Monday, December 14, 2015

They're singing Deck the Halls, but it's not like Christmas at all

The Mistle-Tones!
Director: Paul Hoen
Cast: Tia Mowry, Tori Spelling, Reginald VelJohnson, and the rest are people you don't know
Aired: December 9, 2012

This is another ABC Family and Cinematic Sara presents. I couldn't resist; I had to watch and review another ABC Family TV Christmas movie! This time it was a movie that took advantage of the popularity of Pitch Perfect which was released earlier in 2012. All I knew about it was that Tia Mowry's character is a singer who forms a group and challenges her rival for the chance to sing at the mall on Christmas Eve. My first thought was, Her rival is going to be played by Tamara Mowry and she's going to find out she has a long lost twin!!! Just like in Sister, Sister! Remember that show from the '90s? Was that part of the TGIF lineup? Was it even on ABC? I don't even remember. Didn't the more laid-back, don't give a crap attitude twin live with the strict, uptight adoptive father (Tim Reid) and the more studious, organized, and rational twin live with the ditzy, unorganized, and fly by the seat of her pants adoptive mother? (Played by national treasure, Jackee (Jac-kay!)) But like I said, I haven't seen that show in years! But alas, Tia's sister (sister!) isn't in this movie.

So Tia plays Holly (oh, movie, you did not give our main character a very Christmas-themed name!) who is looking forward to trying out for a group called the Snow Belles who sing at the mall's annual Deck the Mall show every Christmas Eve. This means a lot to Holly because her mom was a Snow Belle and she has since passed. I can't even remember if they addressed how or why her mom died. She barely makes it to the audition on time and the head Snow Belle, Marcy (played by Tori should have heard me squeal when I saw her name in the credits...I am always overjoyed to see any of my BH 90210 alums in anything! It also made me laugh because I have a longstanding joke with my brother about her because he cannot stand her!) doesn't want her to audition even though she still has ten minutes left and belts out "O Holy Night" anyway. I am very impressed with Tia Mowry's voice unless they dubbed in someone else's, but I assume it's her. I mean, she's no Adele (but who is?), but it's obvious she should easily make it into the group. 

However, Marcy calls her the next day to tell her she did not make it in and the decided to go with another girl. This is because Marcy wants to be the best singer in the group and letting in Holly would change that fact! Holly goes to the mall and asks the manager (who is also doing double duty as the mall Santa...they must be really short of help!) and gives him the idea of instead of having the Snow Belles sing, they should have a competition where different groups can sing the week before Christmas Eve and the one who wins will get the honor to perform at the real show. Holly realizes she needs to get a group, so she quickly gets some people from her work: her goofball friend and cool dude AJ; the chubby Asian, Larry who everyone thinks is gay but is surprised to learn he's married to a woman...a tall, thin, and beautiful woman, no less!;  and Bernie, the nerdy redhead in HR who has the "voice of an angel". 

Marcy, who has a spy and knows that Holly has talked to the manager about letting different groups try out for Deck the Mall, goes to him when he's once again playing Santa and threatens him when he has a little girl on his lap. It is hilarious because we see through the POV of the young girl as "Santa" covers her ears and we hear a long muffled string of expletives come from Marcy. 

We see a montage of the Snow Belles and Holly's new group singing and dancing to "The 12 Days of Christmas" and I did not like the way it was arranged! They just totally butchered the way it is usually sung and why mess with something that doesn't need to be fixed? My favorite version of that song is sung by Ray Conniff and random females singers. It's a very festive song. Their voices are decent (but it was hard to tell since I hated the arrangement so much!), but their choreography is way off and they can never stay in sync.

One evening Holly crashes her car into a snowdrift and goes into a bar where they're having karaoke that night ("Yule love it!" proclaims the sign) while she waits for help to arrive. An announcer tells everyone it's time for the "King of Karaoke" and we hear a guy with a great voice start singing "Burnin' Love" and we don't see him until Holly looks up. Right away I KNEW it was her boss, Nick. He's a young and attractive guy, but he's a hard-ass with no sense of fun. He's dressed in jeans and a leather jacket and going around the bar singing to all the women. Holly's "Oh. My. God!" reaction is hilarious. Seeing him in this kind of environment is completely foreign to her. She confronts him afterwards and he is totally embarrassed and she blackmails him into helping her group because she has taken a video of the whole performance and threatens to publish it on the Internet and since he doesn't want anyone to see this fun side of him, he grudgingly agrees. He tells the group they need a name and after a few lame names like "Sled Leppin", "The Backstreet Joys", and "Snow Time" (it's like Show Time, but it's Snow Time!), Holly comes up with the Mistle-Tones, which wasn't a huge reveal since it's the name of the movie! 

A romance blossoms between Holly and Nick (and who didn't see that one coming? I wasn't born yesterday, ABC Family!) as they start to spend more time with each other. She eventually deletes the karaoke video (I at least hoped she saved it onto her computer!) Holly goes to sign up for the Christmas Duel at the mall and there are already five pages with about twenty groups on each page. Good thing we only see snippets of each group because that would take forever! (We actually only see three groups before The Mistle-Tones and The Snow Belles perform). I was hoping for a Battle of the Groups sing-off ala Pitch Perfect where each group has to come up with a Christmas song on the whim and perform it in a certain style. That would have been amazing! But that might have been a little difficult if there were 100 groups trying out! Well, the mall manager says there's only 20 groups trying out, but judging from those five pages, it looked like a lot more! We see the Chest Notes, a group with five buff guys who are shirtless and only wearing jeans and Santa Hats and bowties swaying their butts and flexing their's like they walked out of Magic Mike and into an ABC Family movie! Then we see a white skinny guy who calls himself Ludi-Chris Kringle and he raps "Away in a Manger" and it's like, no. Then we see some tweens perform an awful rendition of "O Christmas Tree." 

The Mistle-Tones are up next and are waiting for Nick, but he isn't there. Why? Because last night he was offered a job to oversee the overseas department in Asia...or something, I don't know, but the workaholic chose the job over Holly and staying in...whatever town they live in. But still the show must go on and they sing "Winter Wonderland" which was also the song Holly sang with Nick last night at the Office Christmas Party. AJ had brought in a karaoke machine and Nick decided it was time to share his special talent with the people he works with. 

However, even though they did a fine job, they weren't good enough to beat The Snow Belles singing "All I Want For Christmas Is You." How much residual money do you think Mariah Carey has gotten from that one song alone? Obviously the most famous example it's used in is Love, Actually but there are so many Christmas TV movies out there and I'm sure this isn't the only movie that uses that song. She probably has a summer home in the Bahamas that she bought just with "All I Want For Christmas is You" money alone. 

Speaking of people with money, the Snow Belles must have a lot of it because they wear these beautiful red intricate gowns at the duel, but then at the actual Deck the Mall performance, they are all wearing green beaded dresses! Feeling low that she's not able to sing (she really wanted to sing the closing song her mom would always end with: "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)". But as she's walking through the streets with her family and co-workers, a float comes by and it's Nick guessed it, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)." He's singing the U2 version. I like that song just fine, but honestly, I like the Mariah Carey version better. I love "All I Want For Christmas is You" as much as the next person, but it drives me crazy that she has so many other great Christmas songs that are never played and this one is a great example. Nick has decided to come back to this town he lives in because he realized he didn't want the job after all and he wants to stay here and be with Holly so Holly joins him and sings with him and everyone is gathered around their float and even the SnowBelles (minus Marcy cuz she's a huge bitch!) come out to watch the fun and festivities. 

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