Recap: I’m Not Ready for Christmas (2015)

im-not-ready-for-christmas

From the network execs who brought you Christmas Trade AKA the gender-swapped, set-at-Christmas rip-off of Freaky Friday, comes I’m Not Ready for Christmas, AKA the gender-swapped, set-at-Christmas rip off of Liar Liar!

Talk about going back to the well. Not content with just doing modern remakes of A Christmas Carol, Hallmark seems to have struck on the idea of ripping off popular family movies but setting them at Christmas. Unfortunately for this movie, its leading lady Alicia Witt, best known for not knowing how to play the piano, has none of the manic Jim Carrey energy that made Liar Liar so enjoyable. Its title doesn’t even make sense, which is unfortunate for a movie about someone who works in advertising! While it’s a good title overall, everyone in this movie seems perfectly prepared for Christmas. There’s even obvious puns that could’ve been had: White Lie Christmas, Christmas Holieday, or Christmas Lieghts. Maybe I’m stretching a bit, but even Christmas Fib or The Lie Before Christmas have a better ring and a connection to the plot.

So, where did this title come from? Glad you asked! Alicia Witt wrote and sang the movie’s theme song, which shares the title. Hallmark must’ve thought they had to use it even though it’s delightfully anti-Christmas (and even has explicit lyrics!). All this to say, a different movie with the I’m Not Ready for Christmas title and theme song would actually be watchable.

Our movie is set in snowy Denver, Colorado and kudos to the production for actually having decent-looking snow. We meet Holly Nolan (Alicia Witt) who is lying on the phone to her assistant about being stuck in traffic while she’s actually buying a coffee. She reaches for a cab at the same time as the asexually bland George Stults stults

and they need to decide who needs it more. She lies to him that her sister is about to give birth so she needs the cab to get to the hospital, but really she’s going to the auto shop to pick up her car.

She eventually gets to work and parks across two 15-minute loading zone spots right in front of the building. This is okay because she’s telling the security guard that she has basketball tickets for him and his grandson. Hint: She doesn’t have basketball tickets, it’s one of the many lies she’ll tell before Max uses his birthday wish to– oh wait, no, that’s a different movie.

At work, Holly uses more lies on her boss Mr. O’Connell, who is sadly not played by Jerry O’Connell. not-oconnell

Their advertising firm, Hartman Hill, is trying to land Greydon DuPois, fashion designer extraordinaire. It’s a battle between Holly and a coworker named Ted as to who will land this client, until Holly concocts a fake call from Greydon, whom she claims to know, which pushes her over and above Ted to land the file and a potential promotion.

Next, we’re introduced to the creepy Santa Claus that hangs out outside of Holly’s niece’s elementary school collecting money. creepy-santa

It’s creepy for two reasons: 1, he just looks creepy and 2, he’s always outside of the school. Even late at night he’s just hanging out outside the school. The school exterior is also way too classy for an elementary school and looks more like a courthouse. I would not send my kids to this school as Creepy Santa and the likely super high tuition are deal breakers.

We’re also introduced to Holly’s sister Rose, who looks like the poor man’s Catherine Keener, and her niece Anna, who shares Holly’s bright red hair that Rose suspiciously doesn’t have. Yes, it’s another one of Alex’s imaginary deleted plot line where Holly is actually Anna’s mother and will eventually have to tell her when she can’t lie!…but actually there’s not really any further evidence of this, I just thought it would’ve been a neat twist. Holly arrives late to the school and has missed Anna’s tree lighting ceremony. She promises/lies she’ll be there for her concert tomorrow.

That of course won’t happen but before we get to why, Holly again runs in Stults, AKA taxi cab guy, at her office Christmas party. He introduces himself as Drew, elementary school music teacher, recently cuckolded, and suspicious party crasher since he knows no one at Holly’s work and has no reason to be there except to either stalk Holly or serve the movie’s plot. They of course hit it off and Holly tells him all about the DuPois file and jokingly hopes that by the end she’ll be Mrs. DuPois. She tells Drew she doesn’t have time for dating when he asks her out, but that tonight was fun. Drew takes it well since he’s so bland that any emotional response above monotone would be akin to him using hot sauce on his white rice.

The next day, Holly officially meets Greydon DuPois (Maxwell Caulfield) and he immediately invites her out to dinner that night, which of course means she’ll miss Anna’s recital. In another twist everyone saw coming, Drew turns out to be Anna’s music teacher. After the concert, Anna donates some money to Creepy Santa who’s still just hanging out outside the school. He naturally knows her name because he’s the real Santa which is just terribly unsettling, and asks her what she wants for Christmas. She replies that she wants her aunt to only be able to tell the truth. Jim Carrey then says “I’ve had better” after having sex with – dang it, no, that’s the wrong movie again. Why didn’t I just watch Liar Liar!? By the way, Rose isn’t winning any mom of the year awards here as she plays on her phone while Creepy Santa talks to her child.

Holly meanwhile convinces Mr. DuPois, who is British and not French like his name might suggest, over dinner that ‘made in the USA’ is the way to sell his new collection. He somehow loves it but it’s likely because of the crush he’s already developed on Holly. They have some Champagne brand Champagne to celebrate. champagne

He also reveals that he knows Holly lied about knowing him in order to get the file but he has no problem with it, again likely because of his crush.

Holly, probably drunk, shows up at the school way way late to the concert and finds Drew cleaning up. Drew deduces that she’s Anna’s aunt and lied about her sister having a baby in order to get the cab from him (she could have more than one sister, Drew!). Holly apologizes and says that if it means anything, she honestly did have a good time with him. Drew responds that it doesn’t but again in such a bland way that you could mistake him for the human version of a Pontiac Aztec.

Outside, Holly runs into Creepy Santa who’s still just hanging around in front of an elementary school trying to collect money. Seriously, Santa, go to a place where people actually congregate if you want to raise money for charity! Stop terrifying the school children with your death stare! creepy-santa2

He reveals to Holly that Anna will get what she wants for Christmas and as he rings his bell, the lights flicker and a cold wind blows. Holly is confused about how he knows her and Anna’s name but whatever, she ain’t got time for that! She just gets in her car and drives home.

The next day, Holly’s at work and tells the security guard that she doesn’t have basketball tickets for him, she just likes the parking spot. She tells Ted that he deserves the DuPois account more than she does. She tells her assistant, Jordan, that she can take some time off for her sick grandma as they don’t need her in the office because she mostly does fluffy stuff, and that she totally means it. These truths distance themselves from Liar Liar, for the worse, by not having Holly trying to restrain herself, doing any physical comedy or being shocked at her own truth-telling. She just straight up tells it like it is and almost appears like she’s relishing it, unlike Jim Carrey, who was visibly trying his best not to hurt people’s feelings. It’s at this point that Holly notices something is wrong with her and realizes it has been that way ever since she saw Creepy Santa.

She picks up Anna from school, who is rightfully mad at her but comes around when Holly tells her that a client was more important than her. It should make Anna madder but she realizes her wish from Santa has come true! Anna gets some more truths from Holly before making her promise to go ice skating with her Saturday afternoon.

Later that night, Holly is grocery shopping and tells the cashier of the express checkout lane that she knows she has 30 items (which is a solid 20 items over the max) but her time is more important than following the rules. Of course bland Drew is right behind her in line, buying his weekly supply of bran cereal and water because he’s a multitasking stalker. Holly tells him that she places work as a priority and asks if she can make it up to him. Drew jumps on this opportunity and makes her come to pick out a Christmas tree with him. This scene plays out like any other movie where they shop for a Christmas tree. They flirt, they go over a checklist, they get mistaken for a couple, the usual stuff. Holly is very forward in telling Drew that he is cute and funny and that she likes him because she can’t lie. Drew keeps laughing this off and saying that she’s not like anyone he’s ever met before. This is probably true because I doubt Drew meets any exciting people in his QuickBooks Pro accounting software forums.

After this mini date, Holly looks at a bunch of fake photos of her family.photoalbum1photoalbum2

She then heads out to see Creepy Santa who is still just hanging around in front of the elementary school at what must be midnight by now. She wishes to have control over her life again, but Creepy Santa convinces her that she needs to see this thing through so she can become a better person.

The next day Mr. DuPois is showing off a new designer bag of his and asking Holly’s co-workers how they’d describe it. Holly is noticeably worried as her co-workers praise the bag as trendsetting, classic, timeless as she knows she’ll have to tell the truth. She gives her honest review that “it’s a bag and you can put things in it.” She is prompted to continue by Mr. DuPois leading her to announce that she could find a more stylish bag at a street vendor and even her 82-year-old grandma wouldn’t want it. DuPois of course loves this and admits that it actually is a bag from a street vendor and he wanted to make sure they were straight shooters at the Hartman Hill ad agency. He tells Holly she has three days before the big Christmas show! Honestly, who launches a new line of clothing on Christmas Eve? Wouldn’t it be better to launch it at the start of December so people actually have time to shop for it? Shouldn’t Holly’s advertising firm know this!?

On her way out of a late night at the office, the security guard informs Holly that her car was impounded because of her hack parking job and he strongly hints he was the one to tip off the bylaw officers. Holly doesn’t care and somehow has her car back for when she pick up Anna to go skating. They somehow travel from Denver, USA to Ottawa, Canada as this establishing shot indicates.ottawa

That’s the Rideau Canal and Shaw Convention Centre which the movie tries to pass off as a small community hockey rink. Holly is not good at skating and her skates smell like cabbage because they’re so old. She also runs into her assistant Jordan, whose sick grandma has turned into a hunky man-date. Jordan claims she thought it was okay to lie because Holly does it so often. Fun fact: Holly’s assistant and another co-worker of hers look strikingly similar and I kept getting confused over who was who. These two shots are from the same scene. Which one is she? I’m not even sure…jordanor-jordan

Another Fun fact: You can clearly see Jordan in the office between her request for time off and Holly catching her, unless of course there’s a third character that is also indistinguishable from these two.

In another bizarre move, this community rink has valet parking. Holly explains to the valet that she’s not sure why she’s rummaging through her purse and patting down her coat because she knows she doesn’t have any change for him. He tells her “it’s the thought that counts” and the movie seems to play this as the moment Holly realizes she should be a better person but I literally can’t tell if the valet was mad and hiding it or if he really meant that he was thankful she told the truth.

Holly then asks Drew to help lead her offices Christmas carolling, but admits she was trying to get out of it and is only using it as an excuse to spend more time with him. Holly’s so terrible at singing that the people she’s carolling for treat her like a child and congratulate her for trying so hard. It’s also clear that the rest of the carollers are mostly fake singing.

At the end of the night, Drew and Holly admit they like each other a lot and Drew asks her to go to a piano bar with him the following night. She accepts and they shake hands before she tells him she would’ve also accepted a kiss goodnight. Drew doesn’t bother going for a kiss because any romantic gesture wouldn’t fit his milquetoast personality.

Holly then receives a call from pushy Greydon DuPois who tells her to meet him in Aspen tomorrow morning as he wants to see how the campaign is coming and it’s the perfect place for business and pleasure. He’s getting a manicure and has e-mailed Holly her plane ticket. manicureHolly tries to say no but ends up going anyways. They ski and take a selfie before Holly shows him this terrible ad they’ve come up with. dupois-poster

She even admits it’s terrible because she can’t lie but Greydon of course loves it and nobody mentions that this could’ve just been e-mailed to him. Nonsense to that! He needs her in person to try to use his British charm to woo her. Holly then receives a text from Drew, whom she obviously didn’t tell she’d be in Aspen as he’s still looking forward to their piano bar date that very night. Holly stand up for herself and tells Greydon that she needs to leave as she made a promise to someone important and will finish the work on Monday. He’s fine with this but threatens that if it’s not done on Monday he’ll find someone who can finish it.

Somehow, Holly makes it back in time for the date where she immediately proceeds to tell Drew all about the 10 hours she just spent in Aspen with Greydon and that he wanted her to stay the night, and that she didn’t want Drew to find out. Drew doesn’t really show any emotion again but announces he’s planning to take a job in Chicago and he needs to be there by Christmas Eve. Later on in the evening, they find that Greydon has left Holly some roses on her doorstep, prompting Drew to walk away.

The next scene is telling about how blandly wooden Stults is in his role in that Holly has to describe to the audience via her sister that Drew wasn’t happy because his ex had been cheating on him and this is now a similar situation with Holly and Greydon. Anna overhears this and admits it’s all her fault as she had asked Santa to make it so Holly had to tell the truth. Anna, it’s not your fault that your aunt wants to play the field, although it’s admittedly easier to do that if you can lie. All of a sudden, Holly’s hand gets possessed by the Claw and she attacks – *sigh* nope, they don’t have anything as entertaining as that in this movie.

Holly then goes to Drew’s apartment where he is packing to leave for his new job. She tells him she loves him. It’s literally been 4 days max since you met him, Holly, and I’m not sure the lack of being able to lie makes this any better. Frankly, it makes you seem even clingier since we know you’re telling the truth. He tells her she can come and visit him in Chicago but that’s not good enough for Holly and she tearfully leaves.

Meanwhile, Rose brings her daughter right back into the arms of Creepy Santa, who they must realize by now just straight up lives in the bushes outside the elementary school. Anna wants to take back her wish because things have gotten too crazy. Her literal definition of too crazy is that her aunt is having boyfriend problems after 1.5 dates and was potentially keeping her options open with Greydon. She then asks to have another wish but this time to help someone else, which Santa agrees to. The movie leaves us hanging on what this wish could be but if you’ve ever seen almost any movie before you can likely guess what’s going to happen.

Back at the office, Holly insults Mr. O’Connell’s sweater and admits that she didn’t know Greydon DuPois before being assigned the file and says if he wants to fire her and give the file and promotion to Ted that she’ll understand. O’Connell agrees to keep her on until the show and then will decide what to do.

That apparently means he’ll keep her on for one more day because it’s now Christmas Eve and the day of the fashion show. Holly is getting things prepped when she overhears DuPois bragging loudly to somebody about how the collection is a fraud and is made in Malaysia rather than the USA and he doesn’t care because this will put them back in the black six months earlier. Holly rushes to tell Mr. O’Connell who is genuinely not sure what to do and clearly not a good leader. She suggests they cancel the show but he tells her to think rationally about this because there’s money on the line and the firm’s reputation.

The fashion show starts and it’s literally a bunch of normal looking sweaters. There’s also only seven of them in total which hardly constitutes a fashion line. No advertising agency would’ve been able to save this disaster.models

After the show, which couldn’t have lasted more than two minutes, Greydon gives a speech about how proud he is of the collection and how it’s made in the USA before inviting Holly to say a few words. She recaps the movie’s point about how she was, like her ad job, selling herself and projecting an image of something fake with the lies that made up her life. She’s decided to tell the truth and tells the shocked audience that the collection is not made in the USA and that they, like her, should want nothing to do with Greydon DuPois.

Backstage, Greydon threatens her with a lawsuit but Holly tells him the truth is the best defense. While this would likely stand up in court, it’s not really the best retort to someone threatening to sue you. O’Connell obviously gives her the promotion for doing the right thing. Jordan also comes back to cheesily tell Holly this line: “you used to be my hero for the wrong reasons, but now you’re my hero for the right reasons.” Seriously?

And to cap it off with the regular Hollywood ending, Anna reveals that her wish for Holly to be unable to lie had ended and Holly told the truth about DuPois on her own accord. Drew also shows up because Anna wished for a snowstorm to stop his flight and he realized in the airport, probably during a bland game of Solitaire, that he loved Holly and decided not to move. They finally kiss and it’s as bland as expected.

Let’s keep this train rolling into the station and tie up any loose ends. Holly goes out on Christmas morning to the security guard’s house because she’s bought basketball tickets for him. Anna gives Holly some new skates that don’t smell like cabbage. This was such a small part of the movie that it barely registers as something nice or something Holly really wanted for Christmas. It also raises questions of where Anna got the money for these skates.

THE END

2 Rating

Just watch Liar Liar. I don’t remember them ever describing what month it was and it’s set in California so you can just pretend that it’s the Christmas season. Believe me, you’ll have a more enjoyable time.

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