|GRUMPY CAT'S WORST CHRISTMAS EVER (lifetime, 2014)|
Why was it such a misfit?
I don't think I have to tell you watching Lifetime is a bad idea, but just in case you're not 100% convinced, ask any former fan of one of their shows that disappeared without resolution. Not only do they put on bad programs, they have a habit of cancelling them without a moment's notice. You can't even hate-watch Lifetime because they take that away from you too.
That's why their TV movies have a bigger fanbase, but for "so bad it's good" reasons. As memes go, I haven't seen Grumpy Cat(real name: "Tardar Sauce") used very much since she went all capitalist. I've seen Grumpy Cat books and towels and I guess now I've seen an entire movie, but the last time I saw Grumpy Cat legitimately used to spice up a message board thread was ages ago. The vibe has kind of changed, to "Ooooh, will I get sued if I use the cat here?" The reason other memes have endured is because the guys who invented them just let the public have them.
Shortly after Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever aired, it was released on DVD (cheap!) and got one of the most negative reviews I've ever seen of anything. Though I understand the man's pain, he also says in the same review he thinks Parks and Recreation is garbage, so.....not reliable.
I imagine the big question you have on your mind is, was this movie faithful to the spirit of Grumpy Cat? The answer to that is yes -- it really does feel like an Internet meme was given its own film. Within the first minute of broadcast, we're treated to ALL THESE THINGS:
They take place in Grumpy Cat's head though. In this movie, Grumpy Cat lives inside a mall pet shop called "Whiskers" and she hates it, just like she hates everything else. She also has a voice for the first time -- Aubrey Plaza, the most attitude-problemed actress they could find. It doesn't feel like the perfect fit, but that's because Anne Ramsey is dead.
Oh, and not only does Grumpy talk, but so does every other animal in this movie, including the members of the pet shop. Their dubbed-in remarks are not unlike what you would hear on America's Funniest Home Videos during the Saget years.
"HEY LADY, PICK ME! I'm cute plus I chew chair legs, shoes, leather purses......darn, almost had her!" Yuk yuk!
The pet shop hasn't been
performing very well in sales lately, but the owner has a
great option to fall back on: a purebred dog worth over a
million dollars. Is that a thing?
Not only is Grumpy Cat constantly making fun of this movie, she's constantly making fun of YOU for watching it. The Cinema Snob ran into some difficulty when he tried to review it, because every time he thought of something snarky to say, Grumpy would beat him to it. Aubrey improvised a lot of her lines, I hear, and I wouldnt be surprised if the majority of the "boy, is this a stupid movie" remarks came from her. But don't think she was embarrassed by the job, at all -- she still maintains a friendship with Grumpy Cat LLC and retweets any new merchandise being offered on her Twitter all the time.
Now it's time to meet our main human character, a 12-year-old named Crystal. Her mother works at the mall, so she knows the place pretty well and is on a first-name basis with most of the employees. But her life is pretty crummy. Her parents just went through a divorce and she doesn't have any friends to speak of. The people her age that do know her treat her like manure, as evidenced by the Trio of Mean Girls™ who show up twice in the movie just to giggle at Crystal and mock her existence. Like, what a loser, ya know?
Crystal's so desperate,
she'll even take a creepy Mall Santa as companionship.
The Mall Santa tells her he's been handing out these
special Christmas Coins that are supposed to grant wishes
when thrown in the fountain.
What does she have to lose? Crystal closes her eyes tight and recites: "For my Christmas wish, I wish to make a friend, one who listens to me, and to whom I can depend." She then tosses the coin in the well and turns around only to find the mall Santa has mysteriously disappeared. Then she tries looking under the bench, and finds him hiding there.
As you might've guessed, the coin actually does work and its powers will give her a friend....though not in the manner she had hoped for, nor the species. When Crystal wanders into the pet shop, she discovers she can hear Grumpy Cat.
(This screenshot was taken right before a commercial break.)
She doesn't know what's going on at first, and keeps hearing some sarcastic yakker while she's trying to have a conversation with the pet store owner. His fancy collector's edition dog has already found a buyer, and he feels very grateful. "If I lost this shop, I don't know what I would do....it means so much to me...."
Cat: "Ugh, I'm in so
much pain from your sob story I want to be put to
Neither of them are happy with this arrangement. Crystal because she was hoping for a friend she wouldn't look crazy talking to, and Grumpy because her thoughts are private and she doesn't want them read by anybody.
While this is going on, there are two amateur musicians named Donny and Zack wandering around the mall. They're convinced they could hit the big time if they could just afford the tools, like a tour bus. They also have very loose morals, so their idea to gather enough money is to steal the pet shop owner's Rare Mint Condition Dog and sell it off. Right now they're casing the area and planning their route. As the security guard passes by on his scooter, they sheepishly wave at him.
Crystal's mother has a light subplot where she's invited to a Christmas party by somebody with designs on her, but it's so light that it's not worth talking about -- so we won't. The only portion of those scenes relevant to the main plot is now, where Crystal is in attendance but gets so bored that she sneaks out to see Grumpy again.
She winds up breaking into
the closed mall at the same time that Donny and Zack do,
though she gets to the pet shop first.
Donny and Zack hold up the security guard, tie him up and make him tell them where the master key to every door in the mall is. It's on the wall by the sign that says "MASTER KEY." Oddly Grumpy doesn't appear to point out how old and moldy that gag was.
While Crystal and GC are arguing, the burglars break into the pet shop. Crystal runs and hides, witnessing the entire crime. Neither Donny nor Zack brought any kind of sedation to put the dog out, so you might think that would trip them up, but no...the dog just happily goes with them, thinking "Oh boy, time for a walk!" In fact, this dog is witness to just about everything that happens in the mall tonight but is painfully ignorant to it all.
Once they leave, Crystal comes out and tells Grumpy they have to be stopped. Grumpy is indifferent, as she is to most things, but Crystal points out the chain of events that would likely occur if the pet shop owner were to lose the dog. It would mean he couldn't sell it, which would mean the shop would close, putting Grumpy out on the street and eventually into a pound, where nobody would want a cat with such a screwed-up face and she would eventually be gassed to death..."OKAY, THIS IS GETTING TOO DARK, I'LL HELP."
Crystal spots something that should help deter the crooks: the fact that they left the keys to their getaway car on one of the cages. As Crystal grabs it, Grumpy points out in an alternate sequence of scenes what could have taken place at this point: Crystal could now ride her bike to the police, tell them all about the plot, catch Donny and Zack while they were still trapped at the mall, and then the story would be over....."but then this would be a short movie and it'd cost us a lot of advertising revenue, so this is what happens instead."
Instead of telling the police, Crystal grabs the cat and throws the crooks' keys into the wishing well....so when they return to the mall to find the keys, they come up short and are trapped with no getaway vehicle. Crystal watches from a distance and hides while they shuffle around trying to find the keys, or who might have taken them. Then she winds up tripping a motion-detected holiday display decoration and lets them know exactly where she is.
Crystal runs, carrying Grumpy (against her will) into a fishing and hunting store. The burglars follow, and it's a tense two minutes as Crystal tries to sneak around the aisles silently, trying to avoid being caught. But this time it's Grumpy who ruins their hiding spot by batting at a rack of feather lures. The rack crashes to the floor and Crystal runs. "You're really gonna complain to me? You just did something just like this one scene ago."
Then Crystal gets an idea. She leaves Grumpy inside one of the tents with a lantern, then sneaks into the clothing section. Donny and Zack see the light, and are confused when they peek inside and just see a cat there. While they're trying to figure that out, Crystal grabs a paintball gun, straps on armor, dons a helmet and fires at their asses!
So no, these aren't the most competent bad guys -- they're very reminiscent of Harry and Marv from Home Alone. In the midst of this madness, the dog escapes, and they lose track of him.
Crystal runs down the hall after the dog, catches up and grabs the leash. Now all that's left is untying the security guard, returning the dog and calling the police. But there's a lot more movie left, so it can't be that simple.
And it isn't. Unfortunately the guard confesses the bad guys stole his cell phone. And they were briefly competent enough to cut the landline to the mall. They'll have to think of something else.
Meanwhile, the mall manager briefly stops by to check on the mall for unexplained reasons, and Donny and Zack jump him, believing him to be their attacker. The scene has no bearing on anything else in the movie and is just there for comic relief. One of the last scenes in this thing is of this poor guy still tied up, standing there alone in the middle of the empty mall.
The security guard tells
Crystal she can leave now and that he can take things
"Well, this is great!
We can call the police now, right?"
The security officer has been working with the robbers the whole time! "I can say that I totally saw this coming," adds Grumpy. "But I bet YOU didn't, huh?"
Crystal kicks him in the
shin and runs. The man calls up Donny and Zack, who are
still looking for that "guy" who got the best
of them. "Hey, Boss! Great plan you had."
Now that they're all looking for her, they find it easy to corner her. Donny comes from the left, Zack comes from the right, and the officer (who we learn now is named George) blocks the remaining path.
Crystal and Grumpy are now trapped in the pet shop, tied up and caged. George tells the robbers to "go play with the pet scorpions" while he interrogates his prisoners.
"You wouldn't hurt an
innocent girl, would you?" Crystal asks sweetly.
All seems lost, but then GC gives a rousing pep talk to the animals of the shop. They resolve to stop George any way they can...if only they weren't all in cages. Then there's the cheat of Grumpy discovering the cage George put her in was unlocked the whole time. The snake attacks him, the parrot divebombs him, and of course a small dog has to bite him in the crotch. But he still gets away, with the purebred dog (this is the dumbest dog in the universe; how was he not hearing or even noticing any of this?)
For some reason he left his scooter, so Crystal should be able to catch up with him fast.....yet not fast enough. That's when Grumpy spots one of those car giveaways malls sometimes have where the car itself is parked in the middle of the lobby. I actually haven't seen one of those in a while, but the only other explanation is that a car was just there in the middle of the mall, and though I wouldn't put it past this movie to have a plot hole that big, I'm choosing to assume the explanation that makes sense.
We're at first led to believe that Grumpy is driving this car, but then that's revealed to be another fantasy. Crystal is driving it....about as well as a cat would. You can't expect a twelve-year-old to be that great at it anyway, but it's their only chance to stop the villains from leaving the mall area. They're already starting to drive out of the parking lot. So Crystal FLOORS it toward the glass door entrance, and.......
....stops right in front of it, gets out, presses a button, opens a large gate and drives through. Grumpy explains they did not have the budget to send the car through that window. I believe her.
Crystal's car and the getaway car play cat and mouse, with one blocking every attempt the other makes to escape. They ultimate wind up on opposite sides of the same road, and start charging toward each other while that showdown theme from "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" plays. By now Crystal's mother has noticed she left, and has arrived at the mall with her new boyfriend. They show up just in time to see the bad guys' car swerve out of the way and crash. Crystal hits the brakes so suddenly that Grumpy flies out the window and plants face-first into the side of a tree.
Crystal asks if the cat is okay, and she just meows. Now Crystal is worried she's lost the power to read Grumpy's thoughts, but it turns out Grumpy was just messing with her. I guess they're bonding now.
As the cops arrive to
arrest George and his accomplices, Crystal's mother
rushes over to her. "Those men didn't hurt you in
any way, did they?"
In the final scene it's
Christmas morning. Grumpy Cat has a new home and Crystal
couldn't be more thrilled. "This is the best
Christmas ever!" she exclaims.
Why didn't it fit in?
My mother would love this movie, which is why I will never tell her it exists. Yes, the special knows it's stupid and constantly tells you it's stupid, but there was another option, and it was not making a movie that was stupid. One would play Devil's Advo-cat (a pun that exists in this movie) and explain you're kind of narratively boxed in when it comes to a property like Grumpy Cat, but Garfield is a very similar thing and "Garfield and Friends" was great.
Does Mary Lou Retton like it?
Wow. What can you say? She really doesn't like this one.