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"Christmas in Connecticut" is a made-for-TV remake of a feature film
from 1945, which I must admit I've never seen. Elizabeth Blane is a
famous television chef, whose public persona is that of the perfect
All-American housewife. She lives in a large house in a rural part of
Connecticut with her husband John. She has a daughter, Mary, a
son-in-law and two grandchildren, Kevin and Melissa. At least, that is
the story put out by her publicity machine and her manager Alex. In
reality Elizabeth is, and always has been, single without any children
and lives in a penthouse in New York. To make matters worse she cannot
cook and has no idea about housekeeping. All the dishes featured on her
show are actually cooked by her assistant Josie. (Elizabeth also claims
to be too young to be a grandmother, but as Dyan Cannon was actually 55
when the film was made, that claim should be taken with a pinch of
One year, Alex has a great idea for a Christmas special. Jefferson Jones, a forest ranger from Colorado, has become a national hero after saving the life of a young boy during a blizzard. Unfortunately his home was burnt down shortly afterwards, and as he was rumoured (wrongly) to be a great fan of Elizabeth's TV show, Alex invites him to spend Christmas with Elizabeth and her "family". This, of course, involves a certain amount of deception. He finds an old farmhouse to stand in as her home, casts himself in the role of John and Josie as Mary and persuades various acquaintances to represent the rest of the family.
This is one of those films which could have been much funnier than it actually is. The basic idea is a good one, and "Christmas in Connecticut" could have been a devastating satire on the dishonest way in which the mass media manipulate the truth, something along the lines of "Network" or "The Truman Show". The final result, however, is nowhere near as good as either of those great films. I don't think it matters that the film's central concept is an improbable one. In 1945 it might have been possible to deceive the public as to a celebrity's domestic circumstances and culinary abilities. By 1992, however, the inexorable rise of the paparazzi and of the scandal-raking tabloids would have made this sort of deception virtually impossible. Satirical comedy, however, has always been a genre which has enjoyed a licence to stretch the bounds of the probable, and even the bounds of the possible; "The Truman Show", for example, is based around a central concept even more improbable than this one.
There are, however, three reasons why this film does not work as well as it could have done. The first is that the film is both a satire and a romantic comedy; Elizabeth and Jefferson find themselves falling in love, even though he at first wrongly believes her to be a married woman. The heroine of a rom-com must always be sympathetic enough to retain the audience's affections, which means that the script never satirises Elizabeth as mercilessly as it could have done.
The second reason has to do with the first word in the film's title. Any film with a Christmas theme is virtually guaranteed endless repeats on television every December. Yuletide, however, is the season of goodwill to all men, even to dishonest and manipulative television stars and executives, so Christmas movies must always contain a strong feelgood factor. Nobody wants to watch anything depressing while recovering from an overdose of turkey and mince pies, so over the holiday season sentimentality is in, mordant satire out. The third reason can be summed up by those words "TV movie". Hollywood can sometimes (as with "Network") produce a brilliant satire on the television industry; television producers tackling the same theme tend to pull their punches for fear of biting the hand that feeds them.
On the credit side, the acting is generally good, with Cannon making an attractively lively heroine, Kris Kristofferson a genial if bemused Jefferson and the late Tony Curtis showing that he was at much at home in comedy as he was in serious drama. Arnold Schwarzenegger's direction, however, is rather heavy-handed; this is to date his only film, and he was probably wise to diversify his career by going into politics rather than into film directing. Overall, "Christmas in Connecticut" is not such a bad film. It just could have been so much better. 6/10
Stultifying TV-made remake of the 1945 chestnut starring Barbara Stanwyck. As directed by Arnold Schwarzenegger (!), this romantic comedy begins with a terrific bit of television-oriented satire involving Dyan Cannon as the hostess of a popular cooking program. Cannon (vivacious as ever) doesn't know her way around a kitchen, and so has cue cards in front of her and lackeys handing her props out of camera range. It's a wonderfully sly bit of prodding at manufactured show-biz 'magic'...however, once the contrived plot kicks in, the film loses that fresh, funny edge. Dyan has to pretend to be a family-oriented country gal in a publicity stunt which pairs her with recent wilderness hero Kris Kristofferson, and the rest you can write yourself. There isn't a spontaneous or uplifting moment in the mix as our glowing couple grows closer and closer, while she is forced to dislocate herself from the awful truth. A better movie might have been had just by keeping Cannon in the city working on her show, maybe with Kristofferson as her cooking guest. Sadly, the writing here was aiming for Bigger! Better! Funnier! while out-of-his-element Schwarzenegger darts around hoping to exploit every crash for knee-slapping laughs. They fail to arrive.
I've got this movie for my birthday, but I certainly wouldn't have bought it. It's unbelievable how a remake can be this awful. I'm not saying that Arnold Schwarzenegger is a bad director, but I think somebody else would have made a better movie out of it. The jokes are stupid, the acting is extremely bad, the story seems to go nowhere. It's a shame to waste the talent of these actors. I've only seen it once, and after that one time, I had enough of it. So, I'll give it a 1/5.
The original was a gem; beautifully written, charmingly acted,
well directed. Why remake it? There is nothing about this
version that works. The premise does not work in the 1990s, the
stars are flat; the direction insipid.
Save two hours of your life. Skip this and rent the original
I thought this movie was very funny and light-hearted, which IS the
point of a comedy. Everyone knows re-makes always take a certain poetic
license. I thought there was a great relationship with Cannon and
Kristofferson and he was perfect as the crusty woodsman. Cannon carried
her part off with great panache and that million watt smile. The
supporting actors all performed beautifully also. The "son-in-law" who
was also auditioning, the faux daughter who was the real cook, and of
course, Tony Curtis as Mr. Yardley, proved once again that he is a
This is laid-back entertainment, not a Shakespearean tragedy. Lighten Up People!
I know, I know. It probably sucked. And i really don't like Dyan Cannon;
talk about a chick who's afraid to age.
But i LOVED this movie. It was a total 'feel good' production... no big downers, only delight.
try it, with an eye towards entertainment. i'm sure you'll like it!
(admittedly, this is no "Auntie Mame" :)
OK, My second favorite Christmas movie...my 1st being the Orig With
But this re-make is nicely done. The Marta Stewart-esquire Character is perfectly lame in the kitchen and her assistant does all the actual cooking. The Chemistry between Cannon and Kristofferson is nice and
Tony Curtis is hilarious as the producer/pseudo-husband who is worried about ratings and network politics; the side stories are light and provide comic relief every few scenes.
This truly wonderful, heartwarming and funny movie is sure to become one of your holiday favorites too.
The TV version isnt great but it isnt that terrible, i mean its a cute little movie that pokes fun at overdone TV characters and yes at times it gets a little crazy. Watch it and then decide. The original is good yes but its old. This one makes more sense.
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