After the first two Lifetime holiday movies of the season turned out to be either not very Christmasy at all or so damn Christmasy I had a good cheer hangover the next day, this week’s movie struck a nicer balance between the two. Kristin’s Christmas Past had just the right dose of cynicism for me, but of course this was a Lifetime movie so it was still covered in cheese and fake snow. Above all, it served as a helpful reminder that teenagers are the absolute worst, and you should do whatever you can to avoid time traveling back to that time. Because you will hate yourself. Also time travel is painfully confusing.
Shiri Appleby stars as Kristin, a New York City music producer and professional mess who hasn’t been home for Christmas since she left for college. She’s still close with her childhood best friend Jamie (Will Kemp), yet she she doesn’t realize he’s in love with her. You find this out for sure later in the movie, but it’s also extremely obvious from their car ride to her company holiday party, where she falls victim to the classic rom-com trick of showing up in a sexy outfit without getting the “no more costumes” memo. If that ever happens to me, I’ll take it as a sign that my life is officially pathetic, but I’ll probably find love and happiness in about an hour and half’s time, so it’ll be worth it.
Jamie tells Kristin that he’s taking his new girlfriend, stuck-up fur-stole-wearer Sophia (Courtney Henggeler), home for Christmas and therefore won’t be able to participate in their annual rooftop Scroogefest. Jamie is irrationally angry about this, and she gets a bottle of champagne to drown her sorrows. The liquor store clerk reaches into some magical refrigerator and gives her a special bottle on the house with a creepy smile that Kristin doesn’t find at all suspicious enough.
Back at her obviously adorable-despite-being-poor apartment, Kristin drinks the bubbly and complains to her cat Bean, who after seventeen years with her — as we soon learn — is probably sick and tired of listening to her crap. Kristin gets a card from her parents with a family Christmas photo inside, and she falls asleep wishing she could go home while listening to a Christmas song on the new phone Jamie gave her. She naturally wakes up in California in 1996 lying in bed next to her 17-year-old self (Hannah Marks). Even in the Christmas movies, they’re still 17.
Here’s where we need to make that record-scratching sound and talk about the fact that Shiri Appleby also starred in the recent web series Dating Rules from My Future Self in which she receives text messages from her older self giving her advice. Looks like Rachel McAdams isn’t the only one being very specifically typecast in time travel projects. What a world.
But back to this movie. Young Kristin is obviously freaked out by the fact that there’s a lady in bed with her, but older Kristin is somehow very calm and immediately tries to prove who she is by sharing personal facts. I don’t know about you, but if I woke up seventeen years ago next to my former self, I’d probably pass out on the spot. But I get it, we have to move the plot along. Once Young Kristin is convinced she’s talking to an older version of herself, we learn that she goes by Krys. Since we established that she was obsessed with the O.J. Simpson trial, I’m going to assume she made it a Y to disassociate herself from Kris Kardashian. If only she knew what the future would bring…