Chaos Attraction

Hallmark Movie Review: Ice Sculpture Christmas

2015-12-18, 3:06 p.m.

Here's another Hallmark review I finally got around to finishing writing up: a 2015 special!

Ice Sculpture Christmas:

Most of us don’t start out doing glass sculpture as small children, but apparently this girl does. David Manning and Callie Shaw first meet as kids. He’s the prince of Wall Street, she’s going to be a chef and likes to free the sculpture from the ice.

Cut to the present day, where Callie is making an ice snowman outside. Er, ice man. Whatever you want him to be. Her dad works at “the club” as a decorator of some sort, and Callie’s just landed a job as a dishwasher there after three years of culinary school. She’s quite happy to be employed at all, and she’s kinda working with a famous top chef! Indirectly! Chef Gloria gives a speech to the whole kitchen in which she says that the dishwasher is the most important person here because they can’t function without dishes. Uh-HUH. While technically I agree with her (and I’m reminded of “there are no small parts, only small actors), that doesn’t mean that Callie’s not the buttmonkey anyway, right? We’re also told the following bits of information:

(a) Chef Gloria wins the annual ice carving competition EVERY YEAR for the last three years.
(b) The sous-chef left…unexpectedly… and they’re going to need a new one, and someone needs to do an ice sculpture demonstration later today. Callie, you’re up! And then back to the dishes!

So Callie runs into David accidentally, making his phone land in the nearest random pool of water. But Callie knows how to fix it by sticking it in a bag of dry ice. Also, she remembers him, hubba hubba. She heads out to her carving demonstration, doing a Christmas tree. She bonds a star to the tree with dry ice. David really enjoys watching that. Apparently she’s changed his life and he never looked at ice in the same way since he saw her carve. Anyway, nobody wants an ice carver at fast food joints that she’s been working at, so she’s delighted to be here. David encourages her to enter the club contest, but Callie smartly says that’s Chef Gloria’s territory and she’ll lie low. This makes me wonder: (a) how many people DO have ice carving skills, and (b) how many people would enter this sort of thing? Also, (c) this is seriously just something you put your name on at the front desk? Which David does, as he gets this look on his face like “I’ll sign her up even though she said no and had a good reason to do so, like not wanting to lose her job because the boss got jealous.” Uh-HUH.

Back to David’s life: he works for his dad, along with his college best friend Brooke. He says his dad thinks he’s a drone. Dad REALLY wants them to land some business deal, but Brooke is more curious about this girl David’s staring at. (Much to my delight, their friendship is entirely platonic.)
Anyway, once everyone in the kitchen finds out that “Callie” signed up, she’s getting the literal cold shoulder. She corners David and his now working phone to ask wtf? He wants to help her achieve her full potential, he says. “And now thanks to you, win or lose, I lose,” she points out. Get me out of this, buddy. So they go see Chef Gloria, who says it’s too late now, and it’ll make her look bad if Callie pulls out now, it’ll look like Gloria made her quit. “I won’t have my kitchen embarrassed OR my victory tainted,” she says. Also, she tells Callie NOT to play to lose, that will annoy her as well.
These last few paragraphs are making both David and Gloria sound like real douches, but I swear they’re not.

Anyway, winning the $10k that the contest awards would pay off almost all of Callie’s student loans…or have to go towards living on while she finds a new job. The rules allow for a team of two, so of course complete noob David is in.

Now, as a crafter who once sat through an ice sculpture carving demonstration while on a cruise ship, I thought this whole movie was pretty interesting as to how it’s done. Callie describes it as taking out the extraneous stuff to see what’s inside. She irons a template on to the glass, and you use hand tools, which take longer but give you more control. Your ice has to adjust to the ambient temperature or else it breaks ( remember this for later). A Japanese grip handsaw is your new best friend, stay away from fire and pointy ends...

I bet Rachel Boston had a good time doing the training for this movie, whatever that entailed.

Anyway, David manages to break the Japanese grip handsaw into the piece, but they agree to enter a local ice carving contest coming right up as “practice.”

Time for backstories and coffee: Callie’s mom died at age 15 and she wanted to start a charitable food foundation called Anne’s Angels. However, Callie’s dad won’t start it up until Callie’s “taken care of first.” I assume this translates into “decently employed.”

Speaking of Callie’s dad, there’s a wee bit of flirtation going on between him and Chef Gloria, as they make a little bet over who wins, and the winner makes dinner for the other.

The next day or so, David gets Callie a replacement Japanese hand saw, which he specially ordered overnight FROM JAPAN. Is that even literally possible? I’m guessing they’re on the East Coast somewhere and the answer to that is “nope.” But hey, MONEY! Chef Gloria is amused and is all, “Most men bring flowers.” David is so bouncingly enthusiastic about ice carving (no, really), that Callie’s kind of embarrassed and wishes he’d stop doing that in front of her boss. “You don’t poke the bear, David!” This is kind of her major grumble about him, incidentally: between his having money and charm, she thinks he can get out of everything. They’re from two different worlds, yo.

Practice time again: let’s see if they can get a nose to stick on. Ice bonding is critical! Oops, it broke off. Anyway, Callie gets called into work by Jen (the current sous-chef/2nd in command), so she leaves David to clean up and chat with her dad about the “Anne’s Angels” proposal. David is interested enough to look into it. Jen gives Callie some kudos on her ice carving demo, but one of her fellow dishwashers warns Callie to stay out of Jen’s way-the sous chef who passed her up apparently quit because she drove him out. “She is a barracuda.” Callie continues to remain perky around Jen even when Jen tries to bring her down.

Instead of working, David is looking for ice carving ideas online. Brooke walks in and is all, “Silly me, why would I think you would be in your office?” and also “Considering a second career?” Dude is so uninterested in making their deadline for the analysis of…whatever the business deal is. I feel sorry for Brooke, it’s like every team project in school ever. Later, Dad wants that Bradford proposal, but David’s off at another ice carving contest. Brooke loves her job, David loves his dad. The job…not so much.
My favorite in this contest is the gingerbread house plans with furniture inside, to scale. How adorable are you!?

Anyway, team carving does not go so well. They get six hours to carve a gingerbread man and Callie just sends David out to get coffee instead of doing anything on the main block of ice. She eventually gives him a candy cane accessory to carve on his own. However, sticking it on…is going to be a thing, isn’t it. Which is to say, it doesn’t. Oh well, sugar is bad for you anyway.

AND THEN THEY BREAK THE SCULPTURE BY DOING A HIGH FIVE OVER IT. Participant trophies for all! “If it had been a Venus de Milo contest, we would have had a shot.”

Anyway, she apologizes for hogging the work (though really, she’s been doing it since like age 8 and he started like 2 days ago, so I think technically speaking it’s right that she “hog” it) and then they go eat her house and talk about their dreams. She needs contacts and opportunity to get ahead and Gloria was on Top Chef. His dream growing up was to be a superhero, then a pilot, then shortstop… and then he went into economics. Being a grownup is awful. He’s always looking for something worthwhile to do…so they make jam cookies.

Gloria and Callie’s Dad are still flirting over a tree he’s putting up at work.
Callie’s at work (with no hairnet), and notices that the prep station is falling behind because that guy called out sick AGAIN. Didn’t Jen call anyone else to come in? Callie abandons the dishes to go help prep. Gloria spots this and wonders why Jen didn’t call a replacement. OMG CALLIE JUST DISREGARDED THE RULES OF THE KITCHEN!...okay, Callie, go put some chef’s whites on and go bring out some appetizers at this fancy dinner David’s at with Brooke.

Brooke spots her and is DYING to meet David’s new “friend,” since all he can talk about is ice sculpture and her these days. Then here comes David’s dad, wondering where that proposal is and “how long before the Ice Capades are over and I can get my son’s attention back?” Which is sort of a reasonable question from his POV since his kid is being a slacker. Callie books it out of there in a hurry (to go look for little quiches) and David goes back to the kitchen to apologize. He’s just not used to talking to the help, Callie smarts.

Jen has supposedly called for backup, but I don’t see no backup coming in. Meanwhile, the other dishwasher has an audition tomorrow, so Callie offers to fill in for him. Chef Gloria wanders in and wonders why Callie’s doing a second shift, but thanks her for pitching in-and then joins her in the washing. See, she’s not so high and mighty. Anyway, Callie and Gloria bond and talk about cooking, and Gloria likes to say the dishwasher is the most important job in the kitchen to take chefs down a peg. Gloria says she flunked out of culinary school TWICE for doing things her way, and notes that “things come to us not when we want them, but when we’re ready.” She also decides to make Jen call in another dishwasher, she’s going to bump Callie up. Jen sneers, “Aren’t you special. Don’t forget. The specials change daily.” Oh lord.

Ice carving practice #3 involves fusing glass skates together and celebrating Callie’s promotion! The skate fuses on! They kiss! It’s very cute! And then Jen calls her in to work again. This forces David to go back to work (I guess), and he looks so goddamned bored listening to Brooke talk about the Bradford deal. He perks up when Brooke notices the Anna’s Angels binder, and Brooke in turn looks intrigued at how David finally gives a shit. Brooke decides she’s just going to do all the work on the proposal and slap his name on it like it’s a college group project again. Hah, told ya. Also, I like Brooke, sensible lady. David goes off to see Dad Shaw (Callie’s dad) and suggests a steering committee and getting multiple
investment sources.

Gloria wonders why Callie’s been called into work again, and tells Jen to not call Callie in to work on the day before the contest. “Oops, I forgot.” Send her home after she finishes what she’s chopping….so Jen gives her shit for cutting the pieces the wrong size, swoops them into the trash and tells her to start over. How very Cinderella of you, Jen.

The Bradford proposal was accepted. Congratulate Brooke, it’s all her work...Anyway, clearly David doesn’t want to take over the family business, and Dad is fine with that, he just wants his kid to be happy. Jen takes this moment to come over and rub it into Callie that Brooke must be David’s girlfriend and “you didn’t think he’d fall for a dishwasher, did you?” SO cliché. Callie walks in as they’re celebrating Brooke’s new promotion and of course gets the cliched wrong idea. God, I hate when that shit happens in romance novels. Jenny Crusie would chuck a book at you for another Big Mis plot.

Cut to Callie at home, cooking angry and bailing on her date with David. David comes to the door wondering what the hell happened, and her dad tells him to buzz off, she’ll talk when she’s ready. But what about the contest tomorrow? Well, I guess David might carve alone. Anyway, after David leaves, Dad suggests she should just like ASK HIM, and she’s all “he’ll just charm me.” Dad points out that David’s been super helpful in getting this angel business going and told Dad not to tell her.

It’s contest day, and Jen is sabotaging Callie’s ice by leaving it on the truck to not defrost gently. Meanwhlie, Callie asks Brooke if she’s dating David, and nope, she is not. There are hugs and apologies and dads coming to watch the carving.

C&D are planning on carving a Santa head, but of course David breaks the thing because of Jen’s ice sabotage. They decide to just change their design for the next 3 hours. Gloria smells a rat and Jen is all, “You wanted to win? We’re going to win.” Gloria is disgusted and Jen stomps off, presumably the victim of another holiday firing even though Gloria doesn’t flat out say so. Gloria tells Callie what she deduced and offers to let Callie carve with her. Which is sweet, but I don’t think contests work like that with in-competition substitutions. Callie politely declines, and they somehow turn half a Santa head into an angel. (I’ll be honest: I really couldn’t tell what the hell it was, but at least David can get ice pieces to stick on now.) Gloria declares, “It takes a true artist to take a broken block of ice into a masterpiece.” She also promotes Callie to sous-chef in the fastest week of promotion ever, and says she’ll be making Callie’s dad dinner.

Who wins the contest? Uh, we never officially find out, but clearly Callie and David think they’re good and go off to cuddle in the back.

Overall I thought this one was pretty sweet. The couple in it are adorable together, there’s instructions on how to do a new hard craft, the bosses are actually nice and reasonable people, the best friend is female and platonic and cool. I recommend giving it a watch.

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