A Very Hallmark Christmas
2018-12-26, 9:25 a.m.
recently on Chaos Attraction
Advent calendar magic test, continued from here.
December 14: A reindeer. I love reindeer. However, I had no reindeer in my day at all. Sigh. Not relevant.
So.... out of 24 days, 7 actually had that object come up in my daily life, though sometimes they were a stretch. About...29% accurate.
I don’t want to look up what year this was because I’m sure that entry sucked, but the last year my dad was still home in the house before going into the hospital/being dead was a pretty bad Christmas. Basically he was so ill we couldn’t even actually have Christmas on Christmas and didn’t even do Christmas until the 26th. So this is giving me unpleasant deja vu on that score.
Mom is feeling somewhat better today (Christmas Day) but still sleeping a lot (YAY). Unfortunately I still have to get her up to do the cooking because she won’t let me do the cooking in her house (even the bare minimum of heating up stuff, because she has to be in control and god only knows where she put anything). People are nagging me to get Mom “miracle Mexican soup” (????) or at least won ton soup. Well, you know how supposedly the Chinese restaurants are open on Christmas? Turns out that isn’t the case on Christmas day! So no, this is the one day of the year I CANNOT go get her soup. It’s Christmas Day, you really can’t make plans that involve “go out for food” so easily at the drop of a Kleenex and nobody is delivering, nor should they be because I would feel shitty about making someone do that today. We had tickets to see Mary Poppins Returns, but she won’t be going and I feel guilty leaving her alone, so there you go.
I got a text from a friend saying she hoped I was well and uh.....guess how that got answered.
We no longer have any Christmas traditions on the day any more, really. We can’t decorate because there is so much crap in the house (there are ornaments randomly on top of piles, y’all). The one tree is a light up tree that’s not plugged in that’s sitting against the wall in the kitchen. We’re not even doing presents this year and sometimes we don’t even do them on the day. God only know where we will be from year to year and what we will be eating (this year: probably nothing for her and pizza for me since we already went to Papa Murphy’s a few days ago). About the only tradition we have any more is all of the watching of the Hallmark Channel. Because vicarious living is the best we can do these days.
It’s been nearly twelve years since my dad died, you’d think we’d be doing better by now. Gotten adopted by a new family, found some new things to do on a yearly basis on the day, or just...anything better than this, really. But nope.
Anyway...ON TO THE HALLMARK REVIEWS!
New Hallmark movies I have seen within the last 24 hours and actually finished writing up to post:
Christmas, Colorado, has fallen on some hard times since a plant closed or something and they are desperate to get a ski resort built in their area. One of the people working on deciding whether or not Christmas or “Mountain Park” gets the resort is Madison Lane, who is a nice enough lady but is fairly well convinced that Christmas is a bit too rinky dink for this sort of thing. Her boss encourages her to visit the town and do “due diligence.” So naturally when she arrives she mows down the town sign and admits to the sheriff that she’s pretty much already decided about the resort but is going through the motions. She also asks the sheriff to uh, not mention to anyone what she did to the sign. He politely does not ever mention it to anyone, though I did snicker every time someone asked.
Jennifer Finnegan is playing Madison and she’s doing a good job of playing a nice lady, with a slight bit of hardass. She is NOT the traditional Christmas hater--she liked it just fine growing up, thanks--but now that she’s an adult and her parents are dead, it’s kind of petered out for her personally. And frankly, she seems to have a point that a town called “Christmas” needs to be doing more to hype that up, and the townies admit privately that they’ve had various activities fall by the wayside since people are broke and in need of jobs. Also, their slogan is something like “Santa’s second favorite town after the North Pole,” which nobody likes but nobody ever thinks of anything better either.
So since her car needs fixing, this movie pulls what some other Hallmark movies have done and uh...your car is gonna need fixing for a LONG TIME, and you’re four hours away from Denver, and why don’t you stay in our B&B and decorate some ornaments for like a week? It should tell you something that Madison doesn’t even care about the car after maybe about 24 hours because I don’t remember that coming up again. Anyway, as per her mentions, everyone starts reviving all of the dead festivals/traditions they used to do and making up an “ornament hunt” (the sheriff made ALL the ornaments and I want to know when he found the time) and stuff. How are they coming up with the money for this? Eh....we’ll just not get another police car this year.
Eric Mabius plays the sheriff and, well. Here’s the thing with Eric Mabius: he does have a quiet presence I kind of enjoy, but he also has what my mother referred to as a lack of affect. Dude doesn’t seem to get very worked up about anything. At one point during the movie he could have very rightly gotten mad at his older kid for flaking out on picking up the younger kid, but he just is all, “I’ll go pick her up.” I remember Eric Mabius on Ugly Betty and I remember he totally failed at trying to play angry when he had to. The thing is, this script is better than Eric Mabius and if they’d cast some other actor who could really make hay with it, there could have been some fun. For example, when Madison says that one advantage Mountain Park has over Christmas is that it doesn’t have the bad sign, the sheriff is all “Neither do we, any more.” If you’d cast Colin Ferguson in that role, he would have snarked that line out of the park.
Anyway, this one gets a bit interesting because all of the town festivals do convince Madison and her boss to give them the ski resort--and then Madison hears her boss talking about all the malls and businesses that will come there and freaks out, starts having someone do research for her about the towns she’s put ski resorts in and what happened to them, and freaks out because she realizes all the small town charms of Christmas will be killed if this happens.
Here’s an interesting Christmas dilemma for you: which is worse: have the cute small town-ness of the town killed with having a ski resort and other businesses move in, or have the town die altogether due to lack of jobs? I’ve seen my dad’s hometown do the latter, so I still vote ski resort. But Madison does some last minute heroics to talk her boss into just investing in the town as a year-round Christmas haven instead, and there ya go. Overall, this was a pretty good movie, except for the flatness of Eric Mabius. Like many a Hallmark movie, the lady carries the day.
This one is about a recently divorced mom with a daughter who is trying to get hired in her old industry in the Big City after having been a SAHM, but somehow she ends up in the small town of Hopewell working at the town bookstore and hanging out with Mac, who sells Christmas trees and plays Santa. It’s a big secret that the daughter keeps telling Santa that she wants various things for her mom that will make her happier, like getting her a tree and going to Paris (they just have a French dinner instead). Mom is kind of horrified when she finds out this has happened. Shockingly, the mom ends up still at the bookstore by the end of this movie and not in a big city job. I know, you didn’t expect that one.
Most memorable bit in this movie is when the bookstore’s Christmas tree gets destroyed. Let me describe the carnage: the tree is broken in at least three places/chunks and strewn about the store so much that I wondered if raccoons had gotten in, or perhaps a bear that chewed it. What I’m saying is, that tree must have been like, totally rotted or something to break in three places just because the old tree stand keeled over, which is what the movie claims happened. Maybe Mac is not giving you the pick of the litter when it comes to trees. Anyway, I guess there is some window display competition going on, so they get the bright idea to create a tree out of books, which made me very happy.
This is probably the best original Movies & Mysteries movie I’ve ever seen. I admit I am NOT as into the HM&M flicks--they always feel like the B-team movies and I get slightly annoyed when my mom insists on watching that channel for the day instead of original Hallmark. However, we woke up at about 9 a.m. on the 24th and the HM&M channel runs their movies on the “odd” hours rather than the “even” that Hallmark does, so... fine. Also they were doing a marathon of their originals, so I knew I hadn’t seen them, so what the heck.
Anyway, Ashley Williams is incredibly willing and cheerful as Zoe, a pilot who loves loves loves to fly. I deeply enjoyed seeing a female pilot featured at all, especially a girl that was so diehard about it. Anyway, she grew up in Aurora, Alaska, where she was mentored and taught to fly by a guy named Gus. Gus died this year and left her his ranch. Zoe loves the ranch but intends to sell it since her commercial pilot job is in Seattle, AND she needs the money because her dream is to run a charter service and she knows of a plane up for auction next month. So she plans on trying to sell ASAP, except the cranky caretaker, Alec, is all surly about this and is ready to quit even though he’s already been paid. Zoe gets him to stay and take care of her reindeer (yup, there’s reindeer, one of whom keeps fleeing to the airport to find his mate. I can only assume he’s flying out of his pen, but the movie doesn’t clarify that) by “partnering” with him in that she won’t sell to someone he doesn’t approve of. While that is going on, they try to make the place “homey” by throwing another Christmas festival. Between spending money on decorations and constantly paying fees to the airport because of her roaming reindeer (yeah, that happens), Zoe sees her plane fund dwindling down.
I admit I was not into surly ol’ Alec--another blandly handsome but dull Hallmark dude--but Zoe was a delight to watch. In the end, she decides to keep the ranch, hire her friends to run it as a bed and breakfast, and gets offered to lease a plane and fly a charter route that another pilot friend of hers is giving up to take a better paying job as the airport runner guy, since the guy who runs the airport is retired. Well, close enough to her dream, right?
Have you heard of that “Godwink” guy? Well, somehow he got a Hallmark movie made.
Paula has just gotten engaged to her boyfriend and doesn’t know why she’s busting out in tears about it and doesn’t want to wear the ring. (He’s not exactly a “team player.”) She calls her aunt (Kathie Lee) and her aunt is all, hey, why don’t you come out to Massachusetts for tea and sympathy and we’ll talk this out? Except by the time Paula arrives, her aunt had her book deadline moved up and the aunt just shuffles her off to a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard, alone. Paula is an antiques appraiser, so that should be fun for her. Anyway, after her taxi breaks down (I feel very sorry for the taxi guy in this movie, God may wink at others but Not At Him), she gets a ride with a guy who remodels/owns an inn and hangs out with him, and doesn’t mention that she’s engaged. There is a string of godwinks/on-purpose “coincidences” that leads Paula to that inn to hang out with that dude, basically.
I sort of zoned out at times in this one after about an hour when Paula was back off the island, and it probably doesn’t help that Mom started yelling at me about laundry at one point while I was trying to watch. I like Kimberly Sustad (she’s in one of my favorites, The Nine Lives of Christmas) but I *think* it was hinted at the end of the movie that the aunt and some others might have been conspiring to get these two together, a la The Christmas Train? But since I missed some details, I am not sure. Anyway, this is based on a real life story, so that is sweet.
I normally love me some Alicia Witt and love me some Colin Ferguson, but these two are cast in a rather downer movie. The family in the movie lost their parents recently and they are still absofuckinglutely devastasted and gutwrenched this holiday season. Not that I don’t know what that’s like and maybe that’s the audience for this one: those feeling shitty at their first Christmas “without.” Alicia Witt plays Emma, who feels guilty as shit for not going home more often before their parents died. Anyway, this is going to be their last Christmas at Honeysuckle Lane because they all think they should sell it.
To that end, Emma contacts Morgan (Colin Ferguson), a former history professor/antiques appraiser dude who she previously got rather snarly at in a store. I normally love these two but they just don’t really seem to get enough fun moments (other than the snowman contest) to enjoy themselves, and poor Emma is bummed as fuck this year. I’m reminded of The Christmas Ornament, but that movie did a better job of having the heroine move on romantically (from a husband, not parents) than this one is doing. They all act their devastation well, but if you’re not in that mental place or don’t wanna go back there, it’s not fun. They could probably have cast some of the duller actors from the Hallmark stable (Eric Mabius, paging you) for this one. There’s also a random ex who tries to get Emma back (honey, don’t try on the ring if you don’t actually want to marry him) and a minor mystery when Emma and Morgan find her mother’s old love letters to her fiance before meeting Emma’s dad. Overall, I just hope these two get more fun movies next year. The only time they get more fun (after the snowman) is at the end when they’re all “I got the ring stuck!” and “She’s my cousin!” And of course Emma gets to buy the house and stay after all and gets a new job in town.
Movies I didn’t see much of and seemed kind of boring:
* Reunited at Christmas: After Grandma dies, all the family comes together--even the separated parents. Samantha gets engaged for Christmas. Then she kind of freaks out, so they might break up, and they’ve told her family (which is there) but not his, and he said he had a big announcement but now he doesn’t.... dear lord, I zoned out, this had even less plot than usual.
* Mingle All The Way: Only in Hallmark does your boss give a shit if you use a dating app, apparently. This one is to find dates for your holiday parties--but it’s for NETWORKING, not dates. Whaaat? Anyway, this girl Molly designed the title dating app, gets forced to use it, and doesn’t like her date (Jeff, who is more into the holidays than she is), but once his boss sees him with a “girlfriend,” then he’s invited to things. I do not get why somehow faking a girlfriend proves that you’re willing to work hard enough to get a promotion. I do not understand Hallmark work logic.
Actual quote: “You know how the app works, it’s for networking, not for fake relationships!”