Chaos Attraction

Christmas In July: Family For Christmas

2015-07-12, 2:22 p.m.

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I didn't do much today other than sleep, drive home, and watch Christmas in July on the Hallmark Channel. Which is now, incidentally, rolling out NEW CHRISTMAS MOVIES IN JULY. So I ended up watching "Family for Christmas."

Anyhoo, Lacey Chabert, who's been in like five of these movies or something, stars as Hannah Dunbar, who moved off to SF and became a TV news reporter, leaving her boyfriend behind. Ten years later she's having a "what if" moment about that and makes the mistake of talking to a Santa (who doesn't look too Santa-ish, or maybe I'm just distracted by the super fake mustache) about Christmas wishes. The next day, she wakes up married to Ben the old boyfriend with two kids and a dog, and the kids are demanding pancakes. Nobody remembers her as a reporter (she's apparently a SAHM) except the Santa, who is totally vague and all "I have no idea what's going on, it's your Christmas wish, just go with it." Really, dude? That's super helpful. The only vaguely helpful advice he gives is that she should figure out why it happened.

The dude in this movie is played by the adorable Eric of Wonderfalls, something that pretty much nobody else has seen these days. However, his character is pretty .... flat and boring. Sigh. Hannah comes home and tells her husband that this is not my beautiful house, you're not my husband and these aren't my kids, and he is all "Well, just tell me when you're ready to really tell me what's going on, then." Huh? Like, there's virtually no reaction to that statement and you're already wondering why your wife ran off in her pajamas and disappeared for a few hours today? Since when does that make sense that he is unfazed by this and next thing you know he's asking her to remember the stuffed mushrooms for the party tonight? Hannah gets out of that one by having the kids (Caitlin and Hallie) make them. Amazingly, this does not go wrong At All. Okay, so even I can make stuffed mushrooms, but I dunno if I would have figured that out at these kids's ages.

At the party, Hannah gets cornered by two moms who are all bitchy at the idea of a coach insisting on having tryouts for the best starting lineup for a team. Oh, you SF hippie moms. Hannah is all, "Hey, I agree with the coach, a little competition and actually winning might be good" and when she gets stares from the moms, switches topics to "they just look so cute in their little uniforms!" Later she tells the kids she's distracted by Christmas (which is why she's unable to "remember" how the kids take their cereal) and that they're gonna have to keep her on the ball by telling her what to do. There's a very embarrassing scene in which she can't recall the name of the dog and I'm all CHECK HIS TAG SOONER THAN THAT.

Hannah stews that her assistant Carrie basically ended up with her award-winning reporter life (she's working on the shelter story that Carrie suggested in their original universe, and Hannah kinda stole without realizing Carrie intended it for herself to do), and figures out that in this alternate universe, she must not have gotten on the plane to go to SF for that internship. Also, she's not so much enjoying the "you were SUPPOSED to bake cookies" lifestyle. Her husband deduces that something must be up because they had pizza on a non-birthday, non-movie night, and she's not super thrilled when he discusses his biggest account ever. So hey, Ben, whatever happened to your writing a novel? He also seems completely unenthused at the idea of them doing lunch, as that was one of those pre-kid things. And the kids are giving her shit for not being a perfect mom and not knowing anything about anything important. Whee. Honestly, Hannah, I think you were better off with a career. And frankly, as the show goes on I think that Ben might have been better off with a writing career too, even though he claims he is happier this way. Hard to tell, because honestly, you seem super bored there, Ben. Maybe the two of them waiting ten years to start a family after their careers have gone well is a better idea after all.

Hannah burns the cookies. I nee to add that to my list of Hallmark tropes, because it happens in every movie except The Christmas Ornament.

So the family goes to see Shifty Wish Santa and he goes on to the kids about how sometimes your Christmas wish can come true before your eyes, while winking at Hannah. Ben is all, "Santa winked at you" and she's all "I've been a really good girl this year." And then they come across Carrie, the award-winning reporter.... who then gets attacked by a falling candy cane. Hannah grabs her microphone from her and is gives the speech that Carrie was about to give, already knowing the shelter speech by heart. This shocks everyone and of course becomes a YouTube hit. And then the next day, she gets a phone call from Channel 8 News.... from her reporter boyfriend there in the original universe. Hannah pretty much pre-empts what he wants to say, knowing he likes "fish out of water" interview stories, and says she'll do it. At the lunch with him, she orders like Sally Albright, which impresses the reporter dude. She also super impresses him by negotiating herself into a job while still musing about how family is so important. But hey, who wouldn't want to watch a part of the news that makes you feel better about yourself instead of making you feel super depressed? (I concur, because I am really tired of TV news watchers telling me every detail of that girl who got shot in SF and that asshole who did it claiming he meant to shoot a sea lion. Oh, fuck me on that shit.)

Hannah comes home, all excited to brag about her new job, and Ben is all, "shouldn't we talk about this?" She's all, "This could be a new beginning for us" and he's all "we needed one?" Also, you're going to be gone alllllll the time, what about the children? Sigh. I wonder which of the various burbs these people live in anyway. Husband thought everything was hunky dory! (And yet, I repeat, he looks super bored.) But he comes around pretty quickly after the commercial break.

HAHAHAH ALL THE GIRLS ARE DRESSED UP AS ELSA FROM FROZEN. But ... she's got a dinner job interview at the same time as the kids' pageant! Nothing can be rescheduled! WHATEVER SHALL SHE DOOOOOOOOOOOO? It's a Hallmark movie, you know what she did and the movie didn't even debate that. "In this business, the only thing you can really love is your career," she's told at the same time. Blech. Seriously, she can't have any kind of cool career and kids too? Barf, Hallmark.

The next day, Hannah wakes up back in her old life again. Oh no! She drives back to her alt-universe house looking for her alt-universe family and of course some other guy lives there. She begs to be recognized by her alt-universe friend and the friend has no idea. Then she gets a call to work on a story and she's all "give it to someone else." Gack. But Hannah shows up at the scene of the story anyway and then wanders off to look for Santa Shifty Wish. She wants to go back! She's learned the true meaning of Christmas! My wish is to go back! Santa Shifty Wish says he can't do it. (Is that Ken Marino under that 'stashe? Just wondering.) She's all, what was the point of this then, and he was all, the point of this wasn't to change the past, it's to change the future. OHHHHHHHHHHHH. Hannah passes off all of her work to Carrie (along with advice about avoiding falling candy canes) and goes to look at Ben's website again. Somehow she goes off to meet Ben, who's visiting SF and he's been thinking of her lately. She's been thinking about you too! And it's Christmas Eve! Merry Christmas, says Santa Shifty Wish as they walk off to get coffee.

You know what? I don't think I agree with Hallmark on this one. I'm betting these two might do better as a couple after having their dream careers. Even if Hannah quits to be a SAHM (though in all honesty, it didn't look like that was her big fun in the alternate universe), she's at least done what she wanted to do first, and Ben wouldn't be stuck writing ad copy for a living at this point if he had kids now. (Well, one hopes. I dunno how big of a deal he is as a writer now.) But that said, I felt sorry for Tyson Leitso in this one. He was so quietly cute and charming in Wonderfalls and in this movie I'm pretty sure he's sleepwalking.


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