Family for Christmas
Release Date: July 11,2015
Director: Amanda Tapping
Our Unofficial Summary of Family for Christmas
Family for Christmas starts with a badass chick working in "the city" (which they clarify about 10 minutes from the end is San Francisco). She gets an amazing promotion to her dream job working as a New York correspondent for her news station…but gets a friend request from an old boyfriend.
Well, that's not how it starts. There's an emotional airport scene with the old boyfriend as she leaves for what I assume is an internship. But let's focus on the awesomeness that was Hanna.
Hanna starts to think about what her life might have been if she'd married her boyfriend from the beginning of the movie, then she encounters a super creepy Santa during all this who starts following her. He makes some mysterious comments about Christmas wishes (nowhere near as good as the Santa in A Wish for Christmas). When she goes to bed that night, she starts to dream about what her life would have been like with Ben.
It's awful, my dudes. Like really awful. And I don't even think that's an opinion. There's nothing wrong with being a stay at home mom or making sacrifices for the family. But, she has these kids who do nothing but scream and demand insane things from her, a husband who clearly doesn't respect her enough to even have a conversation, and is living basically the worst kind of suburban life imaginable. Especially the husband thing. She's clearly going through something, and he's actually blaming her when she wants to even try to talk about any doubts she has.
It turns out she never got on the plane to that internship to begin with, probably to stay with the boyfriend, and then based on the ages of the kids, somehow went back in time to give birth to the first one.
She encounters people from her other life and takes over a news story when the reporter gets pinned by a giant candy cane (a situation that's never resolved). She's offered a job as a reporter, and her husband shoots it the hell down because, unlike him, the kids will feel she doesn't love them if she works in the city. Like he does.
But, she's progressively sucked into this suburban dystopia, never considering the fact that she's eventually going to have to account for having no memory of the last 10 years. She turns down the job.
Then she wakes up, and Austin and I are momentarily relieved, but alas, 'twas not to be. She reaches out to the boyfriend who sent her a friend request to meet for coffee and throws away her career, despite not knowing anything about who he is in this timeline. Fingers crossed he turns out to be better.
Mattie's Three-Sentence Review:
Why? Why would you put my deepest fears on screen and say this is what women want? Why, Santa?
Mattie's Rating: 1/5 Giant Killer Candy Cane Set Pieces
Austin's Three-Sentence Review:
No. Just No. It is like they wrote a script based on my nightmares and a trailer for a Nicholas Cage movie.
Austin's Rating: 1/5 pieces of fruit picked out of a child's cereal.
Our Real-Time Impressions of Family for Christmas
Austin: Family for Christmas. This had better be about cannibals.
Mattie: This guy doesn't have a British accent. He definitely isn't going to be the right guy.
Mattie: "It's a key. To my heart." If you ever said something like that after giving me some kind of key or whatever, I'd be divorcing you.
Austin: I would be more likely to give you keys to a brand new Lexus in the driveway without telling you.
Mattie: YOU HAVEN'T WORKED SINCE MARCH. 2019.
Austin: But it was only $3995!
To clarify, this is all referring to a Saturday Night Live sketch from 12/12/20, which we felt deeply in our souls.
Mattie: She just said she loves him, and nothing will ever change that. He's about to die, isn't he?
Austin: 10 YEARS LATER? She is a star reporter for local tv!
Mattie: She said holidays. Not Christmas. Chabert is such a rebel in these movies!
Austin: Oooh, she is too busy with her very busy job for silly shit like Christmas.
Mattie: Are they trespassing? Or is this considered a public building? Warehouses usually aren't really considered open to the public.
Austin: She has journalism to do! There are no laws that can stop her!
Mattie: I'll have to go review our episode about journalists' rights.
Mattie: Yep, Ben's super dead. I'm like 95% sure that's not Ben. All white men look the same.
Austin: HIS HAIR!
Mattie: We have our first "high powered career woman who doesn't like Christmas" Chabert movie! We're hitting a trope!
Austin: Assistant, get me charities to plug. And also, I don't have time for you to tell me about the one you are talking about.
Mattie: There's no snow. Even though something good just happened, we know she's not truly happy because there's no snow and therefore no Christmas magic.
Austin: You are in New York City! Why are you talking to someone on the street? You just look forward and keep walking!
Mattie: How do you know which stories are true and which ones aren't? Well, Google is a great place to start, Santa.
Mattie: I don't care how classy of a news reporter you are. That apartment would be like $4,000 a month in Kansas. In a city? Nah.
Austin: She credited her assistant!
Mattie: The charity lady...assistant's mom? She has some weird personal connection here. Or we're about to have a horror movie because this person is a g-g-g-g-g-g-ghost!
Austin: A very merry Single White Female Christmas. The assistant is going to try to replace Chabert!
Mattie: "I think you're great, but I won't help you get promoted because I really, really like having you as an assistant. Also, you're blond, and we know blonds get head reporter jobs alarmingly fast."
Austin: Look, Fox News needs a new blond after the last one snapped and accidentally told the truth. You are a shoo-in.
Mattie: Friend request from dead boyfriend!!! PLEASE be a horror Chabertmas!
Austin: Yes, listen to his advice. He seems like very not a total douche bag.
Mattie: I mean, you'd tell me to block my ex if he reached out to me via "the internet," as she puts in.
Austin: Wait, I thought they were already in New York. Where are they? Is this Milwaukee?
Mattie: Wait...remember when you were super supportive of me potentially moving to California for a while if I had gone for that job/training thing? Was it so you had an out like this douche?
Austin: It was mostly so I could train all the cats to love me the most.
Mattie: SANTA BROUGHT UP A CHRISTMAS WISH! It's too bad this isn't the same actor as that Santa.
Austin: That is one bad fake beard on this Santa. Oh shit, never mind, he did the magical wink. Real Santa.
Mattie: How did winking Santa end up in the news offices? We need to address this. He was a Salvation Army bell-ringing Santa.
Austin: He is a mob Santa hitman. He had a dead reporter that was digging too close to the truth in that bag.
Mattie: DOG. CHILDREN. CALLING HER MOMMY.
Austin: NIGHTMARE! NIGHTMARE! Woken up by children chanting in unison is a very specific nightmare.
Mattie: Her kids are terribly behaved. I feel like this dream would have the opposite effect of what Santa thinks it should. It would make me be like, "thank god I didn't choose that life," not "alas, what if I had procreated and created children who jumped in circles around me screaming 'we want pancakes!'"
Austin: Is this your way of telling me that when I wake you up by screaming, "I need pancakes!" you don't find it adorable.
Austin: Fleeing into the snow screaming is the only logical response to waking up to this fresh hell.
Mattie: Waking me up in any way is never adorable. For anyone.
Mattie: Seriously, if they're wanting us to side with The Wish, this was not a great way to start. Like, waking up to pancakes? Awesome. But not only was there a slobbery dog in her face and children chanting what I can only assume was some kind of curse in code, but I didn't even see any bacon.
Austin: I feel like we got our Chabertmas horror movie wish.
Mattie: Whenever we're fast-forwarding commercials, and a generic white family shows up on the screen, Austin thinks the movie has started again.
Austin: Ooof. Antlers on a minivan. AND the cartoon family sticker.
Mattie: I think her assistant is the newscaster on the poster behind her, but they haven't shown it clearly yet. Also, I'm still not clear on what city we're in.
Austin: Kill that Santa! he has ruined your life!
Mattie: Wait...I think this is what happened to Santa. He seems to really relate to waking up and not having the same life. Is this a The Santa Clause situation? Is that Tim Allen under there?
Austin: Oh no! It is a Sliding Doors situation!
Mattie: Oh Jesus Christ, I really hope that wondering really hard about things doesn't turn them into wishes very often because I'd be so screwed. The things I wonder about...we don't want them becoming reality. They're worse than chanting children.
Austin: I was wondering really hard about how different things would be if Iron Man was real
Mattie: Oh god. Speedwalking neighbor demanding entrance into her minivan, not taking the hint about the doors still being locked. I miss living in a city, but at least we don't have that.
Mattie: Wouldn't it be nice if our biggest problem was deciding what dessert to make? This is seriously my biggest suburban nightmare, and I thought our suburb with the aggressive old white men was bad enough.
Austin: And if anyone ever says stop baking the same pie every year, that means it is bad. Stop baking.
Mattie: Uh, in her Christmas wish, this girl who went off to pursue her dreams doesn't have a job anymore. So, apparently, you can't both want kids and have a high-powered career if you're a woman? And last we saw, he was going to write a novel. So, either that novel did really well, her wish is highly unrealistic, or someone earned their money the old-fashioned way. Got run over by a Lexus.
Mattie: I am seriously upset about this. Of course, this could be a Monkey's Paw thing. She was wondering what if she'd married Ben, but Santa took it to the illogical extreme.
Austin: Already reporting her missing? He is a secret serial killer establishing an alibi.
Mattie: In her fantasy, then, did she never leave for that opportunity, and he did instead? I'm so confused.
Mattie: This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife.
Austin: My God! What have I done?
Austin: He is so boring. At least Leo from Philly had a room full of swords.
Mattie: I feel like I've had her side of the conversation with you. "I woke up in the SUBURBS. How did this happen?" Except you were actually understanding and not a pissy little bitch.
Mattie: Don't forget about the mushrooms? This movie is making a lot more sense now!
Austin: This movie is making me actively uncomfortable. Creepy awful kids, pushy neighbors, and now Surprise! You are hosting a party with zero notice!
Mattie: PIZZA! Please order like 30 pizzas for your fancy-ass suburban nightmare party.
Austin: There are Jell-O molds on stands! And now there are bitchy mommy groups.
Mattie: This has to be the Midwest somewhere.
Mattie: "Competing against your friends. I don't think that sends the best message, do you?" The world is just The Hunger Games. We should always be ready—especially children.
Austin: "I don't think making them try out is a problem. My kids are winners, you pathetic worm."
Mattie: Everything about this movie makes me uncomfortable. She's got a totally different personality. It's like she's gone from being Mary Tyler Moore to being June Cleaver just by being married. (The characters, not the actors.)
Austin: That bastard is making her clean this shit up?
Mattie: And he wouldn't even listen to her when she was clearly having some kind of mental break (at least it would seem that way to him), just told her basically, "uh, yeah, we discussed this when we got married, and I'm pretty happy with how things turned out!" It sounds to me like in this version of reality, they've had similar conversations to this before, and he keeps shutting her down. Probably how she got all Stepford. This is not a healthy relationship.
Austin: I wonder if there is the housewife-timeline-Chabert is trying to be a big city reporter and just so excited to not have to clean up after her oblivious oaf of a husband, drooling dog, and children of the corn
Mattie: 10/10 would watch that movie. Okay, he's been in "advertising" for nine years. It's been 10 years since the last time they saw each other in the real timeline. They said something about San Francisco, but this is almost definitely not California. But here's the thing: That older kid has to be like 11, right?
Austin: That kid is at least 12. And both of them are old enough to make their own fucking breakfast.
Mattie: SHE LETS THEM TELL HER TO PICK THE FRUIT OUT OF THEIR CEREAL? BY HAND? AND SHE DOES IT? Jesus H. Christ, these kids are already terrible, and they're going to be truly awful adults. I bet their teachers hate them.
Austin: He is worthless! Those kids look nothing like her. I bet this is some weird we drugged you and are brainwashing you to join our Suburban death cult. It's like Midsommar but with a minivan
Mattie: Older daughter was Renesmee in the Twilight movies. For like a second. But she was.
Austin: I thought that was just a CGI baby with uncanny valley staring eyes
Mattie: Why does her kid know her phone password? And why is it such an easy password? Her kids really run this house. And now the dog is barking? I was about to say he was the only good part of this, but I don't do barking in the house. But look at how big he is. Also...is this a dog park? Or did she just release the dog into the wild?
Austin: That dog is gone. She will never see that dog again. It is just a practice run for when she releases the kids into the wild
Mattie: Why is her phone full of pictures of her birthing one of those kids? Those kids are like 30 years old.
Mattie: He's a beautiful dog, though. I want to snuggle him.
Austin: She is handling this way better than I would.
Mattie: I'd have taken that minivan and driven off into the night. You'd never see me again.
Austin: I wouldn't even pause for the van. I would just run screaming into the woods
Mattie: Putting those reporter skills to work! Researching her past!
Austin: It's been 24 hours, and she finally Googled herself
Mattie: There is nothing about this movie that isn't a nightmare, and I feel like that would hold true even for people who DO choose this life to begin with. Also...she never got on the plane? How did Google tell her that?
Austin: Even if this was all everything I ever wanted, it would still be a nightmare. She basically has amnesia.
Mattie: She was supposed to bake cookies for the class? That's seriously frowned upon in the extreme suburbs most of the time because you can't read ingredients or trust the cleanliness of the kitchens.
Austin: Product placement! Papa Johns!
Mattie: Pizza is only for special occasions in this family. I don't even like pizza that much, and I think we should order one out of spite.
Austin: "How dare you not make dinner? I will be a surly bitch about this!" Oh. He is mad about his job, not the pizza. They are both miserable in this suburban purgatory. I really misread that.
Mattie: No, he's mad about the pizza. "We only have pizza on birthdays and stuff, so I knew something had to be wrong if you ordered this cheesy goodness with butter dipping sauce."
Mattie: I would NEVER separate my kids' cereal by hand like that. If you want it so damn badly, you do it. Also, they're eating it without milk but with spoons. What is this family?!
Mattie: He just said thanks to her for the first time in this movie, and it was for a bowl of cereal. He also still refuses to acknowledge whatever is going on with her in any real way. This guy is terrible. I'd be like, "okay, Santa, I wondered what if. Now I want the hell out because this wish is like that episode of The Brady Bunch with the cursed totem. I'm about to be killed by a wave or something." (I only kind of remember those episodes of the show.)
Austin: My what if wish would probably be a "what if I had bought a ton of bitcoins and was now a millionaire with a bathtub so big you can swim laps in it."
Mattie: Her kids just told her she needed to do better because "being a mom is an important job." I feel like this timeline's Chabert stares in the mirror and cries while repeating that to herself whenever she realizes what her life has become. Then her husband shows up and tells her to suck it up and denies her pizza again.
Austin: I want her to fail at making these cookies so bad. I just think it would be so funny.
Mattie: Why were the eggshells across the counter from anywhere she was baking? And why were they perfectly clean? And why does each page in her photo album only have one photo? And why does she have physical photo albums?
Austin: "We never have any time!" But also look at the insane effort Hanna put into these scrapbooks. Each of those photo albums is at least 50 hours of work. There were hand-cut snowflakes on each page!
Austin: And she burned the cookies!
Mattie: HE never has any time. He's too busy "working." He gets home at all kinds of weird hours, so…
Mattie: Angel Soft toilet paper needs to read the room. This is not the right time to have commercials about wasting toilet paper for secret notes.
Austin: I was willing to sell my body for some two-ply 6 months ago. How dare they waste toilet paper
Mattie: He's saying she's always loved Christmas. Does this mean in this timeline, she's a totally different person? Like we're looking at not a split timeline with a moment of decision, but two totally separate timelines with different people? Is this timeline's Chabert off trying to be a news reporter like you suggested?
Mattie: He actually does kind of seem to enjoy the kids and the whole suburban dad thing. He just really seems to dislike his wife.
Austin: This school Christmas pageant looks like a nightmare. Who is the stage manager here? This chaos does not belong on stage.
Mattie: We need to talk about the fact that this is clearly not a parochial school, but the entire stage is a manger scene.
Mattie: Who is the blond child on the fridge? And how are there things on the fridge? We have that kind of fridge, and magnets don't work.
Austin: And that is bad art. Your kids need to do better.
Mattie: They aren't allowed to be competitive in this suburban hellscape.
Austin: It is some straight-up The Giver prequel bullshit
Mattie: Oh god, they have the 12-year-old in a dress made for a six-year-old in an attempt to make her look younger.
Mattie: Creepy, manipulative Santa who tricks women into having children now has these kids on his lap.
Austin: Is this the only Santa in this unnamed town? They did an awful job on his hair and makeup.
Mattie: You should hear Austin's rage ranting right now. What he's been typing doesn't reflect his full feelings on the male/female roles bullshit.
Austin: The clear solution to this was for him to tag along with her and for him to write his novel and be a stay at home dad while she became the badass reporter. But god forbid they break the 1950's heteronormative bullshit and let a woman be the breadwinner.
Mattie: She literally just stole a microphone from an incapacitated reporter and started doing the news. This the Chabert I'm here for!
Austin: Did anyone even check to see if the blond reporter is still alive?
Mattie: I think this is supposed to be the suburbs outside of San Francisco, and we're just supposed to ignore the weather? And the types of trees?
Austin: This is still a ticking time bomb for her, even if it works out. Like there is a decade of missing information in your life. Like what if your parents died last year? She would have no way of knowing. Or if the kids have peanut allergies. Or if you are in deep debt with a Yakuza underground poker game and they are going to come after you for the $20,000 you owe them or they are going to break your knees.
Mattie: Nah, this version of Hanna definitely has a Mommy Blog.
Austin: She wouldn't know the password.
Mattie: But she can read it!
Mattie: "It took Blond Reporter being killed by a falling Christmas decoration for me to realize people matter. But especially me."
Mattie: He's really concerned that she got offered a job in the city. Almost like someone who is going on a lot of dates in the city. It's not like they have to move or anything. They just need to find someone to watch the kids before and after school.
Austin: It is almost like she has zero emotional attachment to these kids
Mattie: We have established they're an hour outside of San Francisco. And he seems really surprised by the fact that the girl who was going to get on a plane and stayed behind for him actually still has dreams relevant to why she was going to get on that plane to begin with. Ben, stop being a bitch about everything. How about you stay home for like a week and pick the fruit of the cereal? See how happy you are all the time?
Austin: On the bright side, she got to skip all the diapers and crying baby stuff.
Mattie: I like babies. I don't like it when kids are allowed to tell you to separate their cereal by hand. I'm extremely, extremely angry about that detail. What else does she do for them that's just unnecessary and demeaning?
Austin: I am afraid of babies.
Mattie: Yes, I remember the one time you were asked to hold one, and you aggressively whispered "take it, take it, take it!" at me as soon as the parents were out of earshot.
Austin: They are both Elsas.
Mattie: So his reasoning for her not being allowed to take the job is that she'd be working in the same city as him, but unlike him, it would mean the kids wouldn't see her enough, and they'd think she didn't love them.
Austin: Look at all those boring, awful white kids.
Austin: I am so mad at the end of this one. Can a movie have a negative score?
Mattie: She just gave up her dreams. This is the first truly Hallmark Christmas movie we've seen this time. But we're still in a dream situation. Maybe if she gets to return to her timeline, Ben will move out to be with her, and he'll stay home with the kids while she has a life outside of this house.
Austin: He is also miserable with his advertising job. Is the lesson we are supposed to learn that family means mindlessly suffering until you die out of some unspoken sense of obligation?
Mattie: She's been clearly having a breakdown for the last week or so, and he's just now actually asking if she's alright. He asked before, but he immediately steamrolled her when she tried to answer.
Mattie: She wears a lot of eyeshadow to sleep.
Austin: Oh, thank god it was all a dream.
Mattie: THere's nothing wrong with being a stay at home parent. But that was a very clearly unhealthy relationship. Both with the husband and with the kids. Don't be sad, Chabert. That dream was telling you how awesome your life is.
We just discovered Hallmark Channel wines. We need to pause to investigate.
You can buy them in bulk.
We are now buying Hallmark channel wine
Attempting to buy. Apparently, we have to call for curbside pick up.
Mattie: She just went to Ben's house, except it's not Ben's house, and now she's screaming inside looking for the children and scaring the shit out of the guy who lives there. And now she's scaring Tammy.
Austin: How does she not know how this all works?
Mattie: She JUST went through this, and she hasn't figured this out? I'm starting to question her investigative journalism skills.
Austin: She better find that fucking Santa and kick his fake bearded ass.
Mattie: She's giving up on her career in this timeline because of a nightmare. And she also doesn't have Ben. or maybe not? What's happening?
Mattie: Santa is stalking her. That's what's happening. Also, she wants to go back to picking fruit out of cereal and being told she can't have dreams by an aggressively, aggressively mediocre white man.
Austin: San Francisco only has this one Santa. And he just sucks at this.
Austin: I have the exact same questions about this entire movie. Why did you put me through this?
Mattie: She's back to giving up her career for a guy who literally just sent her a friend request. He didn't even send a message with it. He could be reaching out because he wants her to try his new product. He could be that girl from high school. You know the one. They put enough makeup on this poor actor to make it seem that way.
Austin: His novel bombed, and now he needs to sell essential oils, or he is going to get evicted.
Mattie: It's snowing. She's finally...happy? And Santa is still following her. And he's standing outside ringing a bell but has no bucket for collections. He's JUST being creepy now.
Mattie: But there is one good thing! If she ends up with Ben in this timeline, it's impossible for them to live in that same house, have those same neighbors, and even have those same kids. This could actually be okay. Once she's done with her breakdown, she can get back to work like normal and do the rest of the stuff, and Ben can stay home with the kids like he clearly wanted to, all the while pretending to write a novel that you and I both know is code for playing video games and talking to other women online or meeting them in person while the kids are in school. (Wait, I might be projecting from my previous relationship.)
Austin: Are you okay? Do you need some more hot cocoa? And this time, she will know not to indulge that cereal bullshit and find a coach who cares about winning. Hanna didn't raise no losers.
Mattie: I am SO mad about the cereal thing. Can you imagine if either of us had demanded our parents separate our cereal like that? I had to take my own raisins out of my occasional Raisin Bran, and no moms or kids were hurt in the process.
Austin: I shouldn't chime in on this. I'm still salty about my parents mixing store brand cocoa puffs with Cheerios. That was basically a war crime.
What is This?
On episode 60 of Will This Be on the Test?, we talked about Hallmark Christmas movies. This inspired us to watch every Lacey Chabert Christmas movie we could find. Sadly, there aren't 12, but we hope you enjoy the 10 Days of Chabertmas anyway! (And who knows? Maybe we'll throw in a few of her other ones as well.)