The Ringer’s 25 Days of Bingemas is a guide for people who love original holiday movies; it’s a guide for people who hate original holiday movies; it’s a guide for people who occasionally watch these movies and want more; it’s a guide for people who never hope to watch these movies but would like to watch one writer descend into madness as she attempts to differentiate between 25 unique forms of holiday magic, 12 different fake countries, and eight different male leads who make you wonder, “Wait, is that the guy from Mean Girls?” (It isn’t, except for that one time when it is.) Every day for the next 25 days, Jodi Walker will feature one of this season’s 169 original holiday movies, answering a curated series of questions in order to showcase the genre’s masterful formula, the dedication to chaos, and the commitment to consistently widowing lumberjacks that launched an entire genre of TV movie. On the LAST day of Bingemas, we turn our cheerful spirits to …
What are we watching?
The Most Colorful Time of the Year
Where are we watching it?
Why are we watching it?
Because, per Hallmark, “Ryan is an elementary school teacher, who learns that he is colorblind. Michelle, an optometrist and mother of one of his students, helps bring color into his life in time for the holidays.”
Vanessa Hudgens is not in this movie, but I dare you to even think about it when faced with the reality of The Most Colorful Time of the Year. 25 Days of Bingemas was mostly forged in the fires of chaos, organized under a loose structure of, “Was one of this movie’s stars ever on a CW show?” and executed with all the ease and efficiency of using a personal blog as the only promotional tool for your remote Christmas Inn. And yet, there was always one waving checkered flag, one place where I knew all this would end: a Hallmark movie in which Cerie from 30 Rock plays an optometrist who helps her daughter’s color-blind teacher discover the magic of Christmas via glasses that grant him the gift of non-color non-blindness. What I never could have guessed is how much this perfect-sounding movie would ultimately torment me, teach me about myself, and make me never want to go to the optometrist again.
How believable are the lead characters’ ostensible careers?
Dr. Michelle Stevens is an optometrist, and a terrible one at that. In addition to multiple ethical violations throughout the movie, we never once see this alleged doctor use an intake form, glance at an insurance card, or even wash her hands. I’m not confident she isn’t just Dirty John-ing this hot science teacher the entire time. That hot science teacher is Ryan Tanner, played by Christopher Russell, who I have to assume was cast directly from a glasses catalog. He looks exactly like every handsome man you have ever seen sporting a pair of plastic frames on the wall of a LensCrafters. And yet we are supposed to buy that this man—who could absolutely only ever be a model, or a model hired briefly to be an actor in a Hallmark movie—is an elementary school science teacher? A man that good-looking would never be allowed near paste.
How problematic is the meet-cute on a scale of “one saved the other from falling in a snowbank” to “one is the other’s boss and they fall in love on a work trip”?
Can you believe that, knowing the plot description going into this movie, I unwisely believed that the structure would fall somewhere along the lines of “color-blind boy schedules appointment with optometrist girl; optometrist girl introduces him to a world of color and innovative clinical trials,” as though I haven’t watched 24 movies just like this one over the last 24 days? Instead, we meet Dr. Stevens performing eye exams at her daughter’s school, where she first meets her daughter’s teacher Mr. Tanner and insists that he submit to an eye exam too. I don’t know if you’ve been to an eye exam recently, but the doctor basically 3D prints you new eyeballs with all the advanced machines they use now. Dr. Stevens, however, just has a couple posters with lines of letters on them, yet somehow still immediately clocks that Mr. Tanner is color blind. Due to that fact and Mr. Tanner’s brief refusal to admit that he’s color blind when she starts quizzing him on the color of her shirt, Dr. Stevens launches an unyielding campaign of harassment and medical malpractice that does not let up for at least the first half of the movie, until Mr. Tanner ultimately submits. So, to answer the original question I posed to myself: yeah, pretty problematic.
Say, are these two opposites?
I just do not understand why, when faced with the indisputable fact that they must create a movie about an optometrist and her color-blind love interest, these writers felt the need to make Dr. Stevens a monster who can’t take no for an answer! Mr. Tanner certainly doesn’t seem to be suffering from his own monochromacy (that’s a word I looked up), but Dr. Stevens is convinced that the only way for this man to be happy is to join a clinical trial for new color-corrective glasses after she’s thrice showed up at his school to try to trick him into admitting that he’s colorblind—finally getting her confirmation after making him pass her six bowls full of M&Ms until he gets one wrong. And when Mr. Tanner doesn’t get back to her about the clinical trial in time for the deadline, she simply signs him up without his permission. When the glasses arrive and he once again says, “No thank you, I do not want to try them,” Dr. Stevens bemoans his medical condition out loud to her daughter, who then takes the glasses to school wrapped like a present with a note that ultimately guilts Mr. Tanner into trying the glasses on. These two deserve each other, honestly (the pushy mother and daughter, not Mr. Tanner, who deserves to be granted a restraining order with Dr. Stevens’s name written in black and white).
Is there any singing/crafting/baking/blogging?
Once Mr. Tanner does try on the glasses—in a hall of an elementary school inexplicably lined with enough Christmas trees to outfit the White House—every bit of singing, crafting, baking, blogging, bonding, running, jumping, laughing, and talking that should happen during any Christmas movie about two people falling in love is replaced with one, single plot device: taking Mr. Tanner to look at stuff with his new glasses.
Is there any magic?
They have the little girl in this movie say multiple times that the ability to see color may seem like magic, but it’s actually science—all about those rods and cones, baby! But there definitely is a suggestion that Mr. Tanner’s color-corrective glasses are magic. At one point he says that he’s never been able to smell flowers before, but now he can, and he wonders if it’s thanks to the glasses. Dr. Stevens, an eye doctor, is like, “Yeah, maybe, I’m not really sure.” Also, pre-glasses Mr. Tanner says that he’s never heard of mistletoe because … being color blind gave him a distaste for Christmas, which somehow kept him away from any and all popular culture? I dunno man, this movie is nuts.
Does anyone almost kiss only to be interrupted?
I’ve permanently referred to these characters as Dr. Stevens and Mr. Tanner because, until the final moments of the film, they never really seem like more than acquaintances, and I’d honestly prefer that there always be a third party there for their visits. Needless to say, there’s no time for interrupted kisses—what with all the harassment and non-consensual medical funny business going on—and their first and only kiss is little more than a peck. Naturally, it takes place under mistletoe, which Mr. Tanner now understands thanks to his very special new glasses.
Any chance they just thought of this title, and then built an entire movie around it?
Oh, friends. Never has a plot been more clearly created to accommodate a Christmas pun that someone thought of while on an ayahuasca retreat. There is no reason this plot should exist, but thank goodness it does for this hap-happiest season of fraud.
What is the meaning of Christmas, as stated by the film?
I could not tell you what this movie thinks the meaning of Christmas is, not if you gave me a million dollars. Instead, on the 25th Day of Bingemas, I want to say thank you for watching, reading, and spiraling into the abyss with me. It’s been a beautiful nightmare, and as a token of my gratitude, I’ve signed each and every one of you up for a surprise clinical trial not of your choosing. Merry Bingemas to all! (Except for Vanessa Hudgens, who has exactly one year to MAKE THINGS RIGHT.)