Christmas at the Carousel (2021)
We’ve got a budding Hitchcock, Tarantino, Shyamalan, Kevin Smith over here. Yes, young Erik Bloomquist writes, directs, and stars in his own “Christmas at the Carousel.” Bloomquist the director has several horror movies under his belt, so this Christmassy romantic comedy (such as it is) is quite a departure for him.
Bloomquist is a local boy and has served as adjunct faculty, Artist-in-Residence, and Visiting Artist at Trinity College, Avon Old Farms, and Miss Porter’s School, among others. He’s a Trinity graduate and has received several impressive accolades – not the least of which was winning Dancing With the Stars: Connecticut.
Good for him. Now the question is, can he write, direct, and act well in a sweet holiday movie?
Bloomquist is Greyson, whose best friend from high school, Henry, picks him up from Hartford Union Station. And the filming location is actually Union Station! Super exciting. Greyson has come home from college for the holidays and it’s clear he’s a morose bummer of a person. Henry, on the other hand, is an effervescent dude who adds fun to every scene he’s in. The polar opposite duo meets up with longtime pals Sloane and Callie to catch up over drinks. Sloane and Callie are beautiful and both are doing well in their majors at college. Henry’s Henry. And Greyson, again, is like the the wet slop in an ashtray at the end of the night that someone spilled beer into.
But he’s got a few days to get it together. Sloane’s family needs help watching her 10-year-old sister Paige the next day and Greyson agrees. Poor kid.
But it turns out Greyson is pretty good with kids, and he takes Paige to the Bushnell Park Carousel where Henry happens to work. There’s a whole side plot in the movie where Henry and Callie yearn to be TikTok stars. So while Greyson is dealing with Paige and working through his feelings for Sloane, the others are constantly trying to hit on ideas that will go viral. It’s far less stupid than I just made it sound, I swear.
So when the idea comes up for the gang to sleepover at the New England Carousel Museum in Bristol, the TikTok Wannabes see it as a great location for their next TikTok videos or whatever they’re called.
There are lots of truly local Hartford area references throughout. “I think Salute is still open” and “They decorate the golf course with Christmas lights to drive through” and other things. Good stuff.
The ten-year-old kid joins the college age kids for the sleepover. Sidenote: The Bushnell Park Carousel is actually part of the Carousel Museum in Bristol, so the fact that Henry had an “in” at the museum because he works at the Hartford ride is actually plausible. In fact, as opposed to literally every other Connecticut Christmas movie, pretty much everything here is plausible.
Except for sad sack Greyson hooking up with Sloane. That’s ridiculous, but you know it’s gonna happen an hour before it does.
Throughout the night at the museum, fun times are had. And the museum shines here – it “partnered” with the filmmaker and clearly demanded some advertising of sorts. Random carousel facts are awkwardly dropped and there’s a clear appreciation for the history and craftsmanship on display. A couple of them even venture up to the third floor to the Bristol Museum of Fire History and the script worked in a bit about how Sloane’s dead dad donated a bunch of the stuff on display.
Greyson finishes some term paper he had due and he and Sloane start to work out their feelings. Henry and Callie try to nail a TikTok thing all night, but can never quite get it right until little Paige steps in to help.
Paige is great, by the way. The actress I mean. I think she’s going to go places in this business if she wants. Sloane is also a good actress. And poised. And beautiful. And wouldn’t give this mope Greyson the time of day if he didn’t write his own character arc.
She’s also longtime CTMQ reader Ann L’s “nephew’s girlfriend” as of late 2021. What that means for today, I have no idea, but there you have it. Shout out to Ann L, her nephew, and Madeleine Dauer the actress… which is a funny last name when one realizes Greyson’s character is also “dour.”
I like the Henry and Callie nonsense. I like the setting and the kid and the pacing. I like Sloane and her struggles with adulthood and moving to Boston. I like that they drive a Subaru Outback, the official family car of suburban Connecticut. I just can’t like the main guy here. His name, Greyson, is perfect. Dude is gray and blah and boring and a droning drag. He’s also just not a good actor, but hey, again, he wrote himself kissing the pretty girl, so I’ll give him that.
But when he’s in group scenes with banter, it’s him who seems to screw up the timings and such. Stay behind the camera, man. It’ll be okay. I was actively rooting against him getting the girl.
But he gets the girl and then the girl immediately ends it, Greyson goes to mope at the Newington High School bleachers, but Henry tells Greyson to go fight for the girl, so he gets the girl to meet him back at Bushnell Park where he gives her some sentimental gift and he gets the girl back, the “from the heart” TikTok goes viral, the end.
I’m giving this movie a higher rating that the vast majority of Connecticut Christmas movies. It’s really not terrible, it features not one, but THREE CTMQ filming locations, and all Connecticut references are valid – except a weird comment that infers Connecticut is significantly colder than Michigan in the winter.
I don’t ever want to see the Erik Bloomquist in front of the camera again, but other than that, I wasn’t mad I watched this movie.
CTMQ Rating: 3 out of 5 thumbs up
Connecticutness: 169 out of 169 Nutmegs
Filmed in Connecticut? Yes!
Wealthy Caucasian with a Big House? Not really