The Holiday Calendar

So, I used to be a serious film critic.  No joke.  I reviewed hardcore cinema like Mega Piranha or Mega Python vs. Gatoroid or Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.  Serious cinema.   But alas after a decade of it, I believe it became too much for me and I had to retire.  But I've learned, while you can take the critic away from the boy. you can't take the boy from the critic... which actually makes no goddamn sense once I read it back, but whatever.  Anyway, I decided to only to dust off my critical chops during the holiday season and a couple years ago I did 30 TV holiday movies in 30 days.  And amazingly, I completed that task even though it nearly cost me my life.  Last year I decided to scale back and do 25 movies in 25 days.  But apparently I hadn't recovered from 2016's endeavor and I managed to complete a mere fraction of those.  This year, we make no promises.  We will start early however and do as many as we can.  It could be one, it could 100, I don't know.  The same rules apply though.  We don't judge these movies on their value as films, for they have no value as films, but on their but their willingness to adhere to the vomit worthy formula as created by Hallmark so many years ago.  And we have a new player in this game, dominated by Hallmark / Lifetime / Ion / UpTV / TVOne and BET... that being Netflix.  Last year they hit us with the completely gawdawful 'A Christmas Prince'... or 'A Prince for Christmas'... both are real movies, hell if I remember which is which.  There was another Netflix Christmas movie in there,. but we couldn't get to it.  But this year we are leading off with Netflix and their soon to be classically terrible 'A Holiday Calendar'.  Let the games begin.

The Holiday Calendar (2018) - Netflix

Say hello to Abby (Kat Graham), a super adorable holiday photographer who hates her job, and subsequently, ain't too crazy about the holidays.  Abby only does this while she waits for her big break as a serious photographer, while her lawyer parents pester her about coming to the law firm and doing something with her life.  What this something is, I don't know, since I don't think Abby is a lawyer and as such she'd probably just be stuck collating and sorting all day, we got Abby's back on ignoring her folks on this one.

Then one day, Abby's bestie Josh (Quincy Brown) comes back to town.  Don't know where this town is, other than it snows.  And rent is super cheap because Abby has like the dopest loft you will ever want to see, considering Abby is severely underemployed and wears duct taped boots.  It looks like it's about 2000 sq./ft, open floor plan, ornately decorated, killer view...  But's that neither here nor there.  Anyway, Josh is also a photographer, traveling the world and doing everything his bestie Abby wants to do, but now he's back in town to stay.

But let's get the Calendar, shall we?  Gramps, as played by the always transcendent Ron Cephus Jones, presents Abby with a special Advent Calendar straight from Europe that her dead grandma wanted her to have.  Problem is Abby can't open any of the doors.  Mainly because the doors open by themselves at midnight, because it's magic.  Or the devil.  Take your pick.  Behind each door is little toy which seems to be predicting Abby's future, be it the replacement boots that her Bestie Josh got for her, or the Christmas tree she ran over belonging to the generically handsome Dr. Ty (Ethan Peck).  In fact, it looks like the Calendar is guiding Abby towards love with Dr. Ty, and Abby is rolling with this, but being with Dr. Ty just doesn't feel right.  Side note... Every holiday season Dr. Ty goes to the homeless shelter, donates food and prepares this food to feed these homeless people.  While taking pictures of a couple homeless dudes, these old dudes (wise men from the calendar) drop a bug in Abby's ear that she's not the first chick he's bought to the shelter.  First off, this cat is bringing their hungry asses food, and here they are throwing him under the bus.  That's some gratitude for you right there.  Secondly, if feeding the homeless is his Get Up, or his Main Game, then that's a pretty good Get Up to have, don't you think?  He's a doctor, he has access to drugs and could just roofie chicks, but no... he feeds the homeless to impress women.  Bastard! 

Alas, after that Abby's life soon starts to fall apart.  She breaks up with Dr. Ty because he thinks a magic Advent Calendar is dumb, she blows her big chance at Photography greatness because of a mistake her bestie made, then she yells at him which makes him sad and sends him out of town back to Florida, and she's isolated herself. from her family.

Eventually though everything kind of works itself out.  Because the satanic infused Calendar was telling Abby the right things, she was just reading it wrong.  It's Josh.  It's always been Josh.  And now everything that Abby has ever wanted has become reality.  Love with a man who's nearly as pretty as she is, professional success, parental approval... thanks to the Devil!  Or magic.  Take your pick. 

Look, Netflix gets it.  They understand completely how the Hallmark formula works.  Fifteen minutes in, this movie has already earned the often hard to achieve fifth vomit.  Opens with a generic original Christmas song, Christmas music plays in the background almost incessantly, and the movie is purely Christmas themed, meaning that it's not some rando story that could take place at anytime of the year and just happens to take place around Christmastime.   There are snow filled streets everywhere, I don't think there's a single scene where there isn't a Christmas ornament nearby, our heroine is Christmas averse, we are quickly introduced to a cute kid in Abby's niece, followed by the wise old dude in Gramps who speaks in cryptic anagrams and also wastes no time bringing up his recently dead wife.  Then in this same scene they eat freshly baked Christmas cookies.  The only thing somewhat missing is a Christmas Tree shopping scene, but it is replaced by a Christmas tree lighting scene, so everything that makes a Hallmark Holiday movie a Hallmark Holiday movie is covered in full by the creators of this film. 

But unfortunately, also like the Netflix sanctioned  'A Christmas Prince'... or 'A Prince for Christmas'... I know I could easily look it up to find out which one is which, but I don't feel like doing that.... which also covered all the basics, something was missing.  In A Christmas Prince it was easy to find as the movie never took the time to make the main characters actually work as a couple.  The issues in this one are a little more nuanced.  For starters,  it looks like they worked way too hard to Out Hallmark Hallmark, as opposed to doing their own thing, and secondly, while I bought into Abby and Josh as homies, I don't think nearly enough effort was put into making them potential lovers.  They were more like brother and sister, which ultimately made it a little icky when they started kissing.  It doesn't help that Kat Graham and Quincy Brown look like they literally could have the same set of parents. 

There are, and will be far worst holiday movies than 'The Holiday Calendar', with that Christmas Prince movie from Netflix being one of those worst ones in my opinion.  And we will say that the cast is pretty good with Kevin Hanchard and Genelle Williams joining the ridiculously awesome Mr. Cephus Jones, it's just we kind of expect Netflix to step out the box a little bit, as they are known to do, instead of stuffing themselves into a ready made Hallmark box.  Still.. Five vomits all the way.  Bravo!


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