A Very Hallmark After Christmas
2018-12-27, 8:49 a.m.
recently on Chaos Attraction
Mom is doing better and declared herself over the flu late last night and we did most of the gifts...very late at night. We'll see how she is when she wakes up, but since she's snoring again I gave up and figured I'd come out here to post more Hallmark reviews. From what I heard last night, English Pat is NOT doing so well and is drugged up to the gills on painkillers and isn't getting enough of them to manage the pain....oy. Probably good that we're not there as another thing for them to be worrying about.
I expected this one to be pretty stupid, but it was better than I expected. It’s kinda like A Christmas Carol, except with shoes and no Scrooginess.
So Noelle used to be a photographer’s assistant to her ex, but after he dumped her for Christmas, she packed up her camera and got a “temporary” job at a department store, which has lasted for 3 years now. Which she is fine with, really! “This may not be my dream job, but I am making the best of it.”
WHERE IS MY ANGEL FOR THIS TOPIC, I WANT TO KNOW.
Anyway, Charlie says something big is coming up and if Noelle misses it, it could be the last time. Charlie gets Noelle to try on some shoes that look like ones she used to have, and WHOOSH, Charlie goes back in time to 3 years ago after her dumping when she asked her roommate for a job at the store. Charlie encourages Noelle to call a gallery owner instead and WHOOSH we see what could have been Noelle’s future, in which she had a new apartment, a photography studio, and she’s married...to WHO? We do not see.
Unfortunately for Jake, Jake wants a blingy Christmas, and the store owner lady Helen is Not Into This and her son, Noelle’s boss, is “not a fan” of fun. Noelle promises it will be appropriate and tasteful. Jake thinks Noelle must not have any fun because she’s the quietest neighbor he’s ever had. Jake also doesn’t get shoes--aren’t they just there to keep your feet warm? No, shoes can change your life! (Sure, if you’re Cinderella, or Noelle here apparently.) He does ask her to a party though.
Noelle goes home, puts the #2 shoes on again and has a nice dinner with her dad in the mind palace. She also has some more conversation with Charlie about how (a) there was a potential life path for her where she became the owner of a chain of hot dog stores (why?), and (b) sometimes people need a shove because “You’re not hot dog stand off, but pretty far off.” Charlie says that someone in the past (I assume her roommate) treid to nudge her and Noelle is all, they should have nudged harder. Charlie responds by doing exactly what I thought she would: telling that joke about how I sent you two boats and a helicopter. Except I think she tells it with sleighs, but same diff.
The third pair of shoes take Noelle to a Christmas party, where her bestie gives her a camera lens and encourages her to enter a competition. We also briefly see Future Husband and...it’s this guy named Will. Whaaat? Isn’t this supposed to be all about Jake? Charlie is kinda all eh, details are unimportant, but true love is out there. WTF.
Anyway, overall Noelle claims she was fine and comfortable with life as it is and she is tired of being disappointed, but she eventually finds out that she could marry Jake (Will is his brother, apparently) and she’ll do photography again and all is well. Charlie will pop in when needed.
Actual quote: “All I ask is that you get me a great pair of shoes to go with my straitjacket!”
This movie was on earlier and I only saw part of it and was kind of bored, but it was better when seeing the whole thing.
Notable activities in this one include a “snowman relay” in which you build a snowman and then have to move it (“What do you win?” “The satisfaction of a well-built snowman.”) and actually playing White Elephant with an actual white elephant, and a PUPPY PARTY for rescue animals. We don’t see too much of that, but here are some links if you want to watch one.
At the end, the three Wise men all show up for Julia’s live filming and she enjoys it. Maggie makes out with Daniel, which won’t be awkward at all at work in the future, I’m sure. Daniel looks a lot like Jeremy Renner, which amused me because apparently he is Chad Michael Murray and I did not recognise him as that At All. I have no explanation for this.
Lori Loughlin is Maddie, a former CEO of a shoe company who just sold her company, so now she’s come home for Christmas to do...whatever, which turns into planning the high school Christmas dance. She has a high school sweetheart(?) named Carter. They were “committed” to leaving their town for the Big City, where she would start a shoe company and he would start a custom furniture company. Except Carter very much fizzled on that last idea and had no idea how he’d do it, so he didn’t go and they broke up. I feel ya, Carter.
Meanwhile, Carter is still hanging around Maddie’s family for whatever reason (does he work for them? Unsure but I think so) and they end up planning the Christmas dance together. There is a subplot about Carter’s niece Ava wanting to go to NYC for fashion school, but her mother isn’t down with taking risks. But aren’t we supposed to follow our dreams? Yes, but what about making a living at it?
In the end, Maddie agrees to help run the family business, which she didn’t want to do before (there’s a theme in Hallmark) with her sister, who seems to have been doing just fine running the business on her own already. And Ava’s mom gives in.
I was kind of bored at this one, mostly because I found Carter to be very boring to watch. I sympathized with his having no idea how to make a hit furniture business in NYC (which frankly, does not sound like a winning life proposal anyway), but otherwise I was so not into this dude or their supposed romance. Meh.
I actually really liked this one, which not only has a charming Hallmark lady but actually has an actor dude (Jonathan Bennett) that I found interesting to watch. This guy has great eyes and eyebrows and I found him hot. Huzzah! It is pretty much a similar plot to that one with the girl running a gift-buying business, though.
Also, this one takes place in Salt Lake, which makes me wonder if they’re all Mormons. If so, how are these two still single over the age of 22? (Disclaimer: I know of one Mormon who didn’t get married until her 30’s, but she was a nerdy childhood friend of mine and from what I hear, she is a super rarity.)
Anyway, this movie starts out with the lead guy, Steven, saying, “Hey, I enjoy Christmas. It’s the one day of the year I don’t answer my cell phone on the first ring.” He’s a busy architect who isn’t too into decorations and is a bit scornful when he runs into Gretchen, who is a “holiday decorator” and did the decorations in his building.
Gretchen is a lovely girl who does staging as her day job but is trying to get her holiday decorating business, “Holidays Made to Order,” off the ground. “Complete creative control, that’s the dream.” (Which she probably won’t get with clients, but still.)
Anyway, Steven usually goes to his sister’s house for the holidays, but they had a water main break or something (that bedroom they are FaceTiming from looks just fine, I speak from experience on living in floods) and they tell Steven everyone’s coming to HIS house this year. And they expect all the goods. So Steven is in need of hiring Gretchen. She does a great job of decorating and the only thing she doesn’t have up is the tree (she was going to encourage him to pick one out) before everyone shows up early. Except they want ACTIVITIES and FOOD and guess who doesn’t have any of that. Steven hires Gretchen for all of that too. Gretchen takes advantage of her aunt having a fancy B&B and takes everyone there frequently.
In an example of “Physician, heal thyself” and “the cobbler’s children have no shoes” and things like that, Gretchen hasn’t had the time to decorate at her house. (Note: I haven’t posted this one yet and I don’t know if I’ll get to it because it was a very, very backup entry, but I saw a Netflixer called “You Can’t Fight Christmas” where the decorated had the same issue. Guess why?)
Gretchen is single because her last ex didn’t believe in her business, while Steven’s girlfriend cheated.
At Steven’s job, he gets the dreaded “I don’t know what I want, but I know it’s not THIS” from his clients. Ouch. Later he lands it by presenting something “sentimental.”
Gretchen is adopted into Steven’s family, where we find out that his niece wants to be a singer instead of going to medical school. His family is surprisingly nice about this when they find that out, and the niece decorates Gretchen’s place as a thank-you. His mom encourages Steven to actually ask Gretchen out on a date, but Steven wonders about the ethics of this given their work situation and he promised to get her clients. Both of these are pretty reasonable.
Gretchen is offered a full time job at the staging place, which she knows she should take and do her business on the side, but she can’t stand it. Steven lands an interview with his boss for Gretchen to be the building’s decorator, but she turns it down when she finds out that the boss doesn’t want innovation. Steven is kind of shocked when he hears this (also kinda disappointed he won’t have an excuse to see her at work) and points out that it’s really hard to start your own company. This triggers Gretchen (see ex-reference) and she’s all, well, is this job what you want to do? At least I want to pursue my dreams. Awkwardness ensues and Steven’s female relatives have to explain to him why she’s mad.
Hallmark does certainly encourage you to throw everything to the winds and start your own business and it’ll work out!
I really enjoyed this one. The actors are great, it’s fun to watch and see them together and I enjoyed the job angst, which I am relating to a bit much.
Leann Rimes is playing Eve, who is a permanent (?) “interim school superintendent” who roams the world like a phantom, temporarily hired to come to school districts, fix their budgets, lay off all the arts teachers and be hated before vanishing into the night. I did not know that “interim school superintendent” was A Thing in this world. In my experience everyone with “interim” usually boils down to “Hey, can you do this job in addition to your own for six months to a year?” to someone who is already there. I do know two people who specialize in interim-ming, but they to keep their regular employment and it’s not exactly a rolling stone kind of job like say, musician. We’ll get back to that bit, but this time Eve’s gig is in her hometown of Franklin, where everyone already knows her and thus it’s SUPER AWKWARD. Eve doesn’t want to cut all the arts and music programs, but of course every single other budget option has already been tried. Well, that sounds like reality, and I’m having flashbacks to middle school in the 80’s. She does also briefly mention how people are getting rather fatigued of donating money to the school, which is an excellent point that will be thrown out later.
Liam is a music teacher who lives in Eve’s mom’s neighborhood (she is currently living with her mom and stepdad), who reasonably assumes, and isn’t wrong, that his job is likely to be first cut. “Arts and music aren’t necessary,” says the woman who in real life is a famous musician. As you’ve probably deduced from this casting, Eve used to be more into music growing up before embracing boring adult reality. Liam used to be in a band and wrote songs before he also grew up and embraced boring adult reality and became a teacher and life got in the way, because it does that.
There is some commentary going on and off throughout this movie about “meet cutes” and destiny that Liam brings up. Also, Eve’s mom and stepdad met when he came to put out a fire for her, which is also cute. Liam makes some “meet cute” commentary in Eve’s vicinity when he sees somebody spill soup on someone else, and gee, maybe Eve missed out or something. She is reasonably all, “If soup guy was my one true love, it would have made sure we spilled soup on each other.”
Actual conversation between the two of them when they slightly fight over a tree later:
“You would deny a child a chance at a tree?”
Eric Mabius, take note: this is how you snark in Hallmark. So points to this actor for that.
Anyway, I’m not quite sure how this happened, but somehow Eve is converted from “kill all the arts” to “take advantage of school Christmas concert time and turn it into a giant website fundraiser in which we ask people to pay for specific things.” Remember that fundraiser fatigue thing? I guess we’re not gonna worry about that. Mostly we’re just going to give the mayor’s kid a solo even though he never speaks and we have no idea if he has any talent or not (he’s fine).
Eve and Liam discuss their failed dreams. After her dad died at sixteen she just wanted to leave town, and he quit being a musician because “I didn’t have anyone in my corner. It was just me.” HEAR, HEAR, SIR.
At the concert, Liam’s kid is going to sing his original song and then gets stage fright, so she has Eve come on. Leann Rimes’ magic pipes drown out that kid. Not that I or anyone else came to hear the kid sing, this is all about when Leann is gonna start busting out some tunes (also see A Christmas Melody, Christmas at Graceland), and she does it right. Of course the school gets a lot of donations and Eve is offered a permanent job and decides to spill something on Liam before making moves on him because “I got sick of waiting on the universe.” Later he’s all “I gotta change my shirt” and she’s all “Don’t you dare.”
Actual quote from this movie: “Is this the same universe that sends people careening into other people?”
I dunno, this one isn’t too bad, even if anyone who’s lived through the budget cut years is probably rolling their eyes there. I wonder what Hallmark has to say about people having to give up their performance dreams to settle down? I’m not sure what this movie wants me to think about how Eve and Liam had to quit music to make money. Needs more Leann singing, though.
I remember very little about the original Christmas in Evergreen other than it featured a smiley brunette in a distinctive red truck. Smiley brunette isn’t in the movie until the last half hour or so (she went to Florida), but she is loaning her truck to some contractor named Kevin who is visiting Evergreen. Kevin hits it off with Lisa, who is a professional retail designer with her platonic best friend Oliver. They are currently in Boston but Lisa decides she wants to go back and visit her “hometown” of Evergreen, which she lived in until she was seven (it’s established later that she went to kindergarten with Original Smiley Brunette). Somehow both Lisa and Kevin get involved in trying to find a buyer for the general store, where the owner recently died. Since Lisa does staging for a living, she does a terrific job at it, but nobody will buy it until she caves and buys it herself.
There’s also some plot about finding someone’s old letter to Santa that is nostalgic for the good old days, which they think is Kevin’s, but it’s really not. This didn’t make a whole lot of sense other than the whole concept inspires Lisa artistically. I did get some lulz at the whole “wishing on the Christmas snowglobe for an idea” thing because Lisa gets one within 30 seconds and everyone’s all “That was QUICK.”
Also, Holly Robinson Peete meets a dude (Thomas the Builder) in this one and they have a nice little beta romance, so good for them there since Hallmark usually doesn’t do much with the beta romances. Also, Smiley Brunette points out that even though she got together with Ryan last year at Christmas, he didn’t actually move here until August. So there’s an update.
Also, there is the “Chris Kringle Kitchen” and I am flabbergasted that it wasn’t spelled Kris.
Kellie Pickler as Laurel makes this movie very fun to watch, especially since she drips southern with every line and that alone makes it fun for me since I have a thing about liking southern accents. Anyway, Laurel is another former musician who now works for some boring business company and she’s sent to her hometown of Memphis over the holidays to finesse a business deal. Her boss is annoyingly jerky and seems to genuinely think that Laurel won’t be doing anything but business in her hometown, during the holiday season, with her kid in tow. Uh-huh. Instead, Laurel takes her kid to see Graceland and they run into her old performing partner Clay, who has also given up on his musical dreams to be a concert promoter at Graceland (I think) and Clay spends a lot of the movie talking Laurel into performing in it since someone fell through. Clay also has a lot of free time to spend hanging with Laurel and her kid, which is nice.
Meanwhile, Laurel’s business deal is not going so well. The bank owner is an old, friendly, folksy guy who is literally willing to give up a chunk of cash as long as he can get some guarantee that NONE of his employees will be canned. He also makes friends with Laurel--they hit it off very well--and he invites her to various work parties. You can pretty much tell that the old guy will sign over the bank just as long as Laurel’s shite boss agrees to not lay off anyone*. However, Shite Boss keeps whining and bitching that he wants this deal done NOW and of course he wants to lay off employees. Laurel is all, hey, let me help you figure out how to save some cash financially so nobody has to be laid off and Shite Boss is all DON’T CARE, WANT MY DEAL AND THEN TO CAN EVERYONE FIRINGS AT CHRISTMAS FOR ALLLLLLLLLLLL okay, he doesn’t actually say that last bit but it’s sure implied. Then he demands that Laurel go home immediately on Christmas Eve--also he finds out about her being in that concert and he’s snitty about it--to scare the guy into the deal.
* I highly doubt that that is a binding thing that anyone can enforce once the deal is done, sadly, so what’s the point?
Laurel tells the old guy that privately, she thinks he’s right not to take the deal. Old guy offers her a job, of course, so hey, let’s stay and do the concert (which is of course good) and have a happy ending!
My mom’s job had this kind of thing go down a few years ago. Despite the whole “well, hopefully nobody will be laid off” thing, one person was laid off, and my mom had her hours cut out the wazoo around a year later. Much as I totally appreciate the old guy’s desires to save his employees, he really does need to come to the conclusion tha uh, if you want to save your people, you need to be very careful about who you sell to--and this dude and his company clearly ain’t it. I hope he enjoys his lack of retirement, because his employees definitely will. So good for them. I assume he’ll turn the company over to Laurel in a few years and all will be happy.
I have read bad reviews about this one, and between them and the whole Austen issue, and it’s based off a Melissa de la Cruz book* I expected it to be a festering turd. Actually, it’s not bad if you just ignore the “Austen in name only”**-ness of it and pretend that that isn’t happening and this is some other regular ol’ plot. Christmas at Pemberley Manor is a lt better at Austen-ing if you want that.
* Seriously, I just need to not read her books even if it’s on subject matter I think I might be into, such as Hamilton. I couldn’t even finish reading Love and War. Either I’m kinda bored or thinking it’s bad, either way. She is not for me.
Anyway, our heroine Darcy is a nice uh...stockbroker or something?....that wants to help even The Little People invest. However, her partners in the business do not agree with this*, tell her “oh, go home for the holidays, everything will be fiiiiiiiiiiine,” and then try to screw her over and drive her out of the business due to this Little People thing. Darcy tries a bit of Jerry Maguire frantic-phone-calling during the holidays and lands one client that she gets to keep, but anyway, she gets driven out of her own business and has to go back to work for her father, which she didn’t want to do in the first place due to nepotism. This did not seem like a very happy bit to me there.
* One of them is named Austen, apparently?
Also, her most recent ex, Gus, is still working for/with her dad and he keeps hanging around expecting Darcy to come back. Darcy is so categorically not interested in this and you’re like, god, Gus, take a hint already.
Instead of working during the holidays, Darcy gets enlisted into putting on some holiday event or other with Luke, who she used to be on debate team with. I give the movie credit for actually making me buy them as school rivals when they are in the same room together, taking shots at each other. That first scene was actually pretty good. Anyway, Luke runs a restaurant/caters now, so they have to work together and get along and occasionally encounter mistletoe, which Darcy is not into until the end, of course.
It was okay. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected it to be as long as you realize it’s not actually Austen.
I normally do not watch this show ever, so I know nothing about it other than it takes place in the past and had a hot Mountie and then they killed him off. I did not watch the show whatsoEVER and even I knew about the hot Mountie and this made me sad. I looked it up online and it’s actually even WORSE than that, they killed him offscreen only a few days after they got married, wtf? (Apparently the actor had personal stuff come up he didn’t want to elaborate on to the entire Internet. Sigh.)
Anyway, I sat through this because I didn’t feel like changing the channel. Most of the plot revolves around how the hot Mountie’s widow is about to give birth, some guy is gonna take his girlfriend to the Nutcracker without having any idea it involves fancy dress, getting a new roast, and mostly it revolves around some random orphans stopping through town. Two orphaned sisters were separated and reunited and have decided to run their own orphanage, which they are en route to when their wagon wheel breaks. It turns out that the youngest of their orphans, Millie, is a runaway from another orphanage because she didn’t want to be separated from her sister. The adult sisters, Lilly and Grace, were jumping through every legal hoop required to get custody of Millie, but then the orphanage staff changed and the new headmistress refused to let Millie leave and is pursuing them.
Interestingly enough: Millie doesn’t speak--they take her to the doctor and that seems to be a choice on Millie’s part rather than deafness or voice issues--and the new headmistress wants to hold on to Millie so she can teach the kid sign language and make sure she can function in the real world. I actually rather admired her for that, even though her being a stickler on the siblings being separated thing was rather harsh. And as it turns out, kid can speak if she darned well wants to, so there.
Also, weird thing: the dialogue in this show is totally contemporary. Did anyone in the uh, whatever time period this is in say things like, “Oh, you need a drop off?” I also was amused when the three main ladies have car trouble and then have to have Elizabeth give birth in a random cabin and then the show’s guys go after them, all the while saying things like (not direct quoting) “These are strong, smart, independent women who can certainly handle themselves and should be okay, but the weather is bad and one of them is pregnant right now!”
All right, it’s yet another royalty movie, BUT WITH ICE SKATING!!! This should be my jam, right? This time we’re in San Senova, which was founded on Christmas Eve. King Alex has been the king for 3 years. His dad was “The Christmas King” and Alex has been dubbed “The Grinch King” for being quoted for saying that Christmas is good for the economy. Alex is nice enough but not exactly a swinging personality, like pretty much every prince/king in one of these movies. Alex is also not terribly good at selling Christmas cheer, especially when he knocks down an entire stage set.
Meanwhile, there’s an ice skating show going on in town, featuring choreographer Katie and her bestie, performer Jessica. (Note: these girls look really alike, but Katie is more of a brunettish blonde and less perky.) Princess Kristina, Alex’s daughter, is around 12 and a diehard ice skater with her own rink and she swoons over these two (Katie almost made it to the Olympics.). After talking to them, Kristina gets the idea to put on a Christmas ice skating pageant in 2 weeks based off the founding of San Senova. The San Senova founding is so much better than the Christmas Prince one, btw. Or at least it actually makes sense and is kind of cool, because it involves the future royal family (originally just a bunch of rich estate owners, I guess) rescuing their neighbors from disaster and having them move in, and Princess Sonya actually skates to save the day. She asks her dad to ask the two skater ladies to work on the show, and they’ll be paid well and get to stay in the palace. Why, this means we can buy that rink we want, says Jessica.
I should probably mention that Katie and the king had a few run-ins before this offer was made, which have been awkward and lead to him having a catchphrase of “I appreciate your unsolicited advice.” Later she tells him (when he’s picking up his own gifts for the staff!!!) that the gifts should be more personal...like ornaments and stockings.
Jessica gets involved with the king’s assistant. Like I blinked and that was happening. I’ll be honest with you: both blonde skater chicks are nice but Jessica is the more fun and personable one and I kind of wish her character was the lead/wooing the prince. Katie is nice but inhibited like the king, which gives them commonality but also not so much sparkiness. Not that anyone’s managed to spark with these boring European royal dudes in any movie, mind you.
Princess Kristina says over and over and over again that she doesn’t want to play Princess Sonya in her own show because people will be watching her. It becomes a revolving door and I forget what the hell happened, because Jessica sprains her ankle, Katie pretty much refuses to do it, the offscreen replacement doesn’t know the part, etc. etc. Katie tries to talk Kristina into it by pointing out that princesses aren’t always perfect--hey, Cinderella was always late and losing things. Good point there.
At one point Katie compares drinking cocoa to having a salad because the cacao beans come from plants. “I like your logic,” says the king.
Annoyingly, both skaters go home before the show. Jessica leaves early to go buy a skating rink in New Jersey and later she insists that Katie come down there to see it before they commit to a location. Katie kind of wants to go home and kind of doesn’t since her dad died, and she kind of wants to skate and kind of doesn’t now. She gives Kristina all these uplifting speeches about getting over fears, which is kind of hypocritical because Katie claims to have not gone on the ice in years. (Alex’s response is that yeah, he’s afraid of being king too, but he had to do it.)
I’d just like to say something as a wannabe performer who’s been in dance numbers: YOU REHEARSE THAT SHIT. You do not just hop onto the ICE with literally no experience in years and do a number and be fine. Even if you choreographed it, wouldn’t you do at least marking it out or something? I do not buy at all that Katie hasn’t done shit on the ice for years up until Christmas Eve night. I know it’s movie drama, but you could still have her have stage fright or something instead but still practice! Also, this movie does not have enough ice skating for me anyway.
No sooner does Katie arrive in Jersey and co-buy an ice rink than she’s already leaving to go back to San Senova, with Jessica watching the pageant (this airs in America?) with her new boyfriend who just flew in. He is confident that having dealt with the royal family, he can manage an ice rink. Alex is dubbed the new Christmas king and Katie skates in the show with literally no rehearsal whatsoever and then she decides she wants to go back to skating again. I guess everyone is fine with the king dating an American because we don’t really worry about that too much!
Anyway...this one’s not too well executed, overall. Needed more skating and less New Jersey. The actress playing Jessica should get a lead role in the future though, she can work it. Alas, since the San Senovan royal family seems to be short lived, we should perhaps be concerned for Katie.