ABC Family has made their channel basically synonymous with Christmas. Every year they feature their 25 Days of Christmas, where they go balls-to-the-wall with Christmas movies and Holiday programming. But there is nothing that quite defines ABC Family more than their Original Movies and Christmastime is no exception. Since 2003, ABC Family has averaged about two Christmas themed Original Movies a year. And luckily for you, me and everyone with an American Netflix account, many of these holiday gems are featured on Netflix Instant. [Ed. Note: Available as of 2012.] So the FYA ladies have busted out the eggnog and reviewed the following, so you can make an informed decision about which of the these movies (if any) will put you in the Holiday mood and which should be added to Santa’s naughty list.
Christmas Cupid (reviewed by Jenny)
Summary: Sloane Spencer is a big shot publicist in LA who needs a little lesson in life, love, and hell, just about everything else. That’s right, this is a… retelling seems like too generous a word — but we’ll go with it — of A Christmas Carol. While fighting for a big promotion and sleeping with her boss, Sloane focuses on being a successful business woman. Which apparently just means being a vapid bitch while also being completely irresponsible and apparently unable to perform even the most menial tasks. Her Marley — a recently dead starlet, who dies spectacularly by choking on an olive from her martini — tries to show her the error of her ways, get her to actually be a friend to her BFF, pay attention to her ridiculous mother, and win back the love of her college sweetheart. Marley is the ONLY redeemable thing about this, um, film, even though she’s pretty much a combination of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. Only dead. Thing is, even through all of the lessons that come in the form of the ‘essence’ of Christmas past, present, and future, Sloane doesn’t learn anything. In fact, by the end, I couldn’t tell that she had actually changed at all. She just got scared, so, still acting like the brat she was throughout the story, she stomped her foot and said, “oh, alright”, and tried to act like a decent human being. If I was God, I’d say, “I don’t buy it.”
Who Should Fire Their Agent: Chad Michael Murray, Jackee, and Ashley Benson — Hey, Hannah, from PLL! You were the best part of this movie! And that’s… not saying much. In fact, I’d actually say that every single person IN this movie should fire their agents, with the exception of Christina Milian, who is quite possibly the worst actress in the history of all actresses ever to act. Ever. In a movie filled with caricatures, she played her role with imbecilic abandon, out-caricaturing them all. I was once in a production of Dracula, and during rehearsals one day, the director made all of us act out our scenes as if we were Looney Tunes characters, to get us to loosen up. This was like that.
Stocking Full Of: Herpes. Seriously. This movie is the equivalent of the worst kind of surprise. That keeps on giving. And giving.
Desperately Seeking Santa (reviewed by Sarah)
Summary: Ice-cold executive Jennifer Walker doesn’t have time for love. She’s too busy climbing the corporate ladder at the mall, where she hopes to one day move on from being a mall manager (ROM COM JOB ALERT) to a corporate mall professional! All she needs to nab that next Big Promotion is a sure-fire plan to attract shoppers to the mall during Christmas. HOW WILL SHE EVER MAKE THE IMPOSSIBLE HAPPEN? Luckily for Jennifer, this is an ABC Family movie made for drunk moms, and after she stumbles into an Abercrombie & Fitch-type store (except I’m pretty sure it’s for gay men, because the salesmen are all wearing mesh sleeveless v-necks), she has an epiphany: a Sexy Santa contest! Soon, she and her sassy best friend Marissa are auditioning dudes in a Magic Mike style montage to find the hottest man in town. But when Sweet Old Fashioned™ David nails the contest by talking about his mom (NOT EVEN KIDDING), Jennifer is less than pleased. After all, she already has a douchebag corporate mall boyfriend named Neal, played by a guy who obviously did a lot of real life research on being a tool. And David, with his Sweet Old Fashioned™ ways and his passion for saving his family’s Italian restaurant, is just getting in the way of her ambition. As Christmas draws closer, Jennifer suddenly isn’t sure whether she still wants the big promotion… or a very special present from Sexy Santa.
Who Should Fire Their Agent: You know, I’m not really sure, because none of these people looked remotely familiar to me. And who am I to judge a working actor for trying to make ends meet? JK I WILL TOTALLY JUDGE. So, Laura Vandervoort (Jennifer) was on Smallville, a show beloved by our Badass Digest pal Meredith Borders. She was also in… wait for it… a movie called Finding Mrs. Claus. Methinks Laura knows her easy money niche! And then there’s Nick Zano, who plays David, the Sexy Santa. Compared to the rest of the cast, David is practically Hollywood royalty. He was on 90210 (the remake), Melrose Place (the remake) AND 7th Heaven (no remake… yet)! He is also… not that hot! So, good job, I guess? But the actor who deserves the majority of our sympathy is Paula Brancati, who plays Marissa, the Sassy Best Friend. And I’m not saying that because Paula has starred in something amazing (although Degrassi: The Next Generation is nothing to sneeze at). My pity derived from all of the TERRIBLE lines she was forced to say. Here’s the best worst one:
While staring at a large Christmas tree in the mall
Jennifer: It’s not straight.
Marissa: I *thought* it reminded me of my ex-boyfriend!
Stocking Full Of: Boone’s Farm. If you reeeally want to get that holiday high, this movie will do it for you. But you have to be truly desperate and lacking in any sense of taste. Basically, get ready to chug a shizz ton of sugar and not retain any memory of what happened (i.e. the plot). Actually, the latter would be a blessing.
Snowglobe (reviewed by Meghan)
Summary: Angela LOOOOOOOVES Christmas, and wants to have the perfect Christmas, but her pesky family — half Cuban, half Italian, so OF COURSE they’re boisterous and uncouth and full of energy and know no personal boundaries, since this is a movie version of Stereotyping 101 — keeps ruining it. Also, like every single woman, she wants nothing more than a boyfriend for Christmas. Unfortch, her mom ALSO wants nothing more than a boyfriend for Angela for Christmas, but Ang is tired of being set up (her mom’s version of setting her up is renting the studio down the hall in Ang’s apartment complex to single guys). So when she gets a magic snowglobe from an anonymous sender that transports her to Perfect Christmas Village, she is ecstatic. She quickly forgets her real life to frolic in the fake snow with the most obnoxiously boring guy EVER, ignoring the HOT GUY who lives down the hall from her and obviously is into her, which naturally leads to Big Consequences when Boring Fake Snow Boyfriend follows her back to Brooklyn from Magic Snowglobe Christmas Village and crashes family dinner. Luckily, Angela learns the True Meaning of Christmas Perfection and the day is saved, and she abandons her job at the family deli and opens a Christmas store, and lives happily ever after.
Who Should Fire Their Agent: Lorraine Bracco and Ron Canada! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING IN THIS MOVIE? You are kind of well known! Christina Milian probably shouldn’t fire her agent, as at least she’s getting paying work, and that’s the best she can ask for because GEEZ she’s annoying. Josh Cooke definitely should fire his agent — you probably know him from short-lived characters on TV shows and Dexter — because Hot Guy is by far a step down. It’s the kind of role he already wants to delete from his IMDB profile.
Stocking Full Of: Expired Convenience Store-Brand Cookies. This movie’s not the worst ever, but it’s certainly tasteless and bland. It’ll do if you’re totally, completely desperate, and probably won’t make you sick, but it’s for sure not on the top of anyone’s gift list.
Holiday in Handcuffs (reviewed by Alix)
Summary: Looking like the least convincing 27 year old ever, Trudie is a massive disappointment to her uptight family. She is not in law school, like her sister, nor is she dating her parents’ dream child-in-law, like her brother. Instead, Trudie is pursuing a career as “an artist,” meaning that she’s working at a diner and can barely pay her bills. Things look like they’re turning around when she convinces her new, respectable boyfriend to come home with her for Christmas, but when he dumps her at work right before Christmas, saying he only agreed to spend the holidays with her so she would sleep with him, Trudie panics. Grabbing the first man she sees, Trudie kidnaps AC Slater, who has shown up at the diner to propose to his girlfriend.
AC Slater, who is much too hot and charming for this movie, is understandably cranky about being kidnapped, but being trapped at a remote cabin with Trudie’s family, he has no way to escape. Eventually, he starts playing along, until Trudie Stockholm Syndromes her way into his heart. Of course, everything goes to hell at Christmas dinner when it is revealed that Trudie’s parents have a terrible marriage, Perfect Daughter has dropped out of law school and secretly used her father’s money to open a Yoga studio in California, and Perfect Son has broken up with his Perfect Girlfriend to start dating a man. And of course, in the midst of this, AC Slater’s fiancée and the Feds break down the front door, and everyone spends Christmas in jail, hating each other.
But at the end of the movie, with absolutely no convincing transition at all, AC Slater leaves bitchy fiancée at the altar, which is probably for the best since he tried to propose to her in a diner. Also, she somehow managed to plan a wedding in the month and a half between Christmas and Valentine’s Day, so she is clearly crazycakes. AC Slater kidnaps Trudie after her first successful art show and confesses his love, because he is incapable of being attracted to someone who is mentally stable.
Who Should Fire Their Agent: Mario Lopez, FIRE YOUR AGENT. Seriously, you are way, way too attractive and charming for this shit. I watched this with three friends, all of us with very disparate taste in men (like, fat Asians to Ryan Lochte disparate), but all four of us were like, “Mario Lopez, GET IN MY PANTS.” You deserve better than this.
Melissa Joan Hart, on the other hand, should probably not fire her agent, because I can’t remember the last time she was decent in anything. She basically plays Clarissa all over again, but what is charmingly precocious on a 13-year-old pre-hipster is revolting and immature on a 27-year-old. Trudie is a selfish, unredeemable bitch, and unfortunately, I didn’t get the overwhelming sense that the role was a stretch for MJH.
Stocking Full Of: Rotten oranges you left in there last year. This movie might have been good if it was made in the Clarissa Years, but it wasn’t, and Clarissa should have grown the fuck up by now.
12 Dates of Christmas (reviewed by Megan)
Summary: It’s Christmas Eve and Kate has got everything planned out. She just need to get through a blind date set up by her stepmother, then she can go meet her ex-boyfriend Jack and win him back with the perfect Christmas cashmere sweater. Distracted by her plans to meet Jack, Kate bombs her date with the cute and kind Miles. But when she meets Jack, she finds out he has a new girlfriend. So Kate spends Christmas Eve with her father and stepmother, who let Kate know she blew her chances with Miles. Worst X-mas Eve ever? It would be, except that when Kate wakes up, it’s still Christmas Eve. Somehow she finds herself repeating the day over and over again. In the process, she learns to let go of her ex, meets some new friends, helps out those around her and transitions from being an insufferable person to a delightful one. She begins the movie as a person who inexplicably thinks she can win back her ex by wearing a purple bandage dress. But then becomes the kind of person who has drunken donut eating dance parties. And in the process gets to know Miles, minor league hockey player, part time park architect, coach to boys in a Group Home and widower (his wife having passed away in a tragic gutter accident). But can Kate finally make it to Christmas Day? (Yes. She does. I mean, obviously.)
Who Should Fire Their Agent: No one, actually! This movie was really not embarrassing for anyone involved. Kate is played by Amy Smart and this is really the first time I’ve ever found her likable. To the point where I almost feel bad for not liking her before. So, good work movie! Miles is played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who is always busy being on tv shows whose commercials make me embarrassed. So this is really a positive step! It’s nice seeing him as a romantic love internet, because if we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s hard not to have a lingering crush on Zack Morris.
Stocking Full Of: Homemade Cocoa Mix. Guys, I really liked this movie. Like, inexplicably adored it! I went in with such low expectations and it really surprised me. Sure, it’s a shameless Groundhog Day ripoff, but Groundhog Day was great, so why wouldn’t I like a romantic Christmas themed version? This movie gave me the warm fuzzies, and even melted some of the ice around my cold romcom hating heart. I feel like compared to everyone else, I won the Christmas themed ABC Family Original Movie roulette!
There were actually three other holiday ABC Family Original Movies on Instant at the time of this post (Snow, Snow 2: Brain Freeze and Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe) that we didn’t get around to reviewing. Some of the above were bad, but those un-watched three look bad on a whole different level. I am willing to do plenty of painful things for FYA, but watching Jenny McCarthy is not one of them. And of those we did watch, what say you? Have you seen any? And what did you think of them? Come sit on Santa’s lap and discuss!