Alex: My mother-in-law watched this last year by herself and when she was describing how crazy it was to us back then, I thought she was just making stuff up. You know, just to kind of sound cool talking about a movie I hadn’t seen at the time. Neither of these things are particularly in character for her but nonetheless, there I was. Then we saw it and realized that not only was my mother-in-law’s description of its lunacy accurate but she actually didn’t go far enough. All She Wants For Christmas blew us away and when we watched it again the other night, its fastball hadn’t lost any heat.
That cover image tells the whole story, in the sense that it tells us nothing. “This Holiday Season…Love Conquers All.” While certainly unimaginative, that gives us the idea that some serious shit is going to go down. This is magnified by the picture of the guy in the lower right corner, looking up at something I could only imagine are either nuclear missiles, streaking towards the White House or aliens flying overhead or both (also, if you have seen the film, why is Kenny on the cover? He’s not a main character, nor is Priscilla.). Then the girl in the lower left is looking up too but it’s more of an expression of joy and wonderment, as if she is witnessing some divine miracle. Then the top two look like they’ve been through something really tragic but come out of it with a glimmer of romantic hope.
Again though, none of this applies. ASWFC is about a strange woman, Noelle, who lives in a strange town. Well technically, her name is “Judith” but everybody calls her Noelle, making me wonder why the movie didn’t just name her Noelle in the first place. And this town is home to a very large Christmas decoration manufacturer. Noelle works at that company doing finance-related things as this is her passion in life. She tells us many times how interested in business and being a business person she is and while its worth making fun of, I believe that she believes it. But after accidentally releasing a large, inflatable snowman into the air (guess it was filled with helium) while checking stocks, she ends up causing a minor car crash (guess the helium quickly ran out, causing it to go back down again). That driver is Justin, a happy-go-lucky stranger who has just wandered into town. Within literally seconds, he is going on a date with Noelle and has a job at the Christmas decoration company, Aikens. Whereas something like Christmas Belle took hours to get a character from their car to the front door, All She Wants For Christmas hits us at a machine gun pace.
Justin’s working in warehouse at Aikens and Noelle is only too happy to give us a lot of backstory on the place. It was owned by Old Man Aikens but he died and they’re losing money and she is trying to find ways it can be more profitable but it’s tough because he was subsidizing it with his own fortune but now that he’s gone it’s unlikely his descendants will continue to support this unwise business practice and Noelle may actually be a little bit nuts. One of those Aikens relatives does show up and unfortunately it’s not Clay Aiken. I realize his last name is spelled a little bit differently and this is a fictional family but I’d be lying if I told you that a part of me wasn’t really hoping he’d somehow appear in this film. Unfortunately, this is granddaughter, Ashley who is a successful business woman herself and not as bitchy as you might expect. Noelle gets jealous of her though, as she is interested in business success too and to make matters worse, she catches Justin talking to Ashley many, many times throughout the course of the movie. And even though no relationship with Justin has been officially established yet, Noelle gets extremely territorial. Here, check out how many times she busts him, all in the span of about 45 viewing minutes and probably only a couple of movie days:
Dear Justin – please get far away from this girl and don’t look back. You should not be in trouble this frequently this early into a relationship, especially one that you haven’t committed to. But bless his heart, he rolls with the punches and just won’t give up on Noelle. It also turns out he was formerly in a rock band, a detail that has absolutely no relevance to the film. Some lady recognizes him a bar and that’s about it. More importantly though, he is secretly another grandson of Old Man Aikens and the person technically in charge of the company now. He’s just been masquerading as a regular, warehouse-worker-but-also-kind-of-a-former-rock-star-Joe like one of those shows where the boss goes undercover. He is doing this to see if it will help him decide whether or not to liquidate the company. And even though he’s had a pretty good time doing all this, it’s just not a profitable enterprise and he’s going to sell.
But wait a minute, while all this has been going on, a very large, Wal-Mart type of corporation has been planning to put one of their stores in this same town. Their CEO just happens to be staying locally at the time, eating a bran muffin every morning, and perhaps if Noelle could deliver that bran muffin in person one day, she could help convince him to save Aikens. Why would he want to save Aikens though? I really have no idea. And I don’t think Noelle does either. But she manages to get the Mayor on her side and he tells Global Mart that if they want a building permit, they will have to bail out Aikens and sell their products exclusively and some other stuff that doesn’t make any sense. This doesn’t seem like a permanent solution though because if Aikens, a national company, is not profitable, getting bailed out this one time is only going to delay the inevitable. And if I were Global Mart, I would never take that deal anyway. I’d just set up my next franchise in the nearest possible other town and give jobs to all those people instead but it’s true that I don’t understand business like Noelle does nor do I eat bran muffins.
It all ends up working out, for me at least. I have yet another one of these Christmas movie experiences that is like no other and probably will never be duplicated. Would I have liked Clay Aiken to show up and claim that he was part of this Aikens family, hoping that nobody notices or cares why this doesn’t make sense? Sure. Would a sub-plot involving a mummy be a welcome addition too? Absolutely. But then I definitely wouldn’t have believed my mother-in-law when she first told me about it and when I verified its accuracy, my head would have exploded. So I thank you, All She Wants For Christmas, for taking these things into consideration and for that I give you a cool…