If you’re the type to either a) refuse to watch the Lifetime movie Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever or b) watch it and then humorlessly claim it is a bad movie, then you should stop right now. Because clearly you lack the ability to feel joy and therefore this TV movie isn’t for you.
Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever isn’t a good movie, but it’s also not fair to label it as bad. It’s the type of standard-issue Lifetime (or Hallmark or Family channel) made-for-TV movie we’ve all seen. Cheesy and silly with not-the-best acting and a message about friendship and family and the spirit of the season, this is the type of fare that fleshes out cable this time of year. Yet Grumpy Cat’s entry isn’t entirely typical; Lifetime executives, Grumpy’s humans and star Aubrey Plaza decided to take a downright meta approach for their Christmas tale.
Voicing Grumpy (whose real name is Tardar Sauce) in the vein of her character Parks and Recreation character April, Plaza often breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience or the fact that they are in a movie. She even calls out herself and appears on screen in a recording booth:
It mostly works, but even when it’s awkward, at least the gimmick is somewhat amusing. The writers have their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks, and that brings with it a sigh of relief and the chance to sit back and see how absurd things can get. Plaza has been playing along with the silliness of voicing a celebrity cat in a TV movie at full force, and that helps matters — if you’re going to star in what is essentially a continuation of the Grumpy Cat “NO” meme/plug for Grumpy Cat merch, you can’t half-ass matters. She’s the perfect casting choice — she even shares Grumpy’s droopy eyes and scowl.
The marketing for the movie may be better than the movie itself:
Plaza played along on Twitter during the premiere:
THIS MOVIE IS AWFULLLLLLLLL #WorstChristmasEver— Aubrey Plaza (@evilhag) November 30, 2014
CAN SOMEONE EXPLAIN THE PLOT OF THIS TO ME?!?! I HAVE NO IDEA #WorstChristmasEver— Aubrey Plaza (@evilhag) November 30, 2014
RT IF YOU WANT A GRUMPY SEQUEL. GRUMPYS WORST VACATION IN MEOAUIii! HAWAIIAN STYLE! PLEASE GOD LET THIS HAPPEN #WorstChristmasEver— Aubrey Plaza (@evilhag) November 30, 2014
Much of the plot doesn’t matter — many a Twitterer compared it to Home Alone, which makes sense. All you need to know is the main character, a young teenage girl named Chrystal (Megan Charpentier), is a loner and finds a friend in Grumpy Cat, with whom she can communicate. And together they save a pet shop and a mall and a dog and just go with it. (All the animals in the pet shop talk; most humans just can’t hear them. I’ve always suspected this.) Stupid? Yes. But damn it if I didn’t laugh when Grumpy tried to drive the getaway car, only to be thwarted once Chrystal pointed out to her she’s a cat and cat reach the pedals, not to mention every time Plaza meowed or the dog said something dumb.
LOOK SHE’S DRIVING!
LOOK SHE’S USING A PAINT BALL GUN!
My favorite line came after Chrystal, having taken over the wheel, crashed the car. Grumpy wonders, “Did we die? Am I in Heaven? Is my brother Arturo here? Arturo!” Runner-up was Grumpy saying she was playing “devil’s advocat.”
DEVILS ADVOCAT?!?!?! WHY DID THEY LET ME?! HELP MY BRAIN IS EXPLODINGGG #WorstChristmasEver— Aubrey Plaza (@evilhag) November 30, 2014
“It’s a movie!,” Plaza/Grumpy said at one point, telling her co-stars to go along with the gags. The message is for the audience, too. In many ways, Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever feels like a feature-length exploration of the phrase “Haters gonna hate.” It’s a spit in the eye of everything high-brow and everyone who snubs their nose at celebrity cats and Lifetime and everything that is enjoyable. This isn’t a ridiculous spectacle a la Sharknado or a jaw-dropping so-bad-it’s-good masterpiece such as The Room. But it’s fun. If you tune in looking for a train wreck, you won’t find one. You’ll just find a lot of Grumpy. It’s her world, after all.
Merry Grumpy Christmas!
Sarah Carlson is Television Editor for Pajiba. She lives in San Antonio. You can find her on Twitter. She think this gif of Grumpy inserted in the new Star Wars: Episode VII trailer is a reason to get up in the morning: