Welcome to our newest series, in which we turn our Highly Scientific beam onto the greatest works of cinema ever produced: Lifetime Movies.
Y'all. Lifetime Movies are the SHIT. I promise you. Would you like to know why? Because no matter how bad your day is, you can go home, turn on the Lifetime Network and watch a production that makes you look like a genius. Struggling writer? Youcan write screenplays better than this. Still longing for the days when you were the greatest performer in your community theatre? Well, hey, try Lifetime Movies! And for everyone else: at least you aren't A) Valerie Bertinelli and B) falsely imprisoned whilst pregnant.
So when we decided to start analyzing Lifetime Movies, we knew we had to start with one of the several Christmas movies available on Hulu. My heart really wanted to go for the Dave Coulier movie, in which Dave Coulier plays a rogue in need of an infusion of Christmas spirit, but my brain won out by arguing that The Road to Christmas (aka Let It Snow), a movie so nice they named it twice, was clearly more worthy of an inaugural review. Why?
Because The Road to Christmas (aka Let It Snow) stars Jennifer Grey. That's right. Someone put Baby in a Lifetime Movie.
Because Lifetime Movies are Super Special, our HSA format had to be modified to fully capture the glory that is the Lifetime Movie. But we hope that we're able to accurately capture the je nais se quoi of these pieces of art for those of you who are unwilling or unable to watch them yourselves! Enjoy!
The Genius Behind It:
Director Mark Jean is notable for directing several episodes of the V. INFLUENTIAL Police Academy TV Series, not to mention many episodes of Big Wolf On Campus, a television show which aired for a truly remarkable three seasons. Meanwhile, Community is still on hiatus. But I'm not bitter.
Writer Judd Parkin has also written a tv movie about Jesus and a tv movie about Pope John Paul II. Knowing that, I was surprised there wasn't more religion in this. I mean, except for the whole Christmas part, I guess.
Movie Stars Down On Their Luck:
Jennifer Grey as Claire
Oh, Baby Houseman, what happened to you? Don't you remember when you were starting Mount Holyoke in the fall? Is this what happened once you fell in love with Johnny Castle? You ended up getting a nose job and starring in Lifetime movies? YOU ARE FRANCES (BABY) HOUSEMAN, for Christ's sake! YOU DID THE LIFT WHILE HUNDREDS OF KELLERMAN'S GUESTS CHEERED! Your dad was Jerry Orbach! WHY HAS THIS HAPPENED TO YOU?
Clark Gregg as Tom
Whoa there, Agent Coulson from all of the Marvel Comics movies of the past few years. WHOA. THERE. What are you doing in this movie? You're supposed to be getting Tony Stark out of jams and making sure that Captain America doesn't hurt his hand punching neo-Nazis. You have a duty, sir. A duty to AMERICA. You are in S.H.I.E.L.D. Members of S.H.I.E.L.D. do not go around starring in Lifetime Movies. You ever see Samuel L Jackson in a Lifetime Movie? Fuck no! Samuel L Jackson doesn't DO basic cable.
(Clark Gregg and Jennifer Grey are real-life married! Some couples play video games together. Some couples watch Downton Abbey on the couch while yelling at Lady Mary together. Some couples star in Lifetime Movies together.)
Megan Park as Hilly
Megan Park is in The Secret Life of the American Teenager, so this is probably a step up for her.
Marvin Ishmael as Jitu
Also there is this guy, who IMDB tells me was also in the Left Behind movie. So.
And Now I Will Save You From Having To Watch This Yourself:
Jennifer Grey (post nose job) is a photographer for ad campaigns. Her job includes photographing catalog models wearing Elf clothes while trying to making sexy faces, which is actually ascientific impossibility. Everyone is super happy, being photographed for this bad campaign! And Jennifer Grey is super happy to do the photographing. I know, because she keeps tossing her hair and going "WOOO!" The credits look like they were done using Windows 1.o. By a fifth grader. In their Intro to Computers class. In 1992.
She is affianced to a Generic European Man, who must go away for a few days, but promises to be back in time for their wedding in four days. Um, I'm sorry. No. If you are marrying someone, they should probably be available the week of the wedding (that is, if they live in your country). What, is he going to leave her to fold all those programs herself?
Oh, wait, no, he's actually the one going to Aspen to take care of the wedding arrangements, because Jennifer Grey is a workaholic and these ads for cheap, flavored vodka don't shoot themselves. Oh! I have been hoisted on my own petard by this turn of events! He promises that he and, I think, Simone (Generic European is a hard accent to manage) will have everything ready in time. Simone must be the lady he's sleeping with. Meanwhile, Jennifer Grey basically gives him a full on beej right there in front of everyone. She's got killer sexyface! Dial it down, lady; you're at work.
Meanwhile, Agent Coulson from S.H.I.E.L.D. is trying to convince his teenaged daughter that driving to Grandma's house is a fun Christmas tradition. It's not when it's a 10 hour trip and you're stuck in the backseat with your 8 year old brother and he keeps staring at you because he knows that you hate it. MO-OM! Agent Coulson dances to some pretty awful hip-hop music in order to show his daughter that he is with it. I doubt Nick Fury would abide by this.
Also, this movie earns my everlasting hatred for referring to a dog but not showing me the dog. Fuck you, movie.
Back at the photoshoot, a model comes over to the Craft Services table and expresses dismay at all the food. These olives will make her bloat! I have never met a model in my life who doesn't eat, folks, and I know my share. Said model, whose name I thought was Renee but is in fact N'nee, tells Jennifer Grey that she might be rushing into things with the Italian man (oh, so that's what he's supposed to be), as Italians are known for sleeping around. Jennifer Grey is totally offended by that remark, and says it'd be as bad as saying that because N'nee is black, she should enjoy eating watermelon. Oh, boy. I love it when white people say racist things to prove how racist something else is. It's my very favorite part about living in a post-racial society, except for how it's not and we don't.
Agent Coulson's truck breaks down and since Tony Stark isn't around to have Happy fix it, Coulson's got to repair it himself. This lets Daughter of Coulson get her first look at Jennifer Grey, who is just wrapping up shooting for the day (apparently these ad campaigns are shot in small towns. This is supposed to be Chicago, but it doesn't look like Chicago). Daughter of Coulson is entranced by Jennifer Grey. Creepily entranced. I think she wants to eat Jennifer Grey's internal organs with a nice chianti.
Jennifer Grey stops smiling at the creepy blonde girl in order to take a call from her Italian fiance, in which said Ragazzo says a bunch of italian phrases which mean fuck all (not literally fuck all; that's fa cazzo tutto) and they discuss flowers. For the wedding. That's in four days. Oh holy geez, I'm starting to get marriage planning stress by proxy. FOUR DAYS? That's not enough time! Quick! How many wedding blogs do you have bookmarked, Jennifer Grey? May I suggest a few?!
Jennifer Grey is busy getting her pre-wedding manicure (four day before the wedding? WHAT? Jennifer Grey, do you need me to send you specific links to wedding websites? You are the WORST. I'm going to write a book about weddings called Erin's Advice About Weddings Which You Should All Listen To Even Though She's Never Had One. One chapter will be entirely devoted to the concept of someone making tableside cocktails at your reception, something I've not been able to persuade any of my married friends to go for. Tableside cocktails! They all claim that's too expensive, but HELLO, weddings are a time when your dreams should come true and my dream is for someone to stroll up to my table with the equivalent of a full bar and make me a variety of delicious cocktails.), and once Jennifer Grey's manicurist (Asian, of course, but at least they barely managed to avoid the temptation of her being an old lady who says scathing remarks in a heavy Vietnamese accent, so, uh, well done?) hears that Ragazzo is Italian, she starts in on how Italian men are unfaithful. Jesus, is this going to be a theme? I mean, obviously Ragazzo's screwing someone, but it's not because he's Italian; it's because he exudes skeeve juice from his very pores.
Anyway, Jennifer Grey's shoot was cancelled so now she gets to go up to Aspen early and surprise Ragazzo. That's sorpresa, Jennifer Grey. Try saying it using your mind italics and then immediately translate it into English, as is required by pretty much every bad romance novel written. "Sorpresa, mio amore. A surprise, my love."
Back to the Coulsons. Their truck breaks down and they're forced to stay somewhere in Nebraska. Where's the dog? Have they made him ride in the bed of the truck this entire time? Why won't this movie show me the damn dog? It's CHRISTMAS! Don't I get a Christmas present?
Jennifer Grey, meanwhile, has opted to fly coach (the horrors!) in order to get to Aspen earlier. She's sat between an overweight man and an old chatterbox, and I think we're meant to feel sorry for her, but she quickly proves to be my least favorite kind of traveller because she has TWO carry-ons. Ugh, I hate people who don't follow the airline recommendations for number of carry-ons. Look, people, we all hate checking our bags, but sometimes it's just a thing we need to do. Otherwise everyone's bringing on all these damn carry-ons and then there's no room left and everyone else has to store their one carry-on under the seat in front of them, minimizing their leg room even more than usual. Extra Carry-on People rank right up there with People Who Keep Talking On Their Phone After The Flight Attendant Has Asked Them To Switch The Phone Off as the people I will be killing with fire at some point in the future. You guys aren't cool, assholes. Everyone else hates you.
The next morning, the Coulsons have received their repaired truck and are on their way to Omaha. Meanwhile, Jennifer Grey is STILL on the airplane. How long could a flight from Chicago to Aspen take? It's like a two hour flight, surely! Because of heretofore undetected mechanical issues, the plane must divert . . . to Omaha. Where there are no flights out to Aspen and no rental cars to book! Well! That's a strange and not at all expected twist!
In Omaha, Daughter of Coulson spots Jennifer Grey waiting to board the Greyhound. There is a lot of creepy staring on both sides. This is weird. I guess I'm meant to think that they're Connected By Fate or something but I'm just wondering why Jennifer Grey is staring at a 15 year old girl. (For Daughter of Coulson's part, I can only imagine she's thinking, "You know, if her nose were just a little different, she'd look exactly like that girl who starred in two of the greatest movies of all time.")
Jennifer Grey is deposited in Lincoln and, dismayed that she can't catch a transfer to Aspen, agrees to hitch a ride with a nice Indian man and his two bucktooth redneck passengers. Oh, I forgot to mention that Jennifer Grey was equally dismayed to be sitting next to a perfectly nice homeless man on the bus. I kind of hate Jennifer Grey and, folks? That's not something I ever thought I'd say.
At a rest stop, Jennifer Grey's Ragazzo tells her that the wedding will be a masked Venetian ball theme. Jennifer Grey is not bowled over the idea. She is less bowled over that the rednecks (who she was nothing but rude to) have chucked out all her bags and stranded her. But hey! The Coulsons are there! And the dog is in the picture! I repeat, THE DOG IS IN THE PICTURE! And he's such a pretty doggy! Such a cute doggy!
It does not take long for Daughter of Coulson to offer up a ride to Jennifer Grey. Agent Coulson goes along with it, perhaps thinking that Jennifer Grey's histrionic behavior could make a good diversion tactic if Captain America needs to kill a Nazi general or something. (Hey, how does The Avengers actually work? I don't read comic books but they're not all from the same era, right? Are they going to somehow cross time?)
On the trip, Agent Coulson learns that Jennifer Grey is a snobby biatch and she tells Daughter of Coulson about the Ragazzo (to which Daughter of Coulson hilariously deadpans, "He's Italian? Oh." This stupid Italians Are Cheaters sub-plot was probably worth it for that delivery alone.).
At a roadside truck stop, Jennifer Grey is offended that she cannot receive a latte. Then Toby (the doggy) slips his leash and she's hesitant to help find him. Have I mentioned how much I hate her?
They can't find the doggy, so they have to stay overnight in the local motel. This gives Jennifer Grey and Daughter of Coulson time to bond over their mutual dead mothers and Jennifer Grey's body issues. This also allows Jennifer Grey to call her Ragazzo, who is sitting on a tempur-pedic bed. This is perhaps the highlight of this film for me. I want a bed that raises and lowers! I also want to drink my juice ice cold out of a small foil-covered plastic container, so maybe you should see this as some sort of weirdhospital perversion. Anyway, Ragazzo is clearly cheating on her, as evidenced by the sexy silhouette showering in the adjacent bathroom. Ragazzo at least feels bad about this, proving that he's only half Italian. The other half must be WASP. Wait. Is he moping over brunch? No? Then he's not a WASP.
Toby returns in the morning, which allows our intrepid gang to hit the road again. They bond over a hubcap museum and some dirty spark plugs. There's probably a joke in there somewhere, but I don't know anything about cars and I also don't care. At one point, they stop to pick up a lady whose car has broken down. She will be filling the role of Soothsayer for the next ten miles, so everyone get ready to draw your Odyssey parallels now.
The old soothsayer is all, "it's nice to spend time with people who are so obviously in love," which besides giving this movie's romantic leads an opportunity to blush and stammer, is patently untrue. When is it nice to spend time in the company of people in love? They're always kissing and nuzzling on each other. If you yourself are not in love, it's awkward inching up on depressing, and if you are in love, then in the time it takes to drink three more shots, you and your significant other will find yourselves in some sort of orgy. Just say no, kids.
At one point, Agent Coulson impresses Jennifer Grey by rattling off some names of famous photographers. This movie impresses me in that Anne Geddes is not one of the names he has listed.
Everyone's bonhomie lasts until the truck gets stuck in the mud, at which point Agent Coulson decides they should walk the ten miles to his mother's house. Yes, this will be sucessful. Oh! But then . . . it was. Well, okay, I guess.
Jesus, how is this movie only half over?
At Mama Coulson's house, Jennifer Grey learns that Agent Coulson used to be a famous sculptor. He sculpts things I don't understand at all, so I guess it's art. Meanwhile, Jennifer Grey bonds with Daughter of Coulson as they are both vegetarians, something that a two day road trip did not afford them thetime to determine earlier. Poor, motherless vegetarians. They can't even feel sad about their dead moms while eating some delicious pig.
Then! Finally! Jennifer Grey and Agent Coulson kiss! But the kissing noises don't match the motions their mouths are making! What the hell, foley guys? Have none of you ever kissed anyone before? Actually, don't answer that.
This scene is made particularly creepy because Jennifer Grey iswearing Mama Coulson's nightgown. Sexy!
Anyway, they break apart and there are many apologies on both sides. This is such a tv tactic. Know what I have never done after kissing someone? Apologize. Why should I? I'm an awesome kisser.
The next day, Agent Coulson and Daughter of Coulson driveJennifer Grey to Lorenzo's Aspen chalet. (Can you have a chalet in Aspen? Is it like being whelmed in Europe?) But!! In a shocking twist, Lorenzo the Ragazzo has un ragazzo of his own. So, see? He's NOT a typical Italian! Boy, this Lifetime Movie sure has taught us a thing or three about homosexuality and stereotypes, no? I don't know about you guys, but I feel like a bigger person already.
Jennifer Grey cries and cries and hits Lorenzo several times, which is unacceptable. Meanwhile, Agent Coulson is spurred to create his stupid bad art again, because he finally loves someone again.
And then it's Christmas Day, and the Coulsons are unwrapping presents in a very untidy order and there is paper everywhere and no one is keeping a list of who gave what and I basically want to drown my stress at this scene into a bottle of mulled wine. ONE AT A TIME, PEOPLE.
Then the bell rings and it's Jennifer Grey and she and Agent Coulson kiss and she's learned the True Meaning of Christmas, which has to do with getting some hot sex from a dude you met two days ago while his motherless daughter listens from the next room and then we all sing "Happy Birthday" to Baby Jesus and send the royalties to the relatives of Patty and Mildred Hill. THE END.
How Crazy Is This Movie: 2
This movie's so tame, you guys! I mean, no one goes to jail, no one's baby was stolen (unless you count the metaphorical theft of Mary's baby, whom we shall name Yeshua, Emmanuel, Most Holy of Holy, by the Hallmark company and also some Romans) and Tori Spelling doesn't get stalked. WEAK SAUCE.
How Much Ice Cream Is This Movie Worth: One Single-Serving Size Cup
If I were just dumped horribly by my boyfriend or my job, this movie would NOT console me. It'd be okay in a pinch if I was just feeling a bit sad about how many Christmas presents I have left to wrap, but no way would it be able to console me through even a short-term relationship break up. I require at least a pint of butter pecan for that.