As I cycle through the ABC Family Channel and Lifetime's Christmas themed offerings, I'm noticing a few repetitve themes about, apparently, the extreme difficulty attractive women face around the holidays. Among them:
-Seemingly perfect siblings
-Randomly available and readily employed suitors
-Slow-motion stress buildups that show just how noisy life really is
-Living in huge apartments despite aforementioned job trouble
Holiday In Handcuffs--not a porn, although the title and premise scream for one--features all these threads, but beats the likes of Snowglobe and Golden Christmas (about a magical golden retriever who reunites childhood sweethearts and has puppies who she then abandons, natch) because it also includes a climax that involves figure skating.
Hence, best Christmas movie since Silent Night Deadly Night 2.
Quick Plot: Poor Trudie (Clarissa, giving a slightly better performance than in Nine Dead) lives in a sprawling but messy loft apartment and works as a diner waitress while trying to get a sales job set up by her dad (the increasingly eerily George Bush Jr. resembling Tim Bottoms). At about the 3/4 mark of the film, we also learn that she's a frustrated painter because just like V.C. Andrews novels, no Lifetime heroine can be relatable without a hidden artistic talent.
Most importantly, she's single, which means (to the target audience) her life is worthless.
AND she has terrible hair.
Thankfully, A.C. Slater has come to town to slip on ice, play hockey, dangle around an engagement ring and take his shirt off. A catch like this, why WOULDN'T you kidnap him with a 19th century musket, tie him up with a wool scarf, secure his hands with fuzzy cuffs provided by the kindly & kinky gas station attendent, and tell your folks that your new boyfriend gets off on pretending to be held hostage?
Admittedly, the initial introduction of Mario Lopez to Trudie's clueless family is not without chuckles, as their daftness about their daughter's crime comes close to rivaling the Dodos' empty headedness of Follow That Bird. Once the humor gets broader--i.e., let's meet the dirty talking grandma who uses the word 'tatas'--and Lopez has to turn genuine, Holiday In Handcuffs loses most of its charms.
I don't know about you, but I don't particularly want to live in a world where Melissa Joan Hart reproduces with Mario Lopez. Heck, I don't want to believe Mario Lopez has sex with anyone other than himself, and even that makes me feel bad for him because I'm sorry but WHO WANTS TO HAVE SEX WITH MARIO LOPEZ?
Oh right, Mario Lopez does.
But just like the token love interest in Snowglobe, he studied architecture and is somewhat available (a pesky fiancee is easily discarded). Lopez gets the edge by having an orphan sob story, so with a little nudging to Trudie's artistic talent and, you know, a how-can-I-not-fall-in-love-
with-the-cute-blond-who-can- do-double-axels sequence, everyone has a merry Christmas.
Even Grams' tatas.
Sooner or later, guys overpower girls
The word ‘crap’ is quite tacky
Little known fact: nervous breakdowns come in sizes
|As do awkward publicity photos|
The Winning Line
“I’m just dating a few guys. I didn’t say I slept with them. I’m not a slut.”
Nope Clarissa' little sister, you're just a tease.
Stray SVU Connection
Just before queuing up Holiday In Handcuffs, I set the tone by watching the episode of Law & Order: SVU titled "Svengali," wherein Mad Men's Jarred Harris plays a sadistic artist whose charisma inspires young women to murder for him. At one point, the camera lingers over Harris' portraits and I would bet a pair of Chris Meloni eyebrows that they were crafted by the same painter who made Trudie's sketches. Should I find that as rewarding as I do?
Open Xmas Question
Does any family consisting solely of grown adults spend Christmas Eve gathered around while one member reads Twas the Night Before Christmas out loud? Admittedly, my folks were never big on holiday traditions, but SERIOUSLY?
Token Slapstick Alert
Someone read a book about funny things that happen on ice, and hence, Holiday In Handcuffs gives us several "Ow, that's gonna hurt!" sequences on a frozen pond
Two by my count, as we follow Slater's gradual glee at being kidnapped by insane Christmas geeks and later, his sadness at an impending unhappy marriage
Trudie's man-hating, man-sleeping-with best friend who gets to dress like a Christmas hooker while telling police officers how terrible their penises are
Stocking Stuffer or Stuffed With Coal
Holiday in Handcuffs is a horror film, just for different reasons than Don't Open Til Christmas or good-spirited director Ron Underwood's more amazing Tremors. Being part of a family that still insists on writing letters to Santa when the kids are in their 30s, having to listen to Mom talk about her annual and unfulfilling birthday sex, and worst of all, being trapped in a secluded cabin with Mario Lopez is far more terrifying than anything Billy OR Ricky Caldwell did through bloodied Santa suits. All this being said, the movie--streaming on Netflix--is cute for people that think things like this are cute.
Or I could just look at puppy pictures and enjoy something that's actually cuter.