Secrets & Lies

There are 5.8 million people in this country who ended their Thanksgiving weekend by watching Candace Cameron Bure in Christmas Under Wraps. This is the fifth made-for-TV Christmas film she’s starred in, and the record-setting ratings were so significant it even prompted mention on

In my opinion, there have been many women much more charming and skilled than Cameron Bure to headline Hallmark films in recent years. Perhaps I am a bit biased against her, as the less said about her brand of “deferring to your husband IS equality, in the eyes of the Lord” commentary, the better. I believe she is quite popular in evangelical circles that overlap heavily with Hallmark viewership, but I stand firmly in the sliver of that Venn diagram that just sincerely likes cheesy stuff.

With that, let’s get to everything else wrong with this movie. Cameron Bure is Lauren, a San Francisco surgeon (yes, we do open the film with a requisite shot of the Golden Gate Bridge) who’s just performed her first appendectomy and is ridiculously pleased about it. We also learn that she is applying to the best general surgery fellowship in the country and expecting to get in. Now, I know that most of my medical knowledge comes from being a devoted fan of Grey’s Anatomy, but I am just semi-educated-guessing that you don’t get the most prestigious general surgery fellowship in the country if you just performed your first basic surgery. Ah, then the truth comes out: “My father was a fellow there.” Nepotism. Elevating mediocre white people in America for centuries.

Anyway, Lauren is convinced she’ll get the fellowship, her boyfriend will propose, they’ll move to Boston, and it’ll be her perfect life, just like she’s planned.

Raise your hand if you think the boyfriend’s actually gonna break up with her in embarrassing fashion.

After the dumping, Lauren heads home (she still lives with her rich parents; I will just mention, unrelatedly, that Candace Cameron Bure is 38 years old). Daddy breaks the news that she didn’t get the fellowship, but he’ll make some calls. We also find out that this is THE ONLY PROGRAM SHE APPLIED TO. Christ, what an idiot.

Luckily for Lauren, there’s one open fellowship slot in Garland, Alaska. (Garland.) She decides to take it not with the attitude that this is the consequence for her spoiled, naive actions, but as a resume booster, because the dude who beat her for her chosen fellowship was in Doctors Without Borders and this, to her, sounds similarly “outside the box.”

With apparently only the vaguest idea of what Alaska is, Lauren arrives in Anchorage and is promptly shocked to find that the town of Garland (Garland.) is 300 miles north of Anchorage and she’ll have to be flown there in a smaller plane. Plus, her fancy city coat and boots are no match for the 7-degree weather. Thank the Lord that the pilot, Andy, is cute. Not that Lauren seems to appreciate it. (Yet.)


Andy seems to have many functions in the small town, as he helps Lauren get settled in her adorable log cabin (she resigns herself with a sigh) and introduces her around, including to his father Frank Holliday, a jolly man with a beard who loves cookies and runs a local shipping company.

And this is moment I start to realize I’m being tricked into watching another fucking “Santa is real” movie.

The Santa threat creeps along in the background as Lauren adjusts to a town without
her preferred coffee order (do writers know that nowadays small towns do have lattes?) and a tiny hospital in a converted house, where it’s just her, plus two nurses and two orderlies. Though we’ve already established that this movie is unconcerned with the realities of the medical profession, it does seem to me that a one-doctor town should have hired, say, someone in family practice rather than a surgeon where there is no surgical facility. Still, everyone in town seems to have an ailment they’ve been neglecting since the last doctor left them, and everyone starts to love Lauren because of her prescription-giving skills.

Andy’s also hanging around a lot, and his dad invites Lauren to dinner at their place. As she arrives, she’s sees something strange out of the corner of her eye near the barn. Could it have been an elf? You’re crazy, Lauren! says Andy. That’s just Garland, weird things happen in Garland, ha ha ha. Why don’t you come inside and listen to my dad and me talk in a vague manner about my reluctance to take over the family business? Which is definitely really a shipping company inexplicably centered in an isolated town accessible only by prop plane. For sure.

Lauren and Andy are clearly attracted to each other, but she can’t shake her disappointment as she sees pictures of her old friends in their new, big-city hospital assignments. She’s about to pack her bags and leave when she’s summoned to help with an emergency — which turns out to be a fucking INJURED REINDEER. A reindeer named RUDY.

Now, Lauren may be an idiot in many ways, but this reindeer bullshit is enough to raise even her suspicions. She keeps asking questions, and everyone in town keeps gaslighting her by insisting that all North-Pole-like coincidences can be explained away by preparations for the annual town festival on December 24th.

Where we might flee from a town full of lunatics, Lauren instead decides to stay a little longer, and soon finds herself really falling for Andy. He takes her on a midnight “picnic”: stargazing from the plane, then kissing under the Northern Lights (bad CGI, very romantic). The movie throws me a bone with a lengthy tree decorating montage. But through it all, Andy still won’t give her any straight talk about what goes on at Holliday Shipping.

The situation comes to a head when Lauren’s dad calls with news that the other guy dropped out of the Boston fellowship, and she has 24 hours to get there and take over. She’s conflicted about what to do, and when she talks to Andy about it, he gets pissy, of course, because a woman having professional goals is always a problem for a relationship. He wants her to choose to stay, even though he obviously hasn’t even told her the truth about the town. She decides to leave.

Moody Andy has to give Lauren her ride out of town, but for the second time, an emergency strikes and thwarts her escape. They’re headed for the airfield when they get a call that Frank has collapsed. Lauren rushes to treat him, and everyone’s relieved that he just seems exhausted. Andy feels bad that Frank’s been working so hard, and finally agrees to take on more of that blasted family business.

Somehow this annoyance convinces Lauren that taking the fellowship is the wrong move. So even though it means giving up her dreams of prestige (and, um, giving up surgery altogether…) she happily settles back into her cabin and gets ready to celebrate Christmas in Garland. At the town festival, Andy and Lauren reunite, kiss, etc., and he finally hints that she was right about her suspicions that he’s the fucking son of Santa. We close the movie with, God help me, a shot of a single reindeer and a sleigh going past the moon. (Sidenote: it’s the night of December 24th in Alaska and Santa’s only just taking off? You’ve got some time zone issues, kids.)

This movie is ridiculous, and NOT in the good way. Jesus frowns, Candace Cameron Bure.

Countdown to Christmas scorecard:
*female lead’s name is a Christmas reference: 3/8 films
*female lead gets fired: 2/8 (I’ll count this one, as it’s in that realm of rom-com professional humiliation)
*male lead has sad childhood Christmas memories: 2/8
*romantic ice skating scene: 3/8
*romantic tree decorating scene: 6/8
*character comes to senses after heart-to-heart talk with father figure: 3/8
*dead parents: 4/8


2 Responses to “Secrets & Lies”

  1. 1 maliaann December 8, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Reblogged this on Writing for the Whole Darn Universe and commented:
    Christmas movie snark and fun! :)

  2. 2 Anonymous February 2, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    it has been said by a very, very wise man……jealousy will get you no where.

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