Daisy’s Christmas Stocking #2 – A Bride for Christmas
When a Hallmark movie begins with a big, bad, beribboned wedding shower, you can bet your sweet and savoury bippys that the union it’s supposed to celebrate is going to end less well than a collaborative project between Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck. And sure enough, Jessie is less than sure about pledging her troth to Mike, a charming, slab-faced plumbing magnate.
“Remember when we talked about the difference between loving someone and being in love with them?” murmurs an anxious Jessie as her Mom laces her into some punishing looking reinforced sateen corset. “No! Love is love!” snaps Mom. Even when your intended resembles a Homer Simpson shaped pencil topper, Mom?
Despite the fact that Jessie’s movements are a little inhibited after the sartorial vacuum packing, she walks down the aisle – and straight past Mike! So long, Mike! Her lesbian sister Viv finds her in their shared apartment, weeping over some samples, because they are interior designers. There is no scene with Viv in which her lesbianism isn’t mentioned. And their company is called VJ designs, for Vivian and Jessie, or VaJina, because Viv Just Wants Fanny). “What happens?” asks a concerned Viv, who, presumably, was there, and saw what happened with her own gay eyes. “I’ve broken not one, not two, but three engagements! Three!” she weeps. She’s really lost her Translyvanian accent since leaving Sesame Street. But why did she agree to marry Mike, when she knew he wasn’t the one? “Did you want me to break his heart on a 50ft jumbotron in front of 50,000 people?” Well, yeah, actually, that would make a great flashback. “No more wedding planning, no more engagements – I’m done!” sobs Jessie. Viv looks stricken. “Don’t EVER say that! Until society lets me fulfil my lesbian destiny and marry a woman, even though east of Hollywood dogs and cats will get to go first, you must fulfil your heterosexual woman destiny and dream of ONLY WEDDINGS!” (Well, she says the first four words, the rest is implied.)
Jessie’s problem is that she can’t say no, so Viv sets about turning this into a business opportunity. They’re going to scout for clients at an art show! An art show attended by Aidan, a poker-holic, commitment-phobic dude who has just been dared by his pals to get a woman to marry him in the next couple of weeks, right in time for Christmas. If he wins, he gets someone’s corner office. Sorry, it’s not The Runaway Bride, it’s How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days. Aidan spots foxy Jessie, on her own, sulking, and with a sociopathic understanding of vulnerable women, zeroes in on her. Viv has the last laugh, though – she tricks him into hiring Jessie to redesign his apartment, which means that VJ designs might “finally get out of the red”! I have a horrible feeling that Viv and Jessie have never had a client before, just a big book of carpet samples.
Jessie reluctantly agrees to help Aidan “personalise his space”, but not before Mike can check her parents’ water pressure! This allows Mom to segue into a neat metaphor. “Marriage is like diving into a pool of frigid water. You just close your eyes and take the plunge!” Oh, and Mike is letting Jessie keep the ring, because she might change her mind.
Aidan isn’t sure he’s going to win his bet with Jessie, but his friends aren’t letting him pick a different woman. “You should have done your own reconnaissance before you chose her” is the creepy consensus, as if Aidan is now making the best of a bad Pokémon hand. So he brings his A game and his best lines, like “it’s hard for me to tell if I love something from a picture. I have to physically touch it.” A comfortingly old fashioned sentiment for these sext-obsessed times. They go to a bar to talk about the space personalisation, and the festive references are shoehorned in with the subtlety of Liberace’s santa suit. “It’s hard to believe Christmas is just a few weeks away. What do you think of Christmas décor, from a design perspective?” whispers Aidan. Men, if you’re interested, you’re not going to get into a woman’s knickers by making an unsubtle reference to “hand blown glass baubles.” Weirdly, for a designer, Jessie has very little to say about tinsel. “My favourite thing is the music. Corny as it may sound, I’ve always had a soft spot for Christmas carols. IS THAT FUNNY TO YOU?” A frightened Aidan takes to the piano and plays some for her. Then her very doughy ex, Owen turns up. We also discover Jessie’s third fiancé was called Trent. As in, Stoke on Trent. As in, where you’re most likely to get your luggage nicked while travelling on a Virgin Train.
The romance steps up a pace! They wait for lamps to be delivered to Aidan’s house while watching scary movies in the dark! Aidan is astonished that Jessie would choose to eat burgers, not sushi or Thai! She’s not like all the other girls, Aidan! She’s probably able to pass wind without throwing herself off a tall building, too! And she likes dogs! No other girls like dogs. Aidan had a dog until his parents got divorced and he was forbidden from loving anything or anyone, so he’s going to be a hard nut to crack. But not so hard that he can’t creepily volunteer at the same dog shelter as Jessie! They bond over a sort of mongrel wolf that cuts loose and knocks over Mike, who has turned up to tell her that he has a new plumbing contract and could buy her thousands of dogs.
After a romantic day of watching her ex’s testicles being irreparably damaged by what is quite probably an illegal dog, Jessie remembers Aidan’s “personal space” is being resurfaced, and he can’t get into his house. But it’s OK, because he can come to game night instead of Viv, who is going on a lesbian date, with a woman we’re not allowed to see on TV because we’re thinking of the children. “Eat my sugar cookies! Look at my scrapbook of my daughter’s broken engagements!” coos Jessie’s mom. Ah, doughy Owen used to be a weatherman! He proposed to Jessie on TV. Local TV, but still. It’s worse than Trent using a movie house display for his proposal. No wonder Jessie is so damaged. She hasn’t got any nice, quiet dinners out of this multiple engagement business.
Jessie, in a fit of atypical-girlness, is good at cards. Aidan is not as good as he thinks, and loses to Mike (Jessie’s parents, stop letting him inside the house. It’s weird). Mike goes off with Aidan’s car. And then Aidan realises he’s in love with Jessie. And the next day, Jessie sees Aidan shouting at a family who have refused to adopt Jake, the violent enormo-dog, and falls in love with him. She proposes, and Jake whimpers.
Jake tells his friends the great news, and plumber Mike, who despite being in charge of the business and presumably in a position where he could be office based, is hiding in a pipe. He overhears the references to their bet and runs to tell Jessie. Jessie weeps alone in the dark for a while, and then confronts Aidan. The engagement is off.
It’s two days before Christmas. Aidan, not in the corner office, is so sad that he cannot be persuaded to go and chat up “the vegan” at the office Christmas party. But Jessie’s mom stops by with a plan. “The best way to show her you want to marry her is to marry her.” Great logic from the woman who, we later discover, has also broken off three engagements but not thought to mention them to her daughter.
On Christmas Day, Jessie, wearing a white dress (which might be coincidence, it might be something Viv tricked her into) turns up to her parents’ house and finds her Dad in a tux. And Reverend Macy is there. And so is Jake, who proposes. Obviously there would be no wedding that came about because of Jessie’s proposal. We’re more likely to see Viv’s wedding, amirite? Aidan has also adopted Jake. “I figured two troublemakers are better off together than alone.” Exactly, Aidan. Just look at the Kray twins! It’s a good thing Jessie isn’t a typical girl, and can look forward to a life of cleaning up aggressively pungent dog shit between burgers!
Jessie doesn’t run away. They marry, and in a worryingly progressive scene, Viv catches the bouquet. “Merry Christmas, my husband!” smiles Jessie. I’m sure it sounded less clumsy in the original Transylvanian.
A Bride For Christmas is not, as I hoped, joyfully and painfully bad. It’s just bad. I have had yeast infections that felt more festive than this. NO STARS.