If Holiday In Handcuffs was a layer of snow outside your front door on Christmas morning it would be yellow. It's a bad, lazy and unfunny film that doesn't even try to treat viewers as if they have more than two braincells (which may, in fact, be the case by the time the end credits roll). The plot is this - Melissa Joan Hart plays Trudie, a young woman who is due to take her boyfriend home with her for Christmas until he dumps her. This would normally be a bad thing to happen but for Trudie it's a bad thing coming after a number of bad things and she snaps. She just can't face going to visit her parents alone and so, of course, she kidnaps a man (David, played by Mario Lopez) and forces him to pretend that he is her boyfriend for the duration of the holiday trip. David is quite the catch and Trudie's mother and father (Markie Post and Timothy Bottoms, respectively) are happy to have him with them for their seasonal celebrations, even if he does react to uncomfortable social situations by "pretending" to be a kidnap victim.
I think that even that last sentence lets you know just how awful this film is. Yes, viewers are supposed to just accept that characters in this movie will believe that someone would pretend to be a kidnap victim as some strange joke they make when things get a little awkward.
Director Ron Underwood has fallen so far and it's sad to see. I mean, he's the guy who directed Tremors and City Slickers at the start of the 1990s and then he bottomed out, I suppose, with The Adventures Of Pluto Nash (which I've not seen yet, I'm simply going by its reputation) before concentrating on TV shows and TV movies like this one. Concentrating on TV shows and TV movies isn't the worst thing for a director to do but making something that stinks as badly as this is. It's not all underwood's fault though, as the worst parts are the overall premise, thought up by scriptwriter Sara Endsley, and the increasing lack of plausibility and logic in every scene.
It doesn't help that the cast isn't great either. I've seen Melissa Joan Hart be a lot worse than she is here (in that awful Nine Dead, to cite the best example) but she's still pretty awful, as is Mario Lopez. The pair of them aren't helped, of course, by that script but it would still have been nice to see some chemistry or charm or just anything showing a spark of life in those dull eyes. Markie Post, Timothy Bottoms, June Lockhart (as grandma) and Layla Alizada (playing Trudie's friend) all fare a bit better but they're pulled down by the quicksand script. Kyle Howard and Vanessa Lee Evigan are stuck in the same boat while playing Trudie's brother and sister and I feel most sorry for Howard, who almost drags himself above the effluence in one or two moments but can't quite rinse off the bad smell. I went too far with my analogies in this paragraph but at least it saved me from having to use profane language.
I disliked Holiday In Handcuffs from, pretty much, start to finish. There were perhaps three or four moments that made me smile. Those few moments save it from an even lower rating.