Remember that time Jennifer Love Hewitt got a job Kind Touching people at a spa and then woke up several months later to find out that the crack-smoking party animals at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association decided to reward her with a freaking Golden Globe nomination? Do you think everyone who’s filmed a Lifetime or ABC Family movie over the last twelve weeks woke up the next morning with a renewed sense of vigor and optimism? Because if we’re giving awards for shitty made-for-TV movies now, I know some people who are OWED. Like Chad Michael “Squinty” Murray, so missed on OTH (by which I mean, not particularly missed at all, given that we just dealt with a stalker, a potential murder, an ACTUAL attempted murder, the second time in the series that a car has gone off a bridge and into a river and people have almost died, a head injury to an elementary school teacher, and Daphne Zuniga going to prison and loving it. Oh, also, they have a Mannequin Chad Michael Murray they trot out sometimes, so even if we did miss him, we have a back-up), and so remarkably squinty still, at least as seen on last weekend’s ABC Family Spectacular, The Christmas Cupid, also starring Christina Milian and Ashley Benson — last seen getting plowed over by a car on Pretty Little Liars. Did anyone Kind Touch anyone in this movie, you ask? No. But someone does choke to death on an olive and has to spend several days in limbo wearing sequined hot pants, which I would argue is almost worse.

So, Christina Milian is an Evil Junior Publicist:

We know she’s evil because she carries a big shiny purse, has a shiny car which she parks in the handicapped spot, wears big sunglasses and talks on her phone a lot, and — when her co-worker (whom she once dated) reminds her that Christmas is about The Birth of Our Lord — she’s, like, totally dismissive of Jesus.

She also wants a promotion so badly that she’ll do this to her boss:

Yes: She’ll smile and let him eat her face. (Interestingly, her Smarmy Boss-Boyfriend was ALSO once on One Tree Hill, as Nathan’s Not Smarmy But In Fact Hot boss that time he was on some made-up AAA junior-professional imaginary basketball team.)

ANYWAY, Christina’s biggest client is Ashley Benson, who, best as I can tell, is basically playing Lindsay Lohan: She drinks all the time, got caught smuggling diet pills out of Mexico, once got in trouble for attacking Heidi Montag at the VMAs, and is prone to doing things like getting wasted and barfing on Santa (really) and dirty-dancing with a teddy bear. Look:

Clearly, she’s trouble. So Christina gives her this looong speech about how her new movie — the not-at-all-foreshadowingly titled Snow Angel — is her last big chance to really make her career. It’s a huge, family friendly movie and it could MAKE ASHLEY A STAR. She just has to behave.

Instead, this happens:

That’s what it looks like when you choke on a martini olive and die.  It’s not very dignified.

And then Ashley, of course, starts haunting Christina because when you’re stuck in purgatory wearing sequined hot pants, naturally the person you really want to hang with 24/7 is your publicist.  “You still have a chance….NOT TO DIE ALONE” is her opening salvo. Christina thinks this is all a joke — especially when Ashley tells her she’s going to be visited by three ghosts (sound familiar?)  — despite the fact that Ashley has apparently picked up the ability to disapparate between now and when Christina last saw her. Ashley assures her that Christina really, REALLY needs to change her ways, like, per God, and decides to drive this point home by throwing a martini — THE MARTINI OF DEATH, in fact — right in her face.

Christina, obvs, decides this has all been a weird dream when she wakes up on her sofa to her phone ringing off the hook and no martini in her hair.  But on the phone is Boss-Boyfriend, telling her that Ashley is DUNZO as far as this mortal coil is concerned. Christina flips on the TV to find a news anchor reporting from the scene of the Olive-Strangulation and mournfully noting that if Ashley had only been drinking an apple martini, she might still be alive today. Christina drops her phone in horror. It lands on her carpet, right next to:


So Christina runs over to the hospital to see Ashley, still not really accepting that Ashley is dead. And guess who just happens to be working there, curing the sweet and innocent children of the world?

Fancy meeting you here! It turns out that not only is CMM a doctor at the hospital where Ashley Benson died, but he also dated Christina in college. Like any ex-boyfriend worth his salt, he takes her to see her client’s dead body. She’s distraught, and CMM tells her not to blame herself, this is a terrible unanticipated tragedy, etc.  Privately, Christina is like, “Also, this really sucks for my potential promotion. She was my biggest client!”

So, CMM leaves Christina alone with the body, and Ashley Benson naturally pops up to check out her corpse. I have to note that Benson is actually extremely funny in this, although this particular scene — in which Ashley reminds Christina  that she has to change her life, Christina acts like she’s never seen this particular ghost before and squawks and yelps, and then gets another martini thrown in her face — is kind of repetitive of the scene we just saw where Christina acts like she’s never seen this particular ghost before and squawks and yelps and gets a martini thrown in her face. This time, however, she’s rescued by CMM, who buys her a cup of coffee after she confesses that she’s still seeing Ashley. He promises her that she’s not having a psychotic break (which…seems generous), and we get their relationship backstory: He went to med school, and she didn’t go with him, because she didn’t want to give up her career. This seems to be a selling point for the Christina Is Evil school of thought, but I can’t help but think that prioritizing your career when you’re 21 isn’t necessarily the worst choice in the world.

Note: In college, in addition to dating Lord Squintsalot, Christina was also friends with the girl who played the littlest child on Growing Pains. Growing Pains is a sweet, struggling restaurateur and totally, totally, excruciatingly, endlessly boring:

All you need to know about this subplot is that eventually Christina patches up their tattered friendship by giving gift certificates to celebrities at a funeral.

Speaking of, back at the office, Christina — accompanied by the ghost of Ashley Benson, whom no one else can see, and to whom Christina KEEPS TALKING, in PUBLIC PLACES, so it looks like she’s having giant arguments with herself all over the office, like, honey, this isn’t going to help your promotion — is put in charge of transforming the Snow Angel premiere into Ashley’s funeral/party. I can’t believe anyone would put her in charge of anything right now, considering how she keeps talking to the air, but maybe she won them over with this cute dress:

After the Funeral/Party planning meeting, Ashley follows Christina back to her office and gets yapping AGAIN about how she can’t cross over until Christina changes her ways for the better. (Actually, they probably could use the help of the Ghost Whisperer here. J Lo Hew, your services are needed!). Christina is like, “For the better HOW?” but Ashley can’t remember the specifics: “I was in the bathroom for that part.” They have bathrooms in limbo? I can’t believe I am going to have to pee even after I die.

Despite all of this, Christina continues to act the mega-bitch: Making people work on Christmas (apparently, the Funeral/Party is on Christmas, which makes me think that the premiere was originally scheduled to be on Christmas as well, which means these people would have been working on Christmas anyway, which means their current bitching about working on Christmas is kind of a moot point), ignoring her mother, which — SIDEBAR. THIS IS CHRISTINA’S MOTHER:

YES THAT IS JACKEE HOLDING A DOG DRESSED LIKE SANTA. All you need to know about her is that she’s married like six rich dudes in a row and taught Christina to be what the movie calls “shallow,” but what I suspect is technically, “awesome, but only if you are Jackee.”

Where was I? Oh right, office politics — like, GET TO THE GHOSTS OF EX-MAS PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE, SHOW. If I cared about soapy office politics, I’d watch Melrose Place. Oh, wait. Never mind.

So, anyway. Competitive-Ex-Coworker is also angling to get this promotion that Christina wants and I think we’re supposed to think he’s nice, or sympathetic, or something (he DOES love Jesus, after all), but I think he’s kind of a doucheweasel, and Ashley doesn’t seem to think much of him, either, as she decides to track down and give Christina her BlackBerry so that she personally contact a bunch of A-listers to come to the Funeral/Party. All I know is, if I’m dead, I am totally not helping people with work. Do your own work. I’M DEAD.

In the midst of Funeral/Party planning, CMM calls to see how Christina is doing and to INVITE HER COUNTRY LINE DANCING:

Note: There is no country line dancing in this movie, which is a travesty. Such a tease to bring that up and never deliver CMM in a ten-gallon hat.  She turns him down:  Busy business ladies have no time to go dancing with cute doctors! Oh, also, she has a bf. Ashley Benson notes that she thinks CMM is “gorgeous and smells like cake,” but leaves her advice at that — perhaps because she’s distracted thinking about how FINALLY we’re about to meet the first Ghost of Ex-Mas, the Ghost of Ex-Mas Past, Brad:

Who assures Christina that the real Brad is not dead, but that he just took Brad’s form because that’s the conceit of this movie, and because it would be too creepy and suspicious if all of Christina’s former boyfriends had bought the farm. Er, also, because Brad represents something to her:  the idealized view of love.

Brad, Christina, and Ashley promptly all zip into the past — high school — where Christina turns down some nerd who asks her to a dance in favor of going with Brad, the quarterback. Ashley notes that she approves of Brad’s “crotch-blocking” of said nerd, and I would like to note that “crotch-blocking” is not actually the term, ABC Family, and you know that as well as I do. However, this moment is apparently the first sign of Christina turning into A Horrible Person — because she “left a guy hanging when someone better came along.” Or, as it appears in this very movie, she turned down a dude who asked her out because she liked someone else, who she then dated seriously for quite some time. Maybe I’M evil, but in my book that’s not really that bad. It would have been worse had she dumped someone she really loved to go out with, say, some rich asshole, or if she’d told the nerd YES but then STOOD HIM UP for Brad, but last time I checked, we’re allowed to turn down a date with someone we don’t like in favor of going out with someone WE DO.

Moving on: COLLEGE. Where CMM and Christina are blissfully happy. She’s since dumped QB Brad because, as Christina points out, she was going to college and he was “staying home to work in a toll booth.” Brad smarms, “SEE? TRADING UP.” Or, um, going to college and not staying in a dead-end relationship where each person has totally different life goals? Why are you so bitter, Ghost Brad? This movie is weird. Or maybe I TOO am EVIL and am going to be visited by my own Ghosts of Ex-Mas past. I hope so. I have a couple of things to tell some of them.

Anyway, CMM and Christina are obviously Meant to Be. See?

Even Santa thinks so. And yet Christina still moved out on him in the middle of the night without even leaving a note, all because she didn’t want to move to Iowa. Okay. I retract some of my earlier statements. That IS assy. Even Ashley Benson thinks Christina should have broken up with CMM in person. “If I want the opinion of some dead B-lister, I’ll ask,” Christina snaps, but her sassitude is deflated when she learns that CMM was going to propose! In Magical Ghost Land, she sees him come home to their empty house, gaze sadly at his ring and then throw it DRAMATICALLY ONTO THE GROUND!

We then are treated to a montage of all the dudes Christina dated next, because if you’re single and 21, you clearly need to enter a convent. Brad notes once more that Christina doesn’t care about what’s INSIDE people, but instead of pointing out that she’s totally allowed to play the field if she wants to, she counters that her current Boss-Boyfriend is very powerful AND hot, and she’s not trading him for anything. Brad unsubtly hints that B-B is sleeping around, but Christina will not hear it.

However, she spends the next scene finding out that indeed, Boss-Boyfriend IS sleeping around, slaps him, storms out, and breaks up with him. Ashley Benson even throws her ever-present martini in his face as they leave, which is pretty amusing. She’s very sympathetic for a ghost wearing formal shorts.  “I’ll never get that promotion now,” Christina moans to her. Probably. And also because you’re standing around your office talking to the air in the middle of the hallway. At least have your conversations with ghosts somewhere PRIVATE, I always say. Instead of pointing this out, Ashley suggests Christina “go out and bang someone else.”  Like, say,  CMM!  So Christina calls him and asks him out:

Despite his expression here, he accepts. (Sadly, that little elf is not CMM’s constant miniature companion throughout this fine film, but rather part of the ABC Family Christmas-themed logo. In fact, the one thing this movie IS missing — other than CMM line-dancing — is tiny, advice-giving elves.)

While we’re waiting for their date, we get a make-over montage focused on what to wear when you’re being buried at a party. Seriously:

It IS a big decision.

So, would you believe me if I told you that Christina meets CMM for dinner, and they’re having a gay old time as he tells her heart-warming tales of all the babies whose lives he’s singlehandedly saved and then Boss-Boyfriend shows up, proposes with the help of, like, a flash mob, she says YES AND JUST ABANDONS CMM THERE AT THE TABLE (!!) and he ends the night feeling utterly flummoxed?

Because look, that’s what happened:

The Ghost of Ex-Mas Present takes this moment to pop up, and guess what form he’s taken? Work Rival Ex-Boyfriend. “I get to show you all the ways your bitchitude affects all the ones around you,” he tells her. Like, for example, how her receptionist’s baby doesn’t get to see her because she’s working on Christmas at the Funeral/Party!  And how her best friend can’t afford to pay Christmas bonuses to her restaurant staff, like it’s Christina’s fault if her friend is bad at restaurant management! And how Mama Jackee is lonely because her current rich husband is cheating on her — which also isn’t Christina’s fault, as far as I can tell, though I am dying to hang out with this woman, myself:

Next, Christina learns that the whole time she was cooing to Boss-Boyfriend about their engagement, just five minutes after it happened, he was on his blue-tooth making a business deal.  “I’m the victim here!” Christina squawks about that one. Office-Rival-Ex intones that she isn’t: CMM IS, BECAUSE OF HOW SHE RUINED THEIR DATE BY GETTING ENGAGED ON IT. TO SOMEONE ELSE. And that if she doesn’t start being nicer, she is totally going to die alone. Christina rolls her eyes and says she’ll make amends after the Funeral/Party. O-R-E and Ashley are appalled that she doesn’t get it, but I am appalled that none of these people are at all approving of the fact that at least girlfriend cares about doing a good job at work. SHE HAS A FUNERAL/PARTY TO THROW.

And, in fairness, Christina does calls CMM  several time to apologize but he never calls her back, which she finds sad and perplexing. She goes into Boss-Boyfriend’s office to have a heart-to-heart with him about how his proposal screwed up her nascent relationship with her One True Love, but he  is totally douchy and dismissive of her, giving her not of his time but of his credit card, and telling her to go buy herself something pretty. Ashley Benson agrees with me that this relationship may not actually work out.

Christina is worrying about her love life when Office-Rival-Ex — the real one, not the ghostly apparition version — starts chasing after her, harassing her about this promotion they’re both after,  and generally acting like kind of a dick, and dude, she lets him HAVE IT: yelling about all the work she’s doing for this Funeral/Party, including getting Elton John to rewrite and sing Candle in the Wind. She is kind of awesome about it, I have to say:

Is it wrong that I am totally relating to the troubled power bitch in this movie?

She then heads off to make it right with CMM, who is of course treating sick children at the hospital.  He is PISSED that she used their date to get another dude to put a ring on it– squintily so:

CMM wonders, WHAT KIND OF PERSON LEAVES IN THE MIDDLE OF A DATE TO GET ENGAGED? A decent question. Christina admits that she was kind of using him to get back at Boss-Boyfriend.  “WHO ARE YOU? WHO ARE YOU?” CMM bewails. The girl HE dated CARED ABOUT PEOPLE. “I could never fall in love with a girl like you now,” he snaps, and Christina is hurt, she says. “THE TRUTH HURTS,” CMM drama queens, and storms out.

Christina ALSO storms out. Ashley — just assume Ashley Benson is present for nearly everything that happens, in hotpants, holding a martini, by the way — thinks that Christina needs to do something to prove to CMM that she’s not as horrible as she seems. Christina shrugs that she has to go get some work done.  “Seriously? After all that, you’re still putting work first?”  Ashley gapes.  “After all that, it’s all I have left,” Christina says with restraint. I would have said, “DON’T YOU WANT A NICE FUNERAL/PARTY, YOU UNGRATEFUL BOOZEHOUND?”

And then Santa shows up:

Why yes, he’s the ghost of  Ex-Mas Yet to Come. And as he shows up, Ashley leaves. FOREVER. As is, she crosses over with a poof, which is kind of the ghost version of storming out in a huff. Christina has a hard time dealing with this all of a sudden.  Santa: “You do realize that [Ashley Benson] is DEAD, right?” Santa is kind of a bummer.  And so is the future he shows Christina: Jackee has gone around the bend and named a dog after Christina and believes it to be her real daughter; Christina’s boring college friend Growing Pains has lost her restaurant and is working at Applebees.  I don’t really care, but it may comfort her to know that Applebees has great margaritas!  And then, sadness appropriately revealed, Santa — like Dr Kimberly Shaw before him — rips off his wig and is revealed to be Boss-Boyfriend!

He smarms that they ended up getting divorced: She was too focused on work, while he was focused on chasing tail. She got half the company in the split, but she can’t enjoy her success. Why not, you ask?

UNEXPLAINED COMA.  Of course. Chad Michael Murray is involved. SOMEONE has to be in an illustrative coma. A coma in which no one visits Christina’s selfish ass.  And guess that? It’s TOO LATE TO CHANGE THIS FUTURE, Santa Boss-Boyfriend announces. Christina takes her own hand, crying that this is the future, so surely she can still fix it.  “Christmas is over,” Santa Boss-Boyfriend intones. She turns to him and begs him not to let her die alone and he just walks away. AND THEN SHE DIES. Wow, this whole thing is taking a depressing turn. First, Santa is all mean, and now the protagonist is dead. Christina sobs as she clutches her own dead hand…

…And then wakes up to a text from Boss-Boyfriend, wondering why she’s not at the Funeral/Party. She’s back in the present, and — hey! — so is a non-crossed-overAshley Benson. Christina is extremely relieved that she hasn’t yet died alone, nor even fallen into a coma, and runs out there to fix the future.

First, she visits Jackee, who is playing piano for the dog, as one does. Christina tells Jackee that she loves her and she doesn’t want her to be alone on Christmas, so she takes her to some boring party that Growing Pains is throwing, which is surely all wholesome and whatnot, where she also apologizes to Growing Pains for any Growing Pains-related bad behavior, and then leaves — swearing to return, however.

At the Funeral/Party, Christina obviously gives her receptionist the rest of the day off, then promptly breaks up with Boss-Boyfriend, who gives her a promotion anyway: after all, this is the best Funeral/Party Hollywood has seen in ages!

Now that Christina has cleaned up her act, what with the loving her mother and dumping her boss, Ashley can take off to Heaven, which boasts, according to her, “an open bar, and Heath Ledger.” Sadly, however, judging from the dress she’s going to have to wear for all eternity, it lacks belts:

I’m going to be pissed if I get to heaven and I have to wear something I hate for all eternity. Can’t I at least get a cute wrap dress, God? Anyway, after Ashley Benson crosses over, Christina makes up with her Office-Rival-Ex real fast and then runs off to find (duh) CMM. Who is playing basketball, because that’s what he does no matter what show he happens to be on. The court is, as he said on OTH, where he does his best healing. Or thinking. I can’t remember the exact quote. Regardless:

Christina leaps out of the convertible and apologizes abjectly for being such an asshole her whole life, and for not marrying him.  She confesses that she loves him — and always has, even though she hasn’t seen him for years and for all she knows he’s a total irritating lunatic now. CMM looks doubtful, so Christina wonders if she can reintroduce him to the old her. And then she gives him the picture of them sitting on Santa’s lap, which she always kept.  “It’s a present from the man that I love,” she explains. He looks doubtful for a moment, and then:

That was easy! THE END.

Fuggery: 3 out of 10. Other than poor Ashley Benson’s unfortunate Wardrobe of Eternity, everyone looks fine, and Christina Milian is downright cute.

Fromage: 7 out of 10. Cheesy? Yes. But could it have been CHEESIER? Hello, they couldn’t have found a way for Christina to Learn Things thanks to one of CMM’s adorable child patients? Also: making a plot point out of gift certificates is lame. If only Growing Pains had needed a kidney, rather than customers. On the other hand: excessive use of Santa.

F*ckwittery: 6 out of 10. Why is it so wrong to care about doing a good job, even if your job happens to be to throw an awesome Funeral/Party? Why does no one notice that Christina spent the entire movie talking to the air and then suddenly, magically, finding herself drenched with vodka? How is it possible that no one thought to have Christina Milian perform a Christmas song, dressed as a sexy Santa, at some point? These are the things that will keep me up at night.

Overall rating: 5 out of 10.

Tags: Film and TV