Coming home from school for the holidays, it is obvious that there is something in the air. Is it my family's excitement at having me home? The love from all our family togetherness? The delicious smells from my mom's Thanksgiving dinner? No! It's the beginning of Hallmark's endless Christmas-themed holiday movie season!
The day after Thanksgiving marked the start of a long-honored family tradition in my household: marathon viewing of Hallmark Christmas movies from the past and the new batch of made-for-TV movies. Beginning at 7 p.m. every Friday night an endless stream of Holiday cheer is played all weekend, and there's nothing quite like the cheesiness of a standard Hallmark TV movie set during the Christmas season to really get me in the Holiday mood.
Taken at face value, Hallmark holiday movies are a soul- and time-sucking endeavor, only viewed by those who are either extremely bored or extremely depressed. But Hallmark has provided me with life lessons (albeit very similar ones in each movies) and this season has certainly been better than most with above-average acting and some actually funny one liners. And after viewing countless hours of them, I feel it is my duty to provide an avid viewer's guide of some of my favorite movies from this season as well as the ones I'll be sure not to miss.
Merry Christmas and have a Hallmark of a holiday season!
Each movie is rated on a 1-5 scale; 1 being "Bah humbug!" and 5 being "Ho, ho Hallmark Classic!"
Naughty Or Nice
This movie stars Hilarie Burton (which some of you may know as the sultry Sara from USA's White Collar) the unfortunately named Krissy Kringle who stumbles upon what appears to be Santa's Naughty and Nice list. Krissy has just lost her job at an advertising firm and is forced to work at the local mall's Santa's Workshop. Down on her luck, and bitter from all the comments about her name, Krissy uses the List to expose the naughty deeds of those around her. Chaos ensues! Will she learn a life lesson? Will she be able to change her name? Will there be a perfectly times snowfall despite the setting in southern California? Bets for all are on yes! There are a couple of twists and turns in this movie and her sassy metro best friend has some sassy one liners. I finished this movie -- despite the lame and overly sentimental last twenty minutes -- feeling satisfied. I give this movie a 4.
The Wishing Tree
This Hallmark original is bit edgier than some of its predecessors. For one, there are rebellious teenagers instead of a charming and precocious child. And second, the mother of one of the teenagers is completely uninvolved and would rather be skiing in St. Maurin than spend the holidays with her son. Comment scandaleux! This movie chronicles a lonely teacher played by Jason Gedrick who works with a group of three very different teenagers (A nerd! A shy beauty! A troubled one!) over the holidays at a boarding school. Will they come together in time for Christmas? The teacher is also pursued by the very attractive drama teacher but he is reluctant to let go of his dead wife's memory. There's also a subplot about a Wishing Tree that brings "hope to those who need it" that doesn't really go anywhere despite the movie's namesake. The Wishing Tree attempts to be The Breakfast Club for rich boarding school kids, but in the end, I ended up just wishing that this movie would stop trying so hard. I give this movie a 3.
Melanie (played by Mean Girls' Lacey Chabert) is a baker -- is there another profession?! -- with a deadbeat boyfriend -- is there another type?! -- who is stranded with her boyfriend's very attractive and charming assistant. Was it fate? Or was it that Santa in the beginning who touched his nose -- a telltale sign of mischief on this channel. Santa comes off as somewhat as a stalker as he periodically appears by Melanie's side, and seems to know a lot about her life. But in true Hallmark style, no one is fazed by Stalker Santa and naturally, he is thanked at the end. Christmas is the time of giving, I guess. While this has all the makings of a true "Hallmark Classic" with its will-they-or-won't-they-they-probably-will storyline, I couldn't help but feel really weirded out Stalker Santa. Even though this is Hallmark, it doesn't mean that basic precautions against strangers who are overly friendly shouldn't be taken. Also why is there snow in some scenes but not in others? These errors are unfortunate because the leads are pretty good. I give this movie an unhappy 1.
Natasha Henstridge and Gabriel Hogan star in Christmas Song, the story of two schools that have been merged into one. Naturally, the rivalry of the former two schools dies hard, and especially for the choir groups and the music teachers from the two schools who are forced to compete for the single teaching position with the competition taking the form of a Christmas song competition. This movie was an unexpected delight. One part Glee, one part Hallmark feel good, and one part Pitch Perfect, Christmas Song perfectly capitalizes on the overdone show choir storyline set against the Christmas season. I was surprised to see that these two seemingly very different show choirs may actually have more in common than they think. Ignoring the pretty obvious clichés, the singing was pretty damn good which gives this movie an unprecedented rating of 5.
Movies I'm Looking Forward To:
Hitched for the Holidays (Airs Nov. 25 at 8 p.m. ET/PT)
The story of two young people who look for a temporary partner in an effort to please their families during the holidays. They do find each other but things become complicated when the Catholic and Jewish families get involved. Just call this My Big Fat Hallmark Wedding!
A Bride for Christmas (Airs Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. ET/PT)
This movie screams classic Hallmark. After Jessie calls off her third engagement, she swears off serious relationships until she finds the one. That is, until charming but chronically single Aiden comes along. But unbeknownst to Jessie, Aiden has bet his friends that he can convince a woman to marry him by Christmas, which is only four week away. I wonder how this will end?!
Christmas with Holly (Airs Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. ET/PT)
Take one female in a new town, fresh from a failed romance and starting a new business and add a male who is caring for his six-year old niece, and what do you get? An awesome way to spend your Sunday night!