The title “A Cookie Cutter Christmas” sounds like it’s either going to be a Christmas-themed horror movie with a deranged baker as the villain, or an amalgamation of all the Christmas clichés possible. Instead, it takes its title too literally and we get the crumbs of a story about a cookie baking contest. Frankly, I would’ve been happier with either of the other options.
We open in the past where young best friends Christie Reynolds and Penny Miller sing a rendition of Silent Night at their elementary school Christmas pageant. Penny kicks off the decades-long feud by singing over Christie’s parts of the song and continues to sing louder until Christie gives up (score: Penny 1, Christie 0). FRIENDSHIP OVER!
Fast forward an undisclosed amount of years, and now Penny and Christie are grade 1 teachers forcing their star pupils to practice Silent Night for the school pageant. Of course they’re making a competition out of it and even agree to meet in the auditorium after school to have their students duke it out in a singing contest. Neither seems to consider that these children might have to go home after school. After this scene, it’s already obvious that neither of these two are worth rooting for and whatever happens to them is well-deserved. Both of these women are through and through narcissists with nary a hint of redemptive qualities. All the good deeds they do throughout the movie are to win this hateful competition they have with one other. We spend the next two hours (it did not need to be this long) watching them have a virtual dick-measuring contest, despite both of them being female.
The competition continues when Christie tells her class that they’ve sold 50 tickets to the Christmas pageant. Penny’s class being across the hall, she overhears this and tells her own class that they’ve sold 100 tickets to the Christmas pageant as she gives Christie a smug look (Penny 2, Christie 0). Obviously, Penny was just waiting around for Christie to mention the tickets so she can bust out that takedown. Christie reminds her kids to sell those tickets because she wants to be a winner (ah, teaching the kids the real spirit of the holidays). Poor Christie is always losing these competitions and that’s the only reason the movie gives you to root for her. It’s fairly obvious though that if roles were reversed, Christie would be doing the exact same bragging, and thus I’m already rooting for both of them to be killed by the deranged baker of the misleading title.
Of course, these little one-ups on one another aren’t enough to fill out an entire movie, so let’s throw in the perfect man for them to fight over! Enter James and his daughter Lily. They’re new in town, and Lily is joining Christie’s class (Penny 2, Christie 1. But I’m not sure I even want to give her this point as it’s not like Lily had a choice between the two classes; she just got stuck there). James is the perfect man. We learn that he runs the donation centre and that he’s a caring father (wait, isn’t he new in town? How does he run this centre already?). Seriously, the movie gives him no faults other than his dead wife, and that barely counts…unless he murdered her…which would explain why he moved towns… Either way, there are even more revelations of his perfection later on, but those are coming. After Lily’s first day of school, Christie reassures James that she’ll settle in fine. Not to be outdone, Penny pops out of her class and introduces herself as the Christmas festival planner, which is an event that raises money for the donation centre (Penny 3, Christie 1). James is, of course, happy to meet both of them and doesn’t seem to see the tension between these two women.
Christie’s mom Beverly returns from Florida because she doesn’t golf, and I guess Christie’s dad has died…maybe recently, maybe not, it’s not touched upon. Beverly is going to stay with Christie in her super duper mansion. Christie somehow drives a Lexus and lives in a mansion all on an elementary school teacher’s salary, because that’s totally realistic in this town (this movie requires a lot of suspension of disbelief). Christie also wants her mom to move in with her, rather than find her own place. There are a couple reasons why she might want this:
- She’s insane because no grown adult wants to live with their parents again
- She wants to rent out a wing in her mansion to her mom so she can afford it
- She’s lonely, as she has no friends because she’s a terrible person
The real reason though is that Christie can’t cook. Her mom tells her all the meals she prepared them as a kid were terrible and they ate them to not hurt her feelings. Christie must be eating out every night, or taste-blind if she’s still cooking her own food.
The Christmas festival begins and I’m already wondering how this movie is going to spread this out over the next hour and 40 minutes. Of course, this festival is a month-long event or something. Penny gives a speech about how great she is for planning all this (Penny 4, Christie 1) and announces a new event, invented by herself (Penny 5, Christie 1): a cookie bake-off by the teachers! Before this 4-round event (groan) kicks off, Christie and Penny have to duke it out for James. Penny mentions that she volunteered for four events last year, which Christie tops by saying she volunteered for five (Penny 5, Christie 2). Penny rhetorically asks “Did you?” because it’s obvious that Christie is lying (Penny 5, Christie
2 1). James finally gets a word in between all this bickering to mention that he and Lily are going to walk around, and see the lights and decorations of the houses later on. Christie jumps at the chance to beat Penny and mentions they should see her house because it has the most lights in the neighbourhood. Penny then states that her house is better-decorated and even has a large working snowglobe this year, and that if they come over, she’ll serve them homemade hot chocolate. Not to be outdone, Christie says she has a giant Frosty the Snowman and will serve them homemade egg nog, but it’s obvious she’s lying again so the point is going to Penny (Penny 6, Christie 1). James is super excited and obviously doesn’t see the rivalry between these two or the fact that they’re obviously competing for his affections. If James wasn’t the perfect man, he could’ve easily had a threesome right there on the gymnasium floor in front of all the students and parents simply because these women are that competitive with each other. Penny has to excuse herself as the first round of the bake-off is about to begin. She doesn’t shy away from mentioning that she invented it and is also a great cook before heading off. Christie, of course, can’t have herself look bad in front of James so she signs up as well.
The 12-minute cookie bake-off begins, and Christie misses out on getting good ingredients because it takes her way too long to put on her chef’s hat. Cue a couple shots of her not knowing what she’s doing as she tries to get a cookie batter going. She tries copying some of the other teachers, but all she got was flour and eggs, so that doesn’t pan out well. Penny wins the competition (Penny 7, Christie 1). Does this round count for anything? Nope, nobody is eliminated and everyone moves onto the next round , so it was just a way for Penny to show off her baking skills (Penny 8, Christie 1). It’s also surprising that Christie is the bad cookie-maker as her name should remind everyone of Mr. Christie’s cookies. Mrs. Fields was nowhere to be found.
Christie then returns home to add more decorations to her house’s exterior. She’s having trouble with the inflatable Frosty when James and Lily show up to do that promised walk-around. There are some mishaps and the snowman deflates and everyone laughs. Christie then invents them in for eggnog, but James says they’re already full from all the hot chocolate that Penny made for them earlier (Penny 9, Christie 1). Christie goes back inside and attempts to bake cookies all night long. Her mom tries one in the morning and promptly throws it out because it’s terrible.
Not one to quit, Christie brings over a box of clothes to the donation centre the next day, and chats up James before being interrupted by Penny, who has a dozen boxes of clothes that are folded, labeled, and sorted by gender (Penny 10, Christie 1). While Penny and James unload boxes, the evil genius Christie decides she’s going to work the child angle to get close to James.
Lily apparently fails a spelling test, but I suspect Christie is making this up. She tells James that his daughter, who’s in grade 1, needs to be tutored. She even offers to tutor her herself after school at the donation centre while James finishes up work. James says this is perfect, since usually Lily has nothing to do during that time, and asks where Christie was when he was failing in grade 5. Christie responds that she was probably being picked on by Justin Longhorn. James then says, in a terribly cringeworthy voice, “Curse you Longhorn.” Was this supposed to be flirting? If yes, James is terrible at it and thus, we find his first flaw.
Christie gets a lesson in baking from her mother and her friend Allison, whose main job in this movie is to point out how hunky James is and complain about Christmas shopping for her invisible husband. This is the perfect spot for a baking montage, but the movie disappointingly shies away from it. Despite the lack of montage, Christie manages to not screw up a few cookies, much to the delight of Bev and Allison. It’s also revealed that Penny has won at least a couple more battles in this rivalry over the years, including prom queen (Penny 11, Christie 1).
After their first tutoring session, Lily tells Christie that she should bake a chocolate cookie for the contest as everyone likes chocolate. By the way, there are rules to this contest, including that the recipe must be an original creation and that they have to be made solely by the contestant. None of this is enforced due to the fact that the teachers just make the cookies at home, rather than make them in front of everyone.
The second round of the contest is an actual elimination round, and to do the judging, they’ve brought in Alan Thicke! He plays Chef Krueger, and all he does in the movie is taste cookies, so as John Connor would say: “Easy money.” Chef Krueger tastes the cookies, which all have Christmas-themed names, and then it comes to Christie’s. He comments on the bland presentation, and then proceeds to choke on the cookie until someone gets him some water. (Penny 11, Christie 0) Is all hope already lost for Christie!? Before he announces the three finalists, he decides he should taste Christie’s cookie again. He then announces that Penny, Mr. Peters (Who? Exactly.) and surprise surprise, Christie are the three finalists. (Penny 11, Christie 1). How is this possible? Well, it turns out that James is an excellent cook (more perfection!) who watches Chef Krueger’s show and Lily suggested chocolate because she knows the chef loves it. That’s how you win these school bake-offs: insider information.
Christie then ups her plans and offers to tutor Lily at James’ house, which is a mansion, of course. They decide to make a gingerbread house, but Christie burns it, because she can’t use a stove timer. Christie’s idiocy does pay off as James offers to teach her how to bake as a thank you for tutoring Lily. They bond over Baking Basics 101, and even touch hands while stirring batter. As we all know, touching hands will eventually lead to sex. Christie also gets a peek at James’ personal cookbook, which is filled with his own recipes.
Another observation about the movie: it uses every single public domain Christmas song it can find in such rapid succession that I’m not sure if there ever was a scene without music in the background. This rapidfire use leads to the movie running out of songs halfway through, as they resort to using the same music, but in slower or faster versions.
It’s time for round three of the competition. Before Chef Krueger tastes the cookies, Penny announces to everyone that because of last time, the cookies will now be served with a glass of milk (Penny 12, Christie 1). Christie proceeds to spill the milk on Chef Krueger while offering him her cookies (Penny 12, Christie 0). Fortunately for Christie, her cookies must taste great because she’s off to the finals! (Penny 12, Christie 1). I believe the real reason Mr. Peters was eliminated was because he made cookies named “Santa Hats,” which were: (a) not in the shape of Santa’s hat and (b) not red at all and (c) look suspiciously like Voortmans Fudge Striped Oatmeal cookies, as seen below:
The next day at school, Penny butts into Christie and James’ conversation to announce she’s hosting a party for the Christmas festival volunteers (Penny 13, Christie 1). She also brags that she’s paying for Chef Krueger to show up the party and show off his culinary skills (Penny 14, Christie 1). This scene never happens, as I suspect that Alan Thicke has no culinary skills. Penny invites James to the party, who then asks Christie if she’ll be there. Christie finally gets another point against Penny here by smugly saying, “Well, I am a volunteer.” It’s obvious Penny wasn’t going to invite her, but she can’t be made to look bad in front of James, so she reluctantly concedes (Penny 14, Christie 2). This is a big win for Christie, even though she’s been telling Bev and Allison throughout the entire movie that she is so over the rivalry with Penny (it’s clear she is not).
Christie brings Bev to the party, seemingly only to piss off Penny, since this is a party for volunteers only!!! Penny announces that James is also a great musician (too much perfection!), and asks him to accompany her in a rendition of Silent Night. She reminds everyone is the song she sung by herself in school (Penny 15, Christie 2). Oh, it is on now! Christie won’t let this stand, so she joins in on Penny’s singing and they shout the song as loud as possible. James, along with everyone else, finally realizes something is up and gives Christie a WTF look. Christie stops and lets Penny finish the song (Penny 16, Christie 2) before she walks out the door. James follows her and she explains the rivalry to him; he doesn’t seem to be bothered by his love interest being a bitter betty for so long. They almost kiss, but Penny interrupts them, because she needs James’ help with something (Penny 17, Christie 2). Penny finds out James has been teaching Christie how to bake, which Christie is quick to point out doesn’t break the rules of the bake-off. Christie tells Penny her final cookie will feature peppermint, which Penny is fine with, since she’s won’t be using it. Christie leaves Bev at the party, which was her plan all along (!) because Bev ends up walking home with Chef Krueger! Yes, Christie is that desperate to win that she’ll whore out her mom (I think that deserves a point: Penny 17, Christie 3).
Penny doesn’t like that Christie is getting closer to James. Because she’s a competitive bitch, she goes and invites herself in for coffee at James’ house. Penny asks if she could take James out on the town to show him the town’s “excellent nightlife”, but James declines because he’s hoping to date Christie (Christie gets a point without even knowing it: Penny 17, Christie 4). Out of spite, Penny steals a recipe for peppermint drops from James’ personal cookbook.
Christie is so certain she’s going to win, she starts brainstorming ideas with her students about where they’d like to go for a field trip with the money. The kids make her look like a fool by suggesting they give it back to charity. Christie is confused by this generosity, because she’s a terrible person.
Christie makes her peppermint cookies, and pretty much just crumbles a candy cane on them. She announces again that she no longer cares about the competition, because she is simply having fun now (but really, she knows it’s in the bag since her mom is banging Chef Krueger).
Right before the final round, Penny slips James’ recipe under Christie’s cookies. James sees his recipe and takes it back, but then concludes that Christie must’ve stolen it to win (Penny 18, Christie 4). Chef Krueger tastes the cookies and announces that Christie is the winner (Penny 18, Christie 5). This is actually a victory for Penny though, as now James thinks Christie is a cheater (Penny 19, Christie 5). Christie gives a thank you speech to everyone, and announces that the winning money will be given to the donation centre (Penny 19, Christie 6). Finally, James shows that he’s not perfect when he tells Christie off for cheating, and then shoots eye daggers at her when he picks up Lily the next day.
Christie confronts Penny about the competition, and admits that she was wrong to sing with Penny back in the day, when it was rightfully Penny’s solo (Penny 19, Christie 7), and that the teacher only gave Christie a part in it because she complained enough (Penny 19, Christie 6). She says that it would be great if their star pupils would sing Silent Night together. Penny tears up and agrees, and apparently all is forgiven? Penny apologizes for nothing.
Penny confesses her saboteur ways to James. He and Christie get together, despite all the horrible things she’s done over the course of the movie. Christie gets another point here because she won the competition for James (Penny 19, Christie 7). I’m sure once the next single hunky dad comes to town, Penny and Christie will compete for him all over again, and the feudal fires will reignite once more.
Terrible, barely any zaniness, I feel like it’s my duty as someone who watched this to start a grassroots campaign to rewrite this movie into something else…anything else.
Top IMDb Comment:
I just can’t seem to like Penny. She just feel so annoying. Even at the end, she just don’t seem to regret anything. I wanted someone to slap her in the face.