#80 – Christmas Land

cl1Full disclosure, I think I’ve watched this one before. I just saw a note from Facebook’s TimeHop today, where I was annoyed at the main character, so I’m not making any promises. Christmas Land it is!

Opening scene is Maureen McCormick, playing a grandma. Marcia Brady is a grandma? She’s supervising her granddaughter, Jules, in arts and crafts and ornaments, and she’s wearing a Mrs. Claus outfit – and her name is Glinda Stanwick. And of course, the first things we find out are a) she loves Christmas, b) she started a Christmas village and c) there’s a village tree lighting ceremony! We’re just diving into Hallmark tropes, aren’t we? cl3

25 Years Later, New York City – which is clearly Canada after the two shots of Central Park and Times Square. Jules Cooper is now some kind of marketing person on the Nickerson’s Coffee account. Cynthia Gibb makes a cameo appearance as Ms. Nickerson, who offers Jules an open invitation to help her out in any way. Jules has done such an amazing job on this account she just got promoted to Executive VP of Brand Strategy. She’s also got a deadbeat boyfriend named Mitchell who doesn’t understand what Jules does despite being a) a lawyer who should understand about copyright and things of that nature and b) being her boyfriend for a period of time. Plus, he clearly looks down on her job. Mitchell, you’re a garbage human being and you’re only in the first scene – even if he offers her a trip to Aruba for Christmas, until he opens her mail to see that Jules has inherited her Grandma Glinda’s house and “Christmas Land.” She’s been ducking the mail, so she’s got to hurry, hurry, hurry, to figure out what’s in it for her.

Off we go to Christmas Land. First person she meets is Tucker Barnes, the estate attorney who looks like a lumberjack. Jules’ inheritance is massive, but Christmas Land seems really run down, even if Glinda’s brick Victorian house (even draped in red and green dust cloths) looks amazing. There is still a Christmas tree in this house that has been shut up for months. WHAT IS GOING ON?

Tucker really wants Jules to fix up the place and make it like it used to be, but Jules just wants to sell it. She just laughs in Tucker’s face, and that’s just rude. There’s also a bald caretaker named Uncle Frank who looks like the guy from Hot Fuzz yarp(below) who thinks Jules is the savior who will save Christmas, and is devastated that she’s going to sell and ruin Christmas for this entire potential Scooby Doo episode of a town.

More locals barge in to guilt Jules into opening up Christmas Land again. Seems like Tucker said some things, and then all these simpletons got their hopes up. Jules does that duck face thing which means she’s conflicted about her selling choice and gradually decides to fix up Christmas Land a bit to entice a future buyer. And to cement this decision, she’s accosted by a very precocious little girl with braids who asks her if she’s the Christmas Angel, and Jules says yes.

I just ate way too many Mint Milano cookies. Dang it.

cl5After the commercial, Jules is on the phone with Mitchell telling him her decision, and he’s just a douchebag about it. Also – she’s in Tucker’s office, that has a diploma framed on the credenza. The diploma reads “Harvord.” Way to use that spell-check, Set Designers! She lets slip that Christmas Land is a lot bigger than originally thought, which means that Mitchell gets those cartoon dollar signs for eyeballs, and says he’ll find her a buyer for the town.

Oh my goodness, the house she inherited has a Christmas tree in every freaking room. Tucker is a man of the earth – he likes the quiet life, without the bustle of the city – and apparently also went to law school with Mitchell. Jules thinks Tucker is cute and you can tell that in her voice, which means Mitchell has to be a huge dick about everything. Jules says Christmas Land is “a great place to raise a family” and Mitchell responds “Yeah, if you’re into that sort of thing.” Way to think long term, Mitchell. You better run, Jules! Run to the North Pole!

Jules goes to bed on top of a huge bright red knitted afghan, and under a tiny, tiny felt quilt. WHY? You can’t tell me that house isn’t drafty. And there are sheets on that bed. Plus, she sleeps on a needlepoint pillow, and doesn’t wake up with lines on her face. Sure, Christmas Land, way to show reality.

Next morning, Jules covets the pancakes that bald caretaker Frank makes her, but doesn’t eat them because Tucker arrives and she’s still in her pajamas. And just for giggles, she puts on her grandma’s Mrs. Claus coat tells Tucker to help her out with the rest of the locals – keep their spirits up to make a potential buyer really like the investment, even though said potential buyer could just decide to close the whole thing once Christmas is over. Tucker is blandly handsome in his agreement to help her. She looks ridiculous in her grandmother’s coat.

Tucker is also way too excited about Christmas Land, and has re-opened the kid/ornament craft table, which means we get to see her play with glitter. cl6And we also see one of the busybodies from an earlier scene do the major hints to Tucker about how Jules is lovely, and oh isn’t she good with kids, nudge nudge, wink wink. When Younger Son does that, he winks SO BIG. It’s adorable. This busybody lady is not so adorable. And she has a weirdly specific Southern accent despite the fact that they are not anywhere near the South.

Off Jules and Tucker go to the hardware store, which is again absurdly decorated for the holidays. Hardware guy donates all the paint to his Christmas Angel. The supplies they walk out with don’t look anywhere near enough to get this ramshackle town up and cute again. Montage of everyone working, and we get way too many shots of a very creepy portrait of Maureen McCormick in a white Russian fur hat. cl4

The trees in the tree lot already have lights on them. That makes a lot of sense to me. But then we have a pre-lit tree that comes out of a box. Oh, and my complaint from a blog or two ago about no breath in the cold, can’t they fix it in post has been heard because they added a bunch of breath in post and it looks way too fake.

We establish that Tucker had his heart broken by an ex-girlfriend who didn’t like the snow. They have some flirty banter about how she’s going to fix a carriage, and when she falls into his arms and they do that laughing dip thing, they are immediately interrupted by Douche Mitchell, who sucks and who insults her grandmother’s Mrs. Claus jacket. Tucker and Mitchell need to do some male presenting in front of Jules who is not really into it at all, and Mitchell can’t figure that out and keeps insulting Tucker.

Mitchell found a buyer for Christmas Land, and just wants to get the hell out of the country with all its picturesque fake snow. There’s a business meeting in Chicago that he’s pressuring her to go to, but she says she has to stay for the grand re-opening, so whatever. We also find out that Mitchell hates Tucker because Tucker graduated #1 in his Harvord class, not Mitchell. There’s also a very weird cookie decorating contest at the bakery.

Tucker is really emotionally invested in both the welfare of the town and the fact that Jules has a boyfriend. It’s a bit too early in the movie for this, or is it? Jules is off to Chicago for the meeting. And they actually go to Chicago, as they are in front of Bistro 222 which is in the windy city, but which Yelp has just told me is closed for good. Ah well, this movie was made in 2015, and a lot can happen in 3 years. But while she’s in the city, Jules expresses discontentment in the bustle of the metropolis.

Business meeting with Mr. Mason Richards, who is offering $1.7 Million provided that she sign his contract, and Mitchell butts into her heartfelt speech about protecting her grandmother’s legacy by saying that a cool $1.7 Million can buy a great condo on the Upper West Side. So Jules does something that is the absolute Dumbest.Thing.A.Hallmark.Heroine.Has.Ever.Done.In.The.History.of.Hallmark.Movies. SHE SIGNS THE CONTRACT WITHOUT READING IT.  This is what came up in my TimeHop, and this is why I hate this movie. Because obviously the contract has a ton of strings in it and she doesn’t know any of them. And she’s now an Executive Vice President? Please. Even as a manager I’ve had to read contracts before signing them.  Planning my wedding, I had to read contracts before signing them.

cl7Back at the tree lot, they’re decorating the trees a lot, and Tucker and Jules look picturesque in the moonlight, despite the coat.

Next day, a business associate of Mr. Richards arrives, to tell her that Mason Richards completely double-crossed her and is going to develop the land and Jules runs back to Chicago to confront Mitchell about how he knew about the deal and he won’t get her out of the deal, but she does realize that she doesn’t love Mitchell – so bye bye bye Mitchell. Please hit him on the way out, Jules. Pretty Please? Dang it, she doesn’t.

cl8So now she runs to Mason Richards’ office, and he says if she returns his check of $1.7M, along with another $1.3M by midnight, Christmas Eve, he’ll rip up the contract and give up his claim to the land. And next scene Tucker is super disappointed in Jules, and his absurdly decorated office is no longer a place for Jules. This guy has 4 freaking wreaths in one room. SET DESIGNER! What is going on with you in this one? Are you ok?

How is Jules going to raise $1.3M in however many days it is until Christmas? She’s deep in the Sad Times even as she walks through the fake snow. The music tells us she’s sad, and she is now forced to come clean to the residents of Christmas Land and she does so tearfully while the townspeople grumble quietly en masse.

Jules next calls in the favor from Cynthia Gibbs’, which results in $850,000 in advance for the exclusive rights to sell Nickerson’s coffee at Christmas Land. Cynthia Gibbs also has made a conquest of the photographer that Jules set her up with at the beginning of the movie. But Jules still needs $450,000 more! Oh goodness!

Tucker is still upset about everything, and all the busybodies are telling him to go help Jules out in the barn, where she’s fixing up the carriage in a very nice cashmere coat. She apologizes for screwing up Christmas Land, and he looks off into the middle distance as she leaves the barn.

For some reason, in this movie and in this town, the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is on Christmas Eve. In a town called Christmas Land, why wouldn’t you light that tree on like, the day after Thanksgiving? Even the Rockefeller Tree is lit earlier than this. Tucker talks to bald caretaker Frank, who has a stack of $100 bills in a coffee can, and says everyone has a stash for a rainy day. Is this going to be a George Bailey moment? I think so!

Christmas Eve arrives, and Mason Richards shows up, with his stupid backward goatee (side of the chin, but not the chin – what kind of look is that?) Jules, please shut the door in his stupid fat face. Which she does, but not nearly as forcefully as she should have done. But before Mason Richards can leave, Tucker comes up to talk to him. Is he going to swoop in and save the day? I’d rather it be like they saved each other, but if it will end this movie faster, let’s get on with it.

George Bailey Moment! Apparently, the town has crazy rich people because 5 people raised $450K in half a day. She accepts the money as a loan, to be paid back with profits from Christmas Land in the future, and after a comical “let’s think about it” the 5 people say ok, and Mason Richards tears up the contract and huzzah, the day is saved!  cl9

But the movie isn’t over, because Jules has to ride in that carriage to the tree lighting in her stupid red coat. She and Tucker drive down the snow covered road to light the tree – it.is.the.most.dramatic.tree.lighting.ever. Yet again, I question the movie trope of everyone outside in the middle of Christmas Eve, instead of being at home with family, or going to Church, or even last-minute tree decorating, which was a thing at our house growing up. But we have enough time for Jules to say she’s not going back to NYC and get a kiss from Tucker behind the Christmas Tree and we’re done.  cl2

Ugh, this movie. I didn’t like this movie at all. Mitchell sucked, Jules was NOT acting like a smart person by not reading the damn contract, or even freaking Googling the man who wants to buy Christmas Land. And we don’t understand who paid for all the renovation costs at Christmas Land, or how Tucker can be a lawyer who does a lot of pro bono work but still manage to survive in a sleepy town like this with so many plaid shirts. So many questions. Not enough answers. The one thing this movie did well was to cast Jules, who looks uncannily like Maureen McCormick. That’s about it. Done and Done.

Going through the DVR – have a lot more to watch. I’ll get through them just so you don’t have to!


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