A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Merry Kissmas, a made-for-TV movie, tells the story of a seemingly fated love between a woman -- unappreciated by her famous fiancé -- and the caterer of her engagement party. A man and woman kiss, first when they are strangers and later when they fall in love, fully clothed. A tiny woman in her seventies forcibly kisses a much taller, much younger, and much stronger man in an elevator under some mistletoe. He appears unable to fight her off. An engaged man seemingly has an affair with a coworker. Adults drink wine, suggesting it will ease their stress.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In MERRY KISSMAS, Kayla (Karissa Lee Staples) is a former writer for a Palo Alto magazine who seems to have given up her professional and personal life to babysit Carlton (David O'Donnell, spouting a dreadful British accent), who is a whiny, self-absorbed, and famous Los Angeles director. Despite the fact that they are engaged, all the signs of a bad match are there at the start: he treats her like a servant and he keeps postponing their wedding. They arrive in Palo Alto for his staging of a "Nutcracker," and it becomes clear that he's also dallying with a dancer in the cast. When the neglected Kayla falls for Dustin (Brant Daugherty), who is catering her engagement/post-performance party, Carlton promises to treat her better but fails to follow up. Throughout, Kayla repeatedly alludes to her dilemma with an unlikely total stranger, a street Santa who encourages her to make wishes.
Is it any good?
Twinkly music trickles behind many scenes in this movie, and the sheer lack of imagination that this signals should tell potential viewers all they need to know. This is a terrible, badly written retread of the old girl-with-the-wrong guy meets the Right Guy just before (pick one) a) her engagement party b) her wedding or c) her trip to somewhere far, far away. Carlton gets everyone's names wrong over and over. No amount of Christmas decoration is enough for him, we're told, because his father never let him celebrate Christmas. That's about as deep as it gets with regard to character development.
General incompetence characterizes the movie. The location chosen to stand in for a five-star hotel lobby is always strangely empty, apart from the presence of the movie's actors. Why didn't the director ask a few crew members to mill about to suggest the illusion of an actual lobby? There are quite a few continuity issues, the most obvious when Carlton calls Kayla, demanding she meet him at the theater seemingly for some kind of work-related emergency. In the next scene, she arrives not at the theater but at his hotel room. The real sign that the filmmakers had no idea what they were doing is indicated at a standstill in the plot: Kayla leaves, goes back to, and then leaves and goes back to her fiance yet again. So what gets everyone to forget what the heck the plot was supposed to be doing and say, "Awwww"? Puppies!! Honest to goodness. In one scene three characters sit around cuddling puppies at an animal shelter. Awwww.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why a nice woman might be attracted to a not-so-nice man. Do you think Carlton's fame and success made it possible for Kayla to ignore what a jerk he was in Merry Kissmas?
Dustin seems manufactured by the script to represent a fictionally perfect boyfriend, who appreciates, respects, and supports women. Do you think he seems real?
Kayla keeps making wishes and telling personal details to a man in a Santa suit soliciting donations on the sidewalk. Do you think anyone would ever actually do that? Are you willing to believe she would for the sake of the story?
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