Sadly I think this is going to be my final Christmas movie review of 2017, but it’s best to go out on a high, and that’s exactly what we’re doing: it’s Merry Ex-mas, feat. Dean Cain and Kristy Swanson…
Now loyal fans of this series will no doubt remember A Belle For Christmas (what do you mean, you don’t?!), an earlier holiday classic also starring Dean and Kristy, and one of my one personal favourites. Clearly a favourite of Hot-Shot Christmas Movie Producers too, as they have re-paired our friends and shoved them back out there.
Who’s this lad? I don’t know, but he’s British! So we’re already onto a winner here. He’s hosting some sort of celebrity news channel called TVT, and telling us all about a pop star apparently called Discrete (good name) having a fling with her head of security, Mr Jessie Rogers (that’s our boy Dean!)
Next thing we know, it’s Jessie, in the car and telling his bodybuilding pal that “she’ll understand”. It doesn’t look like “she” will though, because as he pulls up to the house, “she” (being his missus, Kristy) is chucking all of Dean Cain’s stuff out the door, including whacking his belongings across the driveway with his golf clubs, something that has always almost made me want to go out with a cheating golfer, just so I could do that.
Acting so far is A++, tip-top. I knew we could rely on Dean and Kristy. I wish I could find you a shot of Discrete, I can’t, but what I can tell you is, she is not backing down on this affair story, and no matter how much ole Mr Bodyguard here is telling us “SHE’S LYING!”, and his mate is telling us “THEY’VE DOCTORED THIS PHOTO!”, it looks like he’s got himself into a right jam. Not sure how it’s Christmas in this film yet, but a minor quibble.
His wife is called Noelle! That’s how it’s Christmassy! She’s raging though, because this is humiliating – some kid has just asked their daughter in class if her dad can get them Discrete tickets (fnar fnar), and in fact, it would appear to be splitsville for Jessie and Noelle. “FIND THAT ORIGINAL PHOTO! BECAUSE SHE’S WORTH FIGHTING FOR!”, snarls Dean-Jessie. What I like about this film so far is, no messing around, straight on in with the plot.
Now we are two years later, at a big buffet. Noelle-Kristy is some kind of high-powered wedding planner, we know this because she has a headset on and is dealing with a woman dressed in white weeping in the bathroom. But our Noelle has got this: “if you climb out that window now, you are never going to know how perfect Michael is for you”, which apparently is all this runaway bride needed to hear to dry her tears and crack on with the ceremony. There’s a wistful look in Noelle’s eye as she says it though, and that’s when our movie delicately cuts to a shot of Jessie smashing an axe through some wood.
But who’s this chap giving Noelle a big old snog? Well, he’s her new boyf, who she really doesn’t seem all that into. He has a private jet and likes telling us about it, which I suspect is meant to make us realise he’s Not Dean Cain. There’s another wistful look in Noelle’s eyes, as she calls Jessie to tell him that she and their daughter Carrie will be coming to his house to spend Christmas with them.
Except he’s asleep, so he doesn’t realise she’s arriving TOMORROW. And when he wakes up, a rather busty lady is in his house doing yoga. Despite the fact that he seems uncertain who she is, she is Tasha, his new girlfriend. OH YAY WHO CAN SEE WHAT IS COMING? All of us, that’s who. Noelle arrives, meets the new girlfriend, calls her a stripper (really) and we’re all set for the world’s most awkward Christmas.
Now we’re in a hot tub, with Carrie the daughter, and all her friends are asking if her dad is still going out with Discrete. She says they broke up. At which moment dad himself calls and asks when she’s coming for Christmas. She says she’ll be there tomorrow, along with her mother, grandmother and someone called Flynn McGee… (god strike me down, I just got Tits McGee in my head at this point and it never left) Using my powers of deduction, I think we are meant to realise that Flynn is the boyfriend Noelle was just kissing. Jessie’s nearly as sharp as I am, because he instantly calls his security bro and gets him to run a background check on Flynn, which again is an abuse of power I would almost love to be able to run at some point in my life.
SKIING! PLUS JINGLE BELLS! Now it’s officially Christmas. Jessie’s on the chairlift and he’s got his new girlf on one side and his ex on the other. (OK, she’s not his girlfriend, she just told us she’s his “friend with benefits”) Jessie’s realised this is a six-minute chairlift, and he (and we) are going to feel every one of those minutes. This is a genuinely funny scene, and I thought the actress playing the new girlfriend was very good. They get off the chairlift and they all wipe out, and Jessie helps Noelle up, which I think is meant to further ram home the point that he still holds a candle for her.
You’re probably wondering what that security check on Flynn McGee threw up? Well, he’s being deported. So, there’s that. He’s going to have to find Noelle and tell her the truth, apparently. Talking of finding things, back up at the snowy ranch, Noelle has just found a bottle of red wine, which is exactly what this film needs – BOOZE. Suddenly everyone’s at it. Flynn picks up Noelle’s mum in a limo and they’re drunk too. “Can I get you all a drink?”, asks the waitress in the cafe, “two glasses of Merlot”, says everyone, shortly before Jessie and Noelle launch into an argument about THAT photo of Discrete and whacks out the divorce papers. Even though this is a shiny crap Christmas film, it does seem quite realistic.
GHOSTBUSTERS KLAXON! Ernie Hudson is here, playing another Christmas vicar, Pastor Ed. He married Noelle and Jessie, you see, up at the snowy ranch. May no one tell him about those divorce papers, whilst he regales them (plus new girlfriend) with tales from their past… one of which involves whisky. Very drunk film. Good job, film.
Flynn wants to rush that marriage along, which her mum thinks is romantic, but we all know is really just to keep immigration from the door. Everyone is basically drunk by now, so I think good decisions will be being made.
Now it’s time to add the final element to the festive mix, which is the stroppy teenage daughter Carrie and a snowstorm that delays her flight, meaning she has to get a lift with Flynn in his limo (Flynn-mo) Carrie puts the electric window up and down, up and down, up and down, driving Flynn mad, in a scene that means basically nothing but also makes me feel quite mad. Then she eats crisps very loudly and says, “he’s not my father”. We can tell that, because he buys her a crossword book and says, “when I was your age I was really into the puzzles”.
The next 15 minutes of film are all about being stuck in a blizzard / being stuck in a sunny place trying to fly into a blizzard. It’s dull as. I said “WHAT?” quite a lot.
**** INSANE REALISATION ****
I think Flynn is supposed to be Scottish. This would explain why he is not a US citizen, and I also why I haven’t been able to understand his accent for the past hour. Now I’ve noticed this, I also notice he is saying things like “wee” an awful lot. Jeez, this film started so well but is now going downhill faster than Lindsay Vonn.
He’s still intent on getting up that mountain and marrying Noelle, but Tasha (the new girlfriend, these two women are fast becoming my favourite part of the film) has seen through Noelle’s frosty exterior, and she’s realised that she is still in love with Dean Cain-Jessie. Fair play to the girl, she knows when she’s beaten and steps aside so that true love can re-blossom. Jessie tries to apologise for the doctored photo (yeah, about that? I don’t think we’ve proven it was doctored yet, Deano) but she’s still not totally admitted to herself how she feels.
Now Jessie and Noelle are decorating the house (still snowed in) with a stolen Christmas tree and an inflatable Santa, whilst the rest of the fam are trying to get up there via dogsled, also via some of the worst CGI snow I have ever seen. “Have you been drinking?”, Jessie asks Noelle, and truth be told, even though I am at the “I’m never drinking again” phase of Christmas, I feel like I could do with a beverage to get me through the rest of this movie.
The family somehow arrives, just as Noelle and Jessie are sorting it all out, and Flynn proposes in front of everyone. I am very much not pro-public proposals, so even if I did like Flynn I would not like this. Jessie REALLY does not like this, because he just finally sorted things out with his soon-to-be ex. Flynn then said “CARIBOU” in his fake Scottish accent and I laughed so hard I missed the next five minutes of dialogue. But somehow she’s accepted the proposal.
Noelle’s mum is properly drunk now, which is great, and the only way any of us will get through the wedding. Jessie tries to have it out with Flynn about his motives, but gives up and signs the divorce papers. Now is about the right time for Ernie Hudson and new girlf Tasha to turn up and tell Jessie to fight, fight, fight, fight, fight for this love, and yep, they do. I just hope he is going to heed their advice.
It’s WEDDING DAY! Flynn starts it with some nude hot tubbing? Why? No idea. A very camp waiter turns up with more alcohol. For a wedding planner, Noelle is doing a pretty crap job of planning her own last-minute nuptials. I’m not 100%, but I think the daughter may have figured out that there are visa issues behind Flynn’s rushed proposal. The waiter brings more champagne whilst Flynn prepares a pre-nup.
BUT THEN a photographer turns up. Not the wedding photographer you might be expecting, but the photographer who took those doctored photos of Jessie all those years ago. Ernie Hudson brings him to Noelle to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about how he came to fake the pics. Even Noelle’s own mother is now telling her she shouldn’t be marrying Flynn, and she knows about the visa situation.
So the truth is out. The wedding’s off. Except all the stuff’s ready, so we may as well have another marriage – OR WHY NOT TWO? Because yes, as you might have guessed, Dean-Jessie and Kristy-Noelle are going to get married again… but in a curveball you did not see hurtling towards you, Flynn’s going to marry Noelle’s mum. OK! He gets his green card but it’s also a bit weird.
Then there’s a massive group dance, which ends in this:
Everyone is roaring drunk and I can’t believe the 2017 movie reviews are over.
I did quite enjoy this one, until the Scotland realisation. After that, there was nothing it could do to pull me back in, despite enjoying the borderline alcoholism and the extra-bitchy camp fun. One thing I can say for certain is that Dean Cain and Kristy Swanson are GREAT in Christmas movies together.