Alex: Well it took a few days but we got there. The Christmas Spirit, starring Nicollette Sheridan, Olympia Dukakis, and a guy who has been in some things. Nicollette herself has been in a lot of things but I am guessing most people know her best from Desperate Housewives. And I think the filmmakers here were looking to leverage that because The Christmas Spirit starts off kind of similarly to an episode of DH. You get this kind of self-satisfied, smirking narration that sounds exactly like the lady who died at the beginning of that show and narrated all the episodes. Except in this case, it’s a Nicollette Sheridan doing what I swear is an on-purpose imitation of her. And since the movie is called The Christmas Spirit, my first thought is that Nicky’s character is already dead and it’s her ghost talking.
But it turns out that she’s not a ghost. Not yet. I think. She writes for a small town paper and this is her reading her latest article to…herself? I don’t know for sure but I am going to start doing this with all my blog entries. Read them to myself in a similar voice. Anyway, we learn she’s a journalist who used to work for a major paper in the big city but doesn’t any more because of getting too close to her stories. Probably cared too much too. Now she’s seemingly a mother of a couple kids but wait – no she’s not. She’s their aunt. The mother is married to her brother, who is serving oversees in the military right now and since the mother works a lot, Nicky kind of takes care of the kids. She also continues to talk in that strange, Desperate Housewives voice. I think I get it though. She just wants to sound sweet and loving and since the normally icy Nicollette Sheridan has no idea what those things are, this voice is her best approximation.
While I’m being mean here, I have to also talk about her face for just a second. Obviously, based on what I’ve already mentioned (and narrated out loud) on this very blog, I am not a big fan of plastic surgery. And not surprisingly, Nicollette doesn’t do much to change my viewpoint in The Christmas Spirit. Sorry to kick someone while they’re down here but it just doesn’t look good and most people need to stop doing most of it. It’s like that uncanny valley they talk about with computer animation and robotics. Where the closer we get to being able to accurately represent human qualities, the creepier things start to look because you just notice many more ways these things are not human. That is definitely the case here. Nicky’s almost human, from certain angles and with certain lighting schemes, but not quite. And this sends a special signal to my brain, something that I think goes deep into our old human programming, and it repulses me in a way that a caveman version of myself needed to be repulsed when he saw rotting fruit or diseased oxen. He doesn’t need to understand the science, he just needs to get away and not eat those things. That’s kind of how I feel when I see carved up, leather cat masks like Madame Sheridan’s current face.
Okay, so back to the story and stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before. A big corporation wants to come into this small town and buy up their businesses. For a lot more than they’re seemingly worth. A good deal, right? Not so fast there, buster! Nicky doesn’t quite trust these slick out-of-towners, especially the CEO guy, Daniel. She’s clearly watched a few Hallmark Christmas movies in her time and thinks they’re up to something. Before she gets a chance to find out for sure, she gets into a major car wreck. With that CEO guy Daniel! They have a head on collision right in the town’s main intersection, because the stoplight there is busted. I guess it’s been busted for a while but the town isn’t doing that well financially so they don’t have enough money to fix it. Or make it flash red, like lights actually do when they’re broken. Or take it down and put in a stop sign. It just shows green going in both directions and even though neither driver would actually be able to see the other one coming, they just have to hope that they will get lucky, thousands and thousands of times, until it eventually gets fixed.
But the luck ran out because now Nicky and Daniel are in comas. It turns out though that people in comas can exist in the spiritual realm until they either die or go back to living in their bodies. And that decision is made by some kind of magical, governing entity depending on how much good stuff they do as spirits while in comas. I know, it’s a little confusing but here, let Academy Award winner Olympia Dukakis explain it better:
That’s right, that was Oscar winner, Olympia Dukakis. She’s technically the second person that I know of to win both an Academy Award and do one of these Christmas films. Mira Sorvino was the first, when she played Mrs Claus in “Finding Mrs. Claus” last year. But that’s only if you consider Mira Sorvino’s win for Mighty Aphrodite real. Coincidentally enough, Olympia was also in that film. I wonder if they planned this together all along? That they were going to blaze new trails for Supporting Actress winners crossing over to Hallmark Christmas movies. We’re ready for you any time, Cate Blanchett!
Oh yeah, but back to Dukakis’ little speech, didn’t it seemed like she abruptly switched between emotional states several times there? Like when she first talks about her ability to see dead people being a curse, suddenly she got all freaked out and the music got kind of tense, almost like she was seeing one of them right there but that didn’t appear to be the case. Then she talks about Nicollette Sheridan being kind of magical or angelic or something. What the hell was that all about? And she kind of makes it sound like what you have to do in spirit form is close out what you were trying to do in human form but when Daniel asks if he can sell stock, she’s like “No!”
Then things get stranger. Nicky and Daniel are spirits and kind of go around town, getting to know each other and occasionally fixing problems. They can physically interact with stuff. Just nobody can hear them or see them. But we’re also told that if they do something like, say, hand someone a dollar, people will be able to see that dollar moving through the air. If that’s true, we would theoretically see their clothes walking around without anybody in them, wouldn’t we? Now look, it’s totally fine if The Christmas Spirit wants to have a few factual inaccuracies here and there but don’t go out of your way to tell me (twice I think) that if you move something around as spirit, people will see it move and yet nobody notices ghost clothes.
What they do notice is that ghosts seem to be quite useful. Very quickly, the townspeople come to the conclusion that the spirit of Nicky is helping them out somehow. Even her niece and nephew, who seem really excited about this but if I were them, I would just believe that meant she was dead instead of being in a coma. She can even type emails and go online to see the whole town abuzz over her good deeds. She also uses this platform to try to persuade the rest of the shop owners to not sell their businesses to the evil corporation, even though she and the spirit of their CEO guy are seemingly falling in love now. Of course he’s not that into the holidays but if she can just expose him to a little Christmas spirit (double your entendre pleasure), maybe it will, in turn, open him up to all his failings as a human being, ones which he can easily conquer by embracing the wonders of Christmas. Oh yeah, and Nicky has the power to make lights turn on without plugging them in.
Does this mean that she’s an angel? God, I hope not. But luckily, the movie never comes right out and tells us for sure. We’re just left to guess. We’re left to guess some other things but what I am still most perplexed about is a scene where Nicky and Daniel are walking in the snow but it’s fake snow and probably just a cottony substance but they’re walking through it and the filmmakers wanted it to look like they are kicking up snow powder but they can’t really do that because the fake snow isn’t made of powder. So what it appears like to me is that they literally had both actors where flippers, ones you’d use for SCUBA diving, then they put transparent bags around the flippers, then they filled the bags with some kind of fake, snow-like powder (maybe even flour), and then they just filmed them walking through the fake snow in these. That sounds crazy but the scene looks completely crazy too. You see them kicking powder that doesn’t go anywhere. Credit my wife for noticing and sorry that I am not posting a link to it here. You probably wouldn’t be able to catch exactly what I’m talking about in a Youtube video so if you do happen to catch The Christmas Spirit, just be on the lookout for this scene and stand close to your TV. It’s when the spirit couple are listening to carol singers in some park’s gazebo, I believe.
So that leaves us with just one more mystery to solve. The mystery of how many Eggnogs I am going to bestow upon this wonderful thing. And that’s a tough one for even me to answer because I generally found it weird, confusing, and awkward at times. I didn’t really like any characters but I also didn’t hate any of them enough to be memorable. That all said, I totally enjoyed watching it, like I do so many Hallmark films, for reasons that may forever be themselves, unsolved mysteries. There was enough craziness to keep me interested and I don’t think I could accuse them of killing time, just using it in strange ways, like putting Time in a coma and having its spirit walk around and talk to me for a couple of hours. And that’s gotta be worth at least…