You all know I love writing about bad television and there’s no better time for corny holiday made-for-TV movies than Christmas. Ahhhhh, I love ’em. Every week from now until Christmas, I’ll share my thoughts on a ridiculous holiday movie. Enjoy!
Love at the Christmas Table (2012), starring Danica McKellar (Winnie!!!)
Aired 11/26/12 on Lifetime (Falalala Lifetime, y’all! Or apparently they’re calling it “It’s A Wonderful Lifetime” this year. Whatever.)
Movie description: A man realizes that his best friend since childhood is the woman that he loves. (Spoiler alert much?) See the movie page at MyLifetime.com
The movie opens on Christmas Day in the present. Sam Reid is returning home, which we discover via voiceover. This movie is going to be one of those movies that does comedic freezes throughout while the voice explains something we need to know, but at least there aren’t record-scratching sound effects.
In this case, we’re introduced to two people, one of whom is Danica McKellar’s character, Kat . Then we go back in time, to a series of flashbacks from when Sam and Kat are 4, 10, 13, 18 years old. The table (presumably the Christmas Table) shown in the first scene is the very first table that Sam and Kat’s fathers built when they started their furniture company together. Sam and Kat are the best of friends and spend a lot of time playing and hiding under the table, which we witness in a number of Christmas flashbacks. In their teenage years, we glimpse evidence of some unrequieted love that doesn’t lead anywhere.
After innocently falling asleep on the couch together at age 18, the two awkwardly say goodbye, with the hopes that next year they’ll see one another again. Which they do, at age 19, 20 (which involves an elaborate indoor snowball fight scene), 21 (in which they crawl under the table en route to the kid’s table), and 22 (full of deep questions about the meaning of life and whatnot).
At this point, it’s 30 minutes into the movie and I still have no idea whose house they are always in. I mean, I know it’s Lea Thompson’s house, but who her character is and why they’re always there? No clue. Tell me more, movie!
We’re still in flashbacks, age 23. It’s Christmas again and Sam doesn’t show up so their annoying friend drags Kat to a party with friends. Age 24, Sam arrives but he’s not alone…He’s brought a lovely lady with him. Uh oh! The new girl, Rebecca, is Australian and apparently things are serious between them. It’s obvious that Kat is crushed by this new development and Elissa (Lea Thompson) takes her upstairs to a study. She gives Kat an old copy of Great Expectations and apparently Kat has never heard of it, so she tells Kat about Miss Havisham. She also reveals that she was always in love with Kat’s father and has been consumed by this for her whole adult life. She shares a great nugget of wisdom that I’m not going to spoil for you, but apparently it works. Kat is inspired by the speech and leaves with some stranger at the Christmas get-together with one last wistful look at Sam.
More flashbacks…Age 26 and it’s karaoke time! Sam and Rebecca have broken up and she knows they broke up because her. There’s a tender moment in their dads’ furniture company where they are laying on some foam and then they share a dramatic kiss.
Next Christmas (Age 27, keep up!), Kat is “sick” and skipping the party just to avoid seeing Sam. These crazy kids just can’t seem to get this right. They fight by phone about him being away from their hometown and family all year and her never leaving their hometown. I don’t really understand what they’re fighting about. It’s almost like we’re missing AN ENTIRE YEAR OF THEIR LIFE AT A TIME because we’re only seeing tiny snippets of every Christmas Eve with no real information about them. The argument takes a pretty ugly turn when Sam accuses Kat of “playing the dead mom card” as they fight over the phone as he’s standing outside her house. Too far, Sam.
And that’s when we see that he had an engagement ring in his pocket. So I guess he was planning to propose to Kat but instead ended up crushing her beyond repair. Good one.
FINALLY we are back to present day (with 30 minutes left in the movie) and Sam and Kat are helping Elissa get the house ready for the party. Sam brought an engagement ring but his attempts to get Kat alone to pop the question are futile. They are sitting at the kitchen table (no wait, sorry, it’s the Christmas table) and Kat gives this big speech about thinking about what he said 5 years ago and she’s going to do something about it. She pulls out a ring box and Sam thinks she’s going to propose to HIM but then she says “Wish me luck!” and goes off to find someone else, leaving him sitting there, stunned.
It turns out she brought the ring to give to Elissa, wanting her to propose to Kat’s dad. They have a heart to heart up in the study and then Kat’s dad comes in too (she invited them both, unbeknownst to the other). Kat sits Elissa and her dad down and tells them she wants them together and officially asks Elissa to ask her dad to marry him. It’s actually a really sweet scene and all corniness aside, I admit I teared up.
The next bit has a lot of moving parts. Sam and Kat’s mutual friend tells Sam that Kat has been over him for years. He is dejected and goes for a walk with his parents, who have silently been rooting for Sam and Kat for years. Meanwhile, Kat finds out the friend told Sam it wasn’t going to happen between them and Elissa tells Kat she has something to show her. She gives Kat the keys to the furniture shop and when Kat arrives, there is a trail of red and pink crayons leading into and around the shop, where he has pinned up a map and a photo of a house. It then cuts to Sam telling his parents that he did something stupid, he bought a house for he and Kat. Inside the furniture shop he has made an incredibly elaborate and life-size model house out of cardboard. While she looks through the house, Sam is telling his parents that he doesn’t think Kat will leave their hometown, but then we see Elissa opening and reading a resignation letter that Kat left on her desk. She finally finds that he has created a life-size model of the
kitchen Christmas table. She tries to call him, he’s trying to find her (after some prompting from his parents), and there’s a bit of running and driving around before they are both back at Elissa’s empty house where the kitchen Christmas table has been decorated for the proposal.
It’s beautiful and sweet and if my kids weren’t screaming at one another and running through the living room, I’m sure I would have cried.
Love at the Christmas Table is corny at times and leaves out some stuff, but as far as these sappy Christmas movies go, it’s not bad! I was honestly hoping it would be terrible, so we’ll try again next week when I watch and review “Naughty or Nice”!