CALLING AN AUDIBLE
Okay, yes, Drinksgiving was formerly on the docket for today’s Hallmark Movie Review. But Katie and I discussed — we discussed and we discussed — we worked ate shat showered shaved discussed discussed [censored] and discussed a little more.
In the end, we decided that, though off-brand Hallmark is still Hallmark, not all Hallmarks are created equal. Take Mallinckrodt’s generic amphetamine (ADD meds), for example. Bought ten of those junks off the street a couple months ago, before I got a ‘script for Adderall. Technically, amphetamine is amphetamine, right? Wrong. That shit fucked me up. I was jitterier than a Jack-in-the-Box on Mallinckrodt stimulants. I couldn’t think straight. I wanted Mommy.
Whether it’s the fillers they use, or whether the formula is simply fraudulent, Mallinckrodt is ripping people off. (Seriously, someone needs to write them a letter.) Drinksgiving was no different. It showed up after searching ‘Hallmark’ on our Firestick — kind of like how Mallinckrodt amphetamines shows up in a Google search of Adderall generics — but that’s about where the similarities stop being truthful.
MARRIED BY CHRISTMAS
Moving on then to our featured review: Married by Christmas. Watching Married by Christmas was like Jim in American Pie 2, when he returns to the love of his life for the first time and remembers what it feels like. As in: this is the Hallmark that I’ve come to know and love and hate and love to hate.
SO WHAT’S THE WORD?
In order to truly appreciate Married by Christmas (without just going ahead and watching it, I guess), we need to revisit George Sawaya’s Five Tenets of a Good Hallmark:
Widowed (or cheated upon) single spouse;
seeks meaning (via faith);
has the answer dropped into their lap (while reluctant at first);
only to pray or seek wisdom through their child;
at which point a near tragedy (only barely averted) reminds all players of their divine fortune.
Married by Christmas is a masterpiece not because it hit all the tenets — but because it hit only one of them (#3) and yet still managed to succeed on its own merits. Good art understands and excels upon the traditions of its form. Great art, however, breaks from tradition by innovating evolved forms.
Dare I dub MbC great? A Rainbow Sugarbear? Well, let’s adumbrate, then decide.
Carrie Tate is de facto boss of Emerson Foods, an apparently large corporation related to the business of distributing and/or processing and/or packaging, um, food. It is unclear, but murk is our friend here.
You see, one of the great meta-auteur strategies to viewing a Hallmark film is to be absent for the first 10-15 minutes. This redacts the narrative, allowing for elements of mystery, creating what essentially amounts to a Hallmark film written by Christopher Nolan. Alas, I returned too early: by the time I’d returned from walking Rosetta, Carrie was being told by her parents that whoever married first — her or her sister Katie — will be bequeathed Emerson Foods (but not any pertinent information regarding what they do). But here’s the catch: ownership of the efficaciously-ambiguous Emerson Foods will, upon marriage, revert to the husband, since Carrie and Katie’s grandmother was an ‘old-fashioned’ woman who believed a woman’s place was in the house (but not the Senate).
Ah, Hallmark: where the patriarchy reigns via antiquated belief systems cloaked in the present-generation’s anti-Christian progressiveness — because let’s be honest, after just about five minutes of legal consultation, it’s deemed utterly impossible that Carrie unfetter herself from this oppressive clause, and the fate of this movie is therefore, like most things in this world, bound to the whims of some random man; Carrie’s sister Katie is betrothed to some throwaway Seann William Scott wannabe, who seems pretty stoked about all this since he doesn’t have to do American Pie 23 to keep his shirt.
Carrie believes Emerson Foods(?) is less her birthright than what she deserves by virtue of slavish devotion to the company’s bottom line (a term used for the express purpose of its own denigration in so many Hallmark films, it should be a drinking game). So she seeks her a shotgun wedding. The first target is Paul, an old flame from high school whom she courts for most of the movie — and yet it is at the very moment of his appearance when Katie (my partner, Katie — I think?) stakes her entire reputation on Paul turning out to be gay.
Meanwhile, a man who David Hollander could’ve been had he disengaged himself from the perils of navigating existential design shows up at Emerson Foods(???) as the bartering lawyer for a small vineyard looking to unload their business for a fat wad of cash — but David Hollander’s far haler doppelganger is aghast at the figure displayed on the offer sheet. He storms out of the meeting all high-and-might, signaling the gross imbalance to the equation that reads Value = Integrity, which capitalism has so efficiently systematized.
That you can guess the rest is only a boon to the film’s effectiveness: David Hollander keeps showing up, looking hale for having avoided the depths of metaphysical analysis (hint: we discover some stuff then die) and its corresponding malaise (fair enough). But the kicker? His first reappearance is at Katie’s (MbC Katie) engagement party! What are the odds that David Hollander is Seann William Scott’s best friend, I don’t know, but they’re far less than our chances at bionic immortality!
Carrie hates David Hollander because David Hollander played hardball in the acquisition meeting. Carrie keeps courting Paul. Katie — real-life Katie — allows the precariousness of her reputation, which she’s staked on Paul’s gayness, to build up to wuthering heights.
After more than like 1:15 into the movie, Paul is still not gay — but there’s always more time to be gay. And when it does happen — when Carrie finally pulls her head out of her ass for long enough to see the love of men in Paul’s eyes — Katie — the real Katie — reacts as if she’s just had sex, exalting deep into the Hallmark night, the rest of the film but a slow-sliding denouement.
Meanwhile, Carrie has begrudgingly gotten closer to David Hollander. She gets drunk and admits he looks sexy in flannel. David Hollander takes her home, dresses her in pajamas, and catches shit for it the next day because she thinks he was trying to take advantage of her, and to be quite honest it’s one of the realer moments in the film considering that there’s much to be plumbed about what really happened in such a situation, metaphysically-speaking. At some point Carrie muses at being a December bride, which is meta as fuck because there’s another Hallmark film after the same name, and this sort of metaphysical connectivity may in fact be the reason David Hollander signed on for this film in the first place. Carrie says something about someone coming from the sewer like Pennywise the clown in IT which I also mentioned the other day. Mere moments later, the phrase ‘organic canned bunnies’ is dropped, proliferating my suspicions that this particular Hallmark film has been updated with algorithms that take into account my preferences and other things going on in my life, like the literary press we just started, called Dead Rabbits. It’s all very unsettling, very Christopher Nolan, very much teetering on the brink of Greatness. Meanwhile, Paul is still in the picture and Carrie is still refusing to be nice to David Hollander because he played hardball at the acquisition meeting.
It’s difficult to say how this film ends because at this point, with all the meta-ness, it’s getting difficult to suss out what is real, whose movie I’m in, and indeed it does in fact feel like David Hollander has taken possession of my neural controls and is actually maybe perhaps writing this very Hallmark review. This feeling is only heightened by the fact that David Hollander gets the girl (though not the company, because Carrie, in the spirit of trying to be married by Christmas via the designs of an underpinning misogynistic plot, has learned that she must ‘find herself’, or whatever) and continues within the confines of this fantasy world to avoid plumbing the infinite void of our unknowledge and fatalism, instead choosing to curate his appearance and physiognomy to such meticulous degree as to fool us all into thinking that he is immune to death and uncertainty.
I am floored. RAINBOW SUGAR BEAR. Or is this David Hollander’s rating? I am floored. I am….Seann William Scott…owner of…Emerson Foods…which makes…Hallmark films?