Chunky Sweaters and Terrible Acting: This Is … Merry Kissmas

Do you love the thrill of a romance movie, chock full of witty banter, smoldering looks, and obvious chemistry. This ain’t it. But Merry Kissmas is yet another cheesy made-for-TV movie with a plot that focuses heavily on elevator-related hijinks, just like A Christmas Kiss.

Here are some thoughts and questions I had during my viewing of Merry Kissmas, currently streaming on Netflix.

Kayla, do you always spill your guts to street Santas?

After walking down a Palo Alto street devoid of any other humans besides a small group of creepy carolers, Kayla happens upon a Street Santa offering Christmas wishes (for a fee). When Kayla fails to make a wish after slipping a dollar into Santa’s bucket, Old Saint Nick helpfully suggests that “true love is always a worthy wish.” A normal person might smile and nod, and just wish for some damn true love, but Kayla unloads on Santa, telling him her current relationship is now more akin to a business deal. Okay, then.

Kayla, what’s your beef with the German lady?

There’s very little explanation about Kayla’s possible connection to Palo Alto, but after telling Santa her life story, Kayla wanders into a nearby trinket shop. The German (?) proprietor seems to know who she is, and says it’s been so long since Kayla’s been to the city. She begs Kayla to return and…join the PTA? Kayla is instantly repulsed by the site of this woman, who then pulls a photo of Carlton from under her blouse (what?) and requests an autograph. Rather than just taking the photograph and politely agreeing to placate a local business owner, Kayla flees.

Carlton is a man of many looks

The photo the German lady produces of Carlton is clearly the professional headshot of the actor portraying Carlton. It looks nothing like him because in Merry Kissmas, Carlton’s facial hair makes him look like he should be serving mead at a renaissance faire, not choreographing a ballet. His visage is also visible on the theater marquee, where he is unrecognizable with a Kenny G-like flowing mane and no facial hair.

How does Dustin afford that massive apartment in Palo Alto?

At first glance, I thought Dustin was making cookies in a cafe he owned, but it’s apparently the very airy and sun-drenched Palo Alto apartment he (maybe?) shares with his cousin, Kim. (Of course, she’s his cousin, by the way. He couldn’t possibly have a female friend or business partner, lest she be a threatening character when Kayla makes her grand entrance.) But Palo Alto ain’t cheap; I guess they’re making a lot of cookies.

Was it necessary to have Ray Romano’s mom sexually assault Dustin?

Maybe it’s the Current Climate, but Doris Roberts forcing Dustin to kiss her in the elevator (twice!) under the mistletoe was…uncomfortable.

How many director/choreographers do you know?

Carlton seems to be a Really Big Deal; people even approach him for autographs. But that Nutcracker he’s putting together seems pretty low-rent. There are maybe five dancers, no set decoration or costumes, and the dancing would probably give George Balanchine a stroke. Unless he’s also a judge on Dancing With the Stars, why do so many people know him?

Was it necessary to have German lady run after Kayla for like a solid 5 blocks?

They weren’t exactly having a deep conversation. Also, she doesn’t seem like the type to be scared away by a little elevator kiss, but the movie must advance its plot!

Who are “they”?

“If what they say about the elevator is true, it paired you for a reason,” Kim tells Dustin after his quickie makeout sesh with Kayla. Is this a subliminal religious thing?

Kayla, do you need a mood stabilizer?

It’s not exactly breaking news that Carlton is a jackass, but one little dig at Dustin during a meeting about their ENGAGEMENT party, and Kayla breaks up with Carlton in record time. She does a similar 180 later in the movie once the engagement is back on. One second she loves him, the next second she’s enraged at being ignored and dumps him again, and then she’s smiling and wishing him well.

The guy at the animal shelter was creepy, right?

At first I thought perhaps this was product placement for the actual animal shelter and they were using one of its employees in this role. Because yikes. Joshua stares a bit too long, makes goofy faces, and will totally not murder Kim.

That story Kayla was going to write was…already written.

Dustin keeps encouraging Kayla to write the story of the artist who created the Nutcracker Dustin purchased. It’s a story of love and travel, and how do we know that? Because Kayla reads it aloud from a pamphlet that came with the Nutcracker. That someone wrote. It’s a nice story, but sounds like the pamphlet covers the nuances of a couple who went to the Nutcracker on their first date and now enjoy gardening in their old age.

Kayla, why did you text Justin first after he was a major dick?

Kayla goes out of her way to make business cards for Dustin and Kim, and Dustin responds by telling her she should spend her time doing stuff for herself, not him. In the non-Hallmark Movie world, this type of behavior normally means Dustin’s trying to distance himself so he can bang other girls but not tooo much so he can still call her up when he’s bored. But this is bizarro TV movie world, so here, it just means Dustin wanted to avoid taking advantage of Kayla like her ex-fiance did.

But he was still a giant asshole about it, and Kayla should’ve demanded a better apology. Instead, after tracking down Street Santa to tell him that she needs to work on establishing boundaries (“No kidding,” said Santa, probably), Kayla starts researching that story, and excitedly texts Dustin to tell him about her progress. Girl, keep that shit frosty until he apologizes.


How do we know they’re falling in love unless there’s a montage scene that begins with Dustin adopting a puppy (in a chunky sweater adorned with bulls, of course) and ends with an awkward fake discussion with employees at a farmers’ market? At one point, they’re making out at what is clearly the Santa Monica Pier, which is about 400 miles south of Palo Alto, but continuity be damned! All this time, Kayla is also apparently sleeping at the San Francisco hotel room she’s sharing with Carlton.

(Image: Netflix)

WTF kind of break-up was that?!

After some deep thoughts by the fountain (with yet ANOTHER run-in with that damn Street Santa), Kayla heads to Dustin’s, where he’s casually lounging on the floor in a tight shirt, playing with his new dog. Kayla tells him that Carlton wants another chance, while sporting a brand-new bracelet from him, and then looks surprised when Dustin takes that as a send-off. The break-up is about as emotionally painful as canceling on your cable company and everyone’s acting is atrocious. Even the dog can’t fake the fact that he’s just trying to get to the treats Dustin has concealed in his left hand.

Were all those people standing outside the elevator for 30 minutes?

Dustin’s building has, what, 5 floors? Did all of Dustin’s neighbors really just stand in the lobby for 30+ minutes rather than just taking the damn stairs? Kayla also told her Lyft driver she’d be back in 10 minutes, but she and Dustin went upstairs, so…


The blatant Kay Jewelers sponsorship on that engagement ring (presented back at the Santa Monica Pier, natch) was the perfect end to this shit show.

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