Skip to content


I guess I just like liking things

I’m not going to accuse this movie of being predictable, but the title pretty much tells us what’s going to happen, it’s just a matter of getting through the wacky misunderstandings first. This is why I can’t really “do” Romantic Comedy – I know everyone’s going to end up together and waiting for them to just get on with it is boring. There’s a great line from the British Comedy “Spaced” which is used when a story is getting too long – “Skip to the end.” However, since I am watching this on your behalf, gentle reader (or reader-who-enjoys-my-suffering, whichever you may be), I’ll watch the whole thing.

The credits launch right into a slideshow of the cast, and to the surprise of no one, the theme tune is sung by Olivia Newton-John. It’s about love and being in love, that’s all you need to know. Chloe Lattanzi is also in this movie, that is Olivia’s real life daughter if you weren’t up with your Australian Singer/Actors (and why aren’t you?). Once the song is over, we see the owner of a lumber yard paying out his staff before they go home for Christmas. Olivia wanders up with an expanding file and explains to the guy about carbon paper and triplicate. She’s really into carbon paper. She’s leaving the company having been let go as business is bad. She’s quite cheerful until she gets her last paypacket, and then she goes all big liquid eyes and sniffles all the way to her pick up.

In a big city building, Brian is on the phone being businessy while his girlfriend Felicity stands around staring at her watch. Brian sets a meeting time for mid afternoon and his lady is unimpressed because he’s supposed to be leaving early for a date with her. Felicity complains about how Brian will be late for their important party to Susan while the receptionist stares right at the camera in a slightly unnerving way.

Susan tells Brian all their staff are stuck in the snow, and there’s a mountain that needs going up to collect a payment. He takes the paperwork and complains that he hates doing collections at Christmas. There’s nothing for it, someone needs to go and demand money from this unemployed single mother. Okay so Brian doesn’t know that she’s an unemployed single mother, but we do because it’s Olivia and her tiny cabin home is the next thing we see. The name “Stonecypher” is on the mailbox – what kind of a name is that? Was she married to a Warlock or something?

Inside, Olivia is baking cakes with her daughters. There’s a lot of cakes, which they’re planning to sell in town. Olivia’s name turns out to be Julia but I’ll stick with Olivia. One of the girls, Deenie, is adding up how much money they might make, and comes up with a million dollars as a likely amount to make from cake sales. With the sweet innocence of childhood, she asks her mother if she’ll quit her job if they make enough money. Oh my heartstrings! They would hurt were they not made of iron.

Deenie goes to check on her sheep which is apparently sick. It’s in a barn with a cow and some chickens and a donkey. She’s only just flung her arms around the sheep when Olivia calls her to the car as they have cakes to deliver. Once they get to town, the girls rush up to doors with cakes. The first customer is standing on the porch with her money ready in her hand, but the next customer can’t afford a cake this year. Deenie runs back to the car and tells her mother the lady can’t afford cake. “Take it back to her,” says Olivia, writing a loss on her notepad. Gosh she’s nice, not wanting anyone to miss out on the joys of festive cake.

Snow falls as Olivia takes the last cake into the general store. While she’s inside, she picks out a doll for Emily Rose and a second hand bike for Deenie, having the owner stash them until she comes back that afternoon. She has another round of deliveries to do, but that will give her the rest of the money to pay for the stuff. A wise old lumberjack type warns Olivia there’s a storm coming.

Out in the car park, Olivia reminds the Wise Old Lumberjack Type to come to her house for Christmas Dinner, and asks him to come and look at the sheep who is due to lamb. He promises to check in if the storm doesn’t hit too hard, and asks Olivia how they’re all doing up there in the cabin. “We’re fine,” says Olivia sadly, because they’re not fine, they’re broke. There’s also a bunch of guys loading sacks of feed into a pick up, but the sacks are stuffed with padding and look like big pillows. Just an aside there. The Wise Old Guy says “Must be kinda hard around the holidays with Tim passed away,” so that’s nice, reminding a lady of her dead husband in the lead up to Christmas. That’s super nice. I’m also not entirely sure how the family can afford to keep so many animals fed and vetted.

Brian is out in the snow, shouting into his phone to his girlfriend who knew he’d miss the party. He’s at the general store, but it’s much later. He’s heading up to hassle Olivia for money now, but the snow is really coming down (lightly). Inside the mountain cabin, the kids at frosting the cakes and talking about Christmas. Emily Rose has her own special brand of Childhood Innocence and asks when her Daddy will be coming home. Upset, Olivia goes to the window and sees Brian’s car coming up the driveway. She knows somehow exactly who it is and what they want, so she runs out to tell Brian she can’t pay yet but can in January. She’s about to go back inside when Brian steps out of the car to tell her he’s the Vice President of the Bank. Which is why he’s there, because that is exactly what Vice Presidents of Banks do, drive around collecting overdue payments in the middle of the night.

Brian doesn’t have time for excuses, he’s a stern chap with money owing to his bank and an irate girlfriend. The fact that Olivia can’t afford Christmas and house payments is of no concern to him, and why should it be? He’s a Bank Guy, they like to have their money back. Turns out the dead husband took out a bunch of loans against the property, leaving Olivia and her kids up to their eyeballs in debt. Brian informs Olivia that if she can’t make the payments, the bank will take the house. Olivia can’t believe this, being entirely unfamiliar with the concept of foreclosure.

Brian goes all stern and drives away, but the snow is slippery and he crashes into a small flimsy shed. Olivia runs to his aid while the girls rush out to see what’s happened. Olivia sends Deenie in to call the doctor, everyone is screaming and hysterical. Deenie calls the doctor, but he says the bridge is closed, and also the phone cut off right at that moment. Olivia manages to haul Brian into the house, and dumps him on one of the girls’ beds. Emily Rose brings in a bowl of warm water and a cloth, saying that Brian is the Christmas Stranger which is not a thing I’ve heard of. Olivia gets to work wiping the fake blood off Brian’s face.

Brian managed to do himself serious damage in his tiny accident, and is laying delirious on the bed. Emily Rose thinks Brian is her daddy – what did they do, tell the kid he’d gone to the store for milk? Deenie knows it’s not Daddy, she can remember Daddy. Brian wakes up and calls the girls angels, sitting up groggily. The girls scream and rush to the corner of the room. Olivia comes in to do some more first aid. She sits Brian up to take off his bloodied shirt and goes all swoony. The girls have a small girl argument, and then Olivia rushes off to get Brian some dry clothes.

These clothes belonged to Tim, the dead husband. Olivia cuddles a shirt while the music goes all sad and high pitched, and there’s an extended shot of a framed photo of Olivia and Tim. Tim looks like he’s never seen a camera before, and if you touch his woman he might stab you. I can see why she misses him.

The girls are watching over Brian with a flashlight and a book to hit him on the head with. When he sits up again and then falls off the bed holding his head, they scream again and I’m pretty much ready to have them written out of the movie now thanks. Olivia tries to haul Brian back into bed but even though she was able to half carry him into the house from his car, she is now too weak to do anything but fall all over him, moaning softly. Instead, she shoves a pillow under his head on the floor. Then she takes his pants off, because they are wet from the snow (a likely story, Olivia). Predictably, groggy Brian thinks she’s hitting on him. Olivia grabs the flashlight to check Brian’s eyes to see how his concussion is getting on. She does this by crawling between his legs, which gives him a chance to push her backwards with his feet and demand a cappuccino. This is a really good idea, and I pause the movie to go make coffee.

I return to Olivia shouting at Brian for being blinky and headachy. She throws a blanket over him and then storms out to the kitchen to do the dishes. The radio announcer is explaining how terrible bad the storm is, and Emily Rose is concerned that Santa won’t be able to make it through. Olivia tells her he will, and Deenie snaps at her mother because her mother always says everything will be alright and it never is. Olivia is being a little ray of sunshine about how snitty Deenie is, and tries to cheer her up with tales of cake. Brian staggers downstairs, his broken glasses hanging off his face. Emily Rose flings herself at him to hug him because she thinks he’s the Christmas Stranger and/or her father.

He called his agent, but couldn't get out of finishing this movie

He called his agent, but couldn’t get out of finishing this movie

Brian demands his pants, but Olivia says he can’t have them because they’re wet. Deenie asks him if he’s an escaped convict, and he tells her he’s not a criminal, he’s a banker. Olivia says “Huh, big difference there” and it’s so hilarious I just fall about laughing for an hour. Brian spots the phone and waddles over to it. He’s wrapped in a blanket, I should have said, I’m not mocking his walk. Olivia tells him the phone is dead. She blames the storm, he thinks she didn’t pay the bill.

He can’t stay in that house, because he’s incredibly high powered and amazing, and needs to get back to his lovely girlfriend and job and stuff. Olivia tells him he’s stuck, because there’s snow and a closed bridge. She’s trying to sound stern and upset, but it’s Olivia Newton-John so she just sounds… like Olivia Newton-John.

Brian sits down, and is joined by Emily Rose who wants to stare at him. He pulls a face and she giggles, so Deenie screams her name. This is a seriously high pitched movie and I regret my choice to use headphones while watching it. Olivia gives him aspirin, snarks at him for not wanting to be stared at by a small intense child, and then complains that his manners are terrible. Brian wants sympathy for his headache and accident, but Olivia is all “Nope, you suck.” Paraphrased there a little.

Emily Rose tells Brian she totally knew the Christmas Stranger would turn up and that’s why there’s an extra chair at the table. Brian says he’s not the Christmas Stranger and Emily Rose wants to know who he is. Olivia jumps in to stop him answering, slamming a cup of tea on the table so it splashes everywhere. Brian decides to not be heartless and stern, and tells Emily Rose he got lost instead of telling her he came to get money. Emily Rose is thrilled, because that’s how Christmas Strangers happen. She flings her arms around him in a big excited hug. Brian has had enough of this, and picks up Emily Rose to plonk her back into her chair.

This is evil and wrong, and the girls run to their mother for protection. Olivia tells him she’ll kick him out of the house if he touches the girls again, he says he’s happy to go if he can get his pants back. Olivia sends him upstairs to get some pants, and Deenie decides to stop being a bitter child and goes for compassion instead, because he’ll die out there.

Brian gets changed into Dead Tim’s clothes, and he’s back to his old self, the change of clothes having cured his concussion. He’s about to leave when Emily Rose grabs his leg and demands he don’t go out there. Olivia tells him he’s making a terrible mistake leaving in the storm. She’s so convinced of this she says it twice, but he’s determined to leave and he’s off. He staggers through the snow in a moment of comedy, if your standard of comedy isn’t too high.

Olivia decides to feed the animals before the storm gets worse. While Deenie and Olivia are arguing about bringing the animals into the house, Emily Rose grabs her book and a jacket and sneaks off to join Brian outside. Olivia calls to her, looking for the scrap bucket, and Deenie notices that Emily Roses’s coat is gone. I’m wondering why two children living only with an Aussie have American accents, but that’s probably not important right now. Emily Rose is out in the snow!

In the thirty seconds since she left, Emily Rose is not anywhere to be seen, so Olivia is off to get the General to get her. Deenie says she doesn’t want to be alone in the house, and Olivia says it’s all be okay. Deenie is completely tired of that sort of comment, and has a tantrum about how everything is actually terrible all the time. Olivia freaks her face off and then leaves to get the General, telling Deenie to turn on all the lights to feel better. Deenie is just turning on the lamp when the power goes out. Oh no!

It turns out the General is the donkey. I admit it, I was expecting a person. While Olivia is leading the donkey out of the barn, Deenie is gathering candles and lanterns. It’s the middle of the night, but there’s plenty of light to see by thanks to the lighting rig outside the window. Emily Rose is out in the snow calling for Brian. Brian has dug his car out of the snow. Well he’s dug enough snow away to get into the car, the rest of the car will automatically desnow itself later probably. The car starts first time, and Brian turns on the heat. Olivia is leading a donkey around in the snow calling for Emily Rose. The car won’t drive out of the snow drift it’s in. Emily Rose finds it and climbs inside.

Brian, as you can imagine, is thrilled to see a small child has followed him to the car. He tells her to warm up from the heater and then he’ll take her back to the house. To pass the time, Emily Rose offers to read Brian a story from her book. She stumbles over a word, and Brian tells her he knows this story anyway, it’s the story of Saint Joseph and his Blooming Staff. The next page on the story book shows a painting of an empty chair for the Christmas Stranger, which explains the small child’s obsession with the whole idea.

Brian says it’s time to go back to the house, but Emily Rose says she’s not warm enough yet. As they’re waiting to get really super warm, the battery runs down. It’s okay though, because Olivia has finally figured out they might be at the car, and has arrived with the donkey. Brian lifts Emily Rose out of the car and drops her on The General’s back. They head off to the house, but the donkey is basically over this whole being in a movie thing and is being stubborn.

Deenie has the house alight with candles and lanterns and opens the door for Olivia who is carrying Emily Rose who is actually completely fine if a little cold, but I suppose she felt like some drama in her day. Brian starts to help Deenie light the fire, since the power is out. Deenie has lit all the lanterns, with more to come, but didn’t bother with the fire. Olivia heads out into the snow to put the General back in the barn.

In the barn, Olivia tells the General she’ll be found a good home. The sheep is laying on her side refusing food. “You have to eat, do it for Deenie,” says Olivia, like sheep care about anything. Olivia picks up an armload of wood for the fire and as she goes back inside Brian accuses her of not paying her power bill. “This is the mountains!” she says shrilly, “The electricity goes out all the time in the mountains!” This explains why they have every lamp known to man (I admit, there’s a few at my place too because I live in the sticks and the electricity… okay Olivia has made a fair point). The water is also off, and Olivia tells Brian they learn to do without. She grabs a bucket and goes outside.

Brian is spooked by Living In The Mountains Noises because he is a city chap. There’s a clunking noise and he freaks, but Deenie puts on her most condescending face and tells him it’s the wind in a way that says “You may be older than me, but you’re a complete idiot.” Emily Rose is going to read some stories out, but Deenie is way too old and wise to listen to stories for little kids. She’s a really smarmy little snotty brat, that Deenie. Brian says he’ll listen, Deenie calls him a dork. Emily Rose stumbles over words again, so Brian helps her out because maybe he’s thawing now, you know? Maybe there’s heart under that Banker’s heartless exterior?

Instead of just scooping up a bucket of snow and melting it over the fire, Olivia is wrestling with the pump outside which is, amazingly, frozen. She taps it lightly with a spanner a couple of times, and then it works. Olivia is magical.

Speaking of magical, Emily Rose shows Brian a picture of a barn full of animals who are talking, because animals talk at midnight on Christmas Eve. This is the first I’ve heard of it. Olivia is busy chopping wood which doesn’t need chopping because it’s already the perfect size for a fire, but I guess if you want a woman out struggling in the snow for a bit it’s worthwhile giving her something to do.

Inside again, Olivia is chopping up veggies for dinner while the girls argue about the idea of animals talking at midnight. Deenie is too old and wise to buy into these kid stories. Olivia takes her chopped veggies over to the fire place where she has a pot of water boiling over the flames. Brian is impressed as she loads the veggies into the pot and Olivia explains that Tim and his family taught her how to cook over an open fire. Brian says it’s charming, Olivia says he thinks that because he’s never had to lift a finger for anything in his whole life and then they have a deep and meaningful chat about who Brian really is. Olivia doesn’t like who Brian really is, because he’s self centered and unfeeling. Moving on swiftly.

The soft gentle flicker of candle light.

The soft gentle flicker of candle light.

Dinner is eaten around the table, where the manufacturers of whichever brand of candle they’re using would be delighted to see just how bright those candles are. Emily Rose refuses carrots, and says Brian isn’t eating his either. Olivia gives Brian a meaningful look so he eats a carrot. He mentions Olivia’s amazing skills at everything and tells her she could get a job anywhere, but the girls get all upset about the idea of leaving the house. Emily Rose says her Daddy grew up in this house and he’ll be home soon. Why has no one explained things to this child?

While being tucked into bed, Deenie says she’s worried about the lamb, because if it’s born early it will die. Olivia says it might, but when bad things happen you have to remember good things happen too, like when Tim died she was sad, but she’s happy now because of the girls. Tears. Hugging. More snow.

Brian is by the fire, soaking up the heat. Olivia says she needs to look into his eyes to check for concussion, and he says she should have done that earlier. She says he was in a Yuppie Delirium. While she’s checking his eyes, he tells her there’s a prominent hotel chain looking for property in the area and she could make a good deal on the house. Olivia says she doesn’t want to hear about his plans to ruin the mountains, tells him he has a slight concussion and throws the first aid book at him. She tells him he’ll have to wake up every 4 hours to make sure he’s not dead or something, but he says he doesn’t trust himself to do that and begs her to help him. She’s all Nope, can’t, busy tomorrow, need sleep, but then she changes her mind because she’s a sweet angel of compassion to his demon of heartlessness.

Settled by the fire with her knitting, Olivia tells Brian about Daisy the sheep. The sheep has never been particularity healthy, so of course breeding from it was the best idea ever. Anyway, Olivia is concerned tat the lamb will die. Brian is jealous that Deenie has a pet at all, he was never allowed one. “I couldn’t live without animals around,” Olivia says, which is a lie because they all live in the barn, nicely out of the way.

They do some more heart to hearting, I’ll just give you the gist. Olivia loves living in the remote mountains, Brian loves living in the city, they are very different people. Brian considers his girlfriend to be in a contract with him for a relationship, Olivia says she’s not good at anything. Brian says she is good at things. Now you’re up to speed. By the end of the conversation Olivia has fallen asleep, I may join her.

The girls come down stairs and see the pair of then snuggled up beside the fire. Olivia and Brian are woken by the girlish giggles and Olivia takes them back upstairs to relight the fire in their room. They all climb into one bed for warmth, and Deenie notices Olivia is crying because she misses Tim.

The next morning, Brian wraps himself up in a big coat and heads out to the barn where Olivia is milking the cow. Brian wants to do something useful to help out. I want to know what happened to the calf. Olivia is concerned that Brian thinks there’s something between them now they’ve fallen asleep in the same area of the house, but Brian thinks nothing happened. Which is good, because that’s what Olivia wants him to think. Or something. Look,  I can’t keep up with lady mind games.

Brian is sent out to get some water from the pump, the music is all “Look at this city guy out in the countryside, el-oh-el.” Yes, he is having trouble with the pump.  Deenie wanders by and is concerned about Brian being outside all alone, but is more concerned about her sheep. The Old Wise Lumberjack type was supposed to come by but the storm is too bad.

In the kitchen, Brian is eating cake, which Olivia is miffed about because those are the ones she wants to sell. Emily Rose wants a Christmas tree, but it’s too snowy to go and get one. Brian offers to go cut one down and the family follows him to watch because the know it will be hilarious. It isn’t particularly, though Deenie has to do the pushing over bit of the tree because everyone is so seriously stupid (her attitude, not mine).

The tree is being decorated with paper chains and popcorn strings. Olivia has been upstairs to get a box of ornaments. One of them is super special, because Emily Rose’s daddy made it. “Well why don’t you hang it right in front,” says Brian who is a nice guy now all of a sudden having murdered a tree. “Good idea!” says Emily Rose, “That way when my Daddy gets home he’ll see it!” Brian sits down in front of Emily Rose and tells her that her Daddy isn’t coming home. Emily Rose is not upset, because she already knew that but doesn’t think her mother knows Daddy isn’t coming home. Ooh I bet there’s going to be tears right about now. I’m right, Olivia is being all sad eyed in the kitchen.

Deenie wants to know if Brian believes in heaven, and do animals go there? Is their Daddy in heaven? Brian says yes, and he still loves them. The tender moment is broken when the girls call Olivia in to look at the tree. She sends them out to the kitchen for dinner. Emily Rose makes Brian sit in the chair for the Christmas Stranger, and Olivia is clearly busy having feelings all over the place.

Brian is now a useful member of the group, he’s chopping wood (that is already perfectly sized). He carries in an armload of wood and is pleased with himself for chopping it up. “Anything else I can do?” he says with a grin like something that grins a lot. “No, you’ve done quite enough,” says Olivia, she’s still ticked off that Brian told Emily Rose that her dad is dead. Olivia says she’s told Emily Rose a hundred times that her father is dead, but Emily Rose thinks if you believe things hard enough they come true.

Everyone is huddled around the fire, and Emily Rose wants to know if it’s midnight because the animals will be talking then. Olivia says she’s not allowed to stay up till Midnight, but Brian over-rules, saying he’ll take her out to the barn if she can stay awake until midnight. Of course she can’t, the girls are sleeping on the floor when the clock chimes twelve.

Brian is scribbling in his notebook. It turns out he can draw and has sketched the girls as they sleep. There’s no money in art though, so it’s just a hobby that makes him happy, not a career option. Olivia tells him to do what makes him happy, but he considers this an absurd notion, being happy all the time. I can see why that would suck.

The voices remind Olivia that pigs will easily dispose of any corpses

The voices remind Olivia that pigs will easily dispose of any corpses

Olivia wakes the girls to send them to bed, but Emily Rose sees the clock is at midnight and wants to go to the barn. They trudge out through the snow and into the barn to find a bunch of silent animals. Brian trips over a bucket, startling the donkey who has had a lot of peanut butter slathered onto the roof of her mouth to make her tongue move a lot as she brays. This wakes the pig, who oinks and the cow who moos without even moving her lips. The animals are talking! Emily Rose is ecstatic! Even Deenie is sold, rushing around the barn with a look of wonder on her face. Olivia, who was grumping about the whole thing, is all laughing and happy, and Brian is all laughing and happy and the Foley artist is pressing repeat on the animal noises like nobody’s business.

Olivia suddenly stops laughing, and remembers the sheep. Daisy is panting, and in labour. Olivia goes off to get water and rags, and Brian sings Jingle Bells to the sheep to keep her calm. Quite happy his character isn’t a vet if that’s his attitude to animal care. The girls fall asleep on bales of hay while Brian and Olivia help the sheep have her lamb. Olivia opts for “Away in a Manger,” why do these people keep singing to a sheep? The lamb is born in about 6 seconds and is huge considering it’s supposed to be early. Olivia sends Brian inside with the lamb and tells him to keep it warm and give it milk. Colostrum is a thing Olivia has not heard of. The sheep is burping, which is fatal. Olivia unloads her sadness about being a fighting mother as the sheep dies in her arms.

In the house, Brian is feeding the lamb and Olivia is staring into the fire being sad about Daisy. Since the presents were never picked up, Olivia goes into the attic to find presents for the girls. Brian follows her up and is amazed at all the neat stuff up there, some of which could be sold to pay off some bills. Olivia won’t hear of it, it all belonged to Tim’s family (why are Tim’s family not helping her out if they’re so special?). Brian wants to know how Tim died. See, he’d always been in debt, so he opened a welding shop to try and make money. Realising he was going to lose the business, he got drunk and drove his motorbike into a car.

Even the lamb saw this coming

Even the lamb saw this coming

Everything’s sad for a bit, then Olivia finds a doll for Emily Rose and a wooden farm toy thing for Deenie. She’s leaving the attic when she realises she forgot the doll and has to push past Brian to go back in. He kisses her as she makes her way past. He’s still holding the lamb, by the way, and the lamb looks like it is over this nonsense already.

It’s Christmas morning. The girls come rushing down the stairs to see their gifts under the tree. They are so happy Santa came! As soon as they unwrap the gifts they know it was Olivia because the gifts are old and crappy. “Thank you, mommy,” they say in small, sad voices. They are cheered up but the lamb however, and carry it over to the sofa. Deenie wants to see Daisy, but Olivia tells her that Daisy died. Everyone’s sad, but there’s the lamb so you know, happy now.

At breakfast, Deenie says she guesses Santa couldn’t make it through the storm. More sad. But wait, the snow has stopped and the guys from the town are riding up on horses. The girls rush out to say hello and the Old Wise Lumberjack type tells them Santa left their presents with him, revealing the doll and bike strapped to a horse. Everything is all festive and jolly now, the chaps are drinking their homebrew, and the fire is lit and everyone is singing and having a lovely time. You can tell it’s fictional though because everyone knows the second verse to Good King Wenceslas which has never happened in the real world. The festivities are interrupted by the arrival of a helicopter.

The helicopter lands, and Brian’s girlfriend Felicity emerges and rushes over to him. She’s been so worried! Brian brings her inside, but he’s a bit drunk and still concussed (apparently) so he can’t remember her name, but introduces her to everyone anyway. When he introduces Olivia, Felicity gives him a look that says “I bet you’re in love with her” because she’s read the whole script and knows how this ends.

Brian gathers his things, because Felicity is taking him home. Brian doesn’t want to leave, and Olivia offers to let them both stay for dinner but Felicity is having none of that and storms out while Brian is saying how pretty Olivia is. He gets to the helicopter, Emily Rose is all upset he’s leaving. The helicopter takes off and everyone is sad.

Christmas is over, and Olivia is in town collecting her mail. Deenie is carrying the lamb around with her, which they have named Brian after the Christmas Stranger. At home, Olivia opens the mail to find a letter from Brian dated December 22 which tells her she has to leave the house by the 31st so the bank can foreclose.

Olivia sits the girls down to tell them how cool it would be to move to town. Deenie says no because of the animals and everyone has a teary. Just as she’s explaining there’s no way out, Brian drives up with a trunk full of gifts. The girls rush to grab the gifts but Olivia tells to put the gifts back. She glares at Brian and tells him the house is theirs for a few more days at least and he can just leave.

“I wanted to see you,” says Brian, holding out a huge gift. Olivia is too cross to even talk right now though thanks. He left them, she says, he left them! Brian says he had things he had to deal with in the city and had to leave. He unwraps the gift which is a sketch he’s done of the girls. Olivia is completely unimpressed as it’s one more thing to pack. Brian’s been thinking about bank loans, and tells Olivia to open a cultural centre for the tourists. She’s not keen. She’d rather bake cakes.

Brian knows people who know about cakes, so he could totally help. Also he’s dumped his lady because he’s in love with Olivia. Being at her house with her kids and herself there made him so happy. Olivia is in love with him too. they argue a bit, then smooch. The girls have snuck out and throw snowballs at them, so there’s a big old snowball fight and everything’s amazing now. Credits.

A friend of mine watched this as well, and just told me she had to watch the ending twice to figure out why it all worked out in the end. The answer is simple: Christmas Magic. The longer answer is:  The bank will give this chronically in debt woman more money so she can bake cakes for a living. She is still paying off the house, hospital fees and funeral costs for her dead husband, as well as all his other debts, but the bank can probably overlook all that and just chuck some money at her because hey, she’s pretty. Of course, this is Romantic Movie Land, so Olivia will probably go on to marry Brian and therefore enjoy his large pay packet too, unless he takes her advice and packs in banking in order to be an artist, or possibly gets fired for signing off on risky loans.

This one was based on a book, which I looked up to see if it was a Mills and Boon book. It wasn’t, but could have been. The Romantic Story formula was right there. Boy meets girl, girl hates boy, girl and boy argue and fuss around, girl and boy end up in love. This one had the added bonus of Unhappy Man realises his life could be so much better with a different woman, two kids and a sheep.

Cookie cutter characters abounded in this thing.  Sad but Strong Widow, Adorable but Innocent Child, Cynical but Sweet Child, High Powered City Man… urgh. Every time I watch another Dire DVD I become more convinced there’s a piece of software out there churning out these characters complete with pre-written lines and a clothing guide.

So many things not making sense in this movie. Tim’s family obviously weren’t helping Olivia out, so I don’t get why she was so protective of their stuff. I can see why the house was important to her, but the rest of the stuff in the attic was basically salable goods, except that Olivia was all emotional about it. Maybe when Tim drove his bike into a car, he had his entire family sitting on the back of it.

Joy Of Christmas Rating: Minus sixteen. I am not buying anyone any presents as a direct result of this movie.


Written by: