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Rum and Rom-Coms With Alison Stevenson: ‘A Holiday Engagement’

By / 12.12.13
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Welcome to "Rum and Rom-Coms". Basically what this is, is I watch a romantic comedy and get drunk while doing so. At the end, I give the film a rating according to how drunk I had to get in order to finish watching it. The higher the number, the worse the movie is. As always, feel free to view as a multi-pager or as a single page.

You guys, I know, it's been awhile. For some reason I decided to cut back on my drinking for a few weeks, thinking that would somehow detox my sad excuse of a body and change my sad excuse of a life for the better. Not trying to promote alcoholism here, but I have to say that at least when I was frequently drinking I'd find it easier to wake up in the morning (to puke), which would basically force me to get my day started. I'd also have far more regular shits. Anyways, it's the holiday season and since Christmas is coming up I figure I'd try and find a horrible Christmas-y rom-com. It has to be a Christmas one since Hanukkah or Kwanzaa ones don't seem to exist (don't give me that Adam Sandler “Eight Crazy Nights” bullshit).

In case you didn't know, I am a Jew who has never celebrated Christmas. The last name Stevenson really masks how Jewish my upbringing was. That's all thanks to my dad, who is a Gentile (or as mom lovingly called him, "a mistake"). When he suggested getting a Christmas tree one year my meshuggah mother kicked him out of the house and filed for divorce. Alright obviously I'm exaggerating, but she did give a very stern “Hell no”, and they did end up getting a divorce. Ha, good times.

To sum up, my experience with Christmas has been solely through what I've seen on television and in film. Overall, shit seems pretty lame. I think the only Christmas movies I really like are “Home Alone”, “Jingle All the Way”, and “Love Actually”. I really didn't want to like “Love Actually” but my vagina wouldn't have it any other way.

Perusing through Netflix, I find a movie called “A Holiday Engagement”. I think the poster looks like that movie with Sarah Jessica Parker where she visits her fiance's family for Christmas and they all hate her because she's Sarah Jessica Parker. However, now that I'm reading the synopsis I know it's definitely not that movie. It reads: “Hillary's plan to hire a good-looking guy to act as her boyfriend backfires when she brings him home for the holidays to try and fool her family. The joke ends up being on her when the fauxmance invites real complications.”

Fauxmance? Well, of course this is going to be good. This sounds like that movie with Debra Messing where she hires someone to be her boyfriend or something? But, the cast list here has no Debra Messing. Rather it has Bonnie Somerville (???) and Shelley Long. Yup, this has TV Movie written all over it, so I know I have break out the good stuff: Jim Beam.

I've got a full glass of whiskey with ice, and a second cup of vanilla flavored coconut milk. It's the only sweet beverage I currently have. I know the two will not mix well. Rather, I shall drink them side by side. Actually, I decided to take two shots of whiskey just now and chased them both with coconut milk. This feels fauxhealthy.

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The movie is starting. It was made in 2011. That's not so long ago, yet Hillary (our protag) is waking up to a radio alarm clock. Do people really still do that? There are a lot of things I am willing to suspend my disbelief with, but a radio alarm clock in 2011? Come on. This Bonnie Sommerville lady looks like Reese Witherspoon if Reese Witherspoon was a puppy. Okay that whiskey hit me kind of fast. Wow, now we're supposed to believe she really won some radio contest. She's calling into a radio station like this is the '90s or some shit. Turns out, she is just in the running to win a trip for two to Mexico. Her boyfriend is calling on the other line, and we see him in an expensive red sports car type thing. Douche alert!

So she's excited and telling him about the potential trip to Mexico and he's all like, “Mexico? Hillary, we have palm trees and sand here.” That's all Mexico has to offer I guess. It's quickly established that this guy is a stuffy corporate type (douche) who hates Mexicans. Now he's trying to bail on spending Thanksgiving with her family.

Hillary is giddy and happy. The total opposite of this tightwad, Jason. She loves life and he loves money. She loves trips to Mexico and he loves business. How did these two even hook up? Well opposites attract, according to every romantic comedy in existence.

Now the scene cuts to her and her more fun-loving, but less attractive best friend. She's holding a camera, and the two of them are walking around town trying to find a story. Of course she's a reporter. There are only three or four jobs women have in these movies. If they live in suburban towns they're either teachers, nurses, or work in a bakery. If they live in cities they either do something in advertising, or are magazine columnists, reporters, or pastry chefs.

So she gets a call that her newspaper shut down as she is interviewing some guy dressed up in a cell phone costume. I am pretty sure this guy is our lead (the fauxman in the fauxmance). He says he's an actor then they talk about how print is dead. Print is dead but radio is alive and well, apparently.

Now she's at dinner with her shithead boyfriend complaining about losing her job. He's all like, big deal you don't need to work, and she's talking about her very important piece on adopting dogs and cats. “We saved hundreds of animals from being euthanized.” Yeah who else is going to write about cats if she doesn't? Was Buzzfeed around in 2011? Anyways, he wants them to move to Pittsburgh for a big fancy lawyer promotion. She doesn't want to, but he's pretty much saying, I AM MAN DO WHAT I SAY.

So now she's back at home contemplating her tragic upper-class white woman problems. As it turns out, they're engaged but don't live together. What is this, the '50s?

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Okay what the hell kind of text messaging is this with pictures of their faces showing? Don't even show text messages if it's going to look like a sixth grader learning Photoshop for the first time. This movie is so bad already I don't know how I am going to get through this.

It's the next day and Jason is dumping Hillary for being hesitant about becoming his property. Well sorry buddy, but sometimes women want to have their own thoughts, and feelings, and dreams, and pursuits. I am so thankful that I'm not engaged to a rich lawyer. I'm thankful I'm not even dating a rich lawyer. Heck, I'm thankful I'm not dating anyone at all! I need more whiskey.

Jason literally just said, “I can't be with a girl who's out saving dogs and cats and god knows what else!” Yeah what do you think you're doing with all this saving bullshit, Hillary? What's next, saving PEOPLE? Have you no decency?

She's back at home now crying to her best friend as the radio plays in the background. Listening to the radio at home? WHAT YEAR IS THIS I'M SO CONFUSED. Oh, turns out she won that holiday vacation in Mexico. She's not even happy about this win. Who's she going to go with? Her friend? Hell no. Mexico is for lovers.

She's complaining now about how she can't face her family and tell them this horrible news. She's going on some rant about how all her sisters have perfect men and she doesn't blah blah blah.

Oh, but wait! Tricky best gal-pal comes up with a brilliant idea to post an ad for a fake fiance. Let the games begin. Hillary breaks down, and decides to go through with it after hearing her mother leave a long voicemail about how excited she is for Hillary to finally have a man in her life blah blah blah.

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It now cuts to her making a video. Ever heard of Craigslist? Why the Hell would you need to make a video for this, just write a paragraph and offer money like any sane person hiring a fake fiance would. This video is being uploaded to some kind of website that is not at all explained. It's called Ultimate.com and looks like it was made by the same sixth grader who designed the text message graphics. I guess it's some sort of dating site? Who does video messages on a dating site? What kind of dumb shit is this? Of course there's a montage of all the creepy and wacky dudes responding to her video. Every rom-com needs a montage. That's rom-com rule number one. Rule number two is, “make Alison want to kill herself”.

Wow these guys are so crazy. One guy likes to surf, and is really dumb. No way can she bring that guy home to mom! Now this one openly admits to having IBS. That's Irritable Bowel Syndrome in case you didn't know. Gross! This guy is a double no way! Ha, they saved the funniest for last. There's a guy on the run from the police who needs to go to Mexico ASAP. He even asks if she can get him a fake passport. LOL. Man, good stuff! But, as funny as that all was, our Hillary is still left with no fake fiance.

No wait, one last guy pops up and he seems to be normal. Why, if it isn't David, the cellphone guy from earlier. He fits the bill perfectly.

Okay I’m already too bored with this crap and need to be way more drunk. I'm pouring myself another glass of whiskey. I think this counts as my fourth since I took two shots, and finished my first glass already. I'm barely twenty minutes into this damn movie.

They meet up, and do a background check on this David guy. If he pulls off this ruse with her, she'll give him the trip to Mexico that she won. He's clean. Turns out he's just some loser whose only Internet presence is a bunch of Flickr pictures of him with his ex-girlfriend in Mexico. Whoa, what a coincidence!

They do the drive to mom's house, and when they arrive mom surprises them with a big engagement party. Can you say awkward? Sidenote: I can't believe that's Shelley Long. She is barely recognizable. Even her voice sounds different. Since when did she get so old? I just saw her guest star on an episode of “Frasier” that aired over twenty years ago and she looked great.

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The party is lame, and David has to pretend to be all lawyer-y. He also has to make up a story about why Hillary is not wearing her engagement ring. There's also a boring podiatrist that is supposed to be funny because he likes feet and all he talks about is feet.

I don't get why so many of these movies make certain types of doctors obsessive nerds about their profession. If they're a family doctor, or surgeon they're usually a “great catch”-- completely outgoing, well-adjusted, and fun to talk to. However, if they're something like a dentist or podiatrist, then they're a lame nerd ripe for getting dumped or made fun of. All these "dorky" doctors talk about is that body part they specialize in. What I've never seen is a gynecologist obsessed with vaginas. That might actually be funny.

I really don't know why I'm sucking up to the podiatrist community so hard right now, but if any podiatrists need help in their fight to change the way they're represented in the media let me know. I will carry a spear for you.

Shelley Long is basically this uptight mom who needs her daughters to be perfect. The only way for a woman to be perfect is to be married to a rich guy and make babies. Hillary is at least trying to establish some sort of independence and saying that it's the 21st century. ...The kind of 21st century where radio is king and 30-year-old women still care what their parents think.

Now mom is all like I have to plan this wedding and is hardcore guilt-tripping Hillary into letting her plan it.

Gah, we are in epic conundrum mode. Hillary's mom doesn't know that there's no real wedding happening, but Hillary can't tell her mom that because she's mom-whipped. Being under the extreme pressure she's in, she blurts out that she's getting married in a month. Yikes! More complications are sure to arise from this!

Hillary's father wants to fry the Thanksgiving turkey, but it explodes so now they have to have Thanksgiving at a Mexican restaurant. How quirky and unconventional.

More whiskey time. I think every rom-com should just be called, “When Boring People Find Each Other”. I'm not really paying attention to the movie so much. Chugging this Jim Beam is a lot more important.

Also, some guy just sent me an OkCupid message, it reads: "Hey, I'm just curious but are you interested in friends with benefits? :) No harm in asking, I'm just being honest! Let me know what you think and we can start talking."

As much as I love it when a guy is "just being honest", I think I'll have to decline this generous offer. Upon looking at his profile I have concluded that we should just be friends with no benefits. The kind of friends that never interact with one another and don't even know each others names. Pretty much the kind of friendship I had with everyone during middle school.

I guess I should get back to the movie. Hillary and this David character are bonding over their shared love of print media. David says, “I just want to hold something”. Oh you two and your love of holding things. Just give in to this red hot lust and have some boring sex already.

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Now they're in the process of planning the fake wedding. David, Hillary, and mom go wedding dress shopping. I guess this is supposed to be a funny scene where some crazed single woman who isn't even getting married wants the same wedding dress as Hillary. David fights the single girl for the dress, and Hillary is now even closer to falling in love with him.

God, this movie is so boring. I didn't think anything could be worse than "Pizza My Heart", but this is definitely worse. I'm trying to pay attention but pretty much anything that isn't this movie is more interesting to me right now. For instance, did you know that there's a small bug stuck inside the ice of my whiskey drink? No, there's no way you could know that you're reading this days after I write this. By then I will have ingested the bug and it will have been totally worth it as long as I got to keep drinking this whiskey.

Hillary's mom brought a priest to the home to talk to the fauxcouple and we find out that David is a Jew. Whoa! What a surprising twist. She wants him to get baptized so they can get married at her mom's favorite church. Now they're having some fight where David is reminding Hillary that they're not really getting married, and Hillary realizes she was being crazy. Women, right? All we want is a goddamn wedding, real or not!

Pause. I've taken one more shot. I'm almost out of Jim Beam. This movie better be over soon.

I don't know if I'm the odd woman out here, but I have never thought about my future wedding. I've mostly thought about never having one, and when I try to picture myself getting married all I get is flashbacks of me crying at my Bat-Mitzvah.

Well, Hillary tells David he should leave and she gives him the tickets to Mexico. David wants the tickets so he can reunite with his ex-girlfriend there and maybe they'll be in love again. He leaves, and now there's a subplot where Hillary's sister is seen with a man that isn't her podiatrist fiance. Turns out she's in love with this man who is a waiter, and not with the foot-obsessed podiatrist freak. Oh, but mom wanted her to be engaged to a podiatrist so this grown woman caved in to her mother's pressure! God, what kind of family is this?

The next morning David comes back (yay), and now him and Hillary kiss. Oh my, it's such a magical kiss. They're in love now, that one kiss made them realize it.

So it cuts to them at the piano. Both are singing a Christmas song called "Gloria", which happens to be Hillary's favorite Christmas song. Okay wait, what Jew knows the lyrics to "Gloria"? That's not even a top 40 Christmas song. I have never heard this song before in my life. I doubt that's even a Christmas song a Jew wrote. Should have gone with "White Christmas" or "Let it Snow".

Wow okay we got some big "tell" action going on here. Hillary's dad said that Hillary loves to sing, but never sings in public. But, now she's doing it here with David. Yes, this is definitely love.

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Drama alert: The real fiance, Jason, just showed up! Everything is found out. What a mess! Jason wants to get back together with Hillary because he didn't get the promotion. Now mom tells David to buzz off so he doesn't ruin her chances with the shitty lawyer, and he's confronting mom about how badly Hillary wants to impress her. He's giving her that "she did all this for you" crap. He's even pulling the, "have you ever even read one of her articles?" line.

Hillary, some words of wisdom from me to you: just be a disappointment. I learned this one weird trick at a young age. At this point, my mom just needs me to give her a grandchild before I'm 40. That's a lot more doable than marrying an Israeli doctor and having six kids. See what I'm saying?

Well, mom is beginning to realize that she's been a complete bitch. She reads Hillary's article about saving dogs or whatever. What the Hell is the name of this paper? The "Park Post Herald"? Can you have "Post" and "Herald" in the same name for a publication? Anyways, mom reads it and it is dawning on her that her daughter is a talented writer. Jesus, how great can an article about adopting a pet be?

So David leaves, and Hillary is reunited with Jason. Of course he's still a shithead, so she's determined to get David back. She runs after him, and they declare their love for one another. Cool. Great.

Yup, so now they're married. They got married, after knowing each other for maybe one month. Yeah man, love. It does that shit. Wow, what a powerful movie. Really good stuff.

Okay, not all the whiskey in the world could make me enjoy this movie. Boring characters, shitty plot, and podiatrist discrimination. That's the perfect recipe for a crap film. Not only that, but there wasn't that much Christmas-y stuff going on. The movie poster had a wreath on it, and they even sang a Christmas carol, but the majority of the film took place during Thanksgiving. Maybe it's because I'm extremely drunk, but I have never been more mad at a movie in my life.

So in total I had three shots of whiskey, two whiskey drinks with coconut milk on the side, and am extremely drunk right now. My tolerance isn't as high as it was about a month ago, so my head has got some spinny action going and my teeth hurt. Is that a side effect of drinking too much? I need to go to bed and possibly drunk text about thirty different people. Actually first I need to eat a lot of bread and peanut butter.

On the drunk scale, “A Holiday Engagement” gets a prestigious 10/10. I almost gave up on watching it, and drank all the whiskey I had. If you're not familiar with how the scale works, the higher the number the worse the movie is. If I had to get black-out drunk to watch it, it's a big turd. Okay, that's it from me.

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Alison Stevenson is a writer and stand-up comedian based in Los Angeles. Aside from Filmdrunk, she also writes for VICE and has contributed to Death + Taxes, Heeb, Oyster, and more. Her comedy has been featured on Huffington Post, HelloGiggles, and Splitsider. You can read more about her on her website, http://nodancing.tumblr.com

 

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TAGSA HOLIDAY ENGAGEMENTALISON STEVENSONBONNIE SOMERVILLECHRISTMAS MOVIESROM-COMSRUM AND ROM-COMSSHELLEY LONG
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