Because of my impeccable taste, for 353 days I watch only the most sophisticated and enriching of entertainments. But during the holiday season, I have made a tradition of finding the worst possible Christmas-centric TV movies (usually from the powerhouse film factory at the ABC FAMILY network), getting loaded on bourbon, and watching third-rate basic cable actors teach us all about the meaning of the holiday. These are the reviews of those movies.
DAY 1: DESPERATELY SEEKING SANTA
Set in Boston and starring Laura Vandervoort, this falls into the "Corporate Person Learns Money Isn't What Christmas Is About" category. Vandervoort is an up and coming executive at the South Boston Mall (the center of this movie's universe). She dresses for success, but is secretly poor. Or something. It's never really all that clear.
The basic idea here is that in her desperate quest to climb that old corporate ladder, she creates a "SEXY SANTA" contest, because women in their twenties and bored housewives do the majority of Christmas shopping. (This is actually something she says; market research and whatnot.) Apparently, there's nothing women enjoy more than howling at muscular male models in public, because once the contest begins, there's a lot of that in this movie. We meet Vandervoort's sassy and horny assistant, the two fussy gay guys that pick her clothes, and the guy who makes her coffee. She always goes right to the front of the line and he has her specialty coffee ready to go, because as the Mall Marketing Director she's too busy to wait, and also she's an asshole.
The coffee line is the localtion of our "meet cute", where a beefcake gets mad that she doesn't wait in line with the rest of the plebes. She gets sassy, beefcake accuses her of being a rich girl, and they both act like jerks. Adorable! Naturally, this hunk is there for Sexy Santa contest, which promises to be oh-so awkward when they both realize what's up. There's a twist, however... it's not awkward at all! Everyone loves the hunk and despite Vandervoort trying to sabotage his chances of winning, he charms the judges by doing a "dance routine" he "memorized", which is the laziest bot of ballroom dancing yet captured on film.
The actual quest for the Sexy Santa is over pretty quick, which is a bummer, because I was hoping the whole movie would be Vandervoort, her horny assistant, the two gays, and Random Local Celebrity judging all the hunks. Watching them go through head-shots and crack wise about the contestants was a jaw-dropping display, and I never wanted it to end.
As it turns out, the Hunk is trying to win money so his family's Italian restaurant won't be closed by new zoning regulations, or something. It's very specific and very vague, simultaneously. The point is, he's basically an all-around perfect dude. Handsome, good with kids, nice, and sacrificing his Christmas (and pride) to be a sexy Santa so he can help save the family business. If it wasn't clear enough that he is Mr. Perfect, his sister repeatedly talks about how gorgeous and great he is. WE GET IT.
Vandervoort, on the other hand, is a complicated character. She's the star, and I think we are supposed to be rooting for her, but she swings so wildly between "struggling, good-intentioned worker bee" and "cold-hearted, mercenary yuppie scum" that it's impossible to sympathize with her, or even understand her motivations from scene to scene. I think she was on SMALLVILLE, and was basically terrible. She's pretty good here; she's charming enough and clearly is better at playing a normal human than a Kryptonian, but her character, as written, is all over the place. Watching her fire the old mall Santa, with zero remorse, is hard to come back from. It's Bill Murray in SCROOGED, except we're also supposed to admire her for doing what's best for the mall? This movie asks a lot when it comes to this character. She's a total asshole half the time, but she has a good heart, I guess? It's baffling.
You can guess how it plays out from there. There's a corporate subplot, and a lot of time is spent on the fate of the restaurant, and I think the hunk has another girl that falls for him? It gets pretty boring, although there is a scene where Luigi (the Hunk's dad, probably not named Luigi, but he's as stereotypical an Italian dad as ever there was) teaches Vandervoort how to toss a pizza pie dough, and it lands on her face and wacky music plays. There you go. That happens.
That's all you need to know.