The image above is unlike any I’ve ever led an induction with, but I think it may be the most appropriate ever.
If not “appropriate”, it is the most personal. What you see in this photograph is my living room. That’s my crusty old Mitsubishi rear projection that is what the Reynolds family watches every night. No, we’ve never upgraded to a flat screen (because I’m cheap and it still works like a champ). This – THIS – is the view I get from my comfy couch whenever I’m just lounging around and goofing off.
As I write this, we’re just past Thanksgiving and that means it’s time to start my annual Christmas movie marathon. According to my handy dandy Plex, we have 63 holiday films to watch at the touch of a button. This year, though, I’m going to try something new – I’m going to watch Christmas movies I’ve never seen. As I’ve seen everything I have stored, that tells you the standard classics are all out. Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, El Santa Claus…sorry, gang, it’s time for this old boy to find something new. So off to Netflix I go and lo and behold we have Christmas Bounty, produced by WWE Studios and starring The Miz. Somehow my brain thought this would be an acceptable substitute to the films I mentioned above.
What on earth is wrong with me?
So I start watching and 31 minutes and 28 seconds in, I pause the film.
The image that christened this induction is what I saw staring back at me.
In fact, let’s look at it again.
This is what my life has become: watching a horrible Christmas movie (**¼ according to Netflix users who think Home is a ***** cinematic opus!) starring THE MIZ. For crying out loud, look at him – it’s like even HE is staring at me in a disapproving manner, calling me out for wasting whatever precious moments I have left watching this pile of crap.
By proxy, you dear reader, he is doing the same for you, wasting your time as I recap me wasting my time.
It’s the proverbial snake eating its tail in shame.
Let’s get this over with.
Christmas Bounty opens by introducing us to Tory Bell and James Thurston Howell the Third, a couple wildly in love. If you think I chose this particular second to do a screen grab just to make James look like a dope, well, that’s not the case, as the movie makes him out to be a doofus for its entire duration. In fact, seconds in he lambasts Tory for not knowing he was coming as he’d developed an APP to show their respective proximity:
James works as an accountant or something (I’m not going back to check), while Tory is a teacher. Or at least we originally believe she is.
We soon begin to suspect otherwise, as during a school function, she learns that one of her kids is missing, and immediately jumps out a third story window onto a moving vehicle to save the child from…his father. Tory notes the dad doesn’t have visitation rights, and despite the fact that the kid wants to stay with him, she tells the dude to call the cops on himself. The father looks at Tory completely confused.
I’m right there with you, pops.
So the lovebirds go to his family’s Christmas party, and of course his family, which is rich and well to do, look at her as through she walked in after rolling around in pig slop. She excuses herself to take a phone call from a mysterious stranger who says he’s getting out of the big house and is coming to find her. INTRIGUE!
Tory flees the snooty Manhattan Christmas party and heads home, to Jersey, where, yes, you guessed it…
…her Jersey Shore family lives. They are exactly as you’d expect: big boob, barely covered mom and jacked up, tatted up dad. Turns out the phone call was from Manucci, a guy the family had sent up the river; the Bells are a family of bounty hunters, hence the stupid name to this stupid movie.
(Side note: I am fully aware I wrote this exact same sentence about some other Santa stink bomb I inducted years ago, but I don’t remember which one. First person to answer correctly below gets a free Christmas gift sent to them by RD Reynolds! Ho Ho Ho!)
Just as I was about to ask, “Isn’t The Miz supposed to be in this”, we are introduced to Mike, Tory’s ex-boyfriend. I can only hope they gave him the name “Mike” so he wouldn’t get confused when he read the script. Anyway, he gives the same Miz face he always gives. You know, the one where you want to load up a pair of brass knuckles, dip the knuckles in broken glass, dip the broken glass in dynamite, dip the dynamite in gasoline, dip the gasoline in fire, count to three, then punch him right square in the jaw.
The two are paired up so they can catch the bad guys. Why the family, who are already bounty hunters need another bounty hunter to catch them is never explained. In a lot of ways, this movie is like your average Raw where angles are started and or dropped and you just kinda have to use your imagination to fill in the blanks.
Which, come to think of it, is almost always better than when they do bother to explain things and it makes zero sense.
The first baddy they are looking to hunt down is Big Mama, who they locate at the mall. The plan is for Tory to drop a tracking device on Mama so they can then locate all the other scumbags, namely Manucci is related (I guess?) to Mama. Now when you think of a tracking device in a movie, you generally imagine something tiny, right?
Not so in Christmas Bounty, where the size of such an apparatus appears to be a couple of Apple TVs glued together.
Yep, no one will notice that, especially when it starts flashing a very bright blue!
During this time, we get TOUGH GUY MIZ throwing a dude off a balcony at the mall. As you will soon learn, throwing men off of things to their apparent deaths is an action sequence of which this director felt he was a master.
While at the mall, they run into Lizzy the Legs, Tory’s best friend who she has not talked to in a while, because, you know, she’s in Manhattan now and not in scummy Jersey where Legs is still living. This leads to Mike explaining to Tory that while he understands why she doesn’t want to be around him, there are still a lot of folks who still care about her “on this side of the bridge.”
It also leads to this face:
Anyone have any broken glass, dynamite, gasoline, and fire at the ready?
We cut to this warehouse next. Get used to this exact scene, because through the next 50 minutes, it appears over and over and over and over again. I don’t mean shots of this same warehouse, I mean this exact same video clip. It’s like they had a $400,000 budget for this pile of crap and paid $350,000 of it to some slumlord who conned them into renting this abandoned warehouse for the weekend. With the ineptitude the company has shown over the past couple of years, would that really shock anyone?
Said warehouse is the headquarters of Manucci and Big Mama. And they of course know they are being tracked because…
…of that ridiculously large tracking device with a bright blue flashing light. So as Tory and the gang descend on their foe, he knows they are coming and traps them. Before they can be shot and thus put us, the audience, out of our misery, who should appear but…
…James, who used his app to hunt down Tory. I was going to ask why he decided that bringing a pitiful looking bear into a seemingly abandoned warehouse was a good idea, but then I remembered how he was a clueless banker or whatever from the evil, clueless city of MANHATTAN. We get the obligatory firefight with the obligatory guys falling off of high places shot…
…and Miz doing whatever this is supposed to be:
If ever Vince McMahon wanted to redo the Red Rooster gimmick, there’s your guy.
They all escape naturally and head home where James meets the family and pops the question. Ironically, this is also when not only Miz walks in but also when Mrs. Deal walked in and that’s when I paused the movie and got this image:
Mrs. Deal proceeded to spend no joke less than one minute watching and she was able to guess the entire plot of the movie: “So they are bounty hunters, they are the rough family, her fiancé is a snoot, and she is going to wind up with The Miz. This movie looks amazingly terrible.”
Have I ever mentioned that I love my wife?
One click of the un-pause button and Miz fesses up that he loves Tory. He does so while making this face:
I’d mock the guy (oh wait, I am already doing that) but seriously, in real life he is married to this woman:
Who knows, maybe that face is actually cool or something. (Kinda like how that animated GIF is geocities-tastically cool.) Am I, a geek who has been writing about stupid wrestling angles and character for the last fifteen years, truly a judge of what is good and bad anymore?
During a trip to a Christmas Tree lot, James gets abducted by Manucci’s men. I mention this not due to the fact that it’s a major plot point (which I guess it is, maybe, sorta?), but rather because it is one of the only times in the entire film wherein December 25 is noted in any real manner. This movie, in which “Christmas” is the first word in the title, has essentially zero to do with the holiday whatsoever. There’s nothing where we are building to a present being stolen or a miracle occurring to coincide with the holiday other than some random tinsel and trees strewn about hither and yon. Heck, you could have had some cookouts and called it Memorial Day Bounty and it would have been just as relevant.
Anyway, the fiancee gets kidnapped, and is brought to Big Mama’s wedding. And where does this blessed event take place?
We even get the EXACT SAME SHOT. I don’t mean a similar clip, I mean the IDENTICAL clip to the one we saw earlier. If you ever wondered how WWE Studios doesn’t lose a fortune every year, cost cutting measures that would make Ed Wood proud would be your answer.
The climax is naturally a showdown between Tory and Manucci, one which ends with him getting hit in the face with a large blunt object and…
…falling off an elevated platform.
And if you didn’t see that coming, you probably also didn’t see Tory deciding she’s better off in Jersey than in Manhattan which of course leads to the girl running over the top of a police car, jumping onto a Camaro, and then…
…straddling the Miz.
Why there’s our Christmas miracle!
Our disgusting, vomit-inducing, want to punch someone in the face with broken glass, dynamite, gasoline, and fire-covered hands Christmas miracle.