Monday, December 09, 2019

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

... Who’s the kludgiest of them all?

I went into “A Snow White Christmas” with a little hope. As I’ve said before, I like a little magic in my cheese. A fairy tale woven into a Christmas romance seemed like a nice way to achieve that. Would it be an allegorical retelling like the TV series “Once Upon a Time?” Or something delightful and bright like the shamefully underappreciated ‘80s sitcom “The Charmings?”

Uh-uh. This had all the subtlety and deftness of the Gloucester Cheese Roll. (Do check out the video at the link; it’s like a metastasized Monty Python pratfall.)

We open on a montage of a domestic-yet-festive-looking young woman (Michelle Randolph playing Blanca Snow, because of course) making up various Christmas confections. Enter a sweet old lady (Rose Weaver) and a blandly handsome young man (Liam McNeill). Immediately we’re informed that (a) Blanca’s father is dead, (b) he owned the candy shop in which she’s working, (c) the old lady (whose name is Mrs. Woods) is her godmother and a former employee of her father, (d) the young man is working for the lady and (e) his grandmother went to school with Mrs. Woods. His name, shockingly, is Hunter. All this in less than two minutes. Oh, and did I mention that Blanca’s specialty is candy apples? Yeah, all the subtlety of a falling boulder.

Enter the Wicked Stepmother (for of course we must have one). Victoria Snow is what you would get if you took a villainess from one of those 1980s prime-time soaps and pushed her under a steamroller. Her every syllable drips pampered evil.

Even worse is her toady Zane (at last, a name that isn’t a fairy tale reference). That’s about the only thing about him that isn’t fairy-like, though. He prances and minces and swishes so unctuously that I expected to see a lavender-tinted trail of slime behind him. He seems to take on a warped version of the role of Magic Mirror, flattering and abetting Victoria something nauseating.

Apparently, Blanca’s 25th birthday is Christmas and at that time she and Victoria split her father’s inheritance between them. Victoria is meant for better things than being a mere confectioner, of course, and schemes to steal Blanca’s half so she can sell the works and (presumably) spend her days sunning her scales on rocks and eating passing flies. To this end she has Zane fake up legal documents (“Notary school is so boring!” he languidly laments) showing that Blanca has signed her half away. Oh, and there’s another handsome young man ham-fistedly named Lucas Prince (Colt Prattes, which isn't much better) whose role is a little vague. He takes Blanca on one date and decides that the two of them are in love because “we look good together.”  At one point he tells her “You’re the only woman I ever felt was up to my standards.” Way to melt a girl’s heart.

To get Blanca away, she has a hypnotist cast a spell (because isn’t that what a professional would call it?) to take away most of Blanca’s memory. Zane screws it up by somehow creating a loophole that true love will restore her memory. With it so far?

Blanca wakes up in a strange motel in a strange city and cringiness ensues. A musical group called the Holly Jollys is involved, with members named Doc and Hap. (Alas, they’re of normal height.)

To be honest, the acting is more or less competent in this one. That they can pull off a script like this one is a testament to their skill. Randolph in particular manages to project an unmitigated innocence that never, ever wavers, even at the end when the dialogue descends beyond cliche into the realm of something a spambot might have written. She is genuinely amazed that Victoria would tell her a fib. Also, whatever his earlier misdeeds, Hunter is adequately punished by having to wear that Christmas sweater. Check it out and wince.

Quotes:
Victoria: Opportunities are like sunsets. If you wait too long you miss them.
Zane: Oh, my God. that is beautiful.
Victoria; Right off the top of my head.
Lucas (on seeing Blanca for the first time): What to my wondering eyes should appear? I don’t normally say things like this, but you are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.

Take a tumble down Cooper’s Hill with “A Snow White Christmas.”