The Videogum Holiday Movie Club: Holiday In Handcuffs

Obviously, this movie is insane. The plot is that Melissa Joan Hart kidnaps Mario Lopez at gunpoint on Christmas Eve and Stockholm Syndromes him into breaking off his current engagement and being with her instead. It’s absolutely nuts. But one thing I realized upon reading its Netflix description (“When her boyfriend dumps her just before the holidays, aspiring artist Trudie desperately kidnaps a handsome stranger named David. Intending to present him as her new boyfriend at Christmas, she finds instead a genuine bond forming with her victim.”) is that the plot is more or less the same as the plot of one of my favorite movies of all time: Buffalo ’66. (Netflix description for comparison: “Writer-director Vincent Gallo stars as Billy Brown, who — fresh from a five-year stint in jail — heads home to Buffalo, N.Y., to visit his kin. Eager to impress his insouciant parents, Billy kidnaps buxom Layla and makes her pose as his wife.”) The descriptions don’t really even do the comparison justice, actually, now that I’m looking at them! Let’s just say that they’re basically the same movie, except this one happens at Christmas. And in this one the parents are more opposite-of-insouciant than insouciant. And Melissa Joan Heart is in jail at the end of this one, rather than at the beginning. And Kevin Corrigan isn’t in this one (though he should have been). And the soundtrack contains a fair amount less prog rock. (Also this one is lightly racist and homophobic.) Still, it’s hard to say why Vincent Gallo made his version when all he had to do was wait ten years for the REAL version to come out? Know when to fold ‘em, my man! Sit back and take it easy, it’s Holiday in Handcuffs time!

Melissa Joan Hart is Gertrude “Trudie” Chandler, a down on her luck, 27-year-old artist who just cannot seem to please her uptight, well-to-do parents. You know that she’s an artist because her apartment is a disgusting mess, and you know she’s down on her luck because when we meet her she’s rushing through her garbage apartment, trying to get herself together for an interview her father has set up at a company that sells things.

She shows up late to and misses her interview because her mom calls her on the telephone. Very difficult! Bad for Trudie, but good for us, because now we know that she and her parents have a very strained relationship — lots of begrudged sighing — and that they are very worried that she — at age 27 — is not yet married, and they REALLY want her to get to their incredible Christmas cabin (THAT SHE SHOULD BE GRATEFUL TO BE INVITED TO, HOLY SMOKES IT’S A NICE CABIN!) in time for cocktails at 6PM. But, so, she shows up late for the interview, isn’t allowed to speak with the man who was to have interviewed her, and from there she goes to her waitressing job where we meet her boyfriend, Mr. Business.

He is terrible and tells her that he is no longer going to Christmas with her because it is too soon in their relationship, and really he just wanted to get to the bone zone and split, k babe? G’bye. Classic, shitty Mr. Business. This was bad enough, but then her mom calls her and tells her that she should be on the road already! MAH-OOOOOOMMM! And, uh, this is meant to make us feel sorry for the awful pressure that everyone is putting on Trudie, but if Trudie had a shift at her diner job that she KNEW would prevent her from making it to her parents’ (VERY NICE) Christmas cabin at the time she agreed to be there, WHY DID YOU (TRUDIE) AGREE TO BE THERE AT THAT TIME? You cannot get mad at your parents for not knowing that you had that shift when you told them that you would 100% be there for 6PM cocktails, Trudie. GROW UP, YOUR PARENTS ARE RIGHT ABOUT YOU!

So anyway, she has to make a kid a sundae and he eats it too fast or whatever, and she gets so mad. Meanwhile, Mario Lopez (David Martin [good name], another business man) comes in to wait for his girlfriend. He has a ring. His girlfriend comes into the diner and is rude to the waitress. We are supposed to hate her immediately. But before she could get to David Martin’s table, Trudie grabs an old gun that her racist caricature Hindu boss keeps in the store, corners David on his way to the bathroom, and KIDNAPS HIM AT GUNPOINT.

(PS: When we talked about the movie a bit earlier in the week, Dr. Feelgood pointed out a funny review that cited the fact that Mario Lopez — wealthy — would have proposed to his girlfriend — also wealthy — in this dumpy diner as something that took this viewer out of the movie, which is a funny thing to base your review on, but it is also VERY CORRECT. Why was he going to propose to her here?! In the middle of the day?! IT IS A GROSS DINER, PICK A BETTER PLACE, LOPEZ!) Blah, blah, blah. (Second PS: Trudie’s hair is over-permed because it does not matter and the movie spends so much time on it.) She ties him to the inside of the car. She tells a gas station attendant (who comes back later) that they’re going on a hardcore sex vacation, so HE GIVES HER FLUFFY PINK HANDCUFFS. THAT HE JUST HAD? Girl. Do not take and use the fluffy pink handcuffs that the weird old gas station attendant gives you, EVEN IF it’s just to more securely keep your kidnapping victim in your vehicle. Gross.

Once she arrives at her parents’ (VERY NICE) cabin, she tells them that when Mario Lopez — sorry, David Martin, whom she calls “Nick” because that was her old boyfriend’s name, yells about being kidnapped when he gets nervous. Right. And I guess she’s a god damn genius, because this pretty much solves 100% of everything for her, with every single member of her family!

He enters the house and screams about being kidnapped and they laugh at it as if it were a joke. You might be thinking, well, why doesn’t he just call someone on a cell phone or take keys and drive away? Well, it’s because TRUDIE IS THE KEY MASTER, YOU IDIOT! And the key master takes and hides every member of the family’s telephone and car keys so they don’t intrude on family time! You know how often car keys get in the way of spending quality time with your family. It’s always like, uh, hellooooo! Quit looking at your car keys, WE ONLY GET SO MUCH TIME TOGETHER.

So. Blah, blah, blah. Trudie’s brother and sister show up and her brother is getting married and has a job and her sister also has a job. VERY BAD LOOKS 4 TRUDIE! Mario Lopez screams about being kidnapped some more and everyone just laughs at him, which comes off as very real and very human, especially taking into account that he did not bring any other clothing with him. The next day he has the opportunity to go to the gas station from earlier in the movie with Trudie’s father (and, during the ride, said nothing of the kidnapping? or did the dad just LAUGH SOME MORE?) and when he tells the gas station attendant that he has been kidnapped, the gas station attendant thinks he’s just fucking with him and pulls a gun on him. (It’s one of those movies that kind of makes you uncomfortable because it hits a little bit too close to home?) (The gas station home with the attendant who doesn’t believe someone when the person is begging for him to call the police.) He somehow gets his hands on a cell phone, calls his girlfriend, and his girlfriend thinks he is just making up an excuse for standing him up at lunch yesterday. WILL NO ONE LISTEN TO THIS MAN?!

His girlfriend does, eventually. He tells her to go to the cops and then find him. Knowing that the word is out and he will be rescued at some point, he tells Trudie that from now on he’s actually going to act like a loving boyfriend, so it will be THAT MUCH WORSE when her family finds out the truth!

WHAT?!?!? Uh. WHAT! So. From that point on, he not only acts like a loving boyfriend in front of her family, but also privately? The family immediately takes to him, and this immediately makes Trudie jealous (WHEN SHE SHOULD JUST BE PLAYING ALONG! YOU DUMB-DUMB!) because they like him more than they like her. Uh-huh. She storms out of the room, Mario notices that she is upset, and heads out to comfort her. … WHAT?! Like. For the rest of the movie, it only doesn’t make sense. It is only “WHAT?!” YOU ARE KIDNAPPED, MARIO LOPEZ! AND IF YOUR PLAN WAS TO MAKE YOUR KIDNAPPER FEEL MISERABLE (WHICH IT SHOULD BE, BECAUSE IT IS CHRISTMAS, YOU ARE KIDNAPPED, AND SHE STOPPED YOU FROM PROPOSING TO YOUR GIRLFRIEND!) IT IS WORKING, YOU SHOULD BE HAPPY! AND TRUDIE SHOULD BE HAPPY THAT HER PLAN IS WORKING! WHAT IS GOING ON?! ALSO: WHY DOESN’T MARIO USE THIS MOMENT TO HIS ADVANTAGE? WHY NOT SUGGEST THAT HE LEAVE, IF SHE’S SO UPSET ABOUT HOW HER FAMILY IS TREATING HIM? WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?!?!?

Okay. So. Fucking. Then they write Christmas lists together? Mario asks for a “fully loaded SUV” rather than what he should ask for, which is TO NOT BE KIDNAPPED BY A MANIAC? Trudie asks to stop disappointing her parents and Mario says “Aw, that’s not true” when really he should say, “YES YOU ARE A MANIC, MAYBE YOU SHOULD START WITH STOPPING THAT?” Mario playfully chides her for being a dunker rather than a twister with her Oreo? They drink wine together and ALMOST KISS?


WHAT! Dude. You got kidnapped at gunpoint YESTERDAY. Meanwhile, his girlfriend has to pull the cops away from their holiday party to report his kidnapping and I guess she is slightly rude, which is understandable because her boyfriend is kidnapped and the police are straight-up ignoring her, but I guess we are again supposed to think she is a bitch because THIS MOVIE.

Okay. Back at the house. It’s the morning of the next day and the grandmother is having a Bloody Mary. The mother asks, “Isn’t it a little early for that?” FOR A BLOODY MARY?! That’s a morning drink! Everyone in this movie is insane! Trudie and Mario, whom Trudie recently kidnapped, (I’m calling him Mario because he has too many names in this movie and they are all thoughtless), play hockey together outside. He teases her about being jealous when she catches him looking at her sister. He asks her, “So what do you do for fun?” They talk about painting. HE REMAINS KIDNAPPED.

They play chess. She makes a wrong move and wants to take it back. He says no, you can’t take something back once it’s already been done. She says “Even if you realized right away that it was a mistake, and you’re sorry?” He makes this face:

KIDNAPPED. (Then he says “I’m going to go get some milk for these” AND TAKES THE OREOS THAT THEY WERE EATING WITH HIM.) (Is Mario okay?!) (Mario!)

Then he fake proposes. (!!!!!) She fake accepts. The grandmother tries to escape from the beautiful cabin, he gets in the car and tries to stop her, they run into a tree, and Trudie says, “What happened to ‘I’m not trying to escape anymore?'” OH YOUNG LOVE, IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL AND NORMAL AND PROVIDES SUCH REGULAR SENTENCES. Then she ice skates for him, which is I guess something else that she can do, along with paint. This movie.

So, at dinner it is revealed that the sister wants to open a pilates studio rather than be a lawyer, or whatever. The brother is actually gay and not with that girl he said he was going to marry. The parents are unhappy. Cops come and arrest everybody because they kidnapped Mario. It is quite the dinner!

Mario doesn’t press charges and Trudie approaches him after getting out of jail, saying, “I guess I should give this back,” meaning the engagement ring that he fake-gave to her. UH. YEAH, I GUESS YOU SHOULD, TRUDIE! YOU MANIAC! Then we fast-foward to February. Trudie has a painting in a show, someone buys it, it’s Mario, he broke up with his AWFUL fiancé whom we HATED because she wanted him to look at PLACE SETTINGS, instead of doing whatever job he did he bought a studio or something, and now he and Trudie are going to be together. She says, “I’m speechless.” He says, “That’s a first,” even though talking a lot was never, ever a part of her character. THE END.

This movie was sincerely one of the craziest movies I have ever seen. Please let’s talk about it.