Kristin’s Christmas Past: Holiday Treacle

Yesterday was the premiere of Kristin’s Christmas Past, the latest in Lifetime’s winter-long series of schmaltzy holiday films.

This “event” (named “It’s a Wonderful Lifetime” — GROAN) trades the usual tales of murdering babysitters and revenging mistresses for non-stop Christmas-themed slurm. The quality is what you might expect for a series that “premieres” a new “movie” every Saturday for two months. (Yes, all of those quotes are necessary.)

What the hell am I going to watch from now until New Year’s?

I started the viewing session with two classic pairings: a giant bottle of BBC Steel Rail and Twitter. The beer was an immediate success, but the tweeting didn’t go as well. It turns out that even the hardest-core LMN bloggers can’t stomach Lifetime’s holiday treacle.

The only people using the lengthy hashtag “#KristinsChristmasPast were me and the corporate Lifetime Twitter account. That’s like trying to have a stimulating conversation with a Teddy Ruxpin doll.

I stuck it out anyway and was SORT of rewarded in that it was oddly watchable in spite of being not that good. It reminded me of getting sucked into an episode of Devious Maids.

The opening exposition/montage introduces us to protagonist Kristin who, despite being nearly 35, is still living an empty, unfulfilling life. I should clarify that on Lifetime an “unfulfilling life” means having a successful career in New York City, friendships, and a bangin’ wardrobe. What a horrific tragedy that merits redemptive time travel!

It’s a terrible life.

After complaining that she’ll be spending Christmas alone with her cat, Kristin takes a swig from a magical bottle of champagne and wakes up next to her teenaged self way back in 1996.

Kristin proves her identity to Teenage Kristin and they come up with a cover story for the rest of the family. I clearly watch too much sci-fi because I was sure Future Kristin wouldn’t want to pollute the space-time continuum or whatever by meeting herself and revealing a bunch of stuff about the future. I guess magical holiday booze works differently than a regular time machine.

Style Corner: I have no clue what the stylists/costume designers were thinking. Teenage Kristin has Beetlejuice-era Winona Ryder hair (passé by 1996) and wears modern-looking jeans and a T-shirt. Where are the chunky pixie cuts, chokers, doc martens, and tiny backpacks? The flannel shirts? The plastic tattoo bracelets? The bra strap headbands? Making the setting look like the mid-nineties — the era of dumb but recognizable trends — shoulda been a piece of cake. They do get one good nineties joke in, though. A character says he’ll see if someone is on AOL chat and Shiri Appleby totally nails the “Wait, WTF?” and then, “Oh right, people really did that back then” reaction shot. That’s right – I’m admitting to laughing at a joke in a Lifetime holiday movie. In my defense, BBC bottles are pretty big.

Because all teenagers want a time-traveling control freak in their lives, Future Kristin gets right on critiquing her younger self’s fashion sense and taste in guys. On top of the “To Meddle” list is Teenage Kristin’s decision to go to NYU to be with her cheater boyfriend.

You can smell the cheat.

Future Kristin blames this single decision for setting her on the rocky path to eternal unhappiness (i.e, good health, a cat, and a NYC apartment). Of course, Teenage Kristin fights all of Future Kristin’s well-meaning advice and stubbornly does what she wants.

Even though I can tell the audience is supposed to be all, “Haha, teenagers are the worst,” I don’t think Teenage Kristin is that annoying of a character. I actually found the parents (played by Judd Nelson and Juliet from Lost) to be much worse, namely because of the following:

  • Mom has permanent resting bitchface
  • Mom tells insecure Teenage Kristin she doesn’t think she’ll be able to cut it at her dream career. Supportive!
  • Dad and Mom threaten to pull college funding unless Kristin goes to the school they want, and then they actually do it.

The movie ends with Kristin accepting that she can’t change the past (ooh, a message). She downs another swig of the magical champagne and resolves to fix her life in the present. She starts up a quickie romance with her male besty (who was in love with her all along) and reconciles with her (only slightly abusive) parents just in time for Christmas.

As the credits rolled, I conferred with Mr. Max on the conclusion.

Me: “I’m confused about the ending. I thought she was disappointed with her life. Now it’s great?” Mr. Max: “She’s settling. It’s heartwarming.”



  1. Ah, you perfectly captured the despair of Holiday Lifetime. Bad movies are one thing, bad holiday treacle is another. My DVR is pretty full, so I’m probably going to spend some time catching up. I just don’t have the fortitude for the Christmas stuff- but I admire your bravery.

  2. Skip this one. Good cast, but Judd Nelson’s character just sat there. Mom seemed demanding, unapologetic and flat out blunt (even rude at times) to her daughter and that never changed. It was all up to Kristen’s character to change but mom & dad just demanded and never did meet her half way. Very disappointed in this movie. Many other movies out there are much better.

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