Thursday, December 20, 2018

I'm Dreaming of a Netflix Christmas

It's time for another review of original Netflix Christmas movies!

Our first review will be The Holiday Calendar which stars Kat Graham aka Bonnie (aka the witch) from The Vampire Diaries as Abby a photographer who dreams of one day owning her own studio where she can work on selling her own photos instead of just taking photos for people's passports and Christmas cards which she only does "to pay the bills." Well, that job not only helps her pay those bills, but it helps her afford a super nice apartment! Seriously, for a girl who's moaning about not having enough money to pay the rent for an open space she wants for her own studio, she sure has a beautiful and spacious apartment with some super nice furniture. Though her dad is a lawyer, so I'm sure he's helping her with some funds. Her parents don't approve of her photography passion and want her to find a "real" job. Her dad wants her to work at the law firm like her older sister does. 

In the first minute of the movie we are introduced to Josh. At first I thought he was her brother, but he is introduced as her "oldest friend." They have a very sister/brother relationship, you know, goofing off with each other, but there will be a romantic relationship between them later on which I just don't see because he is always so goofy around her and they act more like siblings than a romantic pair. In fact, I didn't have any reason to suspect that they liked each other that way until Abby starts dating someone and we see Josh get jealous. I guess that's our cue we're supposed to be rooting for those two to end up together at the end. (Spoiler alert: they do). Josh is a successful travel writer and has been all over the world living this wonderful and fabulous life, making some major bank as we will find out later. 

Abby's gramps (played by Ron Cephas Jones aka Randall's biological father on This Is Us) gives her an antique advent calendar (in the shape of a house) that belonged to her (now deceased) grandmother and Gramps tells her Grandma wanted her to have it. I remember having advent calendars when I was little. It was fun to see the little surprise behind the door when you opened it; I remember one year there were little pieces of chocolates behind each door. (I'm pretty sure my mom got my brother and me each our own that year so we wouldn't fight over who got the chocolate piece that day!) When Abby takes it back to her (beautiful and spacious) apartment, she tries to open a few of the doors, but they won't budge, so she just assumes her gramps gave her a piece of junk. That night (which is the first of December), the clock strikes midnight and the calendar glows and the first door pops open to show a small wooden pair of black boots. The rest of the figurines will be more related to Christmas/winter such as a Christmas tree, candy cane, nutcracker, ice skate, snow flake, etc. Though I guess you could argue that black boots are what Santa wears. 

So the point of this calendar is that it is possible a magic calendar. Each item of the day correlates with something that happened to Abby that day. For instance, the first day with the boots, Abby also receives black leather boots Josh bought for her in Italy. Even though this is before she starts dating the other guy, this is probably the first clue that Josh is into her. A guy does not buy a girl Italian leather boots (which you know cost a couple hundred bucks!) if he is not into her. This is the only instance of the calendar where there seems to be an eerie connection, but honestly, everything else just seems to be pure coincidence. I mean, everything is generic Christmas stuff, so of course you are going to encounter a Christmas tree or candy cane or a snow flake. There is nothing magical or supernatural about this calendar at all as Abby seems to think. (Hmm, I think she spent a little too much time in Mystic Falls!)

The second day the calendar reveals a Christmas tree and that's how she meets Ty (played by Ethan Peck aka Gregory Peck's grandson) who she will eventually start dating. They have a meet cute when she knocks the tree off of his car, then the next day when her advent calendar reveals a nutcracker, she finds out that his second grade daughter is a nutcracker in the school Christmas pageant. This has to be the smallest town ever because when Abby and Ty (Tabby!) go on their first date, who should walk up and see them when they share their first kiss? That's right, Josh. What are the odds of that? We see a montage of Tabby going on all these wonderful and magical dates and of course each one correlates with what little trinket the calendar reveals. When it reveals carolers, they are serenaded by carolers at a restaurant; when it reveals a wreath, Ty gifts Abby with one; and when it reveals a reindeer they go on a horse-drawn carriage ride. Eh, close enough.

Everything seems to be going great until Abby has a date with Ty on the same day that she promised Josh and another friend that she would go see A Christmas Story with them. Now what she should have done is canceled the date with Ty since she made the plans with her friends way in advance. But she assures her friends she'll be able to make the movie since it starts at 3 and the date is in the early afternoon. Ty doesn't tell Abby where they're going and he takes her to a soup kitchen, which seems a little weird for a date, especially a surprise one. While Abby is talking to some of the regulars, she learns from two guys that Ty often brings the women he's dating to show them what an altruistic person he is. Abby is late getting to the movie theater and it's sold out and Ty reassures her that her friends will understand because she was doing something much more important. Abby tells Ty about the calendar and when he mocks her about it, she breaks up with him.

There's a few more mishaps and misunderstandings between Abby and Josh (because they can't get together just yet since we still have half an hour left), but eventually they get together AND Josh pays for the studio she's always wanted since he's done so well as a travel-blogger or whatever he does. Abby also displays her photos and they get lots of attention and her parents tell her they were wrong about not backing her dream. We see Abby and Josh in their new studio one year later hosting a Christmas party (with some terrible hip hop "Christmas" music) and when they tell their guests they have an announcement to make, I'm thinking they're going to announce they're engaged, but nope, all the say is, "Merry Christmas!" Seriously, you're hosting a Christmas party and your big announcement is "Merry Christmas!"? Lame.

Before the end up together, there is some Inception-style flashback Abby has of the calendar and all the little trinkets and everything that had corresponded with it and realizes the fate of the calendar was pointing her in the direction of Josh this entire time. Remember when she thought the Christmas tree meant tree she knocked off Ty's car? It was actually her own Christmas tree she was hanging out by with Josh that same day! Or something like that.

So here's a fun little Easter egg (Christmas cookie?): there's one scene where Abby is about to watch something on Netflix (again, shameless promotion) and these are the movies/shows that are on her list: Christmas Inheritance (what a coincidence as you will soon see!), The Kissing Booth (SO terrible!), Set it Up (haven't seen), Glow (still need to see the second season), and Stranger Things (always a good choice). What, no A Christmas Prince of The Princess Switch?

Speaking of Christmas Inheritance, that is exactly what my next review is. It came out last year and it's about a spoiled party girl named Ellen Langford who's the heiress to her dad's gift business. Yes, that's right, a gift business called Home & Hearth. What does a gift company sell? Little trinkets? Kitchen gadgets and appliances? Jewelry? Bath and body supplies? Clothes? All of the above? I mean, literally anything you buy and give to anyone is a gift.

To teach her a lesson about where she came from, her father sends her to the small town of Snow Falls where he's from (she lives and works in NYC) to deliver a box of letters for Santa to his former business partner. She only has $100 with her for a 24 hour trip and can't tell anyone who she is, so she uses the alias Ellie London. Apparently the folks in the small town would know her name, but they wouldn't recognize her. Which is kinda weird if you think about it because you think they would know what the daughter (who appears on social media all the time) of one of the citizens who went on to have great success would look like. As soon as she gets there she doesn't have any cell phone reception, yet there is an Apple store in this really tiny town.

Ellen thought she would only spend a night at the Inn and give the letter to Zeke, her dad's former business partner, but he isn't there and there's a huge snowstorm that keeps her trapped there for a few days so she has to work as a housekeeper to pay for her room. Ellen already has a rich and handsome fiance back home who's a douche, but you know that's not going to last because she meets Jake, the owner of the inn and when they don't get along at first, you know they're going to end up together at the end. (Spoiler alert: they do.) Jake has this (unintentionally) hilarious backstory where whenever he hears "Silent Night" it makes him angry. This is because his ex (who's from NYC so when he finds out Ellie is also from there, he immediately  dislikes her) broke up with him at a restaurant while that song was playing. He must really hate the holidays because you can't escape that song. Can you imagine if Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas" was playing? Now that's a Christmas song you can't escape around the holidays!

So Jake thinks Ellie is just a spoiled rich city girl and blah, blah, blah, but he has a change of heart when she shows her compassionate side: letting the homeless man in during a bad winter storm, making Christmas cookies with And McDowell who runs the local bakery, and gathering nice items for the silent auction. This is how I know the small town has an Apple store because she persuades the guy to donate a computer. In the end she proves to herself she can handle the business (which she will inherent) and find the true meaning of Christmas. She breaks up with her douchy finance and ends up with Jake. There's even a cheesy line where he says, "Is this the part where we're supposed to kiss?"

Oh, and Andie MacDowell sings "Silent Night" at the end and it doesn't send Jake into a rage because he's in love now! Thank God for that! 

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