Christmas in Toyland

Evil Wins

This one was kinda depressing. Charlie is a Data Analyst for a failing toy company, Big Teddy Toy Company. First off, no wonder they are failing. Their name makes it seem like they only sell Teddy Bears. And their stores don’t have any toys in them, just gaily wrapped boxes piled all over the place and a ton of Christmas decorations. In a big meeting, she learns that they will be closing all of their locations and selling their toys online only. Charlie is horrified and saddened over all of the people who will be losing their jobs right before Christmas. Also, as we learn later,  she had a very tough childhood with her single mother having to work 3 jobs and her spending a lot of time being babysat in a toy store which provided her with a safe, wholesome, and fun atmosphere in her depressing life. But hold on. Being the ace data analyst that she is, she points out that there is one small town location a short trip from New York City that is logging steady sales increases month after month, year after year. What is their secret? Charlie will go to that location, learn their mysterious ways, and hopefully replicate what they are doing and save their brick-and-mortar stores. She is promised that she will have until Christmas Eve to present a plan of action to save the stores, much to the displeasure of her rival, the rat fink evil Dave.

There is a heavy doom and gloom feel to this one despite its relentless surface cheeriness, We know in our hearts that despite what she learns from the little store that could, The already in motion plans of the corporate bureaucratic suits will not be stopped. Winter is Coming. Especially when we find out that despite their promise to Charlie, all of the west coast stores are closed a week before Christmas. But Charlie forges on despite the betrayal. She becomes close to the little store’s employees and especially its unconventional manager, Grant. She proposes that corporate make the shop its flagship store and save the east coast stores by using Grant’s successful methods as their model. To that end, she throws a Christmas Eve party there and invites all of the bigwigs. The whole town pitches in, and all of the big city businessmen have a great time. They are wowed by Charlie’s idea of the flagship store, but they ignore her advice and go with Evil Dave’s proposal of building it in Las Vegas! Sin City! And close all of the remaining locations throwing everyone out of work! I told you this was depressing! And apparently, the suits don’t understand you can’t have a “flagship store” unless you have other stores to go with it! Idiots.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Despite the bad guys winning and hundreds of nice people losing their jobs at Christmas time, it turns out that Charlie didn’t want to be a data analyst anyway, she wanted to be a toy designer. And Grant did not want to be a store manager, he wanted to re-open his Grandfather’s old toy store, Tinker Town. So they decide to do that and they kiss.

This show sorely needed an epilogue. We hope that Charlie and Grant will be successful in realizing their dreams but don’t know that and we don’t see it. We hope that Grant’s own store will actually have toys in it instead of just a ton of red and green boxes and Christmas decorations. We also needed Dave and the other corporate bureaucrats to get what was coming to them for their bad behavior and stupidity. We needed some Gosh Darn good triumphing over evil! Especially at Christmas in July time.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

July 31, 2022

My Birthday Romance


The fake boyfriend romance trope is one of my favorites and has resulted in some of the funniest and most romantic Hallmark movies made. Among them, My Fake Fiancé, Holiday in Handcuffs, Holiday Date, Snow Bride, Surprised by Love, Holiday Engagement, and many more. I was really looking forward to this one. What a bust.

This movie was completely ruined by Callie’s dysfunctional parents. And dysfunctional in a not humorous way. They were smothering, overbearing, and controlling. They were on her every. single. minute. to get a boyfriend even when she flat out told them that she didn’t need a man to be happy and that she was concentrating on building her business. She is constantly set up on blind dates by them and her sister. Usually, in these romances that feature inappropriate over-involvement in grown children’s lives, one of the spouses is the voice of reason and provides some balance and common-sense advice to the other parent. Not so in this one. I don’t know which of the two parents was more offensive. Possibly the mother, because she made a big point of confiding to Callie that she made her husband wait to marry until she finished grad school. Her desperation to get Callie married did not make sense. And it was made more annoying because Callie, our heroine(?), did not nip it in the bid like any other 35-year-old woman would have. She should have quit being so nice and told them flat out to BACK OFF. If they refused, cut off communication until they get the message.

Instead, she finds a fake date to her birthday party to get her parents off her back, but instead, the parents are on them like vultures. They treat them as if they are madly in love, making them kiss, and immediately act like marriage was right around the corner, instead of just a date she has only known for a week. They publicly toast the happy couple at the Birthday in front of everyone. They make her make a speech when she doesn’t want to and she ends up spilling the truth in a way that humiliates her whole family and herself as well.

She actually declares she wishes that she really was Will’s girlfriend because being his fake girlfriend was just so awesome. By the way, Will is mysteriously absent from most of the party and later Carrie starts looking for him after the debacle and is surprised and disappointed he had left. Then 5 minutes later, when he told her he heard her speech, she says she thought he had gone by that time. So did she know he was not there when she gave her speech, or was she surprised and disappointed at his absence? Lazy writing. Well, it all ends as you would expect. But it was just such a painful journey.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

March 8, 2021