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Thursday, December 11, 2014

The New Christmas Classics???: 12 Christmas Wishes For My Dog; Coming Home for Christmas

12 Christmas Wishes for My Dog (2011)
Netflix Summary: “Taking the advice of a life coach, a young woman makes 12 wishes to bring about positive change—only to discover there are unintended consequences.”
“Unintended consequences,” huh?  Color me intrigued.  And how does the dog fit in?  This mystery dog isn’t even mentioned in the plot summary.  I wonder what he’s up to.  And how young is this woman?  Are we talking early twenties?  Late teens?  Late twenties-early thirties, but no older than 35?  This feels like it might be the perfect Christmas movie.
It’s important that you understand I’m not intentionally seeking out garbage movies.  Sure, if something floats up like a drowned squirrel in a rain-filled garbage can (true story!) with a title like, say, 12 Christmas Wishes for My Dog, I’m going to watch it, because even if it’s terrible, it could be “fun terrible.”  I do, however, adhere to my own personal Golden Rule, the rule I officially put into place after a viewing of Boardinghouse, without a doubt the worst movie that has ever been and ever will be made, which states simply, “If a movie straight up sucks from the get-go, I bounce, son!”  This has served me well in the ensuing years, though it almost screwed me last year when I nearly shut off 1970’s And Soon The Darkness because of its ridiculous theme music, but for the most part I’ve been pleased with my decision.  It hasn’t kept me from watching some fabulously good-bad movies, and that’s never been the point.  I love bad movies, but not Boardinghouse bad, not now, not ever.
What does any of this have to do with 12 Christmas Wishes for My Dog?  Well, after exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds, I turned 12 Christmas Wishes for My Dog off, removed it from my Netflix Watch List and burned all memories of the almost 7 minutes I regrettably saw with the help of a turpentine-soaked rag.  So, this one is obviously a Lump o’ Coal.

Coming Home For Christmas (2013)
Plot: Two estranged sisters organize an old-fashioned family Christmas at the house they grew up in after their parents separate for reasons that are not entirely clear, but may be related to the husband's new rescue dog.  The only obstacle standing in the way of recreating the perfect Christmas is the fact that their old house is now owned and lived in by Mike, a hunky war veteran with mad wood-working skills and self-described “fields of game.”  All of this happens in Canada to Canadians, but don’t tell anyone because it’s a secret.  Shhhhh.
Earlier in this post, I mentioned my affinity for bad movies, specifically ones that capture my attention through their outright awfulness.  Coming Home For Christmas is not one of those kinds of movies, however, I did watch the entire thing.  It took me two days and I took a break halfway through to re-watch the first V/H/S movie, but for some reason, I just couldn’t quit this schmaltzy little turd bag.  

And don’t get me wrong, this movie is a five-alarm bag of flaming turds, but something about it kept me coming back.  I found myself genuinely curious about how Kate, the hero of this sub-ABC Family non-classic, would get her family to agree to reunite for Christmas at the old house.  At times I felt myself caring about Kate’s budding relationship with Mike, the handsome foster care kid/haunted American soldier with a Canadian accent, who actually utters the following line at one point: “You learn a lot from urban dictionaries these days.”  (What is he talking about? The Urban Dictionary online?  Or is an “urban dictionary,” of which Mike seems to think there are many, the 2013 version of a Tijuana Bible?).  I wanted to see Kate and Melanie’s oddly ageless parents--one of which is played by Amy Jo Johnson of Pink Power Ranger fame--get back together or at least explain to the audience why exactly they broke up in the first place since it appears to be the fault of an overzealous puppy.  I wanted these things and I cared about these characters, while, at the same time, hating the movie and wishing it would end already.  I blame my inner romantic, a side of me I am not embarrassed by nor desirous to get rid of.  It is true we aren’t currently speaking, seeing as it made me watch Coming Home For Christmas in it’s entirety and all, but I’m sure we’ll reconnect by Christmas Eve and it’ll be romantic and heartwarming.
Kate and Melanie are played by real-life Canadian sisters, and when they sing together—there is a whole lot of singing going on in Coming Home For Christmas—things aren’t so bad.  However, one of my least favorite scenes in the movie does revolve around singing.  It’s the last scene in the movie: Kate and Melanie’s parents are back together; Kate and Mike have settled all of their ridiculous non-issues and decided to become an item; Mike’s dead buddy’s son returns the war medal he stole (another “non-issue” the movie tries to make a thing for five seconds); and Melanie is sitting awkwardly in a corner, abandoned by her cheating husband, poor as dirt and going home to an empty McMansion when the holiday festivities have concluded.  Kate, Melanie and their dad begin singing a song titled “I Wanna Be Home For Christmas.”  It’s fine, nothing special, but halfway through, the aforementioned dead buddy’s son—whose name I don’t remember and whose portrayer doesn’t even make Coming Home For Christmas’s IMdB page (???)—busts in with a verse, LIKE IT’S A REAL SONG THAT EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD KNOWS!  “I Wanna Be Home For Christmas” isn’t a Christmas carol that everyone on the planet knows and loves, man!  It’s not “Jingle Bells” or “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeers” or “I Want a Ninja For Christmas.”  It’s a mediocre country-pop Christmas jingle tacked onto a boring movie about annoying Canadians.  Sure, the chorus has been stuck in my brain for weeks now and I’ve found myself singing it at weird, inopportune times (the shower; staff meetings; during sex), but it’s still not a thing.
Christmas Classic, Fine Holiday Fare or Lump o’ Coal: It’s cheesy and boring and innocuous, but I didn’t feel cheated out of precious time nor was it so awful that I found myself filled with homicidal rage, and, hey, I got to watch V/H/S/ again, which was pretty fun, so, I’ll give it a Lump o’ Coal.

Next time: A Baldwin brings the War on Christmas to a small town in Alaska!

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