Alex: Not to be confused with “Finding John Christmas”, which is another Hallmark Christmas film and still probably my favorite title for one of these movies I haven’t actually seen (sorry, “Christmas Twister”). I guess I should see it at some point but then John Christmas will be found and I just kind of want his whereabouts to remain a mystery. We did watch Finding Christmas the other night and here is what I have to say about it: What? And I don’t mean “What?” as in, I don’t get it. It’s more that I can’t actually hear it. It was really hard to understand what certain characters said in certain scenes. Some of the actors, particularly that girl on the right, don’t project very well and the sound mixing guy must have gone on strike for Christmas, at least emotionally. There are times where the ambient hubbub overwhelms the dialogue. Below are a selection of some of those scenes and while they sound a little bit more audible on my computer right now, it’s not like I haven’t watched other things on that same TV and heard them just fine. Other Hallmark movies even. Constantly! So the problem is on your end here, Finding Christmas. Hopefully you can/can’t hear what I’m talking about:
But from what I can gather, this movie is a lot like another one. Finding John Christmas? No…although maybe. I can’t really be sure because I told you that I didn’t see it. Face Off? In some ways, actually yes. One of the main dudes, Owen (played by J.T. Hodges who I’m told is a country singer), reminds me of John Travolta, who of course was in Face Off. But the movie I’m actually thinking of here, is “Debbie MacComber’s Trading Christmas.” It’s the same basic premise. People house-swap around the holidays. They sort of have opposite lives and get to walk in the other one’s shoes for a while, learning more about themselves in the process. Hey, that sounds like Face Off too!
In this case though, the main guy characters don’t actually swap faces. Too bad because that would have been a pretty awesome twist. It’s just their houses. Owen (Elvis Travolta) is a down home country boy from North Carolina. He’s very close with his sister and her son but after finding out that an ex girlfriend he still maybe loves is engaged, he decides that he needs a little break. Just needs to get the hell out of dodge for a while. Then the other guy, Sean, is a fancy New York (Canada) advertising exec who just hit one out of the part with his latest campaign for a robot reindeer (its relevance to the movie goes in and out, much like the audio). But after finding out that the girl he wants to propose to is now seeing someone else, he decides he needs to escape for a while himself. Plus Sean learns that a major bomb is going to go off in LA soon and the only way to figure out where is to pretend to be Castor Troy and go undercover into a very weird, high security future prison and hope that Castor’s brother, Pollux Troy, will let the information slip.
It’s possible that last sentence may have actually been about the movie Face Off, instead of Finding Christmas. But I still can’t actually hear Finding Christmas too well so I can’t be 100% sure. I do know that Travolta’s character in that movie was named Sean Archer so maybe this Sean is some other version of him. I mean, he looks and sounds totally different but we are living in a world where people can swap faces and completely change their appearance and voice so that no one, not even their wife or baby mama, can tell the difference. In such a world, anybody could be anybody.
So continuing on, Sean Archer wearing Castor Troy’s face goes into this prison but nobody there knows he’s really Sean Archer. They can’t take a chance that his cover will be born. Castor’s brother, Pollux, seems to suspect something but ends up divulging the information anyway. I just want to state again, for the record, that their names are Castor and Pollux Troy. But unfortunately, before Sean Archer can get this info out to the proper authorities, the real Castor Troy wakes up out of his coma, without a face mind you, and just starts killing all the people in the face switching clinic. He also smokes a cigarette and it does look pretty weird without a face. He gets his old gang back together and they force a doctor to fix him. Since there are no other extra faces lying around, they just use Sean Archer’s. It was left there so after he was finished masquerading as Castor Troy, he could go back to being himself again. Now, Sean Archer looks (and sounds) just like Castor Troy and Castor Troy, looks (and sounds) just like Sean Archer.
Castor definitely gets the better end of this deal. Even though he has to look like John Travolta, at least he doesn’t look like Nicolas Cage and more importantly, he is not currently incarcerated. He’s a free man, the head of some FBI task force as a matter of fact, which gives him some pretty choice opportunities for mayhem. He even foils his own bad guy plot to gain more credibility. Meanwhile, Sean has got to figure out how to get out of this weird prison. It’s gonna be tough because everyone inside wears magnetic boots that can be locked to the metal floor with just the touch of a button. Do they have these prisons, by the way? Anyway, he manages to do it and its much easier than I would have expected. Then when he finally gets outside, he sees that the prison is just some floating tanker, way out in the middle of the ocean. Then helicopters come for him and guards start shooting and he dives into the water and is somehow able to swim to shore somewhere without being apprehended or dying. That’s actually the most miraculous part of his escape but the movie doesn’t show it to us, hoping we will just trust the fact that it all makes sense.
So now, Sean has to figure out how to stop Castor Troy and since Castor is pretending to be him, he might as well pretend to be Castor. This won’t be easy either because bad guys are into some pretty crazy stuff. Like a drug that makes you go insane for 5 minutes before just passing out. He does learn that Castor’s girlfriend is Gina Gershon, which is way better than his wife, Joan Allen. Oh yeah, and Sean also finds out that Castor has a son, who is the exact same age as Sean’s son was before Castor accidentally shot him, intending to kill Sean. Perhaps their lives aren’t even so different after all, exploring the notion that cop and criminal are pretty much the same, which is an extremely novel concept for a crime drama.
But in the end, Sean manages to finally take down Castor Troy on a high speed boat chase with lots of doves and slow motion. Even though Castor is dead, the doctor is able to get Sean Archer’s face off of him and put it back onto Sean Archer. Not sure what they did with Castor’s face but I hope every year that it pops up in a sequel or at least, an auction. Then Sean comes home to see his wife and daughter and of all the improbable events that take place in this movie – guys exchanging faces, Sean escaping prison out in the middle of the ocean, Margaret Cho working for the FBI – perhaps nothing is more preposterous than the final scene, where Sean brings Castor Troy’s son home to his family and all his wife has to say about is “Okay.” Okay sure, that kid can come and live with us and be our son now. I mean, we might have to iron out a few details here and there but for the most part, seems doable.
And there you have it, my review of Finding Christmas, as told through the magic of Face Off. I can’t help thinking that I would have had more to say about Finding Christmas specifically had I actually been able to hear it but to tell you the truth, Face Off is just a much better film. And while the title, “Finding Christmas” doesn’t really apply to anything in the film, “Face Off” actually involves guys taking their faces off, so it has that advantage too. Therefore, I give Finding Christmas..
And for you, John Christmas, the search is still ongoing….