Kibble & Kelly Taylor In Your Stocking: A Christmas Wedding Tail
When I think about holiday cinema, I often say to myself, "Muppets and cancer and snowglobes and miracles and handcuffs are nice and all, but you know what baby Jesus would've really loved to watch on cable between courses?" A talking dog voiced by Jay Mohr.
Quick Plot: Beautiful widow Kelly Taylor (I know, it's her 90210 name, but do you really think I paid enough attention to adjust?) is walking her golden retriever one day in scenic northern California when he falls for a prissy poodle (because in film, there is no other kind) and she falls for its widower and wine-making owner, played by the blandly good-looking Brad Rowe. Since IMDB doesn't even remember his character's name, I certainly can't be expected to.
It's October when they meet, and Thanksgiving when they get engaged, mostly because this is a Christmas movie so a Christmas wedding simply has to happen and apparently, it should occur less than 60 days after two seemingly intelligent and responsible parents have met one another. Even their gaggle of children--five in all--seems to get along well enough, prompting the audience to wonder where the heck any crumb of conflict will come from a good hour into the movie.
But WAIT! We forgot one key detail in the life of Kelly Taylor: she's looking for a job, a job that can only be found by her head hunter Tom Arnold, a job in none other than New York City, aka the alternate dimension of evil urbanites so warned about by family channel-ish films. Kelly has worked for such an opportunity her whole life, but taking the position of head curator for an art museum a day after getting married across the country...well you know, CONFLICT!
By now, you're probably thinking "that's all well and good Emily, but didn't you say something about talking dogs?" Of course Dear Reader, of COURSE there are talking dogs. CLEVER talking dogs, because what other kind of talking dogs are there? So clever in fact, that their very first talking dog conversation includes this classic put-down:
"This is an A and B conversation so C your way out of it."
Oh no prissy poodle DIDN'T!
Not to comic genius (in his own mind) Jay Mohr, who clearly read all his lines in one take on a Skype phone conversation with the director. Though the movie isn’t good, one could certainly derive an insane amount of joy envisioning all the behind-the-scenes highlights of Mohr, always smug and seemingly never happy, stooping the level of cranking out uninspired poop jokes as, you know, a talking dog.
That in itself qualifies A Christmas Wedding Tail as something of a horror movie, right?
Token Slapstick Alert
This being about dogs, the opportunities are endless:
-Thanksgiving dinner is ruined when dad falls in the pool and the turkey lands in grass
-Cake tasting ruined when dogs break into the kitchen and give the bakery owner an embolism
-Country club hunting is almost ruined when the dogs chase a stray and GET THIS: knock over the prissy manager
During a wedding planner audition montage, Kelly & Dude cycle through a batch of stereotypes, including but not limited to a mob greaser, hippie, uptight Brit who keeps talking about the queen, southern hick (mysteriously hanging out in Northern California) who says ‘hootenany’ a lot, and most obviously, a fast-talking black woman who not only wants a leopard décor, but insists on making the grrrow cat sounds when explaining leopard décor
The Winning Line
“It is everything I’ve been working for but I’ve been working for the wrong things.”
At this point, you’re probably asking yourself what could possibly be the RIGHT thing. You start to worry, feel a drip of sweat form on your brow because MY GOD KELLY TAYLOR! You’re teasing us with the theme of this movie! Thankfully, she proves helpful:
“Family is the most important thing.”
Sigh! I was getting worried that the answer was going to be talking dogs.
It’s a common occurance in this genre, but A Christmas Wedding Tail takes it a tad too far, with montages of the courtship, children playing, wedding planning, wedding planner auditions, wedding band auditions (complete with the token ‘dogs cover ears’ shot), and finally, a complete montage recapping the entire film just before Kelly makes her big choice.
A great way to establish character's quirks is to set a key scene at Thanksgiving and force each one to name what they're thankful for. Only then will it cement in the audience's head that amongst Kelly & No Name's children are a cook (who's thankful for "cooking!"), a computer nerd (who's thankful for "computers!"), bug collector (who's thankful for "bug collecting!"), sport (who's thankful for "sports!"), and silent creepy kid who "hasn't talked much since his dad died."
Small towns are like parasites
Post widowering, one shouldn’t talk about setting down, but GETTING down
Stocking Stuffer or Coal In Your Stocking?
A Christmas Wedding Tail (pun! Even though there are two tails so misused pun!) is so sweet that I received three cavities while watching it, though part of that may have come from Jennie Garth’s occasional lapse into dubbed baby voice or the fact that the biggest conflict is a beautiful woman trying to decide whether to take her high-paying dream job or marry a stud who owns a vineyard (i.e., the definition of a first first first world problem). But seriously, any film that makes the Brady Bunch look like the Mansons is seriously in need of some rabies.