I pretty much spent the the last two months glued to CNN. So, when Election Day/Week finally ended, I needed to fill my mind with love, and optimism. I would go on a Netflix cleanse. I committed to watching one holiday movie a day for 5 days to reset my brain with cheer. It was the only cleanse I'd ever stuck with. Netflix has an insane amount of holiday movies. I wanted my selections to be cheesy, predictable, and pretty to watch. Nothing heavy, no racial unrest, and preferably no "A" list superstar actors. I wanted to give the underdogs a chance. Movies where I knew love would win in the end and my brain would thank me for filling it with fun.
Day 1: Holidate was trending on my first day so I decided to give it a go. I hadn't heard of it, but it had Emma Roberts in it and I liked her. This movie follows two people who use each other as dates for major holiday functions so that they don't have to deal with questions and judgements about being single. And of course, they start to develop feelings for each other. There's a family wackiness subplot that adds just the right amount of humor too. I was already invested when I realized I broke my "A" list actor rule. High profile actors, Frances Fisher and Kristin Chenoweth shine! If they signed up for this, I knew it would be a good story. Bottom Line: Just Press Play
Day 2: Operation Christmas Drop was in the recently added section of Netflix and I should've left it there. I watched it because I really liked Kat Graham in The Vampire Diaries. In this movie, she played a congresswoman's assistant and unbelievably so. This theme of the overworked woman with no time for love is common in cheesy Christmas movies and if you do this cleanse you will definitely encounter it. Graham's character needs to decide (on behalf of the congresswoman) if this charitable box distribution of Christmas gifts and other essential items should keep operating. Graham and the male lead had absolutely NO chemistry and it was a struggle to watch. We never saw her soften by the time they finally kissed. (No spoiler. You already know they kiss by the end.) There was also one scene that should have been deleted. The lead guy takes Graham to an island where the indigenous people that live there look pretty happy. His objective is to get her to mingle with the people and open her heart. One of the children gave her a handmade craft. She was touched and decided to give the child random used gifts from her purse. A compact. Lipstick. Probably a nail file. Then she just gives them the whole purse as this amazing charitable act. Because that's what the children of this island need. A charitable drop box of essential items from the government and makeup. Bottom Line: Meh.
Day 3: love, guaranteed was technically not a Christmas movie, but Netflix did suggest it so why not. It stars Rachel Leigh Cook as a financially struggling lawyer who takes on a case where her client is suing the creator of a dating app. The opening scene showed Cook in a beautiful red suit which I swear was a wardrobe homage to the teen movie She's All That from where she's probably best known. Every movie thus far was obviously shot pre-corona and all I can think about is how close they are standing next to each other, but I digress. The male lead was very familiar and sounded like Damon Wayans. He kind of looked like him too. At this point I went back to the title screen and saw it was Damon Wayans' son which kind of made me feel old. Anyway, again with the overworked woman who doesn't have time for love. Cook and Wayans were delightful. No, really DELIGHTFUL. They had great chemistry, the writing was solid, the main characters and supporting cast were realistic and enjoyable. I found myself smiling as the leading lady made her transition to falling in love. Bottom Live: Enjoyment, guaranteed.
Day 4: I needed Kat Graham to redeem herself so I reluctantly accepted Netflix's suggestion to watch The Holiday Calendar. This story centers around SURPRISE; An overworked woman who is unlucky in love. She's a photographer feeling stuck taking pictures of kids on Santa's lap while her best friend, also a photographer, travels the world showcasing his talent. She wants that life, and he wants her. There's also a little magic surrounding an antique Advent calendar gifted to Graham. It opens daily with little surprises while also opening her heart. Awwwww. The lead male also looked familiar to me. Kind of like a young Al B. Sure, an R&B singer from the late 80's. SURE enough. It was his son! While this movie was cute, my only hangup was the major conflict in the story was so unrealistic for two supposedly seasoned photographers. It felt like the movie ran out of shooting time and cobbled together a scene that would quickly move the plot along. Aside from that, Graham and her leading man had great chemistry and she admirably has a talent for crying on demand.
Bottom Line: Add it to the watchlist.
Day 5: The last movie I watched in my weekday cleanse truly was the best. I ignored my No "A" Lister superstar rule and watched Holiday in The Wild starring Rob Lowe and Kristin Davis. The story is about a New York empty nester who travels alone to Zambia amid marital strife. She meets Rob Lowe who works at an Elephant Sanctuary. I hoped this would NOT be one of those movies where people travel to "Exotic Africa" where they are outsiders amid half dressed dancing locals who smile and have no personalities except for being so grateful to be in the presence of Americans. I did NOT want to see two actors I adore be in someone else's version of what they think Africa might be like. Thankfully, this movie was so well done. Zambia was for sure the breakout star here. The love story is predictable, but with the backdrop being an actual Elephant Sanctuary (very little CGI) made it fresh and beautiful to watch. I love Kristin Davis, but it was hard for me not to see the iconic Charlotte York from Sex And The City. She acted beautifully going through the motions and emotions of a woman searching for herself while being open to adventure. And while I know we aren't supposed to talk about how women look, the best part of this movie was seeing how beautifully she has aged over her decades long career. She has creases around her eyes just like I do and she's gorgeous. As a 40+ year old woman, I found that encouraging. Fun Fact: Kristen Davis' son in the movie is played by Rob Lowe's real life son! Bottom Line: Snuggle under a blanket and give this one your full attention.
My 5 day cleanse was exactly what I needed to open myself back up to hope. I believe in putting good out there and part of why I hadn't written in a while was because I was mentally living in a not so good place. I was choosing to stay glued to cable news and I was responsible for how much negativity I took in. And when you take in a lot of mess, it's pretty easy to start feeling messy. Even though I cheated only once and watched a little Lester Holt, I'm happy that Netflix was there to help me reset.