I have to admit, I am not able to physically watch every single new Christmas movie coming out this year. Mentally, spiritually, and even swimmingly, I can do it no problem but my eyes just can’t be present for every single film aired each weekend over 5 networks. Occasionally, one or four will just fall by the wayside and it’s too late to turn the boat around and rescue them from the ether. The Christmas Note very easily could have been such a casualty but since it involved a mystery, of sorts, and since I take credit for coining the phrase, “Christmystery”, I felt like it was incumbent on myself to watch at least another one in my lifetime, much the way I did several years ago when I watched all movies about hamburgers. Of course I never coined a phrase for that microgenre. Or figured out if anything else was ever coined, besides a phrase. And maybe a coin. But I guess that’s something to work on in the new year.
The only problem with this particular Christmystery is that my wife solved it out loud before we even started watching. She just read the description and that was that. Still though, I am glad this movie didn’t slip through the cracks because I kind of liked it. For one, it was different. For two, it felt like someone really cared about it. Like this clearly wasn’t just phoned in as so many are. And for three, well, there really isn’t a three but those first couple are pretty important. Besides the Christmystery dynamic, it WAS NOT ABOUT A GUY AND A GIRL FINDING ROMANTIC LOVE. It was about two ladies finding platonic love. Plus about 20 more things. In fact, it would be some low-hanging fruit to say that the Christmas Note had too many notes, like I did last week, but these felt less like notes and more just like threads. Maybe they could have snipped a few of them and made the Christmystery less solvable by DVR description alone but who knows, then it might have overshadowed the theme of Christmas. And like I said, someone legitimately cared here. All the acting was pretty decent too, including Meadow Soprano who was put in the unenviable position of having to shoot quite a few scenes where all she gets to really do is make concerned faces but she totally hung in there. I didn’t even feel like she was making the samed concerned face over and over again either. It seemed like she had a whole suite. I also really appreciated taking a break from watching people pretend not to be in love with each other and ice skate and somehow have their relationships factor into the war between Christmas and corporate oppression. And remind us that there is meaningful love in the world (or at the least the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel) other than the romantic kind. I wish I had something hilarious to say about how crazy something in the movie was. I thought I found one scene, where they went to meet Cousin Kay, and they walked into what seemed like her house except there was a kid standing up on pedastel, on skis and with full ski gear on, totally immobile, then a whole bunch of other kids standing around him and seemingly writing stuff. This had no bearing on the story either, it was just kind of a curious backdrop. But then I went back to watch it again and noticed that it was supposed to be an art class and all these other kids were sketching the dude on skis. Granted that this wouldn’t be how you would handle figure drawing and this place did not look like a classroom but still, for the most part, it makes some level of sense. So there you go, one slightly confusing moment with an immobile kid on skis. And 3.5 Eggogs.
After that little diversion, we got the train back on the tracks, which meant watching Lifetime’s Saturday premiere of Becoming Santa. It was about a girl named Holly who just happened to be Santa Claus’ daughter. She was in a pretty serious relationship with this other dude, Connor, and decided it was finally time to take him home to meet mom and dad. But she hasn’t yet told him who she is and who they are. Uh oh!
Since Santa lives in the North Pole, you’d figure she might need to at least let Connor know where they’re headed, geographically, for Christmas but no and it’s never actually actually clear where he thinks they’re going. He sure as hell isn’t going to figure it out on his own, I’ll tell you that. Even after being drugged, waking up in a place that looks a lot like the North Pole (complete with Aurora Borealis), noticing that her dad seems very Santa-ish and that he keeps reindeer in a stable, Connor is still pretty much clueless. Oh yeah and their last name is Claus. Holly finally fills the poor guy in, after he discovers the elves and workshop, but this is only Part 1 of the big news she has to break. Because in a bizarre twist of fate, whoever marries Holly becomes the next Santa Claus. So the job gets passed down from generation to generation but it doesn’t matter if you are even part of the bloodline. Why don’t the Clauses (Meredith Birney and Michael Gross) have a son like they did when they played the parents on Family Ties? And more importantly, don’t you have to know magic to be Santa? I don’t think Connor knows any magic. He does technically have a job as a toy designer BUT he may be the worst toy designer in the entire world. His latest product is a wooden dog on wheels and and he seems totally flummoxed when a focus group filled with modern kids isn’t falling over themselves to play with it. For one, people have already made this toy. For two, it’s really not that interesting to begin with. For three – and this time I have an actual “for three” – this is a toy for a baby or young toddler, not the 7 year-olds in this playtest. His boss even cancels the company Christmas party on the spot when he sees it all go down. So admitedly, Connor doesn’t have a lot of job prospects at the moment but still, agreeing to be the new Santa is a big committment for anyone to make. Especially when, and I say this once again because it really is so critical, he does not seem to have the magical powers necessary to perform the role. Will he somehow get these powers if he marries Holly? Seemingly no, because Mrs. Claus appears pretty put off when Connor is unable to eat an entire plate of cookies in 20 seconds, which is the first test potential Santas must pass. Speed eating. We also have yet to establish that the current Santa is going to retire or needs to retire at the moment his daughter marries. And then what happens if they get divorced?
Connor is nice and/or dumb enough to keep rolling with all this up until another suitor for Holly’s affections, a guy who looks like Kato Kaelin (and may in fact even be Kato Kaelin for all I know) but is supposedly Jack Frost, convinces him he is just not up for the task. Jack is certainly a dick but he’s not wrong here. Santa Claus needs to be able to deliver presents to the children of the world in one night, which means that he also needs to move at beyond superhuman speed or be at a billion places at once and probably walk through walls because plenty of places don’t have chimneys and even if they did, that has never been a viable way to enter or leave a building. So Connor goes back home and instead of coming up with some awesome new toy idea to get his mojo back, he pitches the same damn wooden dog on wheels to the kids only this time, he forces them to put down their mobile devices and play with it. Now they love it! Problem solved, un-cancel the Christmas party!! And wait a minute, some co-worker has a big plate of donuts sitting on their desk, which Connor proceeds to speed eat the entire stack in a way consistent with how Santa eats cookies. Although if you’ve ever tried to eat multiple full-size donuts, I can tell you there isn’t a 1-to-1 correspondance here. You eat the first one and you’re like, “Yeah, I could easily take down another.” Then you eat your second and it’s still good but somehow not as good as you thought it would be. Then if you go for a third, which I want to be clear about and say I don’t recommend, you’re sick and it’s game over. But since Connor doesn’t immediately vomit, we are meant to believe that he now has the power to be Santa. But why? The movie tells us that it’s just because he got his confidence back after physically forcing children to play with his ill-conceived toy but I maintain that this kind of speed eating and impossible digestion is indeed magic.
So how did he get this magic? Because Holly loves him? At this point in the story though, they are not together. Connor bailed on Holly and left her up at the North Pole, now seriously considering a proposal from Jack Frost. And why does Jack Frost want to be Santa so badly? Why does anybody, when you really think about it? I like giving toys to kids and making them happy as much as the next guy but flying around the world in one night makes me feel like I just ate 100 donuts in a row. I would spend most of December sobbing in the bathroom if I had this gig. And it’s not exactly something you can just quit either. But Holly eventually mans up and says screw it, she is just gonna have to be the new Santa since Connor isn’t interested and Jack Frost is a dick. So you’re thinking this is Girl Power, right? Well, not exactly. It’s been almost 20 years since The Spice Girls came on the scene and the best you ladies can hope for is to be a co-Santa with your fiance, who of course desides to come back and take the reins. Although once again, we still have not established that Holly’s dad is going to retire at any point in the foreseeable future. I guess I should just be glad it’s not me. And much like donuts, I wouldn’t recommend going with more than 3 Eggnogs for this movie but I do recommend pouring as much alcohol into them as you like. Which by the way, I have done some experimenting with recently and can tell you that a dark spice rum and cognac combo is the way to go.
Okay, this is a weird one – Beverly Hills Christmas. We watched it on the Up Network and for the life of me, I can’t remember ever setting the DVR to record it. And that thing is filled with Hallmark and Lifetime movies I need to watch but still, since we hadn’t checked in with Up in a while and wanted to see how Beverly Hills might play, we gave it a shot.
You don’t need to have watched a pornographic film before to know that watching one feels not unlike this movie. Without all the sexual content, of course, but just the general look, feel, and most importantly, acting in Beverly Hills Christmas is on par with some pornos out there. Dean Cain is in it and manages to keep his head above water but this was the exception, not the rule. And what the hell was he even doing here? I love how much he likes Christmas but it is okay to say no to one of these things, dude. He does get to play Gabriel, the angel, which I guess is pretty sweet but he has to guide this other recently-deceased lady, Donna Spangler (who I think was a wrestler at some point), and get her to help out her spoiled daughter in ghost form. The weird thing is that while most people can’t see or hear Donna Spangler’s character’s ghost, some people kind of can. Like the dog. And their black housekeeper. I am not kidding. I’m sure they weren’t trying to be racist here, maybe even the opposite by saying that being a black and more importantly non-rich lady, their housekeeper is more in touch with her spiritual side and generally a purer human but still, it was kind of funny to see her looking around when the ghost talked. It’s possible they came up with a better explanation for this but much like white people trying to listen to a ghost, we couldn’t hear it because we also ended up bailing on the movie pretty early on. The porno acting was just too much for me. Or maybe not enough, without all the actual pornography. We might revisit later but until then, it’s an Empty Glass for you, Beverly Hills Christmas.
Up next was the Republican Debate, which aired on Tuesday night. While not necessarily/at all a Christmas movie, we watched it during an all-important time slot that we normally would have watched Debbie Macomber’s Dashing Through the Snow so I figured I might as well review it too.
Or what about this? What if I just rated each candidate, based on the traditional Eggnog Scale? I realize that might be crossing a line with our relationship here but what the hey:
- Carly Fiorina – She says a few things I agree with from time to time but ultimately, I wonder if she wants to be president because she truly wants to help her country or because it’s just the top rung on her ladder of success. The feeling I get from listening to her is that it is the latter (ladder). Which is kind of funny because as SNL already pointed out, she was fired from her job as a CEO and then failed in her previous run for the senate. So how exactly do you fall down to the office of US President? Plus she tossed out some ridiculous quote the other night – “If you want something talked about, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.” Ignoring for a second that this is in no way true nor even a commonly held stereotype, it’s completely lame to play this card when people would scream bloody murder if Jeb Bush said the exact same thing but reversed the genders. Or if any of the other candidates took her to task for saying it. That’s one reason why we need trap doors at these debates. If you get owned in an argument or spew out some totally inflammatory rhetoric, a trap door opens you and down you go. With 0 Eggnogs.
- Jeb Bush – You know of all the candidates, he is probably the one I would most get along with in real life. Just a likeable dude. Not unlike his brother. But therein lies the rub. Because first off, he’s the younger brother and acts like it, coming off kind of small, lacking confidence and more importantly, gravitas. Secondly, I don’t care if he’s Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and FDR all rolled into one, if we value any kind of relations with the Middle East, there is no way we can elect this man purely on the grounds of his lineage. When his dad was in charge, we went to war over there. When his brother was president, we went to war over there again. If you’re some dude living in any of those countries and you find out we elected another Bush here in the United States, wouldn’t you kind of take it a little personally? I’d give him 2 Eggnogs but according to the Electrical College, is not nearly enough to win the nomination.
- Marco Rubio – In some ways, he is kind of the opposite of Jeb Bush for me. Incredibly polished and confident and smooth. Yet we could never hang out. There’d just be a lot of awkward silences. That’s okay except sometimes I find myself listening to the actual content of his statements and realize that he is not as smart as he sounds. Or at least, I don’t agree with what he’s saying, despite how good he sounds saying it. He might even be a mandroid, now that I think about it. It’s funny how the ears are always the hardest thing to get right. So I definitely wouldn’t recommend voting for a robot. Or giving robots the right to vote. Those things never work in the movies and if it can’t work in a movie, it certainly isn’t gonna fly in real life. 2 Eggnogs.
- Ted Cruz – He reminds me, and I’m sure plenty of others, of a televangelist. He’s also a little creepy. And almost looks half-melted but still, I think I might kind of like him. Not necessarily want-him-to-be-president like him but how about vice president? Maybe if I threw in, say, 3 Eggnogs?
- John Kasich – Is he really running for president? Because when I look at him, I just think – Big 10 college basketball coach. And man, he sure loves Ohio, doesn’t he? Apparently he turned that state into a mythical wonderland. Someone should tell him that if he really won the election, he would have to leave his utopian state of Ohio and move into the White House, which is located in Washington D.C. Someone should also tell him that he’s not going to win. 0 Eggnogs.
- Dr. Ben Carson – This is a tricky one because personality-wise, he seems very nice. Like a breath of fresh air compared to some of these other yack-a-doodles. And he’s clearly superintelligent in at least one particular arena. But did this all come at the expense of sanity? I’m not sure. Nor am I sure what would happen if he became president. Or if he even knows. If you know, just try to look surprised when it all goes down. You don’t want to be outed as the person who can accurately predict the future. Everyone will just bug you for the rest of your life. ???Mystery Eggnog???
- Rand Paul – When I first saw this guy, I thought he was the classic dick characters from these Christmas movies that we love so much. Just seemed kind of angry and bitter and almost like an evil miser who would replace all ramps at the orphanage with much more profitable stairs yet was somehow still supposed to marry the main girl before she met the love of her life. But he’s totally grown on me. He may actually be the most intelligent of all the candidates on either side. By that I mean, I think he has the most detailed knowledge about the most things. He probably has a lot of sophisticated, nerdy hobbies too. And he’s definitely more down-to-Earth than I originally gave him credit for so hats off to you, Rand, if that is your real name, and if I could vote for you for vice president, I would. But like travelling backwards through time and cheating at bingo, it’s just not possible. 3.5 Eggnogs, putting you narrowly in front of both Ted Cruz and Becoming Santa.
- Trump – It’s funny because Trump actually IS the bad guy from Christmas movies. He’s all about money, the bottom line, stairs, etc. But he also said that if he were elected president, we’d all be saying “Merry Christmas” again. So maybe he’s the bad guy who got visited by 3 ghosts and learned what’s important in life and is now the good guy? Why else would he be doing this? Being president is a terrible job. Way worse than being Santa so for him to put himself through this grinder and spend all his own money on a campaign when he has already achieved massive success, I have to believe he’s in this for altruistic reasons and really does want to make America great again, although I realize that all of those words are very subjective. Plus he says that his first duty as president is to change our national anthem from the boring, old Star-Spangled Banner to We Will Rock You by Queen. Wel,l he doesn’t say that, I say that, but here’s hoping. And here’s 4 Eggnogs plus 1 Republican Nomination.
So there you have it, Trump for President, Rand Paul for Veep, and let’s get those trap doors set up for the next debate.
But first, let’s get that train back on the tracks once more and onto Debbie Macomber’s Dashing Through the Snow.
Kind of a make-or-break moment for D-Mac, huh? Because while I’ve noted many times how much I like Trading Christmas, all those Mr./Mrs. Miracle films are the worst. Dashing Through the Snow will have to decide once and for all if she’s got the chops. After all that buildup though, I am a little sad to tell you that it’s still too close to call for me. The movie starts off a lot like A Christmas Detour – girl’s trying to fly home for Christmas, all the flights are cancelled, and she ends up sharing a rental car with some strange dude she doesn’t know but is a little annoyed by. The weird thing is that she wants to go from San Francisco to Seattle and I have no idea why all the flights would be canceled and all the rental cars would be rented. Actually that’s not THE weird thing because the movie is about to take an unexpected twist here. It turns out that the FBI is after this lady and have been tracking her for reasons unknown. And man, if the FBI in real life is anything like how they were portrayed in this movie, I hope President Trump cleans house over there as soon as he takes office (after he finishes changing our national anthem, of course). Then we find out that this dude she’s a little annoyed by/attracted to is part of the FBI as well and is pretending to travel with her because….I don’t know. Nor do I know why they send another agent to follow them. Better yet, if they are convinced she is a dangerous criminal, as they seem to be, why don’t they just apprehend her on the spot? Is it a sting operation of some kind? And what the hell did this lady even do in the first place? I’ll tell you where you won’t find any of these answers – the movie. This could be an interesting premise but they fail to explain any of it and they really fail at ever convincing us that maybe our lovable, kooky crafter Ashley really could be the public enemy that the authorities seem totally convinced she is. The main guy, Dash, which I think is really his name, eventually becomes convinced though that she is not a criminal mastermind. How does he become so convinced? Because she seems nice and mentions something about being identity thefted several years ago. So that explains it all! She didn’t do any of the unexplained bad things, it was just someone else using her identity. How did this not get reported though? Shouldn’t the FBI have this information? I truly pray that they would, in real life, but not in this crazy world. It is in fact so crazy that they don’t even adhere to that new 3-Day Rule I was talking about earlier. For them, it’s just 1 day. And it’s serious too. We even see a slow motion flashback of all their beautiful moments that happened over the course of just that day, which didn’t even span a full 24 hours because of things like sleep. After the couple finally hooks up at the end (oops, hope I didn’t spoil it there), Ashley says something like, “You’re all I ever wanted.” Holy smokes, that’s fast!! Oh yeah, and there are these equally crazy, relatively un-set up side characters who pop out of nowhere like a sensitive biker dude giving away puppies and two Canadian teens pulling license plate swapperoos so that one of them can afford to take Bailey on a ski trip. Who the hell is Bailey? It doesn’t matter. And I do appreciate the attempt to breathe some more life into the story here but these diversions probably work a lot better on Debbie Macomber’s laptop than they do on the screen. Like I alluded to at the beginning of this long paragraph, I’m afraid I just don’t know what to make of it all. I guess we enjoyed the experience of watching this movie but thought it could have been better and maybe should have been better and most definitely would have been better if they had just listened to all of my criticism and changed the story accordingly. Of course that would require time travel and I’m not going to address that again. I will give it 2.5 Eggnogs and issue an official warning to Debbie Macomber that this is really it. The next D-Mac joint better be freakin’ epic.
While I’m handing out official warnings, I should tell you, Ion Television, that you are skating on very thin ice here. Over the past few years, we could always count on Ion to throw us a some curve balls. A few wild cards, maybe even a few Dr. Ben Carsons ,if you will. Christmas Belle, Holiday Road Trip, Merry Ex-Mas, Back to Christmas, Christmas Kiss II, to name a few. Coming into this season, I had such high hopes but so far we have been collectively let down with what seem like relatively tame attempts at Hallmark clones. What the hell, Ion? That’s not your brand. Your brand is crazy and sadly enough, you were not reunited with it in Christmas Reunion.
Once again, the hopes were high. Patrick Muldoon has been a guy we could also always count on and while Denise Richards is new to the party, she kicked things off on the right foot earlier this year with Up Network’s Christmas Switch. I mean, it certainly wasn’t great but at least it was crazy. I couldn’t find any crazy in A Christmas Reunion. It was more like Starship Troopers Reunion anyway, as Jake Busey was also in it along with the aforementioned Richards and Muldoon. Still though, what we got was just a pretty straightforward tale about a lady coming back to her hometown to take over her Aunt’s bakery along with her ex-boyfriend who was also sort of seemingly raised by her Aunt too so it’s almost like they’re related but not enough that them hooking up isn’t okay. Although it wasn’t really okay with me. I didn’t want to see Richards and Muldoon make out. Not because I don’t like Muldoon or appreciate his hardcore devotion to Christmas movies and certainly not because I don’t appreciate Denise Richards saint-like devotion to Charlie Sheen’s kids, it’s just that they are past the point of being physically attractive in a way where I want to see them kiss. In Muldoon’s case, this is because he’s relatively old. Not so much in years but his stylistic attempt to cling to youth ironically makes him seem older than the sum of his parts. With Denise Richards, it’s even worse because she has unfortunately joined the ranks of women who destroy their once beautiful faces with plastic surgery and now just look inhuman. Then to make matters worse, she is so skinny that it just looks unhealthy and sad. Normally I would feel like a jerk focusing so negatively on peoples’ appearances but you already know I am voting for Trump so hence, a terrible person anyway. More impotantly though, in this case, it is their own damn fault and I consider it a public service message. Plastic surgery doesn’t look good. Maybe in the future, we will figure it all out and be able to get our faces carved up in a way that not only makes us more attractive but also looks totally natural. That day has not come yet though. And until it does, I recommend we all stay the hell away from it. The other reason I don’t feel as terrible spending most of this time talking about the physical features of our lead actors is that there really wasn’t much else to say about the movie. At some point, my wife and I checked out and just started eating those Pop Chips again, which are still just as good this week as they were last. If only Ion could have been just as good this year as they were last. I guess they’ve got one more weekend to redeem themselves here but even if they deliver two Merry Exmases, it will be hard to few 2015 as anything other than a letdown for this once up-and-coming network. I’m only giving A Christmas Reunion 1 Eggnog and that’s purely because the cookies they showed at the very beginning looked good.
The Angel of Christmas was another movie from a couple weeks’ back that was going to slip through the cracks and I was comfortable with that but in an effort to be more physically present for movies in a week that included extra diversions like the aforementioned debate, Beverly Hills Christmas, and those side characters in Dashing Through the Snow, I made some extra time to watch this in the bathroom.
Oh yeah, I watch TV in the bathroom. After my political diatribe, I figure I might as well just lay it all on the table here. Full disclosure. I should also disclose that watching TV in the bathroom is pretty awesome. And the movie wasn’t bad either. Much better than I expected, watching the trailer and reading the title. While not officially a Christmystery, it did have a mystery component which I think I’m liking more and more in these films. It’s about a lady trying to figure out the story behind this angel ornament her great grandfather carved years ago. She meets a guy who looks like he’s from a Canadian rock-pop band from the mid-80s and pushes way too hard for a date. Like he makes the lyrics to the song, Baby It’s Cold Outside, seem tame by comparison. I actually felt pretty uncomfortable there for a bit. But eventually the girl gives in and he helps her solve the mystery, as well as restore her love of Christmas. But then he gets too pushy again and I get uncomfortable. I missed the scoop on this angel ornament because I was taking a shower when they explained it all but not being able to hear the words and just judging from their faces, I think the big reveal is that they are actually brother and sister. Just kidding, I read that in the closed captioning. Just kidding again, I am not going to spoil the big reveal/Christmystery here, more than I already have telling you about watching television in the bathroom. But I highly recommend this practice and kind of recommend this movie, to the tune of 3 Eggnogs.
Can you believe we are now officially 1 week away from Christmas? I don’t know how many more of these movies I will be able to fit in, in the bathroom or otherwise, because at some point we shut down and switch over to only watching older stuff – Jingle All the Way, Star Wars Holiday Special, Very Brady Christmas, anything with Captain and/or Tennille – you know, the classics. But it looks like there might be some instant TV classics on the horizon too. Hallmark has something going with Mariah Carey and a movie just called Christmas Land. Then it looks like Lifetime has another ghost story but this time the ghost is a hipster and with Ion, we’ll just have to cross our fingers. Happy Week Of Christmas!