The ABC’s of BC, not CT
Christmas Caper (2007)
This was an ABC Family movie for their 25 Days of Christmas “event” way back in the day. Did ABC Family beget Hallmark and all that comes with that channel in the 2020’s? And since it is Hallmark Channel that began filming so much of their treacle in Connecticut that got me to start my own “5 Days of Connecticut Christmas Movies,” is Shannen Doherty to blame for all of my pain? Hmmmm…
Doherty is Cate Dove, a thieving criminal who needs a haven after a bungled burglary down in New York somewhere. A “New Haven” perhaps?
So yeah, the movie opens with Cate and her partner pulling some heist in a mansion. The homeowner comes home while they are in the house and Cate’s partner Clive abandons her to take the fall – except she manages to escape… everything but the security cameras.
Her face is captured and all of New York City law enforcement is looking for her.
Meanwhile, Cate’s sister Savannah and her husband are stuck in the Bahamas on a work retreat because of a hurricane or something and can’t get home to their tend to their two children whose nanny has to leave. What to do, what to do.
Savannah and her dopey husband go through their flip phones and call every single person they know to watch their children, Parker and Annie, but no one is willing to upend their lives for these people. It’s clear everyone hates these kids.
Parker is carousing juvenile delinquent (of the ABC Family variety, meaning he wears jean jackets and performs annoying pranks) and Annie is a know-it-all; a genuinely smart and fairly nice kid. Annoying, sure, but… not exactly the devil. (Actually, there’s a good line when a sitter says to another, “Those children are the spawn of Satan” and then one of the kids says, “We like to think so.” Classic ABC Family zinger.)
Savannah is forced to ask the one person she hasn’t reached out to: her raven haired criminal sister Cate. Unaware that Cate is on the lam and being hunted by the law in New York, hiding out in a wealthy Connecticut suburb is the perfect plan for her. Hijinks!
It’s a week before Christmas in idyllic Comfort, Connecticut and Cate simply plans to eat junk food and watch TV while watching the house and kids. But hoo boy, these wacky kids have other plans!
I had many difficulties with this movie. I’ve watched enough television to know that when a person is wanted for a felony, the cops will always check out the family first. This does not happen here. Nor does Cate cut her hair or, well, do anything to change her appearance. Moreover, Cate grew up here in Comfort, Connecticut… which is a mere taxi ride away from New York City… and her face is all over the New York papers and news broadcasts and yet, no one notices any of this?
As we all know here in Connecticut, Fairfield County residents do not watch or read Connecticut news. It’s a New York suburb and they’d all be aware of Cate’s wanted status. But let’s forgive all of that. I have a harder time forgiving the shots of Savannah’s house in “Connecticut.” In late December.
These jamokes didn’t even care to film in winter. All the trees have leaves.
So what do they do to make it Christmassy? Grab some stock footage of, oh I don’t know, Pasadena, California?
This is so not winter in New England it hurts:
I just found the ABC Family blurb for this production:
A Grinch-like thief retreats to her hometown in Connecticut after a con goes bad and gets stuck baby-sitting her niece and nephew until their parents can make it home for Christmas. She spends most of her time devising ways to even the score with Clive, her partner in crime, until the spirit of the holidays can help put her priorities back on track.
Um, spoiler alert? Even if the script was brilliant (it’s not) and even if the acting was on point (it’s not) and even if it was hilarious (no) or moving (nope) or just palatable (okay), the green trees and the blurb giving away the ending are simply unforgivable.
Cate is not a very good mom substitute. So we get all the sitcom situations of messy kitchens and kids forgotten at school and such. She starts the week as the cool aunt doing things like teaching the mischievous Parker some pickpocketing and scamming skills. Oh yeah, before that happens, a town sheriff comes to the house. Cate thinks she’s busted, but the cop is there to bust Parker for one of his latest pranks.
Oh my gosh! The town sheriff is none other than her high school boyfriend Hank! What are the chances?! And what are the chances that Hank, who again, lives and works in a town near enough to New York City for Cate to flit back and forth every day to try to get her cut of the stolen diamond and be home in time for everything else going on – what are the chances that Hank is unaware of the APB out for Cate?
And by the way, Hollyweird, Connecticut did away with sheriffs in 2000 after endless corruption and scandal. (If you’re not from Connecticut, we don’t have real counties and sheriffs were more or less political appointees and, well, it was a mess. The bottom line is there are no sheriffs in Connecticut and this movie takes place in 2007 and I just can’t abide by this. For shame.)
And “Comfort” is the name of the town? What’s funny is that this dreck isn’t any worse than more current Hallmark Channel fare. Despite my harping on the silly continuity, logic, and setting flaws, it’s really not that bad. Shannen Doherty is good in her role and the little girl is really good. The ridiculously dumb by kind-hearted sheriff is alright and the Clive criminal guy is… he’s bad. So’s the boy kid. But whatever… where was I?
Oh who cares. I found an old online article about the movie and this cracked me up:
As Doherty worked with these two children, she became close to them.
“How adorable are the two kids?” Doherty asks. “She’s 9 years old. She (Calis) is so good, and just the most respectful, sweet kid. My time on the set was spent with them. And when we had our lunch break, she came with me — the boy, too. They were in my trailer with me. We ate and played games.”
“The boy, too?!” Poor kid. What a slap in the face. Didn’t Shannen Doherty have a bad rep for a while after 90210? Maybe it was because of stuff like that. “The boy.” I’m still laughing.
Over the week with the kids, Cate begins to slip. She nearly tells Parker her situation. She becomes sentimental. She starts to actually care about Christmas. And of course she begins falling for the Sheriff guy.
The neighbor lady appears to be a perfect Stepford Wife, but Cate learns that underneath that veneer is a broken and sad woman in an imperfect marriage. You see Cate? You’re not the only person with demons!
Because that lady is falling apart, Cate agrees to host the neighborhood Christmas party. Aha! She only agreed in order to rob all the guests while they were occupied at her house! Once a criminal, always a criminal! (She calls herself “Auntie Clause” as in “Anti-Claus” which also made me smile.)
Back to New York, this time with the kids. Cate meets Clive who essentially stole from her and he’s not giving her an inch. Parker and Annie sit there, oblivious to what’s really happening. After this failed meeting, they return home and Cate finds that Hank the Sheriff has set up the high school to recreate the prom that they missed out on. My word, these people plan and pull off large events in mere hours.
Cate and Hank dance and kiss and then get back to her house party.
Comfort, Connecticut is magical!
The diamond thief guy in New York goes to sell the diamond to a buyer but it’s missing! CATE! He goes to Comfort to confront her, and arrives within the hour. Cate is out burgling her neighbors and Clive attends her party and Hank is bumbling about. Wackiness in full effect.
The kid, Parker, had pulled a switcheroo on Clive with the diamond I guess. I can’t really remember what happened, but I know Cate tried to run, but Hank stopped her and was going to let her go (for love!) but she wouldn’t abide by that. So she arrested her along with Clive. Cate had returned the stolen neighbor presents but got some wrong which meant some people opened wrong presents (like sexy lingerie for an old man; that type of thing) which made me legitimately laugh again.
Cate got some light sentence and I don’t recall what happened with the diamond. I guess Parker returned it. Yeah, that’s what happened. The end.
CTMQ Rating: 1 out of 5 thumbs up
Connecticutness: 13 out of 169 Nutmegs
Filmed in Connecticut? No
Wealthy Caucasian with a Big House? Yes