|THE TWELVE WISHES OF CHRISTMAS (ion, 2011)|
Why was it such a misfit?
I'm going to shift gears for a bit. Up is down, black is white, and Rush Limbaugh and Rosie O'Donnell are each other, because it's time for:
Don't worry, we'll get back to cartoons soon. I'll only be pulling this stunt on occasion. It takes four times as much commitment to sit through a bad Christmas movie as it does to sit through a bad Christmas special.
There are many, many cheap cheesy Christmas TV-movies out there now, and they jam up the ABC Family and Hallmark Channel schedules something bad. They usually involve a selfish person learning the true secular meaning of the holidays, and they usually star Tori Spelling. And lately, for some reason, they are always about the son or daughter or cousin of Santa Claus -- some relative we didn't know about that has to save Christmas when their famous red-suited dad/brother/grandfather/cousin-twice-removed falls ill. Every time I see another Fred Claus, Arthur Christmas, Santa Baby or Annie Claus Is Coming To Town appear, I think of poor pear-shaped Paul Dini, who was pushing the same idea ("Jingle Belle") well before all these movies started showing up. One of his life goals was to get his Jingle character established as a Christmas tradition, but now that the concept has been overplayed to death, it seems impossible.
It's too bad. Out of all Santa's offspring, Jingle Belle is the least insufferable -- but would probably be the hardest for Heartland America to embrace. She's selfish, naughty and dim; not the kind of person people expect from magical elf sex.
I understand SyFy is running something about a girl with magic powers who is Earth's only hope to stop the Mayan apocalypse from ruining Christmas 2012. Would that I could be reviewing that one instead, but you'll have to settle for this one that's easier to get: The Twelve Wishes of Christmas.
It debuted last year on Ion Television (Positively Entertaining -- get it?). The Twelve Wishes of Christmas introduces us to Laura Lindsey, played by a no-name actress who constantly reminds me of Becky from Supernatural. For those unfamiliar with that reference, it means she's chewing the scenery like a cow. She is a fashion designer, one of two white-collar jobs that exist in Movieland. (If she was male, she'd be an advertising executive.) The background music is just as bad as she is and never shuts up. You know how most chick flicks have insufferably "quirky" musical scores that sound like there's an exclamation point on every note? That kind of score is playing throughout this movie.
The power was cut for a period of time last night, so Laura's alarm clock didn't work and she is comically bouncing around her pad trying to get ready for work ASAP. On her way out she runs into her neighbor, an electrician who was making a lot of noise trying to repair some unspecified thing. He then asks her if she has a dog, because he thought he heard something that sounded like one. Laura makes the biggest, fakest, Taylor Swift-iest O-face and says "Oh gosh, no! I definitely do NOT have a dog!" Boy, does she have a dog or what?
We already saw the dog before this scene. Her apartment manager does not allow dogs and she's violating her lease by keeping one. This doesn't affect the movie much, but it's a major plot point for the first five minutes. The reason for that is a mystery to me.
At work, she learns from the CEO, or at least the angry man in a suit at the end of the large table she's sitting at, that the company will be laying off 15% of its workforce effective January 1. So the employees better find ways to make themselves indispensable, or else.
Laura has a very obvious red herring of a boyfriend. You've seen this character before -- he's always in a suit and obsessed with his job. The date they're on is more expensive than usual and she thinks he's about to propose to her. But instead, he's actually paid for this big fancy dinner and wine to say, after much dramatic buildup, that he just quit his lucrative hedge fund job. When I say this buildup was dramatic, I mean over thirty seconds of steadily rising music while Laura's big open mouth gets bigger and bigger and the guy says "...and so, I was wondering if you would do me the honor of quite possibly granting all my dreams and wishes by agreeing to what I'm about to say which is....." It was an obvious punchline already, but they overcooked it into ashes.
Now Laura is at a mall, talking to a co-worker. Laura isn't worried about her job because she just sent some killer fashion designs to a new client. At that moment, said client marches up and demands to know where the designs are. Laura swears she sent them, but looks at her notes again.
"Back to school"? Why didn't they crop that out?
UH-OH, she sent the designs to the wrong address! She is so fired! And then the apartment manager finds out about her dog! She's forced to give the dog up to the shelter where she volunteers, and things couldn't seem worse. Her bestie, Faith, has some advice, however.
"You know my cousin Jennifer, who went through a divorce and lost her job at the same time? She hired a life coach, and she says her life instantly turned around. Says it's the best thing she's ever done."
A life coach, huh? Laura is skeptical, but is willing to try anything once. She logs onto "Net-Search.Web" and types in "Life Coach," bringing up a particular one named "Noel."
One scene transition later, she's inside Noel's office. She's surprised to see a pudgy female emerge from the back room. She thought it would be a man, seeing as there are a lot of men named "Noel." ....Her boyfriend is named "Morgan," you'd think she wouldn't be quite as surprised about the gender thing.
I was surprised too, but for another reason. Noel is played by Chonda Pierce, a Christian comedian. It's very rare that people successful in religious circles are able to escape the protective bubble of that culture and get anywhere in a judgmental world, even if it's a lousy cable TV-movie. And I only know of Chonda because my aunt was a huge fan of hers some years ago. She subjected the rest of us to some Chonda stand-up videos and she was.....eh. Not all that great. But to see her on something that wasn't one of her VHS releases was quite a shock.
"Let me tell you what's wrong with you mortals today..." Laura does not seem to notice this slip of the tongue, nor the five other ones that clearly reveal her paranormal identity. Noel launches into a soliloquy on human selfishness, peppered with occasional moments of educational facts. "DID YOU KNOW you sleep a third of your life away?" Noel points out. I never would have known this.
"I'm-a gonna grant you twelve wishes." Not one, not three, an entire dozen. That's generosity rarely seen by an genie (although Noel is supposed to be an angel). By all rights, Laura should be the absolute and eternal empress of the planet by the end of this story, right? Keep reading.
So how does she get these wishes, by rubbing Noel's head? No...."Log onto my website and push the button that says 'Twelve Wishes'," Noel explains. Is this an open site? Anybody could do that and get wishes granted. You want 4Chan to have that kind of power?
"So this is some kind
of New Age positive thinking thing? I write down what I
want and the power of positive thinking--"
"Log on and wish
away! And remember to read the Terms and Conditions
before you do anything!"
Initializing, huh? That's odd behavior for a website.
she says to herself.
Her friend Faith complains about her plain hair. Laura whips out her reading glasses, cracks open her laptop and types "I wish for Faith's hair to look fabulous at her party." So far, her first two wishes have been for flowers and hair. I know Noel said to start small, but you can start wishing larger anytime now....
Remember the red herring boyfriend? Here's the obvious planted love interest you've been expecting. His name is Eddie, he also volunteers at the shelter, and in contrast to Morgan's tightly-starched suits, he wears casual buttoned-down T-shirts. If that wasn't enough of a clue, their dogs become best buddies while they were walking. As in the kind of best buddies that start licking each other all over. It must be destiny!
He takes her out for lunch and Laura orders a Pumpkin Gingerbread Latte. They exchange vocational information. Eddie reveals he's an attorney and asks what Laura does for a living. She tells him "I'm unemployed at the moment, but I have a strange feeling my luck is changing for the better."
When Laura returns to her apartment there's some guy in a tux loitering outside. He's looking to discuss a will with Mr. Harold Wayne. Harold Wayne is the name of the old electrician who's been waking Laura up at night with all his noise. "If I were you I wouldn't bother him -- he's a total creep! He doesn't have any friends, any family..." That makes him a total creep? Being alone makes him a creep? If you've already decided you hate Laura, you're a prescient one, because the movie hasn't even started getting into the worst of her.
Laura goes back to visit Noel, to make sure there's no cliche left unturned. Noel's office is mysteriously vacant, as if she had never been there. Check that one off the list.
Faith had a wonderful time at her party, and her hair was Aphrodite-perfect. "No frizz to be found!" The wishes MUST be real, then! Laura tells Faith immediately, but Faith finds it hard to swallow. She says, "I'm a realist! If I can't touch it or taste it, I can't believe it!" And that's why she's named Faith.
Now, if only she could get rid of that banging noise made by the neighbor next to her apartment. Laura whips out her cell phone and looks up Noel's mobile site. "I wish for the banging to stop." EARTHQUAKE! It stops.
The next thing she knows, Mr. Wayne is getting kicked out of his apartment for rupturing a gas line. That's a pretty serious thing to do, and it was because Laura "wished for the banging to stop." This is on her head, but she doesn't seem to care. Next, she does something even worse.
Laura walks inside and finds she's broken a stiletto heel. Oh NO, she wouldn't. Laura, there are people starving in Africa, don't you dare eye that computer screen. If you waste a wish on shoes, so help you, I'm gonna----
If that wasn't appalling enough, she blows five wishes in the next minute, mostly on clothes. She also rigs a car giveaway, wins the lottery, and asks for 20-20 vision. I can see that last one having some use, but crud, this woman is so vapid it hurts.
Faith still works at the fashion whatever, and the company is trying to win Dollberg's, a huge clothing store franchise, to its side. If she can't come up with a surefire plan to woo them, her job is toast! She tells Laura and Laura tells Website. "I wish Faith would have a winning idea." Laura isn't at the point in the movie where she has a moral revelation and changes her ways, so I have to ask: what's wrong with this wish? How is it selfish? It kinda sticks out. Call me insane, but I don't think they thought about logic too much in this script.
Next day, two bigwigs are
walking down the office hallway when Faith frantically
rushes into them and spits out that she has the exact
solution they need. "I heard a voice in my head that
said, 'Faith, how would you like the most perfect idea
ever? I have it in two words.....FASHION SHOW.' We hold a
fashion show for the store executives!"
Laura's boyfriend hasn't been seen for a while. He quit his hedge fund job to become a writer (ha ha, men who want to be writers are worthless!) and he spends all his time now chasing publishing editors instead of her. This allows Eddie to pick up the ball and grow closer to Laura. In this next scene, Eddie and Laura are feeding the dogs at the shelter together. Then, for some reason, they spontaneously have this exchange:
L: "I know a joke! A
horse walks into a bar and the bartender says, why the
long face! AHAHAHAHAA!!"
This is how they bond. I did not make any of it up.
Faith comes to Laura
hopelessly crushed. Laura is surprised, then enraged when
she finds out what happened. "Don't worry, Faith. I
think we can expose Sandra and save your job."
She holds up her cell and texts "I wish Sandra would pay for stealing Faith's idea." This is Wish 11. Holy cow, I didn't realize we were this low already -- the flick isn't half over yet. Laura has frittered away the chance of a lifetime mostly on junk she could buy herself! This is the biggest waste of power since the entire life of Donald Trump!
Sure enough, it isn't long before the big boss uncovers evidence that Sandra's idea originally belonged to Faith. Not only is Sandra fired, not only is Faith getting a huge bonus, but Laura is now re-hired in Sandra's old position and they're gonna work together! They break out the champagne and clink the glasses in smug satisfaction!
"To life coaches, and the magic of the twelve wishes," says Laura right before the clink. Faith still doesn't know about her power; this toast must have been awfully confusing to her.
"Now you have
everything!" Faith gushes at Laura.
Oh no. This is the last wish, save it for the end....save it for something important.....save it for a pandemic.....dont blow it on Red Herring Man....
Morgan has now landed a major book deal, and Laura is now magic-less, but she doesn't seem to mind. He expresses his surprise with the usual lack of subtlety everyone else in this story has. "It was like.....like a WISH COME TRUE."
Noel randomly reappears at
the mall. Laura is eager to share with her how her wishes
fixed everything and how perfect her life is now.
Then she disappears mid-conversation like Batman.
We re-join Laura as she's
casually relaxing in her big director's chair. Faith
comes up to her with some new designs. Laura says they're
no good and she'll have to do better.
Now the very obvious happens: Morgan becomes so busy with his new book that he still has no time for Laura. Then he becomes even busier with his new editor. Laura catches them in the cafe, sharing a smooch. She becomes really upset. This is the kind of time when you need your best friend -- the one you just called a no-talent and cast onto the street, YOU JERK.
So Laura flops onto her couch and groans, "My life is a colossal DISAST-URRRR!" like a valley girl. No it's not; she still has that huge job and a nice apartment...the movie frames this like we're supposed to feel sorry for her.
And now, the moment we've all been expecting: Laura finds Noel and begs for another wish. Don't you just want to slap her in the face?
Noel assures Laura that wishes won't fix the train wreck she's made of her own life. The following exchange not only trumps the "bad jokes" scene, but is one of the strangest conversations I have ever heard, period.
"Honey, you don't
need wishes to fix everything. You know the dream you
used to have, where there was a table with delicious
food, but everyone had forks for hands and they were so
starved yet they couldn't reach their own mouths?"
Just in case you think I'm making this up:
Noel sums it up with this Hallmark statement: "You have everything you need right there, right in your heart." Normally, this would be lousy advice, but in a movie like this, it's practically the laws of physics.
So right on schedule, her "true love" shows up to pick up where the fake boyfriend left off. For some reason she doesn't recognize him. I have no idea why.
"Handsome guy you met
in the parking lot the other day?"
"You wanna--go somewhere? Do something?" they both play out, awkwardly. As expected, they hit it off very well and are frenching by the end of the evening.
"Why are you so into
me?" She's rich? She has a dream job and a fancy
When Laura returns home, her neighbor is packing boxes and getting ready to leave. But he has no idea where. Laura is showing concern for the first time in her miserable life. "Don't you have any family you can stay with?" YOU KNOW THE ANSWER TO THAT, YOU JERK; you said so earlier!
Then, out of nowhere, Laura says this: "You know....I have a spare room." YOU JERK! YOUUUU JERK! YOU HAD THAT THE WHOLE TIME?? I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU, AAAARRGGHHH
Oddly, he refuses at first, calling himself a "lone wolf." Then he says, "what good's a one-trick-pony without a stable?" That's a pretty bad mixed metaphor, but it's not like this thing had an editor. By the way, her new boyfriend is Mr. Wayne's estranged son. Now you know that.
Now that Laura's saved Mr.
Wayne, her next task is to mend fences with
Sandra is now working at a coffee shop and looks depressed. It turns out her daughter is very sick and she went to extremes because she couldn't risk losing her job or insurance (and now she's lost both). If that's the case, it's pretty terrible, but it doesn't justify her sabotaging someone else....oh who cares, the movie doesn't. Laura has a plan to get her back to work. I should hope so; she has the power to simply re-hire her. It shouldn't require anything elaborate.
Now she tries to reconcile with Faith. Faith is sulking in the bleachers at the local ice rink. When she sees Laura, she growls, "I think the temperature just got ten degrees cooler." She'll be happy to hear Laura's re-hiring Sandra!
Their reconciliation goes
That's all it takes. Faith is an even bigger pushover than Chris. (As in, Chris of "Dan Vs," that animated show you've never heard of....never mind.)
The fashion show is taking place inside the building, with a controlled audience consisting of the executives at Dollberg's. Laura uses the event to tie up every loose end in the movie. She seats Mr. Wayne next to his son. She has Sandra deliver the opening speech and specifically thank Faith for her contributions. Everyone is re-hired instantly. Wayne and Eddie do figure out their connection -- and actually hate each other at first, padding the movie out another ten minutes.
Then Laura actually quits her job and appoints Sandra in her place so she can work at the crappy animal sanctuary. Okay, there's such a thing as tying up ends a little TOO well.
Why didn't it fit in?
Or looks at this product and says, "Aww, how ADORABLE!!"
It stands to reason there's also an audience for terrible Christmas TV-movies and that is why we get fifty dozen a year. Otherwise, they simply wouldn't exist. But what the rest of you have to understand is, for people that have the ability to think, these kinds of films are embarrassing.