This was the other movie I was looking forward to this weekend. Tyler Hynes has become one of my favorite Hallmark men. I might have turned off the Mistletoe Secret had it not been for Tyler Hynes’ cardigans. And I genuinely loved Winter In Vail. If THAT had been a Christmas movie, I don’t know if I would have ever recovered.
The movie begins with Jennifer finishing up some cookies. She is hoping that she will earn a promotion at work by bribing her boss with baked goods. She says the job she wants is head game developer, so I naturally assume she works at a video game company. Spoiler alert: I am wrong. She’s baked just enough for her coworkers.
Meanwhile, Aiden is over at his sister’s house before work because a pipe under her sink is broken, along with a million other things in the house. He gets water or something all over his shirts so he goes upstairs to borrow his dad’s clothes. This means another year of Tyler Hynes rocking cardigans. Giddyup! I can’t find any pictures of it, but I have this memory of Tyler lounging in the hotel lobby eating breakfast wearing a floor length sweater in Mistletoe Secret. I’m certain.
So Jennifer gets to work to discover that the person who was supposed to put in a good word for her quit and sort of…burned every bridge on his way out. So now all those cookies she made will go to waste. Maybe she should make some cookie butter?
Her coworker, Annie gives her a little pep talk about just talking to their boss themselves. It is at this moment that I realize this entire company is a scavenger hunt game app. And well, honestly, THE AUDACITY!!! To pretend that this concept is enough to warrant this GIGANTIC multi-floor office space for this very niche-Chicago focused APP!!! This concept for employment is really up there with ridiculous “only in a Hallmark movie” professions. And so Jennifer wants to be the LEAD game designer? What in the world? Oh bless everyone’s little hearts. I am going to have to briefly suspend reality to get through the rest of this film. I’ll do it for Tyler. But let me say this, if I find out that what they are designing are not actual scavenger hunts, well, I’m going to write a strongly worded letter to Hallmark.
Downstairs, Aiden is talking to his work pal Bill. Bill is having a mini panic attack about the impending birth of his child. He does not have his head in the game, which is unfortunate because they have a BIG SCAVENGER HUNT meeting. Honestly. So Bill is…well he’s not doing his best…but he is kind of trying to keep himself together. So the presentation gets started but all of a sudden, Bill has to go. He is completely paralyzed by shock so Allister, his boss, has to kind of snap him out of it. Godspeed, Bill.
Meanwhile in Jen’s office, she talks through her draft email to her boss with a stuffed snowman. She decides she’s going to just talk to him in person. Get it, Girl! She heads upstairs at just the right time to pinch hit for poor Bill, who is likely wandering aimlessly on the sidewalk by now.
Wanda, who works at a fancy hotel in town, tells them what she is looking for in a scavenger hunt game to promote their hotel. So, to use this app, you need to have a game custom made for you. Or is the app just a component of this Scavenger Hunt game company? I think that’s right.
Aiden’s presentation goes right out the window and Jennifer just comes up with one good idea after another. Wanda takes notice. Aiden suggests “Winter Wonderland” as the theme. AIDEN! YOU IDIOT! That was the theme of every Hallmark movie LAST YEAR. Get it together. They ultimately decide that to promote the opening of the hotel, they will do a 12 Dates of Christmas Scavenger Hunt leading them to the hotel for a grand opening party. Or, maybe a soft opening party. They’ve got to come up with the whole concept by the end of the following day. So that all sounds like a scavenger hunt so far. So this is fine.
After the meeting, Allister gives Aiden a stern talking-to. He can’t be the grumpy old hermit crab he usually is. Aiden is like, I really only like Bill here at work. Allister is like, Aiden, Bill is gone. Probably forever. You have to get over him and work with someone new.
Jen is all ready to be right in Aiden’s face and talk about their game ideas. Aiden thinks it would be best if they check in with each other tomorrow.
Poor Jen is looking for anyone to connect with so later she tries to chat with her neighbor. He isn’t interested in chitchat either.
That night, Aiden is back at his sister, Shannon’s, making paper wreaths with his niece. It looks like Tyler is committed to making sweaters work for him again this year. We learn that Shannon’s husband is deployed. We also learn this house has been in their family for a long time and it is a huge hassle to deal with. Aiden reveals that he wants that same promotion Jennifer wants!!
Jen decides she is going to turn Aiden from an introverted hermit crab into an extroverted golden retriever by baking more cookies. Look, it might work on me, so it’s worth a shot. So, Jen is planning to make vanilla meltaways, which is, presumably a cookie of some sort. I have never heard of them, but I would very much like to try one. Jen calls her grandma for some advice on the cookies I think? Anyway, all that happens is the grandma tries to get her to move back home. She says everything she wants is back home in Iowa. Is there a Scavenger Hunt APP company in Iowa, grandma??!!!
In the morning, Jennifer the golden retriever comes in HOT. She brought coffee and homemade cookies to hopefully persuade Aiden to work together in the same room as opposed to working independently and having a check in at some point during the day. Because this is apparently the only thing either of them have to do.
They take a call from Wanda and learn they need to have their final ideas done to present to her by 2 pm! They’ve lost 3 hours! For some reason, this means leaving Aiden’s office to go work together in Jen’s office. I forgot to mention that Jen’s office is decorated more than any Hallmark office I’ve ever seen. She has mulling spices cooking in her office as well which is probably not even legal? And of course cookies. So, clearly, a lot of work business is happening in this space.
Aiden grumbles through his review of Jen’s ideas because it is clear she IS NOT a Chicago native. She is from that strange foreign land of Iowa and can’t possible put together a good list of essential Chicago stops. Honestly, the way they talk about Iowa in this movie makes me wonder if the writers meant for it to be Idaho, which would actually be quite far away from Chicago. Wouldn’t be the first time someone made that mistake. So now it’s Aiden’s turn to share his ideas and Jen doesn’t think a couple would like to eat onion rings on a date. SAYS WHO JEN!!!? Aiden takes offense to this and decides to finish up in his office. He does agree to take a cookie.
They spend the next few hours pretending this is a real job and that they are doing an honest day’s work. They arrive separately at the hotel for their meeting. Wanda is running late so they wander aimlessly around the hotel and get to know each other. Aiden talks about picking out Christmas trees with his family as a kid. Jen reminds Aiden that he’s a grumpy hermit crab. And she shares that she basically can’t do any work alone. She has to work in a group. Boy, these two crazy kids could NOT be more different. Will they ever learn to work together? Aiden does already seem to like her a little. He awkwardly spills that he doesn’t have girlfriend.
They head to the restaurant and are the only ones there. The chef asks if they’d like to see a wine list. Aiden checks his watch and says, well, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, am I right?! The chef really works overtime making assumptions about their relationship. Everyone is uncomfortable.
Aiden asks Jen how she got to Chicago. Instead of a normal response like-oh more job opportunities, or I applied for this job and got it so I moved! She gives this weird, rambling speech about how all of her family is still in Iowa and they all want her to move back and don’t believe she can “make it” in the big city. So basically, if she doesn’t get this promotion…after only working at this company for a year and a half, she will essentially be pressured by her family to give up and move back. They don’t understand that her dearest ambition is to design web based scavenger hunts for the people of Chicago. Perhaps they never will.
The chef returns with five small plates. I would probably burst into tears at this point. First, they had to wait until 2pm to eat lunch and now…surely they’re not expected to split those tiny plates of food? And with Wanda too? Oh, I hope they ate something before they came.
Wanda finally arrives. She approves of all but 4 clues so Aiden and Jennifer have a little more work to do. Wanda pulls Jen aside and gives her a nice girl power motivation speech. I appreciated it.
Jen is so psyched about scavenger hunts that she wants to just keep working into the night. Aiden is like, we can just do this tomorrow.
So Jen goes back to the office I think. She sees Allister eating some of the cookies she made and gets the courage to tell him she wants the Head Game person job. He says he is already considering 4 other people. Why should he add her to the mix? Good question. She stumbles through an answer, but then gets her courage up and gives a more eloquent speech. I zone out because it’s about her passion for scavenger hunting. I notice that everyone, including Jen, seems to think being from Iowa sets her back. I don’t understand. Anyway, Allister says he’ll add her name to the list.
The next morning, Aiden and Jen are just stumped over what to do for the 3 French Hens themed clue. Annie comes in with a cute little thank you gift basket to leave in the…break room area? Anyway, it gives them a good idea for their clue dilemma. They head to the…brewery? Or whatever it is that makes and sells this particular hen cider? When they arrive, they realize this place offers a “paint and sip” type class. You know, the type of event you see all over groupon? So this is great place to send people on their scavenger hunt. I would still really prefer that this scavenger hunt require people to find and collect items, but this is definitely closer than last year.
They decide to test out the painting activity to make sure it’s worth doing. Okay. Then of course, they have to take a selfie! So now they are very hungry and its lunch time. Aiden wants steak. For lunch, Aiden? Right around the corner, they find a place that sells that famous Chicago…coq au vin. They proceed to say “coq au vin” 70 more times. They decide to stop in and see if that would be a good stop on the hunt. They have a lovely lunch, and what do you know, this restaurant hosts cooking classes. And of course, the owner stops by. They think coq au vin would be too complicated for a couple to make together for a date night experience so they wonder if they have any other ideas for cooking classes for this particular event. They settle on a Yule Log, which I feel would be a bit tedious for a cooking class. Also, no one at Hallmark calls it a Yule log. They insist on calling it “Buche de Noel.” Whatever, I guess the restaurant is French. This chef is just as presumptuous about their relationship as the other chef. Aiden suggests they take a selfie at the end though and he puts his arm around Jen. Not very Keanu of him.
Jen brings the Yule Log home and Facetimes with her grandma again. Her grandma is kind of…um like rude? She just wants her to live in Iowa.
So that night, Jen and her roommate go to a fundraiser at Aiden’s niece’s school. How did this come about? Did I stop fast-forwarding through the commercials too late? Anyway they’re inexplicably at this event and Jen’s roommate Carly has no chill.
Shannon continues to fill Aiden in on all their house drama. The electrical work is going to cost 10K!!! At what point do they gut this thing and just start over? Jen comes over and meets Emma. Jen buys a wreath from Emma which is all it takes to win her over for life. Emma takes Jen to go buy other kids’ Christmas crafts.
Emma’s music teacher approaches Aiden and mentions that her sister, who is now a remodeling contractor, was a student of his dad’s and really liked him. IDEA! Shannon and Aiden decide to reach out to their dad’s students to get some help with the house. That evening, Jen tries to give her neighbor the wreath she bought but he doesn’t come to the door.
The next day, Aiden and Jen are scouting more locations and Jen talks about her love of ice skating on her grandma’s pond. Oh, now we have some carolers singing on the street. Aiden gets into the Christmas spirit at last. They decide to get hot chocolate and it turns out to be the best they’ve ever had. This gives them a good idea for their last clue. Wanda cancels their meeting which gives them the rest of the day free! Aiden decides to take Jen to a tree farm so she doesn’t have to get a tree from a dumb city lot.
Jen finds the tree and Aiden jokingly tells her to cut it down herself. She tells him to hold her purse. My husband usually stands next to my purse on the ground when I ask him to do that. Anyway, Jen knows the exact right way to cut the tree down. Great news. But feminism hasn’t completely won the day because Aiden still has to load it all up.
Inside the cute little tree shop, who do we see, but Jen’s neighbor. He is quite perky when he’s at the tree farm he owns. He just has a place in the city for…NO REASON? But he is just a chatty, happy guy out here at the tree farm. He even gives Jen his cell number. Jen invites Aiden over to help her decorate her tree. I swear he asks if there will be Moulson beer at her house. She says they’ll have eggnog so that’s the same.
Jen is wearing a great sweater. As soon as they finish decorating, Carla makes up an excuse to leave. But Aiden has to go too! He is going skating with his sister and niece. But he invites Jen to come along. She is STOKED. So, TWIST, everyone is good at ice skating, except poor Emma, who falls right on her butt trying to do a bunny hop. After they’re done skating, Jen pulls some cookies out of her purse for everyone. GREAT IDEA. Very solid planning. At this point, I ask my husband if he likes this movie and he says it’s “mildly entertaining” which is high praise.
Jen and Aiden come up with another idea for a clue. I thought they were done already. Aiden finally shares that he is gunning for the same promotion she is. Jen actually takes the news like a normal person and doesn’t freak out.
The next morning, Annie and Jen are both wearing great sweaters. Aiden brings JEN a coffee. They give their presentation to Wanda. Now, at this point, I realize that all of the participants are…in ONE DAY, expected to complete all of these clues. So this means they have to participate in the paint and sip. They have to ALL make a yule log, they have to buy coffee for a stranger…and a bunch of other things they didn’t even show. And..at who’s expense? Because one cooking class would probably be at least $50 right? And the pain and sip is probably $20-30? And there’s just not enough hours in the day to cram in 12 dates all over Chicago? Guys, what am I missing?
No one asks these questions though and Wanda is just psyched out of her mind about this promotional activity. The CEO of their hotel chain wants to meet this marketing team. After Wanda leaves, Allister is just so excited. He asks Aiden to talk privately. Aiden tells Jen he thinks he is about to get offered the promotion. Jen is bummed, but gracious.
Allister actually gives him a DIFFERENT job…Wizard of…operations? I think? These quirky little tech companies. Allister says Jen is going to get the other promotion. Aiden goes down to give Jen the news but she’s gone home for the day. Aiden then gets a call from that contractor! She wants to meet.
When Jen gets home, she discovers that her grandma is there! What a surprise. And why do they make that woman wear those glasses? Why can’t they just make her Jen’s mom and not try and make her an old lady? So dumb. Her grandma gives her a handmade ornament that is meant to maybe symbolize that she is okay with her living in Chicago. Then Jen gets an idea to invite her neighbor over and play matchmaker for her grandma. He comes over and he and the grandma have a lovely little chat.
Aiden has a great meeting with the contactor. She is going to round up other alumni and help them out. Aiden calls Jen and she tells him that her grandma is there so she can’t watch the game play out at work. He makes sure she is still going to the party though.
The next day, Aiden does ALL the scavenger hunt activities with his niece. And Jen does all the activities with her grandma. They fit them all in in one day and didn’t spend all their money so I guess the joke is on me.
So, now it’s PARTY time. I see some people wearing jeans. And then Jen walks in in a very formal dress. And okay, that woman playing with the grandma should be playing her mom. She is too young to be her grandma.
Wanda gives a little speech and gives a special shout out to the Scavenger Hunt company. Afterwards, Allister approaches Jen and just blurts out “Congrats!” with no context. Oh, maybe he means on this project. He pulls her aside and tells her she got the promotion. YAY! And then he gives her a note from Aiden. So, real quick, no issues with this inter-office romance? Not against company policy or anything? Okay, just making sure.
So, the clue tells Jen he wants a 13th date on the roof. So that’s cute. They have a nice classic Hallmark movie and they kiss and live happily ever after while remaining work colleagues. Let’s see how we did on the Checklist.
- I’m going to call this a contest.
- Christmas Gala
- Christmas Baking
- Winter Athletics
- A sassy friend (she provides no advice)
Dang, only 5/20