Choo choo! Here comes another holiday movie review!! That “choo choo” at the beginning of the article wasn’t fer nothin’, it was to prepare you for this mess:
What’s this? Not a harried business-lady, but a reporter-man?!? Dermot Mulroney (of “Erin-always-confusing-him-with-Dylan-McDermott” fame) plays writer Tom, who is leaving snowy DC to head to burning Los Angeles. He’s decided to take the train, because it’s in the script. There is literally no other reason to take a cross-country train, unless you really don’t want the hassle of checking your suitcase full of the neighbors’ heads on your JetBlue flight.
He heads to what is supposed to be Union Station in DC (YEAH RIGHT – WHERE ARE ALL THE 20-SOMETHINGS TRYING NOT TO PUKE IN A GARBAGE CAN WHILE QUEUING UP FOR THE CHINATOWN BUS TO NYC) and is accosted by a lot of randos getting all up in his business. They discover that he’s writing a story about “The Christmas Train”, which I guess is the train they’re taking, which I guess means the Festivus Fuck Train was all sold out.
There’s a young engaged couple who are going to get married on the train, an older man traveling alone and reading “A Christmas Carol” for his wife (calling it now – she’s dead and he’s a widower – BAM!), another old dude named Higgins who tells everyone who’ll listen that he knows everything about trains and is basically Captain Trains, and a nosy B named Agnes, played by Joan Cusack:
Oh! And a psychic. There’s a fucking psychic.
There’s also screenwriter Eleanor (played by Steve Martin’s movie daughter) who is traveling with big shot movie producer MAX POWERS. Excuse me, Simpsons did it:
The Max Powers in this flick is *almost* as cool, in that he’s played by Danny Glover. Fun story!: I picked my major in college (International Affairs) based on Lethal Weapon 2. Not anything to do with Riggs or Murtagh or the good guys – no, I was fascinated with the concept of diplomatic immunity. 10 year old Erin was excited about all the illegal things she could do if she could get an Ambassadorship and then just run wild in Luxembourg or the LaserTron in Amherst.
Anyhoodles, everyone gets situated on the Christmas Train and Tom and Max Powers meet cute at the train bar while talking about how their Dads both wanted to bang trains or something. Tom lets slip that he used to be a war correspondent, and Max Powers is like, “Shutup! Work with my screenwriter, and maaaaaybe fall in love with her!” Which reminds Tom that he has a bitchy girlfriend waiting for him in LA. Well – good thing there are no attractive distractions on this 4-day train trip!
Tom agrees to dinner with Max and his writer Eleanor. When she shows up and sees Tom, she makes this face:
Turns out Tom and Eleanor used to bone and travel the world together writing and boning and writing about boning. Until one day in Jerusalem, Eleanor decided she wanted to go home and asked him to go with her. But he said “Naw, bitch” and they broke up. Now they’re on this Christmas Train together, each trying to write something – likely erotic mpeg fiction. (Look it up!)
Meanwhile, things start to go wrong: The engaged couple’s minister slips and falls and so can’t board the train to marry them! There’s an impending storm that could affect the train! Someone is stealing the passengers’ belongings, and maybe we should look at any of the characters from Wish Upon A Christmas! And always there’s Agnes, making sour faces and passing judgment:
Max Powers offers to officiate and pay for the generic blonde couple’s wedding on the train – even though, AND I QUOTE, he’s “big city society” and she’s “small town Kentucky”. OK, so the writers of this movie definitely just got high and listened to Journey and then got started. Kewl.
Eleanor beats a “traveling chess champion who rides the rails” at a game in front of the whole train because this is a 90 minute movie taking place on a goddamned locomotive and they have to eat the minutes away SOMEHOW. What’s important is that everyone in the background is NAILING their “chess audience” poses:
The train stops in Chicago to pick up a young boys choir, and that is how AMERICA does human trafficking, son! Tom intervenes when blonde engaged couple is on the verge of breaking up, and he and Eleanor get roped into being their Best Man and Maid of Honor, respectively. To celebrate, they go out and crash another wedding reception in the train station. Do this many people build their romantic lives around trains in real life? I mean, I know this chick does:
Just as Tom and Eleanor are about to kiss and probably touch butts, Tom’s girlfriend shows up to surprise him – as all peripheral and uninformed girlfriends do in this kind of movie. (They also show up to save them from kidnappings, a la Holiday in Handcuffs, but are no less uninformed) Don’t you know that since he hasn’t seen your earthly face in 47 hours, he has had to move onto the next warm body?!?! STOP BEING SO CLINGY, GURRRRRRL!!!!!
Eleanor is devastated and goes to be sad at Max Powers who is like, well, you know:
Dumb boring blonde couple has had their wedding rings stolen, and so Tom gives them his. His from when he was going to propose to Eleanor I guess? Who cares – Tom’s current girlfriend has been locked in his compartment since Chicago. Poke some holes in the door!!
Tom and his girlfriend and Max Powers and Eleanor all have a made-for-TV awkward dinner together and it’s dumb. The girlfriend proposes to Tom and everyone at the table is very excited:
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve! The day of the dumb couple’s wedding! Ugh, will ANY storylines be resolved before then??
The next morning before the wedding, the psychic grabs Eleanor’s scarf and is all like, “You had everything back in Israel, but you gave it up. Like a dillhole. What’s up with that?” Then Tom is like, “What IS up with that?” And Eleanor admits that after Tom was kidnapped, imprisoned twice, almost killed, and INCAPABLE of putting a new roll of toilet paper on the holder while they lived together as Lara Croft Reporters – she had decided she’d had enough and left him. But, she’s also wearing jeans to blonde couple’s wedding, so maybe she should get off her high horse? Where did she get her fashion sense, anyway?
Blonde-os get married and now it’s party time!! Old man Higgins can’t even enjoy the soiree, as he keeps looking out the windows and willing an avalanche to bury this train, and all its passengers sins besides. Tom decides a wedding reception is the best time for a break-up, and dumps his girlfriend. And then Higgins’ avalanche appears – and the train is stranded on the tracks. Balls.
The passengers all clamor into two cars and bleat Hallmark stereotypes into the air. The widowed old man is great with kids – he has a new lease on life! Dumped girlfriend finds immediate comfort with rich older man and so isn’t a casualty of love! Traveling chess pro realizes he can’t fuck his chess board, and so places it under the communal Christmas tree! Holiday magic!
The survivors wake up on Christmas Day and eat the dead.
JK! But they’re still trapped, so Tom and Eleanor decide to ski out into the woods and get help. Blah blah blah, reconciliation. Blah blabiddy blahsoes, they bring help back to the train in the form of one horse-drawn carriage, and all of a sudden the train is moving again? What? Fuck you, Hallmark.
The boring blonde-os are happily married, Higgins gets hired by the American Train Association or something, and all the stolen stuff gets anonymously returned!! Turns out Agnes was a nosy TRAIN COP this whole time, and she figured out that old man Widower was the thief, but his wife is dead, so be cool you fucking narcs.
Eleanor and Tom both finish their stories. Tom’s is about all the people he met and experiences he had on the train. Eleanor’s….?
The train makes it to Los Angeles and Eleanor finds out that Max Powers arranged this entire train ride – passengers and all – to make her fall back in love with Tom. Just think! Instead of sexually harassing, big time Hollywood Producers could be forcing marriages!!
In the station – you know, the MOST ROMANTIC location on Earth – Tom gets down on one knee and cunt-punts Eleanor.
They get engaged, people clap, I’m just happy the Rangers won tonight! MERRY CHRISTMAS TRAINS, Y’ALL!!!