#118 – October Kiss

It’s been a dreary for a while, but now the sun has been out for a while, chasing away that headache that festered over my left eye for four days. What better way to bring it back than to jump into some craziness that is a movie that came out in 2018? We’re gonna jump into October Kiss.

Oooh. Seattle establishing shots, plus fall foliage. Ashley Williams is doing yoga in the park, and she’s way too kooky for the group of senior citizens she’s leading. There’s an older lady who’s very spry and knows more about yoga than Ashley Williams does. She must be magic. She then tries her hand at pizza making, and she sucks at it. Cut to an overly decorated for Halloween house, where she’s being taken on a date by Mike, who says he wants her to meet his mother, and if she’s a size 2, she’ll fit into his mother’s wedding dress, and she runs for the hills and exits the date. I get it, she doesn’t know what she wants, she doesn’t know what she likes. However, how is she affording this house with a front porch and, I’m assuming, a large electric bill? We shall see…

Inside this house it’s even more decorated. And the house is her sister’s, so I guess that’s how she affords it. She wants to commit to something, but she hasn’t found the thing she’s good at, and apparently her mother is also flighty. But she’s got two nephews, and she gets them to stop fighting with each other with the aid of tin foil and a throw pillow. I don’t think that this would work on Older Son and Younger Son, especially when they complain that one of them is touching the other on the couch. But she’s good with kids! Maybe she should look into that?

Off she goes on an interview acting like an actually insane person because the guy is too busy on the phone to hear the doorbell. We finally learn her name, it’s Poppy, and she’s at Ryan’s house to be a temporary nanny. And we’ve already established that Ryan is a widower, and that Halloween was his wife’s thing, and it’s been 4 years since she’s died. and that’s a lot of exposition in the first conversation. Ryan has two children who are just dying for maternal affection, giving how much attitude they are giving off at the initial meet and greet. Zoe and Zach are the kids – and there seems to be some kind of backstory with the previous nanny.

Ryan’s house is gorgeous. It’s a Sunday, and they’re off to have some fun, and Ryan is off to his stellar work space for his company, and he’s laughing softly at 465 new emails in his inbox, so honestly, something tells me that he was told to play irony, but it’s just coming off as oddly happy, so bad on you director, for not getting your point across, and bad on you, actor Sam Jaeger, for making a weird choice.

Did you think we were gonna get a Harvest Festival in this movie? Of course you did. Did you think it would come before the first commercial break? This movie is GIVING, y’all. Harvest Festival is done up in Oranges and Browns, and there are pumpkins and “corn huskin'” – which is something we’re told not to do in my local Shop Rite. Poppy has this running thing that she’s a mermaid to get the kids to like her, and something tells me it’s gonna get old fast, especially as Zoe bombards her with questions about mermaids. BTW, they come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Poppy is quick on her feet with her answers, so we’re doubling down on her quirkiness.


They were having a nice time at some artfully displayed corn. Zoe gets a dig in about her dad never being around and then Zach runs away in fright because of the spider. I. Feel. You. Zach. And Zoe is a little b-word because goats ate her sweater. They have to leave the harvest festival without the corn so who knows what they ate for dinner. And when dad gets home, the house is a mess, and Poppy is about to quit because she “doesn’t think its for her” and Ryan begs her to stay because he’s got a crazy week, and he says “commitment” and she says she can commit – to at least until Halloween. And then she skedaddles, and the house is still a mess.

I hate this woman. She’s not a grown up. How has she survived this long without a real job, or health care, or anything? How does she get the luxury of picking up and putting down jobs like they are pieces of candy that all seem to be made of dark chocolate and coconut? (No shame on those of you who like that combo, I just don’t.) Ugh. I get that she’s the free spirit character here to bring some life back into the house of the lonely widower (and normally that is MY JAM) but I. Hate. Her.

She apparently lives with her sister, Meghan, who has an amazing backyard and a firepit. Meghan is also trying to live vicariously through her single sister’s life – where is her husband? Meanwhile, Ryan is trying to protect Zach from the spiders that Zoe has theoretically threatened to put in his bed. She sucks. I know she’ll be better later, but for a precocious child, she’s one of the worst.

Next day dawns, and Poppy is back at the stylish craftsman house with clearly a fake small tree in the front with orange leaves, and a bunch of real green trees offering real shade. Ryan gave her keys to the house and in she goes, and the house is all clean. She shades his PB&J making skills, and he says he has an app “Food with Friends” which sounds weird. Maybe it’s a suburb thing vs a city thing, but it’s about scouting out others who are dining alone so you don’t have to dine alone, and are there really that many people who are dining alone? But Poppy loves the idea, and Ryan has interest from some Japanese company, so he’s got to turn on a charm offensive to get them to pony up the money, and Poppy has to take the kids to school in her convertible. And those children (at least Zach) should be in a booster seat. Ryan’s kids are still assholes, and she just sat in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

She gets a brainwave and takes them to Party City (or a generic version) for Halloween decor. Bone to pick in this scene. They are shopping, and a) how is she paying because she doesn’t have a real job and b) how is she paying because Poppy doesn’t seem to have her purse, and her jean/scarf/tight jacket combo does not seem conducive to holding a wallet. But the retail therapy is working, so that’s nice.

That is a LOT of scarf

Ryan is back at work, talking with a colleague in a business power suit. They have some kind of cute banter, and she’s totally trying to get with him and I doubt he realizes it.

More sad mom talk about how their mom was “really good at Halloween.” What does that even mean? But Poppy and the children are bonding and I will say that, as much as I hate the character, Ashley Williams is perfectly charming embodying everything I dislike. I meant that to be a compliment. They way overdid it with the decorating, but would this be a Hallmark movie without it? Zach can’t sleep – more nightmares about spiders. He better not watch any fantasy movie, ever. She just had an ingenious idea about him NOT sleeping with the light on by having him have his door open to see the hallway light, and then what does she do???? She leaves the freaking bedroom light on. Director? Set Designer? Prop Master? Lighting Guy? Best Boy? DOES ANYONE READ A SCRIPT?

How do you NOT notice this stuff?

Dad comes home and doesn’t even notice the decor that exploded on his lawn. Poppy tries to cover for him but Zoe calls him out for not noticing, and then Dad manfully says he’s gonna talk with her, but he was going to take his phone with him. This man is not connected to his family. But the actor is just meh. Character is sweating the Japanese presentation, and he’s too busy to bake cookies with his kids, but I called it, that colleague from earlier has roped him in to an Italian dinner, but I also called it – he isn’t sure if it’s a date or not. Poppy says it’s a date. They have playful banter.

Cut to Zoe and Poppy baking cookies where they are creaming the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon. Seriously, use a hand mixer. Zoe is upset about the fact that her dad has a date, and is wondering if he’s in love, and how do you know if you’re in love? Poppy doesn’t know, but her ideas: You see something beautiful and want the other person to see it to; they make you laugh; and you like what they like because they like it. All not bad ideas. I’ve sat through countless Giants games. Husband has sat through a ton of Dateline. We complete each other.

Abigail is the colleague, and they’re at an Italian restaurant, and she’s throwing out so many signals it’s like an air traffic controller. She has an opportunity to move to Tokyo, but she’s hoping for a better offer and then confesses to flirting so shamelessly, didn’t you know? and he’s like, no, I knew that, but reader, he did not.

Their cookies are professionally decorated. Don’t even try, Poppy, to pretend that you did that. Zoe invites Ryan to her school party or something, and he vaguely promises, but then Poppy is like you have to show up if you’re a parent, and he get it, and pulls flour out of her hair and now it’s awkward for Poppy because she gots the warm fuzzies for widower Ryan and immediately starts futzing with cookies and interrogating him about the date with Abigail before running away without confronting her growing feelings.

Next day at the party, Zach and Zoe are looking for their dad, and he’s just too busy at work. Meghan the sister has kids who go to this school, so she’s got plenty of time to harp at Poppy about how great Ryan is, and why is she so invested in him appearing at this party (During LUNCH – what kind of crazy world is THAT?!?!?!) Poppy says Ryan’s dating someone else, and that she’s googled Abigail, and no, that’s not weird. Meghan keeps trying to fix her sister up with people – what is wrong with this dynamic? Ryan doesn’t show up at the party, and now kids are sulking because dad loves work more than them. Poppy gets an idea and when dad gets home, they’re dressed in oddly formal outfits (think cardigans and knee socks) and they are having a performance evaluation. This is genius.

Ryan completely agrees that he’s not been a good dad, and there’s heartfelt music, and is someone gonna cry? No. But he does say thank you to Poppy over the hugs. And she realizes that she’s good at things. Yay, validation for Poppy.

Off they go to the pumpkin patch, and Ryan quotes Ferris Bueller. They also confess that they’ve googled each other – and he’s 34, but he’s super sad trying to lift what is clearly a pumpkin made of Styrofoam.

They are all carving their pumpkins in his lovely kitchen. I did this once, and I did not enjoy it. Talking about Halloween costumes, Zoe’s gonna be a witch, and Zach is facing his fear and being a spider. And no store bought costumes for them – that’s insane, they’re going to make their own! My mother always said Halloween was for art majors – she was a history major, but she did try to make our costumes except for one year (when I entered the world 2 days before this illustrious holiday) my brother and sister wore Pebbles and Bam Bam plastic sleeves and masks from Drug Fair, and they remember them fondly. They SHOULD be remembering how their lives became complete when I was born, but I’ll let it go. It’s been a while since then, anyway. 🙂

Ryan slinks away from pumpkin carving to be on a date with Abigail, and Zoe is not impressed. They’re freaking out about Abigail marrying their dad, because they like Poppy and Poppy should marry their dad! It’s a win win!

Abigail is trying too hard. It’s weird and kind of sad, but to be honest, she’s probably the star of her own story, it’s just not this one, because I don’t know who that actress is, and Ashley Williams has been in like 100 of these movies. She does say that the kids not being keen on their dad dating is normal, and she’s not trying to replace their mom. For some reason, Poppy is sitting outside on the stoop with the door open when Ryan gets home. They have weird banter about his date with Abigail, she leans in to get her keys, and he thinks it’s a hug. Don’t hug your paid subordinate, Ryan. Gets super weird, but again, this actor goes for amused disbelief.

Next day, Poppy and Meghan are speeding through yoga while talking about boys. And yet again, where is her husband? Or wife? Or anyone? Why is she living vicariously through her sister? Why is there no backstory on her?

Ryan is decorating his kitchen and my GOD. WHY are you putting bunting above the stove. What is WRONG with you. There are a lot of fake cobwebs, too. They both know how each other take their coffee, and he says “If someone saw us together, they would have thought we were some old married couple” which spins them off into a world of fancy about how/when they met, etc. It’s cute if for the fact that he pays her, but we’re not going to dwell on this because then my whole governess/widower jam would be over. Off they go to walk to school. Why do they all have to go?

Abigail and Ryan are cramming for this big presentation, or whatever. She says they should go to Tokyo. He says he has to be home before dark in order to play football in the driveway, where he tackles her into a pile of leaves and then gets some feelings. AND THEN Abigail shows up. Say it with me. That Bitch. She’s there with ‘foreign analytics’ and gets herself invited to a pumpkin fest dinner which Poppy is slaving over and not happy about it.

Ryan does interrupt his work time at home so that he can see his kids’ Halloween costumes, so that’s nice. Ryan takes a selfie and Poppy is in it, and that’s not threatening to Abigail at all, is it? Abigail is subtly trying to throw shade on Poppy, and Zoe is having none of it. And it’s clear that Abigail doesn’t really know how to talk to kids, and she’s also there to dampen the mood because the Japanese people need Ryan to be at dinner on Halloween, so he can’t go trick-or-treating. She and Poppy have a brief, but nice conversation, and then Poppy gets the kids ready for bed. But seriously, they’re old enough to brush their teeth on their own.

Ryan walks Abigail to her car, and Poppy spies on them and thinks she sees them kissing and then she goes to read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Zoe and Zach say they love Poppy and her heart grew five sizes that day (and Ryan overheard that declaration as well) and waylays Poppy on her way out the door to try and get her to talk about “us” and it ends up with her saying she’s got to move on because she’s in the way, because she (subtextually) doesn’t want to just be the nanny anymore, and Ryan and Poppy are two idiotic people who have now entered…The Sad Times.

Art By Older Son

Ryan then has to explain why Poppy is not there in the morning. He doesn’t do a good job.

How is Poppy back teaching yoga so quickly? I have no idea, but the magic lady from the beginning is giving her advice about unfinished business. Then we cut back to Ryan’s home office that is, of course, insanely decorated. Set Designers…NO ONE DOES THIS. Abigail is dictating what to say in this big presentation, and he’s not really hearing it because he’s still in The Sad Times, plus he’s wondering what’s going on with his kids, who are despondently watching weird cartoons, missing Poppy, which of course, is overheard by Abigail – Jesus, lady, stop sneaking into conversations!

It’s finally Halloween, and her sister and nephews are going out trick or treating, and she’s staying in and she doesn’t have nearly enough candy. For some reason, Ryan’s executive assistant is there to help out and that is NOT in her job description, and Ryan and Abigail are at this weird party and he basically confesses he likes Poppy, and Abigail says she’s going to Tokyo – so she’s being totally Baroness Schrader and being very nice about things. See, she’s the heroine of her own movie, and I’m sure she’ll meet cute someone in Tokyo. She leaves the conversation and Ryan is like, whhhaaaaat just happened and am I in love with Poppy? Maybe?

Poppy, meanwhile, is hallucinating at the trick or treaters, thinking that the two kids dressed up as a witch and a spider are the kids SHE knows that are dressed up as a witch and a spider, and she’s seriously telling 8 year olds that she likes Ryan, and that’s when she realizes she likes likes him and she gives all her candy away and has to go.

Finally, we get Ryan’s presentation. He’s not good at it – he’s got note cards. He’s tanking this presentation completely but he’s growing personally, so I guess that’s a good thing. But I don’t think that the Japanese people accept his issues, and Abigail is totally fine with being the center of attention about this weird Food with Friends app.

Ryan makes it home in time to go trick-or-treating just as we see Poppy, dressed as a mermaid (see I told you it was gonna come back) heading over to Ryan’s house. He’s dressed up as knight – there’s no way he made that in five minutes. Ryan says they don’t need another nanny, he just needs her. And we kiss in the doorway as the kids look on in jubilation that they’re kissing and that she’s a mermaid. And off they go to trick or treat on the most brightly lit, cleanest suburban street I’ve ever seen. The End.

So, was this good? I got over my loathing of Poppy because Ashley Williams has so much energy. The kids, of course, stopped being assholes. Again, it had my favorite plot. So sure, it was good. I’d probably watch it again, but only just so you don’t have to.


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