I can take a lot of badness in Hallmark Christmas movies. I revel in the badness. But last night as I was making dinner with my first movie of the season on, one piece of dialogue made me freeze and lock eyes with the television.
Incredulous, I parroted the line back, punctuated with a questioning wtf, followed by an, "ARE YOU SHITTING ME?".
This 15 year old photo of me with a small pike will make sense in a moment.
The premise - a mother brings her teenage son to a remote island lighthouse for Christmas hoping the experience will bring them closer together. How will this happen?
The same way it happens in all Hallmark Christmas movies: through the power of hot chocolate, misunderstandings and a hot guy, who has a lazy resemblance to a more famous actor.
Also, the lighthouse.
In Navigating Christmas, awkward, surly, teenage son meets gregarious, friendly teenage girl who says HEY! Let's watch the Christmas fireworks (huh??) from the best spot on the island, my dad's bass fishing boat out in the water. (huh??)
Um. O.K. Seems kind of cold to be on a boat and why are there Christmas fireworks? Google, google, google, - AH! Some people in the south set off fireworks on Christmas Eve.
Fine. I'll roll with it.
This line, from friendly girl to surly boy as they sit in the boat:
"Are you hungry? My dad usually keeps snacks in the tackle box."
I look up from my soup stirring. What? KEEPS SNACKS IN THE TACKLE BOX?! Are you shitting me?
In the tackle box. That's where dad keeps his snacks on his luxury fishing boat. I fish. I know what tackle boxes are like. They're filled with old line, treble hooks, dried bits of live bait, and always, always smell like a combination of plastic, motor oil and fish farts.
She must mean her father has a different kind of tackle box. A southern tackle box is maybe actually a fridge. Or wicker basket. Or code for takeout window.
Perhaps it's a wood box that contains snacks SO delicious people tackle each other to be first to the snacks. Maybe.
Nope. There it is. She's pulling out a regular plastic tackle box from somewhere in the boat and I absolutely know there are bits of dried worm guts in there.
She pops it open, sticks her hand into the fog of fish stink and pulls out some snacks.
I'd like you to remember back to the trailer you watched above so I can point out that the line "My dad usually keeps snacks in the tackle box" did not make the highlight reel.
My dad usually keeps snacks in the tackle box. And just like that, I couldn't handle one more stupid thing from a Hallmark movie. I threw my spoon, licked the carrot soup off the remote and put the radio on.
I could handle when Winnie Cooper (the nanny) fell in love with the prince of that imaginary country. And he fell in love with her back.
I could handle when the movie budget was so low the Christmas decorations consisted of 5 velvet bows from the dollar store stuck to various household objects. No object was too stupid. Yes, let's do put a bow almost in the middle of a bare wall.
I cheered on the actors who reacted to the holiday magic of 5 bows as though Santa himself had just burst through the wall like the Kool-Aid man.
The improbable meet-cutes, the love in an instant and the complete disregard for anything that makes sense. I could handle all of it with no more than a contact lens losing eye roll.
But this was the flaw that broke the mammal's snack.
Tackle box candy canes.
I know how the movie ends. I didn't watch it, but I know. The woman with the most Hallmarky hair (loose curl and tasteful highlights) fell in love with the salty guy with the aversion to Christmas and within 3 days she'll have decided to move to the remote island with him even though she only packed 3 pairs of underwear and her Dyson hairdryer.
I searched online to find the name of the writer who came up with this but there's very little information online about who actually writes the Christmas movies.
I suspect the production company comes up with a snappy movie title, assembles a cast & crew of Hallmark veterans, and then they Mad Lib the rest.
Never again will I watch a Hallmark Christmas movie. Not in November.
I haven't been properly swaddled in a blanket of Christmas feel-good yet. I'm surly, jaded and combative in November which is not the proper headspace to accept fish fart candy canes as a touching gesture of young love.
Plus now I'm craving fish sticks and Hallmark curly hair. This is what happened the last time I got that craving.
The pike photo above makes sense now, right? It acts as a palate cleanser if you need it after seeing this.
If I eat fish sticks for dinner tonight I will blame Hallmark. I'm probably safe because I do not have any fish sticks.
I do however have everything I need to make them, stuck to the inside of my tackle box.
2.5 hours later
Scratch that. I just saw a commercial for A Biltmore Christmas while I was watching my second Hallmark movie this afternoon and I got the shivers. Now THAT'S gonna be a good Christmas movie.
Shove that tackle box to the side Captain Hallmark, because I'm back on board.