On Board for the Cuckoo Train?
Although the basic plot of this offering is pretty standard stuff, the peculiar choices made in some of the plot points push this into bizarro territory fast and doesn’t let up. First, our heroine breaks up with her long-term boyfriend, after his slap-worthy proposal (seriously dude!). She goes back to the office where she finds an anonymous love letter from a guy she apparently spent a memorable Christmas with except she can’t remember it. She pivots at lightening speed into pursuing love with this mystery man by going back to her tiny small town to solve the mystery.
Her first step is to go to a local woodsy park to uncover a huge treasure chest she apparently stores there containing her personal photos and diary so she can refresh her memory. Seriously, she brushes the snow off the chest, which is seemingly unmolested by curious passersby or the elements, and digs right in. This is a major step onto planet weird. But not the last.
She has two hilarious encounters with the first two former boyfriends/suspects. With the first one, she interrogates him about the love letter, but she does it in front of his fiancé! It was not pretty, but it was pretty funny. The second guy is a total freak-show who is obsessed with puns about his fish obsession and who laughs like a donkey. This was comic gold. Gold, I tell you! Until you think about it a bit. How could she ever have even spent a minute with this lunatic let alone had a serious romantic relationship with him? Not to mention he is about a foot shorter than she is.
Meanwhile, the true letter-writer, who is a childhood buddy, is following her around. He is a widower and father of possibly the most annoying child in TV Christmas movie history. In order to explain the little girl’s off the wall behavior the writers apparently have inserted the information that she is an eccentric “genius.” Daddy has been devotedly in love with our heroine even throughout his marriage. Fortunately the woman is now dead, unmourned and forgotten by both her husband and her genius child. To make this love interest even more attractive as potential husband material, he has invented a mechanical dog that looks, feels, sounds, and acts like a real dog. It steals the show. Seriously, I couldn’t look away.
I could go on and on. Our heroine has bona fide psychological issues when it comes to her love life, plus an identity crisis. Seriously, a psychologist would have a field day. By the end, she learns nothing, and develops past her challenges in no way. She ends up with the “right” guy for no reason. The happy ending rests on her doubling down on her disturbing neuroses. I will kindly leave her buying almost a hundred cups of hot cocoa in one sitting, her father’s debts, her falling for an evil dirtbag, and the reappearance of her dumber than a bag of hair ex-boyfriend mercifully by the wayside.
There were some genuine laugh out loud moments and a few were intentional. Ashley Newbrough was fine as an actress, and so was Tilkey Jones as the love struck widower/inventor. Chante Bowser was a star as her normal, sane, and smart as a whip best friend. I blame the writers and the director for this jaw-droppingly eccentric Christmas Catastrophe.
December 5, 2020