Alex: What is it with Ion Television and either their inability or unwillingness to put names above the correct head in their cover art? Holiday Road Trip had Shelley Long’s name above a dog and here we are saying that Tom Arnold is a female, standing right next to someone who coincidentally looks just like Tom Arnold.
I can tell you something else that Ion seems to be consistent with: making crazy, crazy, Christmas movies. Even for crazy Christmas movies, they’re nuts. They kind of have their own, unique flavor to them too, different than what you might see on Hallmark or Lifetime Networks or even fever dreams. Like Holiday Road Trip, this was directed by Fred Olen Ray and if you look at his credits online, you will see that he has made no less than 19 films with the word “Bikini” in the title, as well as some other chestnuts like “Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers” and “Tarzeena: Jiggle in the Jungle.” It’s a pretty amazing list, no matter which way you feel about it. And you may think that doing schmaltzy made-for-TV Christmas movies is about as far away from schlocky horror and softcore T&A films as can be but there some similarities. They all shoot from the hip. They don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how they should do something or what resources they need to make it happen or whether or not any of this is a good idea, they just go for it. That is something I can respect.
So I’m just going to tell you right now, I really liked All I Want For Christmas. It might even be all I want for Christmas. Whether or not you think it’s good or bad, there is once again, no way you can tell me that it isn’t amazing. The story is about this advertising agency executive, Elizabeth, who is such a megabitch that when she walks into a coffee store and there is a line, she just cuts to the front of the line. And then when people call her on it, she pretty much comes right out and says that she is busier and more important than they are. So she’s obviously really into her job and just as obviously, that means it comes at the expense of everything else, especially anything good and family-related. She does manage to take her nephew to see Santa at an arcade though. But on the other hand, she’s a few hours late for this and in case you missed it the first time, she takes him to an arcade to see Santa. Not a mall or a town square or anywhere that either normal people go to see Santa or even a place that still exists in 2013 but a weird, dingy arcade. And unfortunately, by the time they get there, Santa has left to feed his reindeer. Score another one for the bad guys in the classic, Career vs. Family grudge match.
But as a side note to that comment, I would like to point out that in these movies where someone picks their career over family before eventually learning that they made the wrong choice, they always learn it. Either Santa or ghosts or some plucky kid or a hooker with a heart of gold or other form of divine intervention comes in to make these characters see the error of their ways and set them on the right path again. So if you’re ever unsure as to whether or not your job or just general pursuit of financial success has become too important, don’t worry. If it really gets that bad, something magical will happen one Christmas to teach you a lesson and give you the opportunity to redeem yourself.
This is exactly what happens to our girl Elizabeth here. While she and the nephew are sad in a dingy arcade, having just missed Santa, one of Santa’s elves suddenly shows up. He tells that them that yes indeed, the Big Man is gone for the day but if the kid wants to tell him what he wants for Christmas, he will give Santa the gist. The kid says he wants a Danger Dog action figure. Then the elf asks Elizabeth and I honestly can’t remember what she said because I was making a comment about Danger Dog at the time but we end up with the elf giving her a magical pin/broach that he tells her to wear. Says it will help her listen to people or care about others or something.
What it does is give her the ability to hear peoples’ thoughts, provided they are relevant to the scene and no one else says anything verbally for the time it would take to finish them saying the thought. I also have to believe that there is some profanity filter too because if she could really hear what people were really thinking about her, there would be C-Bombs galore. It actually would have been smarter for the elf to make his magic pin not filter profanity because I think Elizabeth would have learned her lesson a lot faster if she just heard everybody dropping those C-bombs on her like we know they really would in life. But instead, after getting over the initial shock, she just thinks about how she is going to use this new power to her business advantage, not learn any lessons. I guess her company is going under and they need to sign a lot of big accounts for Christmas or its curtains for them. Oh yeah, and this company is owned by Tom Arnold. He doesn’t really have much of a role, he just kind of says a few things in this new lisp he’s developed over the years and looks very lost, probably due to drinking way too many Tom Arnolds in his lifetime. What’s a Tom Arnold? Well it’s kind of like an Arnold Palmer except instead of ice tea, you just mix lots and lots of cocaine together with the lemonade. Sometimes you don’t even need the lemonade, depending on the day. It’s another thing I thought my mother-in-law was making up but I’m afraid is very real, my friends.
To help save the company and hopefully get him back on the Tom Arnolds, Tom hires some new executive dude to land those big accounts before Christmas. Of course Elizabeth is totally taken aback by this. She resents this new dude, Robert, and the notion that she would need any help in the first place. But while he only has lips that are trying to escape his face, she’s got that mind-reading pin! She can now tell prospective clients exactly what they want to hear and it turns out that most of those things are the following:
- Accumulative audience across the board
- They are concerned with value
- They want a flat rate with a forced combination
- Broader target
- Scatter package
People are blown away by her spouting all of this nonsense. Probably because they are crazy and have been thinking these things for years, even though they don’t really mean nor apply to anything, and it’s got to be such a wonderful relief to finally hear someone else say them, affirming that they are either not crazy or that at least one other person is as crazy as they are. Except that we’ve all seen Mad Men and know that you can’t actually land these major advertising accounts without pitching ideas but then again, Don Draper has never come up with anything as awesome as “Scatter package.”
Then if that wasn’t great enough, Elizabeth can also hear peoples’ thoughts on TV as well, which makes watching her favorite show, “Eye on Frisco” even more HILARIOUS. Roll the clip!
This is a great example of what I was talking about earlier in regards to shooting from the hip. Don’t think too much about it, don’t discuss it, hell, don’t even plan it. Just go with the first thing that comes to mind and put that in your movie, no questions asked. That’s what heroes do and Fred Olen Ray, you may in fact be one such person. All I Want For Christmas is a veritable scatter package of crazy crap and I will definitely give it a flat rate with forced combination, one which I will measure on…