Monday, December 15, 2014

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS... (...as told by ABC FAMILY): DAY 2

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 2: SNOWGLOBE

This is a deeply weird movie.


At times, I wondered if it was some sort of TWILIGHT ZONE, twist-ending-on-the-way, horror/suspense jam. There are some very creepy performances and a bizarre supernatural element that never makes sense. It could very easily, with just a few cuts, be an ABC Family Halloween movie. It is a weird movie.

SNOWGLOBE stars Christina Milian, who is apparently a famous person. It takes place in "Brooklyn". Brooklyn, New York, is one of the largest population centers in the United States with a wide variety of cultures, neighborhoods, and flavors. The "Brooklyn" of SNOWGLOBE is a street with an apartment building and a butcher shop, and everyone talks like Carmela Soprano. Milian plays Angela, a super-fox who has trouble dating (putting this squarely in the "super-fox can't find a guy until the magic of Christmas brings her a hunk" category of bad holiday movies). She works in the family deli, and her family and friends are always trying to set her up with men, because despite being a total dime, she can't find a date. I think? It's never clear what the problem is. She resents always being set up, but also seems bummed out that she's alone. I suppose like Walt Whitman she contains multitudes, and contradicts herself.

Milian has one of the worst fake accents I've ever heard on television, right up there with almost everyone on NASHVILLE. She is from a wildly stereotypical Italian family, complete with "grandma's lasagna recipe", dudes in track suits, and an astonishing amount of time spent watching the Giants. (Seriously, there is an entire subplot about her brother-in-law watching too much football.) They stop short of shouting 'HEY MA, PASS DA GRAVY FOR DIS MACARONI!" while they chomp spaghetti in undershirts, but it comes really close.

Her mother is played by Dr. Melfi herself, the great Lorraine Bracco, cashing a paycheck with gusto. Her father is a black man, who inexplicably behaves just like the rest of the Italian stereotypes, despite mentioning in a bit of ham-fisted exposition that he was raised in Cuba. This bit of cognitive dissonance led my bride (of New York Italian stock) to wonder aloud, "Why is this elderly black guy acting like such a gindaloon?" I did not have the answer for her.

To try and summarize this movie would make my brain (and myheart) ache, so I will try and wrap it up as quickly as I can. Milian loves Christmas (we know this because she wraps up salami in a package with a bow in the first scene) but she loves a particularly ethnic type of Christmas exclusively. That ethnicity would be WASP. She wants Christmas that involves Edwardian street scenes, and white people in sweaters and ear-muffs. She wants a "white" Christmas, with all that that implies. It's gross.

After getting angry with her family because they want to have meals with her, and keep trying to set her up with attractive, successful, nice guys (yes, that makes her angry), she enters a magical world inside a mysterious snowglobe, where everyone is lily white and it looks like a Norman Rockwell Christmas village, if Norman Rockwell was a member of the Aryan Nation. So she wanders around, smiling and giggling, and then comes the fish-out-of-water material, as everyone stares at her, with mouths agape. They've clearly never seen her brand of perfect mocha skin before, or heard her particular brand of fake Brooklyn accent. Milian loves it there anyway, and falls for a guy in the snowglobe, whose only personality trait is that he smiles like a lunatic.

This guy is played by Matt Keeslar, who does the best he can with what he's given. Keeslar is a fine comedic actor, and he's been in some pretty good stuff here and there, but he's rocking the absurdist comedy chops while everyone else is playing it basically straight. He elevates his material quite a bit, but in the grand scheme it's like trying to kick yourself out of quicksand; you just sink faster in the surrounding muck. Why and how Milian falls for him never makes any sense, it just happens. She spends a lot of time in Snowglobe World, neglecting her family and job, until one day, Keeslar follows her out into Brooklyn. Then comes the next round of fish-out-of-water material. Keeslar gets shown around NYC by the guy Milian will eventually end up with, that nice guy down the hall who her family wants her to bone.

It gets increasingly stupid after this point, and there's lots of metaphysical question marks about the parallel realities at play while she is trapped in snowglobe land. Eventually, the creepy mailman who delivered the snowglobe in the first place returns with another snowglobe and snowglobe snowglobe snowglobe, everyone snowglobes back where they belong, thanks to snowglobes.

My wife pointed out that this movie implies that everyone in it is stuck in their own cosmic snowglobe, and she's right. That's exactly what this movie says. It's existentially terrifying. However, the strangest thing about the story isn't the alternate dimensions that exist in snowglobes, it's Matt Keeslar's character. He's like a robot that can only shovel snow and ice skate, only thinks about Christmas trees, and when Milian slips into a sexy outfit to seduce him, he falls alseep. This was easily the best part of the movie, and he fell asleep before they could get down. It made me so mad. She is so foxy.

By the end, Milian is glad to be back with her family of stereotypes, they stuff a turkey with lasagna (not kidding), and she opens a Christmas-themed store, which apparently was her dream all along, I guess. And she bones the guy down the hall. HOORAY!

In short: This movie makes no sense, has like two funny lines, and Milian is a total fox.


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