It’s Day 7 of the 12 Days of Christmas Movies and today we’re going to the town of Chestnut for “A Christmas Reunion”, where Denise Richards returns home from the big city and most definitely does not fall in love with a old beau Patrick Muldoon (making his second appearance in our ongoing series) or decide to abandon her big city job and return small town life. Nope, not predictable at all, this film. The best thing about this movie, by far, is the drinking game we have come up with (but not tested) for it.
Richards stars as Amy, an advertising guru who just made junior partner at her firm, literally one minute after she learns her beloved aunt has died. Amy is forced to return to Chestnut to deal with her aunt’s estate, promising to be back in time for the office party where her promotion will be announced in a sacred blood ceremony on Christmas Eve. Surely she’ll be back on time with no trouble, as viewers of bad Christmas movies can likely predict.
In Chestnut, a remarkably large town of 500 people, she meets up with the obligatory old flame, Jack (Patrick Muldoon), at the will reading. The two of them, it turns out, were the local power couple back in the day, and, most importantly, practically grew up together in dead Aunt Linda’s bakery. Jake Busey, a shady lawyer with impressive teeth, tells the pair that they’re to split ownership of the bakery and Linda’s estate and that Linda’s final, additional wish is that Amy and Jack hold the bakery’s annual Christmas cookie contest, which happens to be in its 50th year. Nice, conveniently round number, that 50.
Amy and Jack get some bickering done (Oh no! They must have had a heartbreaking falling out! I hope they can overcome it!) before agreeing to reopen the bakery and hold that cookie contest. First they have to track down Aunt Linda’s recipe tin for her secret recipes, such as Santa Sparks, which are talked about in hushed and reverent tones. Turns out they’re sugar cookies with peppermint-meth sprinkles (peppermeth, to the locals), sending the movie in an unexpected “Breaking Bad”-type direction.
Or maybe that’s not right. But there are bigger questions. Will the bakery contest happen? Will the recipe tin eventually show up? Will Denise Richards and Patrick Muldoon rekindle their romance? Will the meth making Hill Folk exact their vengeance on Patrick Muldoon for burning them in a peppermint scented drug deal? Aside from these important questions there’s some low stakes drama with the lawyer that wraps up in roughly a minute and a half and is not particularly satisfying or even superficially suspenseful. But it does involve Jake Busey, so it’s got that going for it. Everything else is familiar, believe it or not, to anyone who has ever watched a movie. Maybe to people who have never watched movies as well.
It’s an utterly predictable film but one thing that took me by surprise was Richard’s perfectly adequate acting ability. Having only seen her in that James Bond movie where she plays a nuclear scientist named Christmas (!), I had expected much less. But, like a cheesy Christmas movie, she benefits from lowered expectations. All in all the film gets 3 out of 5 Christmas Cookies for general quality, and 3.47 out of 5 Chocolate Santas for general Christmasness. I mean, it is centered around a Christmas cookie baking contest, after all, though other Christmasness is limited, knocking the score down a point.
Drinking Game Suggestions: Drink whenever cookie contest is said, when Santa Sparks or the recipe box are shown or mentioned, when how many days are left until Christmas is pointed out, whenever you hear original song (maybe they’re not original but just terrible, but you’ll know them when you hear them), any time there’s a flashback, and any time someone says Linda. For bonus expert party level, drink whenever cookies are shown.