Hallmark Movie Reviews: 12 Days Of Crafts Edition
2015-12-29, 8:08 p.m.
As a crafter, I am pleased to see that making things has become part of some Hallmark holiday plotlines! I saw three of them this season, though the third kinda overlaps in subject matter so I'll probably post it later. I could probably also bill this as the 12 Somethings of Christmas set, since they both have that theme in the title. So here's the Hallmark Movie Reviews: 12 Days of Crafts Edition!
The movie starts out with college radio station employees Maggie and Mitch driving home for Christmas. This was kinda reminding me of When Harry Met Sally because Maggie wants to be a journalist for the New York Times. (Good luck with that, as you’ll soon see.) Mitch’s career goals are “DJ or work in a gas station, I guess.” Anyway, they get caught in a storm and aren’t likely to make it home in time, so Mitch decides to give Maggie the Best Christmas Ever RIGHT NOW by getting off the interchange and celebrating the 12 days of Christmas all at once by doing 12 things like snow angels and tobogganing and making a snowman and taking selfies with it. They have a blast and yet somehow make it home in time so that Mitch can go to his huge holiday shindig that his mom puts on every year. Maggie is all psyched to see Mitch when they return from winter break, except...Mitch never returns from winter break. Gee, I wonder what happened?
Fast forward to ten years later. OKAY, WE GOTTA STOP FOR A SECOND TO TALK ABOUT THIS because we got a problem here with this timeline. Okay, when did selfies become a major thing? Much to my complete shame as a human being, I just looked this up on Wikipedia and selfies became super popular around 2012, though people were attempting them more in the second half of the 2000’s and the front facing camera became a thing in 2010. From what I recall of this movie (which is on again as I’m watching this), it looks like they were using a front facing camera to do that snowman pic. So... basically, I don’t think it is possible for this movie to be taking place in 2015, it clearly must have leapt into the future.
Which is sort of an issue for me when one of the plot points is that Maggie’s newspaper (she’s working for her tiny hometown paper) has just gotten sold to a bigger company, they’re worried about losing their jobs, social media is an issue....basically, the same stuff that’s going on in 2015. If this movie really took place ten years later from where it seems to start, Maggie’d probably be out of a job and blogging* and working at the gas station because small town papers will no longer exist by then or something. Anyway, what I’m really saying here is: why didn’t they say there’s ben a smaller time gap? Like I dunno, two or three years or five?
* heck, even a Good Witch movie had a plot about a blogger rather than a reporter and that was in 2012.
So back to the plot: Maggie finds out that Mitch is a new DJ at the local radio station--he’s fallen on hard times himself since his station in LA got sold. He’s also gotten super cranky on Christmas and refuses to play Christmas music on his show, which makes Maggie wonder what happened? (I bet you’ve already guessed what happened in like ONE SECOND--Mitch’s mom died that night and now he’s no longer in the mood. I hear ya, Mitch. The movie takes quite a while to actually confirm it, though. Even worse, apparently his mom was sick for a long time and hid it from him, so this was a total fucking shock. Jeebus.) Anyway, they re-meet and she asked him what happened and he’s all, “Dunno, things change.” Then some yoga instructor named Brianna comes over to flirt with him and Maggie is un-thrilled.
Maggie gets the bright idea to repay Mitch for their Christmas college adventure by being his Secret Santa and giving him twelve days of gifts. She reasonably assumes he’ll figure out it’s her since she’s the only person in town he knows, but what the heck, right? So she goes to the Crafty store and does a MEGA SHIT TON OF PAPERCRAFTING. This movie is DOWN with the papercraft, and even though I’m not much of a papercrafter myself, I’m impressed with the cards this girl is turning out. Yay for crafting in a plot!
Coincidentally at this time, the new VP of marketing tells Maggie that she should “create” a human interest story for the public’s imagination this Christmas so they can pimp it on social media. Maggie is all, “create? like make one up?” and he’s all no, just go find one.
Mitch gets his first present sent to him at the station, and his program director boss Rita is totally excited by it. Mitch is not and throws it into the trash, but Rita fishes out (like she saw on Law and Order, once you do that it’s not your property any more, it’s property of the station) the package, is impressed by the lady’s cardmaking skills, and pimps “who’s Mitch’s Secret Santa” on their webpage.
The fancy cards also come with instructions such as “build a snowman” or “ride in a sleigh” or “selfie with Santa Claus.” Rita gives Mitch crap about how he needs to connect with his new audience--right now, not after New Year’s--and calls the newspaper to pimp it. “Call me crazy, but I would actually like people to listen to your show.” So Maggie gets assigned to work on this story, which is unbeknownst to her new company, editor, etc. a total whopping ethical problem about journalistic integrity. But hey, what could go wrong? Mitch goes along with it more or less because he could use the publicity and “who am I to stand in the way of a good story?”
Pretty much the flaw in this plot--one everyone will notice even beyond the advent of selfies and the dead mom--is that Mitch somehow takes ten days to figure out whodunit, even though some of the Secret Santa’s instructions are specificially reminders of what he and Maggie did together, and even though he knows one person in town. Mitch reasonably deduces it must be the aggressively self-promoting Brianna (who is pimping that yoga studio at every opportunity she’s around the media and hinting on the station website that it’s her), and also deduces that it’s NOT the random woman who called into the station claiming it was her--if that’s the case, why don’t you tell me what’s in today’s package, he asks, and the girl bails. Anyway, he dates Brianna a bit and asks her out for a carriage ride, which radio fans show up to with signs. Maggie gets her revenge by making sure the caption of a photo of Brianna and Mitch is labeled “unidentified female.”
Oh yeah, there’s also Chekhov’s Bike, some red bike that Mitch wished he could get as a kid and didn’t. That comes up.
Maggie tags along to a good chunk of Mitch’s Santa instructions, of course, and there’s a moment in the Santa line when a kid gives him crap for being there without a kid. “I don’t need a kid because I’m immature all by myself.”
Wrightsbridge--the newspaper company--throws a big party, which Maggie asks Mitch to but he’s already going with Brianna. When she’s finally pinned down and asked if she’s Secret Santa, she has to admit she’s not, but does it matter? “I would have sent you mistletoe, not buttons.” At which point out of nowhere Maggie is all, “Mistletoe is technically a parasitic plant... I just said that out loud, didn’t I?”
Maggie asks what would happen if the gifts stop coming and Mitch is all, that’d be too bad, it’s making Christmas fun, he wants to know why. He’s all, “she’d be a lot like you, wouldn’t she?” DUH. He even calls Maggie while on air opening the gifts, calling her his “Christmas coach,” to ask her what the clues mean. So he has to volunteer at a soup kitchen (check off that Christmas cliche on your bingo card), which of course reminds him of his mom, make snow angels, go caroling, blah blah. They have to fast foward a bit at this point becauwe we’re over an hour and a half into the movie and it’s only day five of 12.
Maggie gets a job offer with the “Telegraph Standard” in Chicago for January 1 for her work on this story. Gee, I wonder if they’ll still want you for this job after that. Even though it’s 2 hours away, Mitch is all, I want you to have your dream. But on day 10 Maggie makes a card with a shit ton of glitter and hugs Mitch and ...yeah, that pretty much has him figure it out. He tells Rita about it and wonder if this was all just publicity to get herself another job, and basically tells Maggie off and stomps out mad. Maggie’s sister tells her to keep sending gifts because hey, it couldn’t get any worse! So Maggie delivers day 11’s gift--and a newspaper--to the station personally, only to find out that Mitch has taken a personal day. She hands it off to Rita.
Maggie’s article, “Confessions of a Secret Admirer” in which she explains the whole story, breaks every journalistic rule in the book. But hey, subscriptions are up and so is Twitter! AND OH MY GOD ADVERTISING IS ACTUALLY GOING UP, which is a goddamned Christmas fucking miracle in this business, y’all. Maggie resigns the Telegraph Standard job before even starting it, but despite her violations of journalistic integrity, her editor is basically all, hey, that got us hits, so you still have a job. Mitch throws the gifts in the trash again, then fishes them out, and reads Maggie’s apology from the “not so secret Santa.” So for day 12, Mitch hits the Crafty store and gets her a present--a star ornament--and she got him that bike because she believes in Christmas miracles. All I want for Christmas is you!
So overall, despite like three big ol’ plot problems, this is a pretty fun movie, with great papercrafting and some snark, so I was good with it.
Anna is an artist who can’t make a living at it and is living in her sister’s basement, trying to hit up gallery owners and being told she’s too small potatoes. However, she has a knack for figuring out gifts for people--she suggests to a random dude at the bakery that he buy an off-menu sampler platter for his assistant’s birthday when he doesn’t know what she’d like--and thus gets an idea to set up a christmas gift buying business. The bakery dude--Mark the advertising executive--decides to hire her since he’s too occupied with his picky client Nina who suddenly likes nothing his agency comes up with and keeps demanding that they do something more personal.
Mark helpfully makes Anna a list, telling her to start with his friend Grant from college since they have some kind of giant gift giving competition going on. Get him a smart watch. Last year Mark got a massage chair. Did you need a massage chair, Anna asks? Not really.... Anyway, Anna tries out one (ow, she says), can’t find any smart watches on sale, and decides to give Grant a restaurant gift certificate and courtside tickets instead. Mark is unimpressed at her not doing what he said, so he gives her a Christmas firing. Already! Except then it turns out Grant loved the gift, so Mark rehires Anna and brings her to the office party so she can figure out what office gifts everyone should get. Her answer: give them all a week off during the holidays. Sure, we can totally do that!
Somehow Anna is now flush with cash enough to pay her rent and get an apartment of her own in the future, and the landlord is all “I don’t care where your money comes from as long as you pay on time.” Uh-HUH, that’s totally how it works. Anyway, she’s giving up on her painting dream, it’s time to grow up. Mark says that kind of thing is how he got into copywriting for an ad agency rather than writing novels. Mark actually is inspired by Anna to actually bother to call his family* and hang out with them and bring Anna around, and even let her bring her sister’s kids along when Anna’s supposed to be babysitting.**
* Note: Mark has a mother who is also suspiciously REALLY young looking, like possibly she’s close to his age. I don’t know how old that actress is IRL, but I haven’t been that thrown since Melanie Griffith was Danno’s mother on Hawaii 5-0.
Anyway, I forgot to mention that while normally Anna paints landscapes or something, she also does Santa paintings for her own amusement, the sister shows Mark one of them and Mark decides that would work great for Nina’s ad campaign. Except Anna gets all hurt that Mark is using her for business, but really it’s just a new job possibility. So they make up.
This one’s okay, I guess. It throws me to see Nyssa from Arrow (a badass lesbian assassin) playing a sweet little painter/gift shopper, but what the heck, girl’s gotta eat. The couple do spend time together in a reasonable manner, it’d be nice to see the girl get paid for some art, etc.