Mariah Carey is a diva. That statement is well known, and should not be understated. She has no problem casting herself as a diva either. Stories of her demanding benefits well beyond the accepted norm have run rampant from the start of her career through modern day. Perhaps one of the best things about Mariah is that she knows she’s a diva, and is perfectly at peace with being seen as an overly-demanding woman of great talent. Even in the batshit insane Mariah Carey’s Merriest Christmas, she enters the stage riding on a sleigh being pulled by a group of hunky dudes in reindeer outfits (and, you know there was at least one stage of development where the reindeer studs were all but naked). Which leads me to wonder why she chose to direct a film, a medium where she has had but marginal success, and cast herself as the enemy.
At the beginning of A Christmas Story, Lacey Chabert is closing up her Los Angeles designer boutique, packing up her apartment, and moving to her family home in Silver Falls, Ohio (which, apparently, has been empty since her father died because…I don’t know). Her elementary school daughter is despondent about the move, to the point where she throws away her sheet music while snarking “I figured since everybody else was throwing their dreams away…” This girl is a master shade thrower. Worst of all, it’s Christmas, meaning that mother and daughter have to listen to Christmas music on their drive from California to Ohio.
Upon their arrival to Silver Falls, Lacey immediately butts heads with her old high school rival, Mariah Carey. You may be wondering in what time warp is the star of Mean Girls a high school rival of Mariah Carey. Let me tell you, whatever time warp it is, it is certainly full of Vaseline and soft focus. There isn’t a close-up shot of Mariah Carey where she hasn’t had her makeup contoured by the best drag queens, and the camera hasn’t been covered in cheese cloth slathered in Vaseline. I took off my glasses in the middle of one of her close-ups and it didn’t make much of a difference.
Immediately, Mariah and Carey pick up their old rivalry, where Mariah has a some sort of big ass house (that we never get to see) and a wealthy husband, or some shit, and is always trying to one-up Lacey. Mariah’s daughter takes up the torch and harasses Lacey’s daughter in class, making fun of her for wearing clothing designed by her mother (which, in this universe, is like making fun of one of the Versace kids for wearing their family clothing). Luckily for Lacey, she finds a foothold with a single hunky music teacher who has been crushing on her since forever (and never takes his shirt off…why couldn’t this have been a Lifetime movie?!). And, for some reason, Santa Claus is the janitor of the school, though he really does fuck all in this film.
That’s kind of the way this movie goes. Almost everything is a “fuck all” moment. During rehearsals for the elementary school talent show, the hunky stud runs out of time to even hear Lacey’s daughter. Kathy Najimy, as Lacey’s aunt, seems like she should be the Yente of the movie, but she’s upstaged by Lacey’s nosy as fuck daughter, who tries to get her mother and the band geek together by singing a very inappropriate song dedicated to Santa. Lacey one-ups Mariah by bedazzling the kid’s outfits. And, true to Hallmark’s form, there’s even a moment where Lacey’s best friend from L.A. flies out to tell her that she got a job offer from some department store chain, and can move back to L.A. You know, because phones are the debil. Though, the biggest WTF of the movie is that Lacey says that her daughter is finally comfortable again, even though they’ve only been there for like 2 weeks, and her only friends are Santa Claus the janitor, and the hunky music teacher.
Even though Hallmark movies are all about friends, family, and relationships, why is everybody in them such assholes? Lacey Chabert forgets the dude who was waiting for her for a decade (even though, later, she remembers he dissected her frog for her). Her daughter is a nosy busybody who snarks her way through the movie. The hunky music teacher is nothing but a goody-two-shoes who has no visible personality outside of Lacey Chabert. Mariah Carey is a bitch. And, as a final kick in the pants, the three female main characters – Lacey, Lacey’s best friend, and Kathy Najimy – talk through all of the kids talent show acts. Every single one. What fucking assholes! This is live theater, and they’re in the front row!!
So, the movie is exactly what you’d expect. Bored acting, mediocre direction, and a lot of nothingness. But, the guilty highs and lows were in the followup, Mariah Carey’s Merriest Christmas Special. It is delightfully bonkers. Lacey and the music teacher stud dish to somebody that Mariah Carey was the easiest, most trusting director they’ve ever had (read: constantly absent). Mariah sings a whole bunch, including a blend of Here Comes Santa Claus and Up on the Housetop featuring the bassline from Another One Bites the Dust. And, Santa Claus driving presents to a cabin in Aspen with a bitchy, Mariah-Carey-obsessed SIRI for company. On the plus side, it had more people of color on screen than I’ve seen in all of the Hallmark Christmas movies I’ve watched so far…combined. For all the insanity and inanity of the special, Mariah Carey sings and her voice is glorious. She’s starting to get a bit dependent on her hit pitched squeal (I think it appeared in every song), but her voice is like melted butter. And, that made the whole night worth it.