Recap: Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade (2012)


It’s Thanksgiving in the US of A right now. And surprisingly, Thanksgiving is an untapped market for TV movies. It’s not the fuzziest of holidays, as its roots are incredibly awful, but hey, everyone eats turkey and falls in love! At least, according to the Hallmark Movie Channel with Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Autumn Reeser – you’ll know her as Summer from The O.C. – plays a perky parade coordinator, Emily, for the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade. Unrealistically quirky job? Check! Emily is super in love with her marine biologist boyfriend, George Constanza Brian, who works somewhere tropical. He’s mostly seen in front of a beachy green screen, so it’s not really important to the story. It’s established that Brian’s returning to Chicago soon and will be asking Emily a “very important question.” I’m sure she won’t be disappointed at all. She’s thrilled, despite not wanting to reveal to Brian, whom she’s been dating for FIVE YEARS, that she is legitimately terrified of boats. That never came up once? Like, on their second date when he mentioned how much he loves whales (I have no idea what else marine biologists talk about)? Continuing on…

Obviously, Brian’s not The One, so let’s go meet the real one. In a not-so-meet-cute, Emily is outside her favourite little book store, mourning the fact that it’s been shut down. A hunk in a tailored suit waltzes out the shop’s door to conveniently explain that her favourite little book store had major infestation issues, was a health hazard, etc. This is all very You’ve Got Mail, and that movie did it better. Anyway, we find out that the hunk is Henry, a corporate nerd who’s strictly about business. They argue on the street about…idk, small business v. big business shit, as strangers do.

So, Emily works for the city. A WEEK BEFORE THE PARADE, her bosses are panicking about the fact that the parade annually loses money. Yeah, dudes, it’s a PARADE. In a shocking twist, they’ve hired a consultant of some kind, AKA corporate hunk Henry. Emily is appalled, yet attracted. He wants to charge people to watch the parade, she hates the idea, etc. They’re forced to work together, thus arguing over their differences and yet bonding over their shared interests. Ah, romance.

So, at some point, Henry tries telling Emily that Brian is definitely not The One for her. He gets all in her head about her relationship. Henry’s a total Pickup Artist for feeding shit to her that only her Get A Grip friends have a right to do. You are a handsome hunk that’s known Emily for a few days, tops. You don’t get an opinion on her relationship. But Henry’s unsolicited opinion is that dudes don’t date ladies for five years without proposing if they’re truly in love with them.  Henry is no Mark Darcy, so he doesn’t just tell Emily he likes her exactly how she is, but rather tells her that if she asked, Brian would probably have a few things he’d change about her. Emily is upset about this, but later tries to bait Brian into revealing something he’d change about her. He doesn’t fall for it…yet. She’s relieved and reassured that Brian is The One for her. (It’s also revealed that she has her mom’s vintage wedding dress, just waiting to be used for her upcoming nuptials…)

Let me preface this next scene. Emily is literally dressed like Betty Draper during the entire movie. Her whole wardrobe is vintage (which is explained later), and Reeser manages to pull most of it all, except for this next doozy. Brian arrives in Chicago, and takes her out to dinner at her favourite pizza place. It’s a sentimental spot for her, as her (now deceased) dad used to take her there. She’s CONVINCED Brian will pop The Big Q, so she’s dressed to the nines: giant hat, satin evening gloves, and probably a fur coat. It’s crazy. Wackiness ensues when she thinks Brian is proposing, but he is only proposing that she travel overseas with him as he continues researching about whale dicks or something. Sorry to marine biologists, I just literally have no idea what you do all day, so I like to take liberties when I can. Emily is devastated, breaks up with Brian, and storms out.

She meets up with Henry, gets drunk, and performs Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” at the classiest karaoke joint I’ve seen in a movie. Everyone’s cheering and clapping for her! Henry’s totally charmed. They end up getting locked out overnight on a high-rise rooftop…in late November…in Chicago. No funny business occurs, probably because their limbs were blackened with frostbite.

It’s not a Christmas TV movie without a montage, so we can see that they’re working together great now. This includes her auditioning parade Santas (which is very important to her, for reasons unknown/uncared about by me), clowns, and various parade people. Of course, Henry ruins this bonding time by being a TOTAL CREEP. While Emily’s talking to someone in a parking lot, he decides to snap a pic of her on his phone. AND THEN! In his hotel room, he prints it out (and it’s like, perfect quality of course) and tuck it into a photo frame. Dude, no.

Since she’s broken off her engagement with Bri-Bri and has had sufficient time to move on (…), Henry asks her out on a date. Before they go, she’s complaining to her best friend (who somehow manages to make a living by running a vintage shop and thus supplying Emily’s wardrobe for life) that Henry has this totally preposterous and offensive “Five Date Rule,” in which if after five dates he doesn’t see a future with the girl, he calls it off. This a completely reasonable and fair rule, but Emily sees it as just another reason why Henry and her could never work.

Let’s move on to their date. He tells her they have Bulls tickets. He pulled the old switcheroo on her though, because what he meant was some Chicago high school basketball team that’s also named the Bulls. Funny! And suddenly, even though they just arrived and it’s not at all half-time, they’re on KISS CAM! What high school has this?! Henry’s also wearing a black turtleneck, so this entire scene is the worst. Everyone cheers for way too long, and then she screams at the ref because she’s suddenly secretly sporty? Okay, movie. At some point, he manages to make her overcome her fear of boats. It’s not very important at all and completely trivializes real phobias, but it does establish for us that he’s  The One for her. Another reason why he’s The One: he gets why she dresses in only vintage (to honour her dead mom, or something) and why that pizza place is her favourite (to honour her dead dad).

And lo, they’re smitten. Henry goes back to his hotel room and makes a mysterious phone call to someone named Gretchen, explaining that he now understands love, and has this boring epiphany on Mystery Girl’s voicemail. It’s now the day before the parade, and Emily goes to Henry’s hotel room to surprise him. And who should be waiting outside for the Man of the Hour as well? But his GIRLFRIEND, Gretchen! Emily barely holds it together enough to run away, upset and flustered. Henry opens the door to see Gretchen. He’s basically like, “Ohhh, you thought I meant you… when I left you that long rambling voicemail about love. Yeah, this isn’t going to work out. My bad!” Dick move, Henry.

Henry and Brian both show up at Emily’s office at the same time. When Brian proposes in front of everyone,Henry pleads Emily not to accept, and out of SPITE, she says yes. Excellent life choices happening here. Brian describes her as “rare as a grey pearl inside an Italian oyster,” because he’s a marine biologist and that’s the only way they can relate to humans. She goes home to pack for her overseas trip/marriage (?), cry and hand over keys to her friend to live in her house. Which, by the way, is inexplicably massive. It’s probably her dead dad’s, because that’s the most convenient reason that these TV kids are affording mansions in big cities.

She tells her boss that she’ll be leaving her job, which I’m sure is a decision she won’t regret at all.

It’s the morning of the parade. Emily shows up at the event, and several things happen in VERY quick succession:

  1. Her boss tells her that Henry’s final recommendation to the city for cost-cutting was to…not to change ANYTHING about the parade. I think he provided an actual solution of some kind, but since that plotline is so silly, I didn’t even write it down, but it does explain the next part.
  2. She finds out that Henry was an orphan, not the rich kid she presumed. Even though she’s a PARADE COORDINATOR, she leaves her post on literally the most important day of the year for her, and goes to where he would’ve watched the parade as a kid. They are both orphans now!
  3. Parade Santa quit on the day of the parade, naturally. And because this is a Very Important Deal for Emily, she’s super upset.
  4. Emily confronts Brian, asking why that pizza place is her favourite, or why she wears vintage (in the best line of the move, he asks “because you’re quirky?”) She breaks up with Brian for good, and he literally retorts with “Most women would kill for this!” (‘This’ being sailing around the world with a marine biologist).


4 Rating
This was actually enjoyable to an extent. The leads were fairly cute with one another. I’m still angry about the ending though.

Top IMDb Comment:

Everyone knows the Detroit Thanksgiving Day Parade is better than the Chicago one.


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