We are getting down to the wire here. This weekend was the final stand for new Christmas movies and really only Hallmark came to play. They went with their usual Saturday/Sunday line-up and clearly saved their big guns for last. Lifetime just kind of faded away with only one Saturday night flick and Ion didn’t even show up to the party at all, probably realizing 2015 was beyond redemption.
But it’s also not like I was all caught up anyway so there was still plenty for us to watch over the weekend and beyond. We started things off with Wish Upon a Christmas, which might have cost less to make than you paid for your car.
In fact the two main characters aren’t even main characters. They’re side characters but somehow cast in the main role. This is not a knock on them personally or me even saying they did a bad job, it’s just that they are the kind of faces and personas who play the friends of the couple that was supposed to get together in the end. Not only is the movie budget-conscious when it comes to itself but this factors into the story as well. The dude runs an ornament company that has fallen on hard times. It was recently acquired by a large corporation (why?) and they send the girl in to make some budget cuts/fire everybody. Turns out that she is from the same little town and even used to date the guy who owns the factory. We’re supposed to feel bad for him because the ornaments he makes are all nice and built by hand but that doesn’t play anymore in our modern, heartless, made-in-China world. Of course that sucks but at some point, we have to start holding these people accountable for their terrible business sense. If your company is losing more money every year and you don’t have a plan to at least try and reverse that trend, then you are an idiot. You can make cheaper ornaments, you can sell your expensive ornaments for more money, you can try to reach new markets, sell more of your product, expand your product line, anything.
Or, OR, you can bring in Alan Thicke. Not necessarily to sell more ornaments but to hopefully better sell your movie about making ornaments that has no other known actors nor anything else that’s going to bring in the advertising dollars. Which is exactly what they did. Alan Thicke literally phones in his performance too. And this is one of those rare times where someone literally means “literally”. He plays the main girl’s dad and appears only in a series of phone calls she makes to him, none of which are actually important to the plot. He’s just kind of a sounding board. But now they can say he’s in it and even use his image to promote the movie, for whatever that’s worth.
Thicke’s daughter does try to save the company by pulling off some P&L wizardry but her corporation just wants her to fire people. So she fires, like, one lady. Is the problem solved? No? Okay, better call Alan Thicke again. His advice is to just be yourself. Or something like that. It’s pretty hard to understand the guy, to be honest, as I’m not 100% sure he can fully close his mouth these days but you know who ends up bailing them out in the end? Santa! Pretty damn convenient. I bet plenty of other small business owners were wondering where the hell jolly old St. Nick was when the economy collapsed and they had to shut their doors for good. But is this really a longterm solution anyway? Because all Santa does is just put in a huge order for their ornaments. Unless he pays a much, much higher price for them, I don’t think the company’s problems are going away. Although this is enough for the main guy to forgive the main girl for firing that one lady, which makes their relationship feel a little shallow to me. In fact, I was only going to give this movie 1 Eggnog but then I got on the horn to Alan Thicke and he convinced me to give it a second Nog for a grand total of 2, although again, I was having a hard time understanding him and that may not have been what he said at all.
Next we watched The Twelfth Day of Christmas and I realized that”Twelfth” is a strange-looking word. And that the guy seems to be from that same mid-80s Canadian rock pop band that the other dude from Angel of Christmas was in.
He plays a morning radio DJ who has lost his Christmas spirit. Why did he lose his Christmas spirit? Why does anybody do anything? Because someone else died. In this case, it’s his mother who passed a few years ago on Christmas so he declares that he will not be playing any holiday music during his show. The bigger question is how he even got a radio show in the first place. He’s not exactly Rick Dees and pretty much just tells his listeners that “the phone lines are open” and asks for requests. Still though, he appears to have fans that show up at events with signs that read things like, “You’re so cool!” and “Mitch! Mitch! Mitch!!”. The main girl went to college with him and he was nice back then and super into Christmas so she tries to get his spirit back with a series of Secret Santa gifts. She also drinks coffee with two hands, which is a growing trend I mentioned a little while ago and wanted to make sure you knew was still very much alive and well some few weeks later. This movie even adds a new wrinkle, which is that two-handed coffee drinking can also help you figure important things out. Kind of like their version of calling Alan Thicke.
Hmm, we’ve got a real problem here, let’s boil up some Folgers, which I keep in my living room, along with the coffee maker:
Yes, this is indeed a real pickle, maybe double-handing this cup and looking off in deep contemplation will help.
Better yet, I will actually drink some of the coffee and continue to contemplate.
Still no answers? How you are doing with it over there, Red?
Eventually the two-handed coffee holding pays off and the radio dude starts to warm up to Christmas. Not to mention that this whole Secret Santa business has turned into a national story somehow. Everybody wants to know who the mysterious gift-giver is and after the lady writes about it in her small town local paper, she gets the call up to the big leagues because clearly this is the kind of investigative journalism and hard news reporting that every major publication needs, even though print media has probably fallen on harder times than the ornament factory in the last movie. That would mean moving two hours away from the radio dude and uh oh, he just figured out that she is the Secret Santa! Clearly a problem that not even Alan Thicke and all the Folgers coffee in the world could solve. Except it’s not a real problem. Not at all. Two hours away isn’t that far (why not make it across the country?) and her being the Secret Santa doesn’t mean anything bad. Quite the opposite, really, but everyone starts moping around like someone shot their dog. I don’t get it but just in case, make sure that Red, the supporting friend character, cancels her Christmas plans so she can be ready to pull out the bicycle present for the radio dude in case he ever stops being angry and shows up unannounced, to apologize. Me, I’m drinking 2 Eggnogs again and I’m sure you can guess how many hands I am holding them with.
Now of course, neither Wish Upon a Christmas nor The Twelfth Day of Christmas were the big guns I was talking about earlier in relation to Hallmark’s final weekend of Christmas programming. That came in the form of A Christmas Melody, which was written and directed by Mariah Carey. Actually it wasn’t written by her at all. But she does act in it. For some reason, it’s just hard to stop yourself from saying “written and directed” once you go down that path.
Here’s a question, how old do you think Lacey Chabert is? Then how old do you think that guy sitting at the piano is? Then Mariah Carey? What if I told you that supposedly, their characters went to high school together? The movie claims that they were all part of the Class of ’98 in some little town in Ohio, which makes Chabert a little older than she actually is and the other two a whole lot younger. Mariah Carey was already a pop star in 1990 and married to Tommy Mattola so I have a hard time imagining her graduating high school 8 years later. Age, schmage though, right? I mean, who really cares how old the actors actually are anyway? I have to say that I actually did while watching this movie. It just feels weird, especially when Chabert still seems like such a young girl, no matter how old she really is, and Mariah Carey just seems like an alien. They even try to pass Chabert off as a mom and this feels weirder still, especially since there is no chemistry between her and her supposed daughter, for which I blame the supposed daughter. Sometimes kids in these things can be annoying but this is worse. I got generally bad vibes from this little girl, which is a terrible thing to feel about a little girl. But once again, I blame her.
The weirdest part, though, is still Mariah Carey. Particularly how she is filmed. Only from one angle, generally at one distance, and they focus the lens so tight that everything else behind her just looks like an unintelligible blur.
Then there’s her acting. I couldn’t tell if she were acting poorly or directing herself to act poorly but in any case, it felt very strange. Especially when she doesn’t really appear in shots with other people. She just kind of pops up all by herself, with the aforementioned framing, and then they cut to other people pretending to interact with her with totally different framing. Is this how it was in Glitter? I never saw that movie but maybe I have to. Just to close this chapter of my life or possibly start another one. That all said, I do applaud MC for at least playing a character who was kind of on-purposely lame. She didn’t cast herself as the lead or even a cool megabitch, she was just kind of a ridiculous stage mom. Although I guess I didn’t believe that either. About the only thing in a Christmas Melody I did believe was Kathy Najimy, who played Chabert’s aunt and owned a diner. I could see both of those things being true. But the rest of the movie felt off, almost like I was watching it all over a really bad green screen or something. Then there was a really terrible song and dance number at the end that we all knew was coming but still made me queasy anyway. As such, I don’t think I would recommend drinking Eggnog while watching the film but have you heard of Underberg? It’s a German digestif bitter and a great way to wash down big holiday meals and terrible holiday movies. They come in packs of 3 so in the spirit of Christmas and nausea, I gladly give the whole pack to A Christmas Melody.
Christmas Land may have been the other Hallmark big gun and I say this for no other reason than while watching A Christmas Melody, they had a countdown until the premiere of Christmas Land flash on screen and things only count down to something good. Or our imminent destruction.
I’m not quite sure if Christmas Land was either of those things though. The plot is not unlike Northpole 2 and in fact, may have been a better fit for Northpole 2 than Northpole 2. Or to a lesser extent, Die Hard 2. Some lady whose grandmother was played by Maureen McCormick and who kind of looks like she could be Maureen McCormick’s granddaughter ends up inheriting granny’s Christmas-themed theme park. But it’s not really a theme park. I’m not totally sure what it is but it does have a Christmas tree farm and is called Christmas Land. She wants to sell the property because she lives in Manhattan with no plans to move, has a dick boyfriend, and who the hell knows how to operate a Christmas Land anyway? It’s not exactly a turnkey kind of operation and in fact, seems to have closed down recently. Of course this all changes very quickly. But it might be too late because she eventually does sell the place to the assistant guy from Home Improvement. But she only did that because she was certain that he would keep Christmas Land up and running (even though I think it was closed) and not change anything. But uh oh, she forgot to mention this specifically to him or make sure it was stipulated in the contract before she signed. But she still could get out of it anyway according to my lawyer wife. But her new lawyer boyfriend isn’t as good as my lawyer wife so she ends up getting soaked by the Home Improvement guy for another 1.3 million. But she ends up raising the money and Christmas Land is saved and everything is okay, right? Not for me it isn’t. It just bugged that she had to pay that asshole his ill-gotten blood money and I’m also not convinced that Christmas Land is a sustainable business model going forward. Probably more so than the ornament company in that other movie and definitely more than the season finale of Homeland but nonetheless, the whole thing kind of left me unsatisfied. Or maybe dissatisfied? Implied? Or implode? Like I said at the beginning of this paragraph, I am still not sure.
What I am sure about is that I wish I could give this movie more Eggnogs, in part because I am having one right now and feel pleasantly drunk but also because this was the last new, TV Christmas movie we watched in 2015 and I want to end on a more positive note here. I guess I could always lie and give it 4 Eggnogs even though I would really only give it 2, 2.5 tops. I mean, who’s gonna know? So provided you can keep a secret, I hereby give Christmas Land, “4” Eggnogs – wink wink, nudge nudge. Is “nudge” even appropriate there? I forgot what that was in reference to.
Oh yeah, almost forgot, since Ion had no new movies to potentially redeem themselves with this weekend, I watched a couple more I missed earlier and yes, I did so completely in my own bathroom. Merry Kissmas and A Christmas Truce.
I might have finally found Ion’s crazy with Merry Kissmas. It appeared to be Part 3 in their kiss-in-the-elevator series and featured the strangest circumstances leading up to a kiss in an elevator I have ever seen or imagined. Some guy bought a Nutcracker figurine from this store owned by a German lady and started walking back to work with it and then some other lady came into the store looking to buy the same Nutcracker figurine but was disappointed to learn that it was already sold and started running out of said store. Why did she run out of the store? I don’t know. Maybe because she was just so damn disappointed. Then said German lady started running after her for reasons I also didn’t understand. Then the other lady kept running for reasons I – that’s right, you guessed it – didn’t understand. And then she ran into the same building that the guy who bought the Nutcracker figure went into and kissed him in the elevator. If you think that I could at least understand THIS part because she was chasing the guy who bought the figure she wanted, you are wrong because she wasn’t chasing him and didn’t know he had bought that Nutcracker figure. It was just coincidence and whatever you’d call the random occurrence of running into a building, then into an elevator, and immediately kissing the person in that elevator before you could even really look at what you were kissing. There was some more lovably confusing madness here but still nothing I would put into Ion’s Hall of Crazy Fame and maybe it was just too little, too late anyway.
A Christmas Truce was something entirely different. It was set in World War II, during the Battle of the Bulge (speaking of being too little, too late, Nazis). So instead of a Christmystery, it was more like a Christwarstory. But Christwarstories have the same problem as Christmysteries except its a whole lot worse, with the mystery/war story totally overshadowing Christmas. You just can’t even think about the holiday because there’s a big old battle going on and the fact that it took place in Belgium in 1945 made things even tougher because there were no Christmas lights nor was there garland nor bows everywhere and Santa clearly never gave a damn about Europe anyway. Especially back then. So Christmas was like a tree falling in the middle of the Ardennes Forest – didn’t make a sound. I do give Ion credit for trying here though. But what the hell were the Nazis thinking? By the end of 1944, their Luftwaffe was fully grounded, the Eastern theater was pretty much finished, and the USA had come in to close the deal once again. Germany had no chance to win or even tie WWII at this point. All that Battle of the Bulge accomplished was a lot of unnecessary death and this movie. Still though, I just can’t stay mad at those Germans and if they can be forgiven, then there is always hope for you too, Ion Television. Here’s to your redemption in 2016. And a merry Christmas to you all, Planet Earth.