The Perfect Christmas Present
Synopsis (via Hallmark, abbreviated by me.)
Tom Jacobs, Mr. Christmas, has built an empire around providing his clients with the perfect holiday gifts for their loved one. Things get complicated when his best friend, Paul, hires him to find a gift for his girlfriend, Jenny. As Tom gets to know (and eventually fall for) Jenny he has to make the ultimate Christmas choice.
Tom knows people! He is so good with people that his job is buying presents and letting his clients take all the credit for the thoughtful gift. Only two weeks before Christmas, Tom’s old friend from college and frat brother, Paul, hires him to find the perfect present for his neglected girlfriend. Paul made Jenny move to from LA to Chicago and is constantly ditching her for work. Tom reluctantly agrees. (He does not usually help friends, because it can get complicated.)
Tom’s strategy for getting to know his marks is not creepy at all! All Tom does is follow them around Chicago and then create a cork board with notes in his scribble handwriting, pictures (that are clearly and Tara Holt’s old headshot) and PostIts with questions like:
Favorite Book: The Giver (Bit Depressing, but good!)
Favorite Childhood Memory: Whale Camp
Loves: Nature, Animals, and Horses?
Is Jenny me from 4th grade?
Tom’s normal strategy isn’t working, mostly because Paul can’t answer any questions about his girlfriend. At a dinner to get to get to know her better, Jenny somehow ropes Tom into helping her plan an event for her NFP charity (which will remain that vague for the entire movie).
Tom and Jenny start working together and opening up to each other. We find out that Jenny is originally from Chicago and her favorite Christmas song is “Baby Won’t You Please Come Home.” (Not a Christmas song, but her Dad called her Mom everyday after they left him for LA around Christmas when Jenny was a kid.) Her dad was a blues musician, who worked with Sam Baker in the band Robert Stone and the Chicago Fire. He died in a car crash, so Jenny is never be able to hear her Dad sing that song again, could that be the perfect gift?
The next morning at 6:30am, Jenny just drops by Tom’s apartment. Not expecting a visitor, Tom answers the door in his boxers (Which I appreciated!) and then has to sneakily take down his Jenny shrine! The reason for this surprise visit? Jenny has the theme for the event. CHRISTMAS!
Cue cute (it was actually cute, while still a little over the top) montage of Tom failing at decorating a gingerbread,touching cookies that are too hot, and getting tape stuck to his fingers while wrapping presents. (You’d think he’d be better at that.)
At a dinner party at Victoria’s (Tom’s lonely woman friend) house, the venue for the charity event, things get awkward! Paul casually mentions that he wants five kids and envisions himself and Jenny in a big house like Victoria’s. He is invested in their future “a hundo percento.” It all really freaks Jenny out.
When Paul ditches Jenny (AGAIN!) for work, Jenny invites Tom on a “walking pizza tour” which is not a thing. They do discuss Piquod’s,which is a thing and delicious! At the end of the walk they share a scandalous (but romantic) kiss!
The fallout is immediate. Tom quits helping Paul because he realizes he has feelings for Jenny. Jenny turns down Paul’s proposal. After Victoria spills the beans about Tom’s actual job, Jenny confronts Mr. Christmas. He shows her his “research” (or STALKER) corkboard. Jenny, rightfully, freaks out because he was exploiting her feelings and past for his personal gain. She bans him from coming to the event and then strolls along the lake in a frilly scarf.
At the event, which has cookie decorations and a bowl of fruit punch, everything seems to be going very well. Victoria pulls Jenny aside and tells her Tom wasn’t faking—he was genuine. While Jenny gives a speech to the charity donors, she hears music begin to play… Chicago blues music! Tom (on tambourine), Paul (Jingle bell stick), Sam Baker (on harmonica) and Jenny’s Dad on the record player! It is THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS PRESENT!!
Tom & Jenny kiss a lot for the rest of the movie, and I’m fine with that. (Also, Victoria and Paul get together. I like when the side characters get happiness, too.)
This movie was actually filmed in Chicago last February/Lots of Chicago references that I could nitpick…
MarVista Entertainment produced this movie and it definitely had a more contemporary feel and style. (They also do a lot of Lifetime movies.) It was nice to have a break from Hallmark’s oversaturated Canadian production value.
POC Alert: Jenny’s LA best friend and business partner, Meg. (Played by the very funny Ta’Rhonda Jones.) Again, failing the Bechdel test. The character is a sounding board for Jenny, and almost exclusively on a laptop screen.
I was disappointed to find out Sam Baker isn’t a real Chicago blues musician. Instead, he is a white folk singer.
Paul keeps referring to his Tau Sig fraternity, but his shirt clearly says Tau Sigma KAPPA.
🎄🎄🎄 (3 Christmas Trees)
🍷🍷(2 glasses of wine required)
*Photo Credit: © 2017 Crown Media United States, LLC