When you head off to spend Christmas with your new fiance’s parents, you don’t expect to end up with someone else’s family. If you do, it’s bound to be A Very Merry Mix-Up.
Family-oriented, impractical, antique store owner Alice Chapman (Alicia Witt) is restaurant-proposed to by her now-fiance Will Mitchum (Scott Gibson). Because he’s an eager deal-maker, he sends her to his family’s for Christmas and promises to be out on the next flight after he finishes some business.
At the airport, Alice’s luggage is lost and she makes the acquaintance of Matt Mitchum (Mark Wiebe). Since he’s Billy Mitchum’s brother, he offers to take her to see the family, which happens after the introductory traffic accident and ER visit. Alice bonds with this family immediately; they are like her in exactly the same way that Will isn’t. When Billy shows up and isn’t Will (perhaps the best didn’t-see-it-coming twist of a Christmas movie in recent history), Alice realizes she’s been staying with the wrong, wonderful, family. With Alice looking very much like a kidnap victim, Will picks her up and takes her to his home.
The other family Mitchum is very much like Will: narcissistic, self-involved, and money-oriented. It’s here that Will springs the news of the deal he’s been working on up to now: to get his fiancee to sell her generation’s-old family business to a mogul in exchange for a few million dollars. Will is very proud of himself. In the end, Alice chooses the nice family (like you didn’t see that coming).
I loved Alice with the nice Mitchums (to be fair, I’m an Alicia Witt fan, so she had me at FADE IN). I wish the movie had been filled with them — remove the other Mitchum family completely. I felt that they stole the time I could have had with the nice family I wanted to get to know better. Unfair. Unfair.
Sadly, Will Mitchum isn’t a caricature — there are all too many rapacious salesmen out there who only have eyes on profit and their own image. That was enough to make me want to throw up. (Amazingly, after I wrote that in my notes, Alice said about a deal he presented her, “I think I’m going to be sick,”…so it wasn’t just me.) What irks me is that this was yet another in a long cliche line of two people who are so mismatched that the premise of them being together is already on shaky ground. At least make him a little attentive and not 100% about the deal. That it takes so long for her to bolt actually serves to diminish her character.
I will watch the Alice with Matt and the good Mitchums over and over again. This is a family I want to spend time with. The twist and reveal of being with the wrong family actually bumped up my enjoyment of the story a few percentage points. The rest of the movie, I’m sorry to say, I’m going to skip on subsequent viewings. Once it was setup, we didn’t need to linger on the resolution of this plot line. Amazingly, though, the ending was fine. There was a climax and then they saw it through to a denouement which contrasted with the opening scene. It helped salve the wound made by the odious Mitchums.
A Very Merry Mix-Up, especially during the Mix-Up section, is quite enjoyable. It’s somewhat reminiscent of While You Were Sleeping. Unfortunately, it’s sidetracked with a B-story that overstays its welcome. The good parts are worth watching, and I recommend them.
|3 of 5|
For more movies, go to the list at: Watching the Holiday Movies
Photo: Crown Media