Kayla is engaged to Carlton, a choreographer obsessed with Christmas. But when Carlton’s ego threatens to overtake the holiday season, she finds herself drawn to Dustin, a sweet pastry chef (pun intended) who just may be the perfect gift!
Kayla (Karissa Lee Staples) is a PR maven working for her controlling fiancé, Carlton (David O’Donnell), a world-famous choreographer who treats Kayla more like the help than the love of his life. Kayla is a pert blonde who looks like she should be handing out cookies to a kindergarten class. Carlton is a simpering, entitled man obsessed with fame who rocks a goatee worthy of a poor (wo)man’s Robert Downey Jr. The two are so wildly mismatched from the get go, they should’ve called this movie, Hello, We Are Going to Break Up! But we’ve got a plot to get through, so let’s move on with this charade!
Proof. [Photo Credit]
We meet Carlton (whose ridiculous English accent is surely the most entertaining thing about this film) as he pulls up to a fancy hotel. He’s in town to direct The Nutcracker and is fully prepared for everyone in his path to fall at his feet. (I was not aware that choreographers had groupies and now I want to follow one just to have this experience.) He sweeps into his gorgeously appointed hotel room imperiously – one that the hotel staff was told in advance to decorate for Christmas – briefly glances around, flops down on a chair, and whines, “More!” Kayla, who’s swept up in the spirit of the décor, is baffled. “More what?” she questions. “More Christmas!” replies Carlton. Dude, Santa could blow a load in there and it couldn’t get more Christmassy. I think someone needs to adjust his expectations!
No, not that KISS. That’s mighty festive though! [Photo Credit]
The next day, the not-so-happy duo are off to the theater to begin rehearsals. Have we established that Carlton is very important? Because he is very important! If you do not know he’s important, please look up, because that is his mug on the marquee. Oddly, they have chosen to use a photo of Carlton sans-facial hair, which renders him unrecognizable; but he seems very proud of this picture, so just go with it! He becomes immediately immersed with his ballerinas, but not before barking some orders at Kayla, who meekly leaves to fulfill the duties for her boss/fiancé.
Me, me, and more me! [Photo Credit]
Cue the other character we have yet to meet – Dustin (Brant Daugherty), the charming, goofy baker who just happens to be unlucky in love! We know this because his cousin/business partner, Kim (Brittany Underwood), tells us so. In a crazy coincidence, the two just happen to be catering Kayla and Carlton’s upcoming engagement party. What? No way! In fact, Dustin is off to meet the party planner, Jana (Ion Overman), right that very second. But not before getting stuck in a magic elevator that has the gift of pairing people. Only the elevator gets it wrong the first time because Dustin finds his elderly neighbor, Mrs. Billing (Doris Roberts), under the festive mistletoe. Mrs. Billing wastes no time in stealing a (completely horrifying) smooch from the unwilling Dustin. Who says women can’t sexually assault? #evenplayingfield.
Hold on to your hats, folks – there are more coincidences just around the corner because Jana is also close pals with Kayla! In fact, the two used to work together at a magazine called Trend. (Jana seems happy in her new party planning career. Kayla still yearns to be a writer, but is instead stuck working for the dictator of love.) Dustin’s meeting ends and moments later Kayla comes in with a reluctant Carlton in tow. Carlton’s mood improves, however, when he sees autograph-seekers at the bar. Jana can barely contain her immediate contempt for Carlton. Jana’s had two back-to-back meetings, several glasses of wine, and calls it how she sees it. Jana is a heroine.
There’s so much going on in this film! Did I mention every time Kayla strolls forlornly through the town square that there is always a quartet of sad carolers, whose presence is never addressed? Or that every time she’s in said square that Santa himself weighs in on Kayla’s relationship status? Man, I wish I’d gotten high to watch this because I feel high writing about it.
Meanwhile, Carlton may be obsessed with Christmas, but it’s Kayla who loooooves Nutcrackers. She stops in a quaint gift shop to purchase one, only to have a bizarre conversation with the owner. (Who, inexplicably, has a head shot of Kayla’s fiancé clutched to her chest?!) It’s so bizarre, in fact, that Kayla runs out of the shop, only to have the woman chase her. Not just down the street, mind you, but for several blocks. She finds shelter from the insane shop owner in an apartment elevator. Why, yes – the same one Dustin happens to be in, again. As we know, the elevator is magic, so no introductions are made. Nope – it’s straight to the mad macking, and it is dreamy! Take that, Mrs. Billing.
The Duds & Studs grabbed this magical moment where the shop owner pulls this headshot out of freakin’ nowhere!
Kayla exits the elevator after the lip lock and heads to meet her fiancé at the site of their soon-to-be engagement party, as one does. But wait, who is that sexy caterer? It seems they might know each other! The aloof Carlton suddenly expresses interest in Kayla when he sees her eyeing the hottie with the dimples. He pees a little circle around Kayla, all while cackling to Dustin, “She’s mine. All mine!” Someone must’ve slipped Kayla a spine because she actually breaks up with Carlton, right then and there. (She tells him, “Our pieces belong in different puzzles,” which is the most delicate P in the V euphemism ever uttered.) I’ll be damned.
Naturally what follows is a montage of Kayla and Dustin hanging out, including baking cookies (in the shape of Nutcrackers, ‘natch), extended scenes at an animal shelter (how else are we going to bring a boatload of puppies in to save this mess?), and an inexplicable date where they appear to be in shorts at a summer carnival, on a pier, in the middle of winter. I know it’s California and there’s global warming, but… Oh, I just answered my own question. Moving on!
Sleeveless in winter… [Photo Credit]
But wait – it’s not time for that happily ever after just yet! Carlton wants Kayla back, even though he’s boning Pamela (Camille Balsamo), his prima ballerina! We know of this hot hookup because Kayla is at a bar having a heart to heart with bestie Jana (more wine – get it, girl!), when Jana spots Carlton and Pamela canoodling in a corner at the very same bar. Jana does not point this out to Kayla. Again… why? Jana is clearly Team Dustin, so why is she failing to bring it home? I’m going to blame the wine.
Carlton is all, “Kayla is meh. I want passion.” And Pamela is like, “Yeah, that bitch is as basic as they come. Forget her. Let’s go fuck.” I’m paraphrasing here. But come on, Hallmark* – it’s time. #realtalk
Dustin stops by the hotel (because Kayla is still staying there with Carlton. Why… oh, never mind!) to drop off a Nutcracker. What is it with you kids and this Nutcracker? Stop trying to make Nutcrackers happen. They’re not going to happen. Carlton sees the gift, gets jelly, sets up a romantic meal in their suite, and gifts Kayla with the most tacky-ass bracelet I’ve ever seen. It is unidentifiable stones of yellow and purple. He says, “Here… the colors of Christmas.” Um, for someone who’s obsessed with Christmas, you’re sure not familiar with much of it, Carlton. Unless Christmas is in New Orleans, and it is Mardi Gras. Otherwise let’s stick with green and red, shall we?
Kayla runs into Santa in the square again and when he asks her what she wants for Christmas, she says, “Boundaries.” This is the only thing that makes sense in the entire movie.
It’s complicated! [Photo Credit]
She’s in the square because she’s on her way to break it off with Dustin. Obviously Kayla can be bought, and her price is one piece of janky costume jewelry. Kayla is distraught, but ends the relationship in order to “make it work” with Carlton. Dustin is sad, but understanding. Dustin’s cousin drops by to chastise him for not trying harder to keep Kayla. Kick the dude while he’s down, woman who’s barely a part of this plot.
Jana finally spills the beans on Carlton and Pamela. Kayla breaks up with him again, using almost exactly the same speech as the first time. Sure, just cut and paste that script. He doesn’t deserve any more of your time!
Kayla then runs to Dustin’s apartment, who is trapped in the elevator (again!), thankfully alone this time. (This begs the question: is he his own one true love?) While the elevator is stuck, Dustin has plenty of time to confess his innermost feelings to the mistletoe. In an easily foreseen twist of fate, the elevator’s intercom is on, so every word of yearning is broadcast to the crowd waiting in the lobby. (Does anyone take the stairs anymore?) Kayla joins the throng and tears up at his declaration of love. The door finally opens, he emerges, she flings herself into his arms, and the PDA begins.
We see them one year later on a Ferris wheel – the site of their magical winter/summer pier date – where Dustin proposes with a prominently-placed Kay Jewelers ™ diamond ring. Does she say yes? I don’t wait to spoil it. Oh, fuck it – of course she does. The end!
While this is not technically a Hallmark movie – it was made for the ION (stylized as ion) Channel – we all know the blueprint of these films. And God bless these Hallmark-type flicks, for what would the holidays be without them? Yes, they’re terrible. Yes, you know exactly what’s going to happen – and that’s the point. In an uncertain world, there’s comfort in the known. Besides, that eggnog ain’t gonna binge drink itself – put reality on a shelf, have a sit, and treat yo’self!
Merry Kissmas (2015) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time you laugh at Carlton’s accent.
Add a Shot: for the insane shop lady’s accent.
Take a Drink: for every missed connection between Kayla and Dustin.
Take a Drink: every time you feel bad for the (terrible and awkward) carolers that never get their due.
Take a Drink: every time you think, “What in the hell is with these people and their Nutcrackers?”
Take a Drink: every time you think, “Jesus, Kayla – grow a pair.”
Do a Shot: Why on earth did they name the romantic lead “Dustin”? That is one of the least-sexy names, ever. (All apologies if you’re a Dustin who’s reading this. I’m sure you’re hot AF.)
Do a Shot: if you want to kick Dustin in the balls when his cousin asks about his kiss with Mrs. Billing and he replies, “No. I’m talking about a real woman.” Elderly women are real people, you sexist/ageist fuck.