Alex: After dealing themselves back into the game last week with 12 Trees of Christmas, the Lifetime Network hits us with another high card in the form of Kristin’s Christmas Past. Once again, it’s Christmas Movie 101. But this time, we’re talking magic. Because there is no better time to either switch lives with someone, enter an alternate reality, or just simply travel time than the holiday season. That’s when you can really learn life lessons. If you went back in time to visit a past self in say, May, you probably wouldn’t get much out of it. Do this around Christmas, however, and its a game changer.
And that’s exactly what Kristin does in Kristin’s Christmas Past. She’s a 34 year-old New York party girl who seems relatively happy and has no problem dancing like this:
Although apparently she is dealing with some credit card debt. Then she finds out her best friend, this guy she went to high school with in Pasadena, isn’t going to spend Christmas with her like he always does because he’s taking his bitchy girlfriend home to meet the folks, and that makes her pretty depressed. She stops off at a liquor store on the night before Christmas Eve where the clerk just happens to give her a bottle of Indian Time Travel Champagne on the house. I’m not sure exactly who this guy is supposed to be. Guardian angel? Some sort of Christmas sorcerer? They never really tell us nor do we even get a reason as to why he gave her the Time Travel Champagne. We just know that she goes home, drinks a glass, falls asleep, and naturally, wakes up in 1996, sleeping next to her 17 year old self. Coincidentally enough, yet another one of these films which deal with time travel, Eve’s Christmas, also had their main character going back to 1996. This is a very hard year for some people to let go of, I suppose.
34 year old Kristen adjusts to this amazing, seemingly impossible scenario pretty quickly. Right away, she knows she has traveled back in time and is now arguing with a version of her at age 17. Past Kristen takes a little longer to get it but relatively speaking, it doesn’t take too much to convince her either. This is a good thing, actually, I’m not nitpicking here. Like whenever movies utilize these fantastic plot devices, it’s much better for the audience when the characters just accept it and move on. We’re just like “Yep, you went back in time. Now what?”
That said though, while Kristin at age 17 does completely believe that she is speaking to herself at 34, she can’t totally grasp what that means. Like for instance, if your future self or even just anyone from the future visited, they could tell you what is going to happen. They lived it. And if you believe that they really are who they say they are, you must believe that everything they could tell you about the future is true too. But Young Kristin never quite understands. So when Old Kristin tells her that her current boyfriend, Maverick, is a jerk and is going to cheat on her, she argues as if she’s discussing this with her mother. This isn’t just a concerned friend or relative warning you away from the bad boy stereotype, this is yourself who knows exactly how this relationship turned out. Although you really don’t need to be from the future or even psychic to know that Maverick is bad news. Just like you don’t need to watch pornography to know that the actor who plays Maverick is probably better suited to that field.
Kristin’s actual mother is a mega bitch, at least in most scenes (others, she’s almost a completely different person), and after this Christmas in ’96, Kristin would move to New York and never see her family again. So Old Kristin figures she is here to help her former self not make some of the same mistakes she did. Her father is Judd Nelson, who just makes monosyllabic grunts for the first half of the movie before finally speaking later on and revealing that he forgot acting. Although I think he does remember some of the “method” behind acting because his character is often shown holding this old book and I’d bet money that it was totally Judd’s idea. He turned up on set with that book one day and told everyone he believed his character would always be holding it.
Oh yeah, and Kristin’s aunt is the girl who played Jazzy Jeff to Claire Danes’ Fresh Prince on My So-Called Life. I’m not quite sure what her characters purpose in the film is but it did remind me that Kristin was being pretty morally negligent to have gone back to 1996 and not tried to warn anybody of the impending terrorist attacks on 9/11. Maybe her aunt could have gotten word to Carrie Mathison so she doesn’t miss something that day like Saul says everybody did during each opening credits sequence for Homeland. I mean, sure, it’s a long shot but why not take the chance? Plus, even on a purely selfish level, if Kristin thinks she can help her younger self out with some advice and we know her future self has credit card debt, couldn’t she have said something about buying Apple stock? Or invent The Facebook and not let Mark Zuckerberg weasel it away from you. She could have even used that awesome Timberlake line – “You know what’s cool? A BILLION dollars!” – and Young Kristin would never have even known she ripped the line from Timberlake. But nope, nothing. Kristin does nothing to help anyone. Not even herself. She might be the worse time traveler since Superman went back to the 1936 Berlin Olympics to beat Jesse Owens in all those events he won. But since that may not have happened (yet), Kristin could very easily take the prize.
That just reminded me of something else. I don’t understand time travel. And I don’t think anyone who made Kristin’s Christmas Past did either. I know me pointing out problems with the accuracy of any one of these films, especially as it relates to breaking the laws of our natural universe, is more ridiculous than the films themselves but the ending really confused the hell out of me. I don’t necessarily want to give it away but it seems like the lesson here is that you can’t change the past. Even if you could go back, no one would want to listen to you. Not even you. This lesson might have resonated a little more had Kristin actually wanted to go back and change the past but whatever. However, no one listening and changing nothing at least make her want to see her estranged family at Christmas when she returned to the present. Old Kristin does talk to her best friend’s younger self and tells him she is from the future and he tells her that he’s always loved her, something she has somehow managed to miss in what seems like over 20 years of a close personal friendship. Then when she wakes up in the present and flies out to see her family at Christmas and mend fences, he’s waiting for her. As if he knew that she would be coming back there because she traveled back in time and talked to him when he was 17. But nothing else about their relationship has changed up until this point. He never made his move, even though Old Kristin indicated to Young Him that things might have worked out. And in general, that Butterfly Effect people always talk about is apparently highly over rated too.
But what about the Eggnog Effect? Does the flapping of a nutmeg tree’s branch in Brazil set off a good review in California? For the most part, yes. Like I’ve said before, I will watch anything with magic, save for, ironically, an actual magic show. Kristin’s Christmas Past was ridiculous enough to be worth a watch but for God’s sake, if you ever do go back in time to 1996, please try to warn somebody about the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and also make sure to tell young girls that they really shouldn’t see that movie called The Butterfly Effect in 2004, no matter how cute they will later think Ashton Kutcher is or how much they will love That 70’s Show. The film is surprisingly dark and super depressing and probably wasn’t appropriate for Ashton’s fan base at the time.