So in keeping with the theme of existing plots re-written for Valentine’s Day, today’s installment takes on Dickens’ classic, transports it to Seattle sometime in the last 10 or so years, and changes genders a bit, and voila – A Valentine Carol, starring Emma Caulfield from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and a girl who needs more to do in Hollywood. Come on, people, she’s awesome. This movie, however…but we’ll get to that.
Ally Sims is a radio host of a love advice show in Seattle. (Shout out to Alistair Sims, Ebenezer Scrooge from the 1951 film, for the name.) She’s a high powered, take charge girl who fights with her wedding planner, yells at her assistant and goes for a run all before having her morning coffee. She’s engaged to Matt something, a blandly handsome guy with floppy hair a la Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Her long-suffering Bob Cratchitt is Gillian, who just got cheated on by gross musician boyfriend Derek. Ally gets Gillian to break up with him on the radio, which isn’t what poor Gillian needs, but whatever, this movie isn’t about her. Tiny Tim is Tim the geeky office guy who is crushing on Gillian so much he writes her haikus. And the ghost? Why it’s Jackie Marley, Ally’s predecessor at the radio station. After a few haunty things, like a random call on the radio, and a ghosty “Ally, listen to your heart” Ally heads out to do a photo shoot for her wedding for Seattle Monthly but her fiance can’t make it – and she does it anyway.
Finally, at home, Ally is startled by Jackie Marley, all tarted up in a red dress with huge boobage, who says a) she can’t get into heaven without helping Ally not be like her and b) is all the ghosts of past, present and future rolled into one. Way to save on costume and actors, Hallmark Channel. Off we go to the Past!
VDay Past – Ally just got proposed to by Ben, a shaggy-haired chef in a tiny apartment they share. She says yes, but she also just lands her dream job at the Seattle Radio Station, so Ben knows it’s over. Poor Ben. Buck up, go get a haircut.
Next we see the day Jackie died of a heart attack at the radio station, and Ally meets Paul, a brain surgeon, who sweeps her off her feet in an elevator. (See my previous thoughts about love in an elevator.) When he proposes, she accepts, and then he immediately says he’s going to quit his job to join Doctors without Borders and they’ll live in a hut in Ethiopia. I don’t think it’s shallow to be upset at this news, although her reasoning behind it is depicted as shallow. But this is the type of life decision that you discuss with your significant other, you don’t make arrangements with consulates and not tell them! The best part about this whole interlude is that when she leaves, he totally cries. Like Ugly, I just watched A Walk to Remember Cries.
Last thing in the Past is her first date with Matt, where she likes the idea of him, (Handsome, rich, drives a nice car) but she doesn’t seem like she wants to get to know him. But this whole night spooks her enough to go to Matt’s place the next morning, where he’s half naked and getting ready for work. He has some kind of tattoo on his upper right shoulder. It’s either Godzilla, or the animal that’s on the Finlandia cheese logo. When she asks if they know each other enough, he says he likes Letterman, not Leno, which pretty much dates this movie (well, that, and the fact that it looks like she has a flip phone).
When she gets to work, Shaggy Haired Ben has arrived! He’s living in Seattle, he’s a famous chef/restauranteur, he’s divorced (because his ex listened to Ally’s show and was driven to dump him) and he wants Ally back. Huh?
Going to Valentine’s Present: She sees her assistant Gillian get back together with DoucheDerek (why is there a doucheman in every movie?), and also sees that Matt plays the piano in a bad jazz band. She also sees that Matt has his own Sassy Friend, to whom he confides that he loves music, but knows that Ally expects him to have a job, so he’s going to give it up when they get married. Through it all, his hair gets less and less poufy, and more than a little oily looking. It’s not a good look. (Oh, and Sassy Friend literally says “It won’t be the same without you tickling the ivories.” WHO SAYS THAT?!?!?!?!)
Now Dr. Paul (the crier) is back! He’s actually living in Paris, and is Director-General of the World Heath Organization. He wants Ally back, too! Ally is super confused, everyone. Just in case you didn’t know that.
Cut to the FUTURE! Matt and Ally are divorced, and he just got convicted of insider trading and having a super gross 70s porn-star mustache. He ends up being a janitor and an alcoholic and dies. Ally’s assistant Gillian is married to DoucheDerek, with kids, and works at a Wal-Mart. Nerdy Tim fell under the spell of the radio’s misogynist host Joe, who is literally the worst human being in this movie. And Ally dies of a heart attack mid sexual encounter with said Joe. And no one visits her grave.
Huzzah! It was all a dream, and it’s Valentine’s Day, and her wedding day. She rushes to the church, to say that she’s in LOVE with Matt, and it’s ok that Matt just wants to be a musician, but maybe they shouldn’t get married because they need to get to know each other? Who knows. The big thing to take away is that apparently, she never says Love – she usually calls it the “L-word” like she’s 10, but she said it this time! And Matt’s so overjoyed to be in love, he’s ok with postponing the wedding – until Jackie Marley shows up one more time to talk to Ally in front of all the wedding guests. JM asks if she loves him, and she says yes (keep in mind that she says all this out loud to a room full of wedding guests and no one else can see the ghost and no one really wonders if she’s crazy?) The wedding is back on, and she doesn’t even care that she marries him in jeans and a t-shirt that has her own name and radio show on it.
The movie does get a nice wrap up from Jackie Marley, not that it needed it, where we are assured that everyone lives happily ever after, no one gets divorced, or gets arrested for having a gross mustache, and she gets into heaven and the end.
While I am happy that this didn’t espouse the issues from #25, and Ally didn’t have to give up her career in order to find love, overall, this movie was far below the standards that Emma Caulfield should be adhering to. Seriously, someone else hire her already, she’s fun. I’m also looking for Hallmark movies to be better, which is probably an exercise in futility. We’ll give this one a pass, since it’s old. Don’t worry about trying to watch this one, I did it, just so you don’t have to.