I know this holiday season has been a total bummer because it was only today — two days before Christmas — that I started watching holiday movies, something I typically look forward to all year. I’m not talking about films like A Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone, or A Christmas Story. No, my holiday viewing is restricted to such masterpieces as 12 Dates of Christmas, Snowglobe, and the incomparable Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe.
My friend Nicole and I have two key things in common: we both have MBAs, and we love terrible TV movies. So it’s no surprise that we also share a deep affection for terrible TV movies with a business slant. In particular, holiday-themed terrible TV movies with a business slant, or what I call “Business Christmas” movies. I made this Venn diagram to help you understand:
Jennie Garth plays Holly, a big-city marketing exec from the small town of Streetsville. You can tell she’s a city person because she would rather drink martinis with her highfalutin, stiletto-shod friends than come home for Thanksgiving.
Holly’s company, which is Walmart but isn’t called Walmart for obvious reasons, is looking to open a new location in Streetsville, and it’s going to cause some kind of problem for the townspeople that I can’t remember despite having seen this movie at least five times. It has to be either that it’s going to put a bunch of local shops out of business, or they’re going to have to raze a building that’s important to the town to make room for the megastore.
This is maybe the holy grail of Business Christmas movies as it also employs a favorite trope of mine: the heroine who hits her head and then wakes up in a different version of her life. Here, Holly awakens to learn that she’s no longer in line for Not-Walmart’s C-suite — instead, she chose to remain in Streetsville, where she’s married to the guy Exec Holly left behind. The good people of Streetsville — with their Midwestern values that apparently are prevented from reaching Chicago, which, last I checked is also in the Midwest, by some sort of impenetrable forcefield — help Holly understand what’s really important (it’s not appletinis) and she forms a plan to stop Not-Walmart from doing whatever evil corporate thing they were going to do.
2. Christmas Cupid
Christina Milian, whose song “AM to PM” I downloaded from Audiogalaxy in college, is a successful PR exec whose biggest client is also her most difficult. Said client, played by Pretty Little Liars‘ Ashley Benson, falls out a window while drinking a dirty martini and dies, becoming a Jacob Marley-cum-Lindsay Lohan-type guide for Milian’s character, whose name I can’t remember — but more importantly, whose mom is played by Jackee Harry.
With Benson’s character as tour guide, we get a glimpse into Milian’s past, learning about her painful breakup with a charming doctor played by Chad Michael Murray. Since then, all she cares about is her social status and being awesome at PR for big-name celebs. She can’t even find time to help promote her best friend’s restaurant, which will fold in Christmas Future if Sloane (that’s Milian’s character; I just looked it up) doesn’t get her priorities straight ASAP.
3. All She Wants for Christmas
Monica Keena, whom I know from Undeclared but whom I also believe to have been on a season of Dawson’s Creek that wasn’t the one I saw four consecutive episodes of before never watching the show again, plays Noelle, an MBA candidate at Wharton who’s at home in Montana(? let’s call it Montana, but it might be Idaho) to work on her MBA thesis (which is not really a thing). Her paper has something to do with the primary employer in her hometown, which is a manufacturer of Christmas decorations.
I’m realizing that I really didn’t hold onto the details of this one, but basically they’re in danger of shutting down the Christmas factory and Noelle has to prevent it from happening. Meanwhile she’s involved in a flirtation with a mysterious outsider who, it’s obvious from the get-go, is secretly part of the rich family who owns the company, and may be sleeping with some girl Noelle doesn’t like whose backstory escapes me. This is a favorite of mine precisely because it’s so bad.
4. Let It Snow
Candace Cameron-Bure plays a businesslady with daddy issues — namely, that her dad, played by Alan Thicke, is also her boss, and treats her more like a business associate than a child. She is (I think) tasked with heading to a very Christmasy inn in the mountains of, say, Colorado, to, um, appraise the inn before her dad’s company buys it and replaces it with a five-star hotel? Instead, she falls in love with the owners’ son during a series of outdoor activities that include ice-fishing and either snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.
OK so I’ve only seen this one once but I would definitely watch it again.
5. The Mistle-Tones
Tia Mowry plays Holly, an aspiring singer who’s finally getting her turn to audition for the Snow Belles, a legendary Christmas singing group founded by her late mother (the type of thing that would only exist in one of these movies). Thanks to a series of mishaps, she’s late for the audition, and the mean-girl who heads up the group, played with panache by none other than Tori Spelling, denies her the lone open slot.
Devastated, Holly heads to her nondescript office job, where she rounds up a group of coworkers to help her start a rival group to compete with the Belles for a chance to perform holiday songs at the mall (seriously). The eponymous Mistle-Tones are reasonably solid, but something’s missing. That is, until the same garbage car that made Holly late for her Belles audition skids off the road into a snowbank outside a dive bar, and she discovers her strait-laced boss vigorously singing karaoke. I don’t know why I can’t remember the protagonists’ names in some of the other movies but I can vividly recall this guy singing Elvis Presley’s “Burning Love,” but there you have it. Holly recruits him to the MTs, and he’s also reasonably attractive in a generic way so he has to be the love interest as well.