A lazy Sunday afternoon requires me to go back to the oldest movie on my DVR, recorded all the way back on 4 November. This one stars the girl from The Flash and from Sky High, and some guy that I’m sure I’ve seen before. It’s Christmas Joy!
And I already denounce the title, because it’s set in Washington, DC and there is no Joy in that town right now. It’s based on a book.
Another day of a mini-flurry, and Joy works as a market researcher, and she fills in for her missing boss at focus groups. Her main client is Weatherton’s, a major department store with lovely Christmas windows, and it is in no way a poor man’s Macy’s. Joy has a Sassy Friend named Renee who is very encouraging – Joy will get that promotion at the Christmas Gala! But then her boss is very angry about Joy giving her opinion instead of actual data so I’m guessing her promotion is in jeopardy even at this early stage of the movie. Uh oh!
Cut to Crystal Falls, a small town, with Ben, a handsome doctor. But not enough of him because we’re back to Joy and product placement of some fabulous Hallmark 3D card. Joy has an Aunt Ruby who I’m assuming lives in Crystal Falls, and is somewhat of a hoarder of Christmas decorations, and she climbs a ladder in slipper socks. You know where this is going, right?
Ben is the Hospital Administrator, and he’s got a pregnant assistant who is working way too close to her due date. There’s some kind of gingerbread competition that he’s obsessed with other than his small town hospital. I don’t think that makes a good hospital administrator.
Joy’s Aunt broke her ankle, and so off Joy goes to Crystal Falls, NC, the closest thing she has to a home – but it takes her forever to get there because it’s snowing in North Carolina and no one below Maryland knows how to drive in snow. Her first stop is the hospital, where Ben is hanging way too many Christmas lights in the waiting room. Joy and Ben knew each other way back when.
This movie is brought to you by Southern Living.
In 7 days, there is something called a Cookie Crawl – where people buy cookies and look at decorations. Aunt Ruby is way too invested in it – she’s won a lot, apparently, and she can’t bake with a broken ankle, regardless of the boot. Joy is way too tired to drive, so backs into Ben’s truck – her mini-Cooper is missing a taillight, but his truck is fine, so yay!
Joy heads to her Aunt’s farm which is 100 million times bigger than my house. There’s a cake decorated like a present on the table. I guess she’s not worried about mice. Out of everything Joy has brought with her on this sojourn to NC, the only thing she hangs up is an overly fancy dress she was eyeing at the Weatherton’s department store. Really? WHY BRING THAT?
Oh Ben backstory – his heart was broken by a big city girl. He’s distrustful of Joy, the girl from DC. But he also has some kind of co-dependent relationship with his mom – who guilts him about the fact that he’s judged the gingerbread competition for 4 years, which means he couldn’t be her teammate. So he’s GOT to find another judge for it this year, so he can team up with her. All that angst, plus Ben has to run the Cookie Crawl too! OMG, I wish this was my life. I wish that this was all that I had to deal with. (Oh, wait, Royal Icing. My nemesis. Curse you, Royal Icing!) Anyway. this is way too much for not even 20 minutes into the movie.
This just in, Ray Liotta on the Chantix commercials has not aged well.
Joy remembers how to feed the goats at her aunt’s farm, and it’s still snowing in this little town, where she wears her old high school sweatshirt that is still miraculously too big for her. Yeah, we hate her. She meets up with Ben at the coffee shop because she’s someone who doesn’t know how to make coffee, and also because this movie was not sponsored by Folgers.
Aunt Ruby has to go to a rehab facility 2 hours away, and won’t be back until the day of the Cookie Crawl. So Joy volunteers to do it all, and Ben breaks it down for her – they have to come with a theme, make dough, decorate, etc. Seriously, it’s in a week and none of these plans have been done? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS TOWN? It’s such a big deal but they wait until the last minute? Joy is very much I can do it, I don’t need help and Ben is all like, yeah, whatever, city girl.
The Cookie Crawl to do list has 4 things on it and is super fancy, but then it gets even worse – there are maps on graph paper! And boxes and boxes of decor. And Ben is being a dick about Joy doing all of the stuff by herself so we don’t like Ben right now. She offered to pay him for his help, and he says “in a small town, we help each other because it’s the right thing to do, not because we get paid.” Sanctimonious weirdo.
More snow – and Joy has a blackboard to organize her thoughts. But she’s also trying to work from home, and even though she’s got vacation time, she’s still working. She’s working so hard she fell asleep in an uncomfortable chair. Back at the cafe for more coffee, she meets up with Ben again – where we hear that he’s divorced, and his ex-wife was very materialistic. Ben’s assistant had her baby, so she can’t judge the gingerbread contest, so Ben asks Joy to judge the gingerbread contest, and he’ll help her with the Cookie Crawl. We all saw that coming, right? It’s not just me, right? The gingerbread contest is the same day as her job’s Christmas Gala. Oh, what to do?
I highly doubt it snows this much in North Carolina. Joy skypes with Sassy Friend, who tells her something is up with the Weatherton account. I wonder what it could be? Sassy Friend is suitably impressed by Ben’s LL Bean model handsomeness and gives Joy the wink wink, nudge nudge. Ben then becomes more passive aggressive about the proper order of baking cookies.
Ben is a traditionalist, and while he’s mansplaining about his worldview, he breaks the one ornament that Joy’s mother gave her that she still has, and Joy has to stifle all that rage and emotion because it’s a Hallmark movie and our heroines never show this much anger, regardless how contrite Ben is about the ornament.
Next up – Joy has to meet with a guy named Phil who sponsors the gingerbread contest. There are binders of rules, guys. She’s got 3 days to learn all the rules. Ben has to buy Joy dinner because of all her homework. And while they reminisce about their shared history, they come to the point in the movie where I just give up on them completely. Their shared date from the past was to a movie, and it was Love Actually which both of them loved and now Joy and Ben are officially dead to me. Love Actually is a noxious piece of crap on film, where the women are treated as prizes, and none of the men are good except for Bill Nighy. Plus, Alan Rickman cheats on Emma Thompson. Anyway.
When they leave the Crystal Falls Lodge, Ben meets his parents. Ben’s mom is super weird about the fact that Ben had a date with someone, but then immediately flips and says that he and Joy are a good couple. Even husband, who just walked in for this scene, is completely at a loss about whether or not Ben’s mom likes Joy or not. I call shenanigans on screenwriter AND director for this lack of clear direction.
Joy’s boss is acting really awfully – she has no respect for small town traditions – she thinks that Joy is just making cookies, and we all know that takes no time at all.
Ben has a little workshop where he brings most of the glass pieces of the ornament he broke, which are completely the wrong type of glass from the previous scene. And in the middle of all this stuff that Joy has to do, she still manages to drive 2 hours south to get advice from Aunt Ruby about the Cookie Crawl – and Aunt Ruby is suitably upset that Joy has no theme and hardly any dough finished. But Joy also gets a pep talk from Ben’s mom about finding what parts of life are important – as those are the ones worth focusing on.
The damn Cookie Crawl is 3 days away, and Joy wastes a whole day walking around something called the WildFire Inn, that houses an ice skating rink, because they need to be inspired, which they will do by being bad at ice skating. How will this help?????????? Oh, it helps because now Ben and Joy get to talk about she’s not dating anyone. And then they take a walk in the woods to listen to the trees because the trees are Ents* and they talk but really slowly. Joy is walking through the snow in suede booties. We know this wasn’t filmed in the winter, but I still worry about those shoes. They find a fallen birds’ nest and their theme – Mother Nature – they are all connected through Mother Nature. That is pure dumbness.
Meanwhile, Back at the farm, they are decorating a lot of Balsam Hill trees inside = they love looking at the trees – it’s so beautiful, you know. Joy challenges the decorating scheme of cookie tables for better flow and Ben hates the idea of any type of change, but he’s won over by the light dancing in Joy’s eyes. But before they kiss – something stops Ben and he hightails it out of there. He’s still scared of being hurt by a city girl, I guess. Coward. He does mentally kick himself as he stands outside her door for an extra 30 seconds, but still. Coward.
Uh oh, Joy stress eats some of her cookie dough, and woudln’t you know it – the fridge she had in the barn had a trick door and stayed open all night. So the dough is ruined, but the fridge was in the open barn, and it’s still snowing out there, so WHY WOULD ALL THE DOUGH BE RUINED? Sassy Friend tells Joy that Joy’s boss is again on the warpath – she thinks Joy is completely slacking, even though this girl is supposed to be on vacation, and gosh darn it, Joy’s boss, why are you such a bitch? Sassy Friend says Joy needs to be back in 2 days for the Gala or she can probably kiss the promotion goodbye. Oh the drama! And then Ruby finds out about the cookie issues, and calls in the troops offstage.
Ben’s mom basically kicks Ben out of their house to make him help Joy fix the cookie mess. And the entire town shows up to help out! That’s what small towns do! All those people are there and there’s only one oven. But it’s a nice montage of cookies. I will say I’m glad the cookie season is over for now – I did not need to have that many cookies in our house. After a bunch of baking, Joy still has no flour whatsoever on her, and she and Ben have made peace about their missed kiss and are off to judge contests and eat cookies and it’s the 22nd of December and she’s got to get back to DC for the Gala and wear her pretty green dress.
Joy’s contribution to the Gingerbread contest is to gift-wrap some boxes so that no one sees the votes – because apparently everyone could see the votes before. I mean, yay for ingenuity, Joy, but why is this a new thing? Anyway. Someone made a gingerbread carousel. I’m a sucker for a carousel. I’m also confused as to why there’s a judge if people vote on them. What does the judge need to do – check for hanging chads? Yes, I just dated myself with that reference. Sorry. Christmas Carousel wins 2nd Place – and the winners are Ben and his mom.
Even husband says that there is not that much snow in North Carolina.
Ben gifts Joy with a mystery present – he doesn’t want her to open it before her drive to DC – and she’s got to get on the road to get to her Christmas Gala. This girl has been living off coffee and sugar for a week, I dread the thought of her driving 5 hours in a mini Cooper. After the commercial break, Ben has retreated to the woods, which is where he goes to think. He’s thinking about Joy, and his dad gives him a pep talk about going after the girl and taking a risk and all that stuff.
Joy is driving sans coat through a blizzard. I refuse to believe her car’s heat works that well, but she makes it home just in time to get dressed in her pretty emerald dress. She opens the present from Ben, it’s a wooden heart with a mosaic of the green glass ornament. Everything old is new again, and she takes this heart with her to the Christmas gala as kind of a lucky charm.
Joy is rocking some gold heels at this party, and the first person she sees is her passive aggressive boss who’s rocking the animosity towards Joy. We cut to Ben driving in a tux towards DC, but meanwhile, back at the party, the Weatherton lady from the beginning of the movie shows up to be nice to Joy even while Joy’s boss gives her the stink eye. The crux of the matter is that evil boss just lost the Weatherton account, and needs Joy to work even harder – and screw that stupid Cookie Crawl – and so Joy quits her job and her boss doesn’t stop her. What a way to live – no plan, no worry about dental.
Ben has shown up at the party – how does he get in – aren’t they carding? But before he gets to say anything to Joy two things happen – he sees her all happy and he gets mistaken for a waiter because he’s in a tux. Cue running off in the Sad Times, just as Joy tries to chase after him in her gold heels. And then the Sad Times must be hard upon him because he ducks her frantic phone call. Determined Joy heads out back to North Carolina.
Aunt Ruby comes home – and she’s not even in a freaking boot anymore. That’s some magic doctors they have in NC. Aunt Ruby also says Ben is a good one, and she should chase after him, and hells yes, you can move in, Joy, because you quit your job without a contingency plan.
Ben just got read the riot act from his mom because Ben is ducking Joy’s calls. And the small town gossip tells him that Joy is moving back home and now Ben is out of the Sad Times.
Cookie Crawl at Ruby’s house is actually nice looking, even if it does look like a Balsam Hill showroom. I still don’t get this tradition. It’s like an open house with cookies – that the whole town shows up to.
Sassy Friend shows up to enjoy the cookies and to encourage Joy about Ben because that’s what Sassy Friends do. And you know who else shows up?
Mrs. Weatherton! And she’s got a job for Joy! An in-house market research position, based in Charlotte! It all works out! And now Ben shows up and he just has to stand in the middle of the room and Joy follows him outside. Ugh. Can he just apologize already?
Humble pie, order for Ben. And the music plays Joy to the World, and she’s moved home, and he’s happy and they kiss and it’s finally, finally over. Oh, wait, montage of happy faces by the stupid fake trees – everyone is inside still wearing scarves – and I do not understand the architecture of the house they are in, it’s baffling but NOW we can say it’s over.
So, this movie is over. Thank Goodness. I have nothing else to say to sum it up, except that Caitlyn from The Flash needs to do better things – she’s nice. Anyways, I watched it, just so you don’t have to.
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