Any religious scholar worth an ounce of myrrh will tell you that the holiday season isn’t truly upon on us until a former Real World castmember turned WWE champion attempts to bring a Sasquatch-sized crime lord to justice inside a New Jersey Christmas tree farm. And so, with that in mind, I’d like to do the following things: 1) Bring the ABC Family movie Christmas Bounty to your attention, and 2) Wish you and yours a very happy holidays.
Relevant information: Christmas Bounty is a joint venture from ABC Family and WWE Productions. It premiered last week. The DVD went on sale yesterday. It stars Secret Life of the American Teenager actress Francia Raisa as a former bounty hunter named Tory “Tornado” Bell, and said Real World/WWE veteran Mike “The Miz” Mizanin as her ex-boyfriend and former co-worker, Mike “Mikey Muscles” … something. (Also, the movie’s official IMDB page lists Tory Bell as “Tara Bell,” because getting the main character’s name wrong on the industry’s most popular database is exactly the kind of thing you’d imagine would happen here.) Here is the plot description from WWE Films:
Christmas Bounty is an action-filled comedy about a former bounty hunter turned elementary school teacher. Determined to have a normal life, and keep her bounty hunter past a secret, she reluctantly returns home for Christmas to help save the family business by catching the one bounty that got away. But when her fiancé follows her home for the holiday, she struggles to hide her wild family business and a bounty hunter ex-boyfriend she thought she’d left behind.
I watched this movie over the long Thanksgiving weekend. I can assure you that it is all of those things. But it is also much more. I’m sure you have some questions. Please, fire away.
Does this movie have a hilarious box cover?
Yes. It does.
What are your favorite things about the box cover?
I’m glad you asked. Here are my favorite things, in order:
- The fact that no one’s picture is lined up under their name, because it makes it look like the tall strapping Aryan-looking man has the name of a Hispanic female, and the actual Hispanic female is named “Will Greenberg,” and former WWE champion “The Miz” is a skinny, pleasant looking Jewish man who favors layered collars in late fall and earlier winter. This worked out so perfectly I almost wonder if they did it on purpose. Either way, A+.
- Everyone’s face.
- There is an alternate box cover that replaces the CHRISTMAS BOUNTY ACTION SHOT at the bottom of the box with an image of the film’s villain tied up with Christmas lights while wearing a white tuxedo.
Wait, who is that guy in the middle, anyway?
That is Tory’s new boyfriend/fiancé, James Ballantine, of the Manhattan Ballantines, a wealthy investment banker who follows her to New Jersey when she runs off after receiving a mysterious phone call during his parents’ fancy schmancy Christmas party.
Why did she run off so fast?
Because a towering mafiaso named Manucci who runs a Christmas tree farm and eats candelit lobster dinners by himself at a table in the middle of an abandoned warehouse called her and informed her that he’s back in town and coming for her and her bounty hunting family.
There’s an awful lot going on in that sentence.
Sure is. And I didn’t even mention that he’s back in town for his sister’s wedding, or that his sister’s name is Big Donna, or that Tory figures out the date and time of the wedding by calculating how long Big Donna’s recent spray tan will last. Because New Jersey.
Now, am I to assume, based on the DVD box cover and plot description, that there are lots of hilarious, festive action sequences?
There are, including one in a mall, and one, as I mentioned, in Manucci’s crooked Christmas tree farm. There’s also a scene where a bunch of the characters go to a Trenton nightclub and The Miz confesses that he’s still in love with Tory, which is just a delightful mess of wooden acting and busty blondes slipping in and out of cartoonish “Joisey” accents, but I’m sure you already figured that out. Let’s just skip right ahead to the ending, where Tory, her fiancé, The Miz, and her family break up the wedding and corral all the local Mafia figures in attendance.
Actually, hold on. I guess I need to fill you in on three quick things before I get to that.
First, after Tory fled the Christmas party, James followed her to New Jersey, which the film plays as a sweet gesture but is actually hecka creepy because he keeps using this GPS “Where’s Your Boo?” locator thing in his phone to track her down. Once he finds her (a) BOOM, cue up the “We can’t let my snobby boyfriend know we’re bounty hunters! He’ll think we’re trash!” shenanigans, and (b) he proposes and gives her a ring the size of her damn head.
Second, the wedding has a gun check where the attendees hand their guns to a girl at a desk and she places them on hangers like they’re fur coats or something.
And third, Tory’s dad’s name is Hawk. Hawk Bell. That has nothing to do with the story. I just wanted you to know.
I appreciate it.
Okay, so, the ending. As I mentioned above, they break up the wedding and take Manucci and company down in a blizzard of bullets that injure no one and karate moves that knock bad guys unconscious for 10-15 minutes at a time. (Obviously.) Then, while the police are loading everyone up into squad cars outside the warehouse and paramedics are double-checking on James, The Miz gives Tory a long speech about how their break-up was actually good for him, and about how great it is that she found a guy who cares for her so much, and about how he’s taking courses at college and is actually pre-law now, and then he and Tory hug and she…
WAIT, THE MIZ IS PRE-LAW? WHAT IF THERE’S A SEQUEL WHERE HE’S A LAWYER AND IT’S CALLED CHRISTMAS BOUNTY 2: OBJECTION, BLUDGEONING THE WITNESS.
Well, I would watch it and write 4000 words about it, first of all.
But anyway, so Tory and The Miz hug after his big monologue about how their break-up worked out for both of them, and she goes to check on James. Guess what happens next.
They live happily ever after?
Manucci gets free of his cuffs and kidnaps James to set up that sequel I was talking about?
Tory realizes that the bounty hunting life with The Miz is all she’s ever really wanted and James is just, like, totally cool with it and wishes her the best with a big ol’ smile on his face as though he didn’t just get dumped by the love of his life 30 seconds after almost dying during a warehouse gunfight with every wiseguy between Manhattan and Philly, and then Tory gets a running start and throws herself on the roof of The Miz’s Camaro to stop him from leaving?
Nop-… wait. Actually, yes. Wow, you are really good at guessing.
Thanks. One last question: Did they make an original Christmas song inspired by the film to accompany it?
They sure did!
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[Photo credit: ABC]