Friday, December 19, 2014

Case Study No. 1750: Cheri Jamison

Lowell Fulson: Lonesome Christmas
Lowell Fulson: Lonesome Christmas - with scenes from the movie "The Twelve Trees of Christmas"
Tags: Lowell Fulson
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From: dakarlion1
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Cheri Jamison rallies the residents of her beloved Manhattan neighborhood to participate in a Christmas tree contest when her cherished local library is abruptly set for demolition. Cheri finds herself up against an ambitious developer Tony Shaughnessy, who hires Cordelia, a professional decorator, to win the contest for him. The competition is on, but as Cheri works to save the library she discovers that Tony is more than the heartless man she thought. Will her dedication to the beloved library drive Tony away...and with it a chance at true love?



Twelve Trees of Christmas (2013)
TV Movie - Romance - 16 November 2013 (USA)

In a New York City community, during the Christmas season, pretty red-haired librarian Lindy Booth (as Cheri Jamison) receives some devastating news. The library where she works will be demolished to make room for a condominium, with two full bathrooms per unit. Behind this dastardly plan is materialistic, but attractive Robin Dunne (as Tony Shaughnessy). By the way, they are both unmarried. In order to save the library from run, Ms. Booth decides to have a Christmas tree decorating contest. The script attempts to explain how this is going to help reverse the demolition and gives some vague guidelines for the contest, but none of it makes much sense...

The most standard contest rules are broken, and nobody seems to notice...

"The Twelve Trees of Christmas" is dull and predictable, but several in the supporting cast get scenes worthy of a demonstration reel. Shauna MacDonald is most effective. For some reason, Melanie Brown (aka "Scary Spice" of The Spice Girls) assumes the villain role. The handsome Casper Van Dien wanders onto the set a couple of times. Best thing about this TV Movie is the work of director Michael DeCarlo and photographer Russ Goozee. They fill the screen with the colorful set decorations nicely and balance them with sleek floors and table tops.



After last week's non-Christmasy Christmas movie A Country Christmas Story, I think Lifetime was maybe overcompensating a little with their new movie The Twelve Trees of Christmas. Its plot was eerily similar to a stress dream I once had when I binged on an entire box of candy canes and fell asleep with You've Got Mail on in the background. The same thing must have happened to the writers.

Our heroine is Cheri (Lindy Booth), a librarian who was created when a scientist crossed Shelley Long with Bambi and dressed the resulting creature in a bunch of cardigans. Her hobbies include reading, talking about reading, and smiling. She's devastated to learn that her beloved Manhattan library, where her father taught her to smell books, is set to be demolished.

What a coincidence that the man planning to tear it down, the grandson of the woman who founded the neighborhood, lives in her building. Tony (Robin Dunne) and his boss Charles (Casper Van Dien) have been planning to build a high-rise apartment building there. Charles is only in two scenes, which is a real shame, considering he spends his screen time imitating Christian Bale as Batman and delivering lines about how libraries are graveyards for words from the past.

In case you haven't already guessed, Cheri and Tony are very different. Cheri views the world through Disney-colored glasses, defining success as doing what you love and helping people (gross). Tony, on the other hand, defines success as money, money and more money. Naturally, they're often thrown in the same room together - even in an elevator at one point - and spend every scene arguing with each other while suppressing the desire to kiss.

Cheri has an "aha moment" (slow down there, Oprah) and decides the best way to save the library is to have a contest among the regulars in which they decorate Christmas tress inspired by the libary. I guess rich people's greed can be cured at the sight of adorable Christmas trees. Or something. She convinces Tony's grandmother Mrs. Shaughnessy to judge the competition. Much to Cheri's over-the-top dismay, Tony signs up to decorate his own tree, but of course he'll have help from his decorator friend Cordelia.

Enter Mel B, whose performance is seriously lacking in animal print and "zig-a-zig-ah." Cordelia has a thing for Tony and will do anything to win the contest for him, including stealing Cheri's tree idea, which was already pretty manipulative in itself. Cheri gets inspired to decorate a tree with traditional Irish crystal to give Mrs. Shaughnessy - who is extremely Irish, in case the name didn't give it away - a nostalgia attack and convince her to change her mind about tearing down the library. Just when she's convinced a shop owner to let her borrow a bunch of crystal on Christmas Eve, Cordelia swoops in and buys out the shop.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of other characters learning lessons by working on their own Christmas trees. Take, for instance, the busy couple who treat their Christmas tree theme even more seriously than me deciding between bacon and sausage at IHOP. They eventually decide to cover their tree in a bunch of old toys. That's... really unoriginal. But it brings them closer together so good for them, I guess.

There's also Artie, a rejected character from The Big Bang Theory, and his artsy crush, who clash over how to approach their tree but end up hooking up anyway. And of course there's the janitor and the head librarian, who bond over their love of books and whose courtship includes the line, "In my fantasy land, you're the queen." Couldn't make this stuff up if I tried, folks.

But those people aren't really important. What is important is saving this library. Everyone's trees finally go on display, and... they're all kinda lame. One of them has iPads with blinking hearts. Do with that what you will. While Cordelia impresses Mrs. Shaughnessy with her plagiarized tree, Tony is turned off by her dishonesty. He gives an impassioned speech into a reporter's camera while doing that weird Bill Clinton "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" hand gesture, and then he tells her to bugger off. (She's British so I felt comfortable using that phrase, but in hindsight it may have been a mistake.)

Now it's time to see what smiley Cheri came up with. Because she couldn't con Mrs. Shaughnessy into changing her mind with the Irish crystal, she decides to make a Christmas tree out of children (lined up on steps, not all chopped up and repurposed or anything) with a little girl singing a Christmas carol at the top. It's so beautiful and Jesusy that it gives everyone a case of the Christmas spirit, even the people who got their Christmas spirit shot at Walgreens. That includes "libraries are graveyards" Charles, who seconds Tony's decision not to tear down the library. What the hell, Charles? I thought I could count on you.

We end the movie with Tony and Cheri kissing. Drats, I had my money down on them almost kissing and then getting distracted by a cell phone ringing or a friend bursting in to deliver important news. Quit throwing me for a loop, Lifetime.

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