Mistletoe Inn

Grade: D

(but don't let that stop you!)

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Alicia Witt – Kim 

David Alpay - Zeke

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The movie opens with Kim, (Alicia Witt), entering a crowded book reading where she’s meeting up with her boyfriend, Garth. She sits in the unoccupied chair next to him.

This is Kim. Sorry, but this is literally the best shot of Alicia Witt I could get out of the whole first scene since she spends the entire time looking either p*ssed or confused.

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Garth looks surprised to see her and says, “Kim? I didn’t think you’d still come to the book reading!”

 

Side Note: Oh sh*t, he’s going to break up with her.

 

This is her boyfriend Garth. He has been working at a blog called 

“Dash of Romance” for the last three years.

I think that about sums him up.

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Although the actor playing Garth is pretty cool looking in real life…he is absolutely not here. That’s because Hallmark is really good at “nerdify-ing” male actors with Ken doll haircuts and dweeby clothes.

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Real Life Cool…and then BLAM!!!

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Nerdified.

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Kim asks, “Why wouldn’t I come to the book signing?” 

“After what I left for you…”

“Oh! You mean your chapter pages for your new manuscript! I’m so sorry 

I had a craaazy day at work. She pulls out a large manila envelope, removes the pages inside and begins reading…realization dawns. 

 

Gasp! “Is this a break-up note?”

“I’m sorry but…yes!” he whispers agitatedly.

 

Side Note: Okay, putting aside the fact that he breaks up with her by letter, why does he then put that letter into a large manila envelope? Was he going to mail it to her? Because 2-Day air is the cheapest. 

 

Kim, very upset, reacts loudly, “You’re breaking up with me WITH A NOTE?” which causes literally everyone in the room turns to look at them. And by everyone, I mean freakin’ everyone.

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Garth’s reasoning:

“Look Kim, I’ve been working at Dash of Romance blog for three years 

and I’m at a point where I need to get serious about my own writing, and I need to be with someone who is serious about her writing too.”

“Garth, I am serious about my writing!” Kim stammers out.

“I’m showing my book to publishers. We’re at different levels. Goodbye.”

 

Hey, I like short guys, but yeah…they’re definitely at different levels.

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Following that dramatic moment, Kim goes to see her Dad. She tells him that her car heater is broken and they discuss that for a while, then she tells him she’s just been dumped by her boyfriend of two years. Interestingly, not a single tear is shed, nor sniffle heard.

 

Since she doesn’t care, I won’t either.

 

Dad gives her a hug and they make Christmas cookies, which frankly I fully support as a weekly mental health activity.
 

Except in this case since she’s picking her fingers over the cookies. 

That’s gross.

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 Kim tells her Dad Garth dumped her because she wasn’t a real writer.

“But I’ve read the manuscript for your romance novel and it’s great!”

“Well, I haven’t finished it yet. Now more than ever I want to get it published. Just to prove Garth wrong!”

 

(And as we know, all really good writers are motivated by Revenge.)

 

That night we see her in bed reading The Christmas Box. We get a close up of the book jacket and then the camera pans down to the author’s name, H.T. Cowell. Kim whispers, “I wonder what you’re doing tonight, H.T. Cowell” which, needless to say, was a weird thing to hear. I mean, I love Star Wars, but I don’t daydream about George Lucas after I watch it.

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The next day we get to visit the car dealership where Kim works. I use the term “work” loosely since she is sitting at her desk surfing the internet for writer’s conferences, but then again I’m probably just jealous. 

 

Kim gets really excited when she stumbles across the Mistletoe Inn Romance Novelists Conference. Step one of her nefarious “revenge plot” against Garth is complete.

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She asks her boss, “Is there any way you guys think you could manage without me for one week so I can go to this conference?”

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Next Kim goes Christmas tree shopping with her Dad. The sole purpose of this scene is to give us the following information: 

 

  1. H.T. Cowell (her favorite author) who has never been seen before, is speaking at the conference. 

  2. Her manuscript will be read by an established publisher and a literary agent 

  3. There is a competition for H.T. Cowell to read your book!

(yawn)

 

So, she arrives at the Mistletoe Inn, gets out of her Uber, and kind of just stands there with her bags. At this point the male lead makes his first appearance by running into her. Her tote bag to drops to the ground, spilling its contents.

 

Welcome everyone to the most overacted “running into someone” scene ever. It was like watching one of those old silent movies.

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Kim reacts angrily, “HEY! Excuse me!” 

“I am so sorry,” he says.

“You almost crushed my laptop!” she whines.

 

Geez girl, someone just bumped into you. Switch to decaf.

 

The klutz, whose name is Zeke, bends to help her pick up her spilled belongings which include a stuffed bear, a wad of Christmas lights, and a white noise machine.

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Side Note: Hmmm…I can’t really tell if I like Zeke or not. On the one hand he makes some really annoying comments about the items she brought, which as a stranger, is none of his business. On the other hand, she did bring some pretty weird sh*t.

“You are so adorably psychotic.”

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Kim then asks him what he is carrying in the large box he is hauling around. “This,” he says proudly, “is my typewriter.”

 

She tries to deliver a good put down about this, but sadly she uses such a hackneyed line and she delivers it so slowly, it loses all its oomph. 

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Good grief, I really hope she writes better than she speaks.

 

“Laugh all you want, Zeke replies, “but this baby helped me bang out the first novel I got published. See you around.” 

 

Hilariously, their entire exchange takes place outside the inn in the area between the two nutcrackers (circled in green below). After Zeke leaves she just stands there and yells out “Bellhop!” even though all the hotel staff will be inside the inn’s main entrance (circled in blue). 

What a dumb*ss.

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She enters the lobby and stares around her Best Western level surroundings like she’s a poor orphan child entering a king’s palace for the first time. If she had thrown her arms out and started spinning in a circle I would not have been surprised.

 

Yes, that thing above your head gives off electric light. 

Please don’t pass out.

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Samantha, another conference attendee, walks up to Kim and tells her she looks “lost.” Hmmm….not the word I would have used.

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Sam gives her the 411 on the conference and they discuss the fact that the mysterious H.T. Cowell will be making an appearance at the conference on closing night. Apparently, no one knows what he looks like and he hasn’t written anything new in 5 years. 

 

Side Note: Firstly, I don’t know what any writers look like except JK Rowling, so I don’t think this is a very big deal. Secondly, he hasn’t written anything in five years? Sounds like retirement.

 

Then Kim tells Sam she’s, “as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning,” about being at this conference.

 

Holy Bad Metaphors, I am having serious concerns about her writing ability. On the other hand, if her goal is to write romances for Hallmark – she’s fine.  

 

Conveniently, her room is across the hall from Zeke. Not convenient for sex or anything, just convenient for talking and holding hands and making dates for snowball fights.

 

The first event is a mixer which she mistakenly thinks is a costumed event. As a result, she walks into it wearing a Victorian style dress. 

 

Honestly, given her character’s flaky personality, I could totally see her wearing this dress normally. I’m just surprised she’s not carrying her teddy bear around.

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As per usual, literally everyone stops what they are doing to turn and stare at her. C’mon people, she’s wearing a frilly dress, she’s not drenched in blood or anything.  I doubt the scriptwriters were going for a Steven King Carrie-esqe moment here, but they ended up one bucket away from it.

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She gets over her humiliation pretty quickly and grabs a drink. Or maybe she drinks and then just doesn’t care, I dunno. Anyway, she runs into Zeke again and they chat for a moment. 

 

Zeke walks away and Sam asks, “Who’s your friend? He’s cute.”

“I’m so not interested in men right now,” Kim replies.

 

Side Note: Why do all Hallmark female leads say this when it is never ever, ever, true?

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“Kim is that you? What are you doing here?” Ugh…it’s Garth. I feel sick. Where’s that bucket when you need it?

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Zeke returns to the group and says to Kim, “I just figured out your costume. You’re the Ghost of Christmas Present!” Kim laughs manically in response.

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Garth leaves and Sam asks Kim, “It seems like you two know each other?”

Kim replies, “Yes, you might say that Garth is my Ghost of Christmas Past.”

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Luan, a snotty yet well published writer, comes over and starts belittling both Zeke and Kim over their lack of published works.

This drives both of them to leave the mixer entirely. I think they were 

there for less than 5 minutes and had one sip of their drinks. Oh well, the 

scene’s gotta end sometime, am I right?

 

The next morning Kim comes down to go for a run and encounters Sam.

“What, are you going out this early?” she asks.

“An early morning run gives me a jump start to my day!” Kim peppily replies.

Sam laughs, “I bet when you were a kid you would stay up all night waiting for Santa.” 

“Well, sure, didn’t everyone?” 

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Now we see her run super dorkily down the street. Seriously, you need to watch the movie for this one scene alone.

Dum dee dum….

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Dippidy doo…

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Hop skippy…whee!

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Then she slips and falls right in front of a coffee shop where Zeke is sitting in the window.

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OMG! Am I broken? I feel broken!

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He runs out to help her up and she looks like this.

Is she trying to catch snowflakes on her tongue right now?

Maybe her brain is swollen.

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Side Note: Spoiler alert – she makes it back to the inn alive. However, if she hit her head she should be going to the ER. Safety first people.

 

She arrives at her morning workshop and Garth is in her group. He says, “Good morning fellow writers!” to everyone and then adds, “And good morning Kim!” What a Loser.

 

Also, it’s pretty green outside for the middle of 

winter in Vermont, am I right?

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The leader of her group is a senior publisher at City Book Publishing. She tells them that they will have nightly assignments that they will share with the group. 

 

Kim are you paying attention?

Stop checking out your stocking!

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Publisher Lady continues, “As to the competition to have your work read by Mr. Cowell, each workshop will have three rounds of daily assignments and the winner of each round will select one chapter from their manuscript for him to read. Now let’s pair up with a writing partner for the week.”

 

Kim gets paired with Zeke and she immediately protests working with him. 

 

Side Note: WTF Kim! Zeke just helped you when you fell and offered you a coffee two seconds ago! Did you get amnesia from your fall? I knew you should have gone to the ER.

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The workgroup leader continues, “For your first assignment you’ll compose two pages of a fictional man and woman meeting romantically in a holiday setting. In the meantime, please introduce yourself to your partner.”

 

Kim offers her hand. “Hi, my name is Kim. My likes include perfect Christmas trees and eggnog. My dislikes include writing partners – nothing personal.”

 

That’s okay Kim, the entire viewing audience hates you now…nothing personal.

 

Next, for no discernable reason, the two of them start acting like a couple of middle schoolers. First Zeke picks up his stack of books from where they are laying in front of him and moves them in front of Kim. She shoots him a dirty look and says, “That’s my area,” and slides them back. They go back and forth with the books a couple of more times until he literally slams them down on her side. Kim finally ends the tussle by throwing the entire stack of books in his lap.   

 

My Conclusion? These people are a pair of %*#@! idiots that are obviously made for each other. Which is good because I certainly don’t want them.

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Next we see Kim typing happily to whale sounds in her room. But her peace is ruined when she hears Zeke’s typewriter pinging away in the next room. OMG she can’t hear her whales!

 

She goes across the hall and prissily knocks on his door. 

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Zeke answers the door and, oh goody…more third grade bantering.

Kim: Hey, I’m trying to write and it sounds like your sending Morse Code down the hallway.

Zeke: Well, if I was, I would be saying, “Leave me alone I’m writing!”

Kim: Is your typewriter supposed to sound like that because maybe you need to return it to the swap meet!

 

Side Note: Ugh! I cannot take this dialogue. Will someone please kill me now? I swear I won’t tell anyone you did it.

 

Zeke looks across the hall into her room, sees all the Christmas crap around her typewriter, and completely loses his mind. “Did you decorate your hotel room for Christmas?”

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He pushes past her, walks into her room, picks up her laptop and begins to read her story while she sputters at him. “That’s not finished! Don’t read that!”

He ignores her and continues reading. Then he says, “I like it. They meet in line waiting to see Santa. But your title gives it all away, Love In Line For Santa? Your title should be a hook not a hammer.”

“I don’t recall asking for your feedback.”

He just says, “Your whales are calling,” and leaves.

 

The next morning at breakfast, Kim pulls out Zeke’s homework assignment and begins to read it since, as Zeke’s partner she needs to 

proof his story before class. Uh oh, her eyes have gone all google-y, what did Zeke do now?

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Kim, super mad, gets up and goes to hunt him down. She finds him in the hallway and starts to yell at him about using her jogging accident as subject material for his story. Now personally, I could care less about her issues with this, but her expressions during their argument are awesome.

Eye lasers set to kill

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Go fudge yourself!

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Three out of the four voices in my head say 

I should punch you in the face right now.

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Kill me.

SQAAAAAWK!

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Zeke calms down her wrath by telling her she has talent as a writer. Whew! Thank goodness gratuitous compliments work on this woman. It was either that or medication.

 

Hey here comes Publisher Lady!

“Kim! I read your story and I loved it. And the title was great! Not going the obvious route was a smart choice. You just won the first round of the competition!”

 

Sam comes over to congratulate Kim and then astutely asks if there is anything going on between her and Zeke.

Oh! Sam don’t be silly he’s so…

Perfect, I know....oh and here he is now!

 

Zeke and Kim patch up their differences and a bit later Zeke encourages her to skip a lecture which he thinks will discourage her from writing. He tells her he can teach her what she needs to know with far better results. She agrees.

 

So, instead of the lecture, Zeke takes her outside where he has built two snowmen. He gives them names and pretends they can speak to him if he bends down to hear what they are saying. Basically, he puts on a puppet show for Kim and she loves it which is not surprising. I’m sure she ran back to her room right after and told Boo Boo all about it.

 

I don’t know Zeke…this looks like it was a lot of work. Next time you teach Kim anything, just use two socks on your hands.

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They go back inside and run into Sam. “Hey you two! We’re supposed to write about a romantic holiday dinner for tomorrow’s assignment. Why don’t the three of us go out to dinner tonight as research?”

 

Then, just as both Kim and Zeke agree to go, Sam makes up an excuse and backs out of the dinner leaving the two of them to go together. She winks at Kim and leaves. Well played Sam. Well played.

Lesson learned: Never take a photo of someone winking. 

It just looks painful.

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Kim and Zeke stammer a bit and then agree to meet in the lobby at 7 pm.

 

Now we are with Zeke waiting downstairs for Kim.The clock behind him says it’s 9:53pm. 

No wonder he looks annoyed.

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TAAA-DAAA!

Someone’s been pre-gaming in her room!

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Side Note: I am sorry to say that my daughter, Annelise, has nothing nice to say about Kim’s dress. Her exact words?  “It’s matronly. Alicia Witt is not one of the Golden Girls.”

 

At the restaurant, Kim relaxes enough to tell Zeke what her book is about.

“The story is about a woman who finds herself single at the holidays after a string of failed relationships and she meets this guy who suggests that they pretend to be dating in order to survive the holidays.”

 

Side Note: Let’s see; Mistletoe Promise, Holiday Date, Hitched for the Holidays, and Holiday Engagement, all Hallmark movies with this same premise. C’mon scriptwriters, your target audience is filled with Hallmark professionals. Congrats on making Kim look totally mediocre. 

 

Next, Zeke opens up about his life although I kind of wish he hadn’t because it was a real downer.

“Let’s kick this movie down a notch.”

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“I was in finance, but I always wanted to be a writer. Then one day I picked up a romance novel and it got the wheels spinning. I started to channel my marriage, my relationships, and my life into my writing. Everything flowed but then the divorce hit, and it was like hitting a brick wall. That’s when the writer’s block started.”

 

Kim sympathizes and then brings the conversation back to their assignment for the night. 

 

(Thank goodness! Because Zeke’s backstory was totally harshing my Hallmark buzz.)

 

“So here we are in this romantic restaurant at Christmas time,” says Kim, “I want you to look around this room and tell me what the most romantic detail is. Don’t make it something trite like the yule log burning in the fireplace or the faint echoes of Christmas music in the background.”

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Up next please enjoy what I would consider to be the cheesiest line, delivered in the most cringe-worthy manner, in any Hallmark movie ever. 

 

Zeke: Okay I’ll try. One romantic thing. Well, it would have to be how shiny that spoon is.

Kim: How shiny that spoon is? Are you kidding me?! You are seriously not even trying are you?

Zeke: I mean I have a reason. 

Kim: You have a reason the spoon is romantic?

Zeke (abruptly over-serious): It’s because of how it reflects just a hint of candlelight in your eyes.


Blech! I think I barfed a little in my mouth.

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Kim just looks at him and continues to chew.

 

Side Note: Okay, I admit I took physics a million years ago, but this makes no realistic sense. Wouldn’t the candlelight just reflect straight into her eyes? What do you need the spoon for?

I’m lost so let’s move on.

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After dinner they take a walk in the snow and Zeke decides it would be a great relationship builder to throw snowballs at Kim while criticizing her writing. He says it will help her develop a thick skin. 

BTW I don’t ever want this guy to be my Dad.

 

"Hey Kim, he says, if you want to grow as a writer you need to learn to take criticism even if that means standing still while people throw snowballs at you." (throws snowball)

"What was that for?" she sputters.

"It’s for using too many adjectives!" 

"Are you serious?"

"Your paragraphs could run a bit shorter by the way!"…and he pelts her with another one.

"What’s your problem!" (she pelts him back)

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Then they fall down together and weirdly almost kiss after this slightly abusive moment, but of course they don’t because he says, “I guess we ought to head back.”

 

Huh? What’s stopping him? Did he just eat garlic and onions? Did she just eat garlic and onions? Why am I having to figure this out Hallmark? Get it together!

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“Ha ha ha you’re so mean - I love it!”

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“I think we should go back.

All this sexual tension makes me sleepy”

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So they walk back and Kim finally trusts Zeke enough to give him her manuscript on a flash drive to read.

“You promise to be nice?” she says as she hands it over.

“I promise to be truthful,” he replies.

 

Side Note: Guess what d*ckhead? You can be both.

 

In round two of the competition – Garth the Barf wins. Kim gets upset because he won off a story about running into his ex-girlfriend at a writer’s convention. Why is every guy writing about her? 

 

She corners Zeke and ask him how he likes her book. 

He tells her that he thinks she is genuinely talented, but her characters are not fully realized

yet and the details don’t feel personal. He says it’s a solid first draft bit it needs a little tweaking. 

She walks off super sad.

 

Now she is having wine in her room with Sam and ignoring Zeke’s calls. What a Sore Loserville.

Also, I think she’s had enough vino.

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The next morning she meets with the panel.

 

Their feedback:

“We enjoyed your premise. You know your way around a sentence and your structure is respectable. But at times your characters seem a little too perfect. Mess them up. Give them problems, and a lot more detail, and when you do that you might have a really good book here.”

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Obviously Kim, who cannot stand being criticized in any way shape or form, walks out of the panel and almost starts to cry in front of Zeke.

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To cheer her up he takes her to NY city since apparently her descriptions of it sucked in her book. Zeke says a writer needs to immerse themselves like this to get the details right. 

I guess that’s why we never have any Hallmark romances set in Space. 

 

Enjoy the fake view.

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They go for a walk around the city and then return to their SEPARATE rooms. Also, they talk easily through the walls to each other which is not a selling point of this hotel. 

The next morning she comes over to his room in a tizzy and tells him that Sam called with an urgent message. Evidently, a huge storm is heading towards Vermont and they have moved H.T. Cowell’s lecture from tonight to today at 2 pm.

Kim is upset, “We are 300 miles away and they are cancelling flights!”

Zeke tries to calm her down, “Don’t panic, I’ll find us a flight, or we can drive there.”

 

Back at the Inn, Samantha is turning in both her and Kim’s submission for the contest and Garth is directly in line behind her to submit his. While the judge is getting a cup of coffee, he picks up Kim’s work from the stack and puts it in the trashcan. What an evil little gnome.

 

In the next scene we see Kim and Zeke pulling up in a car at the Inn. Kim moves to get out, but Zeke stops her, “Kim, there’s something I need to tell you…” 

(Huh? Why didn’t he bring this up during their 4 hour, 300 mile drive together???).

 

Geez, for a writer this guy sure is afraid of creating a scene.

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However, Kim is focused on hearing H.T. Cowell speak so she cuts him off, “C’mon Zeke we’re going to be late!”

 

She runs into the conference and notices that her name is not on the list of finalists. “What happened?” she asks Sam. “I don’t know,” Sam shrugs, “I submitted it – there must be some mistake.”

 

Clapping starts, H.T. Cowell is introduced, and up to the front of the room walks Zeke. 

No sh*t.

 

Then Zeke gives a long speech basically repeating his divorce story. Kim is so upset at this turn of events that she cries two tears which she doesn’t wipe away. Who just let’s tears sit on your face and doesn’t wipe them? I guess an actress who is really proud that she could dredge up some tears.


She’s happy on the inside.

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Zeke finishes his speech and walks out of the room staring straight ahead - right past her and her tears. 

 

Side Note: My goodness, I don’t know who directed this scene, but if you wanted Zeke to look like a douchebag then you nailed it.

 

Later she confronts him stone-faced, “You lied to me Zeke. You’ve been lying to me since we first met.”

“For a reason,” he whines, “I wanted you to know me for me – not H.T. Cowell.” 

 

Side Note: Ooooh so sorry Zeke, but unfortunately this excuse only works if you are a “Prince in Disguise” not a “Has Been Author.” Is there another rationalization you would care to try?

 

Then Kim makes some incredibly valid points:

 

“You promised to be honest with me. (this is true) You had plenty of opportunities to tell me (also true) and instead you wanted to save your big reveal for the promotion of your anthology.”(ouch) 

 

Kim has even more complaints to throw at him – “And that whole story about having a book deal – gosh talk about fiction. I don’t even know what to call you – what’s your real name?”

 

“Well, my mom calls me Zeke short for Hezekiah, and Kim we do know each other, in person and thru our writing!” 

 

Side Note: Ugh! Maybe Garth is the best bet here. At least he’s honest about being an *sshole.

 

And now we all know why you’re divorced.

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I would also like to mention that this was the one scene in the movie that was not over-acted by Alicia Witt.

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Serious actress

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VS

Goofy-pants

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In the next scene Kim is back at home talking to Samantha on the phone. She tells Sam that she has been rewriting like a fiend.

“Oh, so you have new pages?"

“Yes, I will totally send them to you,” says Kim.

 

She drives up to her Dad’s house for Christmas Dinner and – oh snap! Garth is waiting for her. 

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Since all he wants is an introduction to Cowell, she blows him off and goes inside.

 

Later, as her Dad is pulling a turkey out of the oven, the doorbell rings. He asks her to get it and she looks like this.

 

Just get the doorbell.

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Surprise! (not really) it’s Zeke. He hands her some roses and says, “Hello there.”

 

BTW who did this guy’s make up? Because he’s as white as those roses. 

Where’s a spray tan when you need it?

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Weirdly, Kim closes the door behind her and comes outside instead of asking him to come inside which is odd because a literal blizzard is occurring at the time. Seriously, this is what it looked like when she drove up.

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So now they’re both stuck outside, she with a short dress and no coat, and he like some random stranger who is trying to sell her solar panels for her roof.

 

“Zeke, what are you doing here?”

“I was wrong not to be more honest with you I was just having such a great time being with you and I didn’t want to shatter the magic. I am so sorry.”

Kim smiles, “Well I did learn one thing at the conference. It’s never too late to rewrite a chapter to get it perfect.”

 

Side Note: D*mn, that was easy. Want to move inside now? I’m cold.

 

“Oh, I almost forgot,” says Zeke, “this is for you. Merry Christmas,” and he hands her a letter.

She opens it. “Pendant publishing? They want to work with me on my novel?”

“Yes!” says Zeke, “Your rewrite was amazing! Samantha sent me your new pages and I got them to take a look at it and the chief editor flipped!”

 

“Thank you so much!” Kim gushes, “So kiss me already!”

 

Side Note: Because now he’s earned it!

 

And then the freaking blizzard starts up again. You can still see them right?

And they lived happily ever after. 

They’re in there somewhere, I swear.

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Pros:

  • This movie is so terribly over-acted that we love it.

  • The jogging scene!

  • Garth…because evil gnomes are fun to watch. 


 

Cons:

  • I am conflicted about Kim and Zeke’s relationship since during most of the movie Kim could be suffering from a head injury.

  • Snowball abuse.

  • Romantic spoons?

 

THE END

Credits: All photos, unless otherwise indicated, have come from the Hallmark Movie “Mistletoe Inn” which can be viewed on the Hallmark Channel