Tag Archives: WHAT!?

Christmas Advent #19 – A Fairytale Christmas

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

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

 

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

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

ACF_1
Reacted no Dad ever to a man trying to date his daughter


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

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

Belle: “… we’re friends.”

Me: “You’re friends with this!?”


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

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

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

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

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

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


Vic: “How long you in town for?”

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

Angie: “That is gonna be a while.”

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

Me: “Good Christ, no.”


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

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


Belle: “There’s no Christmas decorations.”

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

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

Belle: “Huh, that’s too bad.”

Me: “………. YOU KNEW THIS.”


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

ACF_2
Damn, she made it up the stairs. Will just have to try and kill her another way.

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

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

ACF_3
Those abs are the main reason this man even got hired, the most you could do is make sure they were uploaded in HD quality

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

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

ACF_4
I’m no architect but I can’t help thinking structures should not have open holes in the them

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Thank god Beast was there to break it up.


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

Belle: “It was… perfect.”

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

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


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

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

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


Hunter: “You heard Angie’s hints…”

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

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

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


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

ACF_5
Honest to god the only thing missing from this montage is some sexy bass in the background

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

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


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

Belle: “Are you considering staying through Christmas?”

Hunter: “No.”

Me: “That’s… not how time works.”

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

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

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

Hunter: “…..”

Me: “It’s your dog.”


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

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


Dad: “OK! Who’s hungry!?”

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

Dad: “Oooooh somebody’s on edge.”

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

Dad: “I am clueless!”

Me: “…. I have nothing to add here.”


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

ACF_6
A woman pointing out a mans flaws!? Must be a lesbian, or something.

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


Angie: “Are you OK, love?”

Belle: “No. No, I don’t think so.”

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Hunter: “Then why pretend?”

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

Hunter: “Of course.”

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


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

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

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

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

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


Hunter: “Where is she!?”

Tony: “She’s gone.”

Hunter: “Gone? Where?”

Tony: “Back to the house.”

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

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

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

Me: “I can’t breathe!”


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

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

WE’RE FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

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

 

Prediction board – 3/4

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

 

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

 

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

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

Advertisements

Christmas Advent #14 – 3 Day Christmas

Usually, when I pick films, I just hit record on a bunch of films and see what pops out the other side. When it comes to actually watching them I check all of the recordings and read the synopsis. That is exactly why I chose this film for Day 14:

A father is convinced that his family needs to reconnect with each other. He has the perfect answer: lock them in the house over Christmas without heating or power. That should do the trick!

Now come on. Please. I have nothing but the highest of hopes for this clearly delusional man. We’ve done anonymous Christmas gifts and Christmas weddings and music lessons and saving Christmas tree nurseries. Now it’s time for a hostage situation.

Please. Do go on.

 

This film even opens up with home movie style shots of Christmas’ past and two brothers constantly being dicks to each other…. wait… that one kid got a gun!! You’re giving the kid who keeps picking on his younger brother a gun!? You’re about to lose a son, people.

Back in the present one of the kids is all grown up and sitting in traffic while the radio tells him there will be no snow this Christmas but they will be getting 60mph winds, so there is that to look forward to. The reason for this hold-up in traffic? Well….

3DC_1.JPG
I don’t believe the stop sign is needed. I believe the floating port-a-loo would do the trick alone.

Another film and another teenage girl. I have a feeling this one isn’t quite as loving and charitable as Abigail from yesterday… and probably neither are her younger brother and sister who are all knocking around the house, bored. Back in the traffic jam and all of the construction workers stop in order to watch the inevitable happen, a rope snaps on a portable toilet and the thing comes down on our main guy’s car. Now… I really think it should have smashed straight through the window but instead he appears to just get toilet juice all over his car that he happily clears off with the windscreen wipers. Guy must be a modern day Buddha.

This guy is apparently in accounting and I’m confused why all of his staff seem to be standing around in the foyer all dressed up. Is he late for a party in… the middle of the day? He’s handing gifts out either way while some woman hounds him into his office telling him his brother called a million times and there is some guy waiting for him in his office, who also brought her a Christmas jumper that she is being made to wear. I have…. I have so many questions but no words with which to phrase them, right now.


Guy: “What did my brother want?”

Woman: “He wouldn’t say, he was talking so fast. Something about ‘the end is near’ or ‘beer’ or ‘peer’…. The end is beer? Could that be it?”

Guy: “No, no, no, it’s Armageddon again. Perfect.”

Me: “Oh yeah, that ol’ chestnut.”


The guy waiting for our main man in the office is ‘The Muffin King’ and this man is very confident about his new selection of iced bran muffins which he is calling ‘Bran New’. Get it? He has even brought an entire basket of them over, which is nice. In return our main man hands him a hefty folder which are, apparently, the Muffin King’s taxes for the year. Donald The Muffin King just really wants to hear that he never has to pay taxes again and I really don’t know who is more insane: our guy’s brother who has managed to ring all of the phones in the office simultaneously or The Muffin King who is pissed that the woman is no longer wearing the ‘gift’ he gave her.

3DC_2
The face of a woman who will try to break news to you gently but will ultimately fail

Martin, our man, assures his assistant she should go and enjoy the party which actually is happening out in the office in the middle of the day in order to answer the phone to his brother, Sam. I hope Sam is the kid who owns the gun, it makes sense that he would believe in the end of the world by now.

Martin abandons his own work place in order to drive up to Sam’s house which is surrounded by chain link fence and barbed wire but he does seem to have let a bunch of garden gnomes in, which is nice of him. Martin is greeted by having an American football launched at his groin which really just confirms Sam is the older, insane brother. As a gift to the entire family he has stored up provisions for the end of the world in his basement. So thoughtful! I mean… the barrel of rain water should probably be outside collecting resources but hey, we’re cool man! But down that football!


Sam: “Food, shelter… and if I don’t have it I can make it. Or kill it.”

Me: “This is the first time I’ve really felt like I’m in a realistic American setting…”

Martin: “Where is my daughter?”

Sam: “In the house. She might even be sober by now….”

Me: “Immediately abort creepy Uncle’s house! Abort! Abort! Abort!”


If you ask me his daughter seems very much sober because she can look at the moose head on the wall and accurately assess that yes, it is disgusting. Her cousin Corey (or possibly Gorey, I’m not ruling it out of this family) is an absolute prick and has all the makings of a serial killer, I swear to god. This is quickly turning into some sort of outback Christmas tale that I am fully invested in.

I am slightly confused why Martin’s daughter is there in the first place, however, as he seemed shocked she was there at all and she was annoyed he had taken so long to get there. I don’t…. How did she even get through the security measures at the bottom of the drive?

3DC_3
Regret marriage? No. Why would you say that?

Girl: “Bye Uncle Sammy-Sam, Aunt Marilyn. Absolutely love what you’ve done with the place. The tinfoil window dressings! Very… redneck bunker chic. Lovin’ it!”

Sam and Marilyn: “……….”

Martin: “Again… my apologies.”

Marilyn: “It happens.”

Sam: “Take control, Marty. A ripper is rising and you’re going under. A little Christmas gift for you and the fam. Read it, watch it, do it. We did it. Saved our lives. ‘Course, I was always more prepared to handle that kinda thing.”

Martin: “You have become a very scary guy, Sam.”

Sam: “Be scary… or be scared.”

Marilyn: “Scared is scared.”

Martin: “………….”

Me: “……………………………………………..”


What the fuck?! Whaaaaat the fuuuuuuck!? I don’t know whether… I just don’t know how I’m supposed to… I can’t even. What is this. Do I love it or do I hate it and I’m just too shocked to realise it, yet? Sam hands over something called ‘3 Day Test’ which is apparently both a book and DVD in one, if we are supposed to follow his instructions on it. I can’t believe that, based on the title of this film, Martin is actually going to follow his mental brother’s advice. I guess these things really do run in the family.

Out in the car Martin’s daughter is trying to convince her dad she did not go off to college and start drinking… although… I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what happens in life. She blames it on her creepy ass Uncle just trying to yank her dad’s chain and also begins to  explain away being arrested, too. Apparently she was escorted to her Uncle’s house and it was not by the police. Unfortunately, the moment Martin hears the name Regis – which belongs to some hairy guy with tattoos – he can’t keep his shit together and his daughter simply clams up and demands to be taken home.

3DC_4
I thought we had seen the gates of hell already, this year. I was wrong.

Back at home Martin notices the absence of his wife by pulling into the garage and seeing her car is not also there. I’m not sure if he’s supposed to know but she left a message for him that she would be back late from class because it was her big night. Martin looks more confused about what the fuck her ‘big night’ might be than he is by the leak in his ceiling that is being dealt with by a large bucket underneath it. Even stranger is his youngest daughter, possibly Josie, sitting in the dark and watching some Christian guy preaching on the TV, looking for all the world as though she may well have died a few days ago and no one has noticed.

When Martin tries to turn the light on his desk on she promptly demands they are turned off and instead of greeting the man herself merely holds her creepy-ass doll up for him to kiss. It gets fucking weirder when she holds the doll up to her ear, turns the TV off and informs her dad that Tina said they were rude just now and he could actually turn the lights on if he wanted.

Why in christ’s name would he want to lock himself in a house with these people for 3 days? Apparently Josie has told Tina they shouldn’t watch so much TV but the doll wants what the doll wants and I presume if she doesn’t get what she wants then she threatens to murder the entire family in their sleep.

Worried that his daughter, or Tina, have not eaten yet he asks where the hell her brother is. The answer to that is… keeping an eye on his sister via a camera mounted on a remote controlled car. Martin attempts to get his son, maybe Adam, to come down for dinner – stopping to turn a light on over a portrait of his father first – but Adam appears to communicate with one of those displays where you can type stuff in and it scrolls across to show the message. If that display is to be believed then Adam already ate. Kinda selfish.

At the dinner table Josie is feeding their pregnant dog, Splatter, with hot dogs off her plate and wondering when the puppies will arrive.

Prediction #1 – Probably at Christmas when you’re all locked in and it will really help bring you all together

I don’t have the mental capacity to make that many predictions about this film because I am mostly caught between staring in horror and typing furiously. I can’t quite believe what is happening in front of me.


Martin: “I thought you loved franks and beans?”

Josie: “Splatter loves franks and beans….”

Martin: “Well what do you like to eat, then?”

Josie: “Cereal.”

Martin: “You can’t have cereal for dinner.”

Me: “Like fucking hell I can’t!”


The mom finally returns and is just as fucking crazy as the rest of them. She wants to hear nothing about her daughter possibly spending the money she left for them to order pizza on buying booze for her boyfriend instead and would rather go and buy a Christmas tree. Martin is left at the table to talk to Tina about how a toilet fell on him today.

I have never experienced anything like what happens next. Josie is running around picking a tree that Tina likes and telling the Santa at the lot he’s not real because Tina said so, Adam is measuring trees with some weird ass device to find the perfect one, I don’t know why Lu, the eldest daughter, bothered to come because she already wants to go and Martin is shouting about being shown the good stuff. That is until he sees a tree that is about 20 feet high and has to go through it with a chainsaw to try and wedge it into the corner of the living room.

3DC_5
Ya never know, the tree may help to keep the leaking ceiling up.

Josie is actually Jessie and one time she forced Martin to pay £413.16 to throw a birthday party for her doll, Tina. Martin is also very concerned that his son keeps spying on people with his toys whereas his wife is just happy the boy can spell and has good grammar. By the way, that leaking is the shower and his wife just really wants it fixed. Martin has no idea what classes his wife is even taking these days because he doesn’t pay attention and she thinks he should really just try actually talking to his children once in a while.

Haven forbid this argument leads us down to Martin’s desk where he starts watching the ‘3 Day Test’ DVD. The moment this insane American dressed in Army pants starts shouting at the camera in the middle of the woods about how kids are slaves to technology I can literally feel their freedom withering away. This guys suggests cutting off every single utility into the house and locking the doors for 3 full days, like his grown ass wife and teenage daughter aren’t capable of unlocking the front fucking door. Also, where will the dog go to take a shit?

3DC_6
I suggest you do not go around messing with utility poles. In fact, don’t even touch one.

Apparently the only way to do this exercise properly is to spring it on your family without notice and at the most inappropriate time because that’s when real emergencies arise. The real world doesn’t wait for you to be done in the shower before a plane drops into your garden and cuts the heads clean off your garden gnomes with the landing gear and neither will this guy. By the looks of it neither will Martin.

I’m not sure what happened in the rest of that DVD or if Martin can actually read but he turns off the power first so can no longer see what he’s doing… a quick referral back to the book and there is large, bold font telling him to do this last, you fucking moron. Creeping around the neighbourhood and house Martin slowly steals all of his family’s belongings and slowly takes away their abilities to cook, clean or call for help. Thank fuck he doesn’t take Tina away otherwise that doll would have possessed the shit out him and sent him flying off the roof in the early morning.

I have to presume Martin is just slow because it is morning again by the time he is spray painting his windows black and has put up various signs in the windows about how his family is desperate and unplugged…. The elderly woman next door appears to appreciate his work though and watches the madman slowly and methodically ruin all of the windows of his house until he is ready to wake his family up and break the bad news to them.

Martin has gone legit insane and is willing to have them all die from pneumonia if that’s what it takes to feel closer to his family. It is at this very moment that the grubbiest looking news van and crew pull up looking for the ‘toilet guy’ and think the whole ordeal may have hit him a little harder than they first thought.

Indoors Martin is trying to convince his children that they are all slaves to oil until his wife, Jackie, has truly had enough and rips his dumb ass hat off his head to make sure he hears her when she shouts at him to turn the heating back on. The woman just wants to go Christmas shopping (a bit late, if you ask me) and not have a husband who is related to a batshit insane survivalist.


Martin: “I used to love Christmas! Where did it go!? But now Christmas is just another excuse for everyone to melt their credit cards, go further into debt and then expect me to fix it!”

Me: “Ohhhhh so that’s what this is about.”


Wanting to save her children from certain death she gathers them up in order to escape this hell hole and I can only presume she will run into the news crew as she leaves the house. The news crew have much bigger fish to fry out on the street, though.


Old Neighbour: “What do you two bozos think you’re doing!?”

Camera Guy: “We came to do a story on your neighbour.”

Old Neighbour: “Why!? He’s an idiot!”

Me: “Just… glorious.”


The crew don’t have too long to try and get the scoop on how it feels to get hit by a toilet because our old neighbour has already called the cops on Martin. Apparently she didn’t appreciate his work as much as I first thought… But fair enough, she thinks his family is being held hostage and she has taken action! It’s only going to look good for Martin when they see him arranging the living room furniture in order for him to set up their new sleeping quarters.

The real irony here is that Martin is going around screaming at his family for being too suggestible to technology and modern life when, after one DVD and a booklet, he has tried to lock his entire family in the house for three days and worry about things like not knowing how socks are made. As Martin is sat, alone, in his living room and surrounded by camping gear he hears a police siren outside.

The man was supposed to have blacked out the windows but, for the purposes of the film, he apparently forgot one so he could look out between the blinds and see his family – escaping the house via the garage – being herded away by an armed SWAT team before turning the guns on the house. When an army official asks Martin to leave the house via the front door he decides to do so whilst holding a frying pan up like a weapon. Good job the local news crew was there to watch this man get tied up on his lawn and accused of holding his family hostage.

Jackie comes to the rescue when she realises her husband is the only one with a job and if they take him away the shower will never get fixed, adamant they were not being held hostage. The kid’s faces seem to say differently but I am not surprised that the army immediately back off and apologise for the mistake. ‘Oh, no, I am very happy in this cult and they definitely have not threatened to kill me if I ever try to leave or get help from the outside world. Not at all. You just go home now, officer, and please pay no attention to the wild gestures I am trying to make with my eyes that I definitely DONT. NEED. SAVING. IMMEDIATELY.’

3DC_7
It was unspoken during the film but I believe this woman was actually the devil

To top off the fact he probably just cost the government thousands of pounds in order to get the SWAT team out there on his front lawn, the camera guy from the local news hollers at him from behind the police tape asking what it feels like to be hit with a toilet. Yeah, that’s really gonna help him stay calm during this hostage situation, bud.

Despite the fact that Martin looks suitably fucked up after his encounter with the SWAT team and would probably be willing to finally back down, Jackie decides this is the moment to agree to the whole thing. It’s at this point she also breaks it to the kids they literally have zero gifts for Christmas. What has she been doing with all her time when she’s not working? I’ve also just thought that this man did not prepare beforehand for this ’emergency’ by getting non-perishable food in and their fridge and freezer has been off for about 4 hours already so… they’re all gonna look really great in 3 days time?

5 minutes in and the kids are already arguing. Adam even throws Tina into a tent because she’s just a fucking doll and definitely doesn’t eat clay. Yeah. For the next 3 days they will be drinking the water out of the toilet tanks and also searching for firewood….

Predition #2 – in the spirit of Christmas will Martin will need to chop up that damn tree and throw it on the fire

Martin is honest to god the most suggestible man on earth. The book tells him to burn the furniture so he looks around, looking past the giant tree in the corner, and starts wondering if he can burn the sofa. When his wife rightly believes she might actually like something to sit on after this hell is over, they head down to the basement where there is plenty of wooden furniture to burn but Martin is too sentimental about it all to do it himself. Jackie, however, does not care about Martin’s dad enough to try and save his old desk and commences to chop it up into tiny pieces for the fire.

As entertainment Martin thinks they should decorate the tree but not with the perfectly good ornaments they have up in the attic! Oh no. He wants to decorate with things that are just lying around the house! I wonder if he could make them all some tinfoil hats while he’s at it…


Jessie: “Paper angels!”

Jackie: “Oh, that’s a great idea.”

Martin: “There’s our angel! We’ll make stars made out of aluminium foil and strings of cranberry and popcorn!”

Jackie: “Which of course we will get from the cranberry and popcorn tree in our kitchen.”

Martin: “Come on, team, where’s your Christmas spirit!? You think they used to make Christmas decorations out of old cheap ornaments and tacky tinsel?”

Me: “Nooooo but I do believe they might have had access to cranberries and popcorn before they decided to decorate a tree with them….”


Out in the van we learn that the camera man might be little more than the local pervert who thinks reality TV is the way forward and the only show worth watching would be him on a deserted island with 10 supermodels. Ja. I can only hazard a guess that that would be a very real hostage situation…

Martin thinks that the perfect time to ask your wife whether she has ever regretted marrying you is when you have just locked her in a house with no heating, power or water for 3 days. Correct me if I’m wrong but I would have plenty regrets at that point, namely the fact I hadn’t cracked him over the back of the head with the frying pan the moment he dropped his guard.

In the middle of the night Sam and his son think it would be a wonderful idea to break in, steal half of the food and then wake everyone up by screaming at them and shining torches into their eyes.


Sam: “That’s right! It’s your Uncle Sam and I want you and you and you and you.”

Me: “But there are five of them….”


Unsure of which family member he has just cast loose and whether his son’s name is Gordon, Corey or… Nightcrawler…. Sam goes on to explain how life in a post-apocalyptic situation really works.


Sam: “Locking yourself inside! Nice, Marty, but that’s only the half of it. When the real battle starts the marauders will come and they’ll take your food and then they’ll take your women and children to start a new world.”

Me: “Abort mission! Abort! Abort! Abort!”


I do believe that Sam is threatening to return every night and seeing as he took the food tonight I really wouldn’t put it past him to actually take the women and children tomorrow… I think you actually need to call the cops on that guy…. And whoever had this idea and wrote this script really needs to take a good long look at themselves and what drives their characters… He then shoots his brother right in the chest with a paintball before leaving. Grand.


Jackie: “The power is going back on! We are returning to Earth!”

Martin: “You mean that same Earth with all that weird weather, random acts of violence and bomb-crazy dictators making every day a guessing game!?”

Me: “I believe the words you’re after are ‘Hey, how about we build a bomb shelter and I stop locking us all indoors?'”

Martin: “I’m tired of living in the dark!”

Me: “How in good god’s name is locking yourself in the house for 3 days suddenly going to enlighten you to all of Earth’s problems!? Other than the fact Trump would probably adore visiting a man who thinks the world is going to end and then you can ask him about raking the fucking living room carpet to stop it from catching on fire in the night.”


Martin still thinks they can make it through the next 2 days by surviving on a jar of pickles and burning his jumper for warmth and my god if this woman doesn’t fucking agree to stick it out with him. I hope she is documenting everything so that in 2 days time she can head right to a solicitor and start drawing herself up a very attractive set of divorce papers.

It is whilst they are trying to tidy up the living room – fuck knows why – that Martin and Jackie find out about A-Dog Productions from a bunch of discs he has left carelessly in their new bomb shelter. Their son has been downloading music and films online to then sell on to his friends and buy all the equipment in his room. Jackie is concerned this is actually illegal. Martin is concerned that he thought he was the one who bought all that stuff.


Lu: “Mom, seriously, I need to let Regis know I’m OK. I don’t want him to worry. How can I do that?”

Me: “Set fire to the house. Send a fucking smoke signal.”


Martin is losing his shit over Regis once more, who actually plays football and isn’t covered in hair but does have a tattoo which matches Lu’s. The way this man freaks out you would presume he was from the turn of the century and still thinks that cameras can steal your soul. Which, by the way he thinks the world is going, he probably thinks is very correct. Jackie suggests the man doesn’t go and talk to their daughter while he’s experiencing a hot flush but off he rushes anyway.

When Lu breaks the news to him that she doesn’t actually have a tattoo and he can stop having a heart attack he suggests they start talking about everything like they are best friends. Lu points out the fact he’s already had 17 years and never bothered to talk to her before so she doubts 3 days is gonna change much and would he please get out of her room and leave her alone, already? She would like to freeze to death in peace. Thanks.

Now that she doesn’t have a tattoo Martin is suddenly worried they haven’t prepared their daughter properly for the world and at 17 she might not be ready for college after all. I swear to god he thinks she’s going to get hit by an atomic bomb the second she leaves her dorm. Jackie thinks they may have a bigger problem because Adam has gone missing but at least Tina knows where they can find him?


Jessie: “Daddy… I’m not allowed to tell but I think Tina knows where Adam is.”

Martin: “Where is he?”

Jessie: “Adam will get mad if I tell so maybe Tina can tell you instead?”

Martin: “Jessie…. Tina is a doll. She’s 8 inches of cotton, plastic and a bad wig that’s going to cost me around £10,000 in birthday parties for the next 20 years, OK? Maybe we could just talk to each other directly, wouldn’t that be nice?”

Me: “Oh lord you gonna end up cursed, man.”


This appears to just be a roadshow of Martin going around and apologising to his family for being psychotic. Unfortunately I believe I was right about Tina being a living, cursed doll because I don’t think Jessie could manufacture that frown on her doll’s face, yet after Martin has apologised to her she goes back to looking like a normal doll. This family has so many issues they need to look into in another day’s time….

3DC_8
It ain’t fuckin’ right, I’m tellin’ ya!

Turns out Adam was just hiding in the attic the entire time because apparently, when people search an entire house what they mean is they forget they have that mass of space upstairs that is still technically a part of their home. That or Jackie just couldn’t be bothered to look that hard.


Martin: “So… what is this place?”

Me: “It’s the attic, Martin. It’s your attic.”


I can only dread to think how Martin is going to broach the subject of illegally downloading music and films to sell when he has lost touch with reality and I’m sure his former reality didn’t know that much about the internet to begin with. Seeing as I was right, Martin quickly moves on to talking about his family and how he would go hunting and kill animals to win their love. …… We’re basically watching how, out of two brothers, one basically became a serial killing marauder and the other narrowly missed murdering to became… an accountant. We also learn that Martin was a bit of a prick in other ways, like growing his hair long and stealing acid wash jeans to get his Dad’s attention when it turned out he didn’t like gutting deer.

What I adore more is, when wondering how they can fix their broken relationship and their son’s illegal activities, Martin simply tells his son to sit there and think about a solution while he leaves to go be crazy somewhere else. Well wasn’t that a delightful moment of bonding, kids? There is still an hour left of this film so I guess that is why we’re back outside in the news van listening to the pervert making up a new show called ‘Redneck Redo’ where they polish a turd and send it on a date with a supermodel. I assume the turd is the pervert, again.


Camera Guy: “Is there any idea floating around in that extremely goofy brain of your’s that doesn’t completely degrade women?”

Pervert Guy: “What are you talking about!? I love women! All women!”

Me: “Yeah, I think that’s kinda the problem…”


On the pervert’s admission that he loves all women that is the old neighbour’s cue to knock on the van’s door and invite the pervert in for… a cup of something nice and hot to warm him up. I don’t even want to get into the sex drive that old people have in this area, there must be something in the teabags or coffee granules.

Swiftly moving on, Splatter is having puppies on the kitchen floor and everyone gathers around to watch from a safe distance and think about the miracle of life. Probably. This is just in time for, the next day, that bad weather the news guy was talking about to hit the town and knock over most of Martin’s signs he left dotted around the lawn. The weather didn’t stop Sam, however, who has broken in yet again and stolen all the dogs and Tina. How heavily do these people sleep!?

Also I am unsure when Christmas Day is, seeing as Jackie was banging on about having no presents… This time Martin and his family mean war and they’re going to wage it on the other half of their family. Apparently this means calling the camera crew into the house and watching Martin poke through that leak in the ceiling which has slowly been getting bigger over the last 6 months from when he first claimed he would fix it.


Martin: “Couple of days ago I told Don Brandle that I would tear apart my own house to find a tax deduction? Then I got to thinking… Over 50% of my tax payments go to some part of the Department of Defence, which is around $630,000,000. 2% of which goes to Civil Defence which is constructing shelters and early warning systems. So then, I thought, why can’t this test be a part of that budget? And have it be deductible! So based on my salary that deduction would end up being around $9,232.16. If Sam wants a war he’ll get a war but we’ll have the other Uncle Sam pay for it! It’s brilliant! Oh and this test will be televised. The IRS is gonna want proof of the test.”

Me: “I genuinely believe I need Martin as my accountant. I don’t even need an accountant.”


The entire family, except for Lu, is ready to destroy the house in order to set some major traps for Sam to walk into that night. The news crew, however, have just got the news that the wind knocked out the power across the entire city and now everyone is out on their lawns waving their arms around because that is what you do when the power goes out.

We then experience a home makeover montage with some footage from the camera crew covering the delightful, festive story about a man who went crazy in 3 days and covered his bath in clingfilm. As far as I remember Sam rarely took tours of the house so I am intrigued to see if he will be visiting every single room of the house that they have booby-trapped in order to set everything off. I also wonder how they’re going to hide the news crew when Sam breaks in…

Oh, I see, Day 4 is Christmas Day. Either way Sam and his son are back, dressed as Santa, and this time Sam goes and checks out the sleeping bags the family should have been in. This makes me worry, a lot, about what the man has been doing on his nightly visits before now. After the first encounter with Uncle Sam where we throw him down the stairs Jessie valiantly leaves Tina behind on the stairs where Sam dropped her. I hope Jessie and Tina have formed a bond strong enough that she overlooks being abandoned that one time…

Meanwhile their cousin is trying to eat clay muffins and getting glued to a sheet pan. It’s best you don’t think too hard about it. Just the sight of that child makes me worry about all the women who are going to end up murdered in his future. It turns out Sam has brought his paint gun with him again, which should be fun, and is also happy to abandon his son to the horrors of the house and national embarrassment when the camera crew film him rolling around on some tarpaulin, covered in washing up liquid and feathers.

Sam, meanwhile, is following all of the wires up into the attic where Adam and Jessie have been camped out watching the proceedings on some screens with power that they managed to source from somewhere. Sam starts laughing manically when he finds the children, another huge red flag, before Martin turns up and throws a football at his crotch. That ol’ family favourite.

Sam chases his brother off through the house with his paint gun and they end up in the bathroom together. I hope he’s gonna push his brother into that cling filmed bath which is now full before he wraps him up and drowns him. I’m not actually sure what the family planned and I’m going to let you watch this whole thing for yourself so you can marvel in the shit show with true wonder.

Everything ends up wonderfully, the family gets to go back outside again, the power appears to be on once more, they’re going to get the puppies back and the pervert comes up with a reality show that doesn’t involve super models.

I fear that Tina may still be a little pissed off about being left on the stairs though as the very last shot is her looking angry again. Maybe the sequel will be the family locked in the house for eternity with the doll as she rips their souls apart slowly, one by one.

Hey. We can dream.

If you want to be creeped out by someone else’s Uncle then please, head over here. I promise the man will deliver on withering your soul up just a little. If you like your soul… probably stay away from that.

I was also far too mesmerised by the entire thing to make any real predictions, so let’s see what we’ve got here.

 

Prediction board – 1/1

  • Prediction #1 – Splatter will have puppies at Christmas when you’re all locked in and it will really help bring you all together – CORRECT!

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: I can only imagine what damage we could have done with that
  • Piano: Thank God, no
  • Carolling: NO
  • Christmas Montage: There was a lot of preparing the house for internal warfare
  • Fire Hazards: Once Martin got involved with that fire then yes, the entire house
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: Oh… my…. god… I was so wrapped up in this film being batshit I didn’t even realise!
  • Snowing on cue: No snow, just hurricane-ing on cue

 

I finally did it! I finally got a perfect score! Because I didn’t know what the hell I was watching!

cannot imagine we are going to experience anything like this again this Christmas – unless I can find that film where a patient at the local psych ward decides to bring Christmas to the other patients, I’ve lost it somewhere – so this may actually end up being the highlight of the year.

God help us. Please. No. Not this. Bring on tomorrow.

Christmas Advent #9 – 12 Gifts of Christmas

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

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

Anyway, on with the film!

 

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

12GOC_1
In 2040 the Statue of Liberty will be an interactive attraction which lobs giant turkey legs at passing boats

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

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


Mom: “What about this?”

Anna: “A shirt….”

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

Anna: “Mhm.”

Mom: “Uh-oh, what is it?”

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

Me: “I want a divorce.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12GOC_2
These look like the kind of cupcakes my sister-in-law’s mother tries to make. … They taste like rubber.

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

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

12GOC_3
I love how she’s captured to real angular qualities of the water

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

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

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

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

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

12GOC_4
I think we all know the most important day of the year here

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

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

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

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

12GOC_7
That tree wasn’t there at the beginning of the scene….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


 

12GOC_5
“What do you mean I won’t have grandchildren by Christmas Day in 2 weeks!?”

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

12GOC_6
Anna really should have listened to that psychic that told her Christmas would kill her one day

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Anna: “Uh-oh.”

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Me: “Harsh.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Mark: “I appreciate that.”

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

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


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

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


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

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

Anna: “Really?”

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

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


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

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

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

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

12GOC_8
Behold!


Mark: “Oh, don’t look at that.”

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

Anna: “But you look so cute.”

Me: “I can’t breathe.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Anna: “So do I.”

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

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


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

12GOC_9
This picture is completely unrealistic. Santa is way too old to know how to work an Excel spreadsheet

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


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

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


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

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


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

Mark: “Yeah.”

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

Me: “Planning my death, probably.”


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

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

12GOC_10
“Yes but suffered heartbreak and betrayal this Christmas.”

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

Me: “That was her trying!?”


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

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

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


Mark’s Mom: “Mark! Anna! Come see!”

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


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

12GOC_11
“I guess we could… paint Anna in inside the tree or something?”

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

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

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

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

 

Prediction board – 8/15

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

 

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

 

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

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

Christmas Advent #8 – The Mistletoe Inn

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

 

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Mom just loves Garth.

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

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


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

Mom: “He gets it.”


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

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

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

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


Dad – “No, this one is too short.”

Mom: “He’s fussy like me.”

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Me: “Call the burns unit.”

Mom: “Why?”

Me: “It’s a sick bur…. nevermind.”


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


Me: “Wait! What is she wearing!?”

Mom: “Oh God…”

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Kim: “I thought that was a quail.”

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

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


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

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

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


Kim: “I’m trying to write.”

Zeke: “Yeeeeah, me too.”

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Zeke: “You look great.”

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


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

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

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

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

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


Zeke strokes hair back behind Kim’s ear

Mom: “Aaaaawwww.”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Kim: “……..”

Mom: “I did try to tell you.”

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


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

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

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


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

Me: “She’s on crack.”

Mom: “Yeah. She’s like…..”

Me: “GARTH!”

Mom: “What a prick.”


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

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

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

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


Me: “They really loved it.”

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


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

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

 

Mom’s prediction board – 1/2

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

Let’s hope for prettier criers tomorrow!

Christmas Advent #7 – My Christmas Love

So I know I should be watching films I recorded to get them off the Sky box but instead ended up recording about 10 more today… but in my defence! Ya shoulda read the descriptions. They were glorious. One involved a psychiatric ward!

This film had the honour of being picked simply because it was first in the loooong loooong list. And I can’t stop singing the title to the tune of My Endless Love. Maybe we can get a whole remix recorded… Damn. On with the film!

 

The opening scenes of Christmas films are usually my favourite and always involve people walking around on busy streets and lots of people being festive. This one isn’t any different but first we are treated to some very exclusive tastes in Christmas baubles…

When our main woman is trotting off down a very snowy road I cannot help staring at her in horror because she is not even wearing tights! Her legs are going to drop right off! And why are you wearing heels when there is snow on the ground!?

This absolutely insane woman bursts into a cafe where the hostess appears to know her well enough to hug her, offer her her usual booth and knows this woman is insane enough to not question why she is dressed for pneumonia. Apparently she is actually here for a date but that still does not excuse the clothing choices.

I am unsure if she is a dreaded ‘people person’ or is just nosy as fuck because she starts talking to the guy a table over dressed in a suit and double, triple-checking the ring he has bought. I mean it’s one thing telling the guy he’s left the tag on his suit, which he rips off in a way liable to cause a tear right through the armpit, and another to ask to see the ring.

Which is hideous.


Woman: “Do you mind if I see the ring?”

Mystery Man: “Is is that obvious?”

Woman: “Nooooooo, it’s…. yeah”

Me: “Well he was staring at it two fucking seconds ago…”

Woman: “My gosh that’s so pretty. You have to relax, she’s definitely gonna say yes.”

Mystery Man: “If I can ask her… this is the third time I’ve brought it with me.”

Me: “Does she also wonder why you’re always wearing a suit these days?”


Cynthia is so about this wedding proposal she gives away her regular booth to the hopeless groom-to-be because apparently it’s more romantic. That may be so but that giant circular table is going to make it a little difficult for him to get down on one knee and propose to the woman without the table decorations blocking his face. Our main woman’s date, Alex, shows up to celebrate their 5 month anniversary so…. is it still a date if you’re together already? I don’t know the logistics of relationships, despite being in one for 5 years. I don’t believe we dated.

While the woman who is about to get engaged walks in dressed like an actual Christmas present, Alex has bought one for our main woman. Cynthia said she would rather him bring this early Christmas gift to the farm with them so she can open it there but it turns out… Alex isn’t so sure about this relationship. I am very sure it may be down to the two weeks Cynthia wants him to spend with her family on their farm over Christmas after only 5 months. And what about the man’s own family? Huh? Huh!?

Our main woman goes from about 0 – 100 in 0.2 seconds flat, which I feel is going to be a frequent occurrence in this film, and decides to compliment the soon to be engaged couple before stealing both cupcakes she ordered and is yet to pay for and swiping that early Christmas gift. Alex…. mate…. you dodged a bullet. What woman goes out in that weather without at least wearing tights?

It’s all fine though because there are many eligible bros playing basketball together – one of whom is her employee who she calls over to her apartment to help her get over being dumped. Is that what bosses do? I’ve never received that call before… and let’s be honest, I wouldn’t be answering the phone to my boss anyway. He should have just kept playing basketball and having a good time. Instead the guy is now being subjected to hearing about failed relationships, Christmas travel, our main woman’s family and farm and her little sister’s Christmas wedding.

Prediction #1 – she is taking her employee on this trip instead because her family were expecting this mystical boyfriend

This employee just can’t help mentioning the right guy is out there somewhere for her and I can’t help but feel if he’s not put off by her drinking out of a ‘I love Mom’ mug then he is the right guy for her. This family seems…. well, as dysfunctional and all up in each other’s business as every other family in Christmas films. The people just can’t let each other be.

And score! The very next day we are taking our employee as our plus one to the wedding. Or maybe just because our woman needed someone to carry her… easel. I’m not sure if we’ve actually heard her name yet but her caller ID said Cynthia so I’m taking a stab in the dark here that her name may be Cynthia. At least we can’t mishear spelling… looking at you America.

Preparing for this trip of unknown length Cynthia mentions the deadline on that book they need to meet so I guess this has quickly become a working trip rather than anything anyone will actually enjoy. Cynthia also says the magic words that this will be the first Christmas the family has celebrated since her mother passed away. Despite her involve and probably depressed family she thinks she’s doing her employee a favour because he was going to be alone on Christmas anyway. I would…. I would rather that…

The man also hasn’t dated in the last decade, which I presume is conveniently the same amount of time he’s been in love with his boss. He, on the other hand, is able to count all 6 relationships that Cynthia has had and crashed into the side of a mountain in the past 2 years on his hands.


Cynthia: “At least you haven’t screwed up literally 5 relationships in the last 2 years.”

Employee: “…. Ronaldo….”

Cynthia: “Argh! Stop! He doesn’t count!”

Employee: “….?”

Cynthia: “Because I can’t handle two hands.”

Me: “Wait… everyone has two hands… you dumped him because… ohhhhhhhhh that guy was counting on two hands!”


Just as Cynthia is claiming everything is going to be perfect this Christmas she gets pulled over by the police just as she is entering Quechee….. Queeeecheeeeee. What a place to say you grew up in. I wished I lived somewhere with a name like Quechee.

Scott, the alarmingly young police guy, has pulled Cynthia over because that’s apparently what policemen do when they see someone they recognise driving down their hometown road. We finally learn the employee’s name – Liam – and the fact he ‘draws pictures’ by which he means he is an illustrator. We only discover this because Scott immediately presumes that Cynthia is now married to the guy and she quickly waves her hand in Liam’s face and confirms he is nothing but a work friend.

Prediction #2 – Cynthia and Scott used to date

Apparently Cynthia’s sister… Janice? Jan? Jans? J….. fuck it, I don’t know what he said but she’s been telling everyone Cynthia is coming to screw up her wedding because her big sister gets waaaaaaaaaaaay too excited about weddings. As far as I can see the woman gets way too excited about everything. Some may find this endearing but me and her sister are very much on the other side of the fence. I am enjoying Liam though, he’s played by the sex pest teacher from the Netflix Scream series but I can enjoy his face this time because he’s not trying to have sex with a teenager in every episode.

And score!! In a delightful conversation between boss and employee we find out Scott was Cynthia’s first boyfriend, which also explains why there were so many shots of these two guys face’s when Scott suggested he and Cynthia should hang out sometime while she’s back home.

Cynthia moans that there are no lights or Christmas decorations up at the house so sends Liam on in to face her sister JANET while she goes looking for her Dad in his giant workshop, barn thing. Two seconds in the empty room tells her he has abandoned ship and neither has Liam gone into the house because apparently Janet is quite terrifying. I hope the man sitting at the counter and typing at 60 miles per hour is Janet’s fiance because it would explain the absolute look of terror on his face. Or maybe he’s just typing so quickly he’s about to shift into a different dimension. Either was this is Roger and soon he will be part of this terrible, terrible family dynamic. Or maybe that’s the reason for the terrified look…

Oh, it also turns out that guy from the cafe was named Jason not Alex and yes, it turns out everyone knows that Cynthia is overbearing as shit in a relationship and apparently this spills over into everyone else’s relationships and this whole family has really annoying voices. Cynthia also writes ‘Felicia Flowers‘ books and apparently they are so good because she ‘writes what she knows’. I dread to think what these books are about and how many children she might be convincing to go out in winter with no tights on.

According to Janet their Dad is struggling a little and will be even more so when she moves out with Roger, her fiance. They haven’t even had time to put up the Christmas decorations, like ol’ Cynthia eagle-eyes hadn’t already noticed.


Dad: “That sounds like my girl!”

Me: “Yeah, well, I’m pretty sure all the neighbourhood dogs know she’s home by now, too.”


Cynthia immediately shirks all responsibilities by prattling on about Christmas decorations and dragging every other fucker into this decorating frenzy with her. Only Liam truly suffers as he is elected the main victim that she will be carting off around town to buy supplies. I don’t know why Liam seems so awkward with this family when Cynthia leaves him with them to go and get changed. They all clearly know him and the fact he should be married to their relative by now.


Dad: “But if you do get any designs on my daughter then remember I’m a hunter. A good one.”

Liam: “Good to know.”

Roger: “He gives me that speech every day.”

Me: “I love how completely fucking terrified Roger is all of the time. Maybe if he stopped looking so much like a deer in the headlights the Dad would stop trying to gun him down so much.”


Apparently Roger also has mystical powers and can teleport from one side of a room to the other which doesn’t escape Liam’s notice when he asks how the hell he got behind him so quickly to be terrified in another spot of the kitchen. On our journeys it turns out Cynthia just happens to know every eligible batchelor in Quechee and when picking up a wreath we meet Grant, who she used to date in high school. I feel Liam should be running the fuck away because Grant is overseeing a fundraiser and these men are just EVERYWHERE. Cynthia just keeps telling everyone that she and Liam are simply friends and nothing more, much to the increasing decline of that man’s self-esteem.

Grant offers Cynthia a wreath from his private reserve in a box under the table because apparently, every year, 5 minutes before closing there is just a tidal wave of single moms who end up having to pick through the scraps of what people have left in their wake. Grant keeps the box hidden for them because they deserve good-looking wreaths more than any other member of society so their ungrateful children can not appreciate them for the festive season. Clearly these single mothers have not got to grips with using their children as slave labour to churn out beautiful looking Christmas decorations all day while they’re out at work. Call it a game or an educational experience, whatever, just get those wreaths made, kids.


Cynthia: “How did we ever break up!? Crazy!”

Grant: “….”

Liam: “Ya know they all look the same to me sooooo let’s go back.”

Me: “Before we meet any more of your ex-boyfriends that you are still overly forward with.”


Prediction #3 – Grant is serious competition for Liam. This is a race.

Cynthia continues to be consistently overbearing and is making cookies because the biscuit barrel was empty but she refuses to go store to buy Christmas cookies. Instead she will just use other people’s ingredients they so carelessly left lying around in cupboards. Even Liam is asking if today’s plans involve meeting more ex-boyfriends throughout this entire conversation there are many shots of a partridge in a pear tree in a cage that is being walked up the drive by a woman. When Cynthia opens the door to her this woman starts belting out the first line of ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ and looking very pleased with herself before she simply hands the cage over and gets the fuck outta there.


Cynthia: “Can you give me some more information? Is this for me? Do you have a business card?”

Me: “Does it even come with care instructions? The fuck do you do with a partridge in a cage with a fake pear tree? Who runs a business like this!?”


This incredibly thoughtful gift comes with a very considerate note saying ‘Merry Christmas To My One True Love’ with absolutely no name from either the sender or to the recipient. Cynthia immediately jumps to 100mph and claims this is a romantic Christmas mystery. A Christery, if you will. That’s right, she went there. Janet has clearly never seen an actual tree because her main concern is where Cynthia will plant that plastic tree back in her apartment. I would really be more concerned about where you’re going to plant that live friggin’ bird right now.

Prediction #4 – Liam is sending the gifts because he has suffered enough time with her to know she adores both Christmas and needless romance

Janet has to leave this madness because she has a wedding to plan and a house to sell. I hope….. I hope not the house her dad is currently living in and that’s what she really meant when she said he might struggle once she moved in with Roger…. you know… on account of suddenly being homeless and all.


Liam: “How do you know this is for you? Janet is the one getting married.”

Cynthia: “Janet is marrying her accountant.”

Me: “That’s the most logical thing you’ve said so far.”


Liam wants to ask if Roger sent this caged insanity anyway and I presume this is just a cover to mask the fact he is sending the gifts. He’d better be anyway, I want my own points. We are treated to a Christmas decorating montage where, for a woman so obsessed with dating everyone and being in love all of the time, she is really fucking blind to the man allowing her to boss him around and decorate her family home and dance on her porch with her. All of these films would be at least 40 minutes shorter if they weren’t all so romantically blind and lived in reality.

The family, at least, appreciate Liam’s hard work and Janet recalls that one year a tree lost all its needles because 8 year old Cynthia didn’t know that trees don’t drink eggnog. At 8 years old I really feel something of this sort should have been covered in school or…. you know, your general life. Liam can’t help taking the chance to ask Roger if he sent the bird but at the first mention of a Christmas wedding Roger is praising the logistics of it all. Everyone has the day off so everyone can come and your Christmas list becomes your wedding gift list. This man is nothing if not logical and that is exactly why he would never order that fucking bird.

The time has actually come for Cynthia and Liam to do some actual work and it is at the point where Cynthia is just throwing ideas around that I realise she hasn’t even written this book that needs illustrating and is making it up as she goes along. She also expects Liam to draw along like a terrible episode with Bob Ross. That is until she gets distracted by a wedding dress she finds in some sort of crawl space that fits her perfectly but was actually her mom’s.

Prediction #5 – Cynthia is going to ruin the wedding by making it a double wedding and wearing that dress!

Cynthia keeps banging on about the fun surprises her mom and dad would leave for each other and if Liam has been hanging around with her for as long as he definitely has he is the one sending the gifts. It is at the point Cynthia waltzes off, shirking her work responsibilities now, to show her sister this dress and I am alarmed that she’s wearing such weird thin heels indoors. You’re at home and there is snow everywhere! Wear trainers before you trip over that damn dress and break your neck.


Cynthia: “Look what I found! You’ll never guess where it was.”

Janet: “In the closet upstairs in a box labelled ‘Mom’s wedding gown’?”

Me: “Well that all seems to check out. Sorry for wasting your time, madam.”


Cynthia tries to make a case for Janet wearing her dead mother’s dress and how dare could she go and pick her own wedding dress without her big sister anyway? Janet claims she has bought a dress which can actually be worn again! and Cynthia shoots her own argument right in the face by demanding a wedding dress should only be worn once because it’s special. Buh-bye deceased woman’s wedding dress. Buh-bye now.

Luckily the second day of Christmas is here and I’ve just realised how many fucking birds are in this song when those damn turtle doves show up. The place is gonna be overrun, it’s a good job they live on a farm where I have seen zero farm work and in fact zero livestock. Once more the delivery woman sings at Cynthia before running away and there’s a whole deal about why turtle doves are called turtle doves.

Cynthia is quite confused because they don’t look like turtles or eat turtles so apparently we’re at a loss and definitely won’t be googling the answer any time soon. (Spoiler: it’s because of the turr noise they make which lead to their Latin name turtur. Hell yeah.)


Dad: “You remind me of your mother.”

Me: “Oh, was she batshit insane, too?”


Cynthia is totally cool with dragging her Dad along to the local pet store to see who bought these birds because I presume the woman always needs to be supervised. She also just cannot let a surprise be a surprise and wants to ruin the entire thing for herself. It turns out the woman who owns the pet shop is madly in love Cynthia’s dad and again for a woman people claim just loves romance she is completely fucking blind. The nice, not crazy, woman informs us she can’t actually sell turtle doves because you need a special permit just to import them in which she certainly doesn’t do because she’s not fucking nuts. Unfortunate we are just in time for Scott to turn up with some fliers for the Quechee carnival. Cynthia begins to suspect it might actually be Scott sending the gifts but I can legit already say no, the man can’t even remember to give out fliers, he ain’t gonna remember the entire ’12 days of Christmas’ song. However we do get free tickets to the carnival!!

At this point Kieran joins me during an ad break so he hasn’t yet experienced the wonders of Cynthia’s voice or general existence.

Cynthia has left these birds in all their original tiny cages, which is unimaginably cruel, and Liam doesn’t even get chance to draw them like he wants to because now three french hens have turned up and Cynthia immediately needs to find out where they came from. She takes them off to the city to visit a pet shop that has the permit to import turtle doves… or at least that is what I thought was happening because the next moment we’re in a giant office building. Liam suggests they just don’t ruin the surprise like normal people whilst Cynthia is busy pretending she and Liam are from animal services.

Liam is meant to be acting tough so introduces himself as the bad cop which apparently works because the office guy hands over a file to them. The person sending the gifts will remain anonymous until the last gift is sent, as per the instructions in a letter they received which no, they are not handing over to Cynthia.

At least the next set of birds are fake before actual animal control drops in on their asses. Janet once more has an excuse to escape this mad house of birds because she has cakes to taste. Cynthia keeps banging on about Grant, much to Liam’s horror, and although Liam clearly didn’t expect to be here to see this outpouring of crazy at least now he can stop her from getting engaged to Grant in the space of two weeks.

At lunch with Grant she signs some of her own books for him to give to nieces and nephews and I gotta say… those books look hefty for children’s books and nothing at all like the picture books I was expecting. The illustrations that we very briefly see on the cover also look nothing like the illustrative skills we have already seen from Liam making me question whether they could have found better props, at least.

Speaking of Liam, all he wants to do is draw these fucking birds. So much so he has even moved himself out to the barn in order to get some peace and quiet except now Scott is interrupting him whilst looking for Cynthia. He even mentions the gifts she has been receiving. How does everyone know about the secret admirer suddenly? Other than the fact Cynthia legitimately cannot keep her mouth shut… Liam just keeps drawing these gifts and says it’s just something hes working on….

Prediction #6 – Liam is working on a giant flip-book to commemorate all this effort he has gone to

Meanwhile, back on the date, Cynthia is getting real fucking weird and incredibly forward with poor Grant before…. I actually paused the film to laugh at this. Cynthia is pawing at the man’s hand like a limpet when the waitress addresses him as ‘father’. Grant takes his scarf off to reveal his dog collar. Grant’s neck has always been covered and he’s just terribly Christian now and is real big about this confession Cynthia was about to make presuming he was the one sending the gifts.

The next day even Dad finds an excuse to leave the house so he doesn’t have to watch his one insane daughter try to fit five tiny golden rings on her fingers like inedible hula-hoops. Janet thinks it might be Scott and Cynthia thinks it’s Jason, despite the fact he broke up with her. According to Cynthia’s misfiring brain cells that was just a big fake-out. Honestly, this woman deserves to be alone forever.

She is so obsessed that she drives all the way back to the city and Jason’s apartment only to find another woman in it. This woman is a terrible burden on the environment, society… the galaxy! I’m more surprised that Scott isn’t there to meet her on her way back into town and pull her over again. Finally Cynthia does the sensible thing and gives. the fuck. up.


Janet: “It’s so obviously who your one true love is, the answer is literally right in front of your face.”

Liam: “It is?”

Janet: “Scott.”

Me: “Someone called the motherfucking ambulance because this guy just got burnt.


The next day all day Janet really wants to do is just plan her fucking wedding but instead Cynthia and Liam are having a pillow fight with 6 giant pillows with geese on to the point she can’t even hear her own phone call. Damn it. I was really hoping for 6 actual geese on this day….

Even Kieran comments how dangerous this pillow fight is when the Dad starts flinging pillows at people and making this site a potential fire hazard. The boy just knows.

The terrible duo have gone Christmas shopping, probably because her family have requested Liam gets her out the fucking house for a few hours, and for some reason Liam is buying presents for Janet and the dad. Liam already has something for Cynthia, which I presume is a wedding proposal, and all Cynthia wants to talk about is Scott. This woman is the most fickle person on earth; Liam needs to hurtle himself to the hills before he marries her only for her to fall in love with the local barista four weeks later. Cynthia has a MOMENT of clarity where she asks if it might be Liam and he fully admits it before holding his hands up and going ‘naaaaaaaaaah’. He probably realised if he admits it she might actually turn her sights on him.

Cynthia has set up an adorably insane little chart on the fridge and every morning she crosses off the next gift. Day seven is seven bottles of  ‘Swan’s Champage’ which I can get behind! Let’s all get rat arsed in the name of Christmas and all that! By the way, their dad is not good at pouring champagne. They’ll be drinking froth for hours before they get any actual liquid.


Dad: “It’s time for a toast your mother always used to make. To family… past, present and future. Let you always be in our hearts, if not in our hands.”

Me: “…… In our hands……”


Cynthia once more blows off work obligations to go and have a date with Scott who she is suddenly having all of the feels for. I can’t tell if Liam desperately tries to set those chickens free of their tiny prison because of animal cruelty or to distract Cynthia and make her late for her date. Even after falling on the man this woman is unphased! If films have taught men anything it’s that when a woman falls on you she will immediately and literally fall for you at the exact same time.


Dad: “Why aren’t you spending Christmas with your girlfriend?”

Liam: “I don’t have one.”

Kieran: “The Dad is like ‘HA! You nerd’.”


While playing chess Dad is giving double advice, telling Liam to just make a damn move and even if it’s the wrong move at least he will have tried. Unfortunately Cynthia interrupts and is wearing her damn date outfit again. You know, the one without the tights!! Liam attempts to remind her that on the drive into town she wasn’t even that keen on Scott and now she’s obsessed with him. Despite the fact the man professes he cares about her, and asks her to slow the fuck down and stop getting herself hurt she experiences immediate amnesia of that scene the moment she opens the door to Scott and some carollers who start belting out a song at her.

I would literally have walked back into that house and slammed the door on him. Nuh thanks. At least the carollers look interested in Liam but he does the sensible thing and slams the door on them.


Scott: “You know, most of all people just call me when they need help.”

Me: “Well………. you’re the police………”


Cynthia is impressed when, on the date, Scott remembers she likes cupcakes and this means he knows her far better than she ever presumed. Woman, within the first 5 minutes of watching this film I knew you loved cupcakes. What is your god damn deal? Liam is casually drawing pictures of Cynthia herself when she rocks back up with Scott and, on her very doorstep, he essentially takes the credit for the mystery gifts. What an absolute prick.

Prediction #7 – All will eventually be revealed about Scott at an unfortunate moment and that will be this relationship’s demise

We now have 8 maids with raw milk in pails dancing around the house, just to make things even more awkward. At least they piss off afterwards and don’t just hang around the house like the birds they’ve shoved out in the barn thing. We find Roger working on something finance-y on his laptop and he does not look like he has fucking relaxed at all. It’s really no surprise when Janet shouts at him after catching him reading a wedding magazine. She is really against a big ol’ wedding and just wants something small, calm and simple. Roger looks real crestfallen about making the effort but Janet reminds him where going around chasing giant romantic gestures gets you. It gets you on the same psych ward as her big sister. Unfortunately, Cynthia was listening to the part where Janet reminds her fiance that chasing romance has gotten Cynthia nowhere but I get the distinct feeling that is not going to even put a dent in her manic disposition.

Liam is out chopping wood at the work barn thing when Scott comes up asking for advice on his big date with Cynthia that evening. It turns out he really doesn’t know her that well and it doesn’t strike him as strange at all to be asking her employee for dating advice… Unfortunately me and Kieran just cannot figure out what the hell the man has planned. Whatever it is, Liam does not think it’s suitable for cold weather which Scott somehow forgot about, despite standing in actual snow at the time. Whilst it is also snowing. I can’t even…


Scott: “I’m thinking (unintelligible words).”

Me: “Pot pie?”

Kieran: “Popeye?”

Me: “What the actual fuck is this man saying?”


Even the dad is legitimately astounded by Liam’s stupidity which lead him to give Scott some sound dating advice. He probably goes back into the house to get his hunting rifle out and just put the man out of his misery.

Scott has taken Cynthia off to the community centre for their annual Christmas cotillion, so it’s a good job she was dressed appropriately despite not knowing where the fuck they were going at all. The woman just will not stop giggling and having the greatest time ever. She’s not right, I swear to God. The highlight of this dance was Kieran playing Super Mario Odyssey next to me and shouting “YOSHI!? OH MY GOD I’M YOSHI!”

The next day all Cynthia can talk about is Scott and how great he is and Liam is quite surprised to hear Scott take credit for sending the mystery gifts. I feel he is about to break the snooker cue he is playing with right over his own face in a bid to end this actual nightmare. Even worse, Cynthia is now ditching Liam and taking Scott to the wedding instead because apparently they will get to dance and… that will just be better, don’t you think? Liam, seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you? I assume he just agrees for an easy life and hopes he can escape this hellhole and take the birds with him while everyone else is busy getting married.

Prediction #8 – Scott’s lies will be revealed at the wedding and Cynthia really will ruin her little sister’s big day because it will be so dramatic

The next day even Roger manages to smile and look like he is actually enjoying himself with the 9 ladies dancing around the hallway. Cynthia rocks up with her phone two seconds too late and asks if they can do it again only for Liam to notice someone called Maggie amongst the dancers. She responds by shouting LEMUR especially loudly which I suppose you can get away with when you went to college with someone. Why is it that whenever old acquaintances see each other with someone they immediately ask whether they are a boyfriend or girlfriend. How about asking their fucking name first? Why are you all so obsessed about dating?

Prediction #9 – Maggie serves no real purpose other than to make Cynthia realise she is medically a moron

Liam and Maggie are happy talking in the foreground while Cynthia downs wine in the background. For once, seeing someone down a glass of wine does not make them any more relatable to me. I just think she’s really adding to her problems. She also thinks it’s a big deal they’re going to the carnival together when neither of them are even from around here. Her dad tries to explain there is not a monopoly on the Quechee carnival but she is not even listening when he suggests she might actually be interested in Liam. Instead she is too busy chewing her hair and preparing to cough up one hell of a furball later.

I dread to think how crazy Cynthia will get now she is trying to be in love with Scott and jealous over Maggie at the same time. Her little brain will just explode. They have also just abandoned the 10 lords-a-leaping to go to the carnival instead, the former of which are hammering on the doorway in vain and hurtling themselves around the driveway.

At one of the stalls Roger is having a crisis of faith but luckily it is Grant’s booth he has gone to. Roger wonders if withholding information is the same as lying to someone and he just wanted to surprise someone he loves. Grant is very open about being a father now and doesn’t even have his scarf wrapped around his neck properly so he feels fully qualified to tell the man it will all work out no matter what he does. I have a feeling Janet probably won’t enjoy whatever the plan is. Meanwhile Maggie is being very forward and informs Liam he is very clearly in love with his boss so she may as well just serve as a tool to make the woman jealous. Maggie knows not of which bear she pokes.

Their dad can be found briefly hanging out with pet shop owner who is nice enough to give him some free cookies to him. It almost looks as though everyone is getting sorted on a relationship level… that is, until the woman suggests the dad needs to look after himself and not stay cooped up in the house all the time. She asks if he’s going to stay for the jamboree but the dad quickly makes his escape. She pushed one jamboree too far, it would seem.


Pet Shop Woman: “Are you sticking around for the big jamboree?”

Kieran: “Hayley, are you sticking around for the big jamboree?”

Me: “No, I’m too sober for that.”


This evening when Cynthia and Scott are saying goodbye at the door she is much less bothered about kissing him and more interested about getting in the damn house. Probably not wearing any tights again and realised she has actual frostbite coming. It was at this point I really had to check how long of this nightmare fuel was left and found the fire would still be going strong for another 30 minutes.

Fortunately Liam is waiting just inside the door, at midnight, to serve her Irish coffee without the coffee. I really don’t know why he is still trying with this woman. I can’t tell if it’s endearing or a sign he is the dumbest human on earth right after Cynthia herself. Maybe they are made for each other. Cynthia is very happy to hear how it’s never going to work out between Maggie and Liam but claims she is still ready to settle on Scott, despite the fact she is aware it makes no sense herself.

Liam just wants to make sure Cynthia is happy and unfortunately she says the words ‘you are such a good friend’. Now… me and Kieran watched a programme once where this guy was saying goodbye to a woman at her door and went ‘you are such a good friend’ before very slowly leaning in to kiss her. The whole thing was very awkward and for about two weeks later Kieran would constantly come up to me and say those words before dramatically trying to kiss me while I laughed openly and loudly in his face from both hysteria and gut-wrenching embarrassment for the actors who had to do this in the first place.

Because of this I almost missed the moment Janet comes out in her wedding dress that Cynthia promised not to comment on, and is doing quite a good job, until Janet then asks her what she thinks…….. It’s a fucking hideous wedding dress, I gotta say. Janet really just wants a simple and quiet wedding so now is probably not a good time to tell her there is an alarming band of pipers outside who the dad has casually just bribed with a hot breakfast in order to have them help set up the wedding venue for the rehearsal.

I’m enjoying the wedding venue because it’s the closest thing I’ve seen to a fire hazard all film. Scott and Cynthia can’t help talking through Roger’s speech which is not only rude but surely now he has ruined the surprise for Janet and she has to listen to how great she is again in a few days and pretend she hasn’t already heard all of this before. Either way, Scott mentions he has a big surprise for her at this rehearsal and in a moment of sanity she suggests that maybe Scott shouldn’t spring his surprise at the rehearsal because it might overshadow the entire thing. Scott admits that maybe 12 pipers piping would be a bit too much during someone else’s wedding rehearsal at which point Cynthia gets REAL fucking crazy. We had seen nothing yet.


Cynthia: “It’s 12 drummers drumming. The pipers came today.”

Scott: “Oh…”

Cynthia: “Do you… do you even know the song?”

Scott: “Yeah.”

Cynthia: “Why don’t you sing it?”

Scott: “Right now?”

Cynthia: “Yes, right now.”


Unsurprisingly Scott did not know the correct lyrics to the song but I died at the point where Cynthia had to remind Scott how to count with this brutal fucking line.


Cynthia: “It’s 8 because numbers go like this. 7, 8, 9.”

Kieran: “What a bitch.”

Me: “What a hero.”


Cynthia stalks out of the wedding rehearsal, which I suppose is better than overshadowing the actual wedding, and she is pisssssssssssssssssssed that Scott has been lying to her for a week and taking credit for someone else’s work. Cynthia is horrified to hear that Scott might really think she was shallow enough to value these gifts and showy romantic gestures over an actual connection with another human being. To which both me and Kieran look at the TV and go “Errrrrrrrrrrrr………. yeah?”

Cynthia breaks up with Scott in a spectacular fashion where she tells him just how fucking wonderful he is but just not wonderful enough to be able to count to 10 or date her. Luckily Liam is still up and working so she can run in and start feeling him up and tell him how much she missed him at the rehearsal dinner…. you know…. despite the fact she uninvited him.

Cynthia finally reveals she knows Liam is the one sending her the gifts and he rightly points out that is because there is no other eligible batchelor left in the town. Liam is apparently over this shit which makes no sense because she has done much worse and he was still there at midnight showing up with whiskey. I understand people have limits but the director’s really should have made it clear that Liam even had a limit much sooner than this. Now he looks as crazy as Cynthia as she stands there and demands this man be her leftovers while she cries and whinges and he goes to find a motel so he can get the fuck out of there in the morning. So…. if Liam isn’t sending those gifts… who the fuck is?

Prediction #11 – With no other avenue left to turn down… the dead mom is sending the gifts from beyond the grave to remind her family that life still goes on without her and really she’ll always be there… and so will all those fucking birds

That evening, when everyone is back home, even Janet admits it wouldn’t be a normal day if it wasn’t completely absorbed by Cynthia and her drama and ain’t even bothered she walked out on her rehearsal. She’s probably relieved. It is at this point that Janet finds Roger’s plans to go to the Caribbean for a week on their honeymoon and thinks this is some very rare strain of a romantic infection Cynthia has passed on to Roger with her mere presence alone. How could he possibly think she could leave her father alone for one week when soon she will be moving out entirely!? For God’s sake Roger, it’s clearly just logic! Why would you ever think that?

Romance is apparently pulling the family apart and everything is so terrible Janet actually turns to Cynthia and champagne for advice. Sure, because patient zero is going to be of any help.

Janet doesn’t have a single romantic bone in her body and only said yes to marrying Roger because it made sense at the time. Despite that foreboding cloud of doom rolling in off the horizon she really does just want him to be happy. Janet doesn’t want to be in love properly because, when someone inevitably dies first, it’s awful and heartbreaking. Cynthia points out she has clearly fallen in love with Roger anyway so it’s all too late and she may as well just fate her impending death with a husband. More importantly I adore the giant swigs they are taking from this bottle. Now that I can finally appreciate.

Cynthia admits that Scott was a giant mistake but mentions nothing of Liam, which is strange that no one has asked where the man who was living in their house has gone. Cynthia is gonna stop chasing romance down like a caveman with a fucking spear but seeing as we heard this a mere 40 minutes before I really don’t hold out much hope.

The 12th day of Christmas involves every fucker dancing around the drive with only one tiny van in the background which apparently brought them all here. Not that is Christmas magic. The woman kindly sings the entire song for us once more and at one point I am sure they are about to get another seven bottles of that champagne back! Well, if the troupe are carrying off the champagne they’d better take all the birds with them because Cynthia was adamant on keeping them out in the cold barn.

Unfortunately, despite taking everything else, they hand back the partridge in the pear tree and I imagine the poor bird is screaming for them to just take him back through the little gilded bars. This time the cage has a letter with ‘Thomas’ on it and this whole time they were for the dad, presumably from his dead wife. Fuck you Cynthia. Fuck. You. There is a very long letter from the mother to remind the dad to keep living and keep being happy instead of moping around and Cynthia apologises for stealing all of the limelight yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet again.

Cynthia decides to steal the limelight again 0.2 seconds later by claiming she has her entire life wrong and she doesn’t need someone to do romantic things for her, she needs someone to torture. I mean! Do romantic things for. So obviously she needs to run off to the bus station in order to stop Liam from returning to a city she has clearly already shown she is happy to drive back to on short notice. She executes this plan to stop Liam by jumping in front of a bus and bleating his name at the thing until it drives off and reveals him on a bench.

For a moment Cynthia believes he is still there because he changed his mind but it turns out that wasn’t even his bus. You know… because more than one bus does run through the place and they don’t all have to work on Cynthia’s schedule. At least she was considerate enough to  bring him back his sketchbook but she does not start strong when she starts repeating ‘It’s you’ over and over again. Liam is clearly worried how much of his life he must give up to convince this woman he did not send her all those birds but she clears up the fact she just meant she has always wanted a love story but it’s very important to be good friends first. Thank god she understands that much about relationships, the amount I have seen based on arguments in these films are alarming.

But it’s fine! Everyone loves each other and he can be plus one at the wedding again and he forgives her for being a complete nut job because he is also technically insane. Roger still looks mildly terrified at his wedding but at least Janet is wearing her mother’s dress and not the hideous material box she wanted to wear before. There is a strange cut scene from Grant starting the wedding to Roger talking about their honeymoon which amounts to the complete sentence: ‘we are gathered here today…. for an all exclusive resort!’. So at least they’re going on holiday properly and at least the dad asks the pet shop owner to dance with him because his dead wife would have wanted that for him.


Dad: Would you like to dance?”

Kieran: “No, I can’t think of anything worse right now.”


That’s the real reason I love this man…. sometimes it’s like listening to myself.

Maggie and Scott take an interest in each other and I hope she doesn’t mind that the man is a police officer and carries a gun but can’t count to ten. We end with some very alarming and intricate dances going on on the dance floor and some casual animal cruelty as we pan away to see they’ve hung the turtle doves up there, above the loud dance floor in their tiny, tiny cage.

If you would like to watch the growth of a small menagerie in a tiny box in the corner of the screen, head over here.

 

Prediction board – 5.5/10

  • Prediction #1 – Cynthia takes Liam home with her because her family were expecting a boyfriend – technically it was more a plus one but whatever. I suffered for this. CORRECT!
  • Prediction #2 – Cynthia and Scott used to date – easy CORRECT!
  • Prediction #3 – Grant is serious competition for Liam – I believe the only thing Grant is serious competition for is the devil, these days. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #4 – Liam is the mystery gift giver – sadly INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #5 – Cynthia is going to ruin the wedding by making it a double wedding and wearing that dress! – Looking back on it I am so very glad this didn’t happen, she would have squealed the entire time. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #6 – Liam is working on a giant flip-book to commemorate all this effort he has gone to – Ya know, I don’t even know what he was working on! It certainly wasn’t the deadline, that’s for sure. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #7 – All will be revealed about Scott at an unfortunate moment, ending the relationship – this was an easy shot. CORRECT!
  • Prediction #8 – Scott’s lies will be revealed at the wedding and Cynthia will ruin her little sister’s big day – hey, it happened at the rehearsal so I’m giving myself half a point to make myself feel better.
  • Prediction #9 – Maggie serves no real purpose other than to make Cynthia realise she is medically a moron – we didn’t Maggie for that but CORRECT!
  • Prediction #11 – The mom planned the gifts to remind her family life goes on without her – CORRECT!

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: Horses are a thing of Christmas past
  • Piano: As is gathering around a piano
  • Carolling: Unfortunately there was a dose of daily carolling in this one
  • Christmas Montage: A Christmas decorating montage!
  • Fire Hazards: I was bitterly, bitterly disappointed that everyone could always safely reach an exit in this film
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: CHECK!
  • Snowing on cue: It snowed pretty much as and when it felt like it. As nature should

 

This was definitely not my favourite film. If it wasn’t for Liam’s face I would have turned it off 10 minutes into hearing Cynthia’s voice.

I don’t even remember making most of those predictions so I suppose scoring just over half is good enough for me.

Let’s hope for people who speak in a more comfortable, human range tomorrow!

Christmas Advent #6 – Under the Misletoe

I have been forced back to the Sky box today due to the fact Kieran was sick of looking at the million films I had saved despite the fact I only needed 24. Also it was preventing us from recording NFL games. They both only come around once a year but it turns out Christmas is much more likely to give you concussion and kill you off…

Today we are watching Under the Mistletoe. The beginning of this film was so understated I didn’t even realise it had started for 2 minutes because I was too busy eating. Not even the festive music got my attention because that is a literal part of my every day life now. It’s like a really depressing backing track to my life. Imagine festive music playing behind the entire ‘Lost Mickey/Suicide Mouse’ episode… that’s my life right now. (Kids, don’t check out that episode, it’s grim as fuck. Also, stop reading anything I post, it’s grim as fuck.)

 

OK so as per usual we start in an office because we are lead to believe that all office workers are soulless, miserable, hollow shells of human beings who are in such desperate need of Christmas spirit that Santa himself has to get involved most of the time.

One woman is trying to write an article about getting a real hot body for the New Year because if it hasn’t worked for you at any other point why not try when you’re still hungover, it’s too cold to go outside and you have all that leftover Christmas food to eat. Some guy called Lester, who I believe is the manager of this place, is told to stop pestering her by another mystery office worker and shouldn’t he be playing golf or something.

She is right to assume this, he has turned up in a tropical shirt with his golf club but apparently he’s here for the office party so I guess… maybe that’s his +1 or something.

Our main woman thanks this mystery woman, so I guess Lester is the obligatory sex pest office boss, but would rather not go to the office party. I don’t blame her. Not if Lester is going to be skulking around and trying to cheat on his golf club all night.


Mystery woman: “You’re loss, there’s gonna be tons of hot guys there. I need a remedy for my frigid sheets since I kicked George to the curb.”

Main woman: “Anne, George dumped you, remember?”

Anne: “He was romantically challenged with commitment phobia.”

Me: “Woman, that still doesn’t change the fact that… he dumped you.”


Main woman would rather be shopping for a Christmas tree with Tom Jonathan. Now, at this point I am used to Americans refusing to speak clearly so I presume this was two people, however I am holding out for some strange abomination made up of two people in a horrific science experiment gone wrong.

Now…. no-ow. Anne mentions unconditional love and there are no happy marriages at the beginning of a Christmas film that are still that way at the end. SO. Here it comes…

Prediction #1 – Whichever part of the abomination she is married to will either die in a horrific car crash whilst going to purchase their tree or… far less dramatic, plain ol’ divorce

They really must be a power couple because Main Woman and Tom/John cannot even be forced into an argument when untangling Christmas lights. They also show their son Tom/John some crappy star that has been in the family for generations and one day he’ll be putting it on top of his own tree with his own kids. The kid genuinely looks at them like he would rather be celibate for the rest of his life than have to own that damn star. It doesn’t help any when he is forced to watch his parents kissing under the mistletoe. I think we have just watched Tom/John Jr’s future family crash and burn before our very eyes.

UTM_1
He has seen some things…

Tom/John Jr’s questions from the back seat of the car keep distracting his dad until they collide with another car. Goodbye Tom, I am sad to say we only found out your name in the last few moments of your life. The next scene Main Woman is in a hospital bed in a suspiciously sparse room and I presume that is why they put Anne and her boobs in the scene to distract everyone. I know I was distracted.

UTM_2
Life support? What life support? Huh?

Now… it’s up to Anne to deliver the news that Tom didn’t make it and honest to god from the look on John’s face and the face of some random man who just walked in through the curtains… I think this is the first anyone has heard of it!! The nurse leads her off stage left because her devastating work here is now done and oh, I really haven’t been paying attention to this film because the random guy is actually Tom and Anne walks straight through him and he’s a ghost. What a way to learn you died. Especially as your knocked out wife kind of just agrees to the statement that you’re dead and goes back to sleep again.


Tom: “Life doesn’t always turn out the way you planned it to.”

Me: “He seems very OK with being dead right now!”


I’m not entirely sure what is going on in the next scene or how much time has passed but Main Woman is searching through a box of Christmas things and starts to feel nostalgic enough to look out at their pool in the backyard. Maybe it’s the fact the thing is full of leaves and really needs cleaning out, I don’t know, maybe that was Tom’s job, but she starts reminiscing about some time they played hockey together and then there is a bright light and he sort of skates off into the distance and she waves at the pool. I mean… that might be an exact memory and someone just turned the floodlights on at the wrong time at the rink but… I think she’s losing it guys.

Turns out Main Woman’s name is Susan, which she gives to us when going through her bills and talking to herself. John has turned into a right prick since his Dad died and is demanding that she takes him to school of all things and how dare she keep making him peanut and jelly sandwiches! So obviously he thinks now is a great time to ask what happens to people after they die.


Susan: “Well, if they’re a loving person then angels come to down to meet them and they’ll take them to be back with God.”

Me: “But you should know that their physical body will slowly decompose and rot until there is almost nothing left of them and that can take quite a while depending on the environmental conditions.”

John: “Do you believe there is some kind of life for a person after they die?”

Susan: “This is about your Dad, isn’t it?”

Me: “No shit! How many other fucking people have died around you recently!?”


Susan delivers a terrible pep talk about the fact they’re all just going to have to get used to life without Tom when John drops the bombshell that that is what his Dad told him last night. Apparently he told him life just doesn’t work out how you planned, sometimes. Which… wait so…. either Tom is stuck on a really boring parental advice loop in the afterlife or this is the very next day and Susan is already out of the hospital and driving her soon to school with concussion and getting over her dead husband very casually.

Fuck’s sake. Someone bring Anne back.

Susan also thinks that just before dropping her son off at school would be a great time to tell him he lived in a fantasy world and suggests maybe Tom wasn’t so perfect after all.

Prediction #2 – John wasn’t great at bookkeeping and probably wracked up all those bills Susan is now stuck with


Susan: “You have to stop telling people that you speak with him.”

John: “But I do.”

Susan: “But you don’t, honey.”

Me: “Susan, you’re fucking killing me right now. You’re my parenting hero.”


She is even pushy enough to presume he wants to join a hockey team that I presume he has no interest in. Feeling flustered by this blistering argument with what appears to be a 12 year old, Susan turns to her mobile phone. I don’t know who she’s phoning seeing as she just puts the thing straight to her ear but either way she promptly pulls out and hits another car passing by.

Oh. Fuck. No….. is that…. is that….

Phew, never mind people. For a horrible, stomach sinking moment I thought this guy was back from last year’s Christmas Lodge.

ChristmasLodge_5
May we never forget….

Unfortunately for our guy he does look remarkably like him… I know the Christmas circuit is kinda small but please not Mary and Jack, her entire Christian family and her ex-boyfriend Kent who is probably still at jazz-fest.

ANYWAY!

Prediction #3 – All good relationships start with an argument because if you can’t get on in those early days…. well, it only gets better from there, right? Right?


Susan: “Don’t you look where you’re going you just drove right into me!”

Man: “I hit you!? You pulled out without even looking!”

Susan: “I did not! All I did was…. was…

Man: “Talking on your cellphone…”

Susan: “Oh is that a sexist remark!?”

Me: “…. Who the fuck writes these scripts…?”

Man: “No, no, that was an observation.”

Me: “Oh, OK, we’re just gonna let that crazy remark go, I see.”


Despite the fact Susan’s car is not damaged and the guy says they should just please, for the love of God forget they every met each other, she is still trying to yell at him before he drives off. She also starts grumbling to herself about what else could possibly go wrong with her life. I’m sure that’s a rhetorical question and she doesn’t actually want me to answer.

She’s even having a shit time at work trying to make her next article on the Victorian revival interesting. I guess that explains the Victorian carol singers from yesterday

Anne honest to fucking Christ has penis on the brain and nothing else. As in I believe she has an actual penis on the brain because she seems to malfunction and start spouting ‘cougar’ every time a man is mentioned. Seriously, she needs a CT scan or something. Susan tells her she got into an argument with her kid about him talking to his dead Dad and all Anne wants to know is whether the guy she drove her car into was hot or not. Luckily Anne is there to tell us running into someone is not a felony unless you were putting your make-up on at the same time… which I imagine she knows because she has done.

Numerous times.

When Anne has to answer a phone call Susan makes a break for it before she has to hear about that time Anne went dogging, again.

This next scene actually made me late for work. (Yes, I have so many Christmas films to write up that I am even doing this at 6am in the morning.) At school John is being reliably weird and talking to thin air which can only lead to bullying because different is bad, kids.

John punches this fat kid which for some reason brings out the Mystery Man Susan drove into that morning. John then proceeds to try and spark the guy out too but doesn’t manage much with his flimsy wrists. I believe what then happens is probably tantamount to child abuse but either way I sat and replayed John’s punches a good three times before I could get over them.

Prediction #4 – This guy is the school’s new teacher or… life coach or some sort of support guy who is going to bond with John much to Susan’s dismay

Anne goes to find Susan out on a park bench and realises her work colleague may just have depression. I probably would too if John was my kid.


Susan: “Sometimes I wonder, ya know, why bother getting up? Or eating or breathing. None of what happens makes any sense.”

Anne: “Does anybody’s life make any sense?”

Me: “Your’s certainly fucking doesn’t.”


Anne kindly compares all of this to that time her sister died and Susan should just work on being happy again. Thank Christ we escape this conversation and hearing about how Anne probably got over her sister’s death by sleeping with her widowed husband because we are called to the school.

Susan is required to see John’s counsellor and we can all only presume who that may be. As soon as the woman is gone ghost Tom shows up and works on making his son look doubly insane by talking to himself outside of the counsellor’s office. What a thoughtful parent.

As predicted Susan is enthralled to see Mystery Man Kevin Harrison at the school and it only gets worse when he informs her that John tried to spark him out earlier. The man casually and oh so subtly mentions hockey so that we can all be informed he is the new hockey coach, too.

Prediction #5 – If you can’t bond over counselling you sure as shit can bond over hockey practice! 

Susan can’t help noticing what appears to be a picture of a spy on Kevin’s desk and asks if this may be his wife rather than his MI5 escort. Susan sees absolutely nothing wrong with her aberrant behaviour when he turns the picture around so he doesn’t have to look at it. Probably remembered he shouldn’t have printed that specific photo of a secret agent out to A5 size, frame it and keep it in his office.

UTM_3
An…. Anastacia? Is that you!?

Prediction #6 – Kevin has a conveniently deceased spouse. Widowers unite!

While the adults talk about boring adult talk and how the school is demanding Susan send John off to a psychologist because he’s hearing voices… John is sitting outside the door hearing those voices just fine, thanks. Tom is explaining Susan is unable to see him because she’s still too pissed off at him for not keeping his eyes on the road.


John: “So where do you go after? You know… to heaven or what?”

Tom: “It’s kinda complicated…”

John: “You only say that when you don’t want to explain everything to me! Like sex!”

Me: “Woah! What!? Kid, you can barely walk down a corridor without talking to yourself and punching someone! You just… stay the hell away from Anne.”


Kevin is nice enough to leave a space open for John on the hockey team despite the fact he thinks he might be insane and will have blades attached to the bottom of his feet. People make weird choices at Christmas.

I’m unsure what angle the writer’s were going for when they fleshed out Susan’s character as she tells her son the real meaning of Christmas is giving gifts and he just needs to grow the fuck up already.

Prediction #7 – Susan is gonna ask for some bizarre permission to be happy with Kevin in the future at which point Tom will come down and visit her and just be relieved he’s no longer in limbo with this actual psycho

John finds a flyer for some weird local radio station dating search and I feel he may just be more interested in the $50,000 prize money.

UTM_4
Word Art you say… Hmmm… I’ll have to check it out

Prediction #8 – Susan is getting entered into that competition whether she knows and/or likes it or not

Tom comes back to visit John and between an angry mother and a condescending father… John is gonna be a real catch when he gets older.


John: “Me and Mom aren’t getting along. She just doesn’t know what she wants from one minute to the next.”

Tom: “Well… not only is she your Mom, she’s a woman. Sometimes it’s hard to know what they want.”

Me: “Did…. did a man write this script?”


Turns out Tom never bothered to get anymore life insurance and now Susan can’t pay for the bills and mortgage. No wonder she’s pissed. I’m not sure a ghost trying to explain life insurance to their 10 year old child is the greatest or most normal learning curve I have ever seen but… I guess everyone’s gotta start somewhere.

Tom decides everyone just needs a little more stability. Should we help Susan with her stress? Shall we put routines in place so everyone can do their fair share around the house? Try to alleviate the burden on her? Get her to seek some help and advice? Downsize? Work on her own mind and body before she has a breakdown?

No. Apparently all any woman needs is a man around the house. Ya know the more Tom speaks the more I’m glad he’s dead. I’m sure Susan who is trying to figure out how to keep a roof over her son’s head and having a breakdown in the kitchen would really appreciate her son and dead husband signing her up for a dating search with the local radio.

She’s just gonna love it. I know it.

John is probably not regretting his decision to throw his mother under the bus as he tries to make an effort to enjoy Christmas this year and asks for a tree but she just ain’t feeling it. Instead she goes into a gift shop, pulls out a long list and asks the woman behind the counter for scented candles because she a) couldn’t remember that one product and b) couldn’t just use her own fucking eyes.


Susan: “What an interesting shop. How long have you been here?”

Woman: “Oh… forever and ever.”

Me: “Please don’t be Mrs. Claus or something…”

Susan: “What a lovely antique headboard.”

Woman: “It wasn’t antique when Herbert and I bought it new. We were married 52 years.”

Susan: “Oh, that’s beautiful. Your husband…”

Woman: “Passed. 9 years ago.”

Susan: “I’m sorry to hear that. You must be lonely all by yourself.”

Woman: “Oh no, Herbert is upstairs.”

Me: “Oh my fucking god please say you kept the body!!!”


Turns out she is just on about his spirit because they’ve always lived upstairs and this sparks John off. Susan is now looking at both her son and this shop owner like they both need committing. To help Susan open up her tiny mind the shop owner gives her a book called ‘Spirits & Apparitions of Christmas’. I mean I can’t speak for Herbert but I’m very sure Tom isn’t famous enough to feature in that book unless there is a specific section on people who don’t buy life insurance.

Despite the fact John feels the old lady explained everything in perfect detail Susan is having a hard time believing there is anyone sane left in this town with her. To combat this John goes up to his room to play some tabletop hockey game and shout at himself. Susan is gonna wish she didn’t bother reading that book because it distracts her from the fact her son and dead husband are signing her up to what is essentially a dating site.


John: “What are her hobbies?”

Tom: “Yeah, right, if she had time for hobbies you mean.”

John: “Scuba diving and horseback riding.”

Tom: “She doesn’t do either one of those.”

John: “But it creates a sexy image, Dad. Kind of like a TV commercial.”

Me: “ONE! You are ten years old! TWO! You are talking about your own mother and THREE! THHHHRRREEEEE! You are discussing this with your dead father!”

Tom: “Yeah… OK…. ya know what, put some tennis on there too.”

Me: “I give the fuck up. Seriously. I’ve met you and can confirm even if you had taken out life insurance you would barely cover one month of the mortgage.”


While Tom is waking John back up to play more tabletop hockey and ruining his sleep pattern Susan is downstairs where the lights are flickering and the piano is playing to itself. She is far less terrified than she should be right now. I’d love it if Tom couldn’t even play the piano in life…

One encounter with a self-playing piano and Susan is whinging about the fact John can see his Dad but she can’t. John kindly informs her she needs to stop being so angry otherwise Tom will never find peace but thinks a nice long talk will solve this. Not until things calm down though. … Fuck knows when that will be because John decides to inform her he knows Tom didn’t leave her with any money and they might lose the house. Read the room, kid.

Kevin could also do with reading the room when he skulks up outta nowhere and offers to hang out with John at the ice rink after school despite what John might have had planned.


Kevin: “Maybe I can figure out where these conversations with his Dad are coming from.”

Susan: “Yeah, well…. anything you can suggest I’m open because…. right now I am at a complete loss.”

Me: “Oh…. so…. we’re already back to not believing in our dead husband’s spirit again. Cool.”


John is clearly wondering why the fuck he’s being made to hang out with his counsellor and why he keeps asking about his grades and his Dad.


Kevin: “You know most people would say there isn’t such a thing as a spirit or… ghost.”

John: “I guess…”

Kevin: “Now you understand what common sense means, right?”

Me: “Where the hell is this going…?”

John: “My Dad says common sense is faith and believing in things when someone tries to tell you not to.”

Kevin: “OK, you got me.”

Me: “No he…. he really doesn’t…. he doesn’t get common sense either.”


Kevin is busy telling Susan what she already knew – her son thinks he can see his dead Dad – while Tom/John are debating the fine line between having a ghost talk to someone and freaking them out. You’d be surprised to hear there is about a piano’s difference between the two.

I am unsure why and quite terrified to see Anne looking after John that evening and even more surprised that she doesn’t seem too impressed by the fact the dating site have invited Susan back to be a contestant. Of all the people in the world who would be supportive I was betting on her. Or maybe she entered too and no one got back to her…. Oh, Anne. John apparently has a plan to make her go through with it which I presume is just more identity theft.

Meanwhile Kevin is falling prey to the affliction every man suffers in Christmas films and that is… becoming a stalker. This time he pops out from behind a sign to chase Susan down and suggest he needs time alone with John in an even more relaxed and private environment. Home invasion 101, right there. Susan thinks this is a great idea and for some reason automatically invites the man’s wife to dinner too.

Look, there is already one crazy old woman keeping her husband’s corpse above the shop, why not have Kevin bring his corpse-y wife to dinner too? She has so many stories, seriously, she is just a riot.

When Susan gets back home I am ALARMED to find out that wasn’t Anne at all! No wonder there was no mention of a penis! It’s someone called Diane with the exact same hair cut, colour and pretty much the same bloody face as Anne! I should have gone with my gut instinct when I saw her boobs and thought they looked smaller than usual. Who the fuck is Diane?

Regardless of who she is and the fact she is very skeptical about John talking to dead people Susan decides to tell her about the piano playing to itself anyway. When she mentions the song that was playing Diane mentions that was Tom’s favourite Christmas song. Now, in a previous scene Tom said it was Susan’s favourite Christmas song.

This guy is literally the worst husband.


Susan: “I don’t think it’s Johnathan who needs a shrink. I think it’s me.”

Me: “Wait…. wait…. so…. he can talk to ghosts and start fights and know things he shouldn’t but you hear a piano playing and you need a shrink? This ain’t the fucking Susan show…. This is the Anne show!”


Back in the office Lester loves Susan’s Victorian revival article so much he’s put her on the radio to plug the new issue. I have a feeling this isn’t going to go quite as planned… and as soon as the host starts talking about cupid it is apparent.

Anne, who is egging her on in the background and seems to be in on this whole thing makes me question everything and whether Diane and Anne might actually be the same person. Even Lester, listening in from the office, seems cool with this.

Susan babbles on a bit about how hope and dreaming can be dangerous and can really hurt you when forever doesn’t work out when the host opens up the phone lines to what I can only presume is ‘Sex Pests Ring for Free Hour’.


Sex Pest: “Hey Susan, what a sexy voice you have. Just listening to you makes me all like… hot and bothered. So I just have to say this; will you marry me?”

Me: “What the actual fuck am I watching?”


The host seems completely unperturbed that Susan has ripped her headphones off and exited the studio and just continues to giggle inanely to herself. Let me just list the women we have met so far….

  • Emotionally damaged, always angry, always changing her mind, men just cannot understand what she wants so take turns guessing instead
  • Our very own cougar sex pest who just loves penis
  • The dumbest radio show host on earth who is completely vapid and giggles at everything she hears

I am horrified to tell you both of these things…. A woman helped to write this film and…

DIANE IS ANNE! ANNE IS DIANE! THIS WHOLE TIME SHE WAS SAYING…. HOW MANY FUCKING TIMES CAN THIS HAPPEN TO ME!? I AM DONE, WHAT HAPPENED TO ANNE’S BOOBS LAST SCENE!? IS SHE ONLY A COUGAR WHEN SHE’S WEARING HER PANTSUIT?

I’m taking a minute, guys.

OK. I’m good. So despite the fact Susan hated every second of this betrayal and a stark reminder that her husband is dead on national radio Lester wants her to do an entire piece on the dating scene from her very own perspective as a contestant and thought the entire thing was just wonderful. I naturally assume at this point he is telepathically connected to Diane because at zero point did he have a chance to call her and let her know that. Susan, however, just wants to know whose idea this was in the first place.

Oh John… it’s a good job you enjoy talking to your Dad so much because I fear you about to join him. Tom is actually making his son appear crazy at that very moment while he talks to him from the seats at a hockey game and tries to convince him to play hockey again. Real-life Kevin also rocks up to try and convince him just in time to see Susan storm on stage right.

Kevin is completely unable to read the room and while Susan is trying to give her child the riot act he asks if they’d like to go get some food after practice. John sees this as his chance to avoid an ass-whooping for another few hours and pleads with her to let them go. Burger and chips can really help a person calm down. No. I mean it. You could probably throw burger and chips at a bomb and it would defuse the thing on impact.

I’m starting to get the feeling Diane secretly lives in the damn house with them because she is there again in the morning trying to convince Susan to be a homewrecker just in time for Christmas. It gets worse when a shit load of post comes in from prospective dates on the competition – which, by the way, when I remember that flyer I imagined the entire set up of this ‘contest’ to be much different.


Susan: “No, no, I can’t do this. These guys could all be… sumo wrestlers looking for their mothers or they could be serial killers!”

Me: “…. Are sumo wrestlers with abandonment issues a specific fear of yours to come before serial killers…?”


Even Tom, who is looking on at this point, seems totally cool with the fact Susan might be about to have a date with death and we go on to read aloud some of the letters. Even John decides to join in…


John: “I’m a man looking to share my life with someone special.”

Diane: “Not original but he sounds sincere.”

Me: “Oh, Diane, you think anything with a penis sounds sincere.”

John: “After hearing your hot, sexy voice I’d like to get you under the…”

Susan: “Johnathan, don’t you have homework to do?”

Me: “Why does this kid keep talking about sex in reference to his own mother!?”


I’m quite distracted in this scene as Susan is wearing a T-shirt which appears to have been smeared with ketchup in only the way a psychotic woman with anger issues and depression can. After receiving a call from the radio station she is back with the terrible host and told the host will pick three letters and Susan will pick three letters. What’s the rate of sumo wrestlers looking for their mother’s amongst the population? Is it 1 in 6? I hope it’s 1 in 6.

Susan skirts around some questions about her dead husband and informs everyone she has an 11 year old child. I have a feeling those 6 men on the bench are suddenly much less interested in this competition, which is unfortunate because in the next round she will be meeting them face-to-face.

Date 1 with Sterling the dentist has the man singing the song from his ad at us and making terrible jokes about fillings.

Date 2 with Charlie the cowboy invites us into the inner workings of how he likes his steak and we get to see the giant hat his mom bought for him as a child. We also get to see the woman herself who is at the bar because they go everywhere together…

Date 3 with Dwayne the used car salesman introduces us to the true spirit of narcissism and how easy it is to check out a waitresses butt in a restaurant.

Date 4 is 20 minutes late which gives Susan a chance to call Diane to tell her how terrible men are and follow up her copious amounts of wine with a shot. As relatable as the woman is to me now (predictably) this would be a lot more interesting if she got progressively more drunk throughout the night. Date 4 finally shows up and turns Susan into an immediate tea leaf who shoves her two empty shot glasses into her purse and hiccups at the man.

UTM_5
Craig’s hobbies involve walking into rooms backwards with his hands behind his back

Date 4 is maybe Craig the lawyer but looks like the most boring man on earth. Susan apparently digs boring because he drives her home and they’re setting up a date for the next day. I’m not sure what happened to the other two contestants… maybe they were caught up in a terrible accident with a sumo wrestler…

Diane obviously wants to know all of the details and plies Susan with more wine. I’m surprised the woman isn’t flat out on the floor at this point.


Diane: “Well, did you enjoy being with him?”

Susan: “….”

Diane: “This is about Tom, isn’t it? Haunting you and playing your favourite Christmas song in the middle of the night.”

Me: “Well… I’m never gonna hear that sentence again in this lifetime.”


The next day Diane answers the door to Craig because Susan is busy upstairs adjusting her boobs in the mirror. The entire family comes down to greet the guy, including the deceased ex-husband he can’t see.


Susan: “Hi, sorry if I’m late.”

Craig: “No, you know, a woman is never late if she is worth waiting for?”

Tom: “Give me a break.”

Me: “Think we’ve found the serial killer!”


There is a wonderfully awkward introduction to Johnathan who decides maybe he doesn’t like pimping his mother out quite as much as he thought and decides to just go and do homework instead.

Unfortunately the date is even more awkward, despite the fact Susan appears to be really into it again, and Craig harps on about love at first sight and starts stroking her hand. I actually gave very involuntary gagging noises at this. He is creepy as fuck.

Prediction #9 – Craig is going to end up shouting at Johnathan and the whole thing will unravel

Susan rocks up at the school to ask Kevin if they can move his home visit to Johnathan to tonight instead of Saturday because she really needs him to babysit her kid while she goes on a date. I’m not entirely sure that’s what counsellors are supposed to be used for…


Kevin: “You know what my wife used to say? Follow your heart and don’t look back. You do that and sometimes life surprises you.”

Me: “With a jail sentence.”


When Craig kisses Susan goodnight, Tom/John, spying from the door, decide they really don’t like their own plans after all and turn to plan B.

Prediction #10 – Kevin is Plan B

Even Kevin has been reading that damn apparition book while waiting for Susan to get back but feels like they’re making great progress with Johnathan. Luckily he is saved by Susan’s phone ringing when she tries, once again, to invite him and his wife over for dinner sometime in the week and quickly escapes the house before he has to explain his MI5 wife is dead.

Upstairs Tom/John are devising some sort of letter and I really think Susan needs to monitor this kids Internet usage. The letter is a Frankenstein’s Monster of quotes from stars such as Kevin’s deceased spy wife and…. Tom.


Tom: “Try working in ‘life happens while you’re waiting for true love’.”

John: “That’s kinda corny though, isn’t it?”

Tom: “Women love corny. Put it in there.”

Me: “You’ve clearly never spoken to any women other than Susan and Diane, have you, Tom?”


This kid even has a printer in his room!!!!! That letter is printed off on definitely inconspicuous bright pink paper and taped up on the fridge ready for Susan to find it in the morning. John demands she read it before they leave for school and she kindly reads it aloud for all of us to enjoy the master workings of Tom… whatshisface. They sign off the letter asking to meet Susan at some coffee shop on Friday so I hope to god they also manage to swindle Kevin into going there at the same time or Susan is going to never look at another man again.

In a shock twist it was Kevin who got stood up at the shop by a ‘sales rep’ and Susan didn’t even bother going. Much to John’s horror which he communicates loudly to her while she tries to toss salad for…. fucks sake Greg, not Craig. Oh, he’s a prick either way. John begs for the help of Tom asking for some sort of ghostly intervention during this dinner which I cannot wait for, especially when the man picks up a hockey puck off the kid’s bed.

I would really rather not be alive for this awkward dinner conversation which ends with John being sent to his room which is honest to God a damn blessing for the kid more than anything. Either way Susan appears to have forgiven him by the end of the night because she checks on him while he’s sleeping which gives Tom a chance to watch her from a chair and keep muttering about not being able to let go. When he tries to hold her hand Susan has a miniature, silent freak-out which is fitting when you’ve just been stroked up by a ghost in the middle of the night.

This is probably why she believes that bright pink letter falling off the fridge was a sign of a haunting rather than a faulty fridge magnet right before Craig calls and insists he wants to spend the last night of the competition with her.

Prediction #11 – Craig is a total con-artist and he’s in need of money

On baby-sitting duties once more both we and Kevin are enlightened to the fact one day John wants to buy his mother a very expensive necklace for Christmas and he’s gonna do it by getting a paper round. Kevin is too polite to explain if he couldn’t afford that as a counsellor and hockey coach then a paper round sure ain’t gonna cut it either and probably thinks the whole journey of defeat, disappointment and financial struggles would be good character building for the kid.

I’m not sure how long they were shopping for but they pull back up that night to Susan and Craig dancing around the living room and blasting what sounds like ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ and doing a terrible job of looking like they’re having a naturally, wonderful time. Although Susan probably is drunk.


Kevin: “Ya know, Johnathan, I think this is where I take my leave.”

John: “I want you to come in for a minute.”

Me: “Oh God no, please, don’t make me!!”


I think it’s at this point, when Kevin walks in to find Susan drunkenly dancing around the living room, that she realises she has issues the counsellor probably wasn’t meant to see and Johnathan would probably be happier if he just lived with anybody else in the world. Inevitably she tries to mention that dead MI5 wife again and Kevin thinks now would probably be the most appropriate time to tell everyone she died two years ago and wish everyone a Merry Christmas before he gets the fuck outta Dodge.

John chases after him to briefly discuss dead wives and hockey but it’s mostly to get him out of the house while catastrophe unravels because Craig is putting the very same necklace Johnathan wanted to buy his mother around her neck right that second! Oh and she loves it. Oh and she wants to show Johnathan.

Mistaking Johnathan’s immediate tears as jealousy that he didn’t get his own gift Craig pulls out a skateboard because… John definitely showed any sort of interest in skating during any of their interactions and why the hell wasn’t Susan vetting this process. She’s back to being a terrible mother and I’m glad Johnathan runs away from that skateboard and straight outta Dodge. Despite the fact Craig thinks an 11 year old, on his own in the city at night can survive Susan gives chase. Man, there is no one left in Dodge these days.

I am concerned she has just left Craig, unattended, in her house though.

Susan is very dressed up to go searching for a missing child and is passing by that crazy ladies shop when she starts replaying that conversation they had in her head about believing in spirits at Christmas. It’s all very bizarre and has little meaning because the next second she’s at Kevin’s door after he presumably called her to let her know Johnathan was sparked out on his sofa.

Prediction #12 – At least when Kevin sees that necklace he will be able to form words about it and explain instead of simply crying


Kevin: “He’s an easy kid to get attached to.”

Susan: “Don’t I know it.”

Me: “Erm… he’s your child, woman.”


Over coffee Kevin and Susan discuss mental health, children, wives dying of heart disease and the fact Susan still hasn’t bought her child anything for Christmas despite the fact it’s two days away. Oh and Johnathan is going to play the major hockey game of the season tomorrow too. Apparently this is such good news that Susan ends up kissing Kevin because we just love hockey.

Back at home Johnathan admits that he wrote the bright pink letter on behalf of Kevin. Even though she can’t see ol’ dead Tom in that chair she is still pissed off at both of them when she finds out this entire idea was his and everyone is very upset with each other. For the first time in the entire film Tom dispenses some sage advice and tells his kid to keep his head down until Susan has put down that loaded rifle.

Picking up that book again Susan conveniently turns to a chapter telling her spirits need to resolve connections with things they thought were special in the living world before they can be free. I hope the neighbours are still awake because she ends up standing in the window with that hideous star tree topper, talking to herself. Well…. no, she finally turns around and sees Tom but to the neighbours this entire family is fucking nuts, these days.

This scene may have been more moving if the lighting on Tom’s face wasn’t super weird and made him look like a murderer. Either way it turned out it was Tom who was holding on and decides just as his wife gets to see him he’s gonna let go. He does get to stroke her face for a bit before some light comes and takes him away. I hope he said goodbye to John. That kid is going to be broken by the end of this film.

UTM_6
God called. He wants to know where the fuck you’ve been, Tom.

Back at the radio station Susan is about to go on air and open some envelope with the lucky guy’s name in it! Susan and Diane rush off to the rest room which gives John the perfect opportunity to follow the radio host, Carol, and eavesdrop on an impromptu conversation between her and Craig.

Craig is indeed in need of money and is being chased by loan sharks and is blackmailing Carol in order to be the winner. Apparently she likes driving under the influence and Craig covered up those charges for her before and is threatening to go to her manage if this doesn’t work out for him. Credit to her, at least, she was having second thoughts about the entire thing but Craig’s loan shark is on the phone to him and demanding the money in 24 hours before someone comes and breaks his knees or something.

As in all movies instead of just shouting ‘Craig is being harassed by loan sharks’ as soon as his mother marches past John just feebly shouts that he needs to talk to her and, of course, gets shut out of the studio. Even Kevin is listening to the radio from his phone while his poor hockey team stands around waiting for their pep talk and…. wait… isn’t John meant to be there playing too?

Much to the dismay of Carol, Susan decides not to read Craig’s name out from the card but goes rogue and announces the winner is Kevin. I… don’t know if she still gets the money for that but… at least she’ll have a sit-in babysitter now. I adore Kevin’s speech which is basically ‘What are you all standing there for? LET’s GET ‘EM!’ before he wonders where the fuck that even came from and with some movie magic John turns up just in time for the game.

As much as I do love hockey I am solely in it for the brutality so the kid’s game wasn’t entirely up to my standards. Neither was John taking 10 minutes to get changed into his damn gear before he could get out there and save the team because apparently as soon as John got on the ice it became 1000% more icy for the opposition only. I’ve never seen so many people fall over in one game montage.

I adore the game plan Kevin draws out on the little board during their time out when both teams are drawing. I am as shocked as John to see Tom turn back up on the ice because apparently he wasn’t gonna miss the big game for nothing but man is this putting pressure on the kid.

And going full circle Susan sees that weird ass vision of Tom skating off into the white light again, John gets to wave his Dad farewell and… even Kevin gets to see the corpse this time too! He’s not too hung up on it though, John sticks some mistletoe to his hockey stick with the unnatural amount of chewing gum his friend had been hoarding in his hamster cheeks and holds it over his mother and Kevin forgets all about that time he saw a ghost.

UTM_7.JPG
How much gum were you chewing, kid!?

Kevin even helps John put that hideous tree topper up on the tree….

I do have to wonder what happened to Carol. And Craig. And did Diane ever get a date from the office party? And is Lester still waiting for Susan to finish her damn article because she essentially went rogue? And who gets the prize money now? And how did Susan even own such a giant house with a grand piano in it anyway?

And so, with very little regret, we finish yet another Christmas chapter. If you want to watch a film that is terrible in both quality, visuals and audio (via this link anyway) please, make your way over here. The audio does eventually match up with the film, I promise.

 

Prediction board – 8/12

  • Prediction #1 – Susan’s marriage will either end very abruptly in death or divorce this Christmas – CORRECT! Death by trip to get a Christmas tree!
  • Prediction #2 – John wasn’t great at bookkeeping and probably wracked up all those bills Susan is now stuck with – Technically not true, he just sucked at getting basic admin done. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #3 – Susan and Kevin will build a strong relationship off mutual dislike – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #4 – This guy is the school’s new teacher or… life coach or some sort of support guy who is going to bond with John much to Susan’s dismay – The counsellor. I shoulda seen it coming. CORRECT!
  • Prediction #5 – Kevin and John will bond over hockey – technically the kid didn’t even play hockey while they were bonding but they were at the ice rink and that counts. CORRECT!
  • Prediction #6 – Kevin has a conveniently deceased spouse. Widowers unite! – Easy. CORRECT!
  • Prediction #7 – Susan is gonna ask for spectral permission to move on – Nope! Tom was the creepy stalker this time! INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #8 – Susan is getting entered into that competition whether she knows and/or likes it or not – that was an easy score. CORRECT!
  • Prediction #9 – Craig is going to end up shouting at Johnathan and the whole thing will unravel – unfortunately this never materialised but I just know one more awkward dinner and we’d have had it in the bag! INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #10 – Kevin is Plan B – Kevin was plan B. CORRECT!
  • Prediction #11 – Craig is a total con-artist and he’s in need of money – COOOOORRRECT!
  • Prediction #12 – Kevin will explain that John wanted to buy that exact same necklace himself – didn’t even mention it! INCORRECT!

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: We are apparently against horses these days
  • Piano: Yes! FINALLY!
  • Carolling: But no one sang around it -.-
  • Christmas Montage: I’m not sure the hockey game counted as either a montage or being Christmas-y exactly
  • Fire Hazards: Not a one! Since when was safety so important at Christmas?
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: CHECK! And we got to see this one!
  • Snowing on cue: We can apparently no longer command the weather either…

 

This one was definitely not my favourite film so far and I was really just living in fear of Jack from the Christmas Lodge ripping his way onto the screen at any moment.

Please lord. Some new faces tomorrow. Please.

Christmas Advent #5 – Christmas Inheritance

Despite the fact that I have taken up a large portion of the Sky box’s memory with recordings of Christmas films, from True Christmas and Christmas24, today I turned to Netflix. In these times at least you can always depend on Netflix. It’s always got your back, bro.

Anyway, today I offer you… a Christmas Inheritance. Not the interesting kind of inheritance, just a blog post on a film, really. So, before you come to me looking for that ol’ payday from a deceased relative… awa-ay we go!

 

I’ve just realised this film is one hour and 44 minutes long and that is actually the length of the film because Netflix has no ads. I mean thank god but… sigh. We get the obligatory shot of the city from above and it turns out that seeing people from this height really freaks me out…

CI_1
Look at them all… just crawling all over the place…

Dropping in on a very expensive looking party, everyone is clinking glasses and saying cheers. Probably congratulating each other on another year of being functioning alcoholics. There are a lot of signs around which say ‘Toys for Tots’ and I can’t tell if this is a charity gala or simply celebrating another great Christmas campaign for ‘Home & Hearth’.

If you ask me Home & Hearth sounds more geared to people who like to go out hunting every weekend while wearing tweed. The only toys they’re handing down to their children are a guide to ‘My First Rifle’.

Either way, a woman is going around looking for Miss Langford and whenever the guests tell her they, unfortunately, have not seen her, this woman gives them the kind of smile you’d give a senile old relative when they tell you for the 502nd time that day that ‘things were better in their day’. You know, back when you could catch hypothermia from visiting the outside toilet in the dead of night or when they really started to get into the swing of fucking up the planet. Those good old days!

This woman spys a Mr Pittman who is more concerned with his phone and tries to ward her off by simply running away. This woman is relentless, however, and turns out she is Mrs Worthington and is chair to the ‘Toys for Tots’ committee. Mr Pittman gives no shits and continues to finish off his messages, which appear to be him closing some sort of business deal. Turns out Miss Langford is his fiance and should have given a presentation on behalf of Home & Hearth 20 minutes ago.

Miss Langford, however, is busy taking her heels off and doing gymnastics in the lobby for a crowd. Apparently this is how you get donations off people for charity. I would be a lot more willing to talk to those people on the street if they went cartwheeling around the place in a bid for people’s time. When some mystery guy says he will quadruple his donation if Miss Langford can vault over a Toys for Tots display, you know it’s all going to go terribly wrong.

Both Mrs Worthington and this cartwheeling woman’s fiance turn up just in time to watch the show. In all fairness the woman vaults the display just fine but Mrs Worthington decides the best time to call out her name would be on her landing. Miss Langford goes tumbling back into the Christmas tree and all is well with the world. My GOD those pine needles would hurt…. I think she styles it out in front of all the press gathered around.

CI_2
Maybe she just loves that pine fresh scent and acupuncture?

The next day, predictably, it is all over the papers and everyone is gathered around the office to read about the infamous ‘Party Heiress’. Her Dad is marching around the halls looking for her and finds her in a board room dreaming up new taglines for the company. Dad is taking no prisoners.


Dad: “I just spent an hour with Mrs Worthington, talking her off a ledge.”

Me: “Bit of a dramatic reaction but alright.”


Ellen thinks this can all be cleared up by informing him someone dared her in the name of charity so get off her case already. It turns out that, after all this, Dad can no longer retire like he wanted because otherwise the whole company might go cartwheeling into a tree under her ruling. Speaking with his assistant, Alice, he worries that he might have spoilt Ellen after her mother died (yawn) and probably shouldn’t have bought her so many Ferrari’s for Christmas. I can tell you something, if you want to become completely desensitised to death.. watch Christmas films. It’s amazing anyone comes out alive.

Alice presents… I still don’t know this guys name… a wooden box and claims it is his turn to write the Christmas letter this year. Maybe I’ve been listening to too many horror and true crime podcasts of late but this looks to me like some sort of ominous festive ritual. It definitely isn’t… I just wish it was.


Ellen: “Hey, Dad? I was just wondering if you wanted to grab lunch.”

Me: “Which you are obviously also paying for.”

Dad: “I’m sorry sweetie, I have a conference call at one o’clock.”

Me: “He clearly knows he will have to pay for lunch.”

Alice: “I’ll move that to three.”

Me: “Good God, Alice! Stop being so efficient!”


At a predictably very fancy restaurant Ellen wants to make amends for the way she flew into that Christmas tree and wants to prove herself responsible and not just a cartwheeling drunk.

Prediction #1 – Ellen doesn’t seem her own fiance’s type… he’s probably just in it for the business she’s going to inherit

Her initial idea of another fundraiser for Toys for Tots at Valentine’s day, with all of the same press involved no doubt to film her crashing into a giant inflatable heart, doesn’t wash too well with her Dad. He wants Ellen to concentrate more on the spirit of the company and the look Ellen gives him suggests he might have been right about retiring early after all. For some reason she is having a real hard time imagining the regular people, who live in small towns, and actually buy their products, so Dad decides a business trip is in order.

Ellen will be delivering the Christmas letters to a guy named Uncle Zeke in somewhere called Snow Falls that she doesn’t seem keen on. Apparently Snow Falls is where all of this began and where Ellen can find her festive spirit.

Prediction  #2 – Ellen will find a new festive man to go along with her new festive spirit

Prediction #3 – Snow Falls is probably where Dad met Mom and maybe where she also died, hence why Ellen seemed pretty reluctant to go

Back at their apartment Ellen’s fiance seems more concerned that she has to leave tonight and their tickets to Maui are non-refundable, rather than the fact they only have a bottle of water and two lemons in their fridge. I know which one I’m more concerned about. There are suddenly a lot more clauses to this trip than I ever imagined and her fiance settles on the bottle of water so he can hear out this insane plot. I’d have rather have seen him casually chewing on a lemon, but hey.

CI_3
Ahhhhhh, how the other half live

Ellen will be gone until Christmas Eve so should be back in plenty of time for… Maui? If their holiday was that far away I’m not sure why he brought it up in the first place. She also needs to do the entire trip on 100 bucks with a round-trip ticket because that’s all her Dad and Uncle Zeke had when they started out. I feel it’s kind of cheating, then, that she gets to stay at Uncle Zeke’s inn. I think she should have to find and pay for her own accommodation. Let’s see her do that! She is also not allowed to use her credit cards, or in fact use her own name, so that people treat her normally and not like she is going to inherit a multi-million dollar company. I hate to tell her if people have eyes and the Internet then they probably know who she is already but whatever.

That multi-million dollar company is the part her fiance is most interested in because she will be inheriting that if she manages to complete this insane task. He does have a few questions about the mass of letters in the box though and on the back of a greetings card is the entire original business plan for Home & Hearth gifts. I can tell you it is legit the kind of plan I write up when I want to escape the inevitable march to death and boredom that is working in digital marketing. My plans also usually end with ‘International Business!’ too.

Now… this is the part I’m confused by. Dad and Uncle Zeke have been writing each other letters every year, like a newsletter of what happened to them in those 365 days, yet they deliver the letters and box personally so… so what is the point of the fucking letters!? If you’re going to see the man anyway!? What is this madness!? And does that mean only the guy delivering the box writes the letter? Then how do you know what’s been happening to the other guy? How did these people start such a successful business when they can’t even get these simple logistics right?!

Either way the Dad is there to bid Ellen farewell at the bus station which came as a surprise to her because she was expecting to travel by plane. Dad makes sure to strip Ellen of her credit cards and apparently she keeps these loose in her bag and her bra. This woman is a liability.

More questions are raised when Ellen is walking down the coach, looking for her seat, but can’t see any seat numbers. Which raises the question… what the fuck was she looking at on her ticket if no seat numbers exist!? An elderly woman kindly explains to her she just needs to sit her ass down and that there are no call buttons on a bus to order wine.


Kathy: “I’m Kathy Martin.”

Ellen: “I’m Ellen L…. Never mind.”

Me: “Oh my god, woman, you are so shit at this whole living thing.”


Prediction #4 – Kathy will be getting off at Snow Falls too and is kindly going to take us under her wing because you can’t just order wine whenever you feel like it… unfortunately

The moment the bus pulls up there are people dressed in Victorian clothes, carolling and I just already cannot. Ellen almost forgets she actually has suitcases to pick up and is surprised when the bus driver doesn’t have change for her single 100 dollar bill so she can tip him. What ensues is some strange carry-on film where a guy carrying a tree knocks into one of her many suitcases she has left in the middle of the pavement, the suitcase glides gracefully into the middle of the road and a taxi driver hits it, spewing her belongings everywhere.

CI_5
I wonder if their agents sold the part to them as being a ‘period drama’ character

I’ve never seen a taxi driver that young before but the pair are just young and arguing enough to spell true love.

Prediction #5 – Ellen’s future life now involves inheriting a taxi firm, too

Whilst helping her pick up clothes there is a very odd moment when they both grab some blue…. I don’t even know what it is, but the music that plays and the face the guy pulls suggests it was some ultra-sexy lingerie. It wasn’t. It looked like a blue dressing gown at best. If that’s his idea of a good time this town is smaller than I thought.

CI_6
Thieves will actually run you down in the street to mug you these days

He does think this is the perfect time to offer her a cab ride though because, as it turns out, he is the only taxi driver in town and cell reception is non-existent here. Good job he ran down her case when he did. If you ask me, during their ride through town, the place looks pretty well established to say they only need one taxi driver. Maybe they have really good pavements and a solid snow shoveling company in town.


Taxi Guy: “So you’re from New York.

Ellen: “Yeah, how did you know?”

Taxi Guy: “Ah, you just got that look.”

Ellen: “What look?”

Taxi Guy: “Erm… just… you were on the second bus of the day and the second bus of the day is New York.”

Me: “Yeah, you got that second bus of the day kinda look about ya.”


Turns out Taxi Guy went to New York but came straight back.

Prediction  #6 – Taxi Guy is very close to Zeke and wants nothing to do with whatever reason Dad and Zeke no longer work together full-time

Taxi Guy brings Ellen’s luggage into the inn and I’m disappointed to say there is a pretty clear path to the exit making this a no fire-hazard zone. As it turns out Taxi Guy is actually the manager of the inn and only drives the taxi when some guy called Herman, who I believe is sitting in the lobby, is suffering from gout. Ya know… that ol’ chestnut.

Our taxi driver finally introduces himself as Jake Collins but unfortunately Zeke left town that morning, as we are informed by a woman called Kelly, who is handing out Christmas cookies to the people chilling in the lobby. Apparently Zeke has gone on some sort of nature commune which is very common and no one ever knows where it is he wonders off to. Kind of reckless, if you ask me. No wonder he appointed somebody else as manager to the inn in case he never makes it back one day.


Jake: “Kelly, he say when he’s gonna be back?”

Kelly: “You’ve met Zeke, right?”

Jake: “Yeah!”

Me: “Well… isn’t that a relief that you’ve met your own boss, buddy.”


Zeke cannot be contacted by phone, we don’t know when he’ll be back and he apparently didn’t know that Ellen was coming who, on introducing herself, calls herself Ellen Langflondon. She then decides Ellen London would probably be less suspicious… except for that whole syllable she has just decided to drop off the beginning of her surname. Apparently there is a landline in her room but she will be charged for it. Good job the cookies are free!

When Ellen calls her Dad, which she is being charged for, may I remind you, he doesn’t seem particularly surprised by the news Zeke is missing.


Dad: “Really? He’s not there? Ha, that’s just like him. Ever since he’s retired he’s lost all track of time.”

Me: “Well I guess that explains the Victorian carollers, then.”


Dad suggests that Ellen just sits tight and enjoys herself until Zeke gets back, despite the fact there are now only three days until Christmas Eve. Previously she said she would be back on Christmas Eve so I don’t know why she is suddenly so concerned with the timing of all this other than to unsubtly give viewers the sense of time that Zeke has clearly lost. Bored of this conversation Dad pretends they have a terrible connection and puts the phone down on her, which I adore. Ellen promptly tries to break the inn’s property by slamming the phone into her suitcase, which promptly falls onto the floor.

Also it turned out that blue thing was a nightdress and I stand by my initial reaction that Jake’s idea of a good time is very simple. He’d be an easy date.

Jake turns up with change for her 100 and the bad news that Debbie’s cafe around the corner is the only room service Ellen will be getting. At least Ellen comments on that fact it gets dark very quickly around these parts because it’s pitch black by the time they’re walking to the cafe. I’m not sure how long these roads are but the corner seems pretty far from the inn.

Jake gives money to some guy on the street for playing a harmonica, who thanks him by name, and despite the man calling Ellen beautiful she simply walks off. Ellen comments she’s kind of on a budget and can’t be handing money out to every man who plays her a harmonica ballad and compliments her which, rightly, Jake finds kinda unbelievable. Her coat probably cost more than my entire house.


Ellen: “My fiance says that giving money to the homeless actually hurts them.”

Jake: “That’s ridiculous.”

Me: “Not if you’re giving them hard change and pelt it at them, I guess? Which I do not encourage. Ellen, don’t do that.”


Debbie’s cafe looks like the place to be… and is probably the only place to be, in reality… and turns out Debbie is Jake’s aunt. That woman has a lot preserves behind the bar… Debbie is played by Andie MacDowell, so I obviously already love her because the 90’s did happen, but she also cooks food and can give me pickles straight from the jar so I’m pretty much solidly on her team. Bonus points if she kills a man.

CI_7
“Wait… so you didn’t bring this woman here on a date to buy pickles?”

After we clear up the fact Ellen is merely a guest at the inn and not Jake’s date, Debbie is worried that Ellen is going to miss dinner with Santa. This is a charity event they set up in the village hall, for the kids, to raise money and the basic flyer immediately puts a sparkle in Ellen’s eye.

Prediction #7 – Ellen is going to throw all of her charity expertise at this and have the company back it for mega small-town brownie points

Prediction #8 – The planning of the charity will probably go too far and Jake will claim it’s all about appearances with her and she will find her true spirit or some bollocks


Jake: “Miss London has a complicated relationship with charity.”

Ellen: “I do not! I don’t…”

Me: “No, you really do, the last event you threw, you… literally threw yourself into their tree and missed your own speech because you were busy doing gymnastics for donations. It’s extremely complicated.”


Apparently Zeke comes into the cafe all the time and I’m unsure if he actually does (which seems likely, it’s probably the only place around where you can consume that many pickles at once) or if Debbie is just trying to get Ellen to stay and have dinner with Santa. As it turns out there is a commemorative plaque above one of the tables where Dad (Jim, finally) and Zeke came up with the idea of Home & Hearth gifts. I would like to point out there is an old photo of them and a newer one and the same sign is still up on the wall behind them. Simple editing would have gotten rid of that, people, or are you trying to convince me Debbie just keeps printing out the same sign every year so it looks fresh?

When it comes to the question of how Ellen knows Zeke I am surprised she manages to give the mostly coherent answer that she is a friend of the family and doesn’t just change her name to another capital city of the world. Apparently Debbie and Jim dated all through senior year of high school before he met Nora, Ellen’s mom, who was apparently adorable and smart and even Debbie had to love her. They even got married at the inn.

Debbie recalls that Nora passed away 10 years ago so that Ellen can look particularly forlorn before remembering that Ellen actually needs feeding and leaves her with Jake to look over the menu.

Prediction  #9 – We’re gonna get Jim and Debbie back together because what is better than second prize after first prize dies!?

Looking for a suitable distraction Ellen spots a picture of Debbie behind the counter which basically looks as though she is naked and holding a microphone. Apparently Debbie sang with a bunch of local bands and was very good at it. Cue the awkward questioning about Jake’s life and how big city life ain’t the one for him before he gets up to change the song on the jukebox because he can’t stand the song Silent Night. In all fairness, neither can I.

Prediction #10 – Jake went to New York for a relationship and it didn’t really pan out as expected

Debbie comes over to a) check out why Jake is beating up her jukebox which defiantly continues to sing Silent Night and b) tell him Ellen seems nice. Jake is not interested in Ellen in the slightest, all he cares about is getting a new goddamn song.


Debbie: “Jacob, you can’t keep yourself closed off. It’s not healthy.”

Me: “Nah, I think I could lead a full and happy life without ever hearing Silent Night again.”


Insisting that he is fine he continues hitting the jukebox until it stops playing altogether.

For some reason some very sinister music starts playing as we check out the inn but it turns out it’s just Ellen’s meditating music which gets interrupted by the Victorian carollers outside. Ellen decides to settle down and read to this hideous backing track but freaks the fuck out when she feels something in the bed with her. Jake is immediately to the rescue – as half-arsed as his rescue attempt is – and turns out Ellen was freaking out over a hot water bottle.


Jake: “You were almost bitten by a… hot water bottle.”

Ellen: “A what?”

Jake: “A bottle full of hot water.”

Me: “In all fairness, when you put it like that, it sounds pretty fucking bizarre.”


Jake shoos away the crowd who have gathered outside, who were hoping to see this woman mauled to death, presumably, and tries to explain what a hot water bottle actually is. I know we are meant to be getting the message Jake is not so secretly interested in this woman but I’m not sure he has to look at her ass every time she turns around to prove it.

At breakfast the next morning a guy called Captain Williams, who is either drinking cider or piss, complains that Jake has served them whipped cream, not clotted cream. As much of a sin as that is it can’t be helped when Debbie never sent over clotted cream along with the breakfast.

That breakfast is pretty big and there are pastries and bread everywhere. Debbie is seriously an entire one-woman show… or just getting rid of old stock from the cafe. Maybe the clotted cream was too far gone to pass off as edible anymore.

Ellen watches Jake deal with the grisly old guy by refunding him credit to the same amount a pot of clotted cream would have cost and is quite impressed. Turns out Captain Williams comes back every year to spend Christmas at the inn since his wife died. Presumably he moans at everyone on an annual basis too.

Ellen receives a call from her fiance at the desk who is pretty pissed off he hasn’t been able to get hold of her via mobile all morning. Jake feels that sanding behind the desk and looking predictably awkward is better than going back to talk to Captain Williams and, despite Ellen trying to be sweet, her fiance is just ranting about cell phone service and when the hell is she getting back, anyway? Tonight is his office Christmas ‘thing’ and he would like to make an entrance so she’d better be back.


Gray: “Can’t you just drop the letters off and come back home?”

Ellen: “I’m really sorry, babe, but it doesn’t work that way. The tradition is that I have to give him the letters in person.”

Gray: “Tradition!? What is this, ‘Fiddler on the Roof‘?”

Me: “Now I’ve never watched that film and have no idea what it’s about but I get the feeling it might not be about the Christmas tradition of dropping off hand-written letters….”


An awkward conversation later, when Ellen claims she is stuck in Snow Falls, which goes down well with Jake behind her, followed by the fact Karen from accounting will be at the party, so at least Gray will have someone to talk to, which actually does go down well with Jake, the lines go down and we don’t have to listen to Gray anymore.

Taking her anger out on Jake, Ellen complains some more about Zeke not being there and the fact Jake didn’t bother to mystically get hold of him without a phone or the man’s co-ordinates.

It is at this point that Ellen lets Jake know she doesn’t actually have enough money to stay another night – something her father must have forgotten about when he kindly extended her stay without any of her credit cards – and is going to just figure it out on her own. Killing two birds with one stone, Jake offers Ellen the role of housekeeper in order to stay at the inn. Their regular housekeeper is on vacation and Kelly is off sick so now it is down to Ellen to help clean 8 rooms by that afternoon. The room Jake lets her into appears to have endured some sort of Santa orgy and they have also left most of their belongings on the floor and… draped over the lampshade….

Who leaves an inn without their bra and hangs it up on the Christmas tree instead? It’s like -10 out there. Unless you actually want your nipples to be able to cut glass you are going nowhere without a bra!

Ellen has a wonderful time cleaning, which involves definitely not sorting the rubbish into recycling piles, knocking over and smashing a vase, falling backwards into her entire cleaning cart and literally exploding the entire vacuum cleaner by hoovering up someone’s boxers, covering the entire room in dust.

Inevitably this leads to the question of what Ellen even does for a living. Seeing a sign behind Jake advertising a local bake-off Ellen decides to claim she is a baker. Now…. Debbie exists. She has met Debbie… yet she still thinks this would be a fantastic fake career for herself. I am not surprised when, two seconds later, Debbie is fitting her out with an apron and Ellen looks like she would rather die.

Prediction #11 – Debbie will find out who Ellen really is first – before she poisons the clients – and will keep this secret for her even whilst trying to force her nephew and this terrible liar together

I had to pause the film for a while here as I had just tipped up a packet of crisps to get the last bits out and instead of following the usually constant law of gravity, they decided to shoot out sideways and ended up in my hair.

Now that I have picked Jalapeno and Cheddar crisps out of my hair… Debbie has tasked Ellen with separating the eggs. I beg to everything I have ever known in this world that she merely places all the eggs out on the counter and literally separates them.

Whilst Ellen is probably trashing her kitchen, Debbie is getting distracted by a picture out in the cafe of a family who I presume to be Jim, Nora and tiny Ellen. We zoom in on Nora, who looks alarmingly like Ellen (because how else are people meant to recognise the children of their dead parents?) before she returns to the kitchen where Ellen has actually… done nothing.

Inevitably, Debbie drops the bombshell that she knows who Ellen really is but if Jim thought sending his daughter out with 100 quid cash and no credit cards was a good idea then she might as well stand by him and keep her secret. Instead of simply telling Debbie what she is really there for Ellen just vaguely claims she is there to learn something from the people of Snow Falls. I mean yes, she is, but as far as she is concerned she is really just there to hand deliver a box of letters then get the hell out of dodge before she starves to death or blows up the inn.

In return Debbie shares the fact that Jake was once married to a Wall Street broker who he met in college and shortly after she left him for one of her very wealthy clients. I guess that’s what Wall Street does to a woman! Debbie is still insistent on shipping Ellen and Jake’s relationship and tells Ellen she really doesn’t want to see Jake get hurt… which, you know, he might do when he finds out who Ellen is and starts having flashbacks to Wall Street.

Insisting that she is just there to learn, Debbie decides to do the impossible. She is going to teach Ellen how to bake.

The next moment there is a blizzard causing hell in town and poor Baxter, the homeless harmonica player, is trying to huddle under his blanket on the floor in a very exposed and windy corner. I’m not entirely sure how long the man has been homeless for…

Prediction #12 – I really hope we go and pick up Baxter before he freezes to death, maybe Ellen will even have a change of heart about this whole charity thing and learn how to do it properly

At the inn, Ellen’s Christmas cookies are going down well and will hopefully have no lasting effects. Captain Williams marches up to alert them they are out of honey and wants to see the manager. On cue Jake bursts in, towing what appears to be half the town and a crying baby behind him. Asking the cop who has also tumbled into the inn what in God’s name is going on, he informs Ellen that power is out in the East side of town, the temperature is verging on dangerous and they have managed to get most people to the shelters.

The cop leaves just as Jake is also heading back out to get more firewood. Ellen rightly does the math and is confused about how they are going to house all of these people with no vacancies. I fear room sharing is afoot. Bagsy not sharing with the crying child!! Put that in with Captain Williams. He will be overjoyed, I’m sure.

Prediction #13 – A wild one, but I really hope Kathy from the bus turns back up and gives Captain Williams something to be less miserable about

Ellen mutters something about people not being left out in the cold and grabs her coat before heading out, despite Debbie reminding her it is freezing outside and she is not properly equipped for this climate.

When Jake comes back in with firewood Debbie breaks the news that Ellen has wondered off into the night but she turns up pretty much immediately with Baxter. Baxter is adorable and simply doesn’t want to cause trouble but people be vacating seats so he can sit by the fire and… get wet because there are giant clumps of snow in his hair. Probably… get the man a towel instead of a hot chocolate, Deb….


Jake: “Why did you go out there by yourself? You should have come to get me or told the sheriff.”

Ellen: “Well everyone was busy.”

Jake: “That weather out there is no joke, you are way under-dressed.”

Ellen: “You were worried about me…”

Me: “Yes, for the 0.2 seconds that I heard you had gone out at all, apparently. So worried I have to shout at you in the middle of the lobby.”


Jake wonders off because it’s easier to make a bigger fire and probably set the entire inn alight than try and pretend he’s not madly in love with this woman for saving his best friend. Afterwards Jake is assigning people to rooms and will be bunking with Baxter downstairs and seriously, the power is still working in this part of town, let the man go have a hot shower or something! Other guests are offering their sofa’s up and some poor newly weds offer theirs only to have Captain Williams claim it so he can give up his room. If they can get through this night they’ll get through anything.

Peculiarly, on getting a complete room, he gives this to another couple rather than to the mom, her young daughter and baby… presumably so Ellen can offer up her room in the next second. Apparently this inspires some serious feels in Jake but really this relocation makes no sense. The young child is more concerned that they’ll be snowed in for the next two days and Santa will never find them while the mother is concerned about her crying baby and the fact her husband Dennis, stationed over in Germany, might not be home in time for Christmas.

The sound of the screaming child is driving me insane throughout this so even when it gets handed over to Ellen and predictably stops crying I am so delighted for her. Just… for the love of God don’t let go of that child.

Prediction #14 – After the feels of room sharing Jake is going to be simply enamoured with Ellen when he sees her holding this now wonderfully quiet child

At least Ellen does the sensible thing and offers the family up the bed. There is a moment of panic when the small child seems to have forgotten her stuffed dog, Douglas, and Ellen offers up a stuffed bear wearing a Santa costume that came with the room instead. In rolls Jake with fresh blankets and the poor mother has to stand there awkwardly while he smiles at Ellen for 6 fractions of a second too long before finally leaving the room.

CI_8
“Buddy, you gonna get the fuck out the doorway? You’re letting a draft in and I have young children here.”

It is at this point that Ellen realises Jake is much nicer than her own fiance and heads downstairs in the middle of the night to start clearing up. Noticing a light on behind a door she lets herself in and walks right in on some sort of study where Jake is sketching out some animals. I’m not entirely sure how many artists Ellen has met before now but she claims Jake is one simply because he was holding a pencil in his hand and drawing with it.

Getting distracted on her way out by the veritable amount of tat around the room, Jake explains they are all items for the silent auction, also held at Santa’s dinner. They were trying to raise money for the local soup kitchen but it doesn’t appear to be going all that well. Jake gifts Ellen a wobbling Santa, seeing as they apparently have a million, but I notice it goes right back on the shelf straight after she promises to cherish it forever. It turns out the haul for the auction is pretty dire this year and also happens to be the day after tomorrow.

Prediction #15 – Ellen will swoop in and save the auction at any means necessary

Spotting some more sketches of Jake’s she suggests they are pretty adorable and he should probably do something with them. Again, she tries to leave the study and again gets distracted and starts a new conversation about how much Jake just loves to help people. This is short lived before she grabs her wobbly Santa and attempts to make a break for it… only to be invited on a walk.

CI_9
He’s climbin’ down your chimney, snatchin’ up your mince pies

Jake: “Hold on. Erm… do you wanna go for a walk?”

Ellen: “Outside?”

Jake: “Yes.”

Ellen: “Now?”

Jake: “Yes.”

Ellen: “Why?”

Jake: “I wanna show you something?”

Me: “It’s definitely the burial site of all of his victims. You wondered why everyone checked out today at the same time? This is it. He is not interested in repeat customers. You take that Santa and you run and you keep on running until exposure finally gets you.”


Exposure may take a little longer than usual because Jake has decided to lend Ellen a coat and his hat for this little excursion where she immediately starts handing out business advice. What is it with these Christmas films these days….?

When Ellen comments on New York she lets slip that she full well knows about his past and Debbie may have just divulged his history to this complete stranger. I love, in films, where the characters will be in a completely different location but are only just continuing the conversation they were having seconds before. Do they walk to the new location in silence or just keep explaining the same story, over and over again, in different words until they make it to the mark? I like to think it’s the former.

Turns out Jake was a daydreamy art student and out of nowhere, during a romantic dinner, his now ex-wife told him it was over right as they start playing Silent Night. Ouch. Wanting to avoid talking about the classical workings of Silent Night for much longer, Ellen reminds him he was meant to be showing her something and out they pop into a clearing with a bunch of lights strung up and a shit load of ice sculptures.

Jake designs them and Martin, his buddy, uses the designs to teach his classes at the college. Apparently they’re a big hit with the tourists who drop by during Christmas and, considering one of Ellen’s business tips to Jake was to take some bolder approaches… this may include drawing in tourists. Like a trap. Where they will stay at the inn and Jake will inevitably kill them! …. Ahem… With kindness, I’m sure.

Prediction #16 – Ellen is going to try and make these sculptures into money makers

We all admit that, we guess, we’re all not that bad and apparently Ellen thinks this is her cue to tell Jake her mom died when she was a teenager. Her mom came from a beautiful little town that she could never bring herself to go back to and instead just turned to partying and flinging herself into Christmas trees. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel because Jake has unknowingly been teaching her that some things matter after all.

For some bizarre reason Jake asks if this is the part where they are supposed to kiss, which traditionally yes it is, but then Ellen bails at the very last second and there is a whole scene where they just babble mindlessly about how great Jake’s company is and how they came out to look at nothing but it wasn’t nothing it’s all very beautiful and really Ellen had better just get the fuck outta there.


Ellen: “I should go…”

Jake: “Going the wrong way!”

Ellen: “YUP! Yup!”

Me: “I’m feeling all of this, right now.”


Sneaking back into her room Ellen freely admits to herself she has no idea what she is doing before wobbly Santa apparently gives her an idea. This involves sneaking into Jake’s study and stealing a bunch of leaflets for the silent auction.

The next day Ellen runs off to Debbie and asks for a favour. This involves a bollock load of baking in a montage and presumably all of these baked goods will be helping towards the auction. Ellen appears to be going to all of the local establishments in the area in Debbie’s van and if the are willing to both donate something and put a leaflet in their shop window she will give them a jar of baked goods. They must have some serious spirit around here because this certainly isn’t how commerce works.

Inevitably we come up against the guy who ‘already pays his taxes’ and is ironically the one guy running the modern tech shop in town. Being offered cookies and told it’s simply the right thing to do has him donating up an Apple monitor, which is fair enough because no one in their right mind would be buying that shit, anyway. Debbie’s car is beginning to look like both an eye sore and an actual hazard by the time she is tying the boot shut with bungee cord.

Jake is just leaving the inn with the local Sheriff when Ellen pulls up in the gift-mobile. Jake is much better at acting cynical and sarcastic than genuinely impressed and it just sounds like he’s talking to a small child for a moment there. Once more Ellen has to cover up her big ol’ marketing persona (again, pretty badly) and tells him he probably just shouldn’t question her at all.

Prediction #17 – Jake is gonna be mighty pissed that she’s been lying to him this entire time when she knew about his painful past like that was somehow her fault

Just as Jake is thanking Ellen and giving her a much longer than needed hug, which even the Sheriff is looking at with some amusement, who should pull up but our dear…. old… Gray.

CI_10
Coincidentally this is my dream dinner party guest list

Jake rightly looks like he would rather the porch swallow him whole and Gray can’t help feeling Ellen doesn’t need rescuing from the storm after all… I honestly could not help laughing through this entire thing, I adored how wonderfully awkward it was with even the Sheriff wondering when the fuck the roads into town had opened up and let this guy in. Tense introductions completed, poor Sheriff Paul Greenleaf having to introduce himself, bless him, Ellen escorts Gray into the inn before anyone can die.


Ellen: “You didn’t have to be so rude out there.

Gray: “Oh well, excuse me, I’ll try and be more polite the next time some guy is all over my fiance.”

Ellen: “He was thanking me. I bailed him out, helped him with a charity auction, that’s all.”

Gray: “Look, I thought you came here to deliver these Christmas letters and now you’re what, Mother Theresa of Snow Falls?”

Me: “OK, I kinda enjoy this guy.”

Gray: “Come on, let’s get you packed and get you out of here.”

Ellen: “I can’t leave yet! Uncle Zeke still hasn’t shown up.”

Me: “Fuck me! I forgot about Uncle Zeke! Christ… I hope he’s still alive after that blizzard…”


Gray is more concerned with their flight to Maui in 24 hours which… I guess if fair enough because those tickets are non-refundable but Ellen is a new woman now! She can’t be going off and partying on a beach when there could be an old Uncle out there, freezing to death!

Prediction #18 – Gray is gonna see that baby and it’s going to start screaming and Ellen is going to start having major second thoughts

Ellen gives Uncle Zeke a deadline for tomorrow morning and if he still hasn’t shown up she will leave the cards and explain to her father she is a failure after all, I guess. Ellen ships Gray off to her room while she goes to help Debbie with Christmas tea, but not before reminding him she is not Ellen Langford around here.

Prediction #19 – Gray is gonna forget and Jake will inevitably be there to hear the slip-up from the one person who definitely shouldn’t have told him

Gray doesn’t even question what the fuck Christmas tea is until it’s too late and realises there are kids running wild and a baby crying in the room he was going to take a nap in. Fucks knows what he’s gonna do with his time now…

Ellen shows up at the town hall which… looks like the church to me…. to grab the keys to what I now believe is just a communal car everybody shares. Maybe the town hall is just attached to the church… Either way, Jake is there to greet her and hand over the keys before we have a brief conversation about how rude Gray is and how they actually didn’t kiss last night anyway. Jake apologises anyway, considering he knew she was engaged.


Jake: “You’ve been up front with me from the start and I should have respected that…. The thing is…”

Ellen: “…. Jake… “

Me: “Oh, that’s going to be painful.”

Jake: “Just hear me out on this… The thing is it’s been a long time since I felt like I could trust anyone and erm… I dunno; you’re different, you’re honest and it was just nice to feel that way again but I let my feelings get the best of me and I’m sorry.”

Me: “Oh that man’s going to have a straight up breakdown when he finds out…”


Unfortunately just as Ellen is going to let him know the truth, which would be a good time, a volunteer setting up the stage asks for his help and he runs off to stop someone from being crushed by the background. Deciding the man is far too nice to be honest to, apparently, Ellen rushes off before he can return and have his meltdown in the middle of the town hall. Instead, she has the pleasure of returning back to the inn and her miserable fiance.

No wonder she throws herself at serving guests, the alternative is hearing Gray complain about the lack of signal and the fact he will not eat the Christmas cookies she has baked. When Ellen admits she is helping around the inn because she ran out of money Gray is quite frankly terrified that she didn’t call him or her Dad and is enjoying being treated like a normal person. He doesn’t even compliment her cookies, of which he finally eats one, and personally that would have been the moment I dumped him, let alone him telling me I would never be a normal person and fit in with regular ol’ people.

Thankfully Debbie was there to witness Ellen’s visual heartbreak…

Prediction #20 – Luckily Debbie will be there to talk sense into Jake after he has inevitably found out who she is and has stormed off feeling betrayed

Ellen thinks it is finally time to start reading the letters she actually came to deliver and the history of her father’s company and friendship with Uncle Zeke, including photos of her growing up which she can reminisce over. Then, of course, we come across letters cataloging her mother’s illness, eventual demise and how important both Ellen and Zeke are to her Dad.

The small child Ellen is now sharing her room with comes in to inform her they are out of hot chocolate downstairs, so get yo’ ass back out there and start making drinks! Not before she has given Ellen the Santa teddy and a hug though. Ya know… for moral support.

Passing by Debbie’s pickle emporium Jake thinks he might as well go in and enjoy a stiff drink, only to find Gray already set up at the bar. I’m not mistaken, that man is not used to drinking out of a martini glass because he spills some of it down his front when he takes a sip.

Jake is much more used to drinking out of any kind of glass and doesn’t manage to spill it down himself when Gray starts to tell him about his family and their lack of tradition in the face of just buying shiny new things every year. Gray is, I think, meant to be mildly drunk and comes right out with Ellen’s full name which Jake takes a while to cotton on to. Gray hilariously tells Jake to forget any of that just happened before Jake swiftly leaves the bar.

I’m glad to see Baxter is still on the couch back at the house but am most confused by how Jake decides to google stalk Ellen. Instead of just searching for her name, he prefers to go for the term ‘Langford daughter Home & Hearth gifts’ and promptly comes across a video of her falling into a Christmas tree. Ah. Perfect.

CI_11
You literally know her name, dip shit. TYPE IT IN.

Of course, despite everything he knows and has learnt about the woman Jake is gonna be miserable about it and blame her for his previous divorce. In the lobby he is skulking around while Ellen says goodbye to the family she bunked with and gives away the Santa Teddy that I am very sure came with the room…. I hope so, anyway. Gray follows shortly after with her luggage, commenting about how much better the hotel in Maui will be.

Ellen tries to hand the box of letters over to Jake but unfortunately he can’t take it because, as his little sign clearly says ‘Management will not be responsible for valuables’. He’s got a right face on him in this scene and asks whether the bill we be paid by her boyfriend or her dad’s multi-million pound company.


Jake: “We may not have cell service here but we do have the Internet.”

Me: “Then how the fuck did no one know who she was before now!?”


Still in the midst of his massive bitch-fest, Jake dramatically rips up her bill and says they should probably just be honoured that she stayed. Bidding her a Merry Christmas he exits stage right and Ellen continues to stand there trying not to cry about the entire thing. I really don’t know why people don’t just explain everything and keep talking until someone god damn listens instead of bleating the occasional sound and wondering off defeated instead.

Debbie pulls up just in time to say goodbye and will no doubt storm into that inn and kick the shit out of her nephew. Not before she has gifted Ellen with her own monogrammed oven mitts and passed on her greetings to her father. Seeing as Ellen thanks Debbie for keeping her secret I’m gonna presume she went right ahead and assumed correctly it was Gray that couldn’t hold his liquor. He also can’t hold his patience when he starts honking the horn of his car. He has a flight to Maui to catch.

He can go with Karen from accounting for all I would care…

When Debbie enters the inn it is eerily quiet and, even creepier, Silent Night is playing from Jake’s study. Personally I just wouldn’t go in and would presume he had finally decided he had had enough of life. Fortunately for everyone he is just sitting there staring at a wobbly Santa instead and Debbie thinks they should probably talk about it.

Checking the box of letters Ellen realises she doesn’t have the letter from this year. Apparently her Dad simply must have written a letter and I can’t help but feel she definitely would have read that when she was scouring the box the day before… Either way she demands they go back to the inn and Gray demands they fuck off these stupid traditions and just find a gas station instead. From the look Ellen gives the satnav when it starts speaking I think she may be done with technology.

At the very tiny gas station Gray parks up conveniently in front of a bus that is heading back to Snow Falls and unless Ellen is about to commit grand theft auto I believe she is getting on that bus. Not before she has confronted Gray about the fact he couldn’t keep a damn secret for 24 hours.

Deciding she belongs with Gray less than she belongs in Snow Falls she drops his ring in the cup holder and gets on that bus. That was some fortunate movie-esque timing, I must say so. Thankfully she remembers to pick up the box of letters but she legit now has no other belongings with her…

At Santa’s dinner everyone is having a wonderful ol’ time and some crazy woman is up on stage singing. I hope Debbie gets up on stage after this… I also really hope Santa isn’t Jake…. That’s going to make this inevitable chat a little aw… OH THANK GOD there he is in a suit.

Jake hilariously avoids eye contact with Ellen while she asks about this missing letter and tells him she basically abandoned her fiance and I can’t stop laughing. He’s like a petulant teenager. He finally manages to make some sort of eye contact when she shows him she isn’t wearing her ring anymore but is still at a loss. Nevertheless he has framed his sketches and put them up for auction like she suggested which Ellen thinks is sweet enough to divulge her feelings.

CI_12
If I don’t look at her she’s not there…

Just as Jake is about to stop being such a prick some people come past and he pretends Ellen is a guest who really needs to buy something at the auction or get the hell out. Thank god for wobbly Santa!


Ellen: “How much is this worth?”

Jake: “A gift expert once told me… at least $1,000,000.”

Ellen: “Sold.”

Me: “…. Please tell me you didn’t just give away a mil of your dad’s company for wobbly Santa.”


SANTA IS UNCLE ZEKE!!!!! He hasn’t revealed it yet but I have this revelation two seconds before he reveals he received a letter from a very special friend and begins to read it out to the crowd. I hope it’s not personal…

In reality it’s just asking for Zeke’s blessing to make Ellen the new CEO of Home & Hearth and explaining why she has been incognito. This is quite the revelation to everyone else in the room that she had met and I wonder how Jake would have taken the news if he had learnt this way. Probably still been a miserable little shit about it.


Zeke: “Congratulations, honey. It couldn’t have happened to a finer young lady.”

Me: “He clearly hasn’t watched the Christmas tree video.”


Turns out Zeke was just camping out so he wouldn’t get in the way and she would be forced to stay and get to know everyone. Her Dad also turns up, who is pretty relieved she came back after all, otherwise this would have been quite embarrassing. Turns out he never did put his letter in the box anyway. Classic Dad trick.

Even the tech shop guy has to admit she’s a pro for getting him to donate a free item. This entire time, while Ellen is showing her Dad the auction and suggesting a new festive collection next year, Debbie has been hanging around in the background and keeping an eye on Jim so she can pounce on him the second he is free.

I’ve just realised that means Jim has been back here every year and just not really bothered to check in on Debbie. Will be difficult to avoid her now because she’s up on stage to sing! Unfortunately she’s singing Silent Night as a duet with the other crazy stage woman.

Getting over his fear Jake asks her to dance to this horrible hymn of betrayal and I fear it might become his new favourite song instead. God help us all.

Now that Ellen no longer has a fiance it’s totally fine to kiss her and get in everyone’s way on the tiny dance floor. I would have liked to have seen this film played out by watching someone bump into them, fall over and sprain an ankle but alas, the credits start before we get to see that happen.

You know, compared to some of the car crashes I have witnessed this year this film was kinda fun! Explains why I made 20 friggin predictions! Watch a homeless guy get saved from a blizzard here!

 

Prediction board – 13/20

  • Prediction #1 – Gray is just after Ellen’s inheritance – I’m not sure, ya know – he certainly asked a lot of questions about it but was mostly just concerned with getting to Maui on time… HALF A POINT
  • Prediction  #2 – Ellen will find a new festive man to go along with her new festive spirit – CORRECT
  • Prediction #3 – Snow Falls is probably where Dad met Mom and maybe where she also died, hence why Ellen seemed pretty reluctant to go – CORRECT
  • Prediction #4 – Kathy will be getting off at Snow Falls too and is kindly going to take us under her wing – We never saw Kathy again and you don’t know how disappointed I was by that… INCORRECT
  • Prediction #5 – Ellen’s future life now involves inheriting a taxi firm, too – technically INCORRECT, not even Jake’s future involves the taxi firm unless that guy dies of gout
  • Prediction  #6 – Jake is very close to Zeke and wants nothing to do with whatever reason Dad and Zeke no longer work together full-time – Jake had his own issues on this subject – INCORRECT
  • Prediction #7 – Ellen is going to throw all of her charity expertise at the auction and have the company back it for mega small-town brownie points – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #8 – The planning of the charity will probably go too far and Jake will claim Ellen is just shallow – unfortunately INCORRECT! Gray came back to ruin things instead
  • Prediction  #9 – We’re gonna get Jim and Debbie back together – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #10 – Jake went to New York for a relationship and it didn’t really pan out as expected – CORRECT
  • Prediction #11 – Debbie will find out who Ellen really is first and keep her secret – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #12 – Ellen will save Baxter from a blizzard that would surely kill him – CORRECT! Thank christ
  • Prediction #13 – Kathy turns back up and gives Captain Williams something to be less miserable about – do I really need to remind myself that Kathy never came back…. INCORRECT
  • Prediction #14 – After the feels of room sharing Jake is going to be simply enamoured with Ellen when he sees her holding a baby – CORRECT! So cliche
  • Prediction #15 – Ellen will swoop in and save the auction – CORRECT
  • Prediction #16 – Ellen is going to try and make these sculptures into money makers – INCORRECT! I mean even at the time I was wondering about the logistics of trying to sell them but thought I’d throw it out there anyway
  • Prediction #17 – Jake is gonna be mighty pissed that Ellen lied about her identity this entire time after a tragic past – CORRECT! That guy was moody as fuck
  • Prediction #18 – Gray is gonna see that baby and it’s going to start screaming and Ellen is going to start having major second thoughts – INCORRECT! Ellen wasn’t even around to see this, she had already buggered off
  • Prediction #19 – Gray will reveal who Ellen really is to Jake – CORRECT!
  • Prediction #20 – Debbie will be there to try and talk sense into Jake after the big reveal – I… presume so? We didn’t get to see this dressing down but she did say they should probably talk… HALF A POINT!

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: We only got a taxi driver that runs down suitcases
  • Piano: There may have been one at the auction but I was too busy trying to avoid the live singing of Silent Night to look
  • Carolling: Strictly Victorian era appropriate
  • Christmas Montage: Let’s be honest, I should probably change this section to ‘Marketing Montage’ -.-
  • Fire Hazards: Only when Jake decided to start building up that fire in an overcrowded hotel
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: We don’t actually know when Ellen’s mom died so we’re gonna pass on this one
  • Snowing on cue: I mean… we got a blizzard but it wasn’t exactly on cue

 

OK, so I wasted some guesses on Kathy but she was so worth it! I’m sad she never showed up again in Snow Falls and mysteriously disappeared after getting off the bus.

Still, that film was kind of fun. I have high hopes that tomorrow’s film won’t be a drag either.

Christmas Advent #4 -Moonlight & Mistletoe

We’re back in my safe zone now. A million terrible True Christmas films recorded and lined up for me to watch and analyse, stare at in disbelief and laugh at in… well, disbelief.

But anyway… on with the actual film!

 

We open to an horrific, giant sign of a cartoon Santa, welcoming people to ‘Santaville’ by the fact they have to walk under the arch of this giant sign which is actually Santa’s beard. It looks more like he is vomiting people up out of his house.

Oh, my apologies. Out of his ski chalet.

MAM_1
Courtesy of Hideous Signs Ltd.

Everyone is walking around with skis, drinking hot chocolate, there is a tiny train for kids running down the middle of the street, which is a hazard if ever I saw one, and the obligatory giant Christmas tree. This one looks like it’s been through the mill a few times.

Luckily a disembodied voice tells us that they have been an elf at Santaville since they were 5 years old and that the school system is apparently terrible because she knew all the names of the reindeer and various Christmas songs before she even knew how to do maths.

Finally we meet the voice who honest to god looks like she may snap and murder the entire ‘Ville if she has to bid one more customer at the toy shop a Merry Christmas. Sick gift wrapping skills though. The girl may only be a teenager but she has already grasped the fundamentals of retail – the poorer people are, the less weekends she will need to work.

MAM_2
“Why couldn’t we be poor?”

Some young guy walks into the shop and compliments this girl’s ability at being able to put him into the Christmas spirit. Unfortunately he has a lisp in a film which requires him to say the word Christmas. A lot. Despite the fact this guy turned up at the store knowing the girl was working there, and admitting she makes him feel all sorts of festive…. he still has to ask her name. Which is right there on her name tag.

Prediction #1 – Oh poor Holly, you about to get stalked by this fool

This fool, Peter, gets very distracted by loud noises, which doesn’t surprise me, and Holly completely abandons her post to show him outside where Santa is talking to a veritable mob of children. Apparently the guy playing Santa, Nick, is Holly’s Dad.

Prediction #2 – Nick either is Santa or comes from a long line of people who were Santa and keeps Santaville, where it is Christmas 365 days a year, running because it’s easier to sell stuff here than in the North Pole

Walking back into the shop even Peter realises the entire place appears to mostly be stocked with nutcracker dolls and he is 100% correct. They are weird as fuck. He has zero idea what the actual Nutcracker is because he just doesn’t ‘get‘ ballet but he is still spot on about those creepy as fuck dolls. Holly, on the other hand, enlightens him by giving him the entire plot of the ballet.

Prediction #3 – Peter is going to invite Holly to see the Nutcracker even though she has clearly seen it a thousand times before


Holly, checking out Peter’s weird necklace: “What’s this?”

Peter: “I make things.”

Me: “…..”

Holly: “It’s beautiful.”

Peter: “Thank you.”

Me: “Oh…. right… OK, we’re just moving on then…”


Good ol’ Nick bursts in and interrupts whatever terribly vague moment the pair were having and asks Holly to, rightly, get back to work. He also kindly reminds her Santa doesn’t have children, he has elves. Wow. Don’t except anything left to you in his will when he finally kicks the bucket, kid. By the time Nick is done disowning his own child Peter has already ran the hell away.

Not before he could drape his weird necklace over a till for Holly to find, though. It’s either a carving of a dragon or… a poop. I can’t tell.

MAM_3
I’m glad films were too blurry back then to tell what the fuck that is

Either way, many years later in Boston, Holly Crosbie is calling her own office to say she is running late, even though she was at the foot of the stairs to her office when she called….

Either way, business Holly is not impressed by her PA, Brenda, and her own personal fire hazard that she has created by decorating her desk in every piece of Christmas tat she could lay her tiny hands on. When Holly demands they are removed and only receives a ‘sad puppy’ look in return she concedes and asks Brenda to try and tone it down, at least. From the look on her face I don’t think Brenda knows how to tone it down.

Holly’s job appears to involve sitting in a dark office with a turn of the century slideshow projector whilst speaking on a mobile about Christmas products and shipping. Some guy called Mr Jennings bursts into the room and from the way she immediately tells him she just boosted sales for the month, I presume he is her boss. I never have good news for my boss like that.


Jennings: “It wouldn’t hurt to give your festive spirit a little smidgen of spit shine.”

Holly: “What do you mean?”

Jennings: “Christmas is a happy time, Holly. You make it sound like a root canal.”

Me: “Hey! Now listen here, buddy! You don’t know how many relatives this woman may have lost to the festive season! …. And neither do we, so let’s hurry it up.”


This guy seems very concerned by the fact Holly’s work schedule is packed for the entirety of December because when Holly stays late, so does all of her staff. No boss has ever been concerned that an entire team of people may be working overtime to get sales shipped out on time. Ever. This guy gets even creepier when he suggests Holly has been a good little sales manager this year and produces a candy cane out of his pocket.

MAM_4
“The sedatives I applied really give it it’s shine.”

This clearly had some affect on the woman – probably putting the fear of god into her that she may need to pack up and flee back home at a moment’s notice – and she calls home to dear old Nick. We have a wonderful chat about how they’re both too busy to visit each other, Business Holly is his favourite elf and she may miss Santaville just a tiny bit. But not too much. Like a healthy amount.

Santa is very confused when he talks to a child who doesn’t know what the game chequers is, so instead distracts him by going off on a tangent about the real spirit of Christmas which really just makes the kid look scared. As he should be, when Santa leads him off to his workshop in a bid to impress him because literally no kids visit them anymore. His Mom has followed along but doesn’t seem concerned when her kid brands Santa as a fake. Right on cue some guy pops out the workshop to save Santa’s ass with some story about this being a pretend workshop because Santa couldn’t possibly give away his real secrets. Santa is looking pretty flustered by what’s going down until….


Kid: “Who are you?”

Santa: “Why, this is one of my elves. His name is Peter.”

Me: “Oh! Peter! Almost didn’t recognise him without that hideous dragon poop necklace.”


Prediction #4 – Peter is obviously still in love with Holly and is still hanging around Santaville for her now inevitable return home

Just as the kid is hanging on to the last shred of belief in Santa, another Santa pops out the workshop! Santa #1 pushes him back in but the damage is done. Peter tries to explain that kids have changed these days and the workshop is still appealing to kids of the 40’s and Santa #1 explains to Earl, Santa #2, that it goes against the laws of the universe for children to see two Santa’s in the same place at the same time. Apparently Earl is a mall Santa who is going to pass out from heatstroke on the job. Not any time soon, mind you, because he’s currently standing out in the snow and is nowhere near a mall.

Around the dinner table Nick and Earl discuss Holly’s busy schedule and how she never makes it home for Christmas. This leads Nick to stamp off to the window so he can utter the words ‘Moonlight & Mistletoe’ just as Holly is doing the same back in Boston. There is some weird magical moment and they both look a bit nostalgic. I swear, this family deserves each other.

To avoid having to answer Earl about why he was speaking to himself, Nick decides he’ll give some woman call Jenny a ride back home in his sleigh. Apparently this woman has been coming on to Nick for years whilst he has been as unresponsive as a dead, rotting fish. Still, she seems happy enough to see this rotting fish pull up outside a building and offer a ride home with some cider.

I always have to remind myself that American cider is very, very different to English cider. If they were drinking our cider out of that giant flask then both of them and their horse would be in a ditch. Apparently his horse, Dasher, may look like a horse now but at Christmas his inner reindeer really comes out. In a strange demonstration Nick hits the reigns and the horse runs off, without Jenny, before crashing the sleigh into a tree. At least the horse appreciates good cider.

MAM_5
“Shit, did he just break both his legs!? I need to see this!”

In the next scene, Holly is hopping off a train in Santaville, telling Brenda over the phone she is not going to miss choir practice as long as she gets her work done on time and shushing poor Peter who has come to pick her up. Still unclear how the fuck her Dad got injured and why the hell she is here, Peter confirms it was the worst and only sleighing accident their Dr has ever seen.

Sucking the humour right out of a few broken limbs and possible death, Holly informs this man that sleighing accidents are actually not funny at all. Holly can barely keep her attention on Peter, who volunteers at Santaville from the goodness of his heart, but fuck that guy because mobile phones exist. Due to the fact her eyes are glued to her phone it’s really no wonder she doesn’t remember the guy or spoke to him about the ballet once, even when prompted by the man himself. She doesn’t have time for memories! She’s a business woman!

Prediction #5 – Holly will work her business magic and reinvent Santaville for the better, spit shining her festive spirit in the process

I swear… if I pick one more god damn Christmas film about marketing and failing local business… Santaville is deserted and it’s all very sad yadda-yadda.


Holly: “You didn’t tell me he was in a wheelchair!”

Nick: “Well I’m not in a wheelchair. I mean… I’m in a wheelchair but I can get around just great on crutches.”

Peter: “No you can’t.”

Me: “No, no, let’s see the man try… Outside. Where it’s icy.”


Holly gives her Dad some sorta dressing down, especially when he expresses his desire to enter Dasher, the 20 year old horse who almost killed him, into the derby. The woman has just walked in and her Dad is already offering her up to make a pot roast by babbling unintelligibly to Peter about his bland turkey meatloaf until she gives in just so she can maintain a single shred of her sanity and not have to eat Peter’s bland turkey meatloaf.

At this point there was an ad break for a bunch of films and there was a clip of Con Air and I remembered how much I loved that film and how I’d rather be watching that than Holly make a pot roast with zero ingredients…. but hey! Here we are!

Peter tries to jog Holly’s memory some more by repeating some shit she said to him as a teenager before getting all up in her life story, which she doesn’t appreciate, and lending her his truck to drive to the grocery store. Turns out Holly wasn’t planning to stay for Christmas, which is dumb seeing as she is there now, but hasn’t told her Dad either. There is an obvious change of heart happening within the next hour and 20. So obvious I won’t even predict it.

As she is leaving the grocery store some woman called Della from high school accosts her and I cannot believe that Holly remembers this woman and not the guy she discussed ballet with and received a poop dragon necklace from. Della is apparently still a bitch and taking the piss out of a Santa costume Molly isn’t even wearing anymore. Della is now married to Roger, has 3 kids, she leads the life of a soccer Mom and has already forced Holly to go for coffee with her and her husband so she can brag some more about her life. Oh, and to remind Holly how special Santaville used to be.

Over pot roast and sensing an impending big reveal from Holly about how she isn’t staying for Christmas, Peter quickly removes himself from the room by clearing plates. The way he lurks around in the doorway he may as well have just stayed at the fucking table and joined in the debate about how family should stick together.


Nick: “That reminds me! Earl is not going to make the turkey this year. Holly is here.”

Holly: “Dad!”

Nick: “His turkey is very dry, honey.”

Holly: “Have you been listening to me!?”

Nick: “Yes honey, but you’re just tired from the train ride up here. Which reminds me! We’ll talk about it in the morning when you make your holiday breakfast! You’re gonna love her scones! Welcome home honey and Merry Christmas!”

Me: “And away he wheels….”


MAM_6
I’d roll away too if all my pillows looked like a mutant phallus

Despite a call from Mr Jennings about how no one will be in the office because everyone is now in vacation mode, including the clients, and Holly doesn’t even need to come back because something is being waxed (I shrug) she is still angered to be there. She even throws her phone across the room… which leads to the inevitable discovery that Santaville is in financial trouble.

I hope Nick really is Santa because otherwise he has completely derailed, carving out a chunk of the surrounding wildlife with him. The man has no money, no savings, is sure no one would seize Santa’s assets and that a miracle is coming regardless. Business Holly gets right on the case and is at the bank the next day to plead Santaville’s case but even the banker’s grandchildren have zero interest in Santa when they get 500 channels on TV. I really don’t think the lonely crow was a necessary noise to add to the panning shot of deserted Santaville but it sure did add a real sense of bleakness to the ordeal.

Pete appears to have listened to Holly last time she told him to stay out of her business because he doesn’t interrupt her as she punches a supporting beam of the porch and stares wistfully into the distance. Meanwhile, Nick is getting by just fine on a single crutch and demanding Earl get back out on the sleigh to freeze to death.

As they are both old men, conversation inevitably turns to how the Internet is warping all of the children’s minds, despite the fact it could be their greatest advertising tool and they could take a share in warping some young minds too. As in all small towns, everyone knows everyone’s business and Earl heard Holly was up at the bank to see John that afternoon. Earl reminds Nick that as his oldest friend and lawyer he will be there for the guy, whatever he needs. When Nick asks if he is hiding £50,000 in his Santa boot, for just a moment, from the look on his face, I can’t tell if he really does have that money stashed away, sitting under his soles like a bizarre platform boot.

MAM_7
Shit, he’s finally realised I’m a whole foot taller this season

Turns out it was just shock.

That evening, visiting Jenny at the inn and waiting for Della and her husband to show up, Holly looks about ready to throw herself into the lit fireplace. If she had known this conversation was going to turn to the topic of Jenny and her Dad flirting, I’m assuming she would have taken action earlier. Right on cue an eligible bachelor, staying at the inn, comes downstairs to let us know he was meant to be meeting his college friend and his wife for coffee but they’re running late….

Christ on a bike I hate Della so much. But props to her for formulating a blind date scenario in under 10 seconds flat after seeing Holly on the high street. Ben is all for this blind date they have been set up on and after a tour of Santaville, Holly is telling him all about their financial difficulty when she can’t even remember the guy who currently volunteers for her father! Peter’s days are looking even gloomier when it turns out Ben is a financial adviser. That man’s teeth are too numerous and too white. I don’t trust him.

MAM_8
‘… and with teeth as white as snow…’

Prediction #6 – Ben will inevitably fuck up like… telling his financial advisers to tell Holly to just sell the land so he can do some real estate bollocks which people just love doing over the Christmas period

Holly comes across Peter in the workshop and is impressed by a veritable shit load of carved figures he has dotted around the place. Apparently he leaves one under Nick’s tree every year but they’ve never actually discussed the gifts so Nick may just believe he is actual motherfucking Santa and the elves are leaving him gifts. Dear lord. Immediately Holly suggests marketing these terrible figures and when she comments on the craftsmanship I almost drop my entire glass of wine.


Holly: “You must really like nutcrackers.”

Me: “They are the furthest fucking thing from a nutcracker!”


When Peter repeats the plot of The Nutcracker back to this woman she suddenly has an epiphany and realises this is Peter. Ya know… Who makes things. Now this is the part I’m slightly confused about… Apparently after he left that day he either didn’t return for some time or Holly was immediately shipped off that very same evening. So this single meeting was enough to make this man come back to Santaville and just keep volunteering for a failing business and sit in the workshop making terrible nutcrackers whilst carving half-decent bears. People do the weirdest things.

MAM_9
The only way you’re going to crack nuts with these are if you hurl them directly at someone’s crotch

After a very heated family argument where it turns out Santa knows nothing about how debt works and loves Santaville more than his daughter, Ben comes to find Holly and tells her very cryptically that some people are interested in Santaville. By which he clearly means…. to buy the place and knock it down. The man also opens his presents on Christmas Eve so definitely cannot be trusted. Just as Holly is hugging the man, poor ol Peter drives past and is quite put out by the entire thing.

His answer to this is to leave Holly a note to meet him at the covered bridge, which looks as good a place as any to freeze to death. This was a favourite place for Holly and her Mom when times got tough and we discuss the fact Nick never talks about his late wife and apparently had some sort of breakdown and became Santa after she died. In opposition we find out Peter’s parents are also terrible and left him alone over Christmas most of the time so we can bond over a mutual dislike of our parents.

Ben calls to interrupt this touching moment of rising rebellion and drags Holly back to the town so he can tell her the good news. Some people who have bought a nearby ski resort would like to pay off all the debt and do the place up to attract people to the area and so allow their children to ski and break their necks up on the slopes. Wonderful, except for the fact that Nick is an independent crazy old white man who don’t need no financial partner to stop him losing his home. Or something like that.

I adore the fact he says no right to Ben’s face, however. Thankfully Earl is around to check over these papers and tell Nick he’s a fool because Nick just continues to prattle on about how Holly is giving up on the place again and is nothing more than an elf to him. After yet another argument Holly is waiting at the train station to get the hell out of dodge when Peter drives up with Nick in tow so he can apologise for being absolutely batshit insane.

MAM_10
“Look, I can’t stay and apologise for long. I’m easier to trace outside of the house and they’re after me, you know.”

Cue yet another argument. I thought my family was bad but this just never ends! This time, however, the argument turns to Nick’s dead wife and how he sees her a lot in Holly which she takes as a compliment but I would take as a sign that I really need to get on that last train to Boston. Unfortunately Holly decides to stay and now, rather than never speaking of her deceased Mother, Nick hauls out some old keepsake box of hers so we can relive every tiny memory. Together and dramatically. Honest to god this man could not be any more insane right now and I tuned out at the sign of a family crying session.

Prediction #7 – Holly is going to need her Mom’s engagement ring when Peter asks her to marry him and Nick will gladly hand it over

Nick finally considers signing that contract and I just suddenly get so many bad feelings about it.

Prediction #8 – Earl is gonna find a multitude of things wrong with that contract but is gonna have to face a moral dilemma about whether he wants to save his friend or not


Holly: “I wanted to thank you for being there last night.”

Peter: “I didn’t do anything.”

Holly: “No, you have a way of simplifying the truth.”

Me: “It’s called ‘not being related to you or your fucking insane family’.


Despite the fact her father got into a terrible accident whilst riding a sleigh at night, Peter invites her to come with him on a midnight sleigh ride. Fortunately for both Holly’s legs she needs to meet with Ben to finalise this devil’s contract. Hinting at some terribly dark past with his business oriented father, Peter confirms he prefers midnight sleigh rides to business of any kind. I have a feeling a midnight sleigh ride might be the last thing his father ever experienced.

I expected Earl to be discussing the contract rather than up a ladder, decorating a tree while Nick wears a necklace of tinsel and flirts some more with Jenny over a pie. When Holly asks Earl for the contract there are just enough stammers and stalling to suggest either this contract is a pile of shit or Earl is suffering from the early stages of dementia.

MAM_11
Maybe if I stay up this ladder they won’t notice me and ask me to recall my most valuable memories

Earl: “Somebody’s got a hot date.”

Molly: “No, it’s not a date, I’m just meeting Ben for dinner. To look over the paperwork.”

Me: “I’m just dressed like this so he’ll pay for the food while he no doubt fleeces our entire family of our livelihood. But at least I got a free dinner!”


Ben keeps mentioning these ‘silent partners who definitely won’t try to interfere with the running of Santaville’ in ominous tones. Holly does some strange 180 turns, first inviting Ben to Christmas with her and her family, then thinking it’s weird how he refers to these silent partners, then just being pleased he agrees to spend Christmas with her.

Prediction #9 – George and Della are the silent partners but let’s watch Della try and be silent

Ben goes outside to take a call with these partners and when Holly goes out to find him she overhears the fact her father will need to repay everything by Christmas Day or…. well some bad shit. Before this he mentions he has the contract just as his ‘bro’ wrote it out in black and white. I feel Earl may have tampered with this a little or at least has a very good fucking plan up his sleeve. What amazes me more is that Holly storms away in anger when I would have played dumb until I could get that contract back off the man and deny anything ever happened. If he questioned my crazy actions I would just remind him who I was related to.

Returning home to tell everyone she left this contract in a con man’s pocket and there is nothing she could do about it we all try and take some share of the blame.


Earl: “Holly… it was not your fault.”

Nick: “Earl, please.”

Earl: “No. If I had read the contract like I was supposed to; like you asked…”

Nick: “Earl, stop.”

Earl: “I don’t know what it is, I just… I can’t seem to focus.”

Nick: “You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone.”

Earl: “I’d read a paragraph and couldn’t remember where I was or what I’d just read. I guess, when you get old, you’re the last person to know that you’ve lost your touch.”

Me: “Erm…..”

Nick: “Earl… it’s not your fault. Got it? This is not your fault. It’s my fault. It’s my name on that contract, I signed it. I should have read the fine print.”

Jenny: “It seems to me we should stop worrying about who’s to blame here and start talking about…”

Me: “Earl’s very serious underlying medical condition! The man can’t even get through a paragraph without forgetting he just read it!”


Glossing over Earl’s very real dementia we instead rally together to what may as well turn into a conspiracy to just murder Ben. Predictably, Peter was waiting outside this whole time with the sleigh all hooked up because he thought Holly might need it after all. I’m presuming she readily agrees to hop in in the hopes they might suffer an horrific crash and she might get out of this dreadful situation after all.

Peter doesn’t offer much in the way of help except the obvious fact they need to try and generate 50 grand by Christmas Day. The more Holly babbles on and on about tradition the more her marketing cogs start turning and she devises a plan to get all the old regulars back to Santaville. Unfortunately, to get the word out, Holly lets her Dad loose with a blog about being Santa. Ain’t no one but the men in white coats turning up to Santaville this year.

Holly has the ‘Remember’ campaign up and running and we get to see a nice montage of her leaving these leaflets and signs up around town as well as Peter’s strange carved figures, like tokens of a deranged serial killer deciding on his future victims. Nick is going to call every past customer to the inn to let them know the tree lighting ceremony is back on and he can’t even get a high five with Jenny right, which is always painful to watch.

MAM_12
“Honey… I received one of those nutcrackers this morning. I don’t think I’ll be coming home tonight. Tell the kids I love them.”

I take it back. It was 100% more painful to watch Nick dictating his own blog post aloud as he typed at an average of 5 words per minute and had to check his spelling for the word ‘ceremony’ in the world’s largest dictionary. He was channelling every ounce of crazy into those words, folks. One day it will probably result in it’s own Creepy Pasta where anyone who reads it is visited by Nick’s version of Santa that very same night…. because Santaville is 365 days a year. Ya poor bastards.

Jenny. Jeanie. Ginny. I have no idea what that woman’s name is anymore.

There’s quite a turn out to this tree lighting ceremony and Santa lets the kid who doesn’t know what the fuck chequers is to pop the switch and light up the tree. Nick messes up another high five, this time as Santa, and I just don’t think he should be allowed to raise his arms above chest height. For the good of the nation. Meanwhile Ben is standing up on a balcony shouting very loudly down a phone that there is no way these people can worm their way out of this contract.

Nevertheless he still turns up at Santaville the next day to assure Holly it was all just business. Told you I didn’t trust those damn teeth of his! Instead, Ben turns to bribery, which also doesn’t sit well with her, and Holly storms off to make another appointment at the bank because… there are only so many people who can hear about and drive up to Santaville before Christmas.

Turns out they have already made almost £28,000 which the bank guy says is impressive but I say is fucking amazing! In one montage they have already made that much money! Unfortunately the bank will not take that money as a good faith gesture and give them a loan instead and it’s probably this desperation which leads Holly to agree to take over the blog for a while because it’s apparently taking Nick 12 hours a day just to write one post.

Holly cannot help venting all her frustration at Peter and the poor guy just sits there and takes it, even when she questions why the fuck he keeps making those damn figures. In return Peter gives her a very vague step by step guide on how to make her very own figurine and there is something to do with painting a face on there you wanna see for the rest of your life and they kiss and yeah but wait. WAIT. WAAAAAAIT.

The next second Jenny comes running in because a customer saw one of these damn figures and wanted to buy it. Some guy named a crazy price he thought would be too expensive to put the guy off because apparently these figurines are Peter’s damn kids or something and the next moment we have a cheque for…


Nick: “$500!”

Earl: “Let me get this straight… this guy actually paid all that money for one of these little… toys.”

Me: “I know, Earl. It’s fucking ludicrous.”


Just like that Jenny is setting up a booth to sell these damn things, Holly is going to sell them on the site because Nick has somehow managed to start a good blog and I presume Nick will be in the workshop carving his little heart out like an actual elf.


Peter: “So, how are we doing?”

Holly: “I haven’t finished adding up all of the sales…”

Peter: “So we’re still not out of the woods.”

Holly: “Not yet… but we’re close.”

Me: “You might be even closer if you didn’t leave every single light on all fucking day.”


Holly has started to wear the dragon poop necklace again after she found it in an old jewellery box upstairs because she was hoping it might bring them some luck. Or insight into a dragon’s digestive health. Either one would probably earn them a fortune.

Holly makes the romantic declaration that Peter has a face she would be happy to look at for the rest of her life and he returns the gesture by asking what the hell they’re supposed to do if they lose to the business tycoon amongst them. This prompts a call to Holly’s boss who is mildly annoyed to be called on his skiing trip but very curious about unique nutcrackers. I really wish they would stop calling them that.

Jennie is selling mad stock from a pavilion where I presume they are not going for £500 a piece when Holly comes up to tell her the good news that they’re gonna make the cut just in time! I am more mesmerised by the fact I found the real life Cartmann playing an extra in the background.

MAM_13
People are really turning out for this Cartmann meet and greet

I thought I may have escaped some impromptu carolling but here we are anyway, singing around a giant Christmas tree with only red lights on it. Everything looks a whole lot more sinister, that way… I am more alarmed by the fact they have people in the crowd holding candles in little glass jars. Those things get fucking hot!

This alarm is replaced by confusion when Holly announces to the entire crowd, after a truly riveting speech about something or other, that they didn’t make their goal and this will be the last Christmas at Santaville…. then why the fuck was she going around telling people they had made it 4 hours ago!?

I mean, it’s all inconsequential because Mr Jennings and Brenda turn up to make the big announcement that their company will become the sole distributor, worldwide, of Peter’s carvings. I mean… he could have just phoned her again and not ditched his family holiday and dragged Brenda out of her house in the dead of night…

I’m not sure what the need of commissioning a figure to Mr Jennings was but the bank guy informs them they can legally do this within the next four minutes for a price of let’s just say… 8 grand. I don’t know where he got that figure from. I don’t know if that’s how much they were short meaning it was a complete lie when Nick said they had only missed the goal by a small amount. I don’t know how the bank guy would know! Either way it’s all grand and no one questions who the guy at the back of the crowd is who just ripped up a bunch of paper and then threw it over them before storming off.

Despite the fact Holly had such a shit time of life and completely lost her love for Christmas, her disembodied voice tells her that soon Nick will have a new little elf to train and so is ready to subject her child to a life of slavery and lack of magic.

And there we have it folks! In reality that film was kinda short but my God it felt like so much longer when I was watching it. Not in the good ‘I was so absorbed time just flew by!’ way, either. Experience the same shift in time for yourself here.

And please. No more marketing.

 

Prediction board – 5/9

  • Prediction #1 – Holly will be stalked by Peter – You’re telling me! It was a weird kind of stalking but he hung around with her dad for god knows how many years waiting for her to come back
  • Prediction #2 – Nick either is Santa or comes from Santa heritage – INCORRECT! The man was just insane
  • Prediction #3 – Peter is going to invite Holly to see the Nutcracker – perhaps after hearing the entire plot from Holly he didn’t feel the need. INCORRECT!
  • Prediction #4 – Peter is still in love with Holly – CHECK
  • Prediction #5 – Holly will work her business magic and reinvent Santaville for the better, spit shining her festive spirit in the process – CHECK
  • Prediction #6 – Ben will inevitably fuck up – I’m going to class trying to swindle a family out of their home and business as fucking up
  • Prediction #7 – Holly is going to need her Mom’s engagement ring when Peter asks her to marry him – This is more of a presumption as we didn’t get to see it but sure, CORRECT
  • Prediction #8 – Earl is gonna find a multitude of things wrong with that contract – Earl found nothing because he doesn’t remember even seeing a contract at this point
  • Prediction #9 – George and Della are the silent partners – completely INCORRECT

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: Crazed drunken horse and sleigh
  • Piano: I hate to say pianos appear to be a thing of the past…
  • Carolling: Surprise carolling caught me off guard
  • Christmas Montage: A festive marketing montage! Again…
  • Fire Hazards: Bitterly disappointed by the lack of fire hazards other than Brenda’s desk
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: CHECK!
  • Snowing on cue: It snowed all the time in this film and yet they never got snowed in

 

So… my scores are looking a little better but in all honesty I was looking forward to the end of the film more than any surprise turn of events.

Let’s hope we luck out better tomorrow.

Christmas Advent #3 – Love You Like Christmas

Let’s see what material we can get from today’s film. I’m also hoping for better predictions this time around… I’m still not nailing this.

 

This film starts with a manic sequence where everything is sped up and we see a bunch of Christmassy locations around the city. I already had a massive headache and after that, quite frankly, I feel nauseas. Luckily we slow down just in time to follow a woman through the usual big city crowds, talking to herself and convincing herself it’s going to be a great Christmas. She looks bizarrely happy to see her own office building in an expression no one has ever pulled when approaching work.

Not in my family, anyway.

Business lady is far more concerned with marketing Christmas than she is about enjoying it. What worries me more is she has only just started to think about Christmas on the 1st December. Woman! I was seeing Christmas displays before Halloween had even happened this year! Her assistant Roz, on the other hand, is already hoping it will snow.

We quickly skim over the mention of her Mother dying and Christmas never being the same as a child but we skim over it too quickly to find out if it was a tragic Christmas death. Damn! Business lady is whisked away to a meeting with a client, where some guy tells the client that Maddie, our woman, is the best Christmas marketer they’ve got. We’re still skirting the fact they are only just thinking about Christmas profit on the 1st December and their campaign won’t even be live until the end of the week. I work in marketing. We start getting Christmas plans sent over by the end of September. Maybe this client really does need Maddie because I am astonished by his business expertise or lack thereof.

Prediction #1 – the client is going to show some sort of interest in Maddie but, ultimately, he’s just not going to be… Christmassy enough for her by the end of the film

As per usual I feel an uptick in my affinity to this woman the moment she starts eating leftover takeaway and drinking red wine out of a normal glass. That’s my kinda girl. When she gets into bed there is a conveniently placed photo of a dead loved one where it can’t be missed and we have to be reminded of their absence every single day.

LYLC_1
I find crushing depression really helps me get to sleep at night

A strange time lapse would have you believe Maddie sleeps approximately 10 seconds per night before her alarm goes off. Maybe that’s why her wardrobe is incredibly boring and is full of white blouses and various, muted blazers so she can’t make a fool out of herself. I can confirm, in the next scene, the black blouse and white blazer she is wearing was not only definitely not what she picked but didn’t even exist in that woman’s wardrobe. She’s currently operating on ‘Shaft’ levels of continuity errors.

There is some worry she won’t be able to attend a famous fashion designer’s wedding, who is responsible for moving Maddie into this new fancy office, despite the fact the wedding is still 10 days away. She can set up a marketing campaign in 7 days but prepare for a wedding with her limited wardrobe? Oh, no, no, people. It turns out she is also afraid of flying and so will have to take the train to Denver. I have a feeling that’s going to take a long time.

Prediction #2 – Maddie is not getting on that train

Before Roz can confirm either way, Maddie’s cousin Teddy calls to let her know his Mother’s classic Mustang Flashback (I shrug) is free to a good home because he is leaving the country. Apparently Maddie is obsessed with this car. So obsessed she ditches all plans of catching the train and decides to take the car instead! One point down already!


Teddy: “I got a new job. I’m moving to London.”

Maddie: “Congratulations! That sounds exciting.”

Me: “It really isn’t. Don’t go. Stay right where you are.”


Prediction #3 – That car is going to break down on the way to Denver, but it’s cool because someone who loves old muscle cars is going to be right on hand to help out

Apparently Aunt Vivian was a flamboyant substitute Mom to Maddie and she is taking the car in her honour. Teddy is a little concerned about the bad weather which is heading to Denver, and which he conveniently knows about, but Maddie is just sure she will get there before then. Probably because she is setting out 9 days in advance.

LYLC_2
Nice knowin’ ya, car

Maddie eventually gets stuck in traffic caused by an absolute, veritable fuck load of Christmas trees that have fallen off the back of a truck and somehow managed to spread across the entire interstate. Maddie and the guy trying to clean this mess up lock eyes while mystical twinkling sounds start up in the background.

LYLC_3
Yeah… people often look at me like that, too

I’m very sure this man introduces himself as Kibben and claims he has called highway patrol to help get these all cleared up. I would loved to have heard that conversation… The Time Management Director who is also stuck in this traffic is not as enamoured by Kibben’s charming buffoonery and thinks it is very inconsiderate to lay your trees out on the interstate like this. Maddie is shocked to find these trees actually belong to Kibben, despite the fact he was standing amongst them, wearing heavy-duty gloves, was moving them back onto his own truck and was the one who called highway patrol. I honest to god believe this woman thought the trees grew that way. Horizontally. Straight through the concrete.

Prediction  #4 – She may have no concept of how trees grow but Maddie is still going to find enough common ground with Kibben to fall madly in love

Despite defending Kibben against the ‘Time Lord’ she still gets back into her car and almost trashes it immediately by driving along the hard shoulder which is completely snowed over. By some miracle the car pulls through and she is back on the road to Denver. At a fork in the road she takes some time to deliberate before just simply trusting her instincts and turning right. What crazy ass person does not take a satnav or a map or check their damn phone before driving across the country!? No wonder you set out 9 days before the wedding!

She is, however, just entering somewhere called Christmas Valley and doesn’t that sound like fun! Except for the other 10 months of the year, of course.

Prediction  #5 – Maddie should have brought along a satnav because she is no longer heading towards Denver

Prediction  #6 – Maddie will not make the wedding in time (somehow) but she’s going to find she doesn’t really care anyway

Just as we enter the valley the car considerately and lovingly breaks down at the nearest gas station, where a young man, who looks alarmingly like her cousin Teddy, is playing the guitar on the doorstep. In his expert opinion they need to run more tests to be sure what’s wrong with the car. This man is doing triple time because he sounds like the local mechanic, musician and doctor right now.

Despite the car being old as shit, Maddie is still surprised when the Teddy Jr says it might take a few days to order in the parts and keeps banging on about Denver. I thought she set out 9 days in advance… how long was she stuck in that traffic jam for!? Either way, she admits defeat pretty quickly and just asks for somewhere to stay instead.


Maddie: “Ok… is there a motel around here?”

Teddy Jr.: “Eurgh, about 60 miles down the way? But there’s a boarding house. I can take you over there if you want.”

Maddie: “A boarding house?”

Me: “Hotel, motel, boarding house, hostel, murderer’s personal address… they’re all essentially the same thing.”


So much goes on in the next scene when Teddy Jr drops Maddie off at the boarding house I can’t even keep up. The family who own it are mental: they have a dog named Rowdy, a random small girl named Jo knocking around, the wife, Pam, thinks every new lodger is just a friend she hasn’t met yet and the husband, Bob, really likes shaking people’s hands because he’s a travelling salesman and makes terrible Dad jokes.

And then there is this….

LYLC_4
Jeremy… Christmas….

Jeremy Christmas founded the town 100 years ago (nice, round numbers are easier to remember) and he just played up his resemblance to Santa… but only from the chin up, because he was actually short and skinny from the neck down. People… what is going on here. Jeremy’s wife was Pam’s Grandfather’s cousin because if I have to suffer this shit, so do you.


Pam: “When I got the place I felt an obligation to keep up the Christmas theme.”

Maddie: “Well, you certainly managed to do that.”

Pam: “In an over the top, wall to wall sort of way.”

Maddie: “It works, though. I was stranded and you’ve managed to distract me.”

Me: “Now I just fear for my life.” 


Maddie is too tired to spend one more second with these grinning freaks and goes up to her room. For some reason she keeps commenting that she has no idea where she is, although a giant sign on the way into town and Teddy Jr from the garage have both told her this is Christmas Valley. Where that may be is of no consequence because she will never…. leave… again….

Prediction  #7 – Random kid Jo who stays at the boarding house while her Dad isn’t around is probably Kibben’s kid and he’s not around because he’s dropping trees on the interstate


Jo: “Maddie and I have the same hair colour.”

Pam: “Yeah, you do.”

Jo: “But she has the prettiest eyes.”

Pam: “Yeah, she does.”

Jo: “Maddie is gonna love this!”

Me: “Fuuuucking hell, this kid has out-crazied Pam.”


Breakfast is waiting for Maddie downstairs – green eggs and Christmas cookies in honour of the season – as well as another healthy dose of insanity. Apparently Bob used to sell encyclopedias but he only had volume 1, which apparently only covered the letter ‘A’ and now he knows everything about words beginning with the letter ‘A’. After the most boring quick fire round of ‘A’ related questions Maddie just takes her breakfast to her room so she can work some more.

It’s no wonder her work is suddenly so pressing when she’s been on the road for the last god knows how many days. I can only imagine how many emails the woman has come back to. On the phone Roz is asking questions about every tiny noise she hears in the background but, in all fairness, everyone just keeps interrupting Maddie while she tries to work. Jo even goes as far to start asking her for relationship advice.

Why would she be doing this, you ask? Well, because her Mom’s dead. Classic Christmas. On the guise of taking Rowdy for a walk before Jo goes home… Jo simply walks Maddie to her home instead. It’s all strange but Kibben is waiting for us there and he is, of course, Jo’s Dad. Kibben makes the big reveal that his farmhouse actually has indoor plumbing so why doesn’t Maddie come on in for a spell! Ya patronising shit. He also has a lot of questions about Maddie and her life until she thinks she should probably get back to the lodge because it’s getting dark outside. Kibben offers her a lift and two seconds later, in the car, it is pitch black outside leading me to wonder where the man parked his fucking car. Pam is probably also wondering where the hell Jo took her dog off to.

It always amazes me in these films that, even people who are meant to dislike children, are so nice to any kid they come across. I would literally be staring at it in horror the entire time and asking it to please stop talking to me and leave me alone. Despite all of this Pam is just certain that Maddie and Kibben are a great fit and it doesn’t matter that she lives in New York or has a wedding in Denver she needs to get to. If love is gonna happen, it will happen.

LYLC_5
Bob was just remembering why he became a travelling salesman in the first place

The next morning Maddie decides to walk into town to get breakfast. It’s hard to tell whether she was put off by the boarding houses’ steady diet of green eggs and sugar cookies or the ever changing decorations out on the lawn…

LYLC_6
I presume they are tethered to the ground so they can’t murder guests in their sleep

Maddie accosts random people in the street, asking where is a good place to eat in town. Preferably that doesn’t serve green eggs. Maddie is directed to ‘Stan’s’ across the street which is actually owned by his niece, Holly, because Stan got married and moved away like… a fortnight ago. Holly was the former Miss Ohio runner up, I’ll have you know.

Skulking around in the corner and jumping in on conversations he wasn’t involved in, is our one and only Kibben. To distract herself from this creepy stalker, Maddie helps Holly reinvent her business with a few small changes – rename it Holly’s (ingenious) and make it into a festive fire hazard, like everywhere else in this godforsaken valley. Everyone seems amazed by Maddie’s idea to turn this into a festive themed restaurant, I presume to make Maddie appear far better at her job than the fact she can just use common sense and has a pair of eyes.


Maddie: “Christmas is about memories, that’s what makes it such a good marketing tool. Ooh, maybe you could have a jukebox which only plays Christmas music.”

Me: “Kill me.”

Kibben: “That sounds like a pretty calculated take on Christmas.”

Maddie: “Well, that calculated take has earned me a pretty good living.”

Kibben: “I just don’t think the holiday’s should be about dollars and cents.”

Me: “What do you give your kid for Christmas, then? Memories of her deceased Mother? A Christmas tree that’s been rolling around on the interstate?”


During this entire exchange there is an, as yet, unnamed man watching the entire thing and enjoying it immensely whilst completing his crossword. Kibben thinks now is the perfect time to try out his newest pick-up and goodbye line: ‘You look really pretty when you talk marketing.’ It sounds like the title of a contemporary country song.

Back at the boarding house Pam is quilting a bunch of Christmas squares because ‘it puts her in the Christmas mood’. I have the slightest suggestion that it may be easier to get into the Christmas mood if you didn’t live in Christmas Valley or have a picture of Jeremy Christmas on your wall 24/7 but… what do I know. Jo is back to hang around with Maddie because she’s needy as fuck.

Apparently you can’t be in a room with Bob without asking him to define every ‘A’ word on the planet and it fucking turns out he’s a travelling salesman right now and has a rented room at the boarding house. I thought he and Pam were married! He sure is very familiar with everyone here…  

Prediction  #8 – Bob is in love with Pam… or at least her cooking

Maddie is back at Stan’s because she is not so in love with Pam’s cooking and who do we find again but Kibben. Holly has already Christmas-sed up the place and the crossword guy is also there again, asking leading questions in the hope of prodding Maddie and Kibben closer together.  Although Maddie has just ordered an omelette she wanders off with Kibben to drop trees over the interstate again and it is at this point that I realise… HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, HIS NAME IS KEVIN. FOR FUCK’S SAKE.

Enunciate your words, America! You make Kevin sound like fucking Kibben.

I ain’t changing it now.

I find Maddie a whole lot more relatable the moment she plants a baby baby Christmas tree and starts telling it she wants it to go to a good home. I can get behind crazy talking to the plants. Unfortunately the trees that Kibben threw across the highway were too damaged to sell and the year before that there was a flood that killed a bunch of his crop too. I think someone’s trying to tell him something… Kibben continues to worry about his business and his farm and has decided to plant the 100 or so baby trees he still has left before the farm goes completely bankrupt as a sentimental gesture to the land.

Prediction  #9 – Marketing expert Maddie is gonna come straight to the rescue and save Kibben’s tree business too

We have the compulsory conversation where Kibben finds out Maddie is not close to her Father and her Mother died when she was a child so everyone can say how sorry they are and meet another broken soul.


Maddie: “You know, fatherhood is your best feature.”

Me: “You two fucking deserve each other with those pick-up lines.”


Maddie is still panicking about this wedding, despite the fact she is planning to get there the day before it even happens, so this warrants a trip to the garage to check on her car but Teddy Jr. is too busy playing his guitar and singing. Turns out he has a band and they’re trying to get their name out there but there is a lot of competition… I’m just amazed he’s managed to amass a band from the residents of Christmas Valley. I wonder if crossword guy is in it, too. Maddie cannot help herself from dispersing some more pearls of wisdom to Teddy Jr, either. She’s like a marketing advice Pez dispenser.


Maddie: “Get some buzz going! Maybe a Christmas song! That’s an easy sell this time of year.”

Me: “Oh, sure, only the hardest fucking genre you can ever hope to write an original and good song in…. ever.”


Luckily, Kibben turns up just as she is leaving the garage so they can have another heart to heart and Maddie can admit she’s terrified of flying.


Kibben: “Can I give you a lift?”

Maddie: “No, too much adrenaline. I need to walk it off.”

Kibben: “Is it because I drop my trees?”

Me: “No, it’s because you’re stalking me.”


To be honest, I am more terrified that in the next shot of the boarding house those creepy carolling figures are missing from the lawn. Guess they weren’t tied down well enough…

In some bizarre turn of events Maddie reveals she would like to get Jo a gift before she leaves but all the kid wants is to spend more time with the marketing extraordinaire. Vomitous. This is how we come to be back at the farm and making Christmas wreaths in some sort of shed. I can only hope someone does us the pleasure of hanging up her completely misshapen attempt at a circle.

LYLC_7
Nevermind, Maddie’s just gonna hang it up on her face instead

They are interrupted by another phone call from New York and Maddie’s boss, who is expecting a presentation for their newest client on how his sales are doing. Now I’ve been watching this film with at least 80% of all my attention and I can confirm… this woman really hasn’t managed to get that much work done. Maddie tries to get back to this whole festive get-together but is consistently interrupted by work until she just has to admit defeat and bitterly disappoint Jo, who has no concept of a career or successful business. Yet.

Holly’s cafe is now doing crazy business and they’re even going to host a re-opening on Christmas Eve which we are all invited to. Even the crossword guy is making a dig at Maddie’s phone now when it continues to go off. The thing is in her hand, I have no idea why she can’t put it on silent for two seconds. Kibben, who is also obviously there because Maddie cannot be in a scene without him, tries to mansplain Maddie about how being attached to your phone all the time is really just a substitute to ever connecting to another human being. I am on the side of Maddie when she ditches this conversation to answer a call from Teddy Jr. but quickly switch loyalty to Luke, the chef, who points out that, yet again, that woman did not even eat the omelette she ordered. I can only imagine she is the only person in town willing to eat an egg-white omelette.

At the garage it turns out the part that turned up for the car is the wrong one and the new part won’t be here for…. well either one or two days. You know what delivery services are like. In an effort to figure out how she’s gonna spin this to her boss, Maddie takes Rowdy for a walk but it looks like that dog did not want to be out in the snow with this crazy woman in heeled boots. Surprise, surprise, our friendly neighbourhood stalker pulls up to save the day and her shoes.


Maddie: “Where’s Jo?”

Kibben: “She went over to Pam’s looking for you.”

Maddie: “I really want to see her before I go.”

Kibben: “Listen, you’ve made a very big impression on her.”

Maddie: “I didn’t think I had a maternal bone in my body but…”

Me: “You clearly just weren’t committed enough.”


I’m really not sure how terrible this flood last year was but Kibben mentions it again in conjunction with a whole bunch of struggling farms. I can’t help but feel a flood that drowned out the entirety of Ohio should have been worldwide news.

Maddie is happy to let this stalker not only cut off a phone call she was receiving but also try and kiss her before they are, thankfully, interrupted by Jo who wants to collect pine cones. Apparently it’s a sort of Easter egg hunt that her Mom made up and she probably should have lead with that fact because I thought the girl was just hoarding like a squirrel.

In the face of her stalker and this obsessed child, Maddie is actually becoming fond of Christmas. If I was in her position I would have snow-shoed it to Denver and hoped for hypothermia to finish me off.

In the cafe, the place is becoming more and more of a fire hazard by the second and I can’t wait for the whole place to go up in flames when some oil accidentally spits over a bunch of wiring. Luke is also starting to get the hang of Maddie and her terrible eating habits.


Luke: “Egg white omelette, coming right up.”

Maddie: “Add anything you like!”

Luke: “The Maddie special!”

Me: “A plate of egg whites which no one eats and gets left on the side to go cold.”


Sitting next to Kibben, Maddie finally raises the topic of the fact one of them is definitely stalking the other. Roy, the crossword guy, had hoped she was just there to see him. I have a feeling Roy would be entirely less annoying than Kibben, who seems disappointed that Maddie can’t bake with Jo that afternoon because she has a job she needs to do which he has been aware of this entire time and shouldn’t be surprised.

Somehow she still finds the time to bake fruit cake with the child and Kibben comes back to find them throwing icing sugar at each other. That’s a dangerous game to play! Maddie is terrible at cooking and her attempt at cake actually manages to bend a fork, so it’s probably a good thing her car is finally ready by the next morning. Clearly Maddie was a little excited at the prospect of braining people to death with her doorstop fruit cake because she’s not quite so eager to leave Christmas Valley anymore.

After all this stalking the woman doesn’t even bother to say a proper goodbye to Kibben and Jo, but she does leave a present for Jo with Pam – a dress to wear to Holly’s grand re-opening of the cafe. To add insult to injury she actually stops by the cafe to say goodbye to them too before leaving. Thinking she has finally escaped, Maddie is not paying full attention when a photo-shopped Reindeer appears in the middle of the road and she swerves into some boulders outside of someone’s fence. This ‘mint condition’ car is having no luck under Maddie’s reign.

After shouting at the reindeer and threatening to sue Santa, Teddy Jr turns up to tow the car away and doesn’t seem too surprised to be there. Kibben is, reliably, there to give her a lift back into the valley. After wincing some, Kibben carries her 3 feet up the path towards her Christmas doom.

LYLC_8.JPG
Oh, look, there are the gates of hell

Once more their fantastical kiss is interrupted, this time by Pam and Bob who, for some reason, have hung up Maddie’s wreath on the boarding house door. Maybe they were the ones who planted the reindeer and hung it up for either her grand welcome home or mourning her death. Whichever happened first.

This interruption leads to possibly my favourite line in a script to date.


Bob: “You’re just in time for dinner!”

Kibben: “Ah, Bob! Can you help me with the…. bags Bob, Bob and bags. Bags Bob.”


Do with that what you will.

Again, trying to come up with an excuse to tell to her boss, they contemplate telling him Ohio is having the worst snow storm in years. I don’t know… if they know the Internet exists down there, in Christmas Valley… But never fear! Right on cue, it starts to snow!

This of course will no doubt slow down the delivery of a new bumper and headlight that Teddy Jr has had to order in. I am slightly confused how time works in Christmas Valley because we’re cool with the parts taking one or two days but are now more concerned about Christmas being only 12 days away. She has been stuck in the Valley for some time. She set out on the 2nd of December! When is this wedding!?


Maddie’s Boss: “What’s going on?”

Maddie: “Well, there was a reindeer in the road.”

Maddie’s Boss: “An actual reindeer?”

Maddie: “Yes and then I…. I ran into a fence and now I need a new bumper.”

Maddie’s Boss: “Can’t you just rent a car?”

Maddie: “There was a snowstorm here and now all the roads are closed, I twisted my ankle, I… you know, it’s still pretty swollen.”

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


I am no longer sure what work Maddie has promised to get done. Get to the wedding on time? Give a presentation? Get back before Christmas? It’s all very confusing right now and she just gets distracted by the quilt Pam is furiously sewing up instead. I know that tactic. ‘I have so much work to do I couldn’t possibly do anything right now.’ Works every time.

Apparently, now a big part of the town having been there for what feels like a million years, Maddie is at the stage where she can say hello to strangers on the street and they will reply to her without fearing for their lives. It seems no one can help opening up to Maddie now because Polly, Luke and Roy are just dishing out the news that Kibben is going to lose the farm to anyone that will listen. I can’t help feel whatever bank employee told Roy this news was breaking all sorts of confidentiality agreements but hey, small town.


Maddie: “I don’t accept that! He and Jo belong on that farm!”

Me: “Or in a supervised facility.”


For some reason Luke is drafted into taking Maddie up to the farm and reminds her she probably shouldn’t mention this whole business to Kibben. He claims it would hurt the man’s pride but I feel it’s probably more to do with the fact no one should even friggin’ know.

Maddie did not listen to a word Luke had to say because in the next second she is demanding they can do something to save the farm. Luke tries to make the man feel better by letting him know these trees are the most beautiful and most fragrant trees in the entire state and he wouldn’t buy a tree from anywhere else… despite the fact that, if the farm fails in a few months time, he will literally have no other option but to do that.

As predicted, Maddie thinks this would be a great tagline to brand the trees.


Maddie: “That’s good. I can work with that.”

Kibben: “Work with what?”

Maddie: “These trees need to be branded.”

Luke: “Erm, young lady, these are trees, not cattle.”

Me: “Always got food on the brain, my man.”


As everyone comes around to the idea and they all keep repeating the phrase ‘Tyler Christmas Trees’ to each other until it sticks – which is pretty much a 101 of marketing – Maddie makes the decision that she doesn’t even need real, paying clients anyway.

At an actual marketing 101, Maddie gives them the rundown of branding and comes up with some more marketing ideas. Even Bob the salesman is jumping in on this one, repeating what Maddie has just said using slightly different words and showing us he is legit the master of salesmen everywhere. Suddenly there is going to be a photo shoot happening and Jo is involved, the dog is involved, the farm is involved, it’s all involved!

LYLC_9
‘And this is where the fire extinguisher used to be, but we got rid of it to make way for some more electrical goods. Really livens up the place.’

Wanting this whole photo shoot to be fully authentic, Maddie stages it to an inch of it’s life, even getting Jo to pose whilst hanging ornaments on the tree next to a giant pile of presents and a roaring fire somewhere on the scene. I get the impression that this marketing is merely going to depress people when they realise their Christmas is nothing like the one being advertised and likely never will be. Personally, however, I prefer my Christmas’ with my Mom screaming at Christmas lights getting tangled up because past Mom was like ‘fuck future me, she can deal with this’ while packing them up the previous year. I enjoy the fact she has a million replacement bulbs because she always breaks one. I don’t particularly enjoy the fact these lights are a million years old and the plug for them is being held together by masking tape but the very real risk of a fire is basically part of the family, by now. I love how drunk we all get before we try and play board games and I adore the fact we all hate and actively avoid the Queen’s speech.

However… I don’t know if capturing all that in a photo to brand your trees with is the greatest marketing move ever made.

Back to the film. While Maddie is continuing to stage the tree to an inch of it’s life (and will probably just keep going until it falls over into the log burner) Bob realises he is seeing the perfect Christmas right in front of his very eyes.

LYLC_10
‘Make sure the timestamp and camera settings make the final cut, too.’

Luckily Kibben walks in just in time to see, quote: ‘The prettiest picture I’ve ever seen.’ Which is probably a good job because Maddie and Bob waste no time in marketing the shit out of these Tyler Christmas Trees. Understandably no Christmas tree selling lot wants Christmas trees right now. Not because these trees are no good but, predictably… because it’s so close to friggin Christmas! Maddie keeps trying to insist this is her speciality and turns to a grass-roots movement instead which, due to politics, only has terrible connotations in my mind.

Fortunately, here, it just means dropping a bunch of trees off at Teddy Jr’s service and gas station. I don’t know how many people are actually passing through Christmas Valley that want to lug a tree around with them for miles and risk another interstate pile-up the likes Kibben has never seen… or, in fact, who Teddy Jr’s boss that we have also never seen is, but there are a lot of people pawing at these trees.

Even Holly is helping out by setting up a free hot chocolate stand which I would totally have turned up for.


Maddie: “Maybe we should do this every Christmas?”

Holly: “I was thinking the same thing!”

Me: “Oh…. sure, I mean… that was meant to be a hint that I…. stick around but… sure yeah, you go back to the cafe. Business is…. business is good…. Cool….”


At this point I can’t tell which people are helping tie bows on the trees and which are actually paying customers but Kibben and Luke still have time to discuss how terrible it would be to see Maddie go. Without getting trampled by reindeer on the way out of town.

I am brushing over the fact Pam has bought three trees to give as gifts to people so we can continue planning how we’re gonna hit the big Christmas tree lots. This is starting to sound more like a heist, which I am all for. Marketing is so boring when you could be heisting instead. I feel with only 10 days left until Christmas, a heist would be more successful, too.

During business negotiations with a lot owner, a family happen to come by, spot the Tyler Christmas Tree and claim they have just found their perfect tree. If Maddie really is worth her salt in marketing she definitely planted that family. In fact, they’re not even a family. Just three randomly assorted actors.

Travelling around the country with Bob, Maddie realises this should be his everyday life! You know… if he wasn’t hanging around the boarding house and eating green eggs all of the time.


Maddie: “You know… what you do about Pam is up to you but… think it’s time you made a move. I’m jus’ sayin’.”

Me: “Yes. Kill her.”

Bob: “‘Jus’ sayin’.’ What about you and Kibben?”

Me: “Yes. Kill him.”


Maddie’s work are still trying to get her to… ya know… work and she informs Roz to get everything ready for the presentation because she will be home in a few days to present it.

Prediction  #10 – Sure, Maddie will go home, but she ain’t gonna like it. Which will suit Roz just fine because she appeared to love Christmas more than Maddie anyway

Whilst listening to Teddy Jr’s Christmas song, which apparently he and his band had time to go and record and transfer to CD, we all get together and join in a montage to help market more trees.


Kibben: “Come with me, you gotta see this.

Maddie: “I have so much work to do!”

Me: “Don’t worry about it. I doubt you’ll have a job in the next 20 minutes or so, anyway.”


Kibben drives them off down ‘memory interstate’ and recalls how they first met. Now would actually be a terrible time to bring up that memory when he is once more driving around with trees in the back of the truck. Apparently we can’t stop bringing up the memories because Maddie admits this is the best Christmas she can even remember having. A Christmas where she was stalked by a guy, fell prey to the obsessions of a small child and worked the entire time.

Christmas. She’s doing it right.

I had actually forgotten all about this woman’s car but thank god she dropped in to check on it so Teddy Jr could invite us to carolling with his band and the entire town! Maddie doesn’t seem too concerned that she will have left town by then and I don’t blame her. Unfortunately for us…

Prediction  #11 – We’re going carolling

LYLC_11
‘Take me with you! Please! She’s crazy!’

During yet another phone call from the office, Maddie totally promises her boss that she will be at her desk first thing Monday morning. This doesn’t fill me with too much confidence seeing as what preceded it was a lie about her definitely not swollen ankle still causing her some trouble. Good god the woman wants to stay another day so she can actually go carolling. And spend more time with that child. If this is what Christmas Valley does to people I will be taking a sharp left at that fork in the road.


Maddie: “I like him… a lot…. but I have to go home! He and I are just friends and I need to accept that.”

Pam: “You can’t control how you feel!”

Me: “Oh, Pam, from that crazy look in your eye I really don’t doubt it.”


Cue…. carolling. I’m slightly confused about who makes up Teddy’s band because it appears there are just two of them on acoustic guitars, wondering the streets with the entire town and the entire town’s candle supply at night. Bob finally holds Pam’s hand, Maddie does a horrible mid-song adlib.

LYLC_12
‘I told you the lights would attract them!’

This time Maddie interrupts her own potential first kiss with Kibben by yelling ‘I can’t!’ in the man’s face. She promptly friend zones him and bids him goodnight. In all fairness the technique seemed to work very well for her… before she ruins it and utilises every mixed signal on the bandwidth by going back and kissing him in something that looks like a grappling match.


Kibben: “You know what I understand? You’re running away from what you feel.”

Maddie: “I’m not running away, I’m going home!”

Kibben: “To what!?”

Me: “…. Harsh.”


I don’t know how Bob and Pam didn’t come and disrupt this shouting when the last time this pair were on their porch they showed up like ninjas. Maddie manages to sum up her life as including her job and her apartment and decides they should probably wrap up this argument before she loses it.

The next morning the people of the valley line up to say goodbye to Maddie, one by one. Ol’ crazy-eyed Pam gifts her with the quilt she’s been working on this entire time, so I’m starting to suspect Pam of perpetually delaying Maddie until she had finished her masterpiece. This set-up also makes for an incredibly awkward second goodbye between Kibben and Maddie, where all of their friends and acquaintances can watch. Wait, where the hell was the crossword guy!?

Outraged that he didn’t even turn up to say goodbye (probably), Maddie drives back to New York in double time and drags herself back down the busy street which is decidedly less festive and more concrete than Christmas Valley.

LYLC_13
Now that’s the look of a woman turning up to work!

With Christmas only five days away Maddie is beginning to realise the cyclical futility of the marketing world whilst all Roz wants to do is tell her how many meetings she has that day. Time, as always, moves differently in film and Maddie isn’t even prepping for her presentation until the next day, making me think she could probably have stayed in Christmas Valley indefinitely and the whole thing would have just kept getting pushed back. During her prep for the meeting Roz drops off a present from Jo, all the way from Christmas Valley itself.

It actually looks more like a care package of a pine cone, very old doorstop fruitcake and a framed picture of what is essentially, now, the marketing image for Taylor’s Christmas Trees. Nice. It would probably be good for Maddie to remember one successful marketing campaign of her life, because I feel this one is not going to be a particular highlight.

Maddie delivers the beginning of her presentation with a slightly mad look in her eye as she brandishes a pen at this room full of people. You can almost see the breakdown about to happen. Even her boss seems ready to avert disaster but instead Maddie just lets loose. Much to my horror Maddie leaves the office because, if she hurries, she can get there before Christmas. God help us all….

LYLC_14
‘Today my look was inspired by Meeting Room 4.’

Apparently Maddie has a very uneventful trip back to Ohio and makes it in time for Holly’s Christmas Eve re-opening. Kibben is me in this scene as he is completely ignorant to the fact Maddie has walked through the doors and the room has gone quiet while everyone waves at her. Kibben is far too interested in checking out the buffet.

Teddy Jr. and his band are at hand to play their new Christmas song right on cue and I still don’t know how many people even make up this band. Everyone has a nice dance together and Maddie gets to spend Christmas with her new, absolutely bat-shit insane family.

Feel free to watch the chronicles of one child’s journey into obsession here.

 

Prediction board – 9.5/11

  • Prediction #1 – the client is going to show some sort of interest in Maddie – unfortunately this one didn’t pan out
  • Prediction #2 – Maddie is not getting on that train – CORRECT! Maddie instead thought driving across the country was more economically friendly
  • Prediction #3 – Maddie’s car will break down but someone who loves old muscle cars will fix it right up – half a point, the car broke down only
  • Prediction  #4 – Maddie will fall madly in love with Kibben – obviously. CORRECT.
  • Prediction  #5 – Maddie is no longer heading towards Denver – CORRECT! Maddie is an idiot
  • Prediction  #6 – Maddie will not make the wedding in time and won’t even care – CORRECT!
  • Prediction  #7 – Jo is Kibben’s daughter – CORRECT!
  • Prediction  #8 – Bob is in love with Pam… or at least her cooking – CHEQUE PLEASE!
  • Prediction  #9 – Marketing expert Maddie is going to rescue Kibben’s business – CORRECT! And wasn’t that a wild ride
  • Prediction  #10 – Maddie will go home and hate everything – CORRECT!
  • Prediction  #11 – We’re going carolling – Really… I wish I hadn’t been right about this one

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: Not a single horse
  • Piano: Teddy Jr. played the wrong instrument for Christmas
  • Carolling: Too much of it
  • Christmas Montage: A Christmas decorating montage! With original corny Christmas song!
  • Fire Hazards: Arguably everything was a fire hazard with Ol’ Crazy Pam around
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: CHECK! We doubled down on this one
  • Snowing on cue: CHECK

 

So… Sure, I took some easy guesses on this one but I feel better for it!

On to tomorrow!

Christmas Advent #1 – The Christmas Gift

Now, I’m hoping unlike last year I will actually be able to make it through the entire advent without losing my tiny mind and suffering from an overload of Christmas cheese. Unfortunately, I don’t mean legit Christmas cheese; I would throw myself into a genuine cheese coma in a heartbeat.

Let’s also not forget our daily Christmas predictions either! If I manage to get through the entire 25 days we can do a grand total of just how many families the spirit of Christmas tore apart this year!

Nevertheless! Let’s begin our shit-show Christmas journey with a gift. Ya know… the true meaning of Christmas.

 

So I watched the short opening credits for this film in absolute amazement and horror. This is the first time we’ve gone so old with a festive film – there will be no texting dead parents on an unlimited tariff here.

TCG_1
Not even the Youtube controls can take away from this hideousness

We open up on a very snowy Georgetown where people have no regard for spooking horses because an olde school taxi backfires loudly as it passes a horse drawn carriage. In all honesty if I was that horse I would have spooked at the mere site of this travelling circus.

TCG_2
Christine should have been a festive film and she should have looked like this

The taxi driver pulls up outside a building and starts bleating ‘Susan’ as if he has never actually said the word before and is still trying to get to grips with the pronunciation. For some reason this actually works and out pops the Mom from Malcolm in the Middle. For some reason Bud, the taxi guy, tells her she is his first stop today despite the fact she doesn’t get in the cab and no one gets out… He then asks her not to forget him and she confirms he is the first in line and not to worry before he drives off…. They might not be worried but I certainly fucking am.

As is required with all small town films everyone waves to Bud as he drives past, honking his horn freely and basically just making noise, both audibly and visually. Bud briefly stops to scream at a bunch of kids to write letters (hopefully to Santa and not to inmates at the local penitentiary) before continuing on to the service station again for no other reason than to be told he needs to look after his car otherwise it’s gonna break the fuck down. Bud is already irritating the hell out of me and is using god knows how much fuel just doing laps of this godforsaken town.

On his tour of the town Bud drives past a guy called Jake, who has just left the bank of Georgetown looking mightily pissed off while someone chases after him trying to explain something or other. Unable to read a room or the local high street, Bud hangs out of his window to remind Jake his kids still need to write their letters. From the look Jake gives him his kids might actually be writing to the local penitentiary before Christmas is through.

TCG_3
You’re gonna wish your car wasn’t so noticeable now, Bud

I hope to good christ someone kills Bud soon as he finishes bleating at everyone and rocks up at a hotel. I can’t tell if he lives here or what but they appear to have a desk in the lobby which handily has a copy of motor repairs. Realising his car really is fucked, like everyone has been telling him, Bud immediately starts writing a letter to Santa and to be honest I’m just surprised he can write at all.

Having had enough of Bud’s shit we end up in New York where architect Mr George Billings turns up at his office and not one god damn person will leave him alone. The man just keeps charging through the office, ignoring everything his staff are telling him about an important meeting, and instead is more excited to put a tiny piano in a giant doll’s house that is taking up most of his desk. I presume Alex is his daughter and he assumes she is just gonna love this eyesore.

There is a terribly boring meeting where people discuss where to build shit and the CEO of the company apparently really loves… trees.


Thomas Renfield: “People… we’re putting our money into year-round living. We’re selling clean air. 24 hour security. Trees. Lots of trees. Shade.

Me: “Huh… apparently trees are sentient and in the security business now.”


I forgot this was an old school meeting, a time before everyone was forced to endure lengthy powerpoint presentations. I much preferred the grand unveiling of this bad boy and plans to build a new estate somewhere up north.

TCG_4
Not sure if brown land mass or coffee stains

Cue a strange self-help session between Renfield and George where we lightly skim across the fact George has recently lost his wife, been throwing himself into his work and Christmas is a terrible time to try and get over a loved one. Thanks for reminding us, Tom. Either way we’re off to Georgetown, Colorado!

Prediction #1: George is gonna fall in love with Susan up there in the mountains.


George: “You want me to go there and survey the area.”

Renfield: “Two days, tops.”

George: “Just like Vermont last year?”

Renfield: “Exactly the same, you go in as a tourist.”

George: “So as not to make anybody suspicious and drive the real estate prices up.”

Me: “Thank you for that wonderfully scripted business plan, gentlemen.”


Prediction #2: George is totally gonna give the game up at some point and betray his company in the name of Christmas spirit and not making a profit off these people or their tiny town. Fuck trees.

George goes back to his office and packs a bunch of loose pencils and assorted protractors into a briefcase because apparently architects like to travel light.

Back at home there are a bunch of kids running around an old woman in the kitchen whilst shouting about butter. This is why I hate children. George waits until his daughter’s friends have gone home and she is getting ready for bed bed to break the news they’re leaving in two days for Colorado. Merry Christmas, kid.


Alex: “Daddy, but my friends are here.”

George: “You can make new friends in Colorado.”

Me: “… But you’re only going for two days…”


Prediction #3: They get snowed in at Colorado and have to stay at that terrible hotel with Bud in the lobby writing letters to Santa.

Bud would live for this next part where George suggests Alex writes a letter to Santa so he knows where they’ve gone. George does a 4 minute, poignant sketch whilst describing Christmas in his small, childhood town which we don’t even get to see! Which leads me to believe what he handed to his daughter was just a mess of doodles. He probably just drew some dicks or something.


Alex: “This Christmas… I’ll have you all to myself.”

Me: “… SHE KILLED YOUR WIFE!”


Prediction #4: Alex killed her Mom so there was more Christmas cheer to go around.

Bud is back, stalking Susan down the street so he can hand her his god damn letter. Unfortunately for George and the rest of humanity it looks like Bud is the one picking them up from the airport.


Bud: “Did you write yours yet?”

Susan: “Ahhhh no, not yet.”

Bud: “Susan, you spend so much time helping others with their letters, it’s time you paid attention to writing your own.”

Me: “Why, are they all illiterate? If Bud can fucking write, anyone can.”


Prediction #5: Susan hasn’t written her letter because she probably suffered some tragic past and doesn’t believe her wish for a family will come true but it will and she will gain both a husband and a murderous little daughter in the very near future.

There’s an awkward moment when Bud’s car backfires even though he’s not even in the damn thing and the engine isn’t running, which doesn’t fill me with confidence for this trip to the airport.

Prediction 3 edit: Bud’s car breaks down when he is supposed to take them back to the airport and they miss their flight.

In the street Susan thinks this is the perfect time to tell two children how sorry she is their Father lost the ranch, just before Christmas, and to see them have to go. Both kids ride off on a horse without saying a word because the high street is not a place to bring up the family’s financial struggles.

Meanwhile, getting off the plane, some crazed woman named Joanne seems to have grown very attached to George and Alex and wishes them a very Merry Christmas before disappearing.

TCG_5
That’s the face of a Christmas homewrecker if ever I saw one

Prediction #6: Joanne pops back up at some point and puts strain on George and Susan’s relationship


Oh… the faces on these people when Bud and that car turn up…. Apparently Bud has been doing this for 40 years in the same friggin’ car and don’t I believe it. All the way back to the town Bud is holding up traffic because his cab goes about 2 miles per hour and I pray he doesn’t charge them via the meter.

OK so…. I don’t know why she did but thank god Alex brought along the sketch George did earlier in the movie which we never got to see because it is glorious. 

TCG_6
Please note he originally sketched this with a single pencil…

Apparently Georgetown looks so much like the place George was born but I am personally thankful it looks nothing like it. That is the stuff of nightmares. Thank Christ he bought those protractors with him.

Bud hints at some 100 year old legend but doesn’t actually explain anything, even when the kid asks him outright what the hell he’s whittling on about.


George: “Get back inside, Alex.”

Me: “Yeah, Alex. Get back inside that rusty death trap with the Christmas decorations on it.”


Instead of dropping them at the hotel, Bud drops them at the Post Office where Susan works because George already has photos he needs to send off to New York right away! Luckily Alex lags behind so she is outside to witness Bud’s car finally break down in all it’s glory. The whole town gathers around the car, like monkey’s at a safari park, and Alex gives them all a look which suggests she sees their primitive behaviour and is not a fan. They didn’t behave like this in New York.

George isn’t too surprised when she delivers the bad news to him and is probably, and rightly, more concerned that the post office is a complete fire hazard! Yes! We are officially back! (Note to self: Announce fire hazard of the year once this fever dream is all over.)

TCG_7
You’re right to look worried, kid. They weren’t fussy about smoking indoors back then. One spark and you’re all done for.

A whole queue of people are waiting to hand in their Christmas letters to Susan on Letter Day (which is a national holiday) and one kid basically hands over a package, which in this day and age would cost him a fortune to post. Finally George gets up to the counter and is alarmed to find out it’s only open to receiving Santa’s letters and certainly not some real world letter like sending film negatives over to New York for a job.

George is fucking baffled and tries to pull his New York businessman shit with Susan who is not having it and I love her. Nothing like a bit of hatred to really build a long-lasting relationship on!

At the hotel we walk in on some woman getting kids ready to play angels in what I presume is a nativity play and not their regular daytime attire. Even worse it turns out this woman is Hennie, Bud’s sister, and they run the hotel together. I can’t even at this point. The man owns two businesses and still needs a loan off Santa to fix his car.

Alex wants to help them light up some tree but Hennie tells her she needs to write her letter to Santa first. Alex immediately rushes off to do just that whilst George looks on and wonders why the fuck she never listens to him when he asks her to do something first time. Just before Alex is led off to her room by Bud, and probably to a Business 101 lecture, Hennie suddenly, and without warning, recruits Alex as a shepherd in her play.


George: “We won’t be here for Christmas.”

Hennie: “We’re short on shepherds this year.”

Me: “Oh well, better scrap all those plans you had, then. Georgetown needs underqualified shepherds.”


It’s only now that George starts questioning the fact everyone believes in Santa and that they’re all quite mad up here. It’s taken him long enough; I called the madness the moment I saw Bud’s taxi. Hennie ominously confirms tonight all will be made clear… maybe it’s the night they get a care package of all their medication dropped off or something.

I have to say I am impressed by the hotel’s capacity to catch on fire too.

TCG_8
Serving at this hotel automatically qualifies you for Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge

Bud explains he can’t take George and Alex back to the airport and some guy called Hank will be doing it instead, totally blowing my prediction out of the water. George basically reveals that even he knows Bud has asked for a new motor for Christmas but explains this again to his daughter, just in case her tiny, infantile brain couldn’t grasp the simple grown up conversation. In all fairness the kid probably wasn’t listening because there was an icecream sundae in front of her. I know I wouldn’t have been.

The moment Susan steps into the hotel Hennie is trying to set her up with George because apparently the entire town knows she is desperate for a man. She calls her Aunt Hennie but I can’t tell if it’s actually familial or just a really small town.

Susan had actually turned up to see if they could get a boy called…. Scruff? … back into the pageant even though he turned Hennie down point blank. Can’t say I blame him at this point.


Hennie: “He’s here!”

Susan: “Who’s here?”

Hennie: “A man!”

Me: “It’s really refreshing to see a woman with such high standards on screen.”


Cue the terribly awkward interruption of George and Alex’s dinner when Susan is basically thrown down into a seat by Hennie. This prompts an apology from both adults about their recent behaviour and I’m sad we’re not seeing more sass from Susan. Another argument is brewing though, I’d bet my Christmas on it.

George is called away to answer a phone call and just happily hands the care of his daughter over to this postal service employee, regardless of whether either of them were happy about it. Don’t forget, you can offer anyone up for anything at Christmas and they can’t say no! The man even requests Susan finds them a tour guide for tomorrow to take a look around Georgetown, as if she doesn’t have enough to do with all these Santa letters rushing in. She has to agree though because Christmas.

Back in New York Renfield looks drunk as fuck but he’s been waiting for George to get to the damn phone for so long he probably had time to plough through a mini bar. George tries to blame Letter Day for his own late post and promises he’ll call tomorrow. In a perfect power play Renfield pulls the ‘No, I’ll call you‘ card and demands a full report by then too.


George: “The whole town was mailing letters to erm… Santa Claus.”

Renfield: “Santa Claus?”

George: “Everyone I’ve met believes in Santa Claus. It has to do with some legend.” 

Renfield: “Legend?”

George: “Well I’ll find out more tonight when we light the tree.”

Renfield: “Tree?

Me: “Fuck, he really is drunk if he’s forgotten what trees are…”


There are some seriously sinister overtones to that call and I don’t know how long Renfield just kept repeating words back to George because a lot of time has passed and now it’s dark outside.

I hope the entire town didn’t turn out to this tree lighting ceremony because it amounts to about 50 people, but we’re all out there greeting each other and giving a special round of applause to ‘our friends from New York’ which is currently just Alex. Luckily Susan can be trusted and did not just kidnap the child, which would have made for an awkward applause to… no one.

George turns up just in time to hear about the legend of Georgetown and how a 100 years ago their forefathers were caught in a blizzard and almost starved to death. Santa turned up, apparently also lost in this blizzard on Christmas Eve because the satnav was yet to be invented, asking for some food but was denied because the forefathers were probably already drawing straws to see who they would eat next. Fortunately for Santa some kid took pity on him, stole a bunch of food and went out to feed him. Santa, in a turn of events, said he would reward the kid 100 times over before disappearing on his no doubt usual mince pie and brandy trail across the world. Fuck starving travellers. However on Christmas Day they woke up to a shit load of food, blankets, toys and a convenient trail into a valley that is presumably now Georgetown. Santa had the touch of Jesus about him in those times.

At some point during the story some kid turns up on a horse. Alex spots him and is either plotting to be charitable to the kid, the need for which is signified by the dirt all over his face, OR she’s planning on murdering him too and taking his horse.

TCG_9
‘And then all I need to do is murder Dad… dress the horse up in his clothes, give him Dad’s boarding pass back to New York and then me and the stranger’s horse can live happily ever after!’

For some reason the town welcomes their Christmas tree into the world by singing ‘Oh Christmas Tree’ loudly at it every year. Susan and George start singing at each other like a weird sing-off and I don’t know about you, I don’t even like making eye contact with my friends when I speak to them, let alone sing at a stranger I just met and argued with that morning.

The next morning Alex rocks up at the post office, already confident to roam the town on her own, to drop off both her letter to Santa and her Dad’s boring business correspondence. I am horrified to learn that Bud is also the fucking assistant post master as well. Next it will turn out he’s the 100 year old boy from the legend.

Susan pops out from behind the counter to announce she will be their tour guide today and without consulting Alex or her father agrees to have Alex back for pageant practice at 3pm sharp. Susan finally hands over her letter to Santa but it’s probably just a wish that both George and his child go back to New York and she never has to give another damn tour again.

Three seconds later Susan is speeding them around the town in a horse and carriage in a possible attempt to kill them all off and make doubly sure she never has to see them again. In honour of the horse and carriage I have added an extra generic Christmas counter this year at the end of the post.

On this tour it turns out that no one actually knows what miracle is going to befall the town, so instead they just build the worst snowman I have ever seen. Now is the perfect time to reveal that George is an architect so that Susan can look at the terribly constructed snowman like…. ‘Wait, what?’ Alex continues to drop him in the shit by mentioning he recently built a ski resort over in Vermont and Susan begins to fear he may have the same ideas about Georgetown. In the child’s defence she does try and immediately flick her father back out of the shit by revealing they’re actually there on vacation because her Mom died last Christmas.

TCG_10
“George… have you ever even seen a man before?”

Susan has an awful lot of information to digest here and think she may as well continue taking them down this depressing road. We pass through a valley which used to belong to Jake Richards and stop outside his house with a sign advertising his 160 acres are being foreclosed by the bank and are for sale.

We come across the guy from the bank putting the sign up and I feel a little conflicted as it turns out he is Bob Truesdale and also the Mayor of Georgetown. Susan wants to know more about when Jake and his children will be made homeless but Bob is more concerned whether George is having a good vacation or not. Rather than face this crushing defeat we go back to Susan’s to drink hot chocolate and admire her photos.

It turns out Susan was mostly raised here but spent 10 years in Denver. When her Dad died she came back to sell the house but instead decided Denver life wasn’t for her anymore, took over her Dad’s job as post master and forged a new life which she doesn’t. Want. Ruined. By. George’s. Ski. Resort.

We have some bizarre arguments about whose hometown was better and whose hometown isn’t even on the map anymore because shopping centres and… Look, I don’t know, but Susan has George all figured out whilst Alex just wants to ride around in the sleigh some more. To avoid any more awkward conversation George decides pageant practice would actually be a great way to kill the afternoon.

After all that George still has the confidence to basically invite Susan to the dance in town tonight. This man is either as clueless as Bud or has the unassailable confidence typical of his species.

Pageant practice is an absolute train wreck and looks like it might top () for worst play ever. During all this George has been sketching out his visions for the future and proving protractors can do your art the world of good. Not good enough to stop him tearing up his future vision and having a change of heart about the entire thing, though.

TCG_11
When you want to make a diverse Sims neighbourhood but don’t have 18 hours to waste on each individual household

George calls his doubts over to Renfield, but not before checking whether Alex’s fuck off doll’s house will get there in time for Christmas with express shipping. Those forefathers could have lived in that box during that blizzard, it’s ridiculous!

Back to business, George just wants Renfield to leave the damn town alone and go butcher someone else’s hometown instead of this one. Not listening for one second Renfield simply demands that George holds a town meeting tomorrow night and it was only at this point I realised George was in Georgetown and no one could have come up with any better name for the main character. ‘Make it as easy to remember as possible, guys! Bud ain’t so bright.’

Never one to let something dent his unassailable confidence George can be found that evening, dancing with Susan in a bar that is far too small for this live band and Christmas hoedown that is being thrown. Everything about that place is a fire hazard from the giant hanging candy canes, the live band on a tiny balcony, the fake snow on the floor and the overcrowding. Oh. And the highly flammable booze.

TCG_12
This is what hell looks like

That mysterious, grubby child shows up on his horse again and hangs around by the door watching the other kids play some macabre game that looks like assault as they drag another child around by the arms and force him to kiss an unsuspecting and now very unhappy girl. The grubby child is the one and only Scruff and… I have questions.

Is his actual name Scruff? Did his parents somehow know or dream of a child that was perpetually covered in dirt 24/7? Or did he just decide he was going to live up to their expectations? If that’s just his nickname what the hell is his real name!? And why do the adults also call him Scruff? WHO CALLS THEIR KID SCRUFF!? AND IS IT SHORT FOR SCRUFFINGTON?!

Either way these other kids give Scruff some shit because… he’s moving. The kid has literal dirt wiped across his face but these kids decide to taunt the boy with a situation that is completely out of his control. Go and wash your damn face! If you don’t have running water there is god damn snow outside! Go melt it in a bucket!

I’m still clearly and completely bemused by this character but Alex is either still willing to be charitable or murder the kid for his horse because she stays behind to stare at him some more.


Scruff: “Who are you?”

Alex: “They call me Alex.”

Me: “Because that is my name. Now, I have some questions….”


Either way that kid is out of there with the first barrage of Alex’s questions about the ranch. He didn’t come here tonight to be asked questions, he came to be mocked some more by the village kids! Scruff rides off into the distance without even a backward glance at Alex while she stands in the street and watches her future horse/father leave her out in the cold.

Susan decides she has had one spinning-on-the-spot-dance too many and George casually leaves his child with all these complete strangers while he walks the postmaster home (the current one, not the old deceased one).


Susan: “You know, when I see Bud’s cab or hear it sputter and clatter down the street… I can’t help thinking of this place. Our town.”

Me: “Maybe because… you’re standing in it at the time?”


In a very vague and poetic way Susan is basically telling George to not dare build a new fucking estate in Georgetown and how about he helps build them a new summer theatre instead. There is some strange talk about everybody who walks everybody home being special and after reminding the woman she has no partner George thinks that’s the perfect time to kiss her. You know, because she’s free and single.

What is even stranger is he appears to go home and report all of this to Alex as an alternative bed time story. If I had to listen to George recount his days to me I’d never sleep again. On being asked if he thinks he could ever be in love again, George decides to break into song and honest to god, me and Alex both have the same expression the entire time because how much fucking eggnog did the man drink tonight? And it just doesn’t. Stop.

TCG_13
‘I can’t wait to replace him with that horse.’

Alex is once more left unsupervised which, at this point, I’m thrilled for her to be away from that singing psycho and is sledding down a hill with a bunch of her new friends because fuck old New York friends. At the bottom of the hill Scruff is waiting, not at all ominously like a horror movie villain, on his horse and casually tells Alex to get on and ride off with him. Neither Alex or the kid who runs back up the hill with the sled find this behaviour strange in the slightest but maybe she just finally sees her chance to capture that horse.

Back in town George is awkwardly hanging around listening to the guys’ conversation down at the service station. This is where he finds out the guys have pooled together to buy a new motor for Bud’s cab and they pray it gets there on time, otherwise it will shatter everyone’s illusion that Santa is real and why are the adults sending letters to Santa and believing in him if they’re the ones buying the presents anyway!? Either way, George needs a car for mystery business – probably gonna find a hilltop to yodel from or something.


Bob: “Anything I can help you with?”

George: “Yeah, I was wondering if I could borrow or rent a car.”

Bob: “What for?”

Me: “For hurtling towards a cliff but bailing at the last second so I can watch the car fly into the ravine and explode at the bottom. Why, what do you use your car for?”


I wish it was the latter but in fact George just wanted to go to the ranch and at this point everyone becomes ve-ery cagey and Bob offers to take him over there because he was already heading that way. How George is getting back and in how many black bags… well that remains to be seen.

Somehow even Bob knows that George works for Renfield and has spoken to him on the phone this morning. Bob, however, seems totally for this idea and I knew I didn’t trust him and his banker ways.

Meanwhile Scruff has taken Alex off to his ‘hideout’ which he doubly confirms no one knows about. Be creepier, kid, be creepier. He has, however, gone to the effort of cheering it up with Christmas decorations so at least you have something to look at while you’re being murdered. Scruff is quite disillusioned by these letters to Santa and the question of believing in Santa comes up. When we hit subject of ‘giving’ we are ‘gifted’ with… Look, I’m just glad I wasn’t drinking red wine because it would have been spit clear across the room.

TCG_14
All drawn with one pencil, would you believe?

Scruff: “This is a hawk. He’s my favourite. You take it.”

Alex: “But it’s your favourite.”

Scruff: “I got plenty more.”

Me: “Oh no, you mistake me. I can’t take this because it is pure nightmare fuel. Please cease drawing immediately.”


Moving swiftly on from that, Bob gently breaks the news to Jake that he needs to move out on Boxing Day by marching up to the man and telling him he needs to move out on Boxing Day (affectionately referred to here as… the day after Christmas. Come on people, you have Letter Day but not Boxing Day?!) Jake mistakes George for the buyer, which he categorically is not, and Bob throws him under the bus by saying ‘We-ell he basically is.’

As expected George is no longer on the Renfield boat and invites Jake to the town meeting tonight to try and help him fight the entire thing. All this without even asking why the ranch and land was being seized by the bank in the first place. Turns out no one is good at ranching in this country and a load of people are having to give up their homes because of it.

This is the perfect time for Renfield and his board of directors to show up with the longest cigarette I have seen in the history of people smoking cigarettes on film.

TCG_15
It was a different time in the 80’s, kid! The summers were long and the cigarettes were longer!

The primates are back again and at the sight of a limo they’re crowding around ready to pull the aerial off and chew on the wing mirrors. Alex, meanwhile, is pondering over this picture of a hawk and bemoaning the harshness of the world. Right there with ya, kid. When asked what the hell she even wants for Christmas Alex confirms a doll house, much to her Dad’s relief, two seconds before she says she has changed her mind and would rather see Scruff get his ranch back. Weeeeelllll fuck. I’d like to see you sing your way out of this one, George.

(Note: I would not like to see that. That was merely there for comic effect and a reference to your strange past behaviour. Please do not sing your way out of this one.)

All the way to the town meeting George is still telling Renfield he can’t buy the town without offering more advice than the fact they all believe in Santa. As far as arguments go it’s not the best I’ve ever heard. None of the town looks very trusting of Renfield when he claims he is the Christmas miracle the legend foretold and he is bringing cash registers to their every day lives. Renfield continues to throw George under the bus and for some reason the man just gives up trying to argue, leading to everyone hating his face.

Susan is vocally opposed to the idea and Bud stands up just so he can ask Renfield if he believes in Santa Claus. The townsfolk are very disturbed by the tiny model of Renfield’s proposed plans but I am more disturbed by this woman who has very prematurely grey hair. Maybe she accidentally heard George singing.

TCG_16
There is some sass going on in this crowd tonight

George is still trying to convince people he never wanted this, even whilst Susan and Alex are storming angrily out of the meeting. Bud and Hennie are still on George’s side but Renfield might be on the fence because he tells the man he’s fired. It is of no surprise when Alex runs off at the sight of her father but I’m more alarmed that no one goes after the girl who has just run off, crying, into the night. That was apparently a bad idea because now she has gone missing.

Not only is the girl clearly running off to Scruff’s hideout but a blizzard is blowing up. I’m hoping for a Santa hallucination here, guys! Everyone is dragged into the search for Alex and we finally realise Scruff may be able to help us out here. I still can’t believe everyone is calling this kid Scruff like it’s a legitimate name that needs no questioning and is even better when used in a dramatic scene.

Apparently we need to take two trucks up to the hideout because one Jeep wasn’t enough to carry all 5 people up the hill… Just a note, Scruff’s younger brother is either called Judas or Judith. Neither would surprise me. But it’s fine! The girl’s fine. Probably just a concussion from that beam that fell on her. No biggie.

The next day a new disaster strikes because no one can find a motor as old as the one Bud needs whilst the man himself is restless as shit, just waiting around for Christmas morning. Upstairs Hennie develops a strange twitch when she starts talking about Santa and fortunately Scruff turns up to say goodbye to Alex before it develops into a full-blown medical condition.

In only the way young children can be, their goodbye is blunt and to the point. As an adult you don’t get people looking you dead in the eye as you confess your Dad got fired over this shit before abruptly announcing they think they’ll be going now.

Meanwhile I immensely enjoyed Susan’s greeting to George when he turns up at her door again.


Susan: “Coffee’s hot.”

Me: “Yes it is. I think I’ll be going now.”


George’s apology is predictably ham-fisted and quickly becomes a rant about how everyone just needs to give in to Renfield and stop believing in legends and miracles before it does a complete U-turn and he then declares he needs to stop the man. Tonight. I’m not sure how he wants people to react here so it’s probably just best to hunker down and wait for Hurricane George to pass on through.

We get to witness the wonderful spectacle of the nativity play which is basically every child’s memory of Christmas throughout all of primary school… except I remember all of mine going much better and we at least knew how to pronounce the word Bethlehem correctly. Seriously, these kids were allowed to sing an entire song about the little town of Bethelhem. Not only did this song go on forever but everyone was encouraged to join in halfway through and this is the moment I remembered I needed to take my anti-depressants. Fact.

Also I am very sure Alex was supposed to be a shepherd due to the national shortage so I guess Hennie is just a pathological liar and merely lives to lure children into her plays of delusion and mispronunciation.

TCG_17
Making friends outside of New York was a big mistake

All that being said… the pastor believes so much in what George has requested to say that evening that he actually gives up his entire slot in their usual scheduling to allow the man to make his speech. Right on time Renfield and his cronies turn up at the church to hear the man out. By which I mean… right on time because they missed these kids butchering the name of a town that is well over 2000 years old.

As per his apology to Susan this quickly becomes a rant about how Renfield is going to trash Georgetown and their legend while a kid dressed as a wizard stands behind him. Wizards are wise too, ya know.


George: “For those of you whom I haven’t met…”

Me: “And fucked up your livelihoods already.”

George: “… my name is George Billings. My daughter and I have been part of your town for only a few days.”

Me: “But have already fucked this place up so much.”

George: “I wanted to speak to you tonight as someone who has lost something.”

Me: “My sanity.”

George: “More than once.”

Me: “Ooh…. no, still applicable.”


George really plays up the whole Jake Richard’s ranch ordeal and likens everyone to the boy in the legend who fed Santa 100 years ago to see if that will provoke any kind of response. They’re a tough crowd, so the man thinks now would be a great time to ask them all to sacrifice their own homes instead of the out-of-date date tinned goods from the back of the cupboard.


George: “Now there’s a way to help Jake and his family. If each of you were to go to Bob Truesdale at his bank and tell him that you’ll put up your home and your business as collateral to pay off what Jake owes… you can give the Richards’ family not just a second mortgage… but a second life.”

Me: “WOAH! GEORGE, NO!”

George: “Now I’m not asking you anything more than I’m asking myself.”

Me: “You don’t even have a job anymore! You have to give up your home!”

George: “I’ve got some savings…”

Me: “I’ve got fucking savings George but they ain’t gonna cover a whole frickin’ ranch!”


On the one hand… a businessman who will offer me money for my home and livelihood, on the other a singing architect who wants me to give my house up to the bank to protect a business which failed once already as did others like it across the country. Tough choice.

Please note the wizard looks displeased by the end of George’s speech and that guy is wise. Maybe he should have rallied the troops instead.

Much to my little surprise, because this is Christmas and people are lunatics, Bob even puts up his own house and the bank. I don’t know if putting up the very same bank that is dealing with the transaction as collateral is legally sound but… whatever.


Pastor guy: “Traditionally we all go outside, light a candle and gather at the tree for a final hymn.”

Me: “To bring about the end of days.”

Pastor guy: “Tonight, I propose we go to the Richards’ home, light a candle…”

Me: “And burn the place down!!”

Pastor guy: “… and wish our neighbours a Merry Christmas and the happiest New Years.”

Me: “Burning the place down would solve a lot of… never mind. They probably have premium ‘festive fire hazard’ insurance out on these places anyway.”


Cue Bob ripping up his contract with Renfield which amounted to a very aged looking single piece of paper, George resigning from a job he was fired from and the entire town driving to the valley like a creepy funeral procession.

The Richards’ family are moving out at that precise moment, because isn’t the evening of Christmas Eve a most wonderful time to move house?, and probably think the townsfolk are coming up here to lynch them or something. Turns out Scruff little brother is a sister and called Judith. I preferred my version.

On hearing the news Jake looks more pissed off that they couldn’t have come around and told him this before he started packing up his belongings. Also, how terribly timed would it have been if he had already moved out, 2 days ahead of schedule, and now the entire town is basically being used as collateral for an empty ranch. When Jake has no response the townsfolk start belting Silent Night at him in unison and honestly I don’t blame the man for pulling his kids in close because this mob just turned creepy as fuck. It looks and sounds like the indoctrination to a cult.

Before this point I never found the lyric ‘sleep in heavenly peace’ too sinister but now I’ll never think of it in the same way again.

TCG_18
Welcome to the cult. On Sundays we sing.

Finally, forgetting about the cult murders of the previous night, it is Christmas Day: Alex gets her doll house, Hank got a new coat and new shoes, Bob got a new tie, some random guy got a year’s supply of bay rum but was only holding one bottle and I fear for him, Bud magically got a new motor which we all gather around and just take turns laughing in order to admire the car, George gets a girlfriend and Susan gets herself one hell of a burden because George has no job, house or prospects and gave away all his savings, so he will be sponging off her for a while.

And that folks! Is the end! I can’t believe I sat through an hour and a half of this…

Please feel free to watch George’s riveting and powerful speech here. Prepare to be moved… out of whatever room this is occurring in.

 

Prediction board – 2.5/6

  • Prediction #1 – George is gonna fall in love with Susan up there in the mountains – saw that one coming a mile off.
  • Prediction #2 – George will change his mind about profiting off the town – it was rambling and long and there were many U-turns and songs but we got there!
  • Prediction #3 – Bud’s car breaks down and they have to stay in Georgetown – Bud’s car did break down but unfortunately the man arranged alternative, if not as festive, transport. Half a point!
  • Prediction #4 – Alex killed her Mom so there was more Christmas to go around – I mean this was the wild card but I still think that kid has the potential to murder.
  • Prediction #5 – Susan will wish for a family in her letter because running the Post Office is lonely work – We never found out and after watching the film I find it hard to believe she wished for George specifically after meeting the man.
  • Prediction #6 – Joanne pops back up at some point and puts strain on George and Susan’s relationship – She never even showed back up, she was pointless! What’s more is I presumed everyone had multiple day jobs to save on casting costs, so they probably spent all their money to get Joanne The Homewrecker two minutes of air time and Bud just had to deal with working three jobs.

 

  • Horse and Sleigh: CHECK
  • Piano: It’s tiny and a toy but CHECK
  • Carolling: CHECK
  • Christmas Montage: Damn… not a single ‘tage.
  • Fire Hazards: Not one but three! CHECK
  • Relative(s) died a tragic death during a past Christmas: CHECK
  • Snowing on cue: We blizzard-ed on cue, man!

 

It’s been a long time and I’m clearly rusty. Hopefully we’ll do better tomorrow.

See you then!