Holiday in Handcuffs
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A ne er-do-well thirty-something (Melissa Joan Hart) attempts to appease her family by kidnapping herself an attractive boyfriend (Mario Lopez) for the family Christmas. Despite unlikely odds and dysfunctional family moments, the two fall in love and share a
MelissaJoan Hart and Mario Lopez
Film Trailers of ABC Family s Original Movies: Snow and Snowglobe
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The conclusion comes as no surprise. Because all romances blossom during a felony.
Oddly enough, crazy premise aside, this bizarre comedy/romance succeeds primarily due to the cast. They grab the insanity and run with it; even while your brain is protesting the wrongness of it.
Like I said in the review title, Holiday in Handcuffs is a light-hearted and funny holiday romantic comedy starring Melissa Joan Hart (star of Clarissa Explains It All, and Sabrina, The Teenage Witch) and Mario Lopez (co-star of Saved by the Bell). The rest of the cast includes Markie Post, June Lockhart, Timothy Bottoms & others.
Without giving away the entire movie (like so many reviewers annoyingly do!) Holiday in Handcuffs is basically about a young woman, the typical "starving artist" Gertrude "Trudie" Chandler (Melissa Joan Hart) who is struggling to earn a living with her art, while working as a waitress to make ends meet (but barely!) and longing for the "break" her career needs.
Unfortunately, NOTHING seems to go right for Trudie, from problems with her hair, to being nagged/picked on by her mother (played by Markie Post) about her clothes and appearance, to problems with an interview for a "real job" that her critical & uptight, conventional, conservative-type father (played by Timothy Bottoms) sets up for her, to car troubles, the list goes on and on. The proverbial "icing on the cake" is when Trudie's boyfriend, Nick (played by Ben Ayres) who was supposed to accompany her to meet her family for a Christmas vacation at a rented cabin in the middle of nowhere, dumps her out of the blue -- just moments before they are supposed to leave and obviously refuses to join her to meet her parents. That's when Trudie "goes off the deep end" and the wackiness begins!
Desperate to come up with another "Nick" to get her disapproving parents off her back, she comes across David Martin (Mario Lopez) who is waiting to meet his girlfriend, Jessica (played by Gabrielle Miller) at the diner where Trudie is working. With just minutes before she is supposed to leave, and not knowing what else to do, Trudie "snaps" and using her boss's antique pistol, she kidnaps David Martin and holds him hostage, to come & spend the Christmas holidays with her dysfunctional family, pretending to be her boyfriend "Nick". Of course, David isn't interested in doing any such thing, and when he tries to get away, Trudie blindfolds & restrains him with her pantyhose, in the car during the journey. Upon arriving at the cabin, they meet Trudie's family, including her brother, Jake (played by Kyle Howard) and sister, Katie (played by Vanessa Evigan) both of whom, like Trudie are hiding big secrets of their own. They are also soon joined by Trudie's feisty & sassy but somewhat senile (think Sophia Petrillo from The Golden Girls) maternal grandmother (played by June Lockhart). Although David is essentially trapped in a remote cabin in the middle of nowhere, with Trudie's family during the Christmas holidays, naturally, he nevertheless tries various means to escape as well as to inform Trudie's family that he is NOT really her boyfriend "Nick", but rather that she kidnapped him and is holding him hostage!
However, despite Trudie's generally poorly executed, last minute plan, she is rather "quick on her feet", and manages to humorously explain it all away -- and though admittedly, its not very realistic (but hey its a MOVIE and NOT real-life -- and its NOT meant to be 100% plausible, or taken completely seriously!) her family buys her excuses, and genuinely believes that David is really Nick, her handsome and successful boyfriend. Although David tries a few more times to try to run away, or get help, eventually he agrees to stay with the Chandlers and temporarily keep up the charade of being Trudie's "perfect boyfriend, Nick" -- and to pull it off, he spends lots of time with Trudie & her family, and starts really getting to know them. Not that he has much choice in the matter, though, being stuck in a remote cabin in the mountains, 20 miles from civilization, with no TV, little to no phone access (you'll see why I said "little to no" phone access, when you watch this movie) no Internet access, nothing. Anyway, in particular, David spends a lot of time with Trudie, and as he learns more about her, NOT just as the crazy woman who kidnapped him & held him hostage -- but rather, the REAL Trudie Chandler, he also learns more about himself and what he truly wants & doesn't want out of his life. In the process of this self-discovery, David finds himself actually (gasp!) having FUN with Trudie & the rest of the Chandlers!
Meanwhile, as the bombshell secrets of various family members are dropped, its clear that David is (or has become) "one of the family" -- and he realizes he LIKES IT, and enjoys being there with them........................but the problem is, of course, that he's NOT really Trudie's boyfriend, or her guest, but her HOSTAGE!
What to do now?? What happens to Trudie, and David, his girlfriend Jessica, and the Chandlers?
Well, you'll either have to watch the movie or read one of the other reviews that include spoilers (but personally, I suggest seeing the movie, rather than reading spoilers) to find out, and see all of the hilarity & adventure that ensue -- and the lives that are forever changed because of Trudie's impulsive & crazy stunt!
Basically, Holiday in Handcuffs is a very endearing and light-hearted romantic comedy, that's family-friendly & suitable for almost all ages. As far as I can recall (I last saw this film during the Christmas holidays and its almost May now, so my recollections *might* be kind of fuzzy) there is little to no foul language, no graphic violence or sexual scenes, or anything that would be unsuitable for anyone, except maybe the youngest kids, if even that. Yes, this movie is a storyline about a kidnapping and there is a gun & gunshot involved, but there is no blood or gore -- and the violence in this movie, if there IS any, is very minimal, and in my view, not scary at all. This film is essentially 90 minutes of of fluffy Christmas entertainment, that doesn't require a lot of concentration and focus (though there needs to be *some* -- especially towards the end!) and is just a funny holiday movie that one can watch while wrapping Christmas presents or trimming the tree, or baking or decorating holiday cookies or folding laundry or whatever other mindless tasks.
Although this movie is NOT a blockbuster theatrical-release film with a massive budget & big-name stars -- but rather a low-budget, made-for-TV movie, its still a GREAT film. Melissa Joan Hart is WONDERFUL as Trudie Chandler, the struggling artist & waitress who's so desperate for her parents approval, love & acceptance that she "snaps" and turns into a hapless, bumbling kidnapper. Mario Lopez is just as AWESOME (as Melissa is) playing Trudie's unwitting hostage, David Martin. Because in addition to his acting skills, he's DROP-DEAD GORGEOUS in this movie (he's so handsome, that even I almost wish that I could kidnap him myself) which makes him the BEST CASTING CHOICE for the role of Trudie's "perfect boyfriend, Nick". Meanwhile, June Lockhart is HILARIOUS as Trudie's sharp-tongued, and somewhat senile grandma (for the same reason[s] why I ♡ the now-late Estelle Getty's portrayal of Sophia Petrillo on The Golden Girls). The other characters while not as great as Hart, Lopez or Lockhart, are still quite memorable. Its been several months since I've seen this movie, and I still get a chuckle/laugh at the remembrance of the scene when Trudie's mother (Markie Post) and father (Timothy Bottoms) are ranting at each other at Christmas Dinner.
All in all, especially for being a made-for-TV movie, Holiday in Handcuffs is TERRIFIC!
In fact, in my honest opinion, its probably my FAVORITE Christmas movie -- or at least one of my top faves, especially among those which are NOT specifically or primarily kid-targeted (such as CLASSICS like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,A Charlie Brown Christmas, the animated version of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! & others) and/or family-friendly fare (like The Santa Clause with Tim Allen or I'll Be Home For Christmas with Jonathan Taylor Thomas & Jessica Biel). I LOVE this funny, lighthearted holiday romantic comedy movie!!!
★☆★☆★ 5 STARS!!!!!
A few more dollars could've really livened up this production and not only made it credible in terms of the major plot point around which the story revolves, but it might have also ratcheted up the comedy by a few degrees. As it is now it's just a simple film that has a girlish/feminine appeal of the out of luck single in search of her knight in shining armor, even if she has to violate the Mann Act.
Not a very bright production, but it is an ABC TV film. Take it for what it is.
The story is kind of wacky but sweet. Acting was above average but not great. All-in-all a nice movie that we will watch most Christmas seasons from now on.
It is not a great Christmas movie like the original 'Miracle on 34th Street' or 'It's a Wonderful Life'. If you've seen 'A Boyfriend for Christmas' then you will know what I mean - watching it is a nice way to spend 90 minutes or so.
I would rate this a very solid 7.75 to 8.25 on a 10 point scale. It's a nice movie at a very low price (I paid $6.99 from Amazon).