I’m back with approximately one recap after having a baby. I’m surprised I even made it this far. I’ve forgotten how to self-edit so this thing is WAY too long. Welcome back to me!
Let’s begin by meeting our town players, yes? Firstly, we’ve got the brightly spirited Emily (Laura Bell Bundy in true bubbly form), a former lawyer who’s moved back to small town Nelson Creek to take over her deceased nonna’s bakery. The whole movie’s premise is about potential secret suitors, so next up we meet two candidates: Eddie, a super young dude who’s basically the town handyman. The movie REALLY wants you to notice his set of keys (not a euphemism).
Next up is James, a tall bearded lawyer who’s helping Emily figure out her grandma’s estate shit and who is basically obsessed with poinsettias.
Finally, we have Wally Walters (not a potential suitor) who runs the local newspaper AND is also the mayor, which is the worst conflict of interest probably ever created.
So, Emily works with a woman named Chey (Paloma Kwiatkowski), who is basically a slacker at work but supportive of her friend and also a single mother to a young girl, Chloe. Emily and Chey are working on the first day of December when a tall, dark, and handsome man waltzes into the bakery.
It is he, Gerard, the Frenchiest Frenchman to ever be in a TV Christmas movie. Make no mistake: Brendon Zub is super fucking handsome and has a physicality to how he moves around Emily that really works for me personally, however there is literally no reason for him to need this accent. Gerard makes Chey and Emily swoon instantly and compliments Emily on her double-baked almond macarons (also not a euphemism).
We quickly meet Adele, the ballbusting redhead that’s taken over managing the Forge Mart, the supermarket across the street from Emily’s bakery, a plot point I’m sure will never come up again.
Back in the bakery, Chey and Emily spy a large box sitting in the shop without either of them noticing who brought it in?? They open it to discover a large CHRISTMAS CALENDAR, which is basically just a big ass house with advent windows all over it.
It’s cute and inside the first door (it is December 1st, of course) is some vague ass word salad message.
In a bizarre little back alley lot behind the bakery is a Christmas tree kiosk place; the dude selling them, Chuck, is rude and entirely charmless, yet somehow becomes potential suitor #3. He’s trying to grift buyers, except ones he wants to bang, like Emily. Unluckily for him, she sees Gerard again and they flirt some more. He found her macarons inspiring, apparently. She’s pretty sure she recognizes him from somewhere, but can’t place it.
SIDE SCENE: Chloe, Chey’s daughter, spots a smiley winky old woman with jingle bells on the sidewalk and runs off with some quarters to put in her donation jar.
Emily meets with James to go over her financial crisis: Nonna was broke and now the bank is forcing the sale of her house AND the bakery by the end of December, because Nonna paid for Emily’s law school education with a bank loan. This probably wouldn’t be the end of the world, except Forge Mart has just opened an in-store test kitchen…today.
Incensed by not being the only bakery in town anymore, Emily then decides to pay a visit to the competition, only to find – quelle surprise! – Gerard working behind the counter as the pâtissier. Emily is horrified and pissed to realize he’s selling double-baked almond macarons and loudly accuses him of stealing her recipe. Wait, it’s literally hours after he ate hers (dirty), so it’s possible but also pretty unlikely? Anyway, she finally places him: she interned at a bakery he owned in New York City. She didn’t recognize a handsome French guy that she worked under (DIRTY)??? Get your damn priorities straight, lady. She storms off and Adele shows up, offering to ban Emily from the store, which is kind of great.
Wally is already on the Christmas Calendar story and takes a picture of Emily with it for the newspaper. Chey thinks the calendar’s from a secret admirer. When the story is published the next day, a shitload of townies show up to see it IRL. The visitors include two irritating old women and the local florist, who is a Real Character. Her name is Ivy, natch, and she is kind of beyond words, so maybe a video montage of her will do the trick instead.
[The player embedded below will auto-play 6 videos as part of an Ivy highlight reel. They contain spoilers (lol). Also, closed captioning is available for the hard of hearing et al.]
Everyone agrees that Emily should make a real big show of opening the calendar’s doors every day at lunch for everyone. Chey makes a good point that this will be a huge business boost. In a stupid little red herring scene, Ivy has a poinsettia for Emily but gets James to give it to her on her behalf because she’s in a rush to leave, so Emily thinks the poinsettia is from James instead of Ivy. AT NO POINT SHOULD THE VIEWER SUSPECT THE CALENDAR IS ACTUALLY FROM JAMES, EDDIE, OR CHUCK. If you do, you are in the wrong place, reading the wrong blog.
Chey posts a picture of the calendar online and it goes viral. Adele sees this and instantly knows she needs to “turn up the heat.” At the bakery, Eddie locks up the calendar in a display case, giving the key to Chey and telling them he’s got the spare key on his GIANT KEY RING, which is basically the most prominent thing about his entire character.
Emily finds a small angel ornament in the front window, and remembers Nonna had one just like it. Just then, she spots Gerard on the sidewalk handing out dessert samples and all but runs outside to do the same, then stands next to him and tries to outdo him! It’s ludicrous and super embarrassing. He suddenly remembers her too as being a picky customer (or intern? It’s unclear). They huffily agree to have a bakery showdown at the upcoming Christmas fair.
In a completely unlikely scene, local bar owner Art and Wally are discussing who Emily’s secret admirer could be. Apparently, it is the talk of the town, so much so that Art has started a betting pool. Wally throws in his five bucks and writes down that he thinks it’s Art, which is pretty funny because look at him:
Chey and Emily try to find out if the mysterious suitor is Eddie, James, or Chuck, but get nowhere. It’s not worth going into more detail because nothing happens.
Chey and Chloe show up at Emily’s house so Chloe could give her her Christmas gift early: a large paper angel ornament. Right then, Chuck shows up to deliver Emily’s Christmas tree. He then just lingers in her living room after setting it up and getting paid, like a real fucking creep. Chey invites Emily to go caroling with them, and Chuck is like YES I’M THERE. However, he is very disappointed to realize that caroling with them means just that. The townspeople gather and sing, and Emily realizes Gerard and Eddie are there too. You know who else we see? That old smiling woman jingling those damn bells! We’ll get to her later.
Wally gets a call from a TV station that the Christmas calendar is now trending and they’re sending a reporter to cover the story.
Because this isn’t a Hallmark movie, we now get a scene in a bar. With alcohol! Emily, Chey, and Ivy are gossiping about the identity of the secret admirer, while Gerard quizzes James about each of the women, really just wanting to know more about Emily. Gerard buys a round of shots for the women, but Emily confronts him (post-shot) to be all aggressive about the same old competitive shit. That’s not Gerard’s style and he very calmly tells her she has him all wrong.
To settle their differences, he invites her to spend some after-hours time baking together in the test kitchen. She’s not completely won over, but she’s warming up to his French charms.
Okay, so a few things happen here. Chey finds a small box in the stockroom and puts it in a cupboard. It is never made clear who ordered this box (it’s of gold leaf). Next scene is Gerard discovering that HIS box of gold leaf has gone missing. It is never clarified if it was stolen or just misplaced.
Gerard and Emily have their late night baking sesh and it’s extremely flirty, given that she has yelled at him a lot recently.
They discuss history (he’s here because he’s a small town French boy at heart, not a big city pâtissier; she didn’t want to be a lawyer after all, SO THANKS A LOT FOR GOING INTO DEBT FOR NO REASON, NONNA!). There is a sensual bit where he feeds her directly and I’m kind of into it.
But she gets skittish and excuses herself, but not before he does a great thing by kissing both cheeks.
Emily discovers the box of gold leaf and uses it in a new dessert.
Gerard shows up at Ivy’s florist shop and buys a huge-ass floral bouquet for Emily to be delivered later.
So, in one of those movie hijinks, Adele sees that Emily has used gold leaf and tells Gerard about it. inferring that Emily has stolen it to regain the upper hand of this shitty battle of the bakeries.
Cut to: Gerard stomping past that damn bell lady into Emily’s bakery and accusing her of stealing his gold leaf super loudly. Emily and Chey are confused (neither knowing who actually ordered it), but he gets the final word when he storms out, yelling at her in the Frenchest voice ever. It’s amazing but highly unprofessional.
But Emily’s not one to let things lie, so she comes screaming out of her shop to have a huge tête-à-tête in front of EVERYONE on the sidewalk (somehow, nobody is working at this very moment). It’s just one accusation after another, and in the worst bit of timing but totally in character, Ivy tipsily floats over to give Emily the bouquet from Gerard. Hilariously, he is EXASPERATED beyond belief at this.
His card reads, “We do good work. Let’s bake together soon. Gerard.” He haughtily concedes to let Emily win the Christmas fair. Spoiler alert: they never even show said fair, so this is all for nothing. Anyway, she ups the ante by flying back into her bakery and slamming the door shut on everyone.
Sneaky Adele calls in an anonymous health violation against Emily’s bakery.
The next scene is excessively long and pointless, so I’ll sum it up real quick: there’s a dumb bowling competition, and everyone’s paired up randomly, including Chuck and Adele (a natural pair if there were ever) and Gerard and Emily. Emily tells him that she never stole his gold leaf, which he finally accepts, and it is so calm and agreeable that it makes the previous confrontation totally insane. As it turns out, Gerard wins the competition by getting 10 consecutive strikes; his incentive? For every strike he gets, Emily has to answer a personal baking-related question. I mean, I guess.
Before the night is through, Chuck creepily hits on a disgusted Emily. When she rebuffs him, he calls her a stuck-up city girl and Eddie steps in to defend her honour. Chey, secretly crushing on Eddie, is visibly hurt, interpreting his totally normal behaviour as a sign that he loves Emily. Moving way on, Chuck is now pissed off at being rejected twice by Emily and approaches Adele with the spare key to the calendar case, which he’d obviously swiped from Eddie at some point.
See? His giant-ass janitor key ring finally came into play! Adele is intrigued by this criminal mischief but tells him to wait because…
Just as Emily is telling Chey she has to sell the bakery and the house, a health inspector shows up at Emily’s bakery!
He is decked out with his inspecting tools and takes his job very seriously, but as such, the bakery passes with flying colours. Boring!
Unfortunately for Adele, the health inspector also shows up at the Forge Mart bakery to inspect her shit. There’s just one problem: she never got a food prep license. This is insane, first of all, but sure. Gerard is STUNNED even though he probably should’ve noticed that this license was never hanging anywhere in sight? C’mon dude, you ran your own bakery.
Speaking of insanity, let’s get to the next part because the movie really goes off the fucking rails here. Adele meets up with Chuck, apparently at her wit’s end and with no options left but to fuck with the Christmas calendar (I guess to sabotage it for the two remaining days???). To cut a long scene short, Chuck tries to break into the bakery and ends up FALLING THROUGH THE SKYLIGHT INTO THE PREP KITCHEN BELOW.
It’s now Christmas Eve and Emily is letting herself into the shop when Wally and the TV reporter accost her with an impromptu interview. Just then, she hears a noise in the kitchen and they all run in to find this sight before them:
IT LOOKS LIKE HE’S DEAD! HOW LONG HAS HE BEEN LYING THERE???
Wally is being very shady and trying to cover this up like there’s some innocent explanation, but Emily (a former lawyer) is like FUCK THAT, THIS DUDE BROKE INTO MY BAKERY. Wally has the nerve to tell her not to make a scene in front of the cameras. Goddammit, Wally! The TV reporter presses Chuck with questions and he immediately confesses that Adele made him do it, which is exceptionally bold because he stole Eddie’s spare key before he even approached Adele about his scheme.
Ivy wanders on over to tell them that Forge Mart bakery is being shut down, which means Gerard’s now a penniless jobless Frenchman.
We also see Adele dodge a phone call from Forge Mart HQ. Someone’s in trouuuuuuble. Spoiler: she doesn’t give a flying fuck.
FINALLY, it’s time to reveal the secret admirer behind the Christmas calendar. Art has brought over his betting pool board with everyone’s guesses. The old ladies gossip about the final candidates, but correctly guess that Eddie/Chey and James/Ivy seem like more likely couples. No shit, ladies. One of the them suspects that it’s Gerard since he did know Emily from New York.
After making a dumb speech, Emily opens the last message and in a plot twist totally stolen from My Christmas Love (which was very cute and very charming), it’s from Nonna and no male secret admirer at all in the end. In the note, Nonna tells Emily she’ll always be her Christmas angel. Fine.
Art yells out that Gerard was the only one to guess it was Nonna, but the handsome Frenchman is nowhere in sight. The TV reporter gets right into Emily’s face and is like, what’s it like to NOT have a secret admirer? Are you disappointed to be all alone at Christmas? Why is everyone obsessed with Emily having a fuckin’ boyfriend? Everyone in this town sucks!
Ivy drunkenly ambles over to James to unintelligibly mumble that she thought James was the secret admirer. He cups her cheek and says that if he liked Emily, he’d have been buying pastries this whole time and not poinsettias. She’s pleased about this and completely wasted.
Gerard’s just hanging out across the street when he watches Adele give him a “whatcha gonna do” shrug and then get into Chuck’s truck and drive away for a lifetime of grifting and criminality. I do love when a Christmas movie makes the villains completely unredemptive in the end! Anyway, Art jogs over to give him his prize money, so that’s something, I guess.
Gerard walks into the bakery where Emily’s cleaning up, alone. She asks him how he knew it was Nonna, and he gives her some plausible reason before confessing that he couldn’t imagine anyone else being her secret admirer because he liked her too much. Blah blah more business-related apologies, he tells her that he’s her secret admirer (I mean, not really, but OK), and then in a line ripped from You’ve Got Mail, she admits she was hoping it was him all along. Luckily, Gerard does not whisper, “Don’t cry, shopgirl.”
Instead, they finally kiss and it is AGGRESSIVE.
At Christmas dinner the next day, the whole gang is hanging out when Emily finds a matching angel ornament to the one she’d found in the store earlier. She then tells everyone that before the calendar thing was revealed, Forge Mart HQ called her to ask if her bakery could supply theirs. James is confident that a contract like this could hold off the bank selling the bakery and house. Sure. Oh, and she wants to hire the poor sexy Frenchman as her other baker.
Now in a bit of fuckshit, we see Chloe run to the window to see the smiling old lady outside.
But then, it’s revealed she wasn’t there at all! Or was she???
One year later! Emily and Gerard are making out in the bakery and then we see a photograph of Emily and her nonna: the old woman with the bells.
Congrats, Chloe, you can see dead people.
Why was Nonna collecting change? Is she a grifter too? Or was she getting money to STILL PAY OFF EMILY’S LOAN!
Lots of unnecessary hijinks, but truly the saving grace was Laura Bell Bundy and Brendon Zub. Have all the gold leaf you want, you two! Otherwise, this movie is a poor version of My Christmas Love, which was truly one of my favourites from last year. If you want romance and a tiny tearjerker, go for it.
5 thoughts on “Recap: The Christmas Calendar (2017)”
I was so confused by the lady collecting change and missed the connection at the end. That part (and the bowling scene) were just weird. I LOVED your recap! Honest and straightforward. First one I’ve read. I will be coming back for more. Thanks.
thanks for reading! lol the bowling scene went on for SO LONG.
Had to quit reading…lots of unnecessary cuss words. I’ll find another recap, thanks.
sorry it’s not your bag, Dawn!
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