Return of the Christmas Movie Review: 2020 edition

Here’s Jenna. She’s carrying stacked coffees, wearing an earpiece and she’s saying “it’s under control”, so we know INSTANTLY that she’s the absolute business at her job.

She’s in the lift and a blonde lady (I will never learn who she is) is saying, “I never thought I’d meet anyone who clocked more hours than me, but here you are” – yes, we’re laying on the “she works SO HARD” clichés so thick right from the outset, and close observers of Christmas movies will also know that this is shorthand for, “she’s married to her job = sad and single”.

Meet Jen

We get a shot of Jen’s life at home too – she’s meant to be spending Christmas with her dad, but things are a bit strained ever since her dad married her new stepmother, so this isn’t going to be easy.

(NOTE 1: there’s not a lot of snow in this, guys)
(NOTE 2: I realise instantly that I’ve just finished watching the main actress Elizabeth Harnois in another film called Don’t Steal My Baby, and I’ll not have anyone say I don’t have film taste)

Hahahaha, guess what Jen does? She works for a magazine called Trend Fashion (good title), of course she does, this is a CLASSIC Christmas movie lady job. She’s also a frustrated artist, designing clothes in her free time that her boss will dismiss out of hand, and lives in an incredible flat that she would never be able to afford on that salary.

She has a cute neighbour called Sebastian who lets himself in, note to self, move to somewhere where this happens. And if you’re wondering why you recognise this cute neighbour, like I was, here’s why:

thank u next

It’s him off of Mean Girls! And he’s sad because he’s broken up with his girlfriend just before Christmas. They have a Christmas tree in the hall, which if we had one of those in my building, would be stolen within 30 minutes.

**If she doesn’t end up marrying this neighbour, I am not the Christmas film connoisseur I thought I was**

Time to throw a spanner into the works then.

Yes, because her editor-in-chief’s brother Cooper is coming to town and coming to work for the magazine, and he’s trouble all right.

For some reason Jen is now dressed like Sexy Santa (see above) and there’s a four-piece choir singing Jingle Bells in the lift? If this happened to me at work I would commit violence. What else is in the lift? COOPER IS IN THE LIFT.



So they’re stuck together, and within possibly 22 seconds he’s kissed her, which is possibly assault? But she’s here for it apparently, though Cooper’s girlfriend Brittany is less than amused when the lift opens and she spots them at it.

Jenna’s heard he’s a player, she wants none of that, so perhaps this leaves the door open for nice neighbour Sebastian (who by the way, is a barman, this will be important – haha – plotwise, later on, and serves Cooper and Brittany drinks later, because coincidence)

Jen is now at home, as is Sebastian, and she’s telling him about Cooper forcing that kiss on her at work. Sebastian seems irked. Maybe he loves her?!

Kissing in the lift

Next day! And Jen has had to go round to her boss’s house where of course, brother Cooper is, half-naked. He’s very excited to talk about kissing her. It was apparently “electric”, and so he’s taking her for breakfast. She says she wants something quick and convenient – he says, “I don’t do quick and convenient” – she snaps back, “that’s not what I’ve heard” – this is the film’s funniest exchange.

In my notes I have written, “this might be the film’s natural lull”.

But he’s coming on quite strong, so Jen is pretending to have a boyfriend (that’s right, Sebastian the neighbour) Meanwhile, Mia the boss lady also isn’t happy with the coming on strong. She says he has to stay away from her or else the magazine will fall apart, and I actually feel a bit sorry for him, because she’s really mean to him about his life, but she’s not quite mean enough to be a proper Christmas Movie Lady Boss.

Jen and Coops head for breakfast

Cooper’s not deterred though, by literally everyone telling him not to go near Jenna. In fact, he’s trying to lure her into the lift again – so she has to phone Sebastian and lay the fake boyfriend stuff on pretty thick, calling him “baby”, and I’m mentally slapping myself on the back thinking “aha, I know my Christmas movies, I called this one from the start, they will fall in LOOOOVE”, and you know what, Cooper seems to be buying the fake relationship too. He’s definitely looking crestfallen.

(I’ve just realised that whenever the French/Italian/Spanish/generic European photographer is on screen, they play a kind of accordion-type music)

Don’t forget the side plot with her mean dad, who phones approximately every 15 minutes to say something stressy and rude about what Jen should get her stepmother/step-siblings for Christmas. He’s just phoned again. RUDE.

Here’s Mia the boss lady

Annoyed by her dad, Jenna decides to go all-in and show the boss the designs she’s done. Mia tells her to focus on what she is good at, which is being her PA, which is obviously crushing for Jenna – so the designs go into the bin. Unbeknownst to Jen though, Cooper rescues from the bin and tells Mia not to be mean. He offers to take Jen to happy hour to cheer her up, then Brittany turns up and instantly, Jen’s like, “oh see, you DO have a girlfriend, you ARE a player after all”, and she sacks off happy hour to go and have a wine with Sebastian.

Finally we get some snow! Except. It’s an overhead shot of the city all covered in snow but there’s literally zero on the ground and they’re dressed like it’s mid-April. I LAUGHED OUT LOUD.

Now she’s going to have to kiss Sebastian because they’ve bumped into Cooper out in town. Everyone says “boyfriend” a lot, just to ram the point home, that Sebastian is definitely Jen’s boyfriend and Cooper is definitely not. But Sebastian reckons Cooper’s love is for real, and that Jen is just buying into the player stereotype. Doesn’t he want to marry her at the end of the movie at all?!

L-R: soldier, Cooper, Sebastian, Jen


So Cooper thinks the romance might be back on. He phones Jen and says she has to come into work (apparently in the middle of the night?), so in she goes, but he’s not there. What IS there, is a trail of rose petals from the lift to their desks, and a lot of poinsettias.


Jen’s still convinced he’s a bastard, but Cooper is not falling for her lines, he says “why did you kiss me the way you did?” and it’s a bit creepy, but I do actually think Cooper is a changed man and she’s really kicking him here, so maybe this film is not going the way I thought it would?

Oh and what would make this better? Dad calling. He’s going to tell her she can’t come for Christmas. DAD. FFS. Jen is now very sad and her crying is so realistic that I can’t understand a word she is saying through the snot, but what I think it is, is “I’m very sad but I still don’t want to be your girlfriend, Cooper”, but I could be paraphrasing.

Another fake overhead snow shot.

Time for Jen and Cooper to plan an office Christmas party together? What Jenna doesn’t know, is that Cooper has her designs, and he’s going to get them made up and displayed at the party. I don’t like this because I can’t tell which way this film is going to end, and that makes me uncomfortable.

They’re back in the lift under the mistletoe, and the blonde lady from right at the beginning is back, and she says: “if a kiss happens in an elevator…”, and then Cooper says: “it stays in an elevator?” And the blonde lady says: “not always”. WHAT?

Another nice one of Jen and Cooper, don’t you think he looks a bit like Chris Isaak?

Now there’s a weird sped-up bit where Jen and Sebastian and Cooper decorate trees at home and not at home, I don’t get it, but everyone is friends and hugging.

Then Jen and Cooper kiss again and he says it won’t all be over in a heartbeat and she starts crying again, and tbh she’d be testing my patience. But Blonde Lady is back with more pearls of wisdom – “take a chance” she says, and Jen thinks, “you know what I WILL take a chance”, but then she gets a photo that Brittany (remember her? Cooper’s on-off girlfriend? Keep up) has staged, making it look like she and Coops have just spent a wild night together. No flies on Sebastian, “it looks staged” he says, right away.

But Sebastian still has a big rant at Cooper and Brittany when he sees them at the bar, which ends in Sebastian losing his job for yelling at customers.

Jenna says to Sebastian, “you really are the only guy I can trust”, and could it be that I did see things coming…? Will they get together after all? I’ll be honest with you, this film is WAY too long and it’s lost my attention, when is Jenna going to get with Cooper or Sebastian or Mia or ANYONE?

Pictured: Europhotographer and one of Jenna’s designs

Now it’s the Christmas party. Jenna walks in to see her designs made up on mannequins, AND her dad is there, but I am not sure I would be as forgiving to him as she is. It transpires that Cooper called the dad and had him come down.

She sees the error of her ways. He’s changed. He’s not a player any more. He will apparently be waiting for her where they first met, but he’s not in the lift but then he is?

And he’s got a ring in a box and he’s on one knee, which is not really where I thought we were going with this, which proves what I know about Christmas movies.

Then at the end the boss lady gets in the lift with a man who has thus far not been in the film, and that’s it?

PHEW! I feel like we’ve been in a festive fever dream. That said – I did enjoy this one, even though it wrong-footed me. I really thought that Jenna would see the error of her ways and fall for nice boy Sebastian after having her heart broken by bad boy Cooper, so this film definitely deserves praise for not going down that path. I really enjoyed all the actors, there wasn’t one weak link, which is also deserving of praise.

Maybe it really was too early to go in? Maybe we can’t truly appreciate the magic that is the Christmas Movie if we’re not knee-deep in tinsel and glitter and mince pies? Let me know what you think, and if we can face another one, I’ll get comfy on the sofa…

About gnidrah

Television, books, music, sports, cooking. I only get paid for one of them. (Update: two of them!)
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14 Responses to Return of the Christmas Movie Review: 2020 edition

  1. Amy says:

    YAY I’m so glad for Christmas movie reviews because I can read all about them and enjoy the wonder and majesty without having to actually watch them. A++ review!

    I’m impressed with the switcharoo, having Jenna hook up with the “bad boy” rather than the wholesome neighbor dude. Edgy! I thought blonde-lady-in-lift was going to be revealed as an angel at the end? The angel of love or kissing or whatever? Did she exist literally just to say “wise” things to the main characters?

    I will say that I am very intrigued by a movie called Don’t Steal My Baby. I mean, that’s about as straightforward a title as I can imagine.

    • Amy says:

      Oh brother, I had to change my gravatar because it’s getting used on a literary blog now where I write stuff and I have to be all serious there. I’m taoreader.

    • gnidrah says:

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      I’ve been reading around this 2014 classic and I *think* that it’s actually a sequel (to A Christmas Kiss, clearly) and that Blonde Lady may be in the first film too. Which could sort of explain her presence, that she’s a thread of continuity between the two films… She’s definitely real though.

      And yeah – Don’t Steal My Baby sees a woman, um, not wanting another woman to steal her baby? 🤣

  2. Sergeant Tibbs says:

    Oh this is my favorite time of year (and my neighbors clearly agree – everyone in the neighborhood had pumpkins and ghosts out on the lawn and my neighbors went straight to Christmas lights and a blowup yoda holding a candy cane (as yoda does I guess).

    This movie was a roller coaster and I don’t think I’m on board with Cooper and his creepy rose petals at the office (this is a harassment suit waiting to happen). Maybe that’s why his sister said to stay away from Jenna, she’s just looking out for the lawsuits.

    Have you seen Holidate on Netflix? It stars Emma Roberts at her most annoying and a person I kept referring to as 4th Hemsworth brother until the end when I wondered “wait IS he really a Hemsworth brother??” You won’t be disappointed.

    • gnidrah says:

      OMG I definitely had “lawsuit waiting to happen” in my notes, but I had to edit because otherwise it would be up there with Ulysses in terms of length. Personally v keen to watch the original to see what crumbs I might gain to explain any of the plot.

      I have NOT seen Holidate, but title alone, I am on board. I’ve just been scrolling through the planner and spotted one about two lawyers on opposing sides who fall for one another BECAUSE CHRISTMAS and it is all I can do not to stop and watch it right now. But I’ve been up since 3:30am because of the e******n so I think I ought to pause…

    • Tracey says:

      How good/bad is Holidate? Should I use it as my pick for date night movie, or save it to watch by myself while doing mindless work stuff?

      • Sergeant Tibbs says:

        I…wouldn’t subject unwilling participants to it but it was kind of clever in some parts and kind of sexist in other parts. Like a half step up from the worst pool of Christmas movies.

        Gnid, what’s the two lawyers one called? Maybe I’ll have to watch ahead. It’s snowy and I need a distraction.

        Also has anyone watched Gameface with Roisin Conaty (on Hulu in the US)? I feel like it’s a hidden gem for binging in our current climate.

        • gnidrah says:

          Oh god, I can’t track down the title! And I know this is going to be a shock, but apparently it’s NOT the most original idea, and there are several festive lawyer films?!

  3. Tracey says:

    I have been looking forward to your Christmas movie recaps! I hope more are coming! I’m sorry it took me so long to get here, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind. One year I became obsessed with watching all the Hallmark Autumn movies – lots of apple picking and cider and hayrides. And ladies with typical career gal jobs that learn to love life on a farm, of course.

    • gnidrah says:

      I’m just happy you’re here 🙂 ok so I have got a lot more work scheduled, which is obviously a good thing after the summer of zero work, but it means no Christmas reviews till I’ve worked out how to fit my life together with the new roster! There will be more though – promise/threat…

      • Sergeant Tibbs says:

        This is great news! Congratulations on the new work and hope you settle in soon (for your sanity’s sake but also so you can watch as many Christmas movies as you want).

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