The cookie crumbles.

A complaint often made by people who don’t enjoy rom-coms is that the predictable outcome of the couple getting together in the end takes away all the excitement. The counter-argument is that the journey is the fun part, watching the characters face obstacles and develop their love along the way. Stories aren’t just about endings, and even knowing a happy ending lies down the road, all sorts of high stakes can crop up before we get there.

That said, I really wish that someone had told the makers of A Cookie Cutter Christmas that there is only so much drama that can be squeezed out of a fucking cookie-baking competition.

I mean, we’re not even talking some kind of national, televised, big cash prize, Chopped-style competition. This is a few elementary school teachers in an auditorium. And our main character, Christie, isn’t someone who’s harbored dreams all her life of a triumphant career in baking. She’s bad at baking and hasn’t given two shits about that fact until now. So what makes her want to dedicate herself to going for what little glory there is to be won in this one-horse bake-off?

Hot Single Dad, of course.

Come to Mama, hot single dad!

Come to Mama, hot single dad!

James has just moved to town with his daughter, Lily, who is still getting over the death of her mother. Not only is he oh-so-sensitive and concerned about her, but he’s also just opened what he calls the Center of Hope, a charity meant to feed and clothe the poor. (Fun fact: I have seen this exact actor play a single dad who runs a homeless charity in another, completely separate cable Christmas movie, though I believe that one was an ABC Family joint. Talk about specific typecasting.) All the lady teachers immediately have their eye on him — including Christie’s biggest rival, Penny, who teaches just across the hall.

This rivalry runs deep because Christie and Penny were once friends, way back in their own elementary school days, but their friendship crumbled after an epic battle over a rendition of “Silent Night” in the school pageant. Ever since, they’ve been nothing but competitive with each other, still obsessing over that moment that split them apart. I’m not saying that two female characters can’t be positioned as rivals or enemies, but this has more than a little bit of a “bitches be crazy” edge to it that I could definitely do without.

As Christie begins helping Lily after school so she can catch up with the rest of the class, she and James develop a bit of an interest in each other. It’s revealed that he is a fantastic cook and baker, so he starts helping her develop her baking skills. He teaches her about mixing sweet and salty, ooh la la. He feeds her caramel from a spoon and her moaning is about the closest a Hallmark movie ever gets to showing an orgasm.

But here’s the crucial element to all this — no matter how much basic help she gets learning to bake, whatever actual recipes Christie uses in the competition, she must develop herself.

Yes, I did say “recipes,” plural. Did you think we were just building up to one big Cookie Event at the end of the movie?

Four times. Four times we have to watch her get up on the auditorium stage and make a thing and then watch Alan Thicke taste it and judge it. I can only assume they blew the whole budget on this cookie-making set and wanted to get their fucking money’s worth.

You will not be shocked that the final round of this death march to cookie triumph pits Christie and Penny against each other. By this time, James and Christie are really falling for each other — which means Penny must sabotage her enemy! She steals a recipe card from James’s house and plants it with Christie’s things, making it look like Christie is both cheating in the competition and merely using James for his peppermint drop expertise, which repulses him to his very charitable core. How can he ever love a liar?? (Ignore the part where SHE DIDN’T EVEN KNOW YOU BAKED AT FIRST, DUDE.)

Luckily, along the way, Christie has been questioning her competitive streak. Is it all worth it? Was she perhaps to blame for some of the “Silent Night” debacle all those years ago? She reaches out to Penny and suggests their students sing the song together in this year’s pageant, thus healing old wounds and making Penny feel guilty enough to confess her sin to James. He runs to Christie and apologizes, they kiss in front of a Christmas tree, and we all rejoice that she’s going to spend the rest of her life with this guy who seems like he’d divorce you if you so much as fibbed about putting a dent in the car’s fender with a shopping cart.

Perhaps it’s clear that I did not enjoy A Cookie Cutter Christmas as much as I did the first two films of this Hallmark season. Besides the tedium of the cookie drama, catty lady feuds are not my favorite thing, and while Erin Krakow as Christie is alright, David Haydn-Jones as James is bland as hell, somehow playing every scene as if he’s lost his glasses and can’t quite make out whoever’s in front of him. Plus, after watching movies involving a cowboy and a firefighter, a hero whose job mostly involves standing near piles of folded winter coats just isn’t that exciting. Sorry, charity. You’re boring.

I’m not going to tell you when this one is on again.

(Sidenote! The esteemed Linda Holmes at NPR is also a Hallmark fan and has a fun piece about the movies up today.)

Countdown to Christmas scorecard:
*female lead’s name is a Christmas reference: 3/3 films
*female lead gets fired: 1/3
*male lead has sad childhood Christmas memories: 1/3
*romantic ice skating scene: 1/3
*romantic tree decorating scene: 1/3
*character comes to senses after heart-to-heart talk with father figure: 2/3
*dead parents: 2/3


1 Response to “The cookie crumbles.”

  1. 1 maliaann November 10, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    I’m always disappointed when a Christmas movie just doesn’t do it for me, and it sounds like this one isn’t one I’d enjoy. One of my fave’s “One Magic Christmas” is streaming on Netflix so I’ll definitely be watching that. :)

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