Today’s installment comes to you from DVR, recorded back in July, and finally being viewed. Today is also a family affair, as my husband has graciously agreed to play the Hallmark Drinking Game during this movie. I’m going to go by the below, but I’m also adding my own. This is what he’s starting with – which is apparently about 10 shots worth of a ton of alcohol. Good thing we’re all in PJs for the night! Let’s get started with Coming Home for Christmas.
Snowy Washington DC leading into a small town, also snow covered. We see Danica McKellar Drink! who is trimming her tree with a branded (Balsam Hill) tree trimming crafting cart. Who has one of those? Her mom is a nurse, and is looking for Danica’s sister, who’s running late. Danica is clumping up all the ornaments on one side, just like my kids do.
Drink! Danica mentions her ex-boyfriend, and the fact that her year was crap – they broke up, and she lost her job. Danica’s name is Lizzie in this movie, and she is full of neuroses about the fact that her life is a mess, and that she was an art history major who worked in insurance – because everyone knows art history means nothing when you get out of school. Oh, btw, her dad is dead. Drink!
Look at the tree! Drink! Father Loved Christmas! Drink!
Danica’s sister is a realtor, who just scored a listing of some kind of ritzy estate called Ashford in Virginia owned by the Marley family. And they have a tree-trimming night tradition of a chocolate yule log dessert. Who doesn’t?
Drink! Lizzie just left a store with a shopping bag that clearly has nothing in it. Plus, her purse doesn’t either.
The Ashford estate is a federal-style building that has been in the Marley family for over 100 years – and Robert is the grandson is a grumpy young man with pursed lips who doesn’t like his family or the house.
Lizzie job hunts from her couch, and is again having her existential crisis, until her sister arrives with a job idea – but before she can find out what it is, Lizzie asks, “Does it come with dental” which is the first time EVER in any of these movies that someone mentions health insurance, so I feel like that should just be mentioned. The job is to be a house manager at the Marley estate, to prep it for the sale, and to manage the staff. It’s a historic house, and of course, there is a Marley Family Christmas Party at the estate! Drink! (FYI – he’s almost done with his glass and we have not hit the first commercial break yet).
There is fake snow, but props to the set designer, all the roads are plowed. Probably because this was filmed in the summer.
Lizzie shows up at the estate, and is expected by the creepy butler and does all the weird, nervous, annoying chatter that is just over-done. She also meets Pippa Marley who is one of those grande dames who doesn’t talk about money, and who looks down on everyone. She then has to meet with Robert, the grumpy guy from 2 scenes ago. There’s also more very, very awkward banter when they discuss the job, and it’s just weird and uncomfortable for everyone involved. But she has the job, and has to live at the estate, manage everything, plan the gala, and accede to all of Pippa Marley’s requests.
Lizzie is wondering about Robert – asks her sister Megan, and he’s got dead parents, too Drink! – FYI – first glass is finished. She’s also intrigued about him, because I guess that awkward banter worked on her a bit. She also finds the estate too cold, and needs “A little Christmas” in there pronto – Drink!
She is way overdressed for her first day. Jerard the butler shows her into Robert’s room, as he won’t stay at the house, and he’s not going to come to the gala, and there’s a Sassy Friend who’s the cook – Drink! This movie is sponsored by Folgers.
Pippa Marley ignores people if they work for her. It’s way rude. Lizzie is going to keep trying because she’s got gumption and moxie, and all that crap.
Robert is the executor of the estate and thus he and Lizzie have to share the office. Lizzie is doing the chattering thing again, and she’s super excited about the Christmas Gala, because it’s her favorite time of year, and she hates the lack of Christmas as represented in the house thus far. Drink!
We also find out that Pippa doesn’t want to sell the house, but Robert is the one pushing her to do so, and if this family isn’t disfunctional, I don’t know which family is. Arriving at the house is Mr. Kip Marley – who is a douche in a red sports car and was the guy in Engaging Father Christmas and Drink! – Hallmark cache of actors! But apparently Kip and Pippa get along famously.
Lizzie explains to Robert why Christmas is her favorite holiday – Drink! Robert is wistful at the thought of a family Christmas but then he gets annoyed at his own wistfulness and walks away. Lizzie next beards Pippa in her own den (or very large suite of rooms) to talk about the Christmas Gala. Pippa demands to know why Lizzie isn’t married, and Lizzie has to explain why she didn’t marry ex-boyfriend – because she didn’t love him, and she wants to find true love. Drink!
Options for the Gala – Winter Wonderland? Martinis and Mistletoe? Apres-Ski? Jingle Mingle? None of these sound any good, and Pippa is right to say no, except now that Lizzie brainstorms in front of her client, she comes up with Silver Bells – blue, silver, gold, and woodsy warmth. Pippa is ok with that. WHY DIDN’T LIZZIE COME UP WITH THAT BEFORE SHE MET WITH PIPPA? Ugh.
Drink! Lizzie gets an inclination of what she wants to do with her life – party planning – one of the few acceptable occupations for a heroine in one of these movies. The others are marketing / advertising (until they realize that they want the quiet life instead); bakers/chefs; and some kind of teacher. Lizzie is also getting hit on by Kip in the name of the Ashford Gala. We also get to hear that Kip doesn’t like his brother (duh).
Robert calls Lizzie while she’s wistfully gazing at the pond on the grounds. And she’s in love with the grounds, and asks Robert why he’s not there, especially now, because Christmas is the time when we get to let everything go, all that junk from the past, and just be. Drink! And Robert is again annoyed at his own wistfulness and also at the fact that he’s missing his own company’s Christmas party to work, and has to hang up on Lizzie right away.
Again, Lizzie is overdressed for her job – way too many sheath dresses – but then she and Kip are going out to dinner to taste the food for the gala…it’s weird. But before they can head out – Robert meets them in the hallway and the tension is amazing.
Husband just asked is it The Sad Times yet. No! We’re not even halfway through!
Kip and Lizzie have a nice banter that isn’t weird (that’s how we know it’s not an important relationship – because only the good, romantically charged relationships have weird banter) and when Lizzie comes back, she goes to her room, which was Robert’s room, and she wakes him up – and he’s in very staid pajamas. But he also finds out that Lizzie doesn’t think the evening with Kip was a date, and how Kip is kind of a douche and Robert likes the fact that Lizzie thinks that. He also likes that Lizzie has beer tastes, instead of caviar tastes. She thinks the perfect date should cost under $20, and Robert says, that’s a challenge to figure out, but you know, we had to create that exact project in high school (and I went to a Catholic High School) and it’s not really hard. Or rather, it wasn’t that hard in 1992. Maybe now, not so much. Oh snap, I just dated myself a ton for the readers of this blog. Back to the movie – Lizzie shuts the door as he leaves and smiles at the exchange and we Drink!
Lizzie is now stringing popcorn in the middle of the living room, which doesn’t go with the Silver Bells theme. Robert says Marley Family Christmases suck, and she says it’s never to late to start a new tradition and Drink! So she teaches him how to thread popcorn, which Kip interrupts, and now it’s majorly awkward between the two brothers until their sister Sloan arrives. Both younger siblings are pissed that Robert is selling the house, and we still haven’t gotten the reason why.
Lizzie is wondering where Pippa is going to go after the house is sold, and Robert overhears. It’s not the money, and it’s because Pippa has a heart arrhythmia and she can’t handle to stairs and she won’t move to the first floor (for stupid reasons) and everyone makes Robert the bad guy even if he’s really not.
Lizzie has used way too much garland in this house. But then she realizes that the house is missing something – smell! They have to go chop down a tree – and she also scheduled a family dinner in the dining room for all the extended family – with a Yule Log – and no one is happy about that, but they all go into the dining room – which is way too small for a house of this size. And Kip makes Lizzie stay for dinner – and her reminiscences get the family to talk about their memories. We find out that Sloan’s husband is unemployed and too proud to take her money, and Kip and Pippa ask what they can do, and oh my goodness, they’re acting like a typical family!
Kip is hungover and can’t go tree-chopping, so Robert volunteers, even if he wants to go in a suit. She tells him this is the “Fun part of Christmas!” Drink! Off they go to the fake snow in the woods to find the greatest tree ever – even while Robert wants to eat his picnic lunch. Typical male, just wanting food. And we get more emotional backstory about Robert – which is not interesting enough to recount. But we also get Robert to talk about his $20 date – looking at the pond at dusk, listening to a record of his mother’s favorite song while admiring the Christmas lights, and dancing and dinner. His mother’s favorite song? Silver Bells. But before Robert and Lizzie can get any closer because they are just so full of emotion, Kip arrives in the snow. Missed Kiss! Drink! (And end of glass #2). Kip manages to find the best Christmas tree ever and Robert is almost in the Sad Times over the fact that Kip showed up.
Next scene is Sloan crying because her husband is still out of work, and she just wants her family back together, and we see Robert eavesdropping in a chunky cardigan (Drink!) and Lizzie says “Christmas spirit is free” (Drink!) and now all gifts have to be homemade, which is what rich people do, apparently. And Robert’s chunky cardigan has elbow patches.
Robert and Lizzie are watching Sloan’s kids – they build the fakest looking snowman ever. And then they have a snowball fight. Drink! Pippa sees all the tomfoolery and almost smiles – the cracks in her face tend upward.
Now it’s time to make gingerbread houses. Drink! And Kip is being a douche – and puffing out his chest about Lizzie, and Robert is trying to tell Kip to shut up, and this whole conversation is weird and gross – Kip wants to take Lizzie to Athens for God’s sake, and there is a garland over the oven which is a clear fire hazard.
Pippa and Lizzie have a nice moment – and Pippa invites Lizzie to the Gala, and even says she’ll get her a gown. ARE W GOING TO HAVE A STAIRCASE MOMENT???! And Pippa also uses this time to tell Lizzie about her grandsons, and she’s amazed at the transformation of Robert while he’s around Lizzie – he’s awake to the world for the first time in forever.
Sloan’s proud husband shows up for dinner. And then Robert gets to wear a creepy Father Christmas outfit and walk around the outside patio, looking in the French doors at the excited children. For an outfit that has been in storage for years and years, the beard is pristine. At the dinner table, everyone has food and an empty glass. Why bother filling the plates if you’re not going to at least put water in the drinking glasses?
Christmas Eve! Lizzie and Robert have a nice moment outside in the garland strewn gazebo. And Robert has to say that his life is different because of Lizzie – and it totally gets interrupted by Lizzie’s sister Megan with the news that the estate is in escrow.
They are throwing a party at Ashford and it is clearly in a banquet hall based on the doors. No way an historic house has stainless steel doors.
Drink Twice! She’s on the staircase and looks exquisite and makes Robert’s jaw drop – but Kip steals her away to the dance floor until he gets interrupted. Lizzie’s sister and mom are at the gala, and Kip gets to meet them but again, their dance gets interrupted by Pippa, who knows that Robert is the one Lizzie should be with, and he gets to slide in there while they dance to Silver Bells (and husband has asked if he can drink since they are playing the theme song). So Drink!
Kip blocks another emotional outburst from Robert (Drink!) and says there’s an emergency on the veranda. Kip also has to give Lizzie his jacket, and gives her a plane ticket to Athens – he doesn’t even ask her, he just buys the ticket. Gross. He says there’s a light inside Lizzie that makes everyone else feel better, and Robert overhears her say she’d love nothing more than to go, and then leaves before she says “but I can’t.” SAD TIMES. Drink! And Kip, to his credit, takes this rejection pretty well and then leaves the party gracefully.
So Lizzie goes to find Robert (and gets a job offer for another party planning gig in the meantime) and Robert has to run off in Sad Times Galore – and Drink! because his suitcase has nothing in it. Pippa is nice to Lizzie and tells her to go home and be with her mother and sister on Christmas morning, and she’s super disappointed that Robert had to run off like a big baby man.
Christmas morning and Lizzie’s family are all in matching silk pajamas. Drink for The Sad Times for Lizzie as Robert is not answering her calls, and she’s just pissed off that she thought she could be in “his world.” Ugh, no one was thinking about class with all of this, Lizzie. But her mom knows what’s up and tells her to call him one more time. Moms know. They always know.
Robert is declining her calls while he’s in his office on Christmas morning – which is still staffed by a loyal assistant. Someone get that girl a raise. Pippa and Butler come to visit him in his office, and now she has to beat some sense into her grandson about how Lizzie didn’t choose Kip, she chose him, and he’s being a dumbass. Kip’s gone to Greece, and Pippa has brought Robert Lizzie’s Christmas present, which is full of Robert’s favorite things. Drink because now Robert has realized he’s a dumbass and has to run to find Lizzie.
Drink because Lizzie is in yet another sheath dress.
Drink because Lizzie is almost crying because Robert loves his house, and isn’t selling it, and wants Lizzie to be in the house with him, and maybe they have to have more Christmases in it together. They found each other at this lovely house and now they’re in love and they kiss and Double Drink because he dipped her in her mom’s kitchen.
Now everyone is invited to Ashford for Christmas Dinner, and Drink because Lizzie shares a knowing look with Sassy Friend. Robert and Lizzie reenact Robert’s idea of a $20 date, and we see the tackiest styrofoam silver bells hanging from the ceiling and we are done. Drink!
So. How many times did we drink? I called for a drink 38 times. Dang. Luckily, my husband has an amazing tolerance for alcohol, and isn’t drunk, but chances are, he’s going to fall asleep pretty soon. This movie wasn’t great, and apparently has been based on a book – but it wasn’t as bad as Christmas Land. So there’s that. Working through the DVR – gotta do more work before we can get gems like Netflix’s A Chrimast Prince 2. All of this – just so you don’t have to.