Alex: To anyone who thinks the Hallmark Channel just rolls the ball out there every holiday season and let’s the all-star line-up of films do their thing like some kind of lackadaisical basketball coach, think again. Hallmark premiered 3 brand new Christmas movies this weekend and it’s still early November. Not re-runs from their vast, majestic archives but brand new, made just for us. This is truly a network in it to win it.
A Very Merry Mix-Up was one such premiere and if that redhead above looks like journeywoman actress Alicia Witt, you’re right! At least, I believe you are. The movie says it is although if that wasn’t really Alicia Witt and just someone else they were claiming to be her, who would really know for sure? Maybe Alicia Witt and some of her family, maybe, and that’s about it. The guy is someone named Mark Wiebe who looks kind of familiar but isn’t.
I’ll tell you what is familiar though, this setup: Alicia Witt, Alice, has a boyfriend named Will. Notice I said “boyfriend”. So what does that tell us? What’s the rule here? In case you’re still a little stumped, I can drop a little hint by telling you that her boyfriend is a rich jerk. Or at least, he’s really into his career. And these movies teach us over and over again, if you are really into your career, it comes at the expense of every other human emotion and quality you could have. The pursuit of money not only makes you a terrible person but actually, makes you not even a person at all. So therefore, it won’t matter if you get dumped by the end of the movie or anything else bad happens, because you are not a person. Of course our heroine Alice is a person. We know this because she owns an antique store, left to her by her deceased father. Double bonus! And just to prove she’s got heart, the store doesn’t make a ton of profit. But it is her passion or at least, something is as she goes off on some long soliloquy 2 minutes into the film about a particular piece or story or something. I didn’t really listen, to be honest, as I don’t believe in soliloquies that early into a film. I’m just getting my bearings here, just getting to know a character. Her boyfriend doesn’t listen either because he’s thinking about money.
At some point though, we have to start holding our female protagonists accountable for choosing rich jerks who don’t value them for all the lovable, quirky qualities we are supposed to. Sure, we all make mistakes when it comes to that funny thing called love but if the audience knows immediately that Alice and Will don’t belong together in any reality, what does that say about Alice for not noticing? Will should certainly notice this too but he has no heart, remember, so to him, it doesn’t really matter. Alice is the one with emotions and feelings and thoughts and is now going to spend the rest of her life with some guy who only cares about money, has nothing in common with her, and doesn’t appreciate her for who she is. I’m not rooting for you, Alice. This is your bad.
Right after the proposal, Will also tells her that they are flying home to meet his parents and will spend Christmas with them. The very next day. Now I admit that I am nowhere near as easy going as your average person but that is just not the kind of thing you could just spring on me, if I were Alice. I need time to prepare for things, which generally consists of sobbing quietly in the bathroom every day leading up to the event in question. But Alice just rolls with it. In fact, the first thing out of her mouth is something like, “Oh great, we can go chop down a Christmas tree together!” Admittedly, that does sound fun although it’s a little strange that this would be the very first thing that comes to mind. She throws out a couple more ideas and Will seems to be whinging a little bit, hinting at the fact that his family won’t be into any of these exuberant plans Alice is awkwardly spitballing.
Tomorrow comes quickly but it turns out that Will isn’t actually able to leave that day. Guess why? Yep, business. He has to close a major deal. Stocks and bonds, the glass ceiling, etc. He’s got to close a deal so he tells Alice to just go on ahead to his parents’ place and he will be there at some point to join her. Again, I am not easy going but come on! There is no way in hell any person would do this, right? You’re just going to fly out somewhere to meet and spend Christmas with your fiance’s parents without said fiance? It seems ridiculous but hey, Alice keeps on rolling.
At the airport, she meets Matt. The airline has misplaced some of his luggage and he is devastated. Their customer service person tells him that they will cover the monetary value of this item if it is indeed lost, to which he declares that it is not about the money and is somewhat rude to this person, despite them just trying to do their job as nicely as possible. But when Alice hears him say that it’s not about the money, a little light goes on. It’s not? Ooh, I might like this guy. At the very least, he’s a person!
They get to talking and it turns out that Matt is more than a person, he’s an absolute dreamboat caricature – not into money + he makes his own furniture. With his bare hands! Ladies, this is finally your chance to re-write your own ending to Sex in the City! He seems even more self-righteous than she is too so they would appear to be made for each other. But of course, she has a fiance. He had a fiance too but she decided to move to Paris one day. Aw! However, what Matt thinks was even worse was this one time, when he was supposed to deliver a speech somewhere and it was pouring rain outside and he asked his fiance to drop him at the door so he wouldn’t get too wet before the big speech but she wouldn’t do it. She refused. That was worse than even leaving him and moving to Paris because in his words, “Love walks through the rain.” He really said that. Out loud. And besides the cornball line, quit whining, Matt. You just met some girl and one of the first things you tell her is how you got jilted and had to give a wet speech one day? As the great Mystery might say, this is not an effective gambit to promote DHV spikes. We need Mystery back, by the way. He could and should even appear in one of these Christmas movies. I am willing to write one on spec if anybody wants to get it made.
Okay, so anyway, Alice doesn’t care about DHV spikes and is totally falling for Matt and I am not going to spoil too much of the plot here but let’s just say that “A Very Merry Mix-Up” is not just a snappy title. There is indeed a mix-up and I supposed you could say it is very merry, at least for some people. Was it very merry for me? Yeah, it was okay. What I usually seem to look for in these movies are things that come so far out of left field in terms of weirdness, they become memorable and charming. This movie had a few of those things, I guess. There was a scene where Alice and Matt threw flour at each other, Alicia Witt’s weird face acting, a joke Matt makes about a hair net that either didn’t make sense or somehow got screwed up by the editing process, a game that nobody would ever play or at least, not play like the people in the movie do, a character that doesn’t quite fit for the role of Will’s mother and for his dad, I am pretty sure that the actor they hired for this never showed up so the caterer was nice enough to fill in for him. Oh and I think at the end, there might have been a paranormal experience. None of these things particularly stuck out enough to really push the film into that next level of badness/goodness and I feel that by this time next month, I will have forgotten about many of them. So how about I give it a very merry…