Deep in the bowels of the Hallmark Channel headquarters there must be some deeply complex machine, programmed to spit out a script for yet another female-centred, modern day American adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" - just in time for the holiday season.
All of these films are essentially the same. Single, childless business woman; sassy friends who make bitchy comments about her over cocktails; forgettably handsome love interest. Moreover, they all seem to come to the same conclusion - that this shrew needs to stop busting balls at the work place and get herself a nice man and a brood of TV-cute sprogs.
After rolling my eyes at the title, I discovered that "It's Christmas, Carol!" is so firmly within this well-established mould, I did worry at first that perhaps I had already seen it and had to scroll back through my blog to confirm I hadn't.
It concerns the fate of Carol, played with bland efficiency by Emmanuelle Vaugier. She is a hard-nosed business woman who owns a publishing firm in a Chicago that consists solely of stock footage of the Willis Tower and Wacker Drive. After forcing her staff to work Christmas day (which, you may remember, not even Scrooge stooped to) she is visited by the ghost of her former employer, Eve (yes, I rolled my eyes at that too) who will be playing the roles of all of the ghosts throughout Carol's redemption tale due to "cutbacks." Thankfully, Eve is played by Carrie Fisher, so this is no bad thing.
What is peculiar about this adaptation is that it is set in a world in which "A Christmas Carol" already exists as a novel. In fact, in one scene Carol, (who calls herself a fan of Dickens) has to look up the plot of the book to find out which ghost comes next. At the same time, there are a couple of bright nods to the original and to the great man himself (plus a fun reference to Star Wars in one of Carrie Fisher's scenes.)
Throughout her voyage to her past, I did not understand what we were supposed to be feeling. We were offered no reasons as to why this idealistic young woman went from champion of classic literature to ruthless capitalist in pursuit of the next best seller at all costs - that is, until I realised that the film is not so subtly trying to say that it was being a businesswoman itself that turned her into an unspeakable churl. Nice one Hallmark, I'm sure this a fantastic message to send to your almost exclusively female audience.
Carol's redemption is only partly owing to her new found generosity, what really saves her is that she is finally worthy of love with a man, whereupon she will presumably settle down and give birth to the tribe of children her alternative future had promised her.
This would all be unbearably offensive - and easily the worst adaptation I have seen so far (save for that awful, awful Kelsey Grammar musical version I saw last year) but the one shining light in its favour is the ever welcome presence of Carrie Fisher, who is enjoying every second of this hokey claptrap - and seems to be the only one who is.
"It's Crap, Carol!"
"It's Christmas, Carol." (2012) 1/5