Monday, December 07, 2009

Holiday Movies Return

I had a pretty good weekend. Most of Sunday was taken up by the community Christmas concert, with a rehearsal in the afternoon and then the concert at night. That concert is always a lot of fun. It's very loose and casual, there are all kinds of groups there, and the entire audience is wearing Santa hats. I think I'm even starting to feel festive. Every year, I seem to resist the start of the Christmas season, and then it's over just as I'm getting ready for it. I think I function on the ecclesiastical calendar, where what we generally think of as the Christmas season is actually Advent, and then Christmas itself starts on Christmas day and continues until Epiphany.

I might put up my Christmas decorations today because I am starting to get the first glimmers of the festive mood. Singing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir arrangements of Christmas songs with a huge combined choir and orchestra will do that to you.

Saturday, I was pretty much a slug, and it was divine. I watched the local Christmas parade on TV while lying in bed and talking on the phone with Mom (who was watching the same parade on TV). Then there was a marathon of holiday movies on Lifetime. Normally, I don't watch Lifetime. I even had to look up what channel it was on. Most of their movies are either based on or are like the kinds of books I don't like to read -- women rediscovering themselves after divorce, sick kids, sick women, missing/dead kids, domestic violence, etc. But their holiday movies are pure chick lit.

One I watched was called something like Recipe for the Perfect Christmas (I suck at titles, but I think I could have come up with something better). It was about a food writer getting her big break as a magazine's restaurant reviewer just as her wild and crazy mother pops in for a visit. And meanwhile there's a hunky restaurant owner who thinks that the key to saving his restaurant is getting a mention in that magazine. The solution? The writer agrees to look into his restaurant if he'll ask her mother out to get her out of her hair. Hilarity and heartwarming moments ensue, but it was actually a lot of fun because Christine Baranski played the mother, and she is awesome. If you know anything about journalism, you have to force yourself to forget it (a monthly magazine is prepared several months in advance, so the restaurant would have to survive for months between the time the reviewer wrote the article and the time the magazine hit the shelves. Plus, no editor who's ever worked with a journalist would be worried when a writer hadn't yet turned in an article a week before the deadline), and there is the standard "I had one bad Christmas when I was disappointed, so now I have nothing to do with Christmas" attitude in the heroine (in these movies, you either have to be Christmas crazy or totally loathe everything to do with Christmas. There is no middle ground.). But still, it was a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Then there was one called Undercover Christmas, about a brassy cocktail waitress who agrees to testify against her sometime boyfriend who was involved in some kind of white collar crime scheme. The hunky FBI agent who's been on the case and who got her to agree to testify has to protect her during the Christmas holiday before the trial, and then a family emergency means he has to rush home with her, and since he can't tell anyone who she really is, he has to pretend she's his girlfriend, which goes over really well with his dysfunctional, snooty, upper-crust family. Of course the brassy, straight-talking cocktail waitress manages to thaw the family, while they help her learn some self esteem and give her a makeover so she can look classy, and everyone learns A Valuable Lesson. You have to forget anything you know about the legal system -- like you have to believe that someone arrested during a time when Christmas decorations are already up and cocktail waitresses are wearing sexy Mrs. Santa type outfits will go on trial and be convicted the day after Christmas, and you have to believe that the US Marshals wouldn't be protecting the witness in a federal case instead of the investigating FBI agent (while the witness spending the holidays with the FBI agent and getting gifts from his family would look a lot like federal witness tampering) -- but still, this was a lot of fun, though I was disappointed that there was no big shootout when the bad guys inevitably learned where the waitress was hiding. Part of the story was that the agent's parents were disappointed that he was "only" an FBI agent, so I was hoping the house would be under siege and he'd save all their lives, so they'd see what an FBI agent could do, but I suppose I've been watching too many crime shows lately and not enough romantic comedies.

And then, finally, there was The 12 Men of Christmas, in which Kristin Chenoweth gets fired from her PR job and loses her fiance when she catches her boss having sex in a bathroom stall with her fiance at the company holiday party, and then her former boss blackballs her with every other PR firm in town, so she can't get a job. Here, you have to forget everything you know about the PR industry, like the fact that other agencies likely would be eager to hire someone from a competitor, you'd never get all the agencies to agree to blackball someone who could give them a competitive advantage, and she wasn't much of a PR person if she couldn't manage to spread the word about the fact that she was fired for being mad at her boss for having sex with her fiance (that last one may be a sign that the world is very likely a better and safer place when I'm not working in PR because my biggest, most brilliant campaign ever would have been getting that particular message out.). But still, they had to have a reason that the only job this supposedly brilliant PR person could get was a one-year assignment in a small Montana town, where she's hired to lure corporate retreats. Once she's there and after a lot of typical "city slicker in the sticks" humor (which is amusing because Chenoweth never really loses her Oklahoma twang and isn't quite a believable city slicker), she learns about the valiant efforts of the search and rescue squad and their need for a helicopter, so she comes up with the idea to do a "naked" calendar of all the hunks on the squad as a fundraiser. One guy, with whom she instantly clashes, opposes it, and Pride and Prejudice ensues. Literally. Like, almost plot point for plot point, with some adjustments for time and place.

This one made a good tension breaker while I flipped back and forth between it and the Big 12 Championship game, which was a HUGE nailbiter. So it was like "Oh no! They let Nebraska score again!" CLICK "Oh, I just hate you, but I'll probably fall in love with you. Now, take your shirt off."

I still really want to try writing one of these movies. I'd probably have better luck writing a novel, getting it published and then trying to get it optioned, but I'd make more money writing a screenplay (selling it would be the hard part). I guess that's my oddball career goal: I want to write a Lifetime holiday movie or a book that will be turned into one.

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