Ghosting: The Spirit of Christmas, on Freeform
Christmas Specials Wiki; Freeform; Google Play; Hulu; IMDb; Wikipedia
This first aired December 4, 2019. I didn't think I'd get a chance to watch it, because I don't get Freeform. But then it showed up on Hulu, so I started watching it a few nights before Christmas, but I stopped, because my internet was drifting in and out that night. So I finished it the next evening (Christmas Eve Eve). Anyway, I ended up liking the movie a lot more than I expected to. In fact, as you can see from my rating above, I kind of loved it. It's really not exactly a Christmas movie, even though it takes place around Christmastime (so I will list it in my holiday TV movies section). As I said in my review of another Freeform "Christmas" movie that I watched last year, it's more like a supernatural rom-com... but this movie is also more of a dramedy about best friends. (I take their friendship too seriously to label it a "buddy comedy.") I just think all four main characters are really great. I really liked and cared about them, so I really appreciated all of the feels in the movie. And there are a lot of feels.
So, there are two best friends, Jess and Kara. Jess is someone who bounces from job to job, never staying at any one thing for long, because she's never found anything she's passionate about, in life. Kara, meanwhile, is a very New Age-y kind of person, who works in I guess like a tea house or whatever. And she blends her own teas, which is her passion in life. Anyway, one night Jess goes on a date with a guy named Ben (an artist), who I guess she met on Tinder or a dating website or whatever. She isn't really expecting to like him, but the two of them end up hitting it off pretty well, and Ben texts her after the date, and... It is a bad fucking idea to look at your phone while driving, okay? That is what gets Jess killed.
Later, we see Kara giving the eulogy at Jess's funeral, which Jess watches. After that, Jess and Kara discover that Kara can see and hear (but not touch) Jess just as if she were alive. Meanwhile, Ben mopes about the fact Jess that hasn't returned his texts. His sister, Mae (a psychology student), wants him to get over it. Eventually she looks Jess up on facebook or whatever, and discovers that her page has become a memorial. Mae decides after learning this, Ben could use a drink, so they go to a bar, where Jess and Kara have also gone. And amazingly, Ben can see and hear Jess, just like Kara does, so at first he assumes she'd set up a fake memorial page for herself, as probably the most overly elaborate "ghosting" that anyone's ever done after a date. (I admit it, I like the movie's punny title, but I'll understand if some viewers just groan at it.) But Mae can't see or hear Jess, and her tendency to psychoanalyze people in every situation leads her to assume Ben and Kara are both dealing with Jess's death in the same way (a very strange way). So anyway, Ben accepts that Jess is really dead.
And... Jess wonders why she hasn't "moved on," why she's still here. So Kara takes her to consult with her own "light healer," or whatever, a woman named Chrissy (Missi Pyle, who, like everyone besides Kara and Ben, can't see or hear Jess. But she advises them that Jess can only "ascend" when she's dealth with some sort of "big love." (This meeting may have been before Ben found out Jess was dead, I forget.) Kara and Jess think it may be that Jess and Ben have to fall in love before she can ascend, so Jess and Ben start spending more time together... though Jess doesn't tell him about the whole ascension thing, which I think is pretty selfish, getting someone to fall in love with her knowing that he'd immediately lose her. (In fact, Ben does eventually call her out on this. And that's just one of the little things I like about the movie: there are various times when the characters sort of lampshade, or at least hand wave bits of plot that a lot of movies or shows would simply ignore altogether. Such as the fact that Jess can sit on furniture, instead of passing through such things the way she does people. Also, she can't open or phase through doors or walls or anything. I like that such things are at least acknowledged in passing, even if they're not explained.)
Meanwhile, Kara and Mae find each other cute, and feelings develop between them throughout the movie (even if for most of it Mae doesn't believe Jess is really around or that Kara or Ben really see her, and she finds their references to Jess, and frequent pauses in conversation somewhat annoying, when from her perspective Ben and/or Kara are just standing there listening to nothing, when Jess is talking). And I wouldn't even call the developing relationship between Kara and Mae a subplot. I think the movie has three completely equal story arcs: Ben and Jess's relationship, Kara and Mae's relationship, and Jess and Kara's friendship. Theere are some actual subplots, which tie into the major plots, most importantly a possible opportunity for Kara to advance her tea-blending career. Also, man, I dunno how many subplots there are. Um, Jess having to come to terms with the way her life turned out; Ben having to come up with an exhibit for an art show; Jess's parents dealing with the loss of their daughter (whom they can't see or hear, and don't know that anyone can); Chrissy dealing with the revelation that she might be a fraud, which had actually never occurred to her; and... maybe that's about everything. Or maybe I'm forgetting things. I do want to mention that on their first date, when Jess was still alive, Ben invited her to a screening of It's a Wonderful Life, which was going to be held in a cemetery. He was genuinely shocked that she'd never seen it. And they do end up watching it together, when Jess is dead. And just now while writing this review, it suddenly occurred to me that it's neat that both that movie and this one are considered Christmas movies despite neither one really being about Christmas. (I wonder if that was intentional?)
Anyway... I feel like I've said a hell of a lot, but I've also left out many details of the plot, both big and small. And as usual, I have no intention of spoiling how any of the plot threads end. But I do think the whole story, both journey and destination, was/were handled very well. And I found all of it surprisingly believable. (Yes, even the hand waves.)