Week in Review – 11/20/15

I’m still playing catch up here but did tune into the Hallmark Channel’s double-feature last weekend, starting with the curiously-titled, I’m Not Ready For Christmas.


I say “curiously-titled” because there is absolutely nothing about this movie that suggests anyone is not ready for Christmas. After a little digging though, we discovered that Alicia Witt, who plays our main character, Holly, actually moonlights as a singer and her latest single is in fact called, “I’m Not Ready For Christmas.” The song doesn’t really have anything to do the movie either (even contains a swear word!) so I have to imagine it was just a separate deal and part of the negotiation process involved titling the film after the song in an effort to promote it? I’ll tell you what the movie does have though – tropes. Like, pretty much all of them. We’ve got Santa, we’ve got magic, money vs. Xmas, dead parents, black friends, houses that are way too nice, and weird decorations in the sense that there are more Christmas trees in this movie than you have ever seen in your whole life. Just pause the DVR during any scene that takes place in a public interior space (Holly’s office, school auditorium, ice rink) and you will be able to count at least 4 of those suckers in the frame. One trope that I haven’t talked about or columned in my spreadsheet is all the business deals that just happen to go down right around Christmastime. This happens so much in these movies but probably never in real life, right? I mean, I don’t know about you but I pretty much just stop answering the phone at my office altogether when December rolls around, let along make major decisions or promotions or hires or anything past the 15th. If you work in retail, of course you may be super busy but even then, I doubt there’s a ton of significant corporate shifting going on.

In any case, I have not mentioned the main plot point of I’m Not Ready For Christmas, which is that Holly’s niece pulls a Liar Liar and wishes that Holly will not tell anymore lies. All the things she could have wished for and she picks that. And it’s not even totally correct because the issue is not so much that Holly lies, it’s that she doesn’t make time for friends and family because she values her career over all else. I believe we’re supposed to believe that by not being able to lie or make up phony excuses, Holly will come face-to-face with the bigger issue that is not valuing her family but I can’t imagine that the 7-year-old could have played this kind of a long game with her lone wish. Still though, it’s a decent enough premise although they could have paid it off better, with all the uncomfortable situations that might have arisen from it. In fact there really wasn’t any conflict whatsoever to come out of Holly telling brutally honest truths yet at some point, the niece wishes that Santa will undo her previous wish and give Holly the power to lie again. This girl has a non-present father, non-alive grandparents, and lives in a world with Isis but spends her two wishes on what ultimately amounts to nothing. And if it really takes magic to learn a lesson, I’m not sure you’ve totally learned it. What I’ve learned is that Alicia Witt, while still far from my favorite leading lady, is here to stay and being that she is a double-threat (movies and music), I at least owe her a double-nog.

In this image taken on November 5, 2012, two glasses of double whipped eggnog are shown in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)


After double-nog double-threat Alicia Witt’s latest vehicle, Hallmark followed up their own weekend double-feature on Sunday Night with Christmas Incorporated.

Christmas Inc

I had said that the name alone guaranteed at least a 3 Eggnog rating but I might want to back away on that. There are some good things, like the sheer amount of garland used in just about every scene. What I’m Not Ready For Christmas Is to Christmas trees, Christmas Incorporated is to garland. Like garland that doesn’t even make sense sometimes. Every hard edge in the movie is trimmed with it, even if it’s blocking a drawer from opening or presents multiple fire hazards. Then there’s a weird little town with a self-described unemployable mayor and a secondary character named Piper who drives our the main girl around, works at the front desk of her hotel, as a barrista at the coffee shop, and then seemingly as a waitress at a fancier restaurant. She doesn’t work at the local toy factory though, which has fallen on hard times due to its inability to modernize, tipified by not selling their products online. And it’s not that they don’t want to sell products online or want remain charmingly old school either, they just seemingly can’t get it done. In 2015! How is that even possible? But what they miraculously can do is change one of their stuffed bears in production to say something different, now asking you to make a wish, and these bears will get out to retailers in time to be purchased by the masses despite it being December 12th or later and most stores no longer even ordering new stock. Plus the bear doesn’t actually grant wishes. This is a terrible idea and no offense to the scrappy little toy factory but let’s be honest here, they pretty much deserve to get shut down. Even on Christmas? Especially on Christmas! How could you blow it so badly for so long during the most critical juncture? I guess I have now myself become the bad guy in these movies.

I will also say that the main characters don’t necessarily make me want to change my ways. They’re nice enough but I don’t believe them, together or apart, and I don’t care how many wish bears they manage to sell through purely word of mouth (!), these people are all doomed. At least the toys aren’t made in China but they soon will be and the romance already is. What the hell does that mean? It means it’s time to wake up, America!

2 Eggnogs! eggnogeggnog


I kind of tuned in and out of some reruns this week as well…

Debbie Macomber’s Trading Christmas – Saw this again the other day and while I can’t remember how many Eggnogs I originally gave it, I now want to give it more. It kind of falls into On Strike For Christmas territory in that I like it unironically and without my usual snark. Totally opposite from Christmas Incorporated, I completely believe all the main characters and care about them too. But if Debbie Macomber could do such a good job with this, why do I hate her Mr./Mrs. Miracle movies so much? Maybe Trading Christmas was just her Jagged Little Pill? Meaning, she only really had one great album despite releasing others. Except I don’t personally like Jagged Little Pill and consider it great so maybe that’s a bad metaphor. Her Tapestry perhaps? Did Carole King have other albums besides Tapestry? She must have, right? But she did write plenty of classic songs outside of Tapestry, that’s for sure. Jeez, I’m really struggling to make this point and I’m sure you get it anyway. Nevermind (but did you get that?).

Let It Snow – So Alan Thicke really fired his daughter on Christmas Eve? I guess I knew that and even commented about it in my original review but man, that is cold, even for a bad guy in a Christmas movie, even from the perspective of someone who has aparently now become a bad guy in a Christmas movie. But this is definitely good enough to watch. And Candace Cameron is more of a Michael Jackson going back to my earlier failed metaphor. She’s got two really solid albums (movies), maybe a third depending on how generous you’re feeling about Bad (Moonlight and Mistletoe).

The Christmas Clause – This one was from 2008 but since it was not only filmed in Canada but a pretty much full-frontal Canadian production, it felt more like it was from 1998, in American Standard Time. Lea Thompson played the main character and it’s almost a reverse Christmas Carol plot. She is a sweet mother of three but totally overwhelmed with her kids, motherly obligations, struggling career, etc. and wishes what it would be like to not have any of these major hastles so she gets to live for a while as a successful, single bitch. She actually does a good job and the overwhelmingness is accurately portrayed but the lesson doesn’t really make sense because she loves her children and instantly wants them back while in the other life, as any decent person would. So what is there left to learn? Or even do? Other than just kind of make me sad because I want this lady to get back to her kids.

One Christmas Eve – This has been on a couple times in the past couple weeks and I’ve kind of had it on the background and for the life of me, I can’t figure out exactly what’s going on. Too many characters and too many injuries requiring medical attention. Who wants to spend Christmas in the hospital? And were they also snowed in? I couldn’t tell that either and obviously, no one wants to be injured and spend Christmas in a hospital while snowed in but I’m sure this movie is trying to sell us on the fact that with the spirit of the season, even this can be magical. Maybe it’s even successful in this lofty endeavor, I don’t know, but I just wasn’t willing to commit the necessary brain space to figuring it all out. Anne Heche is in the film, if that helps. It didn’t help me.

Love at the Christmas Table – It’s good to see Winnie Cooper grown up and back in action and I found her totally likable in one of these roles. Also good to see her returning again this year with a new movie coming out Thanksgiving Week on Hallmark. Think it’s called A Crown For Christmas too but anyway, Love at the Christmas Table is generally abnoxious. WAY too much serious conflict with the male “love” interest. They only see each other once a year and spend some of those times in pretty vicious fights. Love should not be that hard. Even at the Christmas Table.

Speaking of new movies on the horizon, the good news is that it looks like Lifetime has taken my advice and has a seemingly Thanksgiving-related film premiering this Saturday. The bad news is that it involves Muppets. Maybe not THE Muppets but muppets of some kind. And I’ve never understood the appeal there. I feel like Lifetime may have jumped the shark here and it’s nowhere near as cool as when Fonzie did it.



The 2013 Noggy Awards

eggnog trophy

Alex:  Now that Christmas is over and the government starts taking away our movies, eggnog, and Stuffies, we move into the next phase of annual celebratory tradition – awards season. And did you know that here at this very blog, we even have our own little awards show too? I call it the Noggies and while maybe not as prestigious as the Oscars or Golden Globes, at least it sure beats the hell out of the Latin Grammies. So hope you are appropriately dressed up and got the office pool all organized because the 1st Annual Noggy Awards show is about to officially kick off!


– A Snow Globe Christmas breaks the color barrier

– Steve Guttenberg breaks the religion barrier, playing Santa Claus in Single Santa Meets Mrs. Claus and Meet the Santas

– Shannon Elizabeth actually does her own singing (or so I assume) in Catch a Christmas Star

– Nothing is particularly courageous about a making a movie (WINNER!)

Yes, it’s true. As much as I love watching movies and then shows where people who work on movies get awards and congratulated, it is completely ridiculous to hear that word, “courageous”, bandied about the way it has over the past few years. There are just so many more courageous things one could do in the world than make a movie. Even if technically, by the letter of the law, the word could apply in certain cases, I still don’t want Anne Hathaway to tell me how courageous Hugh Jackman is for doing a job that most of us regular folk dream of. I actually don’t want to hear Anne Hathaway tell me anything, come to think.


– On Strike For Christmas (WINNER!)

– Undercover Christmas

– All She Wants For Christmas

– Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus

Of course I am talking about all-time, made-for-TV Christmas movie on the stations that I have been covering here. Or am I? These things hold a very special place in my heart and since I don’t find myself writing a blog about, say, the great works of Akira Kurosawa, perhaps Christmas movies really are the best movies ever? And if I had to name a favorite, I’ve got to go with On Strike For Christmas. Like I said in my review, it was the gateway drug for me. Got me hooked. But like I also said, it’s of a higher quality than many of its counterparts and there is less joke fodder, forcing me to confront the very real possibility that I like these movies because I like them, not just to make fun of them.


– Kristin’s Christmas Past

– 12 Trees of Christmas

– Let it Snow

– All I Want For Christmas

– Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas

– Holiday Road Trip

– Christmas Belle

There were a great many newcomers this year, more than ever as a matter of fact, and I watched just about all of them. Picking a favorite was tough. Nothing quite qualified as all-time classic for me but plenty still stood out. In the end, we went with Kristin’s Christmas Past. Why? The premise was pretty interesting and memorable. A girl goes back in time to 1996 and gives her younger self a little bit of dating advice but nothing about the terrorist attacks on 9/11 or anything else meaningful she could do to have a better future. Probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway because her past self isn’t really interested in hearing anything either, despite completely accepting the fact that this is an older version of her from the year 2013. Then of course there are time travel problems and an actor whose own future most definitely involves gay porn but that’s all part of the fun and the main character was just likable enough to make me care about her and her aunt who had cancer in 1996 but was never mentioned again.


– A Very Merry Mix-Up

– Fir Crazy

– Window Wonderland

– A Snow Globe Christmas

– Santa Switch

Gotta go with Window Wonderland here. Snow Globe Christmas was a bigger disappointment and I still don’t believe that Santa Switch was a totally planned event but WW loses because it fails on all counts, other than its catchy title. I didn’t like anybody, nobody even cared about Christmas, and most importantly, for a movie completely centered around two people trying to out-do each other with department store window displays, said department store window displays were terrible, which kind of turns their catchy title against them. But you can take heart one thing, Window Wonderland. As much as I didn’t like about your movie, I very truly believe that it is superior in almost every way to American Hustle, something being touted as one of the best films of this year, up for many awards, some of them even better than a Noggie. I am completely serious here. Not saying it to be snarky or with any qualifying statement like, “superior-for-what-kind-of-movie-it-is-etc.” It’s just straight up better. Sure, American Hustle required more of an effort to make but if you break down the components of what makes a movie good – story, characters, acting, clarity, pacing, direction – Window Wonderland sweeps every category. And I will defend that statement to anyone who challenges it.


– Let it Snow

I didn’t even nominate any other movies for this. I guess Fir Crazy was deserving, kind of, but I wasn’t going to put it through the process of getting its hopes up only to get shut down by the Candace Cameron Bure – Alan Thicke double-team about a ski lodge with so much Christmas spirit, they don’t even allow technology on the mountain, save for technology they do allow, which is some. Plus they gave us little annoying factoids about old timey and other cultural celebrations and events related to the holidays and for that, they deserve a little bit more than just candy in their shoes. But thinking back, I guess Pete’s Christmas used Christmas relatively well, as the plot involved a kid reliving Christmas day over and over again. But one of their holiday traditions was playing football in the park against another group of people (who didn’t seem related, like another family or something) they didn’t even like or seem to know. And then other townsfolk came to watch this pointless, podunk game. That’s not Christmas. That’s not even National Egg Day.


-12 Trees of Christmas

Again, why even give anybody false hope here? While every one of these movies follow a pretty obvious list of repeated conventions, 12 Trees of Christmas seemed to cram the most in. Actually, there is no “seemed to” about it, I even have a chart where this is scientifically proven (see previous post). But for all the great, tried-and-true classic traditions they followed, I hope they establish a few new ones. Like Casper van Dien growling like Batman for no apparent reason (also like that Batman). That should be in just about every one of these films. Couldn’t hurt, right? Anything other than Casper van Dien’s vocal chords, that is.

BEST TITLE (all-time)

– Fir Crazy

– Snow Bride

– Christmas With a Capital C

– All About Christmas Eve

– Finding John Christmas

– Christmas Twister

Lot of worthy films here but I have to pick All About Christmas Eve because it works on several levels, although some of them perhaps odd and inappropriate. Plus as much as I like the term, “Snow Bride”, and hope it becomes a thing, it doesn’t really apply as well as it should. You might say that well, a girl was found in the snow wearing a wedding dress so thus, “Snow Bride.” But I’d say, sure, except that doesn’t really factor into the movie’s plot ever again and by your logic, we should have called the original Terminator film, “Naked Dude in an Alley.”


– The Zunes (Daphne Zuniga)

– My Wife

– Debbie Macomber

As much as my wife will always be my very own Christmas Queen, I know she would never support me breaking the rules so I will give the Noggy to the Zunes. She’s in 3 of these movies that I know of – On Strike For Christmas, A Family Thanksgiving, Christmas Do-Over – and they’re all solid, in large part due to her. Take On Strike For Christmas (please!). She’s the perfect mother and wife who makes the holidays and life itself magical for her family, despite being under appreciated and the fact that her husband is an alien. Seems easy enough but I think it’s a lot tougher to make this actually believable. To make you believe and feel for the person. This is the power of the Zunes. She could even win a Latin Grammy. Even though there is no such category and I refuse to recognize that as a legitimate award.


– Duff

– Candace Cameron Bure

– My Wife

That’s Haylie Duff. Not her sister, Hillary, or former bass player for both Guns ‘N’ Roses as well as The Fartz, Duff McKagen. Once again, I want to vote for my wife here too because she’s just so great but that’s not really fair to all the other people who were actually in these movies. And Duff has been in a lot of them. 3 in 2 years. Just like the Zunes, they are all quite solid and I find myself caring about her as a character, which is odd because I didn’t think I would care about her as a person. I had her pegged for a less talented, less attractive version of her sister but just like so many of the people in movies, Christmas has taught me a little lesson about life. Duff is completely likable and believable and thus, is the heir apparent to Queen Zunes.


-My Wife

Okay, this time, my wife is taking home the Noggie. It’s still true that she didn’t technically appear in any of the films but  I assure you that no one else is more supporting. The fact that she watches all these things with me and has yet to file for divorce goes way beyond an award I just made up. I think it qualifies for sainthood. Plus I occasionally steal some of her jokes.


– Donald Faison

– Gil Bellows

– Drew Lachey

– Joey Lawrence

– Patrick Muldoon

– It doesn’t matter

And the Noggie goes to….It doesn’t matter! It really doesn’t. You could make a case for any of the above mentioned gentlemen but one thing I have learned from this mystical journey, one of many things, is that the lead male actor is not a critical component to the movie being good. Nor can a strong, main dude elevate a movie that is fundamentally bad. It’s a women’s world, which may not be surprising since we’re talking about movies on the Lifetime and Hallmark networks but I don’t think this is something they specifically set out to accomplish. Many of the stories are centered around women, that part is obviously intentional. And women play the role in our society as something more delicate, something to be protected, so it makes sense that you might be more likely to care about them finding happiness. Or think they need help to find said happiness. Plus, because these films are shown on networks geared towards women viewers in stories centered around women, lead actresses are more likely to try a lot harder than lead actors might, which can produce more extreme results, good and bad. But I think it’s more than all that. I think it’s….actually, no, That’s pretty much it. Those are the reasons.


– Saved by the Bell

– BH-Niner (Beverly Hills 90210)

– Melrose Place

Do you know what I’m talking about here? Launching Pad, as in an older TV show which spawned actors who would later appear in these Christmas films. Not only are many of the actors from those three shows above the right age and point in there career to start going the Christmas movie route but I would guess that a fair amount of the Hallmark/Lifetime/Ion audience are also the right age to have grown up with them. In terms of pure volume, BH-Niner wins this thing hands down. Jennie Garth has been in a couple of films, so has Tori Spelling, so has Gabrielle Carteris! Luke Perry did one too and even the girl who played Brandon’s girlfriend, Nicky, had a brief role in Snow Bride. To my knowledge, Ian Zierning has yet to make an appearance but he did star in Sharknado earlier this year, so give him a break. The problem though, is that none of the movies packing ex BH-niners are that good. Then we have Saved By the Bell. Zack was in the mysteriously-missing-in-action-this-year flick, The Twelve Dates of Christmas. AC Slater did Holiday in Handcuffs AND the voice of the dog who saves Christmas in The Dog Who Saves Christmas. And Elizabeth Berkeley even got into the mix a couple of years ago with Lucky Christmas. But Bayside High is kind of in the same boat as West Beverly. Quantity versus quality. That’s why they can’t touch Melrose Place. While the majority of the cast cannot boast these movies on their resumes, MP has the only one it needs – the Zunes. She singlehandedly carries the show like she did all those Christmases before going on strike in On Strike For Christmas. To be fair, Dr. Michael Mancini does pitch in a little. He has a supporting role in Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus and once again, that’s a quality film. The Zunes trilogy plus SSSMC are just too consistently strong to let this award go to anyone else. Given that track record and I’m sure the fact that many of the other Melrose Placers can’t have anything better to do right now, I am shocked that we aren’t seeing more of them pop up. Like Andrew Shue doesn’t want any of this? C’mon Shue, jump in. The water is just fine.

NOTE: It just occurred to me during Christmas Keepsake Week that I failed to mention the meaningful contributions of another Melrose Place alum, one Patrick Muldoon. He was a main character in both Holiday Road Trip and A Boyfriend For Christmas, then he transitioned effortlessly to a memorable supporting role in All About Christmas Eve. That’s all positive yardage right there, and makes me awarding Melrose Place the Launching Pad Noggie stand up against any scrutiny.


– Guy explodes into nerdish ramblings in 12 Trees of Christmas

Brad Stine explodes into Robin Williams-esque ramblings in Christmas With a Capital C

– Lots of running at the end of Christmas Belle

– How Much Time is left in the Quarter?

– Girl karaokes Heart of Glass in Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade

Another tough one. My normal approach here has been when in doubt, go with the Zunes and given how oddly obsessed I am with that “How much time is left in the quarter?” scene, it makes good sense that I would give the Noggie to it but when I really look deep within my soul, I realize that it’s not about how much time is left in the quarter. It’s about how fast someone can swap out a magnetic hard drive with a solid state system with RAM drive SSS and the only scene that gives me that answer comes from the 12 Trees of Christmas.


– Eva La Rue

– Patricia Richardson

– Donald Faison

– Jami Gertz

– Joey Lawrence

– The Zunes

Of course the Zunes should always be in more of these movies but this award is more meant for people I’ve seen once and want to see again. Donald Faison was extremely likable in an extremely unlikable film (A Snow Globe Christmas) and it would be great to see his quest for redemption but I kind of want him to do a little more, career-wise before coming back to Christmas. Plus, like I said earlier, the male lead is just kind of gravy. They can make a good movie a little better but that’s it. So sorry, Joey Lawrence, that goes for you too, though I certainly hope we cross paths again. Both Patricia Richardson and Eva La Rue were good but in non-lead roles and just like the male lead, this doesn’t provide enough impact on overall enjoyment of the movie. Well what about them doing another movie where they are the lead? Yes, that could totally work but I’m afraid I have made my choice. It’s Jami Gertz. And even though I didn’t even officially review Undercover Christmas this year, it is somewhat of a classic in our household and like On Strike For Christmas, was one of the early stars. So much of that came from her performance too. She plays kind of this obnoxious character who I really shouldn’t like yet still completely care about and believe. That my friends, is what we call the craft and I’d really love for Gertz to get another shot.


-Alicia Witt

-Steve Guttenberg

-Nicolette Sheridan

This was going to be her year. The year Alicia Witt was going to make us forget all about Elisa Donovan and rip the crown of Christmas Princess away from fellow up-and-comers like Duff and Candace Cameron. She had a new movie on each of the Big Two networks and plenty of promotional momentum but the problem was simple – those movies weren’t good enough and she wasn’t good enough in them. What’s more is that even though it seemed like she must be trying hard, doubling down on the Christmas movies like this, I felt like her performances were lacking in effort. Especially in A Snow Globe Christmas, I never believed her character for a second. Didn’t believe she was a TV producer, didn’t believe she had any romantic interest now or ever in Donald Faison, and didn’t even believe Paris was the capital of France while she was on screen. Sure, we could give her a second chance but I have no reason to expect different results. Does that mean I am officially NOT insane?


– Finding Christmas

– Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas Dinner

– Let It Snow

I’ve already said plenty about this Canadian thing so I’m not going to go through it all again but Movies, you know what you did. You film in Canada because it’s cheaper, you set the movie in the United States because it’s awesome, but you don’t do a good enough job hiding your shame. It was one of the most common tropes spotted this holiday season. Therefore we have several deserving candidates but I have to give the Noggie to Finding Christmas because it had 4 main characters and 3 of them were obviously Canucks, including Mark Lutz who hands-down had the strongest, most obvious accent. I felt like I was watching Strange Brew for a second.


– Time management in Christmas Belle

– Eye on Frisco show in All I Want For Christmas

– The amount of times Noelle busts the guy in All She Wants For Christmas

– Set design in A Snow Globe Christmas

– Steve Guttenberg as Santa

– Score in Meet the Santas

– Sound mixing in Finding Christmas

– Singing in Catch a Christmas Star

– Everything in Christmas With a Capital “C”

– Camera work in Guess Who’s Coming To Christmas

– The 12 Dates of Christmas being mysteriously absent from all network programming this Christmas.

Whoa! That’s a huge list! And rightly so. The movies reviewed on this blog are all very much in the Insane Thing business and really any one of them worth their salt has at least one moment that makes you question reality. Plus there are so many different types of insanity. Like technically, the idea that I can’t hear a fair amount of dialogue in Finding Christmas has got to be the most insane thing but it doesn’t really scream “crazy” as much as it does just “bad.” Same is true for the time management in Christmas Belle and a few others. Everything in Christmas With a Capital C probably wins the volume award since there is so much madness everywhere you turn but if I had to pick one single thing, it would be Steve Guttenberg playing the role of Santa Claus not once, not twice, but thrice (it’s actually just twice) in Single Santa Meets Mrs. Claus and then again in the sequel, Meet the Santas. For one, clearly he is a man of the Jewish faith. For two, he’s Steve Guttenberg. Admittedly, he was at one time a much bigger star than 99% of the people in these movies but we all feel pretty badly about that. It was like an embarrassing mistake you make as a kid and just kind of want of pretend never happened. A dirty little secret. Bringing back Guttenberg is pretty much making us read our 5th grade diary to the entire world.

And that about wraps things up. Boy, it sure has been a great holiday season, huh? I have loved watching each and every one of these movies and I already can’t wait to watch even more next Christmas. It’s interesting to compare them to the quote-un-quote normal films because while I originally got into this racket to poke fun, I have to admit that there are things that these TV movies made on shoestring budgets in shoestring nations do legitimately better than their theatrical release counterparts. There are certainly opposite examples too but it’s amazing that sometimes the craziest movie in the room is not the one with Shelley Long in it.

Maybe I’m just like an undercover cop who got in too deep and can no longer distinguish right from wrong but hey, at least that’s a lot clearer and more interesting than the character dynamics in American Hustle. Or makes more sense than anything in a Kurosawa film. Actually Kurosawa films are not really that unclear or abstract. Actually, I’ve never seen one. But in any case, this is one undercover cop who thanks you for reading his blog, wishes you the happiest new year of 2014, and hopes that no matter what happens, we take down Mendoza.

Let It Snow – 12/2/13


Alex:  Much like Shannon Elizabeth, Candace Cameron (now Candace Cameron Bure) has some history with Christmas productions of a certain quality. And no, I am just talking about her work in other Hallmark originals, Moonlight & Mistletoe or even The Heart of Christmas. What I am talking about here was her appearance on a Marie Osmond Christmas special (Donny who?) in 1989, getting this sage advice from the little bit country star:

Be a bitch to your brother in one simple step

Not only is this rude and not very Christian behavior, but if you go back and watch that video clip from the very beginning (and you really should), you will see that there are much more important things Marie should be warning her about, in terms of dealing with her brother. Like what is that weird book that Kirk reads from? I feel like it’s just something he wrote and is kind of coming up with his own bible. At least that is my hope.

But armed with this experience and advice, Candace should be ready to tackle any challenge that life or Christmas has to offer. Plus, I just found out that she’s now an author too. When she was announced on Hallmark’s Home & Family morning show, they even called her a “writer and actress, starring in the upcoming movie, ‘Let It Snow’.” I got really excited when I heard this, because I thought it meant that she possibly wrote the script. But unfortunately no, she did not. She wrote a book though and the good news is, it’s about faith-based weight loss. Maybe I can review that one day. But for now, I am just going to stick with Let It Snow.

I don’t know if I lost any weight while watching it. My guess is no, especially because I ate a piece of derby pie during that time but to be fair, I also didn’t have faith that I would not eat that derby pie so maybe the book will help me there. I’ll tell you what also helped. Right off the bat, we learn that Alan Thicke plays Candace’s dad. You can tell he’s not a great father because he is also the head of a company, Falcon Enterprises, and because his old TV son re-writes the bible and his real life son sings about date rape being kind of acceptable in certain cases. We also learn that Falcon Enterprises has recently purchased a mountain resort in Maine and Candace, who also works for her dad, is being sent there to check the place out over Christmas break. Odd that he wouldn’t have done this research BEFORE purchasing the lodge but then again, this is a guy who once asked Wayne Gretzky to babysit his aforementioned, real-life son while he was on vacation in Norway, only to find out that Wayne had to leave because he got traded to LA Kings and Robin was home alone for about a day or so. Someone should make a movie out of that story, by the way. But my point is that Alan is not necessarily a guy who thinks things through. Maybe that’s what we love about him though. He shoots from the hip. It’s that same wild, creative spirit that gave us the theme song to Diff’rent Strokes and hell, on the surface, Wayne Gretzky as a babysitter was a great idea too, just maybe not the most responsible choice. It’s like they say in another classic theme song, one which Thicke also penned – “You take the good, you take the bad, you take ’em both, and there you have…the Facts of Life.”

So Candace heads out to Maine so she can find out for dad if this purchase was a Diff’rent Strokes theme song triumph or a Wayne Gretzky babysitter disaster. She’s never been in snow and hates Christmas. Why? For the same reason that anybody isn’t feeling Christmas in these movies. Because someone she loved died. In this case, it was her mother and that’s why her dad became such a business jerk, burying himself in Falcon Enterprises and leaving behind all traces of human emotion. Candace went to work for Falcon just to maintain any kind of relationship with the man. Very sad but like everything else in life, nothing a little romance can’t fix.

She starts putting together her report and of course, hates everything at first. She doesn’t do Winter! And the couple who own the lodge, the ones who are selling it to Alan Thicke, have a son about Candace’s age who provides the necessary fulcrum for her turnaround. I know it’s a small thing but I have to keep pointing out the complete lack of effort that goes into concealing Canadian accents in these movies. I don’t mind so much that they film them north of the border, it’s just the flagrant disregard for pretending to do otherwise. And since they are so easy to conceal (“Can you say, ‘car?’ Great, now say ‘sar’ just like you said ‘car.’ Great, now just add an ‘ee’ to the end of it – ‘Sar-ee.’ Boom!”), I have to assume that they are flaunting them in the face of our great nation. You’d think they would all take a note from accomplished Canadian actor and I have to believe, their hero, Alan Thicke here. He keeps the accent under wraps so why can’t they? Although I suppose they also know about the Wayne Gretzky babysitter thing and might not want to emulate every move he makes.

But back to our story – after staying at this lodge for a while, Candace quickly realizes that snow and Christmas aren’t so bad. There’s a reason people kind of like them. I give her credit here because the lodge and its denizens almost managed to have the opposite affect on me. Their Christmas spirit was bordering on smug and obnoxious. Plus, the dad is the classic stalwart who doesn’t want anything to ever change. Like at one point, he says that the son can’t use a snowmobile and doesn’t want to put in a ski lift because nothing mechanical can be on the mountain. I mean, how many times have you been walking in a total winter wonderland to suddenly have the entire thing ruined forever by something mechanical like a ski lift? At a lodge with skiing no less! They might as well just sucker punch Mother Nature right in the bread basket. Never mind that there are things like electricity and the Leap Frog Leap Pad Explorer and plenty of other stuff that would qualify as mechanical there, it’s all okay when it doesn’t factor into a plot point.

So why would the old man be selling this joint he never wants to change in the first place? Because his son, who is falling in love with Candace Cameron, doesn’t want to take over when he retires and if that is the situation you find yourself in, the only other option is to sell your place to Alan Thicke. And Alan Thicke gave him his word that he wouldn’t change anything after buying it. That would be good enough for any of us. But why doesn’t the son want to take over? I don’t know, exactly. I think he’s kind of sick of it and wants to get out and see the world at some point. They make allusions to a brother character in Australia but never go anywhere with it, nor does the brother ever factor into anything. Fingers crossed for a spin off! Or maybe they’ll do a trilogy of movies like those French films, “Blue”, “Red” and “White” where things kind of relate to each other but it’s not obvious at first and then suddenly, there is Juliet Binoche and you see the tail end of a scene that played out in the last movie.

At least Alan Thicke does show up again at the end. Candace tries to convince him not to tear the lodge down because it’s really great and if you can just add a few mechanical devices, people who vacation at Falcon Enterprises resorts will dig it too. Thicke doesn’t go for any of this crap and fires her on the spot. His own daughter! Then credits. Maybe Juliet Binoche and the unseen Australian brother can achieve some closure in the companion piece. Okay, you got me. That doesn’t really happen. Thicke does fire his daughter but then gets totally turned around himself, making for a happier ending. To the point of ridiculousness. Like you know how people say someone did a 360-degree turnaround, when they really mean a 180-degree turnaround but want to say 360 because it’s the bigger number and thus, seems like a more significant turnaround despite the opposite being true? Well that’s exactly what I want to do here. Just telling you that Thicke does a 180-degree turnaround doesn’t feel even close to significant enough. Can we call it a 360-degree turnaround and you just know what I mean? Or what if we go more degrees? Like he did a 1 million-degree turnaround, even though the more times you revolve doesn’t necessarily change the meaning either. Or it does but not in the way I want it to. Look, just trust me, okay. This turnaround that Alan Thicke does is huge and is not at all believable. You can’t go from firing your daughter on Christmas to dressing up as Santa and giving kids Leap Pads. If you could, we all would but you just can’t, okay?

Then again, like I keep coming back to, Thicke can do whatever he wants and who am I to criticize? He said it best himself – the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for me, creating a plausible reason for his character to change his mind, may not be right for some, who just want to lose weight through faith. So let it snow, indeed, and if you’re worried about getting home in time to see the kids, I’m sure Alan Thicke can recommend a good babysitter. In closing, I would like to say, as the French Canadians themselves might say, I hereby give this movie…

…3 Lait de Poules!laitdepoulelaitdepoulelaitdepoule