Broadcasting Christmas is the latest Dean Cain holiday themed movie to arise from the Faustian pact he’s apparently made with Santa Claus that forces him to star in at least one holiday themed movie every year.
This one regrettably doesn’t have him starring along the real Santa though, which is quite often the case in his movies. Instead he stars with Sabrina the Teenage Witch in a movie that does enough right to stay away from so bad it’s good territory, and that’s not a compliment. Instead it’s blandly predictable and boringly telegraphed from the start. Is it too much to ask for a Christmas Movie with a twist ending? If Dean Cain is the Michael Jordan of Christmas movies why can’t he work with whoever is the M Night Shyamalan of directing Christmas Movies?
Melissa Joan Hart and Dean Cain play, respectively, Emily Morgan and Charlie Fisher, both in the TV field. Emily is a local reporter in Stamford, CT, while Charlie is living large in New York City as the co-host of a morning program. Charlie’s often seen saying douchey things like, “The news never sleeps and neither do I!” which confirms that he and Emily are made for each other, because she is equally annoying throughout the entire movie. So, what do these two losers have to do with one another? Well, in classic Hallmark form, they are former coworkers and former LOVERS who fought for the sweet, sweet morning gig that Charlie has. It’s shocking that Charlie won the gig as the station is named WHNY which sounds like ‘Whiny’ and therefore Emily should’ve won the job because she’s much whinier than Charlie.
Making them former lovers is one of the things the movie gets right. Normally it’s bizarre when in other holiday movies the two leads are inexplicably shouting their love right before the credits roll yet they’ve only known in each other a week max. When Emily and Charlie say “I love you” at the end of the movie it works because we know there’s history there. Did I just spoil the ending? So what, as if you didn’t know that was coming.
We get an idea of Emily’s field reporting prowess when she reports on the most successful food drive ever (really? In the world?) and she says all of one sentence on camera.
Back in NYC Gina Serrato, pregnant cohost of “America’s #1 morning show”, Rise and Shine, is stepping down, leaving Veronika Daniels to find a replacement. She announces that the show will be going through a rotation of guest cohosts to see who fits the bill (and of course to boost ratings!). I’m not sure how this Today show rip off has anyone tuning in because both Gina and Veronika are super annoying. Naturally, Veronika will make her decision at a time when most people are not watching: during a live Christmas Eve telethon.
Patrice, the producer of “Rise and Shine” and longitme third wheel to Emily and Charlie, let’s Charlie know that he’s on the list of rotating hosts along with 2 big names (Prepare to be disappointed if you’re looking for celebrity cameos). Charlie is thrilled as this is exactly what he and Patrice dreamed about back in Stamford. It should also be noted that they never pronounce the ‘m’ in Stamford and I often thought they were referring to Stanford University. It made it very confusing why Emily was able to commute to New York City so easily later in the movie.
Back in Stamford, Emily is out Christmas tree shopping with her family which includes her sister Abby and her basically nameless husband and two kids as well as Abby and Emily’s equally nameless parents. Emily learns from them about Gina’s sudden departure due to a case of the pregnancies and she immediately calls up Patrice to beg for the job. Patrice tells her they’re only looking at “names” for the job, including Charlie’s. To make her night even worse she then receives a call from the station and has to return to work to do the 11pm news as the regular anchors are away.
Emily of course has this giant chip permanently installed on her shoulder and whines to her lovely producer Daisy (who seems to mostly tolerate Emily’s antics) that she lost the morning show job to Charlie when they both auditioned for it six years ago and she’s been stuck in neutral at the lowest rated station in Connecticut ever since. Her attitude is ill earned because she seemed perfectly content until learning of Charlie’s potential advancement. Minutes later, on air, she’s fired up enough to loudly broadcast to the audience her desires to basically get away from this shitty place and make it big. She’s gonna rise to the top! To Rise and Shine! Everyone watching is understandably horrified or suffering from the worst case of secondhand embarrassment.
She later blames this outburst on lack of sleep and eating too many candy canes. The station manager tells her to keep eating them because she’s a pound sign (he means hashtag)!
It’s also at this point that we notice that Emily’s family is 100% obsessed with her every move, because they are never shown NOT tuning in every time Emily is on TV. They have zero jobs, except to focus on Emily. They even force the kids, who are well under 10, to stay up and watch the 11pm news! Even worse, Emily’s whiny outburst comes at the end of the news so it’s much likelier it’s 11:30 or midnight. Hopefully the kids are on Christmas break! Note: They’re definitely not because a calendar montage later on in the movie reveals this would’ve been before December 13th.
Back in NYC, Charlie boasts to his waspy parents about being in contention for the Rise and Shine gig. His dad tells him he could use his contacts to get Charlie a National job because Fred Fisher is newscasting royalty. Charlie turns him down because he wants to earn it himself.
The next day we learn from a TV in a hotdog stand, that Charlie visits what seems like 3 times a day, that Emily’s tirade has gone viral and Patrice lets Charlie know that they’re bringing her in to compete for the Rise and Shine gig….mostly because of ratings and publicity.
Anyway, Patrice and Charlie both swing by Stamford to congratulate her (Patrice) and intimidate her (Charlie) about her lucky break. Later, everyone shows up for their first day on the job and we’re introduced to the other “big name” celebrity hosts. Why it’s Jimmy Eubanks, back to back MVP of the baseball world series. And it’s Kate McQueen, of that famous wedding planning show “Save the Date with Kate”.
Each has to create their own christmas themed segment for the show. Naturally they all begin planning things on their iPhones and iMacs. It should also be noted that Charlie always rolls up his sleeves to reveal his iWatch but nobody ever comments directly on the apple products. Clearly apple learned from the product placement disaster that was Sex Tape.
Charlie’s up first at guest hosting but all he does is steal Emily’s story about an exploding deep fried Turkey. This means war between them…but that really means nothing because Emily never really attacks Charlie at all.
Next up is Emily and of course her family is watching but so are her newsmates who despite being on tv constantly are clearly not used to watching TV in a natural manner.
Emily pulls out the big guns by bringing on some very fake jingle bell piano playing kid that went viral to whom Charlie had compared her to earlier.
Jimmy Eubanks is the next host to try his luck but he is as talkative and reactive as a turtle. It makes no sense that Jimmy would’ve made it this far and I suspect Veronika has a secret agenda to embarrass him on air, likely because she bet on the other team in the last two World Series. So Jimmy’s out of the running.
Kate McQueen also gives it a go with her creepy southern accent and generally evil vibes. Her segment is boring and is literally about how your clothes should fit.
Charlie then brings out the big guns by getting chart topping easy listening artist Toby Bradford to sing a jazzy take on “Deck the Halls”. It wouldn’t surprise me if Michael Buble is already on the phone suing. Emily and Kate comment that Charlie even learned the dance that goes with this jazzy number…which is basically two steps and a spin, hardly anything complicated or impressive.
During this song and dance Kate reveals she already has the contract for the Rise and Shine gig. Patrice discovers for Emily and Charlie that Veronika is the mastermind behind this plan, which is getting her some bonkers ratings and confirms my suspicions that Veronika is a master puppeteer. Time to cue up “the gang gets back together!” music because Emily and Charlie decide to bury the hatchet to team up and pitch stories together… to compete against the shoe-in Kate, I guess? Their first joint project is the Parker Bank and Trust light display. Here’s all the details they give because this is going to come up again later. The bank has been doing this lighting spectacle since 1899. It takes 18 days to set up, 100 technicians, and has over twenty thousand strands of lights. Christmas loving Emily even mentions that this is a big deal. Funnily enough the unveiling draws a crowd of about 20 people. Also the lights aren’t even lights, they’re entirely CG and the movie makes it look more like LCD screens have been grafted onto the bank and are cycling a light display. It’s truly disappointing.
Emily and Charlie almost miss the entire display because they’re too busy having a snowball fight and an almost kiss.
During an on-air segment with Oscar Winner Allison Davenport (This movie really couldn’t get any celebrity cameo’s!), Kate decides to take herself out of the cohost running to plan Allison’s wedding to an astronaut. She proudly announces Save the Date with Kate Season 2 will be entitled, the Starlet and the Spaceman which is just so perfect I’d have to tune in. Patrice is pretty quick to call her out for rejecting a career job to snag a short-term one, but Kate is all about her brand and drops out. She’s probably also eager to get away from all these jerks. This leaves Emily and Charlie to duke it out with the truce being shattered.
We therefore need to montage into Emily and Charlie hosting, baking, decorating ornaments, judging cookie contests, and even wearing terrible christmas fashions.
Back in Stamford Emily has gone to church with her mom and these women with frozen smiles fakely ringing bells.
How does the music change tempos when none of them ever break out of their pattern? I suspect they originally were playing a different song but the director decided he liked Carol of the Bells better. Emily’s mom starts chatting her up in church to tell her about some 100-year-old fruitcake. Emily’s otherwise mute father chimes in, “Who’s a fruitcake?” which feels like a really dated joke by now? But Emily isn’t worried about the rudeness of her family in church; she has IDEAS!
She wants to meet a camel! No wait, that’s Charlie who gets to do that for a nativity scene but rest assured Emily is jealous. She tries to best this camel by boasting about the 100 year old fruitcake she’s going to report on but Charlie doesn’t care (who would?). He tells her that that is definitely an Emily Morgan human interest piece. He also gives her a bunch of compliments and it seems he’s learned nothing about sexual harassment in the office from the Bill Clinton bobblehead that’s on his desk.
Meanwhile Veronika and Patrice agree it’s a tight race between Charlie and Emily when Veronika has an idea! She’ll get these cast-offs to co-host the shitty gigs she doesn’t want, like the Christmas Eve telethon. Again it’s mostly because of ratings.
As Patrice explains this to them, and they agree to do it (as if they had a choice), she also invites her two best buddies to her Christmas party. She tells them they should bring dates even though the party is tonight and it’s clear she’s hinting they should bring each other.
Patrice is then miffed when Charlie shows up with ditzy weather girl Bianca and Emily shows up with Jimmy Eubanks, who makes his gloriously silent, and vest wearing, return. Patrice wanted them to come together, because she’s trying her hand at puppeteering as well, and she gets her wish when they rudely ditch their dates and the party after a whole 2 minutes.
What about their dates? We’ll I’d say sparks fly between Jimmy and Ditzy Weathergirl, but it’s basically like watching someone apply wallpaper. Needless to say, they’re meant to be and TMZ later reveals they’re now a couple.
Charlie and Emily go for a walk and come across a guy playing “romantic saxophone music”. Old history is rehashed as Charlie wants to give it another go but Emily wants to focus on the gig until the decision is made. They slow dance like losers while it begins to snow. But wait, what’s that in the background? Why it’s the old Parker Bank and Trust, that magical place that’s been putting up millions of christmas lights every year since 1899.
Oops, looks like somebody forgot to turn them on tonight!
The next day Charlie learns from his mom that his dad actually got him the job at WHNY and that Emily was in fact their first choice. Worse yet Patrice knew all along and did nothing! Perhaps she’s not as bad of a puppeteer as I suspected. Charlie decides he’s going to throw the competition and help Emily get that interview with the 100 year old fruitcake lady who is being a really stick in the mud about not wanting to be on TV.
Emily, naturally believes the best way to grease the wheels to get someone to tell you their story is to give them a poinsettia. Old ladies love poinsettias! She heads out to Westport, where the fruitcake lady lives, only to find Charlie already there shovelling her driveway. Turns out Charlie wants to help but fruitcake lady doesn’t like him because he’s too handsome. She constantly calls him “Cheekbones” and “the Boy with the Face”. It’s almost as if Dean Cain wrote this scene himself. Eventually both Emily and Charlie convince her to tell Emily the story.
What follows is a story of how this ladies grandmother made a fruit cake for her uncle Francis who then went off to war. Grandma kept spritzing it with rum awaiting his return and eventually her mom kept spritzing it with rum and now she does even though uncle Francis went MIA and fruitcake lady had never even met him. She shows them the fruitcake which she admits is hideous even though it looks like a regular fruitcake to me.
Both Emily and Charlie seem to think this story is solid gold for some reason.
On their way out Charlie admits that his dad got him the job at WHNY and Emily was their first choice. Emily is of course mad as all these years she thought she wasn’t good enough (again she seems perfectly content in Stamford as she chose not to move to NYC with Charlie 6 years ago). Emily goes walking and somehow walks all the way back to Stamford even though it would take over 4 hours.
The next day Patrice calls Emily as she’s not at work and Emily reveals she’s quitting and to scrap the solid gold that is the fruitcake lady story. Charlie won’t have any of that though and as Emily’s family encourages her to continue Charlie pops on the TV. He reveals he’s finished the story for Emily, who he claims has laryngitis, and gives her all the credit.
This obviously relights the fire in Emily and she returns just in time to host the Christmas Eve telethon with Charlie and his hideous red smoking jacket.
Emily opens the telethon with a surprise for Charlie, she got John Stephens who is apparently the saxophonist Charlie and Emily danced to earlier. As the telethon continues Veronika hasn’t made a decision yet and she starts suspecting that there’s something going on between Charlie and Emily. She gets the whole love story from both of them and this somehow makes her decision clear but first we need the last guest of this 10 hour telethon: Stuart the Singing Salamander! How is this the last guest?
I mean ya it’s Christmas Eve and close to midnight but still, was there no one better? Also, of course, Emily’s family is glued to the set and her nephews are wide awake even though they should be in bed with the threat that Santa would skip their house if they’re still awake.
Patrice then puts her final manipulation into play as she has Charlie and Emily read cue cards on the air to congratulate each other, apologize to each other, and then say “I love you”. This somehow works as they kiss. Charlie tells her to stay this time no matter the result and they can get a second chance. Emily responds that he’s her 100 year old fruitcake…which I guess that means yes? But it’s so cringe worthy that you’d think Charlie would just walk off set.
Veronika finally has her announcement but the movie cuts away from this to amp up the suspense. We cut to the opening of Rise and Shine, New Year’s day edition…who’s going to be in the cohost seat!!!??? Why it’s both of them because Veronika has decided she’ll just host the new weekend show, abandoning all her loyal viewers. If I thought Gina and Veronika were too annoying to tune into who is going to tune into this Charlie and Emily show? They promise to do their best… but ya this show is going to tank so hard. Oh and then on the very first commercial break Charlie and Emily unprofessionally make out right at the desk.
While it gets a couple things correct in providing reasons for the normal Christmas movie cliches, Broadcasting Christmas is largely forgettable. Neither the humour or romance stick and the movie doesn’t lean towards either hard enough to decide what it wants to be. The amount of puppeteering done by Veronika, Patrice, and most of the characters in the movie is off-putting in how nonchalantly they screw with other people’s lives for entertainment and ratings.
Bonus: Here’s all the scenes where Charlie’s iWatch is shown, with a couple bonus iPhones!