Recap: Christmas Incorporated (2015)

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Hallmark, stop putting two good-looking people together and hoping the movie works itself out.

Riley Vance (Shenae Grimes-Beech, previously seen in The Hazing Secret) is our plucky gal about town, aggressively shopping herself to different companies for a job but getting rejected left and right, especially by a lady who REFUSES (illegally?) to hire someone who’s unemployed! Naturally, Riley is flush with spirit but not cash, so she’s bummed. Until, out of the blue, she overhears some lady gossiping about how William Young can’t seem to keep an assistant and they’re holding interviews right now!

She seems to know exactly where she’s going, of course, and checks in with her boringly cute Christmas-obsessed parents to see if it’s a good company (her dad owns a vintage shop, so I guess he knows local corporations?). Her dad’s like, YES because William just inherited Young Inc. from his papa, and that always means there’s profit to be made. I’m doubtful, but I’m more horrified by the SHEER AMOUNT OF GARLANDRY EVERYWHERE IN THE VANCE HOUSEHOLD.

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Okay, so Riley shows up to the interviews and sneaks her resume onto the pile of other candidates’ and harasses some lady to tell her she wants the job. The lady, Amanda, is All Business and not really interested, until she sees Riley, a true Christmas addict like her parents, fix a crooked star topper on a tree in the lobby.

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Bingo! After the other candidates have lasted mere minutes with her, she brings “Riley V.” in (she’s been calling everyone out by their first name and surname initial, WHICH STUPIDLY PLAYS A STUPID PART IN THIS STUPID MOVIE). Amanda admires Riley’s resume and basically hires her on the spot, but wants to bring her in to get final approval from William himself. As they’re leaving Amanda’s office, Riley catches sight of the wrong Riley V.’s resume on the desk…!

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Riley Vanarden’s been robbed of a job! Our Riley tries ineffectually to tell Amanda, but eventually shuts up and is brought before William Young (Steve Lund, previously seen in Best Christmas Party Ever) and his team of business dudes; they’re making like, a really important decision about whether to shut down their flagship factory to save face, or risk closure before Christmas. First of all, Amanda is an idiot for bringing a STRANGER into such a confidential meeting, and second of all, only one dude seems alarmed that she’s there and he’s the best. We’ll get to him though.

So, William is worried that his public image (immature boy-king, essentially) is suffering and thinks shutting down the toy factory (that’s right, they manufacture TOYS! Because it’s Christmas!) will destroy any  chance he has left. The business dudes are arguing to shut down the factory and eat the loss, but Riley pipes up that William should go assess the factory for himself, meet the employees and townspeople of Dover, before making the call. William agrees and hires her!

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This screen transition was captured by accident, but I agree with BOTH of these facial expressions. That scandalized business guy, never to be seen again, most definitely realized just now he was on a burning ship of a toy company at that moment.

Anyway, Amanda basically ushers Riley onto a plane to the town of Dover  to “prepare” for William’s arrival. Like, fluff the pillows and make sure the factory hasn’t been shut down yet? When she flies in, she meets her driver, another plucky lady named Piper, who basically works every single job in the town (bartender, driver, hotel concierge). She’s been hired by the mayor to be their driver for the week.

Ugh, William decides to ride, not fly (on a dumb motorcycle, of course) to Dover. Before leaving, he reiterates with Amanda that he HATES Christmas, but then secretly packs a copy of The Night Before Christmas into his bag.

Mayor Keegan: The Worst. He is insufferably pushy about everything, and goes so far out of his way to be hospitable that he MAKES AN OLD COUPLE LEAVE THEIR HOUSE FOR CHRISTMAS so Riley and William can use it for their stay instead of the hotel! Oh, and there’s an actual red carpet rolled down the walkway.

Riley then meets Rebecca, the shadiest small town journalist. Rebecca is a legitimately irredeemable snake in this movie, and I can’t tell if I love her or hate her for it. Anyway, Riley decides that her time is best spent garlanding the shit out of this old couple’s house for William’s arrival.

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Outside the house, Mayor Keegan is running around like he’s on speed, organizing a welcoming crew (so embarrassing) for the dude. Meanwhile, William’s been pulled over on his hog for speeding just inside town and he stupidly forgot his ID. The sheriff hauls him into the station. The mayor gets the call and takes Riley to the station to identify that he is, in fact, William Young. The mayor is ready to murder the sheriff for his “blunder.” William’s pissed at everything, especially when he finally gets to the house and see Riley’s decorations.

“I’ve fired people for less than this,” he claims. He makes her take them all down. Wait a minute, she only had $89 to her name and she’s blowing it all on decorations? How was travel set up so fast within a day’s time? Wouldn’t they have needed her full name for the plane ticket? UGH.

The next morning, they see that Rebecca’s already got a picture of William under arrested with a scathing headline on the front page of the Dover paper. Amanda calls William to scold him, because apparently all the “NYC tabloids” have picked the story up and this isn’t helping his public image, William!! Riley’s advice is to just knuckle down and do the job he came to do.

I’m not joking; Rebecca literally follows them everywhere and takes stalker paparazzi shots of them, even in super private settings. The mayor was so angry with the sheriff for arresting Young, but he’s not pissed with Rebecca here for writing inflammatory articles about the dude?!

Okay, okay, they finally go to the toy factory and there’s an actual painting station.

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THIS IS NOT SANTA’S WORKSHOP.

The factory forewoman explains that they lost a major contract to some brick-and-mortar store, their online presence sucks, blah blah business shit. Basically, they’re broke and they have a shitload of overstock in traditional toys (which she says aren’t popular anymore, a total lie!), including a dumb talking bear that Riley freaks out over. She had it as a kid, and then when William gets her to make a wish from a fallen eyelash, she gets this brilliant idea to reprogram the talking bears into wishing bears. She runs to the forewoman to see what she thinks, without asking William his opinion! Factory lady is on board, and William’s like, well okay, that probably won’t work, but I guess so. Just so neutrally disinterested and terrible. Riley’s full of marketing ideas, and it’s all very boring to me, but what I am curious about is that none of this needs to be vetted by a board of some sort? No legal team? I HAVE QUESTIONS.

Riley is 100% into this, and thus, totally devastated when she later overhears William talking to someone at Young Inc. on the phone about how this plan will obviously not keep the factory afloat, but he’ll stick around to keep up appearances for the sake of the townies. She weirdly finds solace in a conversation with the town Santa, who is around far too often and therefore doesn’t seem special whatsoever. Santa’s advice: help William find his Christmas spirit. Oh, just that, Santa?

Sometime later, Mayor Keegan has convinced them to attend the Dover Winter Carnival. He also springs it on William that he’s the guest of honour and can he make a speech to the townies about saving the factory? THE FUCKING NERVE. William tanks the minute an incensed townie asks the tough questions (“Is the factory gonna stay open?”) so the mayor has to step in and save face by marketing the shit out of the stupid wishing bear. William basically runs out of the carnival and into Santa, who tries to hit him up for money. Who in this godforsaken town am I supposed to love?

The next morning, they find out Rebecca’s written another front pager bashing William. I have so many notes about this, but mostly: where is she able to come up with so much copy every single day about this dude? Riley’s advice to William is to boost his public image around town by socializing and basically just not being a dick to people. So, he rents a rink all for the two of them instead??? He tries to teach her how to skate but ends up humble-bragging about how he could’ve gone pro at hockey, but instead got forced into Daddy’s business. Rebecca: up in the fucking stands or something, taking photos of them.

Still not taking Riley’s advice, he just takes her out for coffee and orders for her (ugh) by guessing her drink of choice perfectly, because he can “read people.” He spends the entire time just stroking her ego about how good she is at various business things. Dude, she just went through Business 101 really, and you’re blown away by this?

The next day’s article: a picture of William skating with the headline “JUST SKATING BY?” I might like Rebecca a bit more. Weird that she’s following these two people, who clearly like one another at this point, but doesn’t seem to be taking the angle of like, “hey, these two are just taking our town for a ride and taking a mini vacation at the same time.” He just spent the entire day trying to woo his assistant. Learn your story angles, Rebecca!

Riley confronts her in a coffee shop, offering a full-access interview with William rather than a constant barrage of negative press, a deal that hasn’t been vetted by the board or anyone else. Rebecca’s like NO THANKS BITCH even though a legitimately excellent and well-researched interview about a new boy-king with a chip on his shoulder could crack things wide open for her. Basically, her stories have been picked up by tabloids and she needs a “ticket to the big time” to leave Dover, so she’s gonna do whatever she wants!

William cooks his Grandma’s favourite comfort food for Riley. It’s called “Chicken on the Ritz” and it consists of chicken, Ritz crackers, and mushroom soup. Sounds gross, but I’d probably like it. He tells Riley that she reminds him of his grandma, but he means her character.

REBECCA HAS CROSSED THE PROFESSIONAL SMALL TOWN JOURNALIST LINE! She’s taking pictures of William, from her car into his dining room, with the back of Riley’s head in the shot.  The next day, the article focuses on this “mystery date.” Piper immediately guesses that it’s Riley, and Riley all but confirms when she turns into a blabbering, defensive mess. She likes the boy-king!

William calls Amanda to extend his trip. We see Amanda approve Riley’s job announcement in the company newsletter. Nobody ever reads the company newsletter, so I’m sure nothing will come of this!

This movie has no idea what day it is. A newspaper will say we’re four days out from Christmas, but a sign in the factory will say five. It’s anybody’s guess! Speaking of the factory, William gets roped into doing a Secret Santa exchange with the employees and draws the name of some underage girl that works, inexplicably, in the world’s unsafest factory uniform:

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This whole Secret Santa storyline doesn’t do much but build to William’s resistance to Christmas, which Riley eventually breaks out of him: his mom died at Christmas when he was young, and his grandma made the holiday super magical, so when she died, there was no reason to celebrate. I believe the writers think dead mom = EMOTIONAL CHARACTER, which: no. Riley’s determined to be his own personal Christmas cheerleader!

(Seriously, I don’t even think they show us what William ends up getting for this girl.)

Rebecca continues being The Worst/The Best (?) by finding Young Inc.’s company newsletter, which welcomes the arrival of RILEY VANARDEN as William’s new assistant, and specifically not the Riley Vance that’s flouncing around town.

The mayor harasses William on a morning jog about Dover’s magic: he was unemployable everywhere, but came to Dover and became the mayor! I legitimately laughed at that, but he’s definitely not joking. He invites William to ride on the “carol van,” which is just a bunch of carollers on a flatbed truck singing through town. BORING. William thinks so too.

But then! Mayor Keegs drops the bombshell: William’s grandma was the one to come up with the idea…to cheer up her grandson on Christmas…because his mom had just died. Spooky!

Meanwhile, Riley finds William’s not-so-secret copy of The Night Before Christmas in his bag, inscribed by his grandma that it was the first book he’d read to her, at age 5. When William comes back to the house, she’s set him up to read the very book to the kiddies at a children’s hospital. He doesn’t even clue into the fact that she would’ve found his book until she winks about it. He’s not even mad that she snooped?

So, he goes and reads to the kids. Fucking Santa shows up and I’m not joking when I insist they gave him the skin colour of raw chicken:

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It’s this horrifying mix of pale white and disgusting pink. Get off my screen, Santa! He’s the worst too, because he goes on and on to these kids about how the toy factory helps Santa’s workshop out when they’re running behind on toys.

Rebecca somehow gets the number for the Vances, and calls them to trap them into admitting Riley’s their daughter and blah blah confirming the truth.

Oh my god, this carolling van is just pathetic. First of all, there’s only TWO confirmed carollers that I can even see, the rest is just smiling people, the mayor, and William and Riley. You know who’s NOT on the flatbed of Not-Carollers?

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Obviously he’s repulsive, but Santa doesn’t even get an invite? He just gets to be a spectator?!

Okay okay, let’s just finish this thing. Riley and William flirt up a storm that night, talking about how they feel at home in Dover and how her parents actually live close by. He calls her a keeper. He demands that they put the Christmas decorations back up. Which, put them up yourself, dude! But she loves Christmas too much to say this, and they jump right in to tree decorating – she sucks at it and he teases her and then she invites him to stay with her family for Christmas.

Sudden call from the factory: sales have hit a brick wall! Only half the stock has moved. The factory lady brings in Rebecca for a super late-night interview with William (and Riley by his side) to boost last-minute sales, but Rebecca’s hidden her ulterior motive: she wants to expose Riley’s true identity! Hilariously, this janitor is literally just mopping the same patch of the floor behind them the entire time, and William has the nerve to be sooooo offended by Riley’s betrayal. Rebecca reveals the real Riley Varnarden’s resume (Rebecca is the shadiest) and calls Riley Vance’s resume “bush league.” The factory lady has her escorted out immediately! Riley leaves, upset. The factory lady tells William not to be a grinch, that Riley’s done a shitload for the town already, and not be a dick about it.

I understand that Riley should’ve actually told the truth, but this is 100% the fault of Young Inc. for mixing up two resumes and not clarifying any details with her before sending her off on a trip. If I were Riley, I would’ve totally played it as if I had no idea they had the wrong Riley, BECAUSE nobody’s like, outwardly referred to her ivy education or her surname specifically to her. ANYWAY.

Riley’s already back home with her parents. How did she get there?! Did Piper have to drive her?

William’s moping around town and UGH THE MAYOR AGAIN. He tells a shitty story about how he met his probably shitty wife. Does William not have real friends? He does make me laugh when he basically says, “That’s a nice story…but I don’t see how it relates to my problem…” Mayor Keegan gives him a shitty pep talk but it works for William!

We’re in the home stretch here!

Amanda shows up even though these trips cost money this company doesn’t really have! She gives him a better pep talk. He hired Riley, not for the contents of her resume but for the contents…of her heart. Or something equally cheesy. He admits that Riley doesn’t seem to care about his net worth, unlike other women. Amanda gives him Riley’s home address (how does she even have it?) and presumably flies back to be with her own family for Christmas. A little while later, William goes onto his toy company’s site (Young At Heart, for the curious) but doesn’t do anything. Riveting! He then rereads his grandma’s inscription in The Night Before Christmas, has a little misty-eyed moment while talking aloud to her, and then drives to Riley’s house to beg her to come back to Dover. She agrees. I’m barely listening because I can’t stop staring at the world’s fakest snow.

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The next day, they meet at the toy factory. The last half of the overstock has sold (he bought it all) and he’s making the last of the deliveries, and invites her along for the ride. He’s decided to postpone making any major decisions about the Dover factory until the new year. Also, he doesn’t want her as his assistant; he’s decided, UPON HIMSELF AND NO OTHERS, that he’s going to fund a little start-up consulting division (or firm?) just for her. That way, she can help to consult on his other departments. Okay, so he’s just throwing away money at this point.

Their delivery truck breaks down, she fixes it, he’s amaaaazed by this. They deliver the toys to a children’s hospital, but Hallmark shies from showing actual sick kids and just shows various kids with broken limbs.

Christmas Eve: William has the nerve to tell Riley that she’s saved Christmas for the town. She apologizes again for keeping up the lie about being a different Riley V., but that she did it in the hopes that she could spend more time with him because she liiiiiikes him.

The worst and funniest line is when, right before they make out to the credits, he tells her, “When I’m with you, I don’t feel like William Young. I feel like me.”

THAT’S THE SAME THING.

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THE END

3 Rating

Honestly, I like both of these actors, but it was like watching a brother and sister flirt sometimes. Nothing made up for the poor onscreen chemistry, which is really the worst crime you can commit with these plot-thin movies.

5 thoughts on “Recap: Christmas Incorporated (2015)

  1. So much of this was bad, but what really frustrated me was the fact that Riley didn’t just pretend she had no idea they had the wrong resume. SAVE YOURSELF, woman!

    Honestly, there was a lot of this I didn’t understand. It’s like they had 30 ideas and instead of culling them down and putting them into a cohesive story line, they just threw everything in and hoped for the best.

    That being said, I will totally watch this again because I will watch almost anything set at Christmas time.

    P.S. Hello from Fug Nation!

    Like

    • Hello back!

      YES, Riley’s morals definitely screwed her here. It’s just an administrative error!

      Also, William didn’t even care about her resume or credentials at all, and it’s not like she kept lying by talking about how great Harvard was or whatever.

      Like

  2. Yeah, he never even saw her resume. He chose her based on her brilliant (?) performance in the meeting. If he wants to be mad, he should be mad about how she does so much without his OK. You’ve been his assistant for like 6 seconds; dial it back.

    I also felt like that scene with her fixing the truck belonged in some other movie. Maybe in the Nine Lives of Christmas, in which the heroine knows how to hook up a stove.

    Like

  3. did no one else notice the complete repeat of lines?!!! she starts telling him about how shes from Exeter, they repeat the exact same lines at the carolling bus… seriously bad editing going on there

    Like

  4. Im. Dying. LoL!
    I actually love this cheesy movie but your play by play is brilliantly written and made me laugh.

    Like

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