Chaos Attraction

Another Hallmark Movie Christmas

2019-12-26, 10:14 a.m.

December 24: I didn’t do anything all day except watch Hallmark movies (shocking, I know) and making baby Yodas. At night we went out for Chinese food with Roger (Mom’s boyfriend) and Evan (his son), which was delicious, and also the most crowded I’ve ever seen that restaurant in my life.

Evan was very entertaining to dine with. Especially when the topic of Shen Yun came out, because when he first saw the ads he said he said, “Who is this Shen Yun bitch and why is she everywhere?” He also made various jokes that you would get Shen Yun ads if you were living in a cave and someone sent you a message via carrier pigeon, or if a Russian satellite from the 80’s crashed it would still have Shen Yun advertising on it. He also said that his friend Stephanie tried to get them tickets to Shen Yun and they were sold out. Go figure!

He also had some delightful commentary on his friend’s future sister-in-law being a very drama-ish person that he looks forward to meeting because he enjoys drama he doesn’t have to deal with. (I was all “Me too!”) Apparently FSIL’s boyfriend was warned NOT to propose right after the friend was proposed he did it a week there is likely to be Competing Wedding Drama. Ooh la la!

After dinner we went to Roger’s (my first time over) and had snacks and watched “Elf,” which was better than Roger expected. I was all, “yeah, that was my reaction to that too the first time.”

I think that’s the best Christmas Eve I’ve had in quite a while!

December 25: Another lazy ass day of Hallmark watching, y’all! Mom and I finally got around to gift exchanging and there was definitely A Theme going on here...I’ve already mentioned what I got her from Hallmark. Here’s what she got me from Hallmark:

* “Forget the wine, I’d rather have wine on the shelf” glass
* “This Is My Hallmark Channel Christmas Movie Watching Sweater”
* “Build Your Own Christmas Movie Romance” book
* Hallmark Monopoly
* “This Is My Hallmark Movie Watching Sweatshirt”
* Hallmark Movie Countdown to Christmas Bundle card game (note: Hallmark bingo was sold out).

Other gifts from Mom were a curling iron, iridescent flatware set, Uno chocolate game, Sharper Image projection alarm clock with stars, a deluxe fabric shaper (yeah, I asked for that since some of my sweaters need it and god knows I won’t get to buying one myself), fancy red bathrobe, and a purple shirt. Linda sent me a giant yarn caddy. Jackie sent me a box of fun Star Wars/Harry Potter stuff.

I also showed Mom the gifts I got from others and she was all, “What did you get him?” “Nothing.” *gasps in horror* “I know, I know.” I won’t even get into how Jackie got her very expensive jewelry and how Mom...well, did what I did. Sigh. I don’t even know what to say there, not that I can judge.

It took Roger till 4 to finally text Mom back about his gifts, which he liked and managed to figure out what they were for without assistance, so uh, good job there. Though he is a nuclear physicist, so one would hope he can deduce why Mom bought him a personalized binder to stash his awards in and a journal when he said he wanted a journal.

That night we saw the new Star Wars movie and Knives Out, which I do not have time to write about now because I’m about to head out for the day and who the hell knows when I’ll get home. So instead, here's the Hallmark reviews I managed to get written for the last few days.

Holiday Date: Well, this one gets a lot of complaints! The NYT and Washington Post both say the Hallmark Christmas movies are anti Semitic and go into bad tropes, so...yeah. What the hell do I say as a non-Jew?

Anyway: Brooke is from a small town, is REALLY TIRED of being single for the holidays (the shame!) and not having any guy to bring home to show off to the fam and the friends, so she’s very excited to have her boyfriend of six months, Ethan, come to her hometown. She even dubs him “Mr. Christmas” to her family even though from what we see of Ethan, he is of the “works on Christmas” ilk. Anyway, Ethan’s just not feeling it and breaks up with her. Then Brooke goes to a “Friendsgiving” party and meets Joel, an aspiring actor who’s looking to research being a small town guy for a movie. Their mutual friends (one of them being Larry the agent) encourage them to do this silly plot of having Joel fake being Ethan the architect for the holidays.

Brooke’s family is very nice, and her brother is REALLY into the idea of “Ethan” being an architect and getting architect advice. Meanwhile, Joel is much more into coaching the niece for her school play and making acting references all over the place and trying to hide that he’s in a shaving commercial and people keep asking him why he looks familiar.

Joel, for the record, takes 22 minutes to mention that he’s Jewish. Both acknowledge this would not be any kind of issue except for this “Mr. Christmas” BS, but Joel is all “hey, it looks fun on television, why not.” However, the giant ridiculous plot hole is that somehow Joel doesn’t know how to sing Christmas songs. I might buy that if he was a sheltered Orthodox Jew or something, but since he’s not, COME ON. I’m pretty sure if I texted all my Jewish friends they’d be all “Duhhhhhhh, they’re on the radio in stores constantly.” So the family figures out by 40 minutes into the show that “Ethan” is Jewish, at which point they are all, “KEWL! LET’S CELEBRATE HANUKKAH!” and then everyone embraces every aspect of Hanukkah celebration and has a great time about it. I admit I thought that was really sweet. I never thought I’d see the day they acknowledged this holiday on television, and the double holiday (har) celebration idea is fun.

I do kinda think that the “this guy is shifty” stuff comes a bit more from “Ethan’s” career knowledge and/or lack thereof, and the conflicting lies that he and Brooke tell about why his parents aren’t around because they didn’t coordinate that (at one point her mom looks up Ethan’s mom and leaves her voice mail). No one has a problem with Judaism that we see. It doesn’t help that Brooke goes into a wedding shop for...some reason...and then everyone is convinced they’re engaged and nobody bothers to tell them they are not. It really doesn’t help when someone takes a photo of them “for the ‘gram!” and tags Real Ethan’s full name, so that Real Ethan hears about this, calls to complain about it (Brooke blows him off because she’s in public and cannot deal) and then drives down there to ask wtf is going on. Really, the big scandal in this one is finding out that “Ethan” is an actor named Joel and then the family assumes Brooke didn’t know about it.

Anyway: other than the trope issues, I didn’t hate it. I like how they figure out that Brooke is probably better off as a costume designer than a high class fashion designer because she likes history (she designs a dress for the school play, which was reminding me of Coney Island Christmas), which goes with Joel’s job. Joel doesn’t get the big lead like you’d expect, but after the week he’s had, he’s fine(r) about losing out. Though then he decides to do community theater rather than NYC, which made me be all .... to that. I enjoyed the double holidaying stuff. I think the actor sells this shit so well, he’s like Cameron Mathison at it.

But really, Joel secretly being an actor is the thing that they really ham around with (literally) in this. Like, I technically am an actor at this point, I hang around with same, and nobody drops acting references into every dang conversation, especially when they are supposed to be playing an architect. Like when you offer to clean Dad’s glasses, don’t say “I love props.” Nobody talks like that IRL. But that said, if they ever do “Meet the Parents” and do a sequel to this in which she meets his family, I’d probably watch it, who are we kidding?

“They’re like cherry flavored bricks.”
“And yet he continues to eat it.” -on Dad eating fruitcake.
“Denzel would be on his way to Whispering Pines by now.” -Larry
“I’ve never had ham, interesting plot twist!” -Joel.
I was amused at Joel telling the kid to use the script as a guideline and then the Mr. Hiltonish-teacher is all, I spent six months writing this, please stick to the lines, and Joel is all, oh, writers.
“Maybe gingerbread is not his medium.” -on how Joel can’t build a gingerbread house (also see See You Next Christmas). I concur this seems a little bad for an “architect.”
“We have to keep going. It’s the same plotline, but with another twist.” -Joel
“Hanukkah tastes just as good as Christmas!” -Dad
“It’s very confusing having two Ethans in my life.” -Brooke
“I’ve heard so much about you, Ethan.” “I wish I could say the same.” -the guys
“Not that kind of guilt, gelt.” -Joel
“You know, as far as architects go, Ethan’s a pretty good actor.”
Dad and Joel: “How do I know you’re not acting?”
”I’m not that good.”
“I just saw your commercial.”
“It’s Christmas!” “And Hanukkah!” “Let’s eat!”

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses:

I feel like the actor in this is a poor man’s Eric Mabius (they are similar), except who needed one of those? Just saying.

Anyway: Abby is a decorator who’s trying to go back to work and applies to decorate “the Sinclair estate,” around the time they’re gonna throw some event there. Nick Sinclair works with Kate, a hot yet businesslike woman. It seems that they are interviewing Abby because his mother told him to or something, which she deduces because Abby actually loses it and starts bitching them out for pity interviewing her and not actually giving her a chance. On the one hand, I’ve gone to auditions where I felt like I didn’t get a chance either. On the other hand, that should really mean you don’t get hired. OH WAIT, SHE JUST GOT HIRED FOR THAT? WTF?

Abby says she needs to talk with Nick about what he wants in the house (which is reasonable) but Kate wants to keep her away from him because he’s sooooo busy and tells Abby that if she’s over her head, it’s okay to quit. Naturally they end up shopping together and hanging out anyway. At the same time, Abby starts dating Dr. Mike, who seems perfectly fine but we’re told there’s a “spark” with Nick. I’ll be honest with you, I’m not really seeing that, but I will concur he loosens up around her, albeit then he goes down a shame spiral after he bails on a conference call to see Santa and then the deal goes sideways. Abby at one point says that she doesn’t know which version of Nick she is getting from day to day and at one point they had lingering eye contact and I was all, I HEAR YA, GIRL, I’M THERE NOW. Oh yeah, and then there’s the time when Nick and Kate walk in on Abby’s date with the doctor and join their table, wtf?

I will give the show credit for not having Kate make a move on Nick. When she finally approaches him for something, it’s a promotion. So there’s that. Kate even compliments Abby towards the end, SHOCKER! Dr. Mike is also unfazed that Abby isn’t feeling it, but does decide to dip her on the dance floor to make Nick jealous anyway. To which my mom said, “These movies are always about making people jealous.”

Anyway, this one was okay but not spectacular. Fairly average, leads are okay but not charismatic, plot’s the same as anything else really.

“Well, this calls for a victory cookie.” I think this was her dad?
“Babies and puppies are soft.” Nick
“Nick Sinclair made a joke! It’s a Christmas miracle!” Abby
Nick on the event planner, Walter: “He’s British, a total snob, you’ll love him.” (To be fair, they do hit it off.)
“Kate insists that Americans consider pork to be holiday fare.” Walter
“Have you ever made a gingerbread house, Kate?” “No. Why?” “No reason.” Nick and Kate.
“Abby has a date tonight.” Desiree (the assistant) “And you’re wearing that? It looks....comfortable.” Walter.
“I suggested a DJ but he (Walter) just looks at me like I fired the Little Drummer Boy.” Nick
What does Nick want for Christmas? “Just my two front teeth.”
“I wonder when those two” (Nick and Kate) “will realize they’re perfect for each other. They’re both workaholics with no sense of humor.” Desiree (Abby agrees).

In other news, Hallmark Channel is ALREADY starting “Countdown to Christmas” in JANUARY. Again.

The Mistletoe Secret:

My mom really likes this one, just so you know.

The very Southern Kellie Pickler is living in Midway, Utah, yet another Christmas oasis small town that needs tourism dollars. Aria (that’s her name) runs the Mistletoe Diner, makes great pies, and is a big fan of the “Masters of Travel” show hosted by Sterling Masters. Sterling is a pretty cheekbones guy but what Aria really raves about is Sterling’s writing, and as head of the town Christmas committee, she’s applied to have the town be on the show.

Little does Aria know that Sterling is besties/business partners with Alex, who ghostwrites for Sterling’s website. Alex goes down to Midway, claiming he’s writing a novel, and secretly writes articles about the town under Sterling’s name until Sterling actually bothers to show up, at which point Sterling also wants to jump into wooing Abby. However, some red flags pop up when Aria and her dad realize that Sterling didn’t know some information/couldn’t possibly have written at least some of those articles. Aria is fairly sassy to Alex in the start of the show but gets more into him the more he gets into getting all the stamps for his Christmas passport. Alex is feeling fairly sassy to Sterling for (a) horning in on his love life and (b) coming in and saying, “Oh, I got a book deal for my website columns” and Alex is all, “EXCUSE ME?!” about that, reasonably so, and (c) waltzing in and buying the mistletoe ornament Alex bid on for $100, by bidding $1000.

There’s also this whole thing about the “Mistletoe Man” fairy tale about some princess deciding between a prince and a knight and the winner has to go through hardships to get the mistletoe, a story that Alex takes too much to heart and blogs about.

I REALLY enjoyed the “ugly sweater” competition, in which Aria shames Alex for wanting to buy one (he loves the one with cats) and makes him make his own. Alex loves him a Bedazzler, as it turns out. Of course the two of them both win. I also enjoyed the commentary about how group projects suck because only one person ever does the work. This is true EVEN IN A DANG HALLMARK MOVIE, Y’ALL.

I agree with this from the review: ”He informs Alex that he can write the last article under his own name. Alex thanks his stupid friend. Are we supposed to kind of like Sterling? He just blackmails his “friend” at every turn – saying that he HAD to go to Midway, legally couldn’t write anything under his name, then dangling the publisher meeting over his head so he could hook up with Kellie. This is like watching an abusive relationship in action.” Also, even though Sterling and Nick are theoretically not supposed to know each other before both arrive in Midway, Sterling continues to drop all these remarks about how he knows stuff like Alex having an allergy to poinsettia sap and Alex continues to have to remind Sterling that they don’t know each other and fanwank crap. It’s very “Holiday Date” level of transparent there. Also, Alex is a rare Hallmark hero who is generally semi sulky (to be fair, for good reason) for virtually the entire show, or at least he gets sulkier as the plot goes on because Sterling is usurping him.

Anyway... again, this is fair to middling for me. Mostly stands out for cheerful inexplicable Southern heroine in Utah combined with sulky writer dude being eclipsed by his hot friend and the crankiness that ensues.


“Is there more Christmas trouble in Midway again?”
“Talented’s a bit of a stretch. He stands in front of a camera.” -Nick on Sterling.
“Is it strange to order pie for breakfast?” “Absolutely not!” -Nick and Dad
“Do you know Sterling?” “....Vaguely...” -Aria and Alex
“I know more about Craig” (a guy he just met) “than I know my neighbors.” -Alex
“I think he’s got the true makings of a Mistletoe Man.” -Dad (note: he says this at a point where nobody knows what he’s talking about)
“Thank you very much. I fele like a man now.” -Alex as he buys...something.
“You gotta earn the Ugly Christmas Sweater stamp.” -Aria
“This one speaks to me as a person.” -Alex on the cat sweater he wants to buy.
“Don’t forget your Bedazzler!” -someone or other
“I really want this victory.” “Are you always this excited to Bedazzle?”
“Pass the Bedazzler, I’m going to win this thing.” -Alex loves a good Bedazzle.
This is a “rare” movie in which someone did NOT love New York City at Christmas...though that’s because Aria broke up with a dude.
“Alex, can you believe it?” “Not a word.”
“Do you think I’d make a good spy?” “No.” -Sterling and Alex
“Who’s melting your snowflake?” -some random friend
“Wingman: not in my contract.” -Alex
Sterling “takes the liberty of ordering for you,” getting Aria peppermint tea. That appears to be the one Christmas thing Aria just can’t stand.
Sterling while doing a snowman scavenger hunt: “This reminds me of the running of the bulls in Pamplona.”
On Alex’s next column: “Should I read it?” “Have you EVER?” -Sterling and Alex
Sterling goes on about the German pickle tradition, which apparently isn’t a real thing.

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