Chaos Attraction

Hallmark Movie Reviews: Royalty Edition

2015-12-28, 9:23 p.m.

I'll probably talk about what went down today along with what's going down tomorrow. In the meantime, here's more Hallmark: ROYALTY EDITION!

Crown for Christmas:

Hallmark has to get in at least one “marrying royalty for Christmas” movie per year, and this year they did two. This is the better one of the lot.

Danica McKellar is playing Allie Evans, who’s a painter and a maid and still kinda raising her now-adult siblings ever since their parents died. They’re super broke. Both girls are working as maids at some swanky hotel, where they get yelled at if they’re not totally invisible. Allie blows that right off the bat when she literally runs into King Maximilian III of Winshire and starts offering him chocolate and sewing kits as an apology. He’s survived worse, so no worries. Anyway, the sister gets an audition in an hour, so Allie says she can tackle the end of their shift by herself. Except the king’s room is a total mess and she’s not done by the time her boss comes up to bitch her out and CHRISTMAS FIRING happens to BOTH girls.

However, the king’s butler Fergus comes up to fetch the king’s lost watch and overhears this, including overhearing Allie say “by the way, someone left their watch on the dresser.” Fergus and the king discuss this off camera, and Fergus tracks down the Evans family’s address and offers them $5000 for their trouble/watch returning. Allie is too honest to accept money for basically nothing, but they do serve him mulligan stew and tell their life stories about how Allie raised two holy terrors. This gives Fergus the idea to offer Allie a job instead--Princess Theodora ran off another governess again, she can get her own apartment and maid. Wait, WHAT? So of course she goes. Hey, why not go unorthodox with this hiring, Fergus figures.

Upon arriving at the castle, Allie immediately gets the snotty scorn of a Miss Wick, who snots, “We use formalities here, Miss Evans,” and asks if she’s familiar with court protocol. She’s watched Downton Abbey... Allie is told she has to blend in the background at all times, but somehow they suspect she won’t be good at that.

Let's meet Princess Theodora, who’s got a reputation as a hellion and pitches snowballs at people (and spitballs at fancy paintings). Allie, however, pitches ‘em right back--and later throws ornaments, landing one right on the king. Theodora briefly wants to start a prank war, but really she just wants to get to act like a damn kid instead of a princess all the time, and Allie is down with that. They also bond over lost moms, especially since it sounds like Theodora doesn’t get much time with her dad or get to hear about her mom. When Allie asks Theodora what she wants to do, they end up hanging out in the greenhouse looking for worms in the dirt.

We can also figure out that the more stuffy and royal and abandoned Theodora feels, the more she’s likely to start losing food during a formal dinner. Allie actually cites the three second rule for putting the food back in front of everyone. Max is all, “When I was at university, we had the three minute rule. My roommate barely made that.” Max is pretty damn nice and good at defusing. Allie and Theodora spend a lot of time decorating and making cookies (and doing a fraction lesson with cookies at one point--I guess math whiz Danica liked that in the script? Or had it put in?) and a gingerbread castle and chatting. Theodora suggests putting the crown on the tree and I’m all, “Hey, I HAVE a crown tree-topper....”

Meanwhile, King Max is in the habit of riding his horse at night and he and Allie tend to hang out and chat while he does that. He likes NYC because nobody knows him there and he stands in line and gets yelled at like a normal person would. Allie is all, “We should swap lives. I stand in line and get yelled at on a daily basis.”

We’re told that Max used to be a “fun royal” until his wife and dad died before he hit 30. His wife was royal but also fun-loving, he met her in NYC (somehow?) and they eloped at Niagara Falls rather than having a traditional royal wedding. Unfortunately for Max, his chancellor is harping at him to marry “Lady Celia of Luxembourg,” who I guess he was expected to marry at some point. Max is about as excited about this as he would be a trip to the dentist. “I think I might be going down the same path,” he says, referring to his father. “Paths change all the time,” Allie says. Max gets his horse to literally bow to Allie--how cute!

Miss Wick literally stomps out on dinner when Allie asks if she can eat with the staff. I DON’T THINK ANYONE WILL MISS YOU, PLUS YOU’RE GOING HUNGRY, MISS SPITE. The chancellor also isn’t super fond of Allie, as he grumbles that they’re not singing a Christmas song (I didn’t write down which one) in the original German. The chancellor invites Lady Celia for the holidays and Celia goes on to Theodora about how she hasn’t seen her since she was small. Theodora is all, “You saw me months ago, and at Easter, and....” Celia also gives Theodora a ballet outfit, to which Theodora says halfheartedly, “Ballet. My favorite thing.” Allie walks up and is all, who’s this? “The horrible lady my father’s supposed to marry.” The chancellor has already planned the honeymoon too. Meanwhile, Theodora interrogates the hell out of Celia, finishing with, “Do you even love my father?” Then she runs out and when Allie and Max go after her, she locks them in the greenhouse. Allie grabs a shovel to break a window, but Max stops her and is all, I know where the spare key is. He basically says that monarchy is only popular when getting married and having babies. She asks, “Aren’t you the throne?” and he’s all, “No, I just sit on it.”

Max, Celia, and Theodora do appearances together, which is clearly a joy for the latter. Theodora insists on hanging her own homemade pinecone ornament on the tree instead. Celia visits Allie, trying to get her to put in a good word for her with Theodora. Later, Theodora starts a snowball fight and pretty much everyone but Celia and the chancellor join in--including Max and the guards. Adorable. Miss Wick is totally pelted. Celia thinks something needs to be done about this governness. Like sending Theodora off to boarding school at age 10, a la Three Men And A Little Lady/The Sound of Music, apparently? Allie does her best to buck Theodora up about the situation and Theodora wishes her dad would marry Allie because he acts like himself around her. However, when Theodora overhears the chancellor insisting that Max give a certain royal ring to Celia as the engagement ring... Meanwhile, Fergus the butler flat out tells Max he can’t be honest with him about this particular situation.

Anyway, Theodora invites Allie to a royal ball and Max agrees to it, and the nice chef lady loans her a dress--Cinderella time! Her name is Helen Claiborne and she says that romance at her age is about as likely as an eclipse is. “You do realize there are several eclipses every year,” Allie says. As for the ball, Allie shows up in a lovely dress (“So much for being invisible”), gets to dance with Max. Celia demands to dance with Max. Max dances with Theodora and it is SO ADORABLE. That kid’s a real winner, Hallmark. Celia begs Max--I know you don’t loe me like you used to, but maybe someday you will again, so give me a chance. “Now let’s take a look at that ring.” “Is it bad luck to see it before the proposal?” Well, we’ll never know, because it’s not in the box and Celia immediately accuses Allie of stealing it.

The chancellor...I wrote down “gives her the boot, basically,” it was kinda ...It wasn’t quite screaming “You’re fired” without any proof that she did it, but it was a heavily pressuring moment to GTFO anyway. Anyway, as you’ve probably guessed, Theodora was the one that took it. Max comes in and Allie says to say that she (Allie) stole it so Celia and Theodora can get off to a good start. Max reasonably says he’ll just say he found it on the dresser. Allie leaves.

Max usually gives some kind of Christmas speech that even he admits is so boring everyone’s probably memorized it by now. But this year he’s giving a new one--he knows y’all are expecting an engagement announcement, but right now my daughter needs her father, and we (him and Celia) both deserve better than an arrangement. Celia insults Theodora on her way out. After that, Max tells off the chancellor, which is well deserved.

We find out that Allie painted portraits of everyone at the castle--even Miss Wick, and it made her look nice!--and Max and Theodora. (The latter has Allie in it with her.) They are super nice paintings, but I did think, “Wow, girl, when did you have time to paint those in ONE WEEK, while working?”

As Allie is standing outside City Hall (waiting for a bus? shuttle? who knows?), Max rides up on horseback saying he didn’t propose to Celia. But what about the crown, Allie asks? “It’s survived a thousand years, it can survive a girl from Brooklyn.” Also, “you had me at sewing kit.” So Max, Allie, and Theodora have an awesome reunion, as do Helen and Fergus because I guess they used to date or something.

This one is pretty dang cute, actually. Theodora and Allie are quite winning and spunky and sweet, Max is a decent fellow, and despite a few plot weaknesses of implausibility, it was a pretty good watch.

Quote Corner:
* “I know how to be a maid. That might be the worst compliment ever.” --Allie (I think? or her sister?)
* “New Yorkers are impervious to pain.” -Max. What?
* “Not to make excuses, but you’re my first king.” --Allie
* “All kids are annoying. That’s their job.” --Allie
* “It’s a pretty twisted song.” --Allie tells Theodora how she and her siblings used to sing “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.”
* “I’m more likely to marry Santa Claus than your father.” --Allie (at which point Theodora is all, Santa’s married).
* “I suppose we can airbrush her jeans from the final photograph.” --Theodora showed up late to the formal holiday portrait because she hid Allie’s schedule from her.
* “We do go way back. Five days ago.” --Allie.
* “Why, you cheeky little monkey!” --Fergus during the snowball fight.
* “If you’re angry, lean in and whisper.” --Allie.
* “Tiara or no tiara?” “No tiara.” Tiara it is.” --Allie and Theodora.

Other reviews of this can be found here and here.

Once Upon A Holiday:

This is the second of two royalty movies this season, and this was...well, my least favorite Hallmark movie this season. I’m not sure if it’s my own personal bias that’s the problem. Okay, it probably is in general because:

(a) The first time I watched it was pretty late at night on Christmas Day after watching nine other movies and even I had kind of OD’d on Hallmark by then and wanted to move on with my life. However, I attempted to watch it again two days later and was falling asleep, so it really wasn’t much better then either.

(b) Honestly, I don’t really like the casting of the girl as the princess in this movie (note: she’s the daughter of someone else in the show--the lawyer, I believe). I just straight up don’t buy her as a princess of some minor fake European country who hasn’t spent that much time in America and hasn’t gotten to hang out with the normal people much. I don’t buy her as royalty at all. She seems like some regular normal girl you’d find anywhere (Ohio, maybe), and felt miscast. Maybe she’d be better off in some other movie, where she doesn’t have to be non-American and not going up against the memory of Audrey Hepburn doing the same thing. But in this one? Eh, eh, eh. I just wasn’t into it.

Anyway, this is the story of Princess Katherine of Montserrai, who lost her parents yonks ago, spends all her time following a busy schedule, went to art school but is only allowed to be a patron of the arts, and doesn’t get why the hell anyone needs a princess anyway. She’s missing her dead mom, who gave her a camera while they were in NYC for Christmas as a kid. So while visiting NYC, Katherine (or Katie) skips out with her camera to go mingle with The People, foregoing her aunt* to go take pictures and get all of her stuff stolen.

* is her aunt the queen? They never say.

A Good Samaritan named Jack tells her she should call the cops, and Katie is all “call the cops? wha? Oh, uh, maybe from my hotel room, I’m totally fine in the streets without money, btw.” This sounds not particularly right to Jack, or anyone, and Jack basically adopts her for the holiday season, having Katie become literal instant best friends with his sister and they hang out with a retired magician named Henry for uh, whatever reason. She calls herself “Katie Holiday.”

Meanwhile, the aunt and their family lawyer friend are attempting to cover up why the princess isn’t showing up for the symphony and all that crap, and the aunt calls Simon, some private PI or other to track her down.

Jack’s sister is dating Ross Hargrave, some TV reporter who, in the best moment of the movie, is shown attempting to interview some old guy who randomly dances in front of a barbershop at Christmas. The guy ignores Ross THE ENTIRE TIME that Ross is trying to talk to him. We’re shown Ross watching this footage later and not only is he not cringing in shame or embarrassment, he seems to think it’s totally fine. Whaaat? Anyway, Ross gets his big break--the news has heard that there’s a runaway princess in town! And of course he gets this easily confirmed by the suspiciously loose-lipped aunt bitching and using the word “runaway” in his hearing.

Okay, so eventually Ross finds his quarry and Henry the retired magician manages to hide both Katie and Ross in his magical cabinet--separately--making Ross look like an ass when he goes looking for her. (His camerawoman is super amused.) Katie eventually basically turns herself in, but somehow, for some reason, she and Jack decide to prank Simon by setting up a Thomas Crown Affair moment where they send a bunch of random Santas roaming around a building and making Simon think Katie is one of them. LOL! Power of suggestion, yo!

Anyway, Katie goes home because god forbid she miss the festival in Montserrai, but the lawyer encourages Jack to come visit for the holiday, and he does. Why don’t we start a new tradition, spending our Christmasses together for the rest of our lives? Even though we barely know each other and god only knows what Jack is gonna do as a professional restorer in a small European country.

Quote Corner:
* ”So she’s a princess, what’s the big deal? It’s not like she lives in a castle.” “Actually...” I said, I just wasn’t that into it. Plot’s okay, but I wasn’t really into any of the actors, wasn’t feeling chemistry with the romance, etc. Really, the only two moments worth noting are the barbershop scene and the Thomas Crown ripoff scene.

Other reviews here and here.

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