Groundhog Day the movie, but on Valentine’s Day. Or, as my friend Kelly calls it, a horror story – that is the plot of Once Upon a Winter’s Date – and I would argue that the picture to the left looks remarkably like springtime, so that belies the title just a wee bit. But wait, there are so many more things to get into during this movie. And unfortunately, this is the only picture I could find on the internets, so you won’t get to see how blandly handsome the main guy is, or how precise the heroine’s haircut is. Trust me, both are true.
For starters, it looks like it’s supposed to be New York via Canada, but they never actually say where it is set. If it is New York, she’s got an amazing apartment for that city. She wakes up on Valentine’s Day with a text message from Bradley confirming their date for that evening. Who’s Bradley? We’ll find out. Her name is Catherine McKenzie, and she has a dog named Zacky. Throughout this first Valentine’s Day, she encounters a doorman who spouts poetry, a nice guy at the doggy-day-care, a super-duper creepy yoga instructor, and a barista with a nice smile. And this is all before she hits the office! She must get up at the crack of freaking dawn, because I don’t do any of that stuff and I’m lucky I get my kids to school on time.
At her office, where she’s in marketing? advertising? honestly, it’s unclear, she has a very neurotic assistant, and the possibility of a Vice President spot if she lands the next big account for French Cat Food. That is a thing, apparently. Catherine, or, as she goes by, Cat – do these people exist? Who knows a Cat? Hands up! – also has a dad who’s getting married, after he’s only known the woman for 3 months, and Cat is not dealing with that well. And when I say not dealing, she’s basically ignoring.
She has a big lunch with her girlfriends on the day of her big pitch for the French Cat Food. I honestly don’t like her work ethic thus far – she should be prepping, not eating a salad. But we do find out that she’s demanding about guys – she has a list that needs to be checked off before she dates anyone, and that Bradley is someone whom she met online. And she thinks that they have a divine connection, and that he could be her soul mate. Ok. Whatevs.
On her way back to the office, she bumps into blandly handsome floral delivery guy Danny, and she’s rude. But then the French people in the meeting are rude to her as well (texting during her speech! quelle horreur!) and she doesn’t get to land the account. But her boss isn’t mad at her about it, because well, they were French. And off she goes to her date with Bradley.
Bradley has a British accent. He’s got his life figured out – he wants it all, and blah blah blah sounds as dull as wallpaper paste. She’s all for it, though, until she brings up Zacky, and dude, he hates dogs. Like, sneezes at a picture of a dog because he hates them so much. And then he bails on the date and leaves her with the check because he sucks.
So Cat decides that she’s going to give up on love, but lo and behold, she meets Marta, her very own fairy god-mother, who tells her that she should venture beyond her own judgments and expectations, and look for what she needs, not what she wants. And with that, our V-Day Groundhog Day begins.
At first she doesn’t get it, but then she meets up with Marta again, and says that her soul mate is someone she’s already spoken to on the first V-Day, so she breaks out her notebook and attacks everything on her to-do list – land the French account, find her soul mate, etc.
Her French Cat Food pitch is that boy cats and girl cats need different food. She says the names of the two types many, many times in this movie, and I still didn’t write it down because it sounds dumb.
Off we go onto the dates with the guys she interacts with. Poetry Doorman? Pretentious. Doggie-Daycare-Guy? Has a girlfriend. Creepy Yoga Guy? Besides being creepy, he orders for her at the restaurant. Barista Guy? BS’s her about being sensitive, but that’s just a line, so she says peace out to that guy. Oh, and on one of her re-run dates with DoucheBrit Bradley, she ghosts him and leaves him with the check. Gold medal in the petty revenge category!
So now, the only guy left is the Floral Delivery Guy. They’ve had some rude (on her part) interactions throughout all of this, but this is the first time we actually meet him. His name, as I said, is Danny, and he used to be an investment banker, but now he runs his dead mom’s flower shop, because he likes connections. Delivering flowers reconnects you to humanity. Did you know that? Oh, and at this point, she’s sprained her ankle and he’s taking care of her, but then she walks out in 3 inch heels. So there’s that reality.
Floral Danny has a cart within his van that he uses to deliver flowers all around office buildings. This must be the most trusting city ever, because in every building I’ve ever worked in, deliveries are left at the front door and no person is allowed past the desk. But, she’s intrigued by him enough, and still going through the deja-vu of this plot to follow him around, and she ends up at the same restaurant where her dad’s engagement party will be that night, and OMG, her dad is Lord Merton from Downton Abbey, all cured from his anemia. (See that show’s last season).
Cat tries to hit it off with Danny, but he calls her out on a) being too focused on her job to be nice to the random man who delivers flowers in her building and b) thinking that he won’t be enough for such a high-powered lady boss. And I find this so insulting to all womenkind, it’s not even funny. Balls Up, Danny, and be enough, and if she likes her job, shut the hell up about her being focused on it.
But Cat listens to this, and after another interaction with Fairy Godmother Marta, she decides to be less strategic about this painful episode, and have more fun.
Her idea of fun is a shopping montage, as well as eating all the food she wants. She also adopts a lot of dogs one day, but sadly, they don’t stay past midnight, but they did have a good time watching the American Dog Network channel – apparently that’s just full of YouTube Dog videos. No plots, just dogs on scooters. That would drive me insane.
Her love of advertising / marketing is gradually fading with each successive day of peddling gender specific cat food. She questions is this is all there is to life, and just like that, she heads to the airport to watch people come off planes and greet their loved ones, because Floral Danny said that that was almost as good as delivering flowers. And in this post 9-11 world, she just has to settle for standing in the parking lot and watch people come out of what is clearly a building pretending to be an airline terminal.
Side note – she gets a call while at the airport, and she immediately finds the phone in her massive shoulder bag. I call shenanigans. That.does.not.happen.
We’re rounding the home stretch in this movie! She finally sits down with her dad and finds out about his love life. She says she has this list of things she wants in a man, and dad says, forget about what you want, think about what you need. Where have I heard that before?
Well, for starters, she needs to realize that her cat food pitch is dumb, and Hallelujah, she does! The Frenchies storm out and she makes a speech about how she wants more, but gets fired before she can quit. But Danny sees it all, because remember, he’s allowed to deliver among the cubicles. He helps her out on this momentous day by taking her with him to deliver flowers. She finds fulfillment, and he gives her romantic side-eye while pretend driving in the big van.
She doesn’t want the day to end, so she takes him to her dad’s engagement party, where it is revealed that she’s never met the fiance before. For reals, this woman sucks. Danny hires her to do marketing for his expanding floral business, but she counter-argues, asking to also be allowed to deliver flowers. She tries to keep the date going, but he says, “I’ll call you tomorrow,” and she goes to bed, where…….HE CALLED HER BECAUSE IT FINALLY IS TOMORROW!
It’s no longer Valentine’s Day, and they walk their dogs together in a park that is not Central Park, and it’s the end. Oh, thank god. I don’t think I could have handled this if it went on for much more. I have issues with stories about women who feel that they need to reevaluate priorities in order to have love in their lives. When it’s a male main character, he never has to do this kind of crap. Hallmark is playing into these gender stereotypes even while they market to their female audience. Does anyone else but me notice this?
Will this make me stop watching these movies? Um. Well…no. Because I’ve gotta watch, just so you don’t have to.