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 4: THE MISTLE-TONES
Well this was some dogshit.
Tori Spelling is the worst, you guys.
I don't even know where to start with this one. It's vaguely a dopey Christmas riff on PITCH PERFECT, with rival singing groups, but the major difference is that that movie is great, and this is horrible. I didn't want to go into this project (where I watch a bunch of dumb movies) just shitting on everything. That was never my intention. I never wanted to hate a movie featuring the great Reginald Veljohnson, and I certainly never wanted to make fun of people for having no talent or being weird-looking. That's rude. But fuck Tori Spelling. She is absolutely awful here. This could have been a perfectly harmless larf about dummies doing dumb stuff at Christmas, but Tori Spelling had to show up. We're only four movies into this thing, people. Four Movies. I was really hoping to get to at least Day 6 before I had enormous regrets about this ridiculous project. No such luck.
THE MISTLE-TONES doesn't have a bad premise. It's not executed well, but the basic premise is just fine. The star is Tia Mowry (who was on a sitcom from my youth called SISTERS! SISTERS! SISTERS! SISTERS!) and she is actually perfectly entertaining. She plays someone who likes to sing, and works in an office, and is clearly a talented human who has been trained to be an inoffensive performer since birth. Apparently, the most important event in her town is a Christmas concert by the local signing group, the Snow Belles. She audition, but is nixed by Tori Spelling, playing an awful rich person who for some reason is really into this local Christmas-signing-thing. She is terrible. I can't stress this enough. She's trying to be funny, but is just so inherently unfunny that she comes across as some sort of robot who just can't quite time her responses to human conversation properly. I watched her and wondered why anyone would spend time in the same room as her, much less allow her to be in charge of a beloved holiday institution. Maybe they explained that at some point, but I spent most of the time she was speaking covering my ears in horror, the same way British children of the past hid behind couches when Daleks appeared on DOCTOR WHO.
Tia starts her own group, featuring nerds from her office, and to be fair, there's a lot of funny banter between them. They have a casual rapport and there's some actual gags here and there when they're together. At one point one of them suggests "SLED ZEPPELIN" as the name of their group, which made me laugh out loud, although it might just be that up that point, I was so upset by what I was watching, any levity was welcome and I overcompensated.
The actual plot concerns Tia blackmailing her uptight boss, a Secret Karaoke Master, into helping her group perfect their routine, so they can eventually beat out the Snow Belles in whatever competition they are engaged in. Reginald Veljohnson is around, sitting on a couch in every scene and dispensing the advice we all have come to expect from him. You can guess where it goes from here.
The biggest problem (aside from the general presence of Tori Spelling) is that this is a Musical, so we have Musical interludes. Lots of lip-syncing and dancing, and my god, it is awful. Spellings' main dance move is walking towards the camera while arhythmically swinging her hips, and she does this for most of the movie, as if in a loop. Whoever she is lip syncing to sounds nothing like her speaking voice, and it's so jarring I started to wonder how something so easy could go so wrong. Donald O'Connor lip-syncing to Debbie Reynolds in SINGIN' IN THE RAIN was more natural. Tia Mowry can sing, but the song choices are completely dull and the arrangements are exactly what you'd expect from this type of cornball exercise. A lot of business is made of people dancing poorly (until the inevitable montage where they Get Good) and if you find nerds dancing in an awkard manner to be hilarious, then ignore everything I've said in this review. You will love it.
This movie is a perfectly fine half-hour Tia Mowry-vehicle sitcom. Unfortunately, it's a two hour musical co-starring Tori Spelling. That's all you need to know. F Minus.