Hello Everyone! It’s been a full year but we’re back recapping your favorite Holiday movies again.
This year, obviously, has been a tough one. There were several times where I would DVR some movie that looked promising, and one that I thought I’d really enjoy recapping, but then, I just didn’t do it. Life sometimes felt too hard to engage. Some St. Patrick thing starring Allen Leech from Downton Abbey lived in my DVR for 6 months, and I still didn’t watch it. Not sure what it was – I didn’t do any other writing other than work emails – didn’t work on my book, didn’t write so much as a limerick, and had the hardest time coming up with something witty for our Christmas card. So, how could I sit and write about movies about people who didn’t have any real problems and make it seem fun? The answer was that I couldn’t, so I didn’t.
But tonight, we’re back, and we’re going to do something a little different. Husband is going to play the drinking game, and we’re going to joint-watch with a good friend of mine, who will also be drinking. I just took some decongestant, so I can’t drink. Booster shot has me a little tired, but I purposely didn’t do much today to save energy for the festivities that will be viewed in tonight’s installment, a movie that was voted upon by my drinking confederates – Christmas at Castle Hart, starring perennial favorite Lacey Chabert, and man who didn’t age very well, in my opinion, former Aragorn from Lord of the Rings before being replaced, Stuart Townsend.
We start with random holiday cityscape. What city is it? It’s not Manhattan, that’s for damn sure, even though it’s supposed to be. Then, we zoom right open to a party where they are playing Jingle Bells, so DRINK 1. Lacey Chabert is a cater waiter who just broke her heel, so she’s going to do her job in her stocking feet, and then she is getting yelled at by the head honcho of the company she works for. And Lacey, playing a girl named Brook Bennett, is commiserating with her blond sister, (they look nothing alike} who is also getting yelled at by the bitchy boss named Paige Monahan, who just fired both of them. DRINK 2. But they rally about being fired right at Christmas, and say they need to start their own event planning company? Sure.
There are 2 trees in one room – DRINK 3. Unrealistic apartment – DRINK 4.
Brook and her sister are in their beautiful apartment, and they are limber enough to sit cross legged on a sofa eating Chinese food. They have money from their dead dad (Dead Parent, DRINK 5) and they’re going to go to Ireland, because that’s what they’re dad would have wanted them to do, because apparently he was adopted and the only clue to his identity was a birth certificate with an Irish name on it, so, one quick airplane wipe away, and we’re in some small town, Ireland, where the streets are snow-covered, and where I paused the movie, there are still too many lights, and at least one Christmas tree.
Tracking down relatives in a pub at noon is the goal of Blonde girl, who’s name has not been established yet – although Zoom Drinking friend says it’s Margo. Then we go right over to the Castle, where there are 5 Christmas Trees in the hallway – DRINK 6. Stuart Townsend is the Earl of Glasloch (Fake Aristocracy – DRINK 7), and he’s home for Christmas and his sister, Siobhan is a brunette bitch who is not pleased to see him.
Earl goes into town and meets some old friend who is going to catch up with him over a pint, and this is the pub where the two Bennett sisters end up, acting very much the tourists, saying they are event planners instead of fired cater waiters, and they are looking for their dad’s birth parents, whose name is O’Reilly, and if we know anything about Irish stereotypes, it’s that there are a lot of O’Reillys in every town. Old friend of the Earl is an O’Reilly, and she owns the bar, apparently. She tells them to go to Castle Hart, for a tour, and plot purposes, and we get an aerial shot of the castle with a ton of fake snow (DRINK 8) and even some CGI’d trees. Aren’t there enough trees in Ireland?
The castle is from 1633, and apparently the tour is boring, and the girls bounce out of that and head to the Christmas Market (DRINK 9) where Earl shows up to flirt with Brook, and school her in aristocracy, because she’s not impressed enough. Earl’s name is Aiden. He invites both of them to the castle the following day to get a better tour. Methinks he thinks Brook is cute. Next day, they show up with 2 massive old bikes, and the front of the castle has 2 fake nutcrackers in front of it.
Siobhan is very, very bitter about the fact that she had to stay home and Aiden was off galivanting, being an architect. There’s not enough money to keep the castle afloat, and she’s super pissed about it. But we cut back to Brook and Margo, and Brook has to pee, and is now searching the castle for a bathroom, but also walked in on Aiden and Siobhan upset about the fact that they were going to have a party, but their party planner quit, and voila – Margo and Brook are now going to have their event planning business, planning a gala for the Duchess of Abercorn. Serendipty! They get to stay in the castle for free and everything!
The Harts have turned the castle into a hotel, and the gala is the thing that will save the whole hotel. Margo is the wacky character who just told the Irish aristocracy that Brook is actually bitchy boss Paige from the earlier part of the movie, and so now we have fake party planners planning a gala, and Aiden has been unmasked as the Earl, (DRINK 10) and the outside of the castle has CGI wreaths on the outside of the tower, and so DRINK 11.
We have done 11 drinks, and both drinking buddies have finished their glasses. I think they are gulping it down like its water on a hot day, so I wonder how we’re going to be at the end of this movie, because we just got to the first commercial break. Damn.
Ok, and we’re back – Aiden and Siobhan are commiserating in a pretty room with token wreaths. Aiden doesn’t want to play babysitters to the party planners, but Siobhan is insistent. Siobhan has way too many scarves that make her look like a flight attendant. Aiden goes to pick the girls up in an old Rolls Royce. They are off to stay in the castle to the sound of violins, and so many CGI’d trees. There is a tree in the bedroom and tons of garland. DRINK 12. Girls proceed to bounce on the bed like they are 5.
Off to meet the Duchess, who is a stickler for everything, and immediately questions Brook’s antecedents, but Brook is very good at schmoozing, and they find out that they have 12 days to get the gala done. Oh my goodness, what are they going to do? DRINK 13. Brook calls the Earl for help and then they go and walk the Christmas market for inspiration and conversation with unfilled coffee cups, and apparently it’s another day later, because Brook has a side braid.
Aiden waxes nostalgic for the pub crawl / community event that they used to do in this village, and so we’re gonna get a pub crawl later. Random Irish grump with a very big forehead is the one who can help with the decorations. He’s an iron worker, and he’s charmed by Brook, and she gets some ideas about how to decorate the castle. NYC Charm wins over crusty Irish guy – DRINK 14.
Another day, another plaid outfit. They are still having a catering issue, and Margo has an idea, but it’s an idea that will bite them in the butt later on, so DRINK 15. Goodness, Margo is awful, she’s like Nan Steele from Sense and Sensibility – no filter. *Note, she’s not in the Ang Lee Sense and Sensibility because Emma Thompson didn’t put that character in, but she’s in the book and the BBC/PBS version with Dominic Cooper and Janet McTeer and she’s a delightfully written character, so I say justice for Nan Steele.* Off the girls go to meet the chef who is going to work the party, even though she knows bitchy boss, and it’s going to be bad later on. Brook did a weird flirt thing with Aiden and sweet-talked the chef, and then Margo was awkward with a press person who actually knows bitchy boss, so this is all going to be bad.
And to avoid meeting the press person, Brook and Aiden go off to have meat pies in the very nicest looking pub in Ireland. And she’s just invented a divorce to explain why she said her name was Bennett, and not Paige Monahan. There are too many names in this movie. And they are bonding over the fact that they are having a crisis of identity, which is brought to a close over some Irish slogans hung on the wall. If that didn’t make sense to you while you read it, it didn’t make much sense to me and I was watching the movie.
If I had to deal with Margo on a regular basis, I would be booked for manslaughter. She’s awful. But it means that Brook still has to be out of the castle to avoid the press, and she makes Aiden take her to someplace off the beaten track – and it’s a broken church. Backstory for Aiden, he reneged on a promise not to break down old buildings in Italy, and he had to quit over the guilt. This scene is so cloying and annoying – Brook is preaching about not taking things for granted. But it’s working on Aiden – he asks her out to a TREE LIGHTING!!!!! Asked for a date – DRINK 15.
Brook is making sure that Margo goes with them on the date. The tree lighting is not in the village square, it’s in front of a building, where there is some Irish dancing off to the side. Aiden is now the center of attention by virtue of being an Earl, and he’s just about to make a speech, until some young ruffian throws a snowball at him – and so DOUBLE DRINK (16-17) – Snowball fight and Tree Lighting.
Next day, Brook can’t figure out how to get dressed, and they have 4 days until the party, and she’s falling hard for the Earl, and I do not know how this gala is going to be done when she’s basically done nothing. But off they go to some kind of other castle to find a string quartet. At this other castle, they CGI’d lights on the barn. Random baron knows how to play the piano (who would have thought?) and so they’ve got music for the gala. Who needs a string quartet when you have a lone piano?
Margo goes to ask the Duchess about their dad’s lineage – apparently, he was Annie in a former life, an orphan given up for adoption with just a teddy bear with a locket on it, and the name O’Reilly. Locket said “Freedom.”
Margo drinks a lot of eggnog and will probably overtalk with the Duchess, but I don’t care about that, because we just cut to a very, very, very, very, very bad CGI shot of the two main characters riding horses by the cliffs of some Irish place, and it is not real whatsoever. WHY DO THAT? They are now sitting on a fake wall in the shadow of another castle. It’s a freaking fake wall, but the walls of Aiden’s life are falling down, as he confesses that he ran away from being an Earl because he didn’t think he’d be like his dad. Brook preaches honesty, but she’s still being a liar liar who lies, who is also going out with the Earl again. Back at the pub, she’s there in an off the shoulder sweater and there’s more Irish dancing, and Brook is now going to have to do some kind of reel dancing. This is very painful. Let’s just pretend it’s this scene instead.
Meaningful glance after the dance – DRINK 18.
Christmas tree shopping after the commercial break – DRINK 19. Brook is wearing a white knit hat with a hug pompom on it. I hate those types of hats. Apparently Aiden and Siobhan loved decorating a tree in the past, so Aiden needs to recreate it now, because there aren’t enough trees in the castle.
Duchess and Margo go out for lunch, and she meets Duchess’s son, who is stuck dumb by her weird overbitten beauty. His name is Killian Dunleavy, the Marquess of Castleblainy. WHO IS MAKING UP THESE NAMES, Hallmark? That one sounds like he’s from not even a bad romance novel.
Aiden and Brook are decorating the tree – but if this was such a deal for Aiden and Siobhan, why isn’t Siobhan there???? Oh, and it seems like Brook didn’t make up her divorce sad story, and she’s sad for a minute there, but Aiden’s bland looks and strong jaw do seem to make her feel better. We finish this scene with them standing next to the tree and looking at it admiringly, DRINK 20.
Press person is back but Margo has intervened and snatched Brook from the jaws of exposure because we’re not at the last 15 minutes of the movie yet. The chef shows up and Brook ushers her outside into a fake exterior that is made even creepier by the multitude of nutcrackers on display – seriously, what the hell, set designer, no one likes a 6 foot tall nutcracker. Chef and press lady know each other, and Brook has to get out of the sticky situation she’s in because she’s still a liar liar who lies about who she is and hasn’t come clean yet. We haven’t gotten to the SAD TIMES yet, so we are still in suspense. Although, not really, because this movie is boring.
Husband had to go get another refill. I think he’s sneaking shots while I’m not looking. Drinking Buddy has 1/3 left of her second glass.
But all her work is in vain, because the valet parker just exposed her to the chef. And against chef’s better judgement, she won’t turn her in, but she also won’t be a party to all these shenanigans. DRINK 21 because heroine is in a mess of her own making.
Brook is in the depths of despair, and she’s just about to cry, but first she has to dramatically leave the room and hurry pack to get out of the whole mess. I really would like to know how much foundation Lacey Chabert is wearing, because her face doesn’t look like it’s moving. Brook yells at Margo for getting her into this rotten mess, but then Margo turns it around on her and yells back, and it’s just the pep talk she needs in order to get back on the horse. Because of course it is.
And by getting back on the horse, I mean stringing fairy lights onto bits of dead wood. Aiden gives Brook a perfect in to confess the truth about her identity, but he just won’t let her get the words out, because he believes in her so much.
Drinking Buddy is calling it that the pub lady (Clara) is the one who is related to them, because other than the press lady and bitchy boss, who are the villains per se, there’s only the Duchess who has a talking part in this movie, and so by process of elimination, the pub owner is the O’Reilly in question. How does she relate to an Annie-like locket with the word Freedom on it? We will have to wait until the last 5 minutes.
Brook has just asked Clara to cater the gala and she says yes, for the entrée. Aiden will make plum pudding for dessert. There is garland over the oven. DRINK 22. And a baking montage. DRINK 23. They have made 1 plum pudding for an entire gala. And I call severe shenanigans because this is not how Paul Hollywood makes a plum pudding. And with all this baking, Aiden goes in for the kiss, but Brook kiss blocks herself. DRINK 24.
Press woman calls Paige Monahan, who picks up her message at some kind of spa as she’s in a robe with wet hair, and now she’s gonna get on a plane and head on over to Ireland to put a stop to Brook’s stuff, because we’re at minute 1 hour and 35 minutes.
Brook is working her magic in the kitchen, the overly decorated kitchen. DRINK 25. It’s also unsanitary, to me. Aiden whisks Brook away to the broken church, and shows Brook a sketch of a fixed up church. And Aiden is laying it on VERY thick and she’s not even showing any more guilt on her unmovable face about the fact that she’s still being a liar lair who lies. Oh wait, there’s the acting she’s famous for – which is basically walking away.
Aiden ordered Brook a bunch of ball gowns (DRINK 26) so she has something to wear to the gala. If they have this much money to throw around, I don’t understand why the hotel is doing so bad. And now, she has to cry by putting a hand over her face, but her makeup is smudged so I guess she’s emoting? Margo asks what’s the wrong, and Brook has to unburden herself with all her woes and honestly, this is all Margo’s fault and I would like shove her into a lake.
GALA TIME! Whatever room they’re in is nice and full of fairy lights, and there’s a moment where everything stops when she’s on the stairs.
Aiden is SOOOO in love, you all, it’s just kind of uncomfortable, because now we’re almost at the scene where she gets unmasked, like when Sue Ellen gets unmasked at the end of Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead, which is a move that I quote almost on a weekly basis.
Duchess looks very frumpy. And she’s not even wearing a tiara, and this is a tiara moment. The grumpy Irish man’s metal-worked tree looks really nice, and everyone seems to be having a good time. The party is nice, but boring, but Brook saves the day by bringing in Riverdance (or the local version of it) to dance on the parquet floor, and I honestly think its pandering for the American TV audience to see this much Irish dancing. Duchess doesn’t look that pleased, but now everyone’s dancing, and its an Irish hootenanny. Grumpy Irish metalworker and Duchess are cutting a rug – DRINK 27.
Off Brook and AIden go outside so she can tell him the truth, but she’s taking her own sweet time, and before she gets a chance to say anything Paige Monahan has shown up to ruin the day. DRINK 28 for the dashed dreams and the entrance of the Sad Times. There is very dramatic music, and Aiden gives a dramatic exit, DRINK 29, and Paige threatens both girls with jail time but Duchess comes to the rescue and hoists Paige by her own petard and says bye bitch, these girls are good at what they do.
How is this the first time Siobhan has see the tree that Aiden has decorated? Girls are in the Rolls heading out to the airport, while Aiden and Siobhan meet up in the broken church, where he gives her a very bad sketch of the fixes he has in mind, which will give the hotel more business in weddings and stuff. And he wants to come home, and they made up. DRINK 30.
Siobahn has also got to kick Aiden in the butt to go after the girl. DRINK 31. Siobhan is wearing an outfit that doesn’t fit, but doesn’t hug her brother when she goes out the door, and then Brook comes back in to apologize about her lies. The truth is that she loves him, and he loves her, and my goodness there’s so much love in this room. Kiss. DRINK 32.
But now we’re at another snow covered house, with the Duchess and the Marquess and the girls, and we learn that the Freedom on the Annie locket is actually the name Saoirse, and so the girls meet up with their uncle! Huzzah for Irish roots! And their uncle is the mayor! Clara is their aunt! Drinking Buddy is so elated, but honestly, that was the biggest duh. DRINKS 33 and 34!
And Kiss, and the end. DRINK 35.
Ok. Are my drinking buddies still standing after all these?
I would be on the floor, but my compatriots are seasoned pros and are just fine – not even buzzed. Maybe it had something to do with this lackluster entry into the Hallmark Holiday Movie franchise. I was not impressed, but I did watch it, after such a long hiatus, just so you don’t have to.