Tuesday, November 19, 2013

An Update/An Explanation

You may have noticed my dedication to TV Christmas movie reviewing has waned somewhat this year.

Well, let's just say I had a very busy weekend. And because of that very busy weekend, I foresee many similarly busy weekends in the near future.

I apologize for any inconvenience. But not much. Because that busy weekend involved a boy and several kisses and a permanent butterfly in my stomach ever since. Which is pretty much the stuff that TV Christmas movies are made of, so I don't feel like I'm missing much.

I'll catch up when I can, but in the meantime, I'll let Harry Connick Jr. explain how my heart feels about it all.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Christmas on TV: A Very Merry Mix-Up

I need to open with a disclaimer: I didn't see the first 30 minutes of this one. But I'm guessing they wouldn't change my opinion much. That said, let's dive in.

In A Very Merry Mix-Up, Alicia Witt gets engaged and heads across country to meet her in-laws to-be. Her fiancé can't come with her, so she's forced to make the trip alone. Naturally, she meets a handsome man who has the same last name as her fiancé and who she believes to be his brother. Thus, the mix-up and the resulting complications.

By the time she realizes her potential brother-in-law is not actually her potential brother-in-law, they've already spent nearly 2 days together. Obviously, they're in love.

Actually, what's obvious is that she should question why she had no idea what her fiance's family looks like. What's obvious is that she should wonder how she agreed to marry a man who only wants to use her as leverage in a property deal. What's obvious is that she comes across as a dim-witted heroine who's barely capable of making adult decisions.

The end of these movies is always predictable, but I found myself siding with the money-obsessed fiancé more than the main character. Yes, he's the villain because he wants to demolish a city block to make way for new condos. I get it: he's the Grinch.

But she wasn't letting logic in at all. He was offering her $3.5 million dollars for her father's antique store and storefront space to open a new location. It takes the romance out of it, but that's just good business. Sentimental value only goes so far, even at Christmas.

On a side note, you may remember Alicia Witt as the red-headed clarinet girl from Mr. Holland's Opus. I also recently watched her in another Hallmark Channel movie, Backyard Wedding.

Of the three roles, I like her best in Mr. Holland's Opus. It might have been Richard Dreyfuss. Or it might be that in both her Hallmark roles Alicia plays a woman who changes her mind about who she wants to marry in a very short time after dating someone for a very long time.

I know: that's the stuff rom-coms are made of, but these films made me question my love of the rom-com genre. These movies made it impossible for me to get behind a woman who jumps so quickly from one marriage prospect to another. I can't do it when she knew the first guy for years but the movie makes it obvious from the get-go she shouldn't have dated him more than 3 times.

Essentially, A Very Merry Mix-Up failed to do what movies like While You Were Sleeping and You've Got Mail did flawlessly. It's okay for Sandra Bullock to switch from Peter Gallagher to Bill Pullman because she only loved Peter Gallagher from afar. It's okay for Meg Ryan to break up with Greg Kinnear because they obviously shared a love of words and the break-up was mutual.

My disappointment in A Very Merry Mix-Up also stems from the vague resemblance this movie bears to the fake Christmas romance created last year for a Sears commercial, a movie I wholeheartedly wish were real. Maybe I would have liked A Merry Mix-Up better if it took place entirely at the airport. Probably not.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Christmas on TV: The Thanksgiving House

Despite having only blogged 4 times this year, I'm back because 'tis the season for delightful new Christmas movies delivered directly to your TV every weekend for the rest of the year. I. Am. Giddy.

The Hallmark Channel kicked the festivities off this year with The Thanksgiving House, the story of a holiday-hating lawyer who inherits a house built on the land where the first Thanksgiving (possibly) took place.

I wasn't blown away by the female lead; her character came across a little cold to me, but that could just be my bias against characters who hate the holiday season. But, her name is Emily Rose, which sounds like an old-lady perfume, so I'm not going to hold it against her.

This movie compensated for its icy heroine with Justin Bruening, known in the movie as Everett Mather, which sounds like a law firm. Last year Justin assumed the role of Teddy Lawrence in the TV Christmas version of Little Women, The March Sisters at Christmas. I made fun of him then for donning a toga, but this year his autumnal wardrobe redeems him of his former fashion sins.

I criticized Everett at first when I suspected that his passion for Pilgrim-era archaeology meant he was a jobless late-twentysomething living with his parents. Even though those parents are the Bionic Woman and Tron. But, he proved me wrong, working as a high school history teacher who holds down his own apartment. What a catch!

Emily Rose, aka Mary Ross, needs three-quarters of the movie to realize she should ditch her tricky boyfriend with a bad accent for nice-guy Everett. But, when she does, baddie boyfriend delivers the movie's most quotable line: "Color me gone."

The Thanksgiving House earns points for having a creative premise, but none of the interaction between  our bickering lovebirds had an equal level of creativity. You always know who's going to fall in love in these movies, but at the conclusion of this one I wasn't sold that they shared more than a warm affection and a desire to date through, say, St. Patrick's Day.

Still, I give the movie points for relying on plausible legal battles and emotional growth to create a plot instead of orphaned children and magical North Pole dwellers.

All in all, The Thanksgiving House was a pleasant way to kick off the TV Christmas movie season for 2013. I much prefer last year's Teddy Lawrence as this year's high school history teacher, and the scenes of Boston in the fall make this movie worth a watch.