This movie has got our number, folks. We’ve got many, many tropes bundled into one cozy movie: dead parents, plucky protagonists, miscommunications galore, boring boyfriends, and the eternal love of Christmas tradition.
Let’s get to know Alice, shall we? Alice is our perky female lead and right out of the gate, we know she’s a good girl, because she is holding onto her deceased father’s antique shop. Another in a long line of unrealistic jobs despite a raging recession for small business owners, but I digress. Her boyfriend, Will Mitchum, is a stodgy business guy. We know this because he makes SO MANY business calls for the duration of the movie that they found no time to give him another character trait.
Embarrassingly, I recognized the actor from The Secret Sex Life of a Single Mom, a fact which I accidentally revealed to Alex last week. IT’S ON TV A LOT. Moving on, yes? Alice bores Will (and me) to tears about a story wherein a clockmaker has an unrequited love with some girl, and when he goes to crash her wedding ceremony to another dude, they run away together and the clock stopped forever at that time. Or something like that. Will’s clearly on the same page as me, and redirects the conversation to whether she’s heard from the potential buyers of her store. Alice is not interested in selling, blah blah, reoccuring theme.
Later that night, Will and Alice go out for dinner. We get our second clue that Will’s a dud because he orders some fancy tofu dish, rather than a REAL MAN’S DINNER! With no real romantic preamble of any kind, Will proposes to Alice, who seems extremely confused, even though they’re both in their thirties and I imagine it was a conversation that occurred at some point? Alice’s mouth says yes after what feels like 10 years of silence, but her eyes are screaming OH GOD WHY.
Post-proposal, Will decides it’s finally time for Alice to meet his parents. Naturally. We know something hinky’s going on with Will, as he keeps mentioning how much Alice’s store would sell for (apparently there’s a developer interested in tearing down the block and putting up condos), and it gets hinkier when he basically ushers her onto the plane and tells her he’ll be on the next plane after some business meeting. Yeah, honey, go on ahead and meet your future in-laws for the first time without me. Alice is a pushover, so she only balks a little. Grow a damn spine, Alice!
Anyway, she loses her luggage and has to wait in some area to do a lost luggage claim. Lucky for her, she’s joined by a tall “handsome” stranger with EYES LIKE FUCKING MARBLES who stares at her like she’s the second coming of Christ. She legitimately gets a slow-motion treatment when he first sees her. Turns out, he’s lost some handmade valuable of his grandfather’s, so they bond over the importance of antiques. He’s all nervous around her, and spills an entire coffee down her shirt and ruins her phone as a result. It’s a scam, Alice! Run! You’re the perfect target! Alice is panicking, because her in-laws’ address was in her phone, and now she’s lost. He asks what city she’s headed to, and WHAT A COINCIDENCE, he lives there and can drive her!
Further proving my point that he is a con artist, he lets her borrow his phone to call Will. He stands right next to her as she talks to him, and listens as she mentions she’s going to be a future Mitchum. Actual dialogue exchanged (more or less):
Con Artist: “Mitchum? I’m a Mitchum! What’s your fiance’s name?”
Con Artist: “Will, as in Billy? Billy’s my brother!”
Now, if you haven’t been keeping track, Alice has LITERALLY PROVIDED ALL KEY INFORMATION TO THIS CON MAN: the name of the city, her fiance’s first and last name, and I’m screaming at her to run very far away but she’s not listening to me, so they just laugh about how “Billy” now goes by Will and drive off together. She is incredulous, but not the least bit suspicious. Oh, and his name is Matt, whatever. Alice doesn’t think it’s important to call Will back and say HEY, YOUR BROTHER MATT IS TAKING ME HOME. Oh, you don’t have a brother at ALL? That’s right, I should already know this because I’ve been dating you for longer than a week!
I’m just angry now.
En route to the Mitchum family home, Matt and Alice bond about their shared love of Good Old-Fashioned Romance. For Matt, the most egregious thing his ex-girlfriend did was let him walk in the rain before a big presentation. He literally says this line: “Love walks through the rain” and it never comes up again! I was 100% expecting a big finale in the rain (freezing rain?), but no. He also thinks doing chores together is the most romantic thing ever, so obviously Matt’s never been in a long-term relationship before.
Alice shows him her loose engagement ring (another sign that Will isn’t The One, like the tofu dish didn’t suffice) and it falls off her finger by his feet. He goes to grab for it, but in trying to do so, he veers his fucking car into the nearest tree. Almost as pitiful as when Mitch Leery died behind the wheel when his ice cream cone, in which he was singing, fell on the car floor. ALMOST. Anyway, these two nerds both come to in matching hospital beds, side by side. His parents – her supposed in-laws – show up, shocked to find out that their beloved son Will’s apparently engaged with nary a word to his own FAMILY, and right away it’s a lovefest, so we know that this is the family she will really fall in love with. This is very much like While You Were Sleeping, but why does the family of this dude just accept that he was keeping a MAJOR secret from them? Anyway. She can’t get through to Will’s cell (he’s all business, Alice! You signed up for this!), so she goes home with the Mitchums. Nobody offers her to call Will (THE REAL BILLY MITCHUM) on their phones, of course.
In light of their car accident (in which no injuries were incurred whatsoever), the doctor requests that they remain awake for 24 hours just in case the concussions kick in. Side note: there is never again a mention of the car accident; no discussion about insurance claims or damages. I mean, that makes for boring movie material, but I guess Matt’s totally cool with his crazy high insurance premiums now. As soon as they get in the house, his parents are basically like YOU TWO RASCALS BETTER STAY AWAKE BUT WE’RE GOING TO BED NOW! And they peace the hell out, leaving two semi-concussed people to fend for themselves. They bake cookies and talk about life until the wee hours of the morning, when they accidentally fall asleep together.
Matt’s mom comes downstairs in the morning and has the NERVE to scold them. Matt and Alice are obviously idiots, but this is entirely your fault, Mom! Mama Mitchum lends Alice some digs to wear in the meantime (remember, she lost her luggage). But what about her underwear? Nobody takes Alice shopping for these basic necessities, and thus, missed out on a wacky mother-in-law/daughter shopping montage. Actually, I think this movie skipped all montage possibilities, which is both refreshing and disappointing at the same time.
Meanwhile, in the big city, Will is trying to get Alice’s store sold on her behalf. Super illegal and shady of you, Will, and for that, you make a GREAT Christmas TV movie antagonist. He can’t get through to Alice (whose phone is still ruined), and his parents are telling him that Alice never showed. He’s only vaguely concerned about this, and so finally catches a flight home to rescue his betrothed.
Matt and Alice are falling in L-U-V now. Actually, to be fair, she seems to be reasonably charmed by him while he seems ready to give her his left kidney. We find out that Matt is a craftsman, who works with CLOCKS and whatnot, despite having a Masters in Finance. He found his passion for wood (…) when he accidentally set his family’s kitchen table on fire, and had to rebuild it from scratch. Good for you?
The Mitchum family gathers around to play a sweet game that no real family would play: they each write a nice thing about one another, and then go around and guess who wrote what compliment about them. Every answer is super obvious, so the Mitchums suck at making this a real game, and wait a minute. They’re doing this before Alice’s fiance, Will/Billy, comes home? Sucks to be you, Billy. I believe Billy Mitchum to be the real victim of this story, because nobody cares about him at all.
SPEAK OF THE HANDSOME DEVIL, he comes home! Alice screams in shock after tackling him with a big hug and seeing it’s not her Will. Surprisingly, the movie sorts out the chain of misunderstandings REALLY quickly and painlessly (I know!). But now Alice has realized that her beloved new family isn’t hers anymore. Matt: DEVASTATED. But also pretty relieved he’s not longer wanting to bone down with his sister-in-law, right? Anyway, the real Will shows up to retrieve her and she tearfully says goodbye to the Good Mitchums.
Will takes her home to the Bad Mitchums and right off the bat, we know they’re basically everything Alice hates because they own a MANSION and not a charming brownstone. They have really glamorous, but not personal, holiday decorations (the nerve!) and Will’s mom is a non-hugger who serves her a detoxifying green smoothie instead of booze (so rude!), while Will’s dad is glued to his business stuff (like father, like son!). Alice tries to cajole Will into going for a walk in a nearby park with some angel statues, but he says no, because he hates real Christmas just like his parents.
One night, she’s laying awake in bed (where’s Will?) when a beam of light flashes across her ceiling. It’s Matt, outside with a flashlight! She asks him how he found her, and she doesn’t scream for the police when he jokes that he followed her (it wasn’t a joke, Alice!). He ACTUALLY went to all the Mitchum homes in their city (uhhh, that’s almost as bad) and was basically a Peeping Tom all over town to find Alice. Chill out, ya horndog. It couldn’t have waited until morning?
OBVIOUSLY, Matt’s The One because he suggests a walk in the very same park that Will didn’t want to visit! They go for a snowy walk, and share more romantic moments of longing and unrequited love. Alas, it can’t be and they part ways. I’m relieved for Alice.
It’s Christmas Day. Will springs his first Christmas gift on Alice: he’s gone behind her back to negotiate a mint deal for the sale of her shop. She’s stunned, even though he’s literally been dropping massive hints all week. At some point, Matt’s kindly but ultimately pointless grandpa drops by to give her a gift from Matt himself, and gives her advice about true love. She doesn’t open the gift.
Upon her return, Will continues with his second gift: he’s found a new space for her antique store on a better street and has had a lease agreement drawn up, ready to be signed. He’s gone too far! Alice escapes to the bathroom, where she opens the gift from Matt. It’s a Matt-crafted clock. She finds out that the time is set to 11:58, which is when she first met him. This is a callback to the clockmaker story (which Matt, of course, knows too). TURNS OUT, he didn’t fiddle with the time – it was kismet!
Alice finally breaks it off with Will, and goes to find Matt. It doesn’t take long, because he’s been waiting in the park across the street from the house. CREEPY. Apparently, he just had a hunch! I’ll bet you did, Matt. They kiss in the fake snow and then the freeze frame of them walking away, hand in hand, turns into a little portrait on a clock in Alice’s antique shop! Matt and Alice are now happily dating, and her shop is now super popular because of Matt’s wood! He goes to open up a box of mystery goodies from an estate sale, wherein he finds a vintage engagement ring. This movie somehow finds the restraint to not have Matt propose right then and there. Is this my Christmas miracle? I accept!
This movie was definitely not good, but it also wasn’t the worst. Alicia Witt is actually pretty cute. The business talk though = instant snooze for me, so it loses points for that. Also, for how scary Matt is.
Top IMDb Comment:
The way Will’s dad was eyeing Alice was creepy.