Sunday, December 02, 2012

BAD Christmas TV Movies Volume II: The March Sisters at Christmas

(note: I am so miffed at this I refuse to link to it. If you want to learn more you can google.  I also have no desire whatsoever to re-envision this or see any image. So, instead, you get a picture of a better adaptation of Little Women : one that won't make you want to staple things to Prof. Bhaer's head)

Yes, this Lifetime modernization of Little Women exists.  And yes, it features the four sisters you know and love and the supporting cast of male characters you know and love and....yet... well.... actually, it doesn't because it is the WORST PIECE OF CRAP ADAPTATION IN THE HISTORY OF TIME!

Why bring Little Women into this, Lifetime?  Why?  Why did you have to go and do that.  Fine, make a cheesy movie about four sisters trying to renovate a New England House before the holidays while showing snapshots of their befuddlingly stupid relationships; but don't name them Jo, Beth, Meg and Amy.

Egads, people. Like, I can't even.  Like, where to begin.... oh dear Lord in Heaven and all the Christmas Angels.

Well, let's start with what people do in Little Women adaptations that goes splendidly awry:
-mistaking Jo the tomboy for Jo the annoying bitch.  This adaptation does that in spades.
-completely misrepresenting Prof. Bhaer as the Paul Emmanuel or Rochester.  Guys, we're not in Bronte; it's not all flint and flittering sparks of anger and confrontation here.  They don't yell at each other.  He's Prof. Bhaer.  Sometimes, as is the case with Kitty and Tina, he's actually, literally a bear.  Like, dressed as one.  Like, fine, make him quirky and literary and cultured (hi! Gabriel Byrne) and make him far hotter than his source material (hi Rossano Brazzi ). You can do ALL these things; but MAKE HIM LIKEABLE. There HAS to be a reason why Jo chooses Bhaer over Laurie.
-Amy and Laurie.  We all think it's wrong to begin with; but here it is
-Beth.  Well, whatdya do with Beth?  Do you do anything? anyways.....

THIS IS WHAT this adaptation does in FRAKKIN SPADES

and oh GOD IN HEAVEN  where to start.....

okay, so Marmie is in Afghanistan with Mr. March who is over there doing correspondence work because, in case you haven't noticed, America's not having a Civil War ( though Donald Trump would start one if you asked nicely). Marmie wants to sell Orchard House because, you know, she's not actually the MARMIE OF THE NOVEL WHO WOULD NEVER SELL ORCHARD HOUSE.

Next door lives Teddy the rich boy with his Uncle Mr. Laurence ( who is the bad-ass uncle who drinks beer with Teddy and his friend John Brooke and crashes party and gives romantic advice on how the boys need to have "balls enough" to "Make it with the March sisters."  ) Oh Lord in HEAVEN

Jo and Teddy are best friends in that sexual-chemistry kinda way where they run around and wrestle and you just KNOW they would be doing it in a hayloft if a hayloft were to be had.
Meg and John Brooke dated in college and he still pines for her but she's dating some guy named Douchebag Dan and is a lawyer. For no real reason.

Amy is a ridiculously stupid girl with bad hair who happens to be in theatrics. Fine, I'll give you the theatrics thing, Lifetime.

Jo is a ghost-tweeter.  Meaning, that she supplements the family income and makes up for the fact ( the oft-joked fact ) that she can't get a real job by tweeting on behalf of celebrities. Really, however, she wants to be a novelist and she has written this epic magnum opus about four generations of March women and, like all writers do, has ACCIDENTALLY sent the entire novel as well as a query letter to the editor at a publishing house which has just hired her to ghost-write an autobiography of a teen pop star.  Weekly Volcano?  Yah, well, whatever.  The editor is Markus Bhaer who gets 8 minutes of screen time; but apparently that's enough to supplant Teddy's intentions and steal Jo's heart and make her randomly cry.

At the same time as the romantic entanglements ( Laurie and Amy go and get drunk on Amy's 21st birthday, fyi, and she confesses she's always had a crush on him ), they are renovating the Orchard House that Marmie wants to sell so she won't sell it. Problem is, they are the worst renovators in the history of time because they don't ACTUALLY do any renovating. Instead, they prance around in slippers drinking wine and putting up Christmas decorations.  Teddy send Jo wine bottles in a basket he propels up to her attic hideaway when he's not creating useless santa apps in a subplot that goes nowhere.

And Teddy pines for Jo and Jo says no and EVERYONE (including Uncle Laurence who has some sort of odd chemistry with Beth ----so palpable I thought they might actually get it on by the end of the film) goes to a performance of Twelfth Night and Teddy is a whiny schoolboy and ruins Jo's date with Bhaer.  Then, Bhaer decides he doesn't want to spend any more time with her and Jo is heartbroken and Teddy, ironically, decides that is the point to start pursuing Amy.  Because, seriously, any  March sister will do ( sung to the tune of Donny Osmond singing the popular ditty from Joseph).

You see, readers, Teddy doesn't BURN for JO.  He doesn't BURN WITH SIGHS OF LOVE FOR JO*

*paraphrase from an actual line in the film

As fast as you can say "Rodrigo Save Me" the problem of having to sell Orchard House is well, diminished into nothing, the parents return home from Afghanistan and Meg decides she has loved Brooke all along.  We get hints that she's "not the same girl she was in college"  (okay, hints is a kind of subtle word when, in fact, she just tells us over and over again while stationary and stagnantly NOT DEVELOPING AT ALL).

THIS ADAPTATION IS SO BAD! Lifetime, WHAT were you thinking?  Why did you have to make it Little Women.... but I digress....


So, even though Bhaer has given Jo the heave-ho (because, of COURSE, that's EXACTLY what the Bhaer of the book would do ); but as fast as you can say THE EIGHT MINUTES IN 'SEPARATE TABLES' that WON DAVID NIVEN THE OSCAR---- you have the EIGHT MINUTES IN THIS CRAPTASTICALLY BAD PRODUCTION wherein BHAER gets the girl simply by being the bookish chap and not boyishly insecure Teddy ( also, because even though they strayed so far from the plot; they decided they have to keep somewhat in line with Alcott or someone from above would smite them ).   How does Bhaer get the girl?  Jo, in all of her articulately sage wisdom ---as bespeaks a blonde celebrity ghost-tweeter, profoundly proclaims: "LOVE IS STUPID; BUT I THINK I'M IN IT"

At which point Rachel gagged. Much in the same way she gagged the last time she heard a line this bad ( which, incidentally, was in a film called When in Rome when that hot guy from Tad Hamilton tells Veronica Mars that "the only spell I'm under .....*insert dramatic pause here...... is yours.")

shoot me.

Anyways, Jo and Prof Bhaer draw on a chalkboard and then they kiss and everyone has a MERRY FRIGGIN CHRISTMAS because WHY OH WHY would they want to include the Under the Umbrella scene that is one of the most romantic in all of literature....

"I haf nothing to give you, my hands they are empty"*
"Not empty now"

*paraphrase from the real book.

No. don't do that. JUST DRAW ON A CHALKBOARD, you morons.

So, like the rest of you good-hearted people, I am turning to catch the end of the 1949 June Allyson edition which, thank the little Lord Jesus, is on TCM right now.

I would like to apologize on behalf of literature for the atrocity that was this 1 hour and 25 minutes plus commercials. Also, on behalf of my bad run-on sentences which I have NO INTENTION of changing (nor will I CHANGE MY CAPS TO ITALICS FOR EMPHATIC PURPOSES) because I AM friggin' MAD!



Lydia said...

Oh Rachel, do you know how many times I burst out laughing reading this review? THIS MOVIE SOUNDS HORRID! I have promptly cancelled my PVR recording for this movie. I actually just finished watching the 1949 version of Little Women on tv and I'm so happy I didn't waste my time with this modern atrocity. I can say, however, that I was so entertained by your review. Thanks for warning!

Unknown said...

Best movie review ever! I had no idea this craziness existed!

1949 Little Women FTW!!

Court said...

GRR ARGH AMY AND LAURIE. I don't care if it's written in the book, he deserves better than her! I don't even mean that he should end up with Jo, just not AMY. ARGH.

ducKy Boyd said...

Okay...I hate it already, but now I have to watch it. If only so that I can experience your Martin Freeman and Cumberbatch emotions!

I hate Amy. And Bear. He's stupid. ARGH! Just thinking about him makes me mad! LAURIE! WHY DID SHE FORSAKE LAURIE!?!?!?