Alex: Much like Fir Crazy, which Hallmark also debuted this last weekend, I believe Window Wonderland was a title first, then they built a movie around it. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, as plenty of great films were born this way. Most of them pornographic, sure, but Window Wonderland doesn’t need to apologize to anyone. For being just a title before a movie, I mean. It does have to apologize for other stuff, including the following:
1.) The romantic lead characters are not likeable – the girl is a stuck-up bitch, the guy is a smarmy, obnoxious dreamer. I can see the writers trying to give both of them a little depth but it only succeeds in making them less likeable. For instance, the girl acts all stuck up but really, she comes from some pretty humble upbringings. Her mom is Naomi Judd and works as a bathroom attendant at the same department store she does. But here’s the kicker – she keeps this a secret from her co-workers as well as her standard-model, rich, jerk boyfriend. She doesn’t want to admit to anyone that her family has such a lowly station in life. This goes way beyond Molly Ringwald asking Andrew McCarthy to drop her off at the record store so he won’t see where she lives. Plus our main character in Window Wonderland is not in high school like Molly was. Nor has she probably been kicked by a horse as many times. So there is no excuse for this behavior nor am I going to find her redeemable without the movie doing a lot of work to win me over. And guess what? The movie does not do a lot of work.
Then there’s the guy. Again, he is just a smarmy cut-up but takes it to such an extreme, constant level that it could no longer be perceived as charming. He’s just annoying and comes off as too phony for a role like this. Both the girl and the guy (I really should look up their names at some point here) work for a big department store, like Macy’s but not called Macy’s, and I believe they are in the department which puts clothes on mannequins and does store displays and whatnot. Their old boss was the head window dresser but just left to work somewhere else so now the two are vying for this lofty position. It’s Christmas time, which means that window dressings are of paramount importance. According to the movie, this is the sole reason why anybody even goes into a store. So the new boss puts this guy and this girl in a bit of a competition to see who can do a better window display and attract more customers, based on whatever magical device can measure that. They each have one window, right next to the other one, which brings me to the next thing this movie needs to apologize for.
2.) The window displays are terrible – Yes, I understand that these are “budget titles” here but if the movie is called Window Wonderland and dressing windows is the main backdrop, you have got to deliver on the windows. Much like how Catch a Christmas Star failed completely on its primary feature, singing, Window Wonderland completely fails on making window displays that even look anywhere near what you’d see from even a pretty small store in real life. And since we live in real life and have seen all those stores, we are likely going to notice this. What’s strange is that once again, just like Catch a Christmas Star, it really wouldn’t take that much to improve things. In fact, just go copy something Macy’s did. Maybe it doesn’t look quite as fancy, quite as grand, but go with the same basic concept. The movie seems to feel differently though, telling me that these displays are quantum leaps for not just department stores but art in general. Here’s one of my favorite scenes on that subject, where we even get a little bit of narration that either got mixed oddly with the rest of the sound or was unintentional, accidentally getting picked up. Or better yet, both!
They also kind of kept repeating the same joke. Santa’s sleigh is a hybrid, Santa is snowboarding, we are turning Christmas on its ear and really thinking outside the box here! Besides me complaining about how terrible it was just to complain about how terrible it is, this actually could have been a good part of the movie. Like the idea is that these characters are competing with each other, rolling out a different display each week, it would be nice for the audience if they kept coming up with clever, aesthetically-pleasing ideas, which raised the bar with each successive display. We’d be sitting there going, “Oh boy, I wonder what they’re going to do next!” and then be impressed that the characters pulled it off and probably even like them more as a consequence. But nope, it was a complete fail on what should have been low-hanging fruit and speak of the devil (almost literally), that brings me to the next stop on Window Wonderland’s Apology Tour.
3.) Despite being a Christmas movie set at a department store in NYC, the writers did not explore the notion that large corporations and money is not only evil but the very antithesis of Christmas itself – Now granted, the girl’s boyfriend is indeed a rich jerk and portrayed as a villain. Plus we are led we are led to believe that her poor family are actually quite salt-of-the-Earth and nothing to be ashamed about but still, STILL, how could they whiff on a meatball like that thrown right now Main Street? How could there not be something about this department store that was evil because they were trying to make money? And then our main characters could have stood together, against that evil desire with their Christmas spirit and bad hair. But did the main characters even have Christmas spirit? I know they had bad hair but Christmas spirit?
4.) The main characters did not have any Christmas spirit – I don’t think either of them even cared about Christmas. Not at the beginning, not at the end. Again, this is another major violation of the Hallmark/Lifetime Christmas Movie Code (HLCMC). Somebody’s got to care about Christmas. One of the good guys, I mean. But really, Window Wonderland could have just as easily not been set at Christmas time, other than shopping just naturally being a bigger deal around the holidays. That is heresy! Ooh, I wonder if the people who made this film actually did it for money? That might explain why they had such little Christmas spirit. Either that or because they loved somebody who died around the holidays. Just like in movies, those are the only two possibilities for not having enough Christmas spirit to infuse your characters with Christmas spirit. But I’m only going to give you one more thing that the movie should apologize for. Not because it’s the only thing still left requiring an apology but just because I want to wrap this up.
5.) The movie was boring – I’ve pretty much described the entire thing to you. And that’s without even giving much of a plot synopsis. There just isn’t that much too it. A guy and a girl (still haven’t looked up their names!) want to be head window dressers at a department store. At first they hate each other because they are so different, then they start to love each other, then it just kind of ends. Sure there’s a bit more than that but for the most part, it is missing any kind of a second act. Any added wrinkle or complication. And I’m speaking relatively here. I’m not comparing this to Shakespeare or Casablanca or even Dude, Where’s My Car? I am only putting it up against the other films of this ilk, almost all of which are less boring than Window Wonderland.
Therefore I feel it is my professional duty to give it a rating, one that is the lowest so far this season, of no more than…
Although I’m not even sure that’s fair to eggnog so you know what? I’m going even lower.