Hallmark Holiday Advent Day 5: Dogs Make Their People Do Sex (A Christmas Wedding Tail)

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The Brady Bunch parents are fine but get stressed out about the wedding. The Cool Mom gives up her dreams to marry Wine Dad and Tom Arnold yells at people.

Dramatis Personae (that matter)

Frankly no one matters.

  • Cool Mom – moved back home when she lost a fancy job
  • Wine Dad – owns a winery
  • Tom Arnold – not important to the plot other than communicating a job offer but at the end he tries to headhunt the preacher

There are kids and dogs but honestly they mostly just fill time with insert shots.

Rating: 4 Leg Humps out of 10

Nothing in this movie matters. They get married, whatever. The dogs run around. Possibly sponsored by Purdue Chicken.

Stunning Chicken

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Hallmark Holiday Advent Day 4: Death Note Santa (Naughty or Nice)

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Plucky Lead finds Santa’s magic Naughty or Nice book (is it bound in skin?) and uses it to expose petty naughty deeds, but then she feels guilty and apologizes. Santa disappears using the transporter effect from Star Trek.

Dramatis Personae (that matter)

  • Girl Santa – snitch
  • Catty Elf Friend – he actually doesn’t belong here since he doesn’t particularly effect the plot, but best character in the movie. He and Girl Santa have amazing chemistry and he has this part where he runs and jumps over a velvet rope, adorable. He has glasses though so he can’t be the male lead

Rating: 7 Catty Best Friends out of 7

Okay so I want to say that this functionally doesn’t have a Male (Romantic) Lead. The actual Male Lead is a Catty Best Friend she meets working at the Santa’s Workshop at the mall. This movie had a premise more cringey than usual, but it actually was really refreshing to see a different main screen dynamic—especially mixed-gender platonic friends. I also appreciate that the Plucky Girl Santa is genuinely a mess; she’s not the usual, “Oh, I’m such a mess! I’m unmarried and my check engine light is on!” Here, she’s legit having kind of a breakdown.

The resolution is literally that she tries to make people who did fucked up things feel better at her own expense. Also it’s really unclear how the book decides what counts? Like, the book tells her that her that the boyfriend cheated on her, but actually they were broken up–actually broken up. What’s the deal? Also a neighbor steals lawn decorations to win the neighborhood competition.


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Hallmark Holiday Advent 3: Christmas Murder House (Christmas Camp)

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This one straight up starts like a horror movie. Career Girl is sent to Christmas Bootcamp to get her Holiday Cheer certificate and the reason why isn’t important. The Male Lead is a human cable knit sweater. The dog is named Max and he’s great. The phrase “Christmas Mojo” is used more than once.

Dramatis Personae (that matter)

  • Career Girl – I don’t even know. She loves her work and they try to make that a conflict as if she’s a “workaholic” but she’s, like, a totally normal, sweet person. It’s really kinda creepy and gaslighty how they treat her
  • Handsome Sweater – son of Christmas Daddy, he eats French Toast with his hands like it’s regular toast
  • Christmas Daddy – runs the Christmas Camp but makes it feel like a murder house (see clip below) and seems super into having Career Girl marry in
  • Dog – Max, A+ dog. The one Christmas Mojo this film earns is for Max

Rating: 1 Christmas Mojo out of 10

The whole thing is just weird and uncomfortable. Career Girl doesn’t change or learn anything and people treat her like an insane person because she’s trying to finish a project for work and get a promotion. But like, she’s not weird or cut-throat or anything and is incredibly sweet and helpful. The main conflict is that the Christmas Murder House is losing money and Handsome Sweater wants Christmas Daddy to to move to the city with him. The main conflict is that Career Girl saves the Murder House by getting Christmas Daddy to franchise Christmas Camp, and Human Sweater is mad and goes all aggressive about how she only thinks about work. The bone after the paid military promotion character shows up and everything is fine. They put pies into a box sideways at one point. Like, standing up on their sides. Everything about this one (produced by MarVista) is awful and creepy. Almost every single pop arrangement of the Christmas carols are grating. They have snowball target practice. Richard (my husband) and I were just yelling at the screen, deeply uncomfortable.

Listen, I love cheesy movies like this, love romance novels. I’m perfectly fine with some of the goofy genre conventions or plot convenient storytelling, because it’s not really about the plot. It’s about people and conveying a certain feel-good vibe and affect, or at least being entertaining for how they rearrange the cheeseball lines and conventions around a setting. Lots of these movies feature literal magic and time travel, all kinds of stuff. Christmas Camp had no camp, as Richard quipped. The Camp was so chilled out and low key, and it made it sort of uncomfortable that the script seemed to be treating the setting as though it was from a completely different movie; a movie where the Christmas Camp was over the top and full of enthusiastic, wacky characters and the Career Girl learns to balance work with letting go and having a little fun and not being so serious all the time. You know–the true meaning of Christmas or something.

This is not a bit. There is something genuinely existentially off-putting about Christmas Camp that I’m having trouble articulating. I don’t know if it’s that the artifice of this being a movie was too obvious–with barely dressed sets, weird prop use, etc–or that without the obvious artifice the events in the movie are so unsettling and muted, subverting expectations of these types of films but not in a good way. It’s like the shock of someone break their arm and being able to see the actual bone poking out, jagged and existing in a place it should never be.

“This is the Angel Room. Isn’t it special?”

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Hallmark Holiday Advent 2: Ice Clowns of Canada (Winter Castle)

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Maid of Honor meets Best Man in an Ice Castle in Canada. There’s a ten minute sequence sponsored by the proprietors of the Ice Hotel. It’s about 20 minutes north of Quebec City and it takes two months to construct fresh every year. Each year’s Ice Hotel features a new theme to become a unique work of temporary art. And if you get thirsty, even the drinks are served in ice! The hotel is kept at a constant 23F except for the lounge (which is heated). They have 45 rooms, each decorated with a different theme. Maid of Honor is staying in the Polar Room. They also have some of the biggest tobogganing hills around! It’s the only ice hotel in North America.

They get together, the wedding is fine, there are no dogs but they go dogsledding off screen. Nothing matters next to Ice Hotel. They CGI the Northern Lights over the hotel, which in this movie is Circus Themed. Ice Clowns, perfect, no notes.

Dramatis Personae (that matter)

  • Maid of Honor – children’s author, big Elsa aesthetic, look at that braid GIRL get it
  • Single Dad – very eligible, but feels guilty about how his neighbor wants to marry him
  • Red Head – the neighbor, also Dead Wife’s best friend, wants to be Single Dad’s daughter’s New Mommy and faked a sprained ankle until it was time for karaoke
  • Concierge – I’m honestly not sure if he is actor or a representative of the Ice Hotel. Like, he was fine and everything but Y’ALL that ad copy. It’s implied he bangs the Red Head after she lets the Single Dad go

Rating: 7 Ice Clown Sculptures out of 10

“I should hope not!”

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Hallmark Holiday Advent Day 1: A Christmas BANGER (A Christmas Duet)

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Okay, so in this one the two leads used to be a famous music duo, and she got tired of the road and runs an inn where it snows a lot. He’s struggling to regain success on a small town tour. Surprise! He gets stuck and stays at the inn and they sing the duet at the town festival that the Female Lead hosted. The B plot is a hotel critic that starts off frosty but then warms up to the inn and falls in love with the Male Lead’s tour manager and they go fuck off to Europe. There’s a dog and a baby and cookies.

A Christmas Duet is actually pretty charming, and one of the few Hallmark entries featuring Black leads. There are occasionally some weird optics that are just glossed over (the white event planner won’t shake the male lead’s hand because the planner had a cold, but it was weird and seemed weird). The two leads are utterly charming though and their signature song is a BANGER.

Dramatis Personae (that matter)

  • Female Lead – Owns an Inn, juggles impressing the Critic and running the town festival
  • Male Lead – guitarboi but she heals him with her love and stability
  • Critic – starts off as a bitch but then she warms up to the Tour Manager, loves travel because of her dead husband?
  • Tour Manager – longtime friend of the lead duo, the Critic knew him for 2 days and then goes to bang across Europe with her
  • Checkov’s Pregnant Friend – gives surprise birth on Christmas Eve, is a guitarboi fangirl
  • Dog – awesome

Rating: 9 Guitarbois out of 10


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Marble Hornets’ Ending

Okay but also sideburns
Okay, so I’m more than ten years late to the party but I can’t get Marble Hornets, a 2009 web series loosely based on the Slenderman mythos (though here, Slendy becomes a different entity called “The Operator”).
 
So I won’t do an entire summart of the story as it originally took place over several years and multiple YouTube and Twitter accounts, but I’ll link both a primary playlist and an “explained” series below.
 
So, spoilers for the ending as well as my interpretation:
 
I find the ending both realistic and hopeful. Alex and Jay both became obsessed with secrecy and “ending it,” and we follow their mental and emotional deterioration. Brian himself is even described as a “shell” and the prime member of “ToTheArk” (I assume him to be Seth) is similarly flattened to one goal.
 
Tim, on the other hand…
 
We see through the survival of Jessica that the Operator continues to pose a threat as a looming figure and one ready to spread and exert influence, but she has begun therapy and medication–like Tim–to resist the influence of The Operator and lead a normal life. There’s risk there for both of them, sure, but I see it as an allegory for living with trauma and consciously rejecting abusive cycles.
 
Instead of treating the influence of The Operator–an influence that has haunted him his whole life–as a source of shame and secrecy, he’s the only one of the main characters to find a way to reduce the horror’s power. He sought help. He helped others.
 
The last text of “Everything is fine” is rightly ominous because nothing is truly “fine” after trauma; that said, Tim is the only one who found a way to acknowledge and cope instead of suppress and fester.
 
There is risk of relapse, but isn’t that always the case of trauma or mental illness? Not everyone was in the position Tim was to combat The Operator, and that’s a tragedy of the other characters instead of a condemnation. We clearly see Tim struggle with issues of lashing out and violence as Masky, even when resisting the control of The Operator in other areas.
 
Anyway, I took a lot of hope and warning from the ending rather than seeing it as Tim blindly perpetuating the cycle by not ending his own life. The other characters were not weak, but a strength of Tim was his willingness to see The Operator as a burden he could try to bear and mitigate rather than a force that could be eradicated.
 
That’s hopeful to me as a real-life human learning to live with trauma, mental illness, and chronic illness. There’s not healing in the traditional “Look, all gone!” sense but there is a complicated version of healing that’s coping well and living a full, thoughtful life.
 

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