All I Want For Christmas
So, we all know I’m a sucker for Hallmark movies and though I watch them ALL YEAR ROUND, I do have a softer spot for it over the holidays. And so this year, the fact that there was an entire podcast (that I enjoyed, apparently, there are so many more) dedicated to it, I thought I’d rank some of them from this year. I didn’t quite watch everything, but I watched as many as I could.
As much as I would love to get into the past years, it’d be a bit much and I don’t think I could handle it. And I would have had to watch every single one and I don’t think I could. So here goes:
It’s Christmas, Eve
This was probably my least favorite of all the movies but maybe it was also because I was half asleep when I was watching it, but LeAnn Rimes (Eve, an interim school superintendent) in this wasn’t even enough to get me to be interested. And Tyler Hynes (Liam, single dad and also school choir teacher) was a pretty cute father in this (I’m never a fan of stories that involve children because I’m a kid grinch that way and this one had too many kids — from his kid to the kids in school), but this plot line just wasn’t for me.
And because , there was definitely going to be singing and though she wasn’t bad at all, it was just not for me. I would like to see this guy in more things because he has an accessible cuteness that isn’t the usual pretty boy Hallmark kind.
A Shoe Addict’s Christmas
The entire Full House cast had their own Hallmark movie this season (I was too young to remember/watch the show) but this was my least favourite of the trio which is a shame because Luke MacFarlane (Jake, hot fireman neighbour gunning for fire chief) is a cutie. Still, there’s a reason why Candace Cameron Bure (Noelle, HR lady at a department store who moonlights as a storefront decorator) is a Hallmark staple because she brings all the energy to this movie.
There’s the entire A Christmas Carol shoutout with the ghost of Christmas past, present and future and the shoe aspect so it had a lot of things going on. I just couldn’t see the chemistry as much but it’s got enough cute elements going for it.
Christmas at Graceland
When I first saw Kelli Pickler (Laurel, single mom and bank acquisition person?) on American Idol all those years ago, never did I think she’d be starring in Hallmark movies years later. And though I’ve seen Wes Brown (Clay, childhood love and emerging Nashville music executive, because why not, it’s set in Graceland after all) in a lot of TV shows — he’s that guy that always looks familiar and checking his IMDB, I see why I know him — it’s my first time to see him as a ‘lead'.’
Their chemistry was alright and they only give you a single peek at Graceland itself, but the side story of the bank acquisition was pretty cute (you know, I love a good side story) complete with Hallmark trope of old school values, so though I can’t remember much of the plot, they were pretty cute over-all.
Christmas at Pemberley Manor
As the first movie of the season, I got very excited because it said Pemberley Manor which immediately had me thinking it was going to be somehow related to Pride & Prejudice. But it was not. At all. Apart from the fact that their names were after the characters, the plot was not anywhere near anything Pride.
Also, the two leads were both my non-favourite actors in other TV shows (Jessica Lowndes from 90210 playing Elizabeth, an event planner and Michael Rady — from anything/everything, I’m sorry — playing William Darcy, billionaire Grinch ) so it didn’t have a lot going for it. But it was cute and I’m a sucker for a pretty house, so even if the Christmas Festival plot is a staple on Hallmark, it wasn’t too bad.
Christmas Made to Order
I have to say, I was excited to see Jonathan Bennet (Steven, a super duper busy architect who isn’t a Christmas fan) — because I’m still hung up on him and his floppy hair from Mean Girls — but watching it right after Jingle Around the Clock didn’t help it because it just fell a bit flat. I’ve also never seen Alexa PenaVega (Gretchen, a seasonal decorator, specialising in Christmas) in anything so there wasn’t a connection for me with her as a lead actress. But it was still pretty enjoyable.
The I’m-too-busy-to-decorate-so-I’ll-hire-someone-to-entertain-my-family is a spin on the usual Christmas grinch storyline but this one was a bit much. Still, Jonathan Bennet kept me going and I do like this hairstyle on him, so in the end, not too bad.
Christmas at the Palace
Hallmark delivers on the ridiculousness of the season with this royal affair because Netflix can’t corner the market on this and we’ve got to milk all the royal madness this year. And who would be the best person to star in a royal-themed movie if not Merritt Patterson (Katie, a former ice skater and also E! Channel’s Royals alum). I like that Hallmark thought the Royal trope was not enough and threw in some figure skating in there as well.
I also love the fake country, San Senova because why not. Their King, played by Andrew Cooper (Alexander, because you can’t get more royal than that) is a single dad raising a daughter who of course loves figure skating. Honestly, at first I thought it was his sister because he neither looks old enough to be King nor to have a daughter but that’s Hallmark. Ridiculousness at its finest! I also want a sequel with the side story couple because we need it.
Welcome to Christmas
I never watched Ugly Betty in full but seeing Eric Mabius (Gage, single dad and small town sheriff) in this one is making me reconsider this. And although I’ve never seen Jennifer Finnigan (Madison, big town real estate developer with ambition and a conscience!), they do have some chemistry between them so it was pretty fun to watch them banter on screen, because there was lots of it.
The plot was crazy as ever, complete with the entire town coming together to convince the big bad corporation to choose their town but that’s all part of the Hallmark tradition of pulling all the stops and coming together with the community. The kids weren’t too annoying so all in all a win for me.
A Midnight Kiss
The last movie of the season and of course we have a New Year’s related one to cap things off. I don’t think I’ve seen Carlos PenaVega (David, documentary filmmaker) in anything, but he looked pretty cute across Adelaide Kane (Mia, party planner who can’t say no) whom I haven’t seen since Reign! I’m liking that Hallmark is venturing into different couple pairings and I’m looking forward to more of this.
Adelaide Kane is really really pretty. I think I stuck to Reign far longer than I should have because I really liked watching her and it wasn’t any different for this movie. There wasn’t much going for it but she lit up every scene. Clearly, I’m a fan.
Christmas in Love
In the same vein as cute leads make a cute movie, Brooke D’Orsay (Ellie, HR lady at the bakery her dad runs and part-time wreath maker) is just adorable to look at that you can’t help but want to root for her and root for her, I did in this one. I’ve never seen When Calls the Heart, but seeing Daniel Lissing (Nick, big-shot CEO of parent company of said bakery) in this one is making me reconsider this. I am after all, already watching Chesapeake Shores, so what’s one more (or two — I hear Good Witch is pretty fun, too) Hallmark franchise to catch.
They said the word ‘automation’ like too many times in this show and I love the Hallmark trope of old school values vs. the new technology because you know we’ve seen this plot line before (and again and again this season) bu they sell it with the Kringles. They’re cute. They made lots of wreaths. I liked it.
When the leads are cute, I’m able to forgive so many things so Danielle Panabaker (Joy, a market researcher — which endeared me because my sister does the same thing) and Matt Long (Ben, childhood love and also a hospital administrator) help ease a lot of the silliness that this movie had. From the moment the aunt stepped on that ladder, I could feel she’d fall off and thus Joy having to go home and do all the crazy Christmas traditions that this town has (a gingerbread contest AND a cookie crawl?!)
Still, their chemistry was cute. And of course, there was the fake out where Ben goes after Joy only to think he looked like a waiter at the party (seriously, this happened). But they look good. So joy all around.
Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa
I didn’t realise there was a first instalment of this movie the year before so I’m definitely going to check it out because I shockingly enjoyed this one starring Jill Wagner (Lisa, a store decorator — Hallmark loves them decorators) and Mark Deklin (local handyman and all around hottie — like hello, man’s man) and the mom from Chesapeake Shores (I do love a good Hallmark synergy right there).
And even if I didn’t watch the first movie, this one was still easy to follow and had all the Hallmark tropes — a mystery to solve, an impossible deadline to meet, and an annoying mayor). I wonder if they’ll make a third one in the series. I wouldn’t mind.
For more mother-child legacy business movies, we have our next Full House leading lady in Jodie Sweetin (Candace, the heir apparent to another Martha Stewart-type mom who unfortunately can’t get any crafts right) alongside Brendan Fehr (oh hey, Roswell alum playing generically named local reporter with big city dreams, John) as they fall in love and try to make a little girls crazy wish come true.
The plot line on this is pretty crazy (as always) and I felt for Candace who just couldn’t say no to anything and anyone but it had Mr. Fehr, and I can’t resist that face so I hung around and eventually enjoyed it more than I probably should have.
Jingle Around the Clock
I didn’t think I’d enjoy this as much as I did but seeing Michael Cassidy (hello, The OC alum as Max, aspiring creative director with a really nice deep voice) again was such a treat! And Brooke Nevin (Elle, also an aspiring creative director — you see what’s going to happen here, right?) and her family of friends was such a nice little touch. Way to go Hallmark for including all sorts of families (even the ones you choose!)
Their chemistry was pretty good and I liked the small touches like finger holding hands in the elevator. And though there were of course the usual Hallmark tropes, I did enjoy the couple much more than anticipated.
Mingle All The Way
It’s so interesting that Hallmark decided to travel into the present by including a ‘dating app’ in the plot line but I’ll take it! It also helps that I find the two leads very cute as individuals and together! I haven’t seen much of Jen Lilley (Molly, app creator!) but she looked adorable with Brant Daugherty (Jeff, busy ad agency guy and erstwhile Christmas ornaments crafter) so having them match up on the app was an interesting set-up.
But of course, there’s got to be some tension and so I was prepared for them to do the ‘fake dating’ Hallmark trop (one of my favourites) and of course, things all work out in end. I approve of more modern stories. Here’s to hoping for more from Hallmark.
My favourite of the Full House ladies’ movies belongs here and unfortunately it’s not because of Lori Loughlin (though Aunt Becky is adorbs as Maddie, shoe empire CEO) but because they brought in Victor Webster (my ultimate Hallmark hottie, ever since I saw him in Summer Villa, as Carter, childhood love and secret artisan carpenter because really). You can put Victor Webster in ANYTHING and I will enjoy it extremely. They need to put him with his full beard in one of these soon.
And though the plot was just alright, and I do wish it were someone other than Aunt Becky with Victor, I will take it because I will take anything Mr. Webster. I know, I’m repeating myself, but it’s just so evident. More more more please.
Road To Christmas
I didn’t watch One Tree Hill religiously but I did catch an episode here and there and Chad Michael Murray (Danny, son of a Martha Stewart-esque figure) has aged very well for me. So seeing him as a TV producer (my former dream job) who’s doing a Christmas special against his will and only as a favour to his mom is such a Hallmark trope, I can’t help but go along with this bandwagon. Also it was cute that he had 2 brothers and their mom kept referring to them as the Wise Men (cause Danny Wise). Corny, but I like.
I’ve never seen Jessy Schram (Maggie, hotshot tv producer) in other Hallmark movies but I do like the job they gave her and her quest to prove herself was so endearing. The entire plot was a bit all over the place but they looked good together. So all good.
Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe
And for the second Jane Austen-themed movie of the season, this time Hallmark did it better and with a twist (it is based on Melissa Dela Cruz’s novel of the same name which I should have read already). So I’m glad they chose Lacey Chabert (all around Hallmark princess as Darcy Fitzwilliam, whom I deduce works in private equity) and Brendan Penny (hello, Chesapeake Shores alum as Luke Bennett — in lieu of the name Lizzie as a restaurant owner) because they are the cream of the Hallmark crop which is what Austen really deserves.
I can’t stress how much I enjoyed this one. The way they adapted Austen (thanks mostly to Melissa Dela Cruz’s work) was pretty flawless. And the leads chemistry was pretty damn awesome. I know I’m a sucker for Austen so this was pretty brainless.
Reunited at Christmas
This was a surprise for me because I wasn’t expecting anything (I’m not necessarily a big fan of either of the leads) but I ended up really loving this one. First off, I got nervous that Nikki DeLoach (Samantha, hotshot author suffering from writer’s block) had such a great boyfriend in Mike Faiola (Simon, super hardworking TV anchor) beause we all know Hallmark movies always break the couple up in the middle of the movie so that the lead girl can move on to a new guy from her hometown.
But the beauty of this movie, SPOILER ALERT, is that there was not OTHER GUY. This was her guy And I love it because it was nice to see how a relationship can suffer and yet work through the troubles. It was so different from other Hallmark movies, I couldn’t help but love it. Simon is so earnest and Samantha, so conflicted. They felt like real people. Sure, the movie had all the Hallmark tropes, but this was fantastic. I would watch it again. I want a sequel.
I honestly can’t believe I watched this many. But let’s be real, how could I not? Did you watch any Hallmark movies at all this year? And should I do this again for Valentines? Definitely, yes