It’s the end of the holiday weekend. It’s been stuffed with food and TV. We found out who won Great British Baking Show, and I finished The Crown. We put up our tree, and had an appropriate moment where we just stood and looked up at it. We even got our holiday pictures taken (an event that takes months to plan, let me tell you). Now it’s time to do something I don’t normally do – watch a new Hallmark movie live, and write while it’s on. I have to do this, because I don’t think you deserve to wait another minute for a recap on this movie, one I know only from the brief commercials, and Candace Cameron Bure is playing Darcy Gale, so this is a retelling of The Wizard of Oz in some way and I.am.here.for.it.
I will also state at the beginning that I do not think Candace Cameron Bure is that great of an actress, and I don’t know why she gets so much work.
Is “Deck the Halls” the unofficial theme of Hallmark – it seems to be the only song they sing, along with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Anyway, we see our Darcy with a dog named Bobo who is very talented before she goes to the Gumm Public Relations Christmas Party – and I appreciate the call out to Judy Garland’s real name. Darcy is a shoe in for an award at Gumm, but she and everyone at this party gets a text that means she didn’t get it. She’s super bummed about it, and then gets another text about some poor guy named William Austin from Austin, Inc., who is apparently not that great at his father’s business. Darcy’s gay friend says he’s sorry for whoever is in charge of this guy’s PR, so of course, you know who will be in charge of it.
The CFO of this Austin, Inc. tells the CEO, William Austin, to hire an outside PR group. She has a Margaret Hamilton profile, and convinces William to do the thing she wants him to do. Cut back to Darcy putting together a vision board on how she would fix the Austin problems, and her office best friend says that she would have to move to NY in order to work on this type of thing, and to get her pitch in by Monday. But Darcy has an adorable cottage in Kansas City and why would she move? (I’ve only been to Kansas City, MO, and one whole day of that trip was spent underground looking at stamps, so I’m not sure how true-to-life these establishing shots are).
She’s cooking in her fantastic kitchen and her house is invaded by family, including someone named Huck, so again, great call back! She’s still bummed about losing this award thing, but her family perks her up a lot with a lot of homespun wisdom. Oh, this movie is being sponsored by Balsam Hill, and the family recommends that she look into Emerald Education Trust to do some pro bono public relations work, and one of the founders of this trust is the same William Austin, who is not anywhere to be seen in the interwebs. She grabs highlighters and writes her pitch, and next scene, we find out that the Gumm PR team loves the pitch so much they sent it to William Austin’s company even before talking to Darcy, the one who actually wrote it. How does time work in this movie, because it sure does not work in logical terms.
Darcy is pissed that the company doesn’t understand her pitch and uses her phone to do her work for her. She is put in touch with Glenn Goodman, who says he’s the head of Communications, but it is, in fact, William Austin himself, and is this like the time Trump pretended to be his own PR guy? Or is this the whole Wizard of Oz thing? (Since it’s clearly the Wizard of Oz thing, I’ll put my political thoughts back in their box.) William Austin is adamant that he not be thought to be different from his father, and Darcy is like, but you’re losing business, and she actually says “But It’s Christmas!” and she gets a job on spec at AI in Connecticut.
She’s got to fly to CT, but there’s a storm a-brewin. Is it a Twister? No. She makes it to the bar, where she’s having a meet cute with Glen/William. I would like to know how she keeps that headband on her head. She just spilled the tea that she’s meeting someone “curmudgeonly” and William is intrigued by this, and then she figures out she’s being teased and she’s really embarrassed, but they agree to disagree, and their banter (or at least his side of it at least) is cute, and after the commercial break, they go and have dinner in a place with a lot of greenery. They also are arguing over starters – and she orders the Caprese salad, which comes lightning fast, and she shares some with him like she’s his mom. She’s also told him that their Christmas themed events don’t have enough “Christmas” in them.
Next day, Darcy is getting a pep talk from her parents regardless of the time difference, and she’s walking into her new gig with cookies and coffee. She’s flustered that William/Glenn showed up at this children’s charity center and stole one of her coffees, so she practices how she’s going to introduce herself to the new team, and immediately is answered by this movie’s version of the Scarecrow, who’s name is Jackie Crow. There’s a scaredy cat named Riley Lyon, and a heartfelt person named Dr. Bridget Tinsley. Bridget stops Darcy right in her tracks with Darcy’s idea about having some of the kids at the center on TV, and Darcy now has to brainstorm more ideas. But that leaves William to actually have to talk to people who run this center that he has founded (and has never met before). This guy’s issues are like the magazine section at Barnes and Noble – what is it with this guy?
There’s a partnership with a Christmas tree farm (10% of the proceeds go through to the center) and they need to make it more special. It’s basically going to be a Corn Maze and Cider Drinking day, but with trees instead of corn, and hot chocolate instead of cider. Through this entire conversation, Darcy is giving Jackie heartfelt and yet practical business advice, and that’s nice. William comes out to apologize for not backing her up with her previous idea, but she’s already on to the next idea and William is perplexed that someone can recover and move on so fast.
We’re at the Troutman Tree Farm, and the guy in charge of the tree farm doesn’t like the idea of doing something splashy because that’s not what his grandfather used to do, but after a confidence boost for Jackie, Darcy gets the guy to agree to do what Jackie and Darcy want to do. William is skeptical that it can all get done, but honestly, setting up a s’mores station and a hot chocolate stand and getting some guy who passed a background check to be a Santa doesn’t seem that hard to me. Of course, doing it two weeks before Christmas might be the big problem, but where would we be in the Hallmark Land of Oz if we didn’t believe in (say it with me in a dramatic whisper) Christmas Magic?
Back at the center, Dr. Tinsley won’t let Darcy call her by her first name which seems way too bitchy for the Tin Woodman; however she has reason to be bitchy, she’s trying to save teachers from burnout and she immediately calls out Austin, Inc. for throwing computers to fix problems with schools when a lot of kids don’t have stable internet, and all I can say is, yes, girl. William looks very ashamed of himself, but after her rant, she agrees to Darcy and Jackie’s vision of this charity event and I’d like to state that if they are so worried about the budget and helping teachers, why did they spend so much on Christmas decorations for their office? Riley still needs to learn how to get over his stage fright. But Darcy has another idea, to get Austin, Inc. to help boost internet access (how exactly?) and chases him into another business meeting, where the Wicked Witch (or sorry, Winona West) is waiting to meet with him and a new PR group, Fiero PR. Call out to Wicked!
Darcy gets Dr. Tinsley some good PR by assisting her in getting her message out, and Darcy feels good about herself. And she heads over to help Riley with his speech problems, and she gets him to do a time step while talking and it works. Sure. William shows up and they have some more banter. Turns out William is an only child, with no sense of real family, except that his mom did that Iceland thing where he got to open a book on Christmas Eve and read it while eating cookies. And it turns out that Darcy’s mom actually died, and the one I’ve been thinking was her mom is actually named Emma. More of a nice time with them two, and then we hear that their Santa cancelled! Oh No!
William’s assistant is even more harried as William pushes things around, and she said that Winona’s assistants are like flying monkeys.
This Tree thing doesn’t look that well attended, but every one seems to be having a good time, especially Dr. Tinsley, who is now letting Darcy call her Bridget. The Christmas maze is not with trees, but with may too many lights. She gets lost, but William helps out even thought he says there are wild animals (lions? tigers? no, just bears, oh my!) William even got them a Santa, which means that Darcy has to call home in homesickness. They FaceTime, and Emma gets to see that William is handsome but she immediately hangs up. William and Darcy’s banter is going beyond what is appropriate between colleagues.
We’re at a dance studio, where Riley is doing great, and he totally should be doing Tik Tok videos like the guy who did that Ratatouille thing. Even Darcy gets into the dance moves, and William makes Darcy help Riley with the dancing at the Christmas pageant, but who gets to rain on the parade? Winona West with her stupid bun. She’s super pissed that William is focused on Darcy and “getting personal” with people, and we get backstory that William’s dad was so focused on the personal that he kept ending up in the tabloids, and he had to forcefully say that the dad isn’t in charge any more! But since Darcy doesn’t know that William is William, she is worried that by him yelling at Winona, he’ll get fired. And more backstory, he was adopted at age 10 and wants to give back. He asks her about her life, and she says she made a choice to be rooted in Kansas City, but that people seem to think her roots mean she’s afraid to branch out and go after bigger things. But they smile a lot over their big glasses of wine.
Obligatory walk down a snow covered street with fake Starbucks. She misses home, and he says he might have to move somewhere (maybe Kansas City?) and he bought her snickerdoodles, and that’s cute, but those cookies look crappy. But we go into the commercial on a high, and come back on a low, because the venue for the kids Christmas pageant is double-booked (HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN?) and they decide to bring the pageant to the Christmas Gala – are they the Von Trapps?
And then Jackie says they should have William Austin speak at the Gala, and they are scared to go ask him, but they ease on down the weird yellow striped floor to make their request. Riley does Cowardly Lion I’m gonna run away thing which is cute. Winona shows up and loves the idea, but then says let’s talk, girl to girl, Darcy about William’s availability. This is the Wicked Witch in the castle moment, and while she’s not as scary as Margaret Hamilton, she IS being a huge bitch, but never fear, Darcy’s friends come in and defend her against Winona’s charges that Darcy is just in it for her own ends, and she doesn’t care about the charity. Winona is not impressed, (but luckily, not melted) and she seems to want to throw Darcy off the highest tower of her scary castle. William runs after Darcy and still won’t tell her the truth because the movie is not done yet. Darcy doesn’t care that she took a big swing and struck out and tells William to tell the other William (the one he’s pretending not to be) that being a CEO is being a leader, and being a great leader requires empathy, transparency, and vision, and he could show that without being so much in the headlines if he would come out from behind the curtain. Will he? Reader, will he?
Day of the Gala! Darcy is nervous about dancing, but Riley has done a great job with the TV cameras, but in practicing for the dance, her Dancing with the Stars approved shoe falls off. William asks his assistant (who has her own office, as per usual) to get her a new pair of shoes, and assistant says be careful because Darcy is a horse of a different color. William says, I’m always careful, and I’m keeping things professional, and that ship has sailed way long ago, Billy Boy. William then just made Darcy freak out by pretending that he had a wife and kids, but they’re only make believe, but again, more inappropriate banter, but now they’ve established that they’re single and ready to mingle. And he brought her ruby slippers. They look like stripper heels.
Darcy’s ready to dance! (She’s about to throw up, but she’ll do it!) Her DWTS skills are coming through with her performance – she’s even got an illegal lift in there! Make that two illegal lifts!
But everyone eats it up because we’re in Hallmark, and then William and Darcy have to dance and tell each other that they’re both great, and Darcy thinks William-as-Glenn should get up and talk in front of people about the charity, and he says ok, and kisses her on the cheek but uses his hands to hold her face, so you know he missed. Oh, he’s on stage, and he says he’s going to “pull the curtain back” and introduce the group to the team to the hard workers – Jackie who is brilliant, Bridget who is caring, and Riley who is courageous, and Darcy, who is just gosh-darned fabulous, and Darcy is now in charge of all the AI Public Relations, and oh, by the way, he’s William Austin, NOT Glenn Goodman! And Darcy is super pissed and runs away in her sparkly shoes. What did you think William? Really? You Freaking Lied to her.
But he has to have a sob story about how he’s had to hide- but you know what, I don’t care – and neither does Darcy – she says thanks for the job, but someone in the NY office should do it, and I’m going home to Kansas City. Oh, and she feels hurt. Did you see The Sad Times coming? Husband says, but you have 15 minutes left! But that’s when the Sad Times usually show up.
Back in KC, Darcy is having cocoa with her dog on her front porch where she sits without a coat. And then all her family shows up and gives her hugs and wine. She says there’s no place like home. Stepmom Em rightly points out that Darcy is more upset because he lied and she fell for him. Jackie, Bridget, and Riley zoom in to her and tell her to get her butt out of KC and back over to doing the Austin PR job. But she doesn’t know. (yes, she does, but she’s not ready to say so yet)
Winona tells William to go get the girl – which means she’s no longer the Wicked Witch of the West, but is now Glinda. And she says some nice things about William, but basically, go get on a plane and Fly, my pretty, fly to get the girl.
So William does, and shows up on her front porch. He gives her a good speech, and it’s Christmas Eve, and her entire family shows up with badly wrapped gifts and it’s a family stampede to meet the new man in Darcy’s life – this is not how families react, right? But then they get some alone times, and they are again saying nice things to each other, and she likes him a lot, but she doesn’t want to move to New York City, and that she’s sorry if that’s a deal-breaker. But you know what? AI is going to open a new office in Kansas City, so Darcy does not have to move at all, and she gets a new job as the AI VP of Communication, and again, there’s no place like home and kisses around and we’re done. Oh, BTW, Husband has said that the set designer used some “fake ass snow” in the final scene, and I would like to heartily agree.
Ok, so I love love love The Wizard of Oz. A few months ago it was on TNT and I was able to identify it just by the way Leo the Lion roared onscreen. And I have to say, they did a nice job with all the little references that they put in here, and overall, this one wasn’t bad. I will say that the title felt like a stretch. Still don’t like CCB that much, but she and William had nice chemistry, and the writing was a little bit above what one normally gets while watching these movies. So good job, Hallmark, this one didn’t suck. Not sure I’ll seek it out again, but if you need me to, I’ll do it, just so you don’t have to.