I made a promise, and I intend to keep it. Here we go with the first crap Christmas film of my season… DRUMROLL PLEASE, for SNOWMANCE. (see what they did there?)
You may recall I have rules for what makes a good-bad holiday film. For some reason I can’t search back far enough through my posts to locate them, but I’ll start by telling you that this film features good real snow and ice.
This will not last.
We kick off with a flashback to 18 years ago. “It was love at first sight – anyone could see that”, our narrator, Sarah, tells us, but ha, she’s chatting up & kissing a snowman. OK! But then mean old local tween heartthrob/bully Dean Papadopolous turns up and pushes over her snow boyfriend. Sarah’s consoled by nice kind local tween not-heartthrob Nick, who she doesn’t fancy but he’s got moony eyes already.
***CHRISTMAS MOVIE CLICHE KLAXON!**** Who can spot the real romance coming a mile off?
So Nick helps her build her snow boyf, and each year, the tradition of them building a snow boyfriend continues, with one of the most hilarious ageing processes ever committed to celluloid, as the girl is literally a completely different person each year. She lists all the qualities her boyfriend, real or snowy, has to have: brave, smart, romantic, must sweep her off her feet, make her laugh. All right love, don’t get greedy. They take a selfie back in about 1999 with an old school camera, and in my notes on the film I characterised this as “absolute noolocks”, whatever that may be, but I stand by it.
We’re in the present day and Sarah’s just broken up with Brian, whoever he is. Present-day Nick is here too, and his job appears to be drawing cartoons of Sarah’s break-ups? OK! Sarah’s got him an interview, though, at her magazine. Of course she works at a magazine. She wants to be a travel writer but she’s not allowed to leave Minneapolis. “Here’s to another Christmas being single”, says Sarah, and we discover that Nick is on her desktop background – and everything is happening on iPads to prove it’s the 21st century.
Sarah blames her lack of relationship on her father, and this review isn’t long enough to unpack the psychology of this, but then Dad gives her her late mother’s scarf to bring her romantic luck. Dad also tries to hurry the film along by suggesting she date Nick. Listen to your father Sarah, so we can all go home.
It’s time for Nick and Sarah to build this year’s snowman boyfriend! Nick is exasperated by her list of man requirements. He’s been hearing it for 20 years. I feel the same after 20 minutes. BUT UM, MAGIC SNOWMAN ALERT? Its eyes start doing something weird and sparkly. WHERE IS IT?! IT HAS GONE (this part of the plot will basically never be resolved, so don’t pin your hopes on it)
Then a man by the name of Cole turns up at Sarah’s door with her mum’s old scarf and an exceptionally over-familiar attitude. He puts the scarf on her, then invites her to lunch. I’d be a lot more freaked out by this than she is. Nick, not unreasonably, thinks Cole’s a stalker.
Cole picks up Sarah for their lunch date in a horse drawn carriage. He works in adventure tourism, which is apparently a real job, taking people to extreme cold places. He wants to take her to dinner that night even though she’s agreed to see Nick, who is, obviously, raging, and says she’s projecting love for snowman boyf onto this guy & she’s angry because why can’t he just be happy for her?
But more importantly, Nick’s got the job at the magazine, and he and Sarah are going to be working together, ohoho what a coincidence. The boss thinks of a great project: Sarah & her new man go on dates around the city & Nick tags along to sketch them. Jesus Christ.
Cue stereotypical winter dates. Ice skating, snow sculpting, the usual jazz. Cole tells us all the a-mazing places he’s skated and ice-sculpted and we all want to punch him. It seems like Sarah wants to set up Nick & her colleague Isobel. But Isobel’s sharp, man. She’s sussed this one – she knows Nick loves Sarah and has done since forever.
I’m leaving out a weird bit where Cole makes Sarah eat raw fish and she gets sick, because I didn’t understand it. Is someone suggesting Cole is a seal in human form? I don’t know but it was the worst bit of a pretty atrocious film. Cole keeps saying ”I’m hot, is anyone else hot?” Is someone trying to suggest that Cole is a snowman in human form? I don’t know that either, but it’s neither subtle nor obvious enough to work out.
Now Nick and Sarah have to go home because Cole has a surprise for her. Unfortunately the surprise is Dean Papadopolous, who now is a bastard estate agent who wants to sell their beautiful house. Sarah is raging. I think I would be too if I hadn’t seen it coming a mile off. Even Sarah’s dad has worked out how Nick feels.
Cole then randomly drops it on Sarah that he has to leave on Christmas Eve and that she should go to Paris with him, which she says she can’t just do that. I wouldn’t do it either, or at least, I wouldn’t go with Cole but I would go to Paris, and I wouldn’t need to quit my job either because I’ve just found out I don’t have one any more!
Simultaneously, Nick decides it’s time to tell her how he feels. He walks in just as snoggums are happening and he’s heartbroken and can’t get the words out. He ends up saying he can’t keep being the one who watches and picks up the pieces. “I’m happy for you but it’s not making me happy”, he says, which is both confusing and deeply profound.
Nick tries to have it out with Cole in the park (where he’s chatting to snowmen?), which ends in Cole shouting that Nick is a murderer (for breaking a snowman) and them snow-grappling. And getting arrested. The plus of this situation is that Nick is finally force to spit out how he feels. Sarah handles it with tact and aplomb. Just kidding, she ruins everything.
Back at work, Isobel is setting off with her crossbow to hunt for the holidays. She suggests Sarah should call Nick before she goes to Paris. Nick meanwhile is cartooning at home, mostly pictures of himself looking sad while Sarah & Cole have fun in Paris. During every scene that takes place indoors it’s dark outside the windows, then when they actually do go outside, it’s broad daylight.
Nick leaves Sarah a present to take to Paris – an iPad (21st century reminder!) copy of the magazine article they were working on, sort of, except not, because it’s all their personal photos too and Sarah is crying and realising what we all realised 90 minutes ago. Yeah, she’s getting out of the car and running away from Cole the weirdo. Cole is handling the break-up very well, but then, he *is* going to Paris for Christmas, so of course he is. You’ll be pleased to hear Nick turns up and he and Sarah finally get their act together. THE END.
I actually didn’t hate this film as much as this review might suggest, mainly because the actors were all really good, especially Nick, Isobel and Sarah’s dad. The magazine boss was funny, I felt they tried to make her like Karen from Will & Grace; and there was also a silent man who worked in Sarah’s dad’s carpentry firm who never said a word, and was therefore hilarious.
I do realise that the magic space alien snowman was meant to turn into her boyfriend, but the plot was both too simple and too complicated, and you know how I feel about the desperate single lady cliches. The snow was too confusing, there were no Christmas songs and if you want to make a movie about a magic space alien snowman, then by god make one, do not hide behind romance! I would watch the shit out of that.