|Malin Akerman's Pants. Dear God, Malin Akerman's Pants!|
Lindsey Shockley’s script is a breakfast buffet of setups and the payoffs that are unpacked lickety-split and with escalating humor. Clearly its roots are in “The Hangover” but whereas that film was strictly Hollywood, a big budget allowing for multiple locales and grand-scale absurdity, “Trophy Wife” is gratefully restricted to the confines of the Harrison house (and the next-door front yard, allowing for a solo Jackie Nativity caper). It is not simply the smaller scale that strengthens it, but the fact that Pete and His Three Wives descent into Christmas Eve madness is both revealing – Pete really hates his job – and a glorious way of bringing them all together. They are sort of like the Coca-Cola (™) Polar Bears (“Give. Find. Love.” [™]) if the Coca-Cola (™) Polar Bears had been shot with a tranquilizer dart a la Frank The Tank in “Old School.”
That the kids are made to see their parental figures in such a state of distress on the most whimsical of days is no doubt disconcerting, yet there is something whimsical in the way we are made to eventually see that Pete’s Glögg (“Glurg?” – “Glögg.”) stained reasoning for climbing into the Santa suit is to somehow keep the spirit of Santa alive for precocious Bert. And, of course, the ultimate reveal is that it was precocious Bert, only trying to help, who emptied an entire bottle of Absinthe into the Glögg (“Glurg?” – “Glögg.") who brought about this whole debacle.
I was reminded of the bartendress with the fetching neck tattoo who served me brunch one Saturday morning this past summer and recounted the time in New Orleans she met a vampire while drinking Absinthe. (No, seriously. That’s what she told me. I loved her. I wish she’d been wearing Malin Akerman’s pants.) Oh, you can chuckle and shake your head at such a statement, but it made me think of how every once in a while life can seem so magical, and we are willing to let ourselves believe a man in a red suit climbs down our chimney or that we are talking to a friggin’ vampire. Stress and menial tasks and day jobs take so much out of us as we get older that it becomes difficult to re-discover a true sense of joy even at Christmas, and that’s just not right.
And you become so desperate to re-capture that joy that you get drunk and sing Ace of Base together, and it is in that moment, the Ace of Base sing along that tags the episode over the closing credits, that Pete and His Three Wives set aside their differences and look within their hearts and find what Christmas means to each of them even if that meaning will come back up the following morning in Absinthe-scented porcelain spew and be forgotten forever.