Remember in Elf, when Buddy called out the masked Santa imposter in the department store? That is this movie. It sits on a throne of pernicious, divisive lies.
The film begins in Portland, OR in the airport.
LIE #1: Nope, not Portland, or PDX. I grew up in the PNW and could spot this lie in an instant.
The film takes place in winter, just a few days before Christmas.
LIE #2: Hallmark didn’t even try to hide the fact they were filming in Summer. Leaves were still on the trees and it was sunny. Any cotton-headed ninny-muggins knows this. Plus, it was sunny, which isn’t a thing between October-June.
For example, notice the gorgeous blue skies, green, and serene and pure joy that Pacific Northwest summers bring.
Now, notice the gloom, flood-ridden, rain soaked, seasonal depression laden Pacific Northwest in the winter. The difference is stark and clear!
Why do I bring this up? Harkening back to LIE #2, this film was supposedly filmed in winter, but it was NOT winter. Which made its authenticity immediately questioned. Perhaps rather than spending money to make merely adequate films in Vienna, Hallmark can spend more attention to being seasonally appropriate according to its geography.
Continuing on, the film begins in PDX, as previously mentioned. All of a sudden, weather impacts every flight, which get cancelled, one after another, leaving a group headed to Denver stranded. As the title of the film suggests, a group of strangers end up renting a giant van and carpooling to Denver together.
And here comes lie #3.
LIE #3: PDX had cancelled flights because the weather was bad. However, when the group embarks on their holiday road trip the roads are clear, the skies are sunny, and tying back to Lie #2, it’s freaking summer.
Finally, as the group continues on the road, they get to Utah. Utah recently became the state I have lived in longest. I spent my first 18 years in Washington State and have been in Utah since then, nearly 23 years. Don’t get me wrong, I love Utah, but Washington will always be home. The Seahawks will always be my team.. Seattle still got screwed with the Sonics, and George Kenneth Griffey, Jr. will always have the purest swing in baseball….ever! I bring this up because there are slight geographical and flora differences between the two states. Without getting too technical, western Washington (eastern Washington should really be considered western Idaho) and Utah have slight differences. For example, Utah is a desert and Washington (once again, the only Washington that matters is western Washington) is not a desert. For those not following along, here are a few pictures. Look closely to notice differences.
This brings in Lie #4!
Lie #4: When the van crew gets to Utah it still looks like Washington. The trees are green and plentiful and clearly not anywhere close to Utah.
And quickly after that comes Lie #5, which is also Offense #1.
Lie #5/Offense #1: The van breaks down on a Utah backroad that is clearly not Utah. The group takes a taxi to a charming non-Utah town, where, remember, it is winter (but filmed in summer). I’m sorry to break it to you, but Utah winters are not pleasant. They are cold. Yet, the group is chilling around town like its San Diego at Christmas time. They aren’t cold! They aren’t wearing coats! Making things worse, they make the town look like some bumpkin community where everyone is dressed up as elves for some cultish competition. It makes Utah look ridiculous, which isn’t true at all! In fact, US News ranked it #1 best state to live and I happen to agree!
Finally, the group makes it to Colorado and the film shows the now close knit group dealing with their individual challenges. I won’t spoil any of it.
My wife’s response was, “This was stupid!” I agree. It fell so short on what could have been a good plot, mainly because the plot didn’t make sense with the filming. It was built on a foundation of lies and when the foundation crumbled, all that was left was a heap of rubble. I have no idea why it is rated as one of the better films. It should have been in the 5s, not 7s!