Holiday Movie Advent Day 1: Mingle All the Way | Holiday Film Advent Calendar | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Holiday Movie Advent Day 1: Mingle All the Way

They have the same amount of chemistry as two napkins.

In the spirit of the holiday season, Pittsburgh City Paper presents a holiday movie advent calendar. One  holiday movie review, everyday (probably).

Hallmark Channel original Mingle All the Way follows the classic rom-com format of two people who hate each other, but are forced to pretend to be a couple for dumb reasons.

Molly (Jen Lilley) is an app developer who created Mingle All the Way, an app that is like Tinder for busy business people who don't want a real date but do want a fake date they can take to work events. (In the universe of these movie, it's incredibly shameful and even detrimental to your career to show up at a work event without a date).

Molly, who looks like the fifth runner up of an Amy Adams lookalike contest, runs the app with one other person, a graphic designer who looks like Billy Crudup's buff son. He suggests she try out the app herself to impress an investor in some convoluted plan that doesn't make sense but also doesn't matter.

Molly accidentally gets set up with hot guy algorithmic creation Jeff (Brant Daugherty), a man she previously had bad encounters with when 1. He bought a doll she was going to buy (?) and 2. When she bumped into him on the street, causing him to drop his homemade Christmas stockings in the snow (??). They do not get along, so when they meet, there's a lot "oh, brother" and "you?!"

Molly, like every rom-com protagonist, is supposed to be uptight and type A. Movies always demonstrate this by noting that the woman loves to make pro and con lists. Jeff is supposed to be fun-loving, but he comes off as a demon.

The two have no chemistry. It's like watching two robots act inside a cardboard box. Every character in this movie is given as little personality as possible. The decor is cheap and, for some reason, unsettling.

And yet we continue.

Jeff is up for a big promotion, but truly feels like he can't get it without bringing a date to the work party. In this world, employers want their employees to have significant others so they're happier and better workers.

Their charade of dating/mingling continues but, despite having the same amount of chemistry as two napkins, they develop real feelings for each other! The only obstacle is that, one hour into the movie, Jeff still does not know that Molly is the inventor of the app on which they met! Is this really a conflict? No, not really.

This movie, and all Hallmark movies generally, feel like watching the beginning of both a porno and a horror movie. Everything feels off and on the brink of chaos. I watched it with a friend who described the set design and general aura as "sickening."

As the two continue fake/real dating, there is more conflict because of Molly's mom, who is unsupportive of her daughter's dreams. Molly also has tension with the Christmas holiday. She loved it as a kid until her parents started going to Aspen instead of staying home. That's it. She's sad her parents go on vacation instead of staying home for Christmas so now she doesn't like the holiday at all.

Eventually Jeff finds out Molly invented the app and feels betrayed for some reason. But they make up, and then make out. Just kidding. They do kiss but it's incredibly chaste. I recently watched a documentary about a business that takes photos for the covers of Amish romance novels and that's what the kiss reminded me of.

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