Pride, Prejudice and Mistletoe
Reviewed by L.F. Sue
What interested me about this movie was how were they going to adapt Pride and Prejudice to Christmas? Would they be able to bring the same banter between Eliza Bennet and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy? In this humble Janeite’s opinion? No, but then again what can compare to Pride and Prejudice, which is a revealing social commentary on human foibles that has withstood the test of time, yet ultimately is a story where love conquers all. Mr. Darcy overcomes his pride, and Ms. Bennet overcomes her prejudice to surrender to love. In that respect, I guess a Hallmark Christmas Movie isn’t that far-fetched. But there were many changes to the original story along the way.
The characters names were homages to the original story, if not exactly in keeping with the original and therefore weren’t Christmas related, unless you want to count the mom being named Gloria Fitzwilliam. Which sure, take a shot then! Darcy Fitzwilliam is the heroine, a textbook career girl who recently broke up with her boyfriend Carl, and between that and work is feeling a little “unsettled”. She comes home to Pemberley from NYC for Christmas and is immediately put to work by Gloria, putting on a charity auction for the Pemberley League of something or another. Kudos for the Pemberley reference, and keeping it with the Darcy side, however the original Mr. Darcy wouldn’t actually be caught dead working. Working was for those less fortunate than themselves; he had land and money and gave people jobs, paid people a living. He wasn’t into making a living and getting paid himself, but I digress. Back to the movie, her bestie is involved with some Bennet and they meet up for dinner. Of course this dinner would be made very awkward for Darcy, but then this wouldn’t be a Christmas movie without the awkward. This awkward starts because the dinner is at Luke’s new restaurant. Luke and Darcy go way back to high school, but he wasn’t the one that got away. More like the perfect debate sparring partner, and together then went all the way to state. More Darcy and Luke awkwardness ensues as they are forced to work together to put on this charity event. It should come as no shock who mom would pick as a last minute caterer for this event? None other than Luke, much to Darcy’s chagrin, but she will be a professional about this for the charity kids, because it is really all about the kids. The movie really didn’t capture the actual Liza and Darcy vibe during this awkward phase.
The charity is auctioning off Christmas trees to fund raise, there is a Christmas tree scene where Darcy knocks down the trees simply because the tree guy is too busy on the phone and she’s too proud to ask Luke for help. Then there are the awkward Mistletoe incidents, for yes there is more than one. First one Darcy makes fun of Luke for not knowing the story of Mistletoe, hearkening back to those glorious high school debate days. Second time, he still hasn’t done his research, what with him being so busy getting stuff for the auction and prepping the menu for the event…and finally the third, well the third is the finale. So you dear reader can guess what happens by then. There is a snowball fight wedged into the carrying of decorations. And while not really blatant advertising, there was a lot of Rubbermaid being hauled in the movie to protect and transport the precious Christmas decorations. And a Cadillac sighting, but it was subtle. I couldn’t tell you what kind of truck Luke drove.
The Pemberley Caroling is apparently something to behold, I’m not positive I get how long this caroling goes on, but it would appear to be more like a winter festival than the traditional door to door caroling. So there were lots of Christmas songs being sung in the movie, so much so Luke even tried to make Jingle Bells his and Darcy’ s song. There should be extra shots taken for that. During their walk through the Pemberley Carols, Luke is introduced to roasting chestnuts, which frankly isn’t that big a thing in 21st century America as Darcy seems to make it out to be. Just saying there are lots of us who haven’t eaten roasted chestnuts, and no one is questioning our Holiday Cheer. The introduction to roasted chestnut inspires Luke to create a pie with chestnuts, I think chocolate was involved. My interest in the menu wanes when I’m not able to partake in the smells and tastes of the food, but none the less there were baking and cooking scenes. And I can confirm there was hot chocolate served to the late night Fitzwilliam Christmas Tree decorators, although I think they were trimming the family tree, not an auction tree. And while no ugly Christmas sweater was immediately obvious (one of the brothers could have worn one, but who would have noticed?) there was a white elephant apron that Darcy got and wore to help Luke prep the food for the big event, Which should count. I mean seriously this movie has checked off all the drinking game items. Even the bonus because it has Lacey Chabert! And the dead relative, while not the I-hate-Christmas-because-it-reminds-me-of-my-dead relative troupe was poignant because Luke and his dad had a dream to open up a restaurant together. And while the dad is gone, Luke keeps the dream alive and Darcy gives him props for staying true to himself.
Which apparently is something Darcy is having trouble doing. Years ago she walked away from her dad’s successful business to strike it on her own in NYC, where apparently she is quite successful. Except her business partners want to push her out, because she wants to help the common man, help everyone invest and not just the rich. This is not a trait the original Mr. Darcy shares, he was very obedient to this family and did in fact look down on the poorer Bennets. In the book, Eliza leans on her sister Jane and even her friend Charlotte to talk things out when she’s feeling unsettled. Darcy has her brother and her bestie, but they don’t appear to be the best sounding boards. Until bestie breaks it down to Darcy that she’s glowing since she’s been spending time with Luke, and he too seems to have light emanating from his aurora now. Darcy doesn’t chalk this up to just Luke though, it is because she is doing what she loves to do, helping all people, not just the ultra-rich. By the end, she not only is settled career wise…but yes she and Luke ride off into the sunset. Except it really isn’t exactly how Eliza and Mr. Darcy found love. Eliza and Mr. Darcy weren’t poor communicators; Eliza was quite explicit in saying why she turned down his marriage proposal. By the time she stood up to this Aunt, he knew she had changed her mind, because of all the things that had occurred in-between. This movie is lacking in developing that in between stuff, but as far a Christmas movie goes? 4.5 vomits, the extra half is for how long and drawn out the awkward phase was between Darcy and Luke.