and the same people keep popping up. His Dad is also the Dad of Mary in the Christmas Lodge. This man loves lodges. His face must just scream ‘hey, I wanna be involved in anything to do with wooden buildings that cater for people over the holidays!’.
Out in the car, Ian is checking he hasn’t lost the engagement ring he’s been carting around for all of our benefits at home and takes Miranda off to some house, because he needs her opinion on it. I say house, it’s out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by trees and it’s no wonder it’s his favourite place in town; there is no one around and plenty of trees to chop down for wood.
Ian: “It’s called the Rose Cottage.”
Miranda: “How did you find this!? Oh, Ian…. this isn’t yours is it?”
Ian: “No, I’m just working on it. The cottage belongs to Margaret.”
Miranda: “Really? I don’t remember the family saying anything about this place.”
Me: “Good job, you’d have told Josh he could crash there while you tell him more of your family secrets.”
Ian is renovating the place for Margaret because Christmas isn’t complete without a good renovation. Prediction #3 – Margaret will give them the house as long as she hasn’t killed Miranda by then.
Ian is about to propose when Ellie and the kids suddenly show up. Bad timing. Ellie is inviting Miranda to go Christmas shopping with these kids and as we all remember they will be off their faces on sugar from hot chocolate and candy canes. After Ian’s babbling to cover up what just happened, Miranda looks at him like he’s clinically insane and thinks shopping with hyperactive children might be better.
They are out trying to find a present for their Dad, Pete, when they walk past a shop and his son randomly points out a life-sized, wooden duck carving.
Devil Child #1: “What about that for Dad?”
Miranda: “….. Does he like ducks?”
Me: “Doesn’t matter, he will learn to love it.”
He’d better because now he’s got one for Christmas. Miranda is now showing Ellie this mystery text and message, but she is also clueless about the entire thing. They have just rocked up to the inn, where they have now changed tradition in order to include Miranda, and are going for hot chocolate after shopping. She is about to go in when Annie calls from the office about some guy hounding her.
Annie: “When I told him you were gone he started asking questions.”
Miranda: “What kind of questions?”
Annie: “About you and your family?”
Miranda: “So what did you say?”
Annie: “Nothing. It’s nobody’s business.”
Me: “Correct answer, Annie! Thank God you were there to take that call and not Miranda.”
We are about to settle down for hot chocolate when josh shows up. For fuck’s sake, will this woman ever get this damn drink? Ellie and the kids don’t look particularly bothered by this man that has just stolen away Miranda to another table. Apparently, Josh was inspired by Miranda’s story of this town and decided to just fly up here. He is again loudly announcing the news about her father and the man just needs to shut up and leave. When Catherine sees Josh she looks less concerned that their future daughter-in-law is talking to this mystery man and more interested in Josh herself.
Josh: “This town, as lovely as it is, it’s not the only reason I drove up here.”
Josh: “I wanted to see you. To ask if you were seeing anybody else?”
Me: “It would have been easier and cheaper to just find her on Facebook and…. whatever. Whatever.”
Despite the fact she breaks the news that she is definitely seeing someone and sends him awkwardly on his way I’m calling Prediction #2 as complete. She is trying to get back to her hot chocolate when he says he needs to talk to her some more outside. Josh apparently wants to get Danny, his lawyer brother, involved in case she needs representing in a law case against the family to make sure she gets her inheritance. He is sure James would have left her a hefty estate…. despite the fact the man didn’t know she existed. She probably should have blabbed that little fact along with the rest of the story, too.
Ian rocks up and the devil children tell him where Miranda is. He sees them out on the porch, having a heated debate about how much Josh didn’t tell anyone about her father, before he hands her his number and email address. You know, in case she needs to talk about things because her family who fully understand what is happening wouldn’t be any good at that job.
Miranda finally makes it back to the table when the devil children mention that Ian had to go and rush off to the theatre. The irony, she’s just got her hot chocolate and now she wants to neck it, running the risk of burning her mouth, and rush off to the theatre also.
There she finds Peter, who introduces Natalie – she is up from the city doing research on James Whitcomb. It’s the 30th anniversary of him saving the theatre and the 30th anniversary of the play, to boot.
Pete seems absolutely unconcerned by the fact he introduces Miranda as ‘a family friend visiting from Seattle’ and Miranda runs off out of the theatre because that is all too much for her to cope with. Later on, Ian finds her on bench, but it’s dark now so she’s been out there for quite some time. Ian doesn’t seem too bothered by Josh being there and, in fact, sort of made his own Christmas prediction.
Ian: “I had a feeling he’d show up.”
Miranda: “You did?”
Ian: “I saw him at the airport. That look on his face?”
Me: “What? That ‘ooh, here’s an opportunity to stalk my ex-girlfriend’ look?”
Apparently it’s all cool because Ian does not see this man as a threat and is all ready to challenge him to a duel in case he doesn’t leave town. Skimming over that, Ian leads her off somewhere…. I’m not sure what building this is but Miranda wants to know why they are here when he opens the doors again and there is that one-horse open sleigh he was so patronising about the first time around.
Catherine and Andrew rush off to plug in some lights, which light up all of the trees down the avenue as Ian rushes them off down there. They don’t go too far when they’re out again and heading to a lit up gazebo.
Ian: “I’ve been trying to find the right moment since you got here but we keep being interrupted.”
Me: “You were interrupted once. ONCE.”
Miranda almost ruins the entire proposal by getting ahead of herself and even pisses off Prancer with her city ways. Ian waffles on before he finally gets around to proposing and makes her a wear a god awful ring. Prediction #4 – the engagement gets called off at least once.
Now everyone’s proposing and Andrew is proposing a toast back at the house. Even Natalie, the reporter woman, is there at this time of family togetherness.
Andrew: “The only thing I have to say is… what took you so long?”
Me: “It’s been a year! Jesus Christ!”
Margaret is discussing the reporter with Miranda and it feels a lot like a fishing expedition into checking she didn’t spill any more beans. Back to the forward children, devil child #2 runs up and asks to be a flower girl at this future wedding.
Whilst peeling wallpaper off the walls, Ian is reciting his lines. He is shit at both of the jobs he is doing right now. Miranda is too distracted by finding the perfect spot for a Christmas tree in this renovation project that doesn’t even belong to her. Yet.
I missed something here because suddenly Ian and Miranda have taken on the mantle of being Father Christmas and his wife at the grand Christmas tree lighting. I was too busy checking how to look after my Christmas tree to make sure it doesn’t die too quickly indoors.
Miranda catches sight of devil child #1 looking morose by the log burner and heads over there to check what’s going on. After a heart felt conversation where he reveals he likes to eavesdrop on conversations and knows exactly who Miranda is, apparently witnessing a hug between Miranda and this child is reason enough for everyone to stop and watch with joy. Miranda receives another message, this time it’s a picture of herself with Josh in the background, asking if she really is James’ daughter. Fuck knows when that was taken, it makes no sense. Again, she doesn’t seem too weighed down by the guilt and continues on with her life.
Again, I got a bit distracted because my lounge bottoms tucked into my thermal socks make it look like I have tumours in my ankles. This bought me hilarious joy for a few minutes before I managed to get back to the film.
Natalie is in the study with Margaret and is letting James take credit for Miranda’s mother’s poetry, right in front of Miranda. Marge and Miranda are just spinning web after web of lies here to cover Natalie’s questions and she doesn’t look like she is quite buying this whole family friend bollocks.
Miranda shows Ian the second message and reveals that she told Josh the very thing she shouldn’t have told anyone. Apparently because he was supportive two years ago this means she could tell him everything now and oh! apparently Josh is also a psychologist, so patient confidentiality is his bag. Miranda feels the need to zoom in on Josh in the picture, despite the fact it is very clear who he is, and they come to the conclusion he couldn’t possibly have taken the picture from that far away because he is not Stretch Armstrong.
Ian confirms they should contact Josh and see if he saw anything when she gets an unknown call from Natalie. As a class A reporter she doesn’t think the story she was here for is the real money-maker and she thinks there is something she is missing. Miranda doesn’t really give much away, for once, but does ascertain it was not Natalie who called her all those other times.
Outside the town’s border, up pops a suspicious looking man who looks a lot like that guy from the airport. Hmmmm. Margaret is checking out the cottage Ian is working on and manages to peel wallpaper much better than he does in 2 seconds flat, uncovering some sort of writing on the wall which makes her look kinda hesitant about life. We catch Ian doing his favourite thing in the world, chopping wood, when Miranda brings him some cider because axes and alcohol are a legit sensible combination. I’m starting to feel American cider is not quite like English cider.
Ian vows not to let this mystery messenger ruin Christmas and off they go to pick a tree and put it up at the renovation site because fire hazards are life. Miranda spots some of the lettering beneath the lifted wallpaper and on uncovering it reveals the words ‘May Truth and Grace Reside Here’. I, personally, wouldn’t want that hanging around in my house but each to their own.
Back at the inn a Mr. Decker, the shady guy, is complimenting everything he can find. between compliments he starts grilling Catherine on everything James Whitcomb and she invites him to the play that night as the whole family will be there. Well done, Catherine, you still haven’t fucked up as much as Miranda.
Apparently, back at the house, Marge covered up the words as it used to be her first home. I’m calling she originally had twins called Truth and Grace and something terrible happened. Prediction #5.
The show is about to go on, and I wonder if we will see more of it this time than last film, when Miranda takes her seat with Ian’s parents. Shady, shady Decker is also in the audience, keeping a beady eye on the entire proceedings. OOh, looks like we are going to see more of the play this year….. and I kind of wish we weren’t. DEATH IS BACK THOUGH!
Sorry, guys. It’s at this point I realised, whilst looking for the actor who played Death fabulouslythat… Sky movies is lying to me. This film isn’t called Winter Wedding at all. It’s called Engaging Father Christmas! (And Death still doesn’t get any credit on IMDB.)
Ian acts the entire play without really turning away from the audience like a bizarre, front facing version of Egyptian paintings, and I hope there is not a third instalment of this franchise where we have to sit through the entire thing.
After the show, Peter runs into Mr. Shady, aka. Steve, who reveals the fact he is aware this man has a sister. Shady Steve is a writer, which puts Peter on the warpath and, sure enough, he heads right for Miranda at the after party. Peter makes the big reveal in front of Margaret and Miranda finally has to come clean that she told everyone that could listen about her family. Miranda shows them the messages and photos she has been receiving and they’re off to hunt down Shady Steve to see if she recognises him from the airport.
Miranda: “I can go over there first thing tomorrow and try to explain.”
Me: “Explain what? More of the truth?”
Ian walks in just as Peter is suggesting a lawyer could help because Marge is piiiiissed. Rightly so.
That makes Prediction #1 correct! When Steve leaves the inn the next day Miranda is waiting for him outside, like a crazy stalker, before she leads them off to….. I think this is the church but I’m not sure.
Steve: “This place is like one big Christmas card!”
Me: “2D and… papery.”
Miranda pleads with the man that he doesn’t write his article because the feelings and relationships of a woman he doesn’t know outweighs his next pay cheque greatly.
Steve appears to be attempting blackmail and if Miranda doesn’t give him an interview he will write whatever the hell he likes about her father and her family. Isn’t this just going swimmingly? She has been given a 24 hour deadline to see the man before he leaves for Christmas eve. Miranda’s favourite past time is now sitting outside the inn and waiting for people because she is sitting there when Ian pops out.
Miranda: “I think I need to go back to Seattle…”
Ian: “We’re doing this again?”
Me: “Even Ian is sick of this shit.”
Apparently Ian has ran out of gifts to throw at the woman to stall her, but Miranda thinks if she is back in Seattle when the story comes out she will be less of an embarrassment to everyone. Ian DOES have a trick up his sleeve though and asks to show her something before she makes up her mind. Back at the Rose Cottage he reveals that Margaret is ready to sell the place (despite it not being finished) and Ian is ready to buy (despite living on a wood cutters wage). We are privy to an argument about how running away and leaving this very second are two totally different things in Miranda’s mind and Ian keeps waffling on about how he will always love her even if no one else will.
Miranda walks off, still with this engagement ring on her finger, and to combat his woes Ian decides to work on the house in the middle of the night. Apparently ol’ Marge also walks around in the middle of the night with no coat on because she drops in when she saw the lights on.
Margaret does not appear to be surprised when she hears Miranda is leaving (again) and sees they have uncovered the words on the wall. Again it is snowing at a convenient time, which makes Miranda pause long enough to stop packing and contemplate her life over hot cider, which begins her downward slope into alcoholism. She has passed out on the chair, probably from the cider, and wakes up to a text from Margaret asking to meet her at the cottage.
Margaret: “This is where we always put our Christmas tree, too.”
Me: “In the middle of the room, where it is the most inconvenient to everyone.”
Even Margaret is jumping down Miranda’s throat to inform her that her plan is bullshit and she needs to stay in the town so Margaret can look at her with bitter disappointment for the rest of her life. Margaret begins telling the story of how they ended up living there, which appears to end with the line ‘how we ended up in Carlton Heath I’ll never know’. Truly enlightening, Marge.
Turns out Truth and Grace are not dead twins but just two qualities in life that James thought were important. Clearly when he told Margaret about his affair she covered up the words because the entire thing was just a massive lie, as are most lessons in life. Seeing those words again, however, she has had a change of heart and believes everyone should know the truth and they will tackle it with grace. Awwwwww.
Margaret looks like she is gonna put a spin on this breaking news story and make some of her own capital off it. Smart business woman 101. She phones Natalie and decides she will let her run with the news instead of Shady Steve.
Ian is out collecting more wood when Miranda shows back up because this woman is flaky and unreliable as all hell and he is signing himself up for a life of this nonsense.
Natalie, predictably, is finding this whole story unbelievable to say the least when Margaret and Miranda are recounting the entire thing to her. She’s probably worried her editors will throw the entire thing out as fanciful festive fiction. Marge is now setting Natalie deadlines to get her story written because business woman is everyone’s boss and they will follow her god damn orders if they don’t want to be fired. From life.
Finally! at the end of the film! we have our first Christmas montage! where everyone we have met so far is reading and reacting to the article, including Shady Steve who has just lost the ability to pay his bills for the month. Again, Miranda is waiting outside the inn for him, so she can rub it into his face some more.
Around the Christmas tree Marge and Peter give Miranda the key to the Rose Cottage as her present.
Devil Child #1: “Grandma said we can call you Aunt Miranda.”
Me: “Get the fuck away from me kid!”
The entire family and Ian’s parents get together for a big speech and it appears that Miranda is going to be forced to stay in Vermont because fuck Seattle and her job there. Ian is clearly making enough as a wood cutter for her to retire early and become a house wife.
We end the film with Miranda deciding that their new house would be the perfect place to get married next Christmas and god help us all if there will not be another of these films.
And so it ends… less of a Winter Wedding, which Sky lied to us about, and entirely a Christmas engagement (although she isn’t engaged to Father Christmas so I still feel as though we have been lied to here). You can watch the film here, although they appear to have cut out the part with the duck for some reason…
Now… to go back and painstakingly relive the first film while I fix the unedited review….
Prediction Board – 2.5/5
Prediction #1 – the man who bumped into Miranda at the airport was up to no good – CORRECT
Prediction #2 – Josh was only present to try and ruin her relationship – Technically correct but he really wasn’t very good at it
Prediction #3 – Margaret would give Miranda and Ian the Rose Cottage – CORRECT
Prediction #4 – the engagement gets called off – again, sort of correct, but as Miranda didn’t give the ring back when she walked off, and never even managed to leave town thank to that cider, I’ll give up this point
Prediction #5 – Truth and Grace are dead twins – totally not correct
OK guys, I’m not gonna lie… this is less of a crappy Christmas film review and more like a review of Mom’s reactions to the crappy Christmas film. I vaguely know what happened in those two hours but much of it is pieced together from the tried and tested story line that Christmas films follow without fail.
So, we are in the middle of some mad amount of snow here in England and for some reason the house is really cold – bad insulation, I’m sure. We had just got settled down after a long ten minutes of trying to keep every body part covered, with Mom one end of the sofa and me the other, under a mass of blankets.
Me: “Right! Christmas film!”
Mom: “….. You’re facing the wrong way, now….”
Me: “FOR FUCK’S SAKE!”
We had also been decorating the house all day for Christmas and Mom was adamant that I should have a wreath hanging up in every single god damn room.
Mom: “Look! They’ve got two or three holly leaves outside the house… did I say leaves?”
Me: “Yes, Mom, they’ve just got three leaves hanging up outside….”
We’re introduced to a woman in the ‘business of love’ as she has decided to become a wedding planner. She is currently tackling her first job and planning her cousin’s wedding who is much more like a sister to her. Kelsie, the wedding planner, is super stressed so obviously she runs into someone at the coffee shop and has to babble profusely to show how stressed she is. As this is a thoroughly modern film we get to see the texts she is sending floating around on the screen, yet we still have to hear her inner monologue as she types out her own messages. It’s already all quite annoying.
Kelsie then walks into handsome man #1 and we are unfortunately privy to more of her private thoughts like a weird festive version of Bridget Jones. She lets this mystery man go first because she bumped into him, except this man is also getting 12 coffees, 12 muffins and a blueberry scone. She is gonna be soooo late to this party she organised herself.
Whilst in the coffee shop her cousin phones to request ice sculptors. Almost before the phone has gone down Kelsie’s aunt pops up on the other side of the screen. She has heard ice sculptors are being requested and she would really rather not. Witch.
Kelsie: “Can I get a blueberry scone?”
Barista: “I’m sorry, I just sold the last one to that handsome gentleman.”
Me: “Thanks for spelling that out for us.”
She chases this man down, rambles something about a therapist, and offers to pay him double for the scone which he turns down. He also turns down triple. He also turns down 7 dollars and a gift card to an unknowable shop. He must really love blueberry scones.
Barista: “I have a plain scone and blueberries from my lunch?”
Mom: “Awwwww that was nice of him. I don’t know what he expected her to do but… it was a nice thought.”
Despite the fact she is late to this party, Kelsie is taking time outside the house to text some anonymous person. When she finally shifts her ass into gear her cousin, Emily, has requested to be announced to the room and Kelsie sets off to do this until she stops to have a charming conversation with her Aunt Olivia. Her cousin has been standing in this room for a long time before she manages to get announced to the party and it was not worth waiting that 5 minutes for.
It turns out the guy from the coffee shop bought the scone for Aunt Olivia, which Kelsie was also trying to do, and now he knows everyone’s names too. Aunt Olivia introduces Kelsie to the editor or manager of some wedding magazine, who I believe she is probably trying to impress. She gives the wedding photographer’s name to the woman in secret and I can’t tell whether she was impressed or didn’t know who the fuck Kelsie was on about at all.
Handsome man #1 is Connor and he is also Emily’s ex-boyfriend. Due to this previous occupation he could apparently be planning to ruin the wedding or Kelsie’s new business or even steal all the family’s money…. however it is that he plans to do all of this. Kelsie keeps telling herself she is a fierce warrior for some reason but it never really works out. Obviously she walks over to Connor and jumps to some major conclusions about his tea leafing ways before Aunt Olivia makes a speech about Emily and her fiance, Todd.
Connor: “Seems like a nice guy.”
Me: “Wooooooow look at her fiance. Doesn’t he just look like the most vacant person ever.”
Connor can’t promise the wedding wont be ruined after all and Kelsie flails her arms at a bunch of people in order to follow him out the house and into his car. Connor reveals he a private investigator, hired to look into Todd, which to Kelsie means someone hired him to ruin the wedding. She just can’t get that delusion out of her head. Whenever Kelsie stops to listen to her inner monologue everyone around her must wonder what the fuck she is doing and whether she’s alright because she stops for quite lengthy periods of time to make weird faces and look around suspiciously. Connor, bizarrely, offers to be a team and she can help out to make sure the wedding doesn’t get ruined. He does tell her where he’ll be that evening though, in case she changes her mind, but to me it just sounds like slave labour.
Mom, realising this film was just a recording and not live: “Can we get this film over quicker by not watching adverts?”
Kelsie keeps texting this anonymous person, so knowing Christmas films it’s probably a dead relative. At the dress fitting Kelsie runs through the three bridesmaids: Jealousy, Bitterness & Clumsiness. Emily wants to get out of wearing the traditional family dress and basically asks how they can sugar coat this turd of news and let her mother know. Apparently Kelsie is doing this right now over text before she has to take a call from the mystery man himself. The backdrop of the restaurant looks rather festive.
Me: “We should have had some giant bows.”
Both looking around
Me: ….. OK, maybe not in here…”
Mom: “The fireplace looks good, though.”
Me: “Well just look there and….. over by the curtains…. and…. the chair looks more festive and…. this blanket! And those thermal socks on the floor add a festive…. flair….”
All of the bridesmaids were discussing Connor which I totally missed when Clumsy throws cookies around the place. It’s alright though because Emily pops out in her dress.
Mom: “That’s awful.”
Me: “Huh? OH. Oh.”
Todd is at the door now, so Emily is carted off to get changed again before they let him in. Todd just wanted to drop by with surprises for the bridesmaids and Emily, which appears to be jewellery. Showing him out, Kelsie stands next to the door to take yet another call – this time from the caterer – when she sees Todd outside flirting with the receptionist and standing under some mistletoe. Kelsie cares not that the caterer is going through a divorce so can’t make the wedding and is more concerned by Todd giving what appears to be his number to the receptionist in her notebook. At the desk Kelsie thinks about looking in the notebook and is about to see what Todd wrote when Emily pops out again.
Mom: “She’s the most simple wedding planner I’ve ever met. Surely she’s there to tell the bride she looks hideous. Tell her to pick another dress and don’t be surprised if he cheats on you, if that’s what you turn up in.”
Me: “Maybe you should be a wedding planner?”
Some guy called….. Charl? Charles? Sharl? something is at the house and he is either the caterer, the wedding cake maker or a mad scientist. For some reason Emily wants to make gingerberad for the first time ever and wants to give this to all of her guests to presumably give them food poisoning. At this point Kieran walks in and the next thing I know, Michelle, the receptionist, is in the house. Apparently there has been an elaborate plan to get into Michelle’s bag and so Kelsie can check out the notebook.
Kelsie caves and visits Connor who is sitting in the same place in the restaurant he called her from like he’s been expecting her these past three days. He also has his files all over the table taking the ‘private’ out of ‘private detective’. There is an odd conversation where they try and order each other’s food when the the waiter pops up and appears to know Connor well. There appears to be some issue with Kelsie ordering the lobster for him so I’m presuming he’s allergic.
The big reveal here is that Todd’s family aren’t as well off as everyone thinks but as we’re suggesting bankruptcy here Connor believes they may just be after money. He also wants to use yet another party that Kelsie has planned to check out Todd’s finances.
Mom: “How do you know he’s not a fraud?”
Me: “What, Connor?”
Mom: “Yeah, he might want to get into his computer to steal the money!”
Good point, but it turns out Connor owns the resraurant he’s always sitting in with the mad chef/waiter who won’t stop talking and at any rate we could just kill the man with a lobster. Aunt Olivia is running late because she doesn’t want to hear about Tim and Linda’s boat (Todd’s parents) and there was a break from the film here whilst I laughed at Mom at the end of the sofa, caccooned in three blankets.
Mom: “You need more candles in here.”
Me: “I could set fire to those ones I MEAN LIGHT!”
Mom: “I’ve only just put that garland up there, you won’t fucking set fire to it.”
I was starting my own fire hazard instead of watching the film and looking out for all of their fire hazards. To say these people are supposedly bankrupt they still live in a big ol’ house they could sell to make money. They also have a boat they cold sell. There is a horrible moment when Kelsie is not paying attention to Linda and agrees to let her sing for her son’s first dance because she sounds like Celine Dion apparently.
Mom, hiding face
Linda: “Who do I need to kill to get a drink around here?”
Me: “But I like her, she’s relatable.”
Mom: “Wait! You missed it! There’s a pregnant woman carrying drinks around!”
Kelsie chases Connor down through the house and into the study, where he is casually trying to get on Tim’s computer by guessing the password. Apparently this is easy because people always pick something arrogant.
Mom: “Name of the boat.”
Kelsie, babbling on about finding the password
Mom: “The name. Of. The boat.”
They have just made it into the laptop when Tim walks in to his own study as is his right. Kelsie starts madly kissing Connor in an attempt to make all of this look very casual. Even more bizarre is the fact Tim actually leaves them to it.
Mom: “This film is so bad it’s made me sober.”
Kieran: “I’m going to watch the football.”
Mom: “I’d rather watch the football.”
Kieran: “I’d rather watch the fireplace thing they have between the films. I’d rather watch 2 hours of that.”
Back to the film….
Mom: “OH MY GOD WHAT IS WITH THIS WOMAN AND THIS STUPID THING ON HER HEAD ALL THE WHILE!?”
Or maybe not… In all fairness Aunt Olivia is always wearing embellished head bands but the fact she is a grown ass woman means she has no excuse. She is also against this news of Kelsie making out with Connor but is happy for her to go off and test a bunch of cakes with Emily in front of the cake guy/mad scientist. There is something wrong with him in which he believes he is not good enough and wants them all to give up on him.
Cake guy: “Please, just give up on me. I put a whole lemon in that cake…. a whole lemon. What was I thinking?”
Mom: “Is everybody who lives in this village a fucking idiot?”
Back at her apartment that night Kelsie is still texting some anonymous person with ‘charming’ accounts of her day.
Mom: “She goes to bed with all the lights on.”
I have no idea what’s going on at this point, all I know is my Mother is sober and Kieran has disappeared into the upper regions of the house. Oh, and Connor thinks Kelsie is actually quite smart.
Kelsie: “I’m only sitting because I want to.”
Mom, look of despair
Me, dying with laughter
Mom: “How does she know he’s not fleecing them to keep his business open because no one is ever in that restaurant but them two!”
Kelsie is giving away Todd’s Wednesday plans with Michelle so they can follow him and make sure he isn’t…. I don’t know, the worst person on earth.
Me, skipping the ads: “It’s ok, we only have 50 minutes left.”
Mom: “You said that half an hour ago.”
Me: “That’s because time is actually going backwards watching this film.”
Mom: “Oh god, she has binoculars.”
There is some weird, terrible tailing of the victim and music is playing so I feel a montage coming on, which it does, while Todd walks up and down the street.
Me: “Is he…. Is he just walking up and down the street?”
Mom: “Well he’s been walking for 48 hours because them two have gone home and changed their clothes since.”
Suddenly we’re not following Todd and Connor and Kelsie are sitting in a restaurant.
Me: “Is this his restaurant? Oh wait, no, it can’t be, it’s full.”
Mom: “Yes, his restaurant doesn’t have people in.”
The waiter belives these people are engaged in some forbidden love and that calls for Shiraz. When Kelsie starts thinking to herself as she texts we realised we hadn’t heard it for a while but apparently Connor can hear thoughts because he heard her text. CALLED IT. SHE’S TEXTING HER DEAD MOM. He’s probably wondering why the fuck this woman is apparently texting and paying the phone bill of a dead woman.
Kelsie: “I know it sounds crazy but… We have to keep the people we love close.”
Me: “Yeah, but not pay their phone bill for them.”
Mom: “So does she go back and answer herself?”
Me: “Does her mom even have a phone?”
Mom: “Maybe she’s put the phone in the coffin with her? But then how does she carge it up in the coffin?”
Me: “Can’t be in the coffin then. She has to have a phone or the message wouldn’t send. She’s got her Mom stuffed in a chair like Norman Bates!”
They now have food and candles, which is really just drawing attention to these forbidden lovers, and they’re pretty distracted to say they’re tailing Todd.
Connor: “It’s funny, you’re not the pain the ass I thought you were gonna be.”
Me: “You’re worse. Why is he touching her?! Why are they holding hands!?”
Mom: “They’ll be planning their own wedding in a second. Can’t be worse than the job they’re doing already.”
When Todd turns up with Michelle, Kelsie turns on that shit fierce warrior she’s always banging on about and marches over there, shouting about some engagement with her cousin. Now Connor is there and Todd is all defensive because apparently Todd is just trying to buy Emily her dress, which is meant to be a surprise because he has known Michelle for years. Her husband actually set this whole thing up as he owns the restaurant. Connor decides it’s time to take crazy home. When Todd confronts him, probably to give him business advice on how to run a restaurant, Connor is hardpressed not to punch Todd in the face and manages to walk away.
Mom: “Walk away Connor. Walk awaaaaaaay. Con…. CON AIR! He so-no never mind.”
For some reason Kelsie keeps hanging around with Aunt Olivia, despite the fact she’s a dick. Mom is also calling that Aunt Olivia is the one who hired Connor in the first place. There appears to be some sort of black mail in his history and they paid Connor to never talk to Emily again….. Oh, I don’t know. Whatever it is, obviously Kelsie immediately goes to confront Connor about it but we have no idea what she’s gone to confront him about because we’ve lost the will to live.
Mom: “Quick! Fast forward the adverts!”
Me: “We’ve got 30 minutes left!”
Mom: “YOU TOLD ME…”
Me: “I said 50 minutes last time, not 15!”
Mom: “Actually, we should probably watch the adverts, it might make a nice break from the film.”
Kelsie walks into her apartment and her phone starts ringing.
Mom: “Well it ain’t your mother ringing.”
I straight up died. That one caught me by surprise.
Me: “Do we drink Baileys or wine?”
Mom: “I ain’t drank any Baileys! If I have, this film’s sucked it out of me!”
Me: “I said do we, not did we!”
Mom: “I was gonna say! This fucking film, I never even tasted it.”
At the church, which may or may not be the rehearsel because everyone is wearing black, Kelsie apologises to Todd but hes more complimentary than offended. As far as I can tell a) Connor was planning to get back into her good books and b) this is the wedding despite all of the sombre clothing. Kelsie runs over to the restaurant when George (the waiter guy, apparently) tells her the freezer’s broke, which would ruin… whatever catering he was suddenly doing until it turns out it was all Connor’s idea and everything is fine. Connor does want to speak to her though and try to make this all better.
Connor just wanted to show her the deeds to the restaurant. George was gonna lose the place and Connor took what he thought was a loan from Emily’s Dad but turned out he told Connor never to go back or he would tell Emily he had blackmailed the family.
Suddenly the pregnant woman from the party is back and Mom is calling that the baby is Todd’s. Just as we get past the part where people should stand up if they’ve got any issues with the wedding – which are numerous – Connor bursts in better late than never with the pregnant lady. Aunt Olivia demands he is allowed to speak and we find out the pregnant lady is Monica, a former maid to Todd’s family. They kept her employed throughout the pregnancy until they found out the father was in fact Todd and then they promptly fired her. Because an angry pregnant woman is no threat whatsoever, oh no.
Kelsie looks more pissed off that she planned a whole wedding her cousin has just ran out of. When Todd tries to run up to Connor and beat him up he just falls over and stays on the floor for a bit instead. Kelsie goes out to speak to Emily, who is dismayed she didn’t know, although this is like being expected to know your cousin is still texting her dead mother and paying the phone bill for it. We are also expected to believe that Emily would rather ask how Kelsie’s love life is going with her ex after her own wedding was just ruined.
And out pops Connor! Emily graciously leaves the pair to chat and it turns out the dead uncle hired Connor….
Mom: The uncle who died!? How did he know!?”
Connor: “He called me near the end and heard from one of his friends I was a P.I. now. He felt something didn’t feel right about Todd.”
Me: “But…. the pregnant woman…. and he was already dead…. these two things aren’t connected.”
Mom: “She must be 18 1/2 months pregnant at least.”
Out in the courtyard there is an argument about who is going to end the wedding, because everyone is just glad it’s over, before Connor thinks everyone should stay because hes gonna propose and they’re gonna go inside and get married.
Mom: “They get married quickly in these films.”
Me: “Do you think they have shorter life spans so they have to get everything in quicker?”
Mom: “Oh good, she’s wearing the family dress.”
Me: “It makes her look pregnant.”
Mom: “You did say they move quick in these movies.”
Me: “Look Mom, the next film is called ‘Will You MERRY Me’.”
Mom: “Right. Film’s over. I think I need a stiff brandy…..”
When asked to review this film mom gave the following statement.
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.
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
I am now fitting Christmas films in wherever I can in order to review and chuck them out into the wide world. The irony that my favourite one so far has had to be so rushed.
Straight up we are in some sort of hotel foyer where a mom and daughter are watching a very elaborate train set go around and around and around.
Child: “Do you think there is a place like this somewhere? For real?”
Mom: “I don’t know. Maybe.”
Child: “I want to go. Just you, me and Daddy and I wouldn’t tell anyone where we were.”
Mom: “No? Why not?”
Child: “Then no one would find us and…”
Me: “Then those debt collectors wouldn’t come and break Daddy’s knees like they said they would last week in the street.”
Apparently the dad has an important job but it’s cool because they’ll always love her… which means they’re probably gonna die soon. Prediction #1 – easy. The kid gets the early gift of an antique camera and, for a second, the mom looks around suspiciously like there really are debt collectors coming for her husband’s knees. When they leave the hotel they are shoved into a big ol’ waiting car which does, in all fairness, look important.
20 years later…. the child is all grown up but still using the same camera to come back and take pictures of the same train in the hotel. Some PA is giving her the itinerary for the day which, again, sounds very important. The woman is more interested in going to some gallery than following the itinerary of her PA, who is actually her Aunt Margaret. Apparently this woman, Katherine, has commitments of state she needs to attend to. Who the hell is this woman!?
Katherine is told she definitely can’t go to a gallery to look at pictures so why doesn’t she just settle for being a patron or whatever the hell she likes instead? Some guy named George rocks up, who I believe may be her uncle, and addresses her as ‘Her Royal Highness’? People! Please! A little more context!!!!
Next some random guy is pulling up in a van and he’s just young and handsome enough for our princess to fall in love with him. Prediction #2. He gives some money to a street Santa, to prove to viewers he’s a good guy, and off he goes on the phone, talking about windows. I think he’s some sort of contractor because he takes great care in stroking a piece of wood his team are working on in what looks to be another renovation. Christmas is not the time to renovate, folks! Another festive renovation, another guy named Jack. I guess there are only so many names and scenarios you can cycle through at Christmas…
Some man called Eric is now calling and it sounds like every conversation between me and my mom when she was holding the plug for the Christmas tree lights together with tape and determination.
Jack: “Eric? Woah, woah, woah, slow down… What? No, smoke is definitely bad. Eric, I…. no, I’m on my way.”
Katherine is reminiscing with George and it turns out her mom married a prince making her, now, the Princess of Monstsaurai which is apparently a very tiny country. It’s so tiny Katherine doesn’t think they need a princess and would rather hang out at the gallery. Katherine’s job description involves smiling, waving and speak to people who don’t listen to her. That’s called being a woman, my dear.
Kath: “I didn’t ask for this! It never stops, you know, there’s always someone there telling me… how to talk, how to look, how to smile, just… how to be!”
Me: “That’s called being a woman with access to the internet, my dear.”
Kath apologises for moaning at George but it’s just because she misses her mom and Christmas was her favourite time of year. She shows him a locket with their pictures in it, which was the last Christmas present she was given and her parents probably died in a car or plane crash shortly afterwards. Prediction #3.
Jack is rushing off to help Eric who, as it turns out, has set up some dodgy wiring for his magic shop which involves lighting the outdoor sign by wiring it up through the letter box and…. I see another fire hazard coming, folks. Oh, yeah. Eric appears to be a more wizardy version of Santa and his name is actually Harry, not Eric. ……. For fuck’s sake Hayley.
Eric has managed to short his entire wiring system in the process of lighting up the outdoor sign. For some reason Jack has turned the sign back on and everything is back to being a fire hazard. He needs to come and rewire the whole place because its unsafe but is still leaving Eric to operate out of the shop, with his sign on, and hold a party there that Jack is invited to that evening, while he finds the time to do all of this. Responsible.
Meanwhile George is having a word with Aunt Margaret as a distraction while Kath makes a break for the gallery, sneaking around guards and staff like the slowest, most colourful ninja known to man. Elsewhere Jack is still trying to get away from Eric who is insistent Jack comes to his weird pot luck party tonight. So insistent that Jack feels something is up. That something…. is a set up! Eric is trying to force women at Jack because he hasn’t dated in a while and obviously I would trust any blind date set up for me by…. Eric just ate a chocolate coin with the wrapping on. …….
Swiftly moving on, it’s not any better with Katherine who is wondering around the streets with a camera, talking to herself, and will end up being committed if she’s not careful. Soon she finds herself part of some scam where a tag team robs her of her camera and purse when she stupidly puts them down and turns away from them. Jack is there, thought, and goes running after them. He doesn’t chase them for too long and lets them get away with her purse.
Kath is nonplussed about all of this and has only just realised her purse and camera is gone when the man points it out to her, meaning this whole time she’s just been wondering why this man likes to chase people and insist on calling the cops. There’s a bizarre conversation where Kath refuses any sort of help and wants to roam the streets with no phone, camera or money, so Jack buggers off because some ho’s just don’t wanna be saved. However he does come back in order to give her some money.
Jack: “You can’t be alone in the city without money.”
Me: “Why, so someone else can mug her?”
Jack finally manages to escape, wondering why the hell this woman is wishing him a Merry Christmas after she got mugged and the world is a terrible place to be. Meanwhile, Aunt Margaret is still looking for her niece and is gonna lose her shit when she finds out the royal credit cards have gone missing, too.
Margaret: “Well that’s it, we’ve called everyone.”
George: “It’s only been a few hours.”
Me: “THAT TOOK A FEW HOURS!?”
Margaret is obsessed with her niece so George offers to phone the police in order to rein in some of that crazy. Margaret has news for him; they never involve the police. Instead they involve a guy called Simon who is a tiny little guy in a suit.
Margaret: “If anyone can find Kath quietly, Simon can.”
Me: “What, did you think the cops were just gonna go shout her down?”
Kath finally gets to the gallery but it’s closed. Typical. Equally, trying to get back to the hotel with only 20 dollars is impossible so she’s back to walking the streets and avoiding muggers.
Jack is having dinner with his sister because he wants to avoid appearing too eager to get to Eric’s party. He is annoyed to see his sister’s boyfriend, Ross, though and I feel his pain because his sister has now lured and trapped him into this dinner because he hates Ross and never would have turned up otherwise. For some reason these siblings are still tickling each other as adults and that freaks me out because me and my brothers take the normal sibling approach of staying at least 5 feet away from each other at all times.
Ross has called Jack into the living room to watch….. Ross on the TV as a field reporter…. Ross is clearly narcissistic and is looking at that TV with ALL of the crazy eye. After dinner Jack is desperate to help clean up the kitchen because the only other option is talking to Ross.
Sister: “So are you dating anyone?”
Jack: “Why is everyone suddenly so interested?”
Me: “Because we only have 2 hours to get the point across that you’re single and ready to date. One set of questions isn’t enough.”
Jack has just bolted out the door because he’s sick of the people in this house when Ross runs down looking for him like a little puppy. There is something very wrong with that man but his narcissism and current career path is clearly gonna lead him to trying to get the scoop on Kath roaming the streets – or being in love with Jack – and everyone will hate him. Prediction #4, set.
Kath actually is still roaming the streets and has passed the magic shop which she’s better not going in because it’s a fire hazard. Wiping at the window she sees…. a bunch of people dressed as Santa in there… before bumping into Jack.
Jack: “What are you doing way over here?”
Kath: “Oh, I’m just taking in the sights.”
Jack: “In the dark?”
Me: “She might be a sex pest, just leave her alone!”
Kath is…. I can’t stop laughing at this woman because these pretend cops she insists she called told her ‘they’re all over this, they’re gonna bust this case wide open’ and when they pretend heard that Jack was a witness they were like ‘pssshhhh’. Jack is clearly worried about her mental health and invites her in to the party because why not add a crazy woman to a room of Santa’s.
Katherine decides to use the name Katie Holiday because that’s novel. When Eric’s assistant of a million years, Dixie, leads her away to get food, Jack is obviously looking after her fondly like he’s known her for years when she doesn’t even know his name.
Back at the hotel Simon is being shit at his job but has found that Kath ditched her phone in the hotel basement, so at least the thieves couldn’t steal and publish any of her nudes. Tiny Simon is sure she has nowhere to hide out there but I bet he wasn’t thinking of looking in a magic shop full of Santas.
I think this whole situation can be summed up with Eric’s words:
“She’s a nice girl. I don’t think she’s from around here.”
Said no one about me, ever. Not the first sentence anyway.
God knows what happens next because Kath is asleep on a stranger’s shop sofa and Dixie is covering her up with a Santa cape. Apparently Jack didn’t go home either because hes waking her up with coffee and after thanking him for helping her she literally runs out of the shop because she’s just realised she’s been missing for a million years.
Sitting down, Jack notices she has left her necklace on the chair…. somehow, I mean if that’s casually falling off you should probably get a better chain. Outside she’s just standing there because that’s kind of her thing now and he hands it back. He decides enough is enough and gives her a lift after a long, awkward, 5 minutes where she tries to put her own necklace on but fails miserably.
Instead of going back to the hotel, Kath finally gets to go to the gallery and only 24 hours late! She finds the blacked out car over the road a bit weird and finds it even weirder when Tiny Simon’s helpers pop out. Both Kath and Jack have already clocked these people and Jack is wondering what’s going on when Kath very suddenly wants to go and get some food.
Ross is waiting for the princess to announce some choir or orchestra or something with a bunch of other reporters. When George helps out instead, despite the fact I’m very sure he has nothing to do with that side of the family, Ross blames his camerawoman for that waste of time.
Meanwhile Jack is still trying to offer his help and Kath is still pretending noooooooothing is wrong. Jack gets them some food from a street cart.
Jack: “My treat.”
Me: “Well, good job, because even if she did pay for them it would be with the money you gave her yesterday. Either way, its your treat.”
He comments that she should have cancelled all her cards but she claims she has none of those, so I have no idea what those guys actually stole in her purse. Jack receives a call he has to see to so just takes Kath with him to the building he had been working at previously.
Jack: “Take a look around.”
Me: “Is that wise? She has no idea whats going on and you’re letting her loose on a tiny construction site? She’s going to die.”
Thinking about it, one day Kath will meet someone far better looking and will grow tired of Jack. Meanwhile, Ross believes the princess is in the back of Tiny Simon’s jeep and is gonna be sorely disappointed when he finds out it’s empty. He begins to suspect something is going on here but I don’t entirely trust in his IQ all that much, so he could be envisioning anything.
Back at the building renovation, Kath is looking at a yellow stained glass window when Jack comes in.
Jack: “I love the light in this room. It’s….. it’s got this colour…..”
Me: “….. That’s….. that’s what stained glass tends to do, Jack…..”
When he starts asking questions about the guys following her, Kath thinks it’s time to make a break for it again. Jack is giving some bizarre, ultimate life lessons without knowing what’s actually going on and probably filling her tiny, sheltered head with lots of big ideas. Now he’s offering up the work site for her to stay for a few days, despite the fact she has no money, no phone and no change of clothes. Oh. And people are trying to work here.
In reality, if you harboured a Christmas stranger they would either a) steal all of your belongings and be gone by morning or b) become obsessed with you and your entire family and try to replace a member of the unit in increasingly more sinister and deadly ways.
Suddenly his sister is showing up with clothes, which she has brought not questioning anything, and he sends her off to meet fake Katie in the bedroom. I wasn’t entirely sure how Jack would feel about his new love interest being dressed as his sister but as it turned out she owns a shop and Kate can just drop by and borrow whatever she likes because that a good business model to follow.
After this favour she is immediately calling in her own, sibling style, and needs Jack to go and fetch a Christmas tree. Jack states loudly that it’s three days before Christmas and how can she not have a tree!? Until she loudly states that she does not decorate until Christmas Eve so, what, she just wants the tree to hang around in her house for 2 days not doing anything. Kath offers herself up when Jack says he is too busy to go, having NO idea how heavy this tree is gonna be, and she’s off to get ready for her next big adventure.
Jack: “So…. did she say anything?”
Jack, rolling eyes: “The Queen of England…. KATIE!”
Me: “Mmmm, close. Actually she’s the Princess of Monstsaurai. You won’t have heard of it. No one has.”
Suddenly she is being invited round for Christmas because this family loves to take in a waif and stray and suddenly he is going to help pick up the tree, despite saying he couldn’t because there were only 3 days until Christmas, he had no time and couldn’t leave his guys to do everything on their own. FISH LOGIC.
It is the mangiest tree I have ever seen, seriously. After a tree fight, where Jack almost crushes the Princess of Monstsaurai,they are off to go and decorate a tree where fake Katie will probably fall off a ladder and into Jack’s arms.
Ross is busy blackmailing George at the hotel and if he can’t see the princess he will run his other story that the princess is, in fact, missing. George is handling this very well when the Margaret comes down the stairs announcing loudly, for all to hear, that Kath has run away and Aunt Margaret just deserves to be pushed down the stairs.
Kath might have to turn down this Christmas dinner because apparently Monstsaurai can’t celebrate Christmas without the princess, so will be stuck in a ground hog day-esque, Christmas Eve situation. Kath and Jack come across a little Christmas fare/market which Katie used to go to with her mom.
Kath: “This is exactly the same!”
Me: “Actually, I think you’re thinking of the exact same nutcracker figure that was in the hotel and has clearly just been moved around on set.”
AND I CALLED IT! Parents dead in a plane crash.
When Jack spies Santa’s grotto he believes this will distract them from the morbid conversation, especially as it turns out to be Eric doing magic tricks as Santa. Back at the magic shop Eric & Dixie are feeding her again. This time it’s soup and we’re playing my favourite cast game – let’s pretend we’re actually eating this food. Turns out Jack has some MBA and was a real estate guy but just wanted to do odd jobs on the buildings he owned instead. Last year he had a girlfriend called Gretchen who he was supposed to marry (but was not engaged so there’s a Christmas presumption for you) who wasn’t impressed when money got tight and left.
Tiny Simon is relaying footage of Kath and Jack loitering outside the galley back at the hotel. Maybe Aunt Margaret will take to social media and tell everyone about it in another bid to tell the world Kath is missing. Either way, the pair are being hunted down and it had better end soon because I’m tired.
Jack and Kath are having a heartfelt conversation and again he is unknowingly putting big ideas in her little head and she’s gonna start a rebellion before long. Jack’s Sister turns up with Ross in tow, who thinks Kath looks familiar, and the sister has bought even more clothes from store. That’s another profit….
They are all dressed up to go for dinner and then see an orchestra. Ross is celebrating the fact he knows the royal family are roaming the city and fake Katie realises it might be time for her to go home soon… Not too soon, though, because she’s still hiding out on the work site.
Speaking with Jack, who is working at god knows what time at night, Kath is being delightfully cryptic about deciding whether to return to the hotel or not but in an attempt to help, Jack has bought her a camera because she appears to no longer care about the one that was stolen from her. Kath promises they can talk at the gallery tomorrow (third time’s a charm!) and goes to bed, but not before she has taken a picture of Jack, which will help serve her in some way later – Prediction #5.
Ross is in the crowd of the concert Kath ran away from introducing and he cannae see the princess anywhere. In her place is Tiny Simon who I’m sure should be out looking for Kath. That is when Ross sees Kath’s picture on the back of the programme and causes a big commotion as he battles his way along the row to get out of there.
Back at the art gallery Kath sees Tiny Simon and kisses Jack in an attempt to not be seen. She then asks to use his phone and goes off to make a call because flustering a man like that will have him agree to anything bizarre you might say afterwards. Meanwhile, Ross is showing up at the magic shop asking about fake Katie and after Eirc has told Ross she’ll probably be back later, because she likes to hang around there like some yobo, he wonders why any of this may have just taken place.
Kath phones George to let her know she’s alive and he agrees to hold off Aunt Margaret before she kills a man. He just about manages to warn her about a rogue reporter before Kath sees Tiny Simon and his men and runs off with Jack’s phone. Luckily Jack also sees the men chasing her and doesn’t think this was all some elaborate scheme to steal his phone to replace the one she left in the basement hotel. Jack turns up in his van and they’re off. Will she EVER get into this fucking art gallery!?
Back at the magic shop everyone believes these guys are trying to kidnap her but Ross is on the way so she thinks she had better try and explain. She is taking her sweet, mystical time being cryptic and like I predicted Ross will break this when he turns up. Just as she is about to tell them all, Ross interrupts at the door and fake Katie gets the fuck outta dodge – he is out there filming for channel 6 news, for god’s sake.
Now he is interviewing everyone about the woman in the shop before Eric invites him in to see how empty the place is and there is definitely no princess in there. Ross is darting around the place like the wide-eyed maniac he is, opening wardrobes and cupboards and… there we go. The big reveal.
Sister: “The princess?”
Ross: “You didn’t know?”
Jack: “I think I would have mentioned it….”
Jack is my favourite Christmas guy so far. Only took 8 days to find him. The sister is more pissed her boyfriend tried to hunt down her ‘friend’ and pushes him into the wardrobe before Eric disappears him. A few more words spoken in tongues and Kath is stepping back out of the wardrobe.
Ross is heard trying to break out the wardrobe too but everyone just ignores that to continue learning about fake Katie and the traditions of Monstsaurai and the Christmas festival she needs to go and kick off. Jack realises she will have to go home now but…. I don’t know why he looks SO disappointed, I mean she’s a princess, she can’t exactly help it. It’s not like she had a hidden boyfriend or fiance and its understandable why she couldn’t tell him. Maybe he’s more pissed he spent that money on a camera when she could afford one herself.
Jack is in his van when he picks up the camera she left in there (to get robbed) and sees all the pictures she took of their friends, the sights and him planing a piece of wood. It’s not a flattering picture but Prediction #5 just came true because he’s feeling all weird now.
Jack is still out in the van when Kath pops out the shop and points out they never made it to the gallery. This time… THEY’RE GONNA MAKE IT. Bizarrely, when they get there, Jack gives her a Santa hat and sends her on her way into the art gallery while he waits for Tiny Simon in the foyer.
Tiny Simon and Jack are on a first name basis out there and all of a sudden there are a load of Santas everywhere as some sort of distraction technique.
Tiny Simon: “Are you serious!? Which one is she!?”
Me: “……………… Simon, what the fuck are you talking about?! She is none of the Santas who are clearly grown ass men!”
Moving on…. Kath is just wondering around the art gallery not dressed as Santa and not wearing her hat. Jack goes to find her because…. whatever, Tiny Simon is the worst guard ever. When Kath and Jack are done, George and Margaret are waiting for them and there is the least emotional goodbye ever as Kath pretty much just walks off out of the building leaving Jack behind. He does, however, get an open invitation from George to visit their mythical land and…. this place looks amazing!
All the people are very happy to see the princess rock up while she just looks mildly miserable. Margaret is encouraging her to smile because its Christmas and when the door opens for her she gets out the car and BOOM! There is Jack, moving in… slightly slow motion.
The whole country looks very welcoming of him and there we have it, Jack is now prince of Monstsaurai. Thank god. I can go sleep.
For the first time, in 7 days, I have actually enjoyed watching a Christmas film rather than wincing, banging my head off my laptop or wanting to cry. If you want to mildly enjoy something too, find it here.
Prediction Table – 5/5
Prediction #1 – Kath’s parents will die – CORRECT
Prediction #2 – Kath will fall in love with the van guy – CORRECT
Prediction #3 – Kath’s parents died in a plane/car crash – CORRECT
Prediction #4 – Ross will try and report on Kath and everyone will hate him – CORRECT
Prediction #5 – Kath’s picture of Jack will stop him being a knob – CORRECT
We’ve battled terrifying New Year’s floats, spinning gingerbread, the postal service, Satan’s children, mental health, child custody and fire hazards at every step. Only 17 firey days to go!
Keeping it short and sweet we dive straight in to the office.
Bob: “Great work on the war project, Mary. The mayor said the restorations are making whole city proud.”
Me: “WAR PROJECT!?”
Bob also tells Mary that no one deserves the entire week off more than her…. despite it not being any particularly important week. Regardless, Mary is horrified to be off for the entire week and claims she only needs a long weekend up in the mountains. Bob tells her to call if she needs more time but these unrealistic working conditions scare me because that is definitely not how booking holiday works. A colleague, Yolanda, walks in to Mary’s office asking for the files she will need whilst covering Mary’s workload, which Mary has dumped on a chair by the door in a big ol’ mess.
Yolanda tries hinting that Mary’s boyfriend, Kent, might pop the question this weekend despite the fact they’ve only been dating for a year. Mary could not look more uninterested. Rocking up at her parents house it took me quite a long while to figure out the man and woman in the kitchen were both her parents. For a good 3 minutes I was trying to work out whether the woman was her Mom or her Nan. I wondered why she didn’t seem more concerned about the bed-bound Grandad upstairs…
Dad: “Listen, Mary, at some point we have to sit down and make some hard decisions.”
Me: “What, about getting rid of Grandad?”
Mary avoids the conversation completely and runs off to see Grandad whose time is limited on this earth. When her Mom puts the idea forward that they could ship Grandad off now he is suddenly all defensive about this shit.
Upstairs Mary’s sister is dressed as a nurse – I hope to portray that she is medically trained and not because she feels like it that day – looking after Grandad and taking his blood pressure.
Sister: “Grandpa, relax! Your blood pressure always spikes when he sees you.”
Mary: “Is that a bad thing?”
Sister: “He’d be a lot worse off if he didn’t see you. We all know that you’re the love of his life”
Me: “Bit weird.”
Turns out Grandad is on bed rest after heart surgery and is hoping Mary will kidnap him and take him up the mountain with her. They say heart surgery but I’m also feeling some sort of dementia.
Grandad: “Can you bring me back some pine cones? Really big ones?”
Mary: “I’ll have to get some from the store on the way. You’re not allowed to take them out of the park.”
Grandad: “Just as it should be. Everyone should have the chance to experience the park as God intended.”
Me: “Then why did you ask her to steal the pine cones for you, you crazy, mad bastard?”
When the Grandad asks Mary to say ‘Hi’ to the Nan for him it sounds a lot like she’s still living up the mountain on her own but that can’t be right. When Mary goes to leave her brothers have turned up and are blocking off the drive with their works vans. After the grilling she gives them it appears no one really likes her boyfriend… and I’m not sure they really like her either.
On the way up the mountain Kent is trying to convince Mary that a jazz festival is the most exciting thing on earth they could be doing and I’m out. I hate him.
Kent: “Mary? Hello? You’re like, in your own little world.”
Mary: “Sorry Kent.”
Kent: “So you up for jazz-fest then NYC on the 4th?”
Me: “Jazz-fest…..” *facepalm*
Mary: “Actually I was hoping we could get tents and come out here.”
Kent: “Will you ever make time for the city?”
Mary: “I live in the city.”
Kent: “Yeah, but you don’t like to go out.”
Mary: “What… It’s been a busy year and coming out here is the only thing between me and total exhaustion.”
Kent: “I feel the same way about the city.”
Me: “I feel the same way about wine.”
Prediction #1 – Mary ditches Kent as soon as humanly possible to avoid Jazz-fest.
Up at the hotel/lodge it appears that Kent and Mary have different rooms and this struck me as entirely bizarre until the end of the film when it finally dawned on me. By then I had suffered a healthy dose of people preaching about ‘The Lord’ and realised it was all just Christianity. Regardless, Kent just wants to lounge around by the pool but I can’t help feel it’s probably kinda chilly up that mountain no matter what the time of year is. It turns out Kent wanted to sit by the pool because he sucks at walking up hills and needs to take a break. His tiny city mind can’t comprehend how anyone could love a place where it rains. Mate, it rains everywhere. … He’s so fucked.
Mary keeps trying to bring God into this conversation and now my tiny brain can’t take it and turns her down to white noise every time she does. By the looks of Kent’s expression, so is he. It also turns out her Nan is dead and she talks to her in her head while she hikes. As sweet as I’m sure that is to some people, between Mary jabbering on to a dead relative and Kent taking about jazz-fest, I’d rather throw myself off the side.
Not soon after we hear a dog barking and a woman calling for help. Sure enough there is a small girl down a ravine with her dog, claiming she has twisted her ankle. I’ve seen these films, she’s going to lure them in then her cannibal relatives will be on them like stink on a gorilla. Kent thinks it would be best to get help whilst Mary loudly proclaims it’s not a good idea because of the bears and mountain lions – something else Kent wasn’t aware off from the look on his face.
Kent: “Don’t you need a rope or anything?”
Mary: “Mah, I can’t hike down here but I can scramble.”
Me: “Oh, that’s easy. I do this all the time after I’ve been drinking.”
Mary scrambles off down the hill which, if you ask me, looks a lot like she’s just…. walking off down the side of the hill. How she envisions getting the girl and dog back up, who knows. Prediction #2 this kid has a young handsome relative who Mary will return the child to and all will be well. The kid seems more worried her dad will find out she fell down a hill after trying to rescue her dog.
Charlene: “He’d kill me if he knew I was out here all alone.”
Mary: “Yeah, he must be worried sick about you.”
Charlene: “He went into town to get some nails and stuff. He’s probably not even back yet.”
Me “Nails for what? Killing her?”
Mary quite casually picks up the child and just believes the dog will follow. She then scrambles back up the hill with a kid on her back whilst Kent stands at the top of the hill giving directions. Kent thinks they should take Charlene to a Dr but Mary just wants to take her home, throw her to the wrath of her dad’s nails and watch the world burn. Kent is roped into carrying the kid the rest of the way, which isn’t the greatest idea because he could barely carry himself earlier, let alone a small child.
Following the kid’s directions they walk over a bridge and Mary recognises the giant ass building before her as ‘Christmas Lodge’. Kent thinks it’s a wreck but this child lives here and it turns out her dad is Jack Rand, a guy who Mary used to know. Yep, Kent’s days are numbered.
When Jack rocks back up confirming Prediction #2, Charlene claims she was getting the mail when she twisted her ankle. Jack sees right through this and I fear for Charlene’s immediate health – wait until he goes back to the van for those naisl…. Additionally he doesn’t seem too intrigued when Mary gives her name but eventually links her to her parents.
Jack: “How is your family doing?”
Mary: “They’re great! Mostly…. yeah!”
Me: “He doesn’t need your life history, love, just say yes and move along.”
No chance of that because suddenly they’re going inside for food. The place looks like it’s under both renovation and demolition at the same time and Kent is having a hard time using his imagination, no doubt melted away by all of the hard drugs he consumes at Jazz-fest every year. Mary is wondering around the place reminiscing to herself, probably talking to her dead Nan, while Jack tries to take Charlene’s welly off without her whinging about it.
Mary is still whittling on about the lodge and gravity and beams until after their meal when Jack pulls out a random photo album which Mary meets with great enthusiasm but is still like…. who are these people?
Apparently Jack’s great Grandad started the tradition of taking pictures of every guest who stayed, back when photos were still developed in black and white. Apparently there weren’t too many guests because after 3 pages the photos are in colour and Mary finds herself and her family. She says they stopped coming when she was 5 or 6 but in the photo she’s definitely more like 10.
The renovations on the lodge have been set back years because his parents got killed in a car crash – Christmas’ favourite death #2. As some sort of project worker Mary thinks she can probably help on this and is offering a million varieties of help and will call him when she gets back to the city.
Jack gives Mary and Kent a lift back to their hotel, leaving Charlene up on the mountain to wander out and twist her other ankle. Unlike Santa’s Village in film #5 this place has terrible signal and Kent has only just got bars again now they’re back at the hotel. At some point before leaving – which he definitely didn’t have time to do – Jack took all of the photos with Mary in out of the album, put them in an envelope and is now handing them over to her. Maybe he just never wants to have to see her face again.
Jack: “My great grandparents said anyone who stays at the lodge is family for life. It sounds creepy but it’s not.”
Me: “Well it didn’t sound creepy until you said it sounded creepy. Now it’s creepy.”
Jack is eyeing up this woman despite her boyfriend standing outside the car watching them like a hawk. In all fairness, Mary probably just wants to renovate something so she won’t have to go to that bloody jazz festival. It’s also been a life long dream of hers to help work on an old lodge, which she just thought of now so she definitely doesn’t have to go to Jazz-fest.
Back down the mountain at her parents house, which might also be hers, she has a giant pine cone to show Grandad. Before she gets up there dad is relieved Kent didn’t propose after all and Mary distracts him from these awkward questions with the photos from the lodge. Dad asks about Jack and his parents and when she tells him they’re dead I’m finding it hard to believe the words ‘oh no, im sorry to hear that’ when the man looks like hes trying not to laugh.
At this point Mary reveals her plans for her dad and brothers to go up and help with the lodge because in Christmas films you can be offered up for work and you can’t complain about it because it’s ‘in the spirit of things’ and all that bollocks. The dad has just high balled an estimate here, trying to put her off without actually seeing the place, and estimated half a mil wouldn’t even cover the kitchen.
Mary: “I just wanted to bring us all back together. Looking at this photo… we look so happy.”
Dad: “We were, Mary, we were, but…. time marches on.”
Me: “And now we’re all miserable or dying.”
Mary takes the pine cone up to Grandad and I have to say her mom looks as old as the dying man, it’s a bizarre casting choice. Grandad is happy to see pictures of the lodge before having a break down over a picture with his deceased wife in it.
Mom: “Where did you get this?”
Mary: “Well, me and Kent were hiking and we just stumbled onto the lodge and…”
Grandad: “YOU DIDNT STUMBLE UPON ANYTHING! Mavis wanted you to go there.”
Me: “Ohhhhhhhhhh christ.”
Grandad shows them a box with a crap load of old photos in there and it turns out the he met Mavis at the lodge when they were children. This isn’t helping Mary let go of the lodge any, which is what the dad recommended. By the sounds of grandad’s memories, the Mavis was a bad ass who liked to stare down bears and mountain lions, which is pretty ballsy. It’s hard to call what will happen with the Grandad – he’s either gonna have a Christmas miracle and manage to see the lodge one last time OR he will die and this will encourage Mary to help renovate in his honour. I cant call it. A million hours later her mom comes to chuck Mary out and she’s immediately back to pestering her dad again about the lodge. This time it involves tricking her brothers into thinking they’re going on a trip which turns out to be free labour.
Back at work, Mary’s colleague Yolanda is losing her damn mind from covering Mary’s work and is pissed there is no ring on her friend’s hand to make her time worthwhile. Mary rings back to the lodge where Charlene demands Jack picks up the phone because she’s too busy…. polishing a stained glass window they’ve popped out of its frame. Explaining all of the plans she has already put in action Jack is worried that people (ie. Mary are gonna be charging in and taking over the place. Charlene also seems to be obsessed with her.
Charlene: “What did Mary say!?”
Jack: “She’s gonna come up with her family and help fix up the lodge.”
Mary: “Literally…. did not say that at any point during the phone call. What is wrong with these people?”
Back in the city, Kent and Mary are out for coffee and Kent is not impressed about her driving up the mountain again the next weekend. This is when Kent breaks it to her that the fact Mary likes mountains and he likes jazz festivals means they can no longer be together. I mean… I hate walking as much as the next person but I’m not gonna break up with someone over it. Mary seems very keen to patch this up but Kent is outta there because he loves jazz so much nothing will come in the way of him and jazz-fest.
It’s odd seeing a conversation between a mother and daughter over a breakup because normally the parents are dead and long gone in these films.
Mary: “So what do I do now?”
Mom: “Be truthful. Be truthful to yourself and to the world.”
Me: “Woah, that’s…. that’s a big fucking ask there, Mom. I can barely be truthful that I no longer fit in my jeans.”
As always the children are very forward in these films and when Mary rocks up with her army of a family, Charlene is running over, hugging her and shit, and Mary is not bothered at all. I would have punched the kid in the face for moving too quickly next to me out of reflex.
In the next and first montage I come to the conclusion I do not have much confidence in the brothers when can barely get a ladder down off the roof of the van. The rest of the montage consists of men pretending they know what they’re doing by measuring things, knocking on bits of wood and nodding to themselves about this valuation of the property. Once inside the dad is sold and it’s all over.
Dad: “My goodness, this place is a time machine.”
Me: “Bit reckless to use it as a lodge.”
Over discussing food Jack smiles and….. oh, the horror.
After a quick break the montage music is back, cue one brother trying to kill himself with the wiring and another finding out the pipes are leaking. Mary and Charlene are busy discussing Grandads over the album.
Charlene: “Can you bring your grandpa next time you come?”
Mary: “You wanna see him?”
Charlene: “Well…. I lost my grandpa.”
Me: “What, so you wanna borrow someone else’s? I don’t think that’s how this works.”
Mary conveniently misses out the fact Grandad is bed bound and her dad thinks this is the perfect time to remind Mary her grandad is dying and she can not just be hiring him out to random children as she pleases. Jack has cooked for them and appears to have prepared a meal of uncooked corn on the cob and biscuits.
Compared to the rest of her family it’s becoming apparent that Mary is both dull and clinically insane. Stepping outside, Mary has joint Jack to oversee him push an empty wheelbarrow around and we all come to the understanding that these two people are single and ready to Christmas. After collecting wood from the tiniest ever woodpile in the middle of the garden which… I don’t own a woodpile but I’m sure that isn’t the right place to store it – it’s time for negotiations.
Basically, what this boils down to is, 1.8 – 2 mil AND until then no Christmas lights because the entire thing actually is a fire hazard. Mary takes up the mantle now and hopes that the trust fund can fund the entire thing – now, nothing has been decided by the people paying out but Mary offers her family up to start working on the lodge before she’s even called them. In order for your Christmas film to work you have to be presumptuous.
The montage music is back when the guys start work, concentrating on the parts most likely to fall down and kill people first. Jack is signing a bunch of papers and it’s just presumed at this point that he’s gonna get the money and all will be well.
Charlene: “You like Mary, don’t you?”
Jack: “WHAT? Where do you come up with this stuff?”
Charlene: “You know, she likes you too.”
Jack: “Why, did she tell you that?”
Charlene: “No, but I can tell. I like her Dad. I like her a lot.”
Me: “Let’s lock her in the basement and never let her leave because she’s family now.”
The trust is willing to give half the funding to fix the lodge, which Mary is panicking over because she needs to get her grandad up there before he kicks the bucket. For some reason her boss, Bob, lets this crazy woman go in and rant at the trust’s chair man. She’s so overbearing and annoying I would have pulled all funding. They literally can’t give her all the money, as they don’t have it, and she’s still not happy about it.
Bob: “You did your best.”
Mary: “Try telling that to Jack and Charlene and Grandpa.”
Me: “Then you shouldn’t of fucking promised them anything, you moron!”
Mary is breaking the news to her dad when Grandad wants a word about the whole thing. Probably shouldn’t be telling a dying man about this sort of stuff….. Anyway, they have the money for supplies but not enough for the builders. Grandad shouts at his son, asking what the fuck he thinks he’s playing at, and at first is requesting his son do all this shit for free – regardless of whether the man wanted an easy Christmas with his own family or not. Then Grandad is willing to give up everyone’s inheritance to spend on paying them to do a job he won’t be around that long to appreciate anyway. In order to spur his son on he basically compares his son’s work to jesus’.
Obviously the dad agrees to this and signs his sons up too, regardless of what they had planned this Christmas because if he’s going to be miserable, they will too. I mean sure, I enjoyed that villa we’ve been to a few times as a family in Florida but if it falls into disrepair I ain’t going to fucking fix it.
Mary seems to think it’s fine to let Charlene loose on sanding down a door whilst wearing fairy wings while she climbs up a ladder and starts hammering in nails like they don’t have until Christmas to get this shit done. Jack starts getting all philosophical on everyone’s ass around the fire and talk turns to death, which is nice.
Mary offers to help Jack clean the kitchen because that’s enough about Grandad dying when, about to ask her a question, instead he marches off around the table brandishing a sauce pan which makes me think about those nails he was buying in town all those days ago…. After trying to ask her out she does her best to try and weasel out of this by throwing all manner of excuses at it. Number one is keeping it secret from Charlene who is in fact hiding around the side of the door and I’m surprised they can’t see her wings. The whole thing is quite pointless because she agrees anyway.
I missed some because I ended up listening to some Final Fantasy music on Youtube for some reason, but I’m pretty sure everyone is invited to the lodge over Christmas and the family has buggered off, leaving Jack with a half tumbling down house.
Back at work, Bob is offering Mary a position heading up a new office up in the mountains because Bob got a taste for the life of renovating cabins and wants to help out all these communities. Yolanda is again more obsessed with Mary’s love life and just cares about Mary getting together with Jack at the lodge. It’s only 3 seconds later Yolanda realises she just got a promotion…. that she doesn’t want and yet again people’s wants and needs are of no concern to anyone else around them because Mary forces her to take it.
That is, of course, when Mary gets a call from her mother…. why is it always up to mothers to deliver the bad news? We’re off to the hospital because Grandad has had a stroke and for some reason we have adopted some small children in the waiting area. I can’t tell who they belong to but we seem to know them. The sister drops by and lets them know it’s just a mild stroke! and they just want to run some more tests before everyone can visit.
The very next scene they appear to be packing up all his stuff…. like he’s dead…. and they keep switching to talking about him in past tense… and I’m still waiting to find out whether the man has suddenly died! MY GOD I THINK HE’S DEAD! WHAT HAPPENED TO VISITING!?
In the next scene in the woods, when Charlene asks about Grandad and whether he’ll be around for Christmas because she wants to steal his soul, I can’t tell if Mary is lying when she says he’s still trying to bounce back from a stroke…
Kieran: “No! He’s alive!”
Fucking hell – these people be talking about folk in past tesnse before they’ve even gone. I think we’re now at Thanksgiving but I trust nothing any more and they’ve invited Jack and Charlene for dinner where Charlene just keeps asking about the damn grandad and wants to go see him.
Dad: “This looks great, Mother.”
Mom: “Would you say grace, Father?”
Kieran: “Why do they keep calling each other…?”
Me: “I was just thinking the same thing…”
Out on the deck, Mary announces she has great news and now even Jack is harping on about her grandad making it to Christmas. I swear to god if he doesn’t have a Christmas miracle recovery at the lodge I am gonna be pissed.
Jack: “You know, if we were married we could both stay at the lodge.”
Me: “Why couldn’t they do that…. oh…. wait…. Christians.”
Mary is understandably hesitant about this future marriage proposal considering they have been pretending not to date for only a few weeks or so. Back at the lodge I am hoping when Jack flicks the switch on the wiring the whole thing sets the lodge on fire – Mary literally tells him to light the house up.
The lodge lights come on, the whole thing is well decorated and….
Me: “Apparently, when you switch the lodge lights on, the fire and candles come on too….”
All of a sudden the grandad is strolling in like nothing is wrong with the man and probably would have been the same earlier if they had let him get out of bed. Charlene is losing her shit over the grandad being there, hugging him and stuff, and no one seems to think this is odd. Grandad has had enough of this kid keep shouting ‘he’s here! he’s here!’ and has himself a sit down. There’s something dodgy going on here….
Jack: “I would like to thank my parents and grandparents who kept the lodge going through the depression…. wars….
Kieran: “He’s just full of Christmas cheer in’t he?”
He couldn’t keep it running through…. I dont even know what the issue was there. Either way, Jack decides now is the time to propose and in true Christmas spirit the mom and dad have already given their blessing becasuse just push your child into a marriage they may not have wanted or needed; it’s Christmas!! Suddenly the grandad is playing the fiddle, which sounds suspiciously like 3 fiddles together, and its not really being explained what Charlene’s obsession with him was. Everyone is lumbering around to this fiddle while Mary talks about love and oh god no…..
A family legit turns up in the snow asking if there are any rooms available because some road has been closed and they can’t get back to their actual lodge so how about this fallback one…. I can’t man. I bow out. I don’t need to know anything anymore my brain is Christmas fried.
Credit’s song – “It’s not wrapped in paper or tied up in a bow.”
Kieran: “It’s not tied up in a bow.”
Me: “It’s just not.”
Kieran: “It’s just not tied up in a bow.”
Kieran: “It’s quite an emotional lyric really.”
And you know what…. That sums up this entire hideous experience with pine cones, heart attacks, jazz and dead relatives.