A Christmas Movie Christmas (2019)

I didn't mistype the movie's name - A Christmas Movie Christmas is a meta made-for-TV Christmas movie in which two sisters are pulled into the world of made-for-TV holiday movies. They realize where they are, have some understanding of the tropes and clichés around them, and try to make the most of their circumstances. It's a fun concept, which is sort of a mixed blessing, because - while this certainly isn't a total loss - it left me more than a little disappointed no one else could take the same premise and do it better.

The two protagonists are Eve and Lacy. Eve loves Christmas romances, while Lacy is more pragmatic. After a brief intro, they run into a Salvation Army Santa, give him a few bucks, and make Christmas wishes. Eve wishes for a perfect, old-fashioned Christmas, while Lacy makes her wish silently.

No surprise, but it turns out that's the real Santa, and they wake up in "Holiday Falls," an absurdly cheerful village where everyone's full of holiday spirit. Eve is in heaven, while Lacy is initially horrified. Before long, they both pick up love interests - in fact, Eve picks up two. Eve also signs on to plan and organize the annual Christmas festival.

Things spiral out of control when a rival shows up to steal back her ex, the love interest Eve is actually drawn to. Meanwhile, Lacy sabotages her own romance because the writers somewhat belatedly determine that's supposed to be her character flaw.

Eve's rival inadvertently wrecks the festival, which we're supposed to care about, because... I'm actually a little unclear about this. The movie is really unclear how real Holiday Falls is supposed to be. Logically, it shouldn't be real, at all - the entire place is constructed to conform to Eve's mental picture of a Christmas movie (the false love interest is even played by an actor she has a crush on). So although everything acts real, it shouldn't be. Unless this world takes on a life of its own after being willed into existence, which is potentially terrifying.

At any rate, everyone comes together, saves the festival, and so on and so forth. Lacy and Eve both kiss the guys they've fallen for, then they're teleported back to the real world. Oh, then the love interests appear in their apartment, too. The women are ecstatic, apparently unaware that - again - the existential implications for this are the stuff of nightmares.

In my opinion, this is really the wrong plot for the premise. It leans more towards homage than parody, but the jokes are where the movie's at its best. It was still hit-or-miss, but the hits really land. The writers understand the source material they're working with, and they see the humor in the genre. That said, I think this would have been significantly better if it had shifted its perspective to dissecting the formula of that genre, rather than simply telling a self-aware story within that genre. By the end, it seemed almost academic that they were in a Christmas movie within a Christmas movie - they cared about the people and town to the point that it might as well have just been a village they were visiting for the holidays. It didn't help that "the city" the main characters lived in (always simply referred to as "The City") felt just as generic and cliché as Holiday Falls. I realize this was intentional, but still...

The movie's other major issue was the protagonists' flaws felt weirdly tacked on and underdeveloped. Not only were they explained to us rather than shown, they were explained badly. This was more an issue with Lacy than Eve, but neither felt properly established prior to being resolved.

That said, I actually liked the twist around Lacy. She kept her Christmas wish secret, and I inferred she was hoping for true love. Turns out, she wished to be a better person, which was a pretty cool reveal. Granted, it would have been cooler if the movie had managed to establish at any time that she wasn't already a great person, but even so, it was a nice touch.

The production values are basically in line with the genre, which is to say extremely poor. I wish they'd been better for the frame story in the city, but no such luck.

If you're a huge fan of the genre, I'd definitely recommend this for the experience. There are some really funny sequences and details, which are better the more familiar you are with TV Christmas movies. But everyone else should probably pass this by. While it's better than most of the movies it's playing with, it's not that much better. It offers a fun twist in this cheesy, low-budget genre, but it doesn't succeed in transcending that genre.