I'll Have A Shoe Christmas Without You
We open at a snow-covered cemetery where Rob Lowe himself emerges from a reasonably-priced, fuel-efficient Volvo. He must be here to visit all the TV shows he's been on. Look, over there -- it's The Lyon's Den! And there's Dr. Vegas. And... oh no! The grave of A New Kind of Family has been unearthed! It's alive, and it's coming to eat our brains! Oh wait -- that's just what I'm pretending is happening. Rob Lowe is here in the graveyard to start us off with some scene-setting voice-over narration: "I know most people decorate grave sites on Memorial Day. But my mother loved Christmas. So, regardless of the weather, I made my way to the cemetery and decorated her stone." You'll be disappointed to know that Rob Lowe carries with him a simple wreath and not a carton of eggnog to pour over the grave -- festive drinks for all my dead homies! Rob exchanges some pleasantries with a fellow mourner -- a youngish fellow wearing a Boston Red Sox cap to establish right away that we are somewhere in New England -- before continuing on with his voice-over. "If we're open to it, the smallest miracles can change our lives," the voice of Rob Lowe says. "A laughing child. A car that needs fixing. Even a pair of shoes." How's about drippy narration -- does that have any transformative powers? But before we get an answer to that question, Rob wants to let us in on the miracle that saved him not so many years ago...
Flash back to not so many years ago -- 15 years ago, to be exact -- where a Rob Lowe who looks pretty much the same age as he did in the cemetery scene, save for a natty power tie, is reassuring his teenage daughter that he'll be attending the concert at her school that night. Just as the presence of a Boston Red Sox cap in a snowy graveyard is shorthand for a New England setting, a guy swearing on a stack of Bibles that he's going to be there for his kid is the quick and dirty way of letting us know that Rob Lowe's character is not the most attentive of fathers. Another clue: when he heads downstairs and engages in some idle chitchat with the wife, she also begs him to attend the concert. We are one "World's Most Negligent Father" coffee mug away from getting all the characterization we need for Mr. Rob Lowe. But just in case that doesn't paint a full enough picture, we're treated to Rob telling his wife that they need to move into a larger, more ostentatious house (Priorities All Out of Whack!), sneering about the plight of some farmers he's supposed to be representing in court (No Empathy for the Suffering of Others!), and pressuring his wife to get out of the kitchen and start bringing home her share of the bacon (Just An Overall Douchebag!). Three minutes into the movie, and we've already established Rob Lowe as history's cruelest monster. Well done, screenwriters.