“How Did You Decide To Watch That?”

Among the questions I get most often – especially after watching a real stinker – is how I decide which movies to watch. There are, after all, hundreds of barely indistinguishable options from which to choose. And if you think I’m kidding, please look closely at the image below, which has been sent to me by several people. Believe it or not, I’ve still only seen one of those movies – Christmas in Rome. And that’s after watching 76 holiday rom-coms!

But back to how I choose…I try to watch on a variety of platforms (Hallmark, Lifetime, Netflix, etc.) because it’s interesting to notice the differences (Hallmark remains the most chaste, Lifetime the most diverse). I am trying to watch movies featuring the big names in holiday rom-coms (Candace Cameron Bure, Lacey Chabert, Danica McKellar, and so on). Also, I take suggestions from people who pledge – which is how I came to watch both 12 Dates of Christmas and The Mistle-tones. And finally, I am drawn like a magnet to anything that sounds truly terrible. If a movie is going to be bad, I’d rather it be spectacularly bad so that I can enjoy the spectacle. If movies are breaking new ground, as is the case with Happiest Season and The Christmas House, I want to check them out.

Finally, I’m really going to have to watch some of the movies in that image. It’s embarrasing that I’ve only seen one of them.

Entry #21: The Christmas House (2020)

Watched: November 23, 2020
Available on the Hallmark Channel

Mike is a television actor whose series is in danger of being cancelled. At his parents request, he and his brother both return home two weeks before Christmas to stage “The Christmas House”, a tradition from their childhoods in which their entire house is transformed into a holiday wonderland. While prepping the house, Mike gets reacquainted with childhood best friend, Andi. Mike’s brother, Brandon, and his husband, Jake, wait to hear news on an adoption. And the brother’s parents try to navigate stresses that are leading them to sell the house and plan to live separately.

Our Romantic Couple: Mike (Robert Buckley) and Andi (Ana Ayora)

Their Meet Cute: They were childhood friends and partners in a magic act, so we don’t see a meet cute.

Star Power Casting: There’s a lot in this cast. Robert Buckley was a regular on iZombie and One Tree Hill. Jonathan Bennett, a veteran of many holiday rom-coms, was Aaron Samuels in Mean Girls. But the real wattage in this movie belongs to the parents. Sharon Lawrence has done a ton of TV work (including several episodes of One Tree Hill), but became well known through her work on NYPD Blue in the 90s. Treat Williams has a film career that stretches all the way back to Hair (1979) and includes Once Upon a Time in America, Smooth Talk, and 127 Hours. He was also the lead on the series Everwood in the early 2000s.

The 110% Award: Chris Gauthier as Marvelous Jim, the local magic shop owner, party DJ, and independently wealthy man of mystery. I do not understand this character, but I love him with my whole heart.

Observations: This is a big deal. As I mentioned in my review of A New York Christmas Wedding, there are several holiday movies with LGBT themes this year, but only The Christmas House has the Hallmark/Crown Media imprimatur. It was just last year that Hallmark was bowing to pressure to pull a commercial from the Hallmark Channel that featured a same sex wedding. Now, a year and a half later, it’s running a movie in which two men are married to one another, adopting a baby, and have a close up lip-to-lip kiss! One Million Moms (a hyperbolically named arm of the American Family Association) was horrified and called for a boycott of The Christmas House. The haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate; but seeing a gay couple in an ordinary relationship feels like progress to me.

But what about the movie AS a holiday rom-com? It’s pretty great! Robert Buckley is an unusually charming holiday rom-com lead. He’s handsome yes, but not nearly as wooden as a lot of the leads in these films. He won me over in The Christmas Contract, which had a dumb and cliche premise, and did the same here. He has a self-deprecating lightness that I appreciate. As for Jonathon Bennett, in the two movies I’ve seen him in, which included the very subpar A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale, he has an infectious happy-to-be-here quality about him, sort of like a human golden retriever, that is impossible not to like.

And then there’s the parents. You can’t go wrong with Lawrence and Williams. Having said that, their story line is challenging, and I’m not sure I buy it. Basically, it’s this: Bill retired a few years before Phylis and made quite a happy retiree life for himself. New friends, new activities. Phylis is now freshly, and begrudgingly, retired from being a school principal, and she feels that her husband has built a life without her. She’s grieving and angry and hurt, and so for the sake of “perspective” wants to live separately from her husband, at least for a while. Bill is confused but loves his wife and will do whatever it is she thinks will make her happy. Phylis is not an especially sympathetic character. Her anger at Bill is not rational. But then, feelings AREN’T always rational. Mom is going THROUGH SOME THINGS, and Bill is doing the best he can to accept and support her.

Bill, it must be said, is a lovely man. Not only is he gently accommodating his wife’s wishes, but he’s the sort of dad who calls his adult sons “honey” and casually says “Love you,” to them at the end of phone calls. Bill is my hero.

A lot of this movie hinges on Mike’s childhood love for magic, which he is now passing on to Andi’s quirky son, Noah. Magic is the domain of dedicated nerds, and I love the fact that in flashbacks, teenage Mike looks exactly like the kind of kid who would have been into magic. Bless him.

Mike is the star of a show called Handsome Justice, on which he plays a lawyer. The funniest bits in The Christmas House are making fun of what appears to be a pretty terrible show. It’s being beaten in the ratings by a “pet detective” show, which leaves me with questions about THAT show.

This movie is not a good source of information about how adoption works. Just fyi.

All of the “magicians” in this movie have stage names. Magical Mike, Awesome Andi, Marvelous Jim, and Nimble Noah. I feel like Noah got shortchanged by maybe that’s just me.

Robert Buckley wrote, pitched, and executive produced this movie, and the idea of The Christmas House was based on his childhood home, which his parents transformed each year. As Hallmark scripts go, it’s far above average, so good for Buckley.

I could go on about this movie at length, because it was sweet and charming and genuinely funny. And also, it has Marvelous Jim in it, which is quite a selling point, I tell you. So you should just watch it for yourselves.

Entry #22: 12 Pups of Christmas (2019)

Alternate Title: Single White Female
Watched: November 26, 2020
Available on the Tubi, Hulu, and Amazon Prime

Erin, a canine therapist, is dumped by her fiance just before moving cross-country to take a new job with a San Francisco-based tech company. The company has one product – a GPS collar for dogs – and is struggling financially. Erin and the CEO, Martin, bicker before Erin delivers ideas to save the company. Martin is so impressed with her that he flies her to New York with him to meet with the company’s financial backers. There Erin and Martin fall in love, Martin gets arrested for punching Erin’s ex-boyfriend, Erin blows their chance with the investors, but fortunately Martin’s dad bails the company out and all ends happily. Also, there are dogs.

Our Romantic Couple: Erin (Charlotte Sullivan) and Martin (Donny Boaz)

Their Meet Cute: Trick question. One version is that Erin shows up for her first day at Martin’s company and he is incredibly rude to her before dumping her with the responsibility to get rid of twelve puppies before Christmas. The other version is that Erin meets Martin in the elevator on her first day at his company while he is disguised as Santa. She hits on him by saying, “We could be Mr. and Mrs. Kringle.”

Star Power Casting: It’s not that kind of movie.

The 110% Award: It can only go to Charlotte Sullivan who plays every moment in this movie as if she’s about to morph into Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. Remember, this is a Christmas movie featuring puppies. Sullivan makes some very interesting choices with her performance. Although, to be fair, the tone of Sullivan’s performance may have been shaped by writer/director Michael Feifer who more often creates made-for-tv movies with titles like My Stepfather’s Secret and Who’s Stalking Me?

Observations:12 Pups of Christmas is very bad. It is the worst movie out of the 72 holiday rom-coms I have watched in this endeavor. It is not only the worst Christmas rom-com I have ever seen, it is one of the worst movies I have seen in any genre in my entire life. 12 Pups of Christmas has two main problems.
1. It’s protagonist is a frightening psychopath, and
2. Everything else.

Let me start by telling you about everything else. Listen, I don’t expect much of a movie called 12 Pups of Christmas, but I do expect the filmmakers to be able to COUNT TO 12. That’s right, this movie is so bad that characters can’t even count the gotdang dogs correctly! Puppies also multiply within scenes like the miracle of the loaves and fishes. It must be seen to be believed.

Also, this company is stupid. It’s called Doggone and its only product is a GPS collar the size of a Walkman. Martin, tech entrepreneur that he is, just can’t figure out how to make the collars any smaller. Because we all know GPS technology requires a huge housing, right? It’s fine, though, because the very first day that Erin the canine therapist is employed by Martin she suggests a fix that has not occurred to any of the engineers at Doggone. I’m not great when it comes to technology, but I believe her solution is something like, “Why can’t you just put that GPS thingy from a phone into the collar?” And Martin’s response is basically, “Holy ****, why didn’t I think of that? You’re brilliant!” Problem solved.

I’m getting ahead of myself. I haven’t mentioned that this movie has the worst music of any Christmas rom-com I’ve seen, and they’re notorious for their terrible music. The original song which opens the movie is terrible, terrible, terrible, but still somehow not as bad as the rendition of Jingle Bells that includes a jazz flute solo and the lines “Oh, what fun it is to go to the San Francisco Bay.”

I also haven’t mentioned the implausibility of the puppies being at Doggone in the first place. Why are there 12 puppies trapped in an office? Because, Martin explains to Erin, “some incompetent ad agency left them here after a photo shoot.” Okay, wait. An ad agency brought 12 golden retriever puppies to a place of business for a photo shoot, one for which they are being paid, and when the shoot was over they just LEFT the dogs? I’m sorry, what? You wanted a bunch of dogs in this movie and that’s the cover story you came up with?

The people who work for Martin are idiots. On Erin’s first night in town they hold a Christmas party in her honor at Carly’s house. As the good times start to roll they break into a rousing version of “Jingle Bells” and someone yells, “I know this one!” Then they all laugh with joy and delight, because there’s something wrong with them.

At a company meeting to consider changing the name, Erin suggests Animal Tracker. An employee shouts, “It kind of sounds like Animal Cracker! I like it!”

Erin, Carly, and Taylor work to find homes for the puppies, targeting sad people who need to be thrown a pity dog. Or so it would seem. The first people to get a dog are a married couple who “couldn’t have children so they’re looking for a dog to complete their family.” Because a child and a dog are basically interchangeable. Another dog goes to a formerly homeless woman who wears her lipstick like Baby Jane, another to a girl in a wheelchair. But at the end of the movie there are four puppies left and Martin, having learned important life lessons from Erin, declares that he has decided to adopt the rest of the puppies. Only an idiot would think it’s a good idea to adopt four puppies at once, and I say that as someone who sincerely loves dogs.

By the way, these puppies are always spotless. Real puppies are adorable but disgusting. They pee and poop all over everything, including themselves. They would be hell on Carly’s flooring, and yet Erin doesn’t even put newspaper down. Rank amateur.

Erin’s ex-boyfriend shows up at her hotel in New York. How did he find her? Who knows. But they argue, Martin intervenes, punches him, and ends up being arrested. This entire movie has hinged on the necessity of getting support from the backers in New York, or Doggone/Animal Tracker will close. But while in jail Martin calls an old “friend” who believes in his product and provides the funding and it is – SURPRISE! – his dad! If his dad was a potential backer, calling him from jail to ask for the money seems curious timing. If you alway had that handy “deus ex machina” card in your back pocket, what was this movie about?

I have so many things to say about this movie, but I’m going to just move on to the upsetting and clearly disturbed central character, Erin. Erin is paranoid, emotionally manipulative, vindictive and I’m pretty sure she’s capable of violence. These are lines said by the *leading woman* in a “light” Christmas rom-com full of puppies: “You are stupid and weak, Taylor. You’ve always been weak.” “If any of your employees found out your doggie shrink was coming up with ways to save the company you’d look like a fool.” “I am so enjoying seeing you grovel.” “I just like seeing you squirm.” And then there’s this line she throws out at the party in her honor given by people she just met: “My family passed on. It’s nice to be with people who are alive.”I’m pretty sure Erin killed her family.

I can’t adequately communicate how bad 12 Puppies of Christmas is. Even the sound is bad, meaning I kept rewinding to check what I thought I’d just heard, and STILL I couldn’t understand some of the dialogue. The only sympathetic character was Erin’s Yorkie, Goliath, who is carried around like a bag of potatoes through almost every scene in the movie. In the last shot, after Martin has given Erin public credit for saving his company (“It’s true,” she murmurs, standing next to him, having sucked out the last of his autonomy and self respect) the camera closes in on Goliath’s face. His eyes break the fourth wall, staring out at the viewer. “Please,” they cry. “Please.”

Entry #23: Happiest Season (2020)

Alternate Title: Jane is the Best of Us
Watched: November 27, 2020
Available on Hulu

Abby and Harper have been in a relationship for a year and living together for 6 months. On their way to visit Harper’s family for Christmas Harper confesses that she’s never come out to her family and asks Abby to not only pretend their just friends, but to try to pass herself of as straight until after the holidays. Harper’s dad is running for mayor of a small Pennsylvania town and is trying to impress a donor with his picture perfect family. Harper and her sisters bicker, Abby – feeling isolated and confused by Harper’s behavior – bonds with Harper’s secret high school girlfriend. Meanwhile, Abby’s best friend John comes to rescue Abby from this awful holiday visit. Will Harper and Abby’s relationship survive Christmas? And will Harper ever come out to her family?

Our Romantic Couple: Abby (Kristen Stewart) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis)

Their Meet Cute: According to a sweet little montage of paintings over the credits, they met at a Christmas party.

Star Power Casting: Pretty much the entire cast. I mean…Kristen Stewart (Twilight and much better stuff)
Mackenzie Davis (Halt and Catch Fire, Tully)
Mary Steenburgen (Stepbrothers, Justified, The Last Man on Earth)
Victor Garber (The Orville, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow)
Alison Brie (Community, GLOW)
Dan Levy (Schitt’s Creek)
Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation)
Ana Gasteyer (SNL, Mean Girls)

The 110% Award: I pause to note that sometimes this award is an insult (as when given to Charlotte Sullivan in 12 Pups of Christmas) and sometimes it’s a compliment Chris “Marvelous Jim” Gauthier in The Christmas House. It’s my category, so I get to be a bit illogical about it. The critical thing is that it be a very memorable, hopefully big and off-kilter performance. In this case it goes with the HIGHEST of compliments to Mary Holland as Jane, the mistreated youngest sister in Harper’s family.

Observations:People definitely wanted me to cover this movie. I’ve been getting messages about it since October from friends who hoped I would include it. It’s definitely the buzziest of the LGBT-themed Christmas movies this year. Why? Well, firstly, it’s this cast, good lord, this cast! Secondly, the gay couple are the central characters rather than a secondary storyline (as they were in Hallmark’s The Christmas House). Thirdly, it doesn’t hurt that it was co-written and directed by Clea Duvall who is queer Hollywood royalty for her role in But I’m a Cheerleader.

I have mixed feelings about Happiest Season as a comedy and as a groundbreaker in the holiday movie genre. Some of the humor works really well, but it gets unnecessarily slap-sticky in spots (like an episode in which Abby is caught hiding in a closet – rimshot).

Surprisingly, for all the thoughts I have about this movie, I don’t feel like writing much about it. I think it needs to be seen to be critiqued, and while it’s not great it’s good enough that you won’t suffer through it. You’ll get to see some very charismatic and talented actors, if nothing else.

The internet is divided on whether or not Harper and Abby should wind up together. A secondary question is whether Abby belongs with Riley (Plaza), the girlfriend that Harper betrayed in high school in order to stay closeted. There is DEFINITELY more chemistry between Abby and Riley than between Abby and Harper, but I’m willing to set that aside. Love is more than chemistry. The bigger problem is in how Harper treats Abby. It’s not a second chance that Harper is asking for in the film’s last act. It’s a fourth or fifth chance. She lied to Abby about having come out to her parents earlier in the year. She allowed Abby to join her on the trip before telling the truth about still being closeted. She asked Abby to not only hide their relationship but hide her own sexuality. She abandoned Abby to hang out with her old high school friends, including her high school boyfriend (and was mean and defensive about it, to boot). Then, when her sister Sloane tells the family that Harper is gay and in a relationship with Abby, Harper looks Abby straight in the eye and….tells her family that it’s a lie, she’s not a lesbian. That is a LOT of duplicity and callousness to apologize for, and I worry that Harper doesn’t grasp how cruel she’s really been. But we’ll see. Maybe we’ll get a sequel.

John is a supportive and sensible friend to Abby and gives the speech that is the emotional heart of the movie, asking Abby to understand that everyone’s coming out story is different, and not all families are as accepting as Abby’s (now dead) parents were. Just because Harper is not ready to come out now, John says, “doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you or that she won’t ever be ready.” Then Abby gives what seems the most healthy response: “I want to be with someone who is ready.”

Of course, Harper is not obligated to be out. No queer person is. But choosing to keep your sexuality private is not an excuse to harm others, as Harper has harmed Riley and Abby.

Happiest Season draws a very unflattering comparison between the gay and straight worlds. John, Abby, and Riley are all emotionally healthy, honest, kind, and charming people. When Riley and Abby hang out it’s at a gay bar where a couple of drag queens are hosting a holiday show, leading the crowd in a rousing version of “Must Be Santa”. It’s so wholesome it will almost give you a toothache. (Speaking of those drag queens, they are Jinx Monsoon and BendelaCreme, both veterans of RuPaul’s Drag Race.) Meanwhile, Harper and her high school friends are downing shots at a sports bar calling Fratty’s. I know where I’d rather be.

As for Harper’s family, her sister Sloane’s major is on the rocks and her parents are desperately trying to invite a political donor. They have spent their lives offering their daughters very conditional love, and the poisonous rivalry between Harper and Sloane is the result.

But then there’s Jane. Jane is treated like crap by the entire family: shoved aside, derided, sent off to do tasks for her parents every time she walks into a room. Why? There’s nothing wrong with Jane except that she’s a bit of a weirdo. She’s socially awkward, talks at length about the fantasy novel she’s been writing for ten years, looks a little wonky compared to her striking sisters and mother. But Jane is loving and kind and supportive of everyone. She puts up with her family’s treatment and only near the end of the film gets to express frustration in what is a scene played for laughs but that made my heart hurt. Even then, Jane doesn’t stay angry. When her sisters finally spill their secrets to their parents – Harper’s sexuality, Sloane’s impending divorce – Jane steps forward and says, “I don’t have any secrets, but I’m an ally.” And she is. She is the best person in the family by a long shot and Mary Holland’s quirky but sympathetic portrayal means that Jane nearly steals the film.

Happiest Season wraps up way too easily. Homophobes become enlightened Pride marchers, Harper’s dad loses nothing politically by having his “perfect” family publicly undone, Harper and Abby are reconciled and become engaged, even Jane’s book is published and is a hit (the convenience of having John be a literary agent!). I know that holiday rom-coms are supposed to end happily, even if improbably. But the stakes were higher in this movie so the shortcuts bother me more.

Mackenzie Davis, a beautiful actress, looks a mess here. Terrible hair. Why did they do her that way? Kristen Stewart, on the other hand, is drop dead gorgeous in this movie.

One last thought. Some people are complaining that we should be past “coming out” stories in LGBT cinema. I understand not wanting to make every story about gay characters revolve around this conflict – there’s a lot more to the lives and loves of queer people. But there are certainly places and families in which coming out is still frightening and risky. We’re not “over it” as a culture, and there’s still value in stories like Harper and Abby’s (even if I still think Harper is kind of a jerk).

Entry #24: Sense, Sensibility & Snowmen (2019)

Watched: November 29, 2020
Available on the Frndly app

Ella and Marianne Dashwood are partners in the event planning business started by their parents (now dead). Ella, the flighty one, needs to prove to Marianne that she can be a serious business lady, so she books a last-minute Christmas party for Ferris Wheel Toys. Ferris Wheel is run by Edward, a handsome but stuffy Mr. Business. He and Ella bicker, then bond. Meanwhile, Marianne falls in love with a guy named Brandon who is a lawyer, and Edward’s cousin. The sisters have a falling out. The party is a huge success, but Ella is sad because she thinks Edward has a girlfriend and doesn’t believe in her business acumen. On Christmas morning Edward shows up at Ella and Marianne’s door to sort out the GREAT MISUNDERSTANDING. All’s well that ends well.

Star Power Casting: Luke McFarlane was on Brothers and Sisters as brother Kevin’s boyfriend (then husband?). I didn’t watch Brothers and Sisters, but this is the only star power I could find in this cast. The other leads are “Hallmark famous”.

The 110% Award: Gary Peterman as Stanley Green, who is so excited to book the Dashwood’s for his 30th anniversary soiree. A lot of high energy for only having a few lines.

Observations:As adaptations of Jane Austen books go, this isn’t one. Swiping the names of main characters is not enough to merit this movie’s title.

Least convincing snowball fight I’ve seen yet. Ella takes a small snowball – lobbed from a few feet away – to the torso and goes crashing to the ground.

I saw Kimberly Sustad in The Nine Lives of Christmas where she was a “girl next door” type. Here she is a serious business lady, which is conveyed by having her wear very dark lipstick.

I’m not interested enough in this movie to talk about it. I only have one question. Edward’s party is booked for the Wabash Conference Center, which Ella twice pronounces “Wuh-BOSH.” Is that normal??? Have I been doing it wrong? And how do you make this work, exactly, when you sing “The Wabash Cannonball”?

Oh, one more thing. Last year I gave up on a movie called Marrying Father Christmas because it was so boring I couldn’t retain the plot at all. With every scene I felt like a newborn babe, the figures on screen complete strangers to me. Erin Krakow was the lead in Marrying Father Christmas. Can I blame her for the fact that I’ve intensely disliked the only two movies of hers that I’ve seen?

Please watch Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility.

Entry #25: A Very Merry Mix-Up (2013)

Watched: November 30, 2020Available on the Frndly appAlice owns an antique shop in New York and is newly engaged to her real estate agent boyfriend, Will. Will invites her to spend Christmas with his family first time, but sends Alice on ahead while he closes a deal. Through a series of misadventures, Alice winds up at the wrong house and spends the next few days thinking she’s getting to know Will’s family and forming a very strong bond with Matt, who she believes to be Will’s brother. When the mix-up is discovered Will picks Alice up and takes her to visit his family. But Alice finds she doesn’t belong with them, or with Will. Destiny is calling her to Matt.

Our Romantic Couple: Alice (Alicia Witt) and Matt (Mark Wiebe)

Their Meet-Cute: Finally, a proper movie meet-cute. Matt and Alice meet at the lost luggage counter at the airport and chat for a few minutes. But things really crank up when Matt bumps Alice and she spills her coffee down her shirt (and also ruins her phone, which I consider a stretch, even in 2013 phone technology). In a very merry and completely avoidable mix-up, Matt and Alice become convinced that she is engaged to his brother, so Matt offers to drive her to his parents house.

Star Power Casting: Alicia Witt (Justified), Mimi Kuzyk (Hill Street Blues), and Lawrence Dane as Matt’s grandfather. Trust me, you know Lawrence Dane, you just don’t know that you know.

The 110% Award: It’s a double today, to Mimi Kuzyk and Judah Katz as Will’s parents. They give genuinely great comic performances as the aloof, chakra-cleansing Judith and money-hungry, leering Roy.

Observations: Less merry than one might expect.

The movie raises GREAT MISUNDERSTANDING to a whole new level.The eponymous mix-up is so avoidable that it’s hard to sympathize with Alicia when it’s uncovered late in the movie. Yes, she and Matt share a last name, but his brother goes by Billy, her boyfriend goes by Will, and these lines are exchanged: “Will never told me he had a brother!” “Billy never told me he was engaged!” Okay, so slow down. Just ask a couple of clarifying questions and we can avoid a lot of embarrassment later. Except that this movie is all about timing, fate, and destiny, so Matt and Alice *had* to meet, etc., yada yada.

Is Will a villain, or just a bad fit for Alice? The movie can’t decide. Here is the evidence against Will.
1) He’s a real estate agent who wants Alice to sell her dumpy, disorganized little shop for a cool $3.5 million, and has even arranged a lease for a new space a few blocks away.
2) Will organizes the shelves in Alice’s shop while she tells him a long, boring story about magical Bern Castle Christmas Clock. To be fair, I was as disinterested in the clock as Will.
3) He orders her terrible tofu at a restaurant, buys an engagement ring several sizes too large, and makes a big public spectacle of proposing.
4) He plays squash.
5) He disses Matt’s family home and tries to pay his family for any “inconvenience” Alice may have caused during her time with them.
6) He doesn’t take a walk to go see a Christmas tree with Alice.
7) He tells a business buddy that Alice will sell her shop because “Alice will do anything I tell her.”
8) This line: “Maybe if you’d been a Webelo your store would be in the black.
9) This line: “Be logical.”
10) The film’s real indictment again Will is that he and Alice met on a dating site and were only 75% compatible.

A lot of these are bad, but areas that open communication could sort out. But only #5 and #7 seem really damning. And as we’ll see, Matt has his own issues.

What about Matt?
1) He spills coffee on Alice (potentially burning her quite badly) and breaks her phone.
2) He critiques Will’s romantic style to Alice while THINKING he’s critiquing his brother’s romantic style to his brother’s fiancee who he *just met*. It’s weird, and would tick me off if I was the brother and that was actually my girlfriend.
3) He is distracted trying to pick something up off the floor of his car and drives straight into a tree with Alice in the passenger’s seat, giving her a concussion.
4) He compliments Alice in the hospital by telling her she has “clean fingernails”.
5) He tells an insipid story about his ex-girlfriend that ends with “She wouldn’t walk through the rain for me. Love walks through the rain.” To be honest, I was done giving Matt chances after that line.
6) He has a flour-throwing food fight in the middle of the night, in his parents’ clean kitchen, the week of Christmas.
7) Matt wipes icing off the corner of Alice’s mouth and then licks his fingers. Eeewww. Good lord, man, she’s your brother’s fiancee (allegedly)!
8) When the mix-up is discovered and Alice is reeling with embarrassment, she says, “How could I have made such a colossal mistake?” Matt replies, cheerfully, “It’s one for the books, alright!” You jackass! You were IN on that “colossal mistake”! Why are you not apologizing?
9) After finding out Alice is engaged to a stranger and was only at his house in error, Matt says, “Can you still come over on Christmas? Or can I come to your house?” It’s…uh….weird.
10) Finally, Matt stalks Alice to Will’s family home, shines a light in her bedroom to wake her up (how did he know which bedroom?), and lures her outside for a late night walk.

It’s a toss up which of these guys is worse. I think Alice should take some time for self-reflection. Maybe you should enjoy your own company for a while, Alice. But take that buyout. If your junky store – which is called “The Junk Store” – is really not in the black, you need a better long term business plan. $3.5 million and a better location sounds like a good start.

Running Totals

Dead Mothers – 17
Christmas Job Losses – 5

Halfway through! Only 25 movies to go!

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