Every year, my blogger friend Karen of For What It's Worth binge-watches Hallmark movies. I was never that interested ... until this year, when I decided that I needed a little (cheesy) Christmas, right this very minute. So I decided to join her and check out a few of this year's offerings.
Note: Many of you may be already familiar with Hallmark Christmas movies. If, like me, you are a HCMV (Hallmark Christmas Movie Virgin), here are some things to be prepared for:
Things You Find Only In Hallmark Christmas Movies:
The Cult of Christmas
First, I love Christmas, but some of these movies are about what I came to call "The Cult of Christmas." A typical plot has a Grinch-y character who doesn't like Christmas (usually due to some past December tragedy) and is in serious need of some Rudolph re-education.
A Complete Lack of Diversity
Second, when these movies talk about a "white Christmas," they're not just talking about snow.
To me, these movies were disconcertingly homogenous.
A Very PG Romance
Third, HCMs are clearly intended for all-family viewing (not a bad thing!) The romances are 100% G-rated, each capping off with the happy couple sharing a quick peck on the lips.
Not Too Much Plot
Fourth, these movies offer ... how do I say this? ... a great opportunity for holiday multi-tasking. There's not a ton of plot packed into two hours, and most of these movies have lots of holiday montages to fill the gaps (sledding, shopping, etc.) so you can get presents wrapped and cookies baked while you watch without missing any plot points.
Okay, with that said, here we go:
Review of A Wish for Christmas (2016)
Starring Lacey Chabert and Paul Green
This was my first HCM movie and a rough start for me. The main character is a doormat who makes a wish to Santa that she can stand up for herself.
After that, she magically becomes a weird mix of assertive and oversharing. That plot would be enough, but then the male character (her boss) has a whole backstory with an estranged family.
I just didn't like the main character or the premise and, while I made it through only one hour of this movie, it felt like ten.
Jen's Rating: DNF
Mistletoe Promise (2016)
Starring Jaime King and Luke Macfarlane
Two Christmas-hating characters meet cute in a mall (harassed by over-aggressive Christmas carolers, which was funny) and decide to make a pact to get through Christmas together.
Elise runs a travel agent with her jerky ex-husband, who spends more time with his ditsy new girlfriend than paying attention to Elise's charity travel program.
Nick is a lawyer who needs to find a wife to fit in with his firm's "family values" culture. (Um... Nick's firm specializes in Family Law and I'm not sure Hallmark understands that means divorce and child custody cases)
Mistletoe Promise was a vast improvement on the first movie I watched and prevented me from crossing this whole project off my holiday to-do list.
While Jaime King does not look at all like sad divorcee who hangs out at the mall food court, she had more acting chops than most HCM actors and made Elise an appealing main character.
The plot was classic romance novel -- fauxmance-about-to-be-exposed -- but worked overall.
The movie even gently reminds HCN viewers that (gasp!) divorced women deserve a second chance at love.
Jen's Rating: 4/5 Chocolate Santas
Review of Hallmark's Christmas Cookies (2016)
Starring Jill Wagner and Wes Brown
This one had pros and cons for me. Ambitious New York businesswoman Hannah is sent to a town called Cookie Jar to "seal the deal" on a contract to buy a failing business: Aunt Sally's Cookie Company.
Of course, Hannah soon discovers that the magic in Aunt Sally's cookie recipe is small town values.
I'm all for promoting small business and entrepreneurship over multinational corporate greed, but when it was revealed that the cookies couldn't be made anywhere but Cookie Jar because none of the recipes were written down and each townsperson was the only one could carry out a particular part of the recipe, I was choking on my cocoa.
It also felt to me that Hannah's feminist ambition got translated as selfishness. She did not endear herself to me by not telling the love interest that she had a boyfriend back home, a relationship serious enough that the guy was ready to propose.
On the other hand, I thought Hannah had the most personality of all the four female HCM characters I've met so far.
The sassy BFF is a stock character in both chick flicks and HCM, and this movie had a sassy sister played by Chelsey Reist (Harper in The 100.)
Jen's Rating: 3/5 Chocolate Santas
Review of Hallmark's Every Christmas Has a Story (2016)
Starring Lori Loughlin and Colin Ferguson
First, my Santa hat goes off to this movie for featuring a romance between an over-40 aged couple. I've loved Lori Loughlin in her Full House days, and she looks amazing.
Update: now she has a prison record. Let's see THAT in a Christmas movie, Hallmark. Also, she had been banned from Hallmark, but now that she has repaid her debt to society, she's baaaaack.
As for the leading man ... we'll get to that.
In any case, Every Christmas Has a Story features what I've come to understand is a typical fix-the-Christmas-hater plot.
When Kate, a local television reporter, doesn't realize her mike is still on and says she hates Christmas, you'd have thought she'd admitted that she enjoyed drowning kittens in her spare time.
The townspeople (hilariously) picket the station, so her network boss (a rare female character of color) immediately sends her to the most Christmas-loving town in the US., accompanied by her producer (and former college boyfriend) Jack.
Soon the two of them are hot on the trail of the story of the missing Christmas tree in the town square ... and hot for each other.
To me, Every Christmas Has a Story had pros and cons.
The story of the missing town tree was so convoluted and improbable that I couldn't explain it to a family member who wandered into the living room.
Also, this movie stars none other than Olivia Jade (Lori Loughlin's teenage influencer daughter turned fake water polo player turned college dropout turned influencer) playing a town local.
Plus, this movie had far more diversity than most HCMs. As for the romance, I couldn't get past the fact that the love interest was also...
...the Maytag repairman. I don't know, I just kept thinking about kitchen appliances, not Christmas kisses.
Jen's Rating: 3/5 Chocolate Santas
If you've enjoyed these reviews, be sure to check out Karen's reviews here and here. There may be a part II to my HCMV series, so stay tuned!SaveSave
Bwahaha I started watching these cheesy movies last year because of Karen too. DAMN YOU KAREN.ReplyDelete
Ha ha ha ha.... We'll find a way to get her back.Delete
I personally love Colin Ferguson. But I don't know him only for his Maytag repairman days. Before he was the Maytag repairman he was a sheriff in a show called Eureka which was a great show! And sadly got cancelled from Syfy with it's 5th and final season in 2012. Here's the IMDB link to the show's profile if you're interested. I really liked it and have been DYING to rewatch it! :) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0796264/?ref_=ttep_ep_ttReplyDelete
But I will definitely have to check out the 2 of the movies here. Too bad Gretchen Weiner's movie didn't have more to it. :/
I love Christmas and anything to do with Christmas so I'd love to see more of your adventure with some fluffy Christmas movies! :)
Hi Stephanie - you should have no problem seeing him as a love interest. I only know him as the guy crouching in the kitchen holding dirty dishes - those commercials are really weird! I've already watched two more movies so stay tuned for more reviews!Delete
Happy Thanksgiving :)
One of my favorite Hallmark Christmas movies that I'll still re-watch is A Season for Miracles (1999) And I second Stephanie in checking out Eureka :) Hope you have a happy Thanksgiving!ReplyDelete
Okay, I have added both to the list!Delete
I've never been able to get in to Hallmark movies. I'm more of a Lifetime channel girl. Same cheesyness, a little more romance. (FYI - 12 Men of Christmas is my fave.)ReplyDelete
I'm glad you gave in though because cheesy Christmas movies are THE BEST.
They are (mostly) working for me!Delete
YAY!!! I'm so glad you're doing this too! Even though they kind of suck this year.ReplyDelete
Now I know the last leading man as the lead in the show Eureka and that's all I kept thinking of.
A lot of the BFF's and bosses are PoC now and that's an improvement but it would be better if they were leads as well.
I wish they would get off this hating Christmas theme. It's not awful but enough already and when the town is beating you over the head with Christmas cheer I think I would hate it too. lol
XOXO Jen Happy Thanksgiving!
Karen @For What It's Worth