Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Bounty: A MIZtical Christmas in New Jersey (A Shitmas Post from Jay of the Sexy Armpit!)



I honestly don't expect you to read a giant post about a TV movie starring WWE Superstar, The Miz, but if you do, you're definitely on Santa's nice list this year.

Wait one sec, bare with me, I just received a text. Jeez, could there be a more inopportune time to be interrupted by a text, right at the start of a blog post? And a GUEST post at that. Coincidentally, it's from the master of ceremonies at Shit Movie Fest, Tom Bryce himself - he literally just texted me in real time as I type this. This is what it says: "Hey man, please, whatever you do, DO NOT write about Christmas Bounty, ANY other Christmas movie is fine, otherwise, I'm sorry to say this, but I can't ever invite you back for The 25 Days of Shitmas. I hope we can still party at the next Monster Mania." I assume Tom isn't aware of the major problem I have with being told what to do.

Defying Tom's ultra specific order to avoid ABC Family's and WWE Studios' crowning achievement, 2013's Christmas Bounty like the plague, I have crashed Shitmas this year with a dithyramb on it anyway. Giving praise to this masterpiece and spreading the joy that it brought to my heart isn't the only reason I'm here though. My specialty at my blog, The Sexy Armpit, is New Jersey pop culture, which leads me to why I chose this movie. I even surprised myself with this choice.

The main takeaway from Christmas Bounty is that it's set in Trenton, New Jersey. As The Miz would say, "REALLY?" I was equally as shocked as you. An immediate rush of delight overcame me after finding this out, or I would've never watched it, let alone asked it to accompany me to the Crystal Chalice Suite at the Loop Inn Motel in Avenel, NJ, they're very discreet. What can I say, I'm a hardcore romantic.

During this time of year, you may hear parents of newborn babies describe their child as their true Christmas gift, but their little cherubic ball of joy is insignificant next to the power of Christmas Bounty. If that line gets me permanently yanked from the Shitmas list, so be it. Tom doesn't know it yet, but I'm still gonna hang with him at Monster Mania regardless.

Reviews of classic Christmas films litter the Internet. Conversely, I bet you'll be hard pressed to find a piece of writing about Christmas Bounty so extensive and glowing with positivity anywhere on the Internet, and if you actually do find one, let me know because I'm going to hang out with the author and shower them with attention and rare gifts and feed them expensive delicacies. Clearly this person has a divine understanding of the meaning of life and the secrets of the universe.

As you can already surmise, this will be the furthest thing from an analytical review because no words that I've formulated here can come close to paying the overwhelming amount of reverence this film warrants. The only possible way I could ever even come remotely close to paying proper tribute to this endowment is if I somehow manage to enlist that crazy fuck Ivo Shandor to erect one of his buildings fitted with cold riveted girders with cores of pure selenium so we can worship it in eerie rooftop rituals.

Here's the synopsis: Tory Bell, a tough and sexy former bounty hunter turned elementary school teacher, (obvious career move) played by Francia Raisa, wants to keep her bounty hunter past a secret from her new high fallutin' blue-blooded boyfriend, but a former criminal who she helped put away as a teenager is back in the picture and wants revenge on her. Tory returns to her hometown to help her family (who are also bounty hunters, of course) catch the guy, but the problem is, this a-hole really throws a wrench into her holiday plans of introducing her new boyfriend to her tacky Jersey Guido family, all the while being reconnected with her ex who works in the family business, Mikey Muscles (another bounty hunter, IMAGINE THAT) played by The Miz. 

Keeping The Miz off the screen for a good chunk of the movie makes way for more time I can spend drooling over the hottie Francia Raisa, the true star of this seasonal smackdown. 


So, they had me at New Jersey, but they lost me at The Miz. I was so confused as to why The Miz was even cast in this movie since, currently, Enzo Amore and AJ Lee are the only Superstars on the WWE roster who are associated with New Jersey, and The Miz is the furthest thing from being one of us. Although I've got no love for The Miz, I don't hate him either. Thanks to Damien Mizdow, it seems he's finally coming into his own in his latest run. He's gone through plenty of awkward phases throughout his career, but I relate to him because, first and foremost, he's a lifelong WWE fanatic, and not only did he make it into the WWE, but to the grandest stage of them all. He's a success story, but his acting, well, not so much.

His name recognition sold the movie, but Miz wasn't as prevalent in it as you'd think, which is great. His screen time should've been even more limited, because he's The Miz and he's completely mediocre! That catchphrase doesn't have the best ring to it, but it will work splendidly for crowds to chant "Meee-di-o-cre" in the same cadence as those "You can't wrestle" chants. If I was casting this movie, the part of Mikey Muscles would've gone to IG-88.

It was smart to relegate The Miz to a supporting role. They even let him deliver a groanworthy "Really" in conversation. According to this movie, everyone in New Jersey has a nickname, and as Mikey Muscles , The Miz gives zero indication that he knows how to act, more specifically, like a dude from Jersey. He certainly didn't spew lines like Tony Soprano or anything, but he randomly speaks with hints of some kind of non-Jersey accent. It's worth mentioning that most Jersey people who were born here do not speak like the stereotypical Jersey accent you hear in movies and TV, but the cast of Christmas Bounty sure seems convinced that's how we sound.


Throughout the film, in case I haven't hammered it home nearly enough, and even though it's not actually filmed there, they're supposed to be in Trenton. But, for those tough to convince, or who just cannot believe that a Christmas movie about bounty hunters would be set in Trenton, they name drop the city and state about 20 times, so by the time the credits roll it should be abundantly clear to you. 

After you watch, lingering around in your head even more prominently will be the fact that the filmmakers must have been using an extremely inaccurate navigation app on their phone because they keep referring to New York City as if it's a 7 minute drive from Trenton. We hear Tory in one scene tell a cabbie in New York "Trenton, New Jersey in a hurry," and there's even a line describing Manhattan as being "right through the tunnel," and while Manhattan is indeed accessed from Jersey via the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, it would be approximately an hour and 20 minute drive from Trenton with moderate traffic.

In case it's not 100% obvious to you yet, the plot of this movie is equally as absurd as other original movies that have aired on channels like ABC Family, Hallmark Channel, and Lifetime, but the only difference is that this one is surprisingly enjoyable in a stupid fun way. Rotten Tomatoes viewer percentage proves my calculation accurate, as Christmas Bounty has a whopping audience score of 87%, even though only 77 people rated it, probably impassioned WWE fans, but still, it was apparently considered a big enough hit because it got a release on home video and even made it to Netflix for half the world to enjoy (or vomit to) during the holidays. 

I'm glad that WWE Studios opted against their original pirate theme for Christmas Bounty. Think about it: "I'm The Miz...and I'm ARRRSOME!" as he stands on the deck of an old Spanish galleon with an eye patch over one eye and Koko B. Ware's parrot Frankie on his shoulder while Damien Mizdow brilliantly shadows his every motion. Come to think of it, I may have just written a :30 second promo for Summerslam 2015. 

The theme of Christmas Bounty is being true to yourself and not forgetting where you came from. That rings true in my case since, as you can clearly see, I tend to be long winded when gushing over something I love. I'm about to exceed 1500 words about Christmas Bounty, more words than in the actual script to the film.

Ultimately, what gives me that warm fuzzy feeling is how much I love the fact that the movie's title is a play on words. I consider this movie my own Christmas reward and its boundless entertainment value far exceeds the maximum amount of quality that our human minds can actually process, so you may have to watch it multiple times throughout the rest of December - and twice on Christmas to fully embrace it. Thanks for reading and an AWESOME Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!


- Jay

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