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Guide to 2014 (TV) Holiday Movies Part 1

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Hallmark Channel has been busy creating holiday gems. They started early this year, their first premiere was on November 8th, which can only mean they’ve been getting our fan mail. We’ve got a little Lifetime as well.  Here’s what we’ve been watching…

One Starry ChristmasOne Starry Christmas

Watch the trailer: here

Santa: No
Holiday Romance: Yes
Christmas Proposal: Yes (and a Christmas decline)
Heartwarming Moments: Tried yes, achieved no
Valuable Lessons Learned: No

Good to watch: If you want burn off holiday cookies with line dancing.
Rating: 2 out of 5 candy canes

The Gist: Holly (Sara Carter) is an astronomer dating a lawyer, Adam (Paul Popowich), with a big job interview. So big he has to leave her alone for Christmas, but it will all be worth it once he get’s that six-figure salary (or minimum wage in NYC). Holly is too scared to fly to go with him, but she’s not too scared to take a bus from Chicago to New York (that is brave). On her journey she meets a cowboy, Luke (Damon Runyan), and when the bus breaks down he saves the day by renting a car (though a horse to NY would have been preferable). Holly takes him home to meet her family. Obviously Holly starts to fall for the cowboy because she studies stars and he sleeps under them. Adam is there the whole time and good news, he gets the job but he loses Holly.

The good the bad and the cameos:

  • It appears that they didn’t have the budget to film in New York so they spend a lot of time walking around Canada pretending they are in the big city. This movie really could have benefited from some of the product placement the other movies had.
  •  They invite Luke’s brother over for supper and he serenades them. This makes for the most uncomfortable dinner scene. When your having a meal and someone asks if you have a guitar you say no.
  • Luke wins over Adam’s new boss (awkward) and everyone else when he introduces some line dancing at their holiday party.

 The Nine Lives of ChristmasThe Nine Lives of Christmas

Watch the trailer: here

Santa: No
Holiday Romance: Yes
Christmas Proposal: No
Heartwarming Moments: No
Valuable Lessons Learned: No

Good to watch: If you are thinking of adopting a pet for the holidays
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 candy canes

The Gist: Zachary (Brandon Routh – yes THAT one) is a sexy fireman that women throw themselves at. He’s dating a model, but he’s wary of commitment. Meanwhile, Marilee (Kimberly Sustad) is going to school and working – she doesn’t have time for a relationship. She just doesn’t so stop asking her about it. Her cat is fulfillment enough. Zachary is reverse adopted by Ambrose, a neighborhood cat. Thank goodness because he’s about to start running into Marilee in a series of random encounters and since she’s in veterinarian school she can help answer questions about Ambrose. They run into each other at the supermarket, a restaurant, when Zach’s model girlfriend gets Marilee fired for being sassy to her, then they don’t see each other for awhile, but post make-over Marilee finds Ambrose and returns him, then she gets kicked out of her apartment for having a cat and moves in with Zachary where they and their cats become best friends…and more!

The good the bad and the cameos:

  • They really dial up the bachelor and single lady stereotypes. The movie starts with Zach shooting a fireman calender and getting hit on by the photographer, whereas the first time he runs into Marilee she’s buying a bucket of ice cream and heading home to her cat.
  • This movie is where we first start to see the blatant product placement Hallmark has rolled out this year.
  • The cats, particularly Ambrose, were surprisingly delightful. It was far more satisfying when they ended up together.


Watch the trailer: here

Santa: Yes
Holiday Romance: Lil’ bit
Christmas Proposal: No
Heartwarming Moments: Yes
Valuable Lessons Learned: Of course

Good to watch: If you are having SbtB withdrawals and need your Thiessen fix
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 candy canes

 The Gist: As the title suggests this movie is about the Northpole which is losing its power since it’s fueled by happiness from people around the world. But as people have gotten busier they’ve lost their joy and holiday spirit. Luckily, there’s an elf with a plan; Clementine (Bailee Madison) befriends a lonely boy, Kevin (Max Charles) who has moved with his mom (Tiffany Thiessen) to a new town and hasn’t made any friends yet. Clementine and Kevin start working on getting people into the holiday spirit, but when they find out the Christmas tree lighting has been canceled things seem bleak.  They get help from Kevin’s teacher, Ryan (Josh Hopkins)  — cue romantic subplot with Chelsea. Yet, when facts-first Chelsea is willing to believe Kevin, that Clementine really is an elf trying to save the Northpole, that my friends is the holiday spirit. They get the town together, light the tree, sing and save the Northpole! Though it must still be in peril since they announced Northpole 2 is already set to come out in 2015  – starring Lauri Loughlin this time around (no word yet on any cameos from Uncle Jesse).

The good the bad and the cameos:

  • Since Chelsea is a reporter she goes into investigation mode to solve the cancellation of the tree lighting ceremony mystery. Turns out to all be one big misunderstanding, good thing she uncovered the scoop.
  • We don’t spend a ton of time at the Northpole, but when we do Santa seems pretty whatevs about the fact that they’re losing their power. Maybe this was his grand escape plan from the Mrs.?
  • For whatever reason we keep seeing this one lady, Josephine, who’s always singing. A google search revealed she was from Season 12 of American Idol, now it’s clear why we didn’t recognize her.
  • The best product placement of all the movies. Baskin Robins is perfect with a snow theme.
  • During every commercial break Max Charles’ (who plays Kevin) little face greets you and tells you how you can get Northpole on DVD.

A Royal ChristmasA Royal Christmas

Watch the trailer: here

Santa: No
Holiday Romance: Yes
Christmas Proposal: Yes!
Heartwarming Moments: Yes
Valuable Lessons Learned: No

Good to watch: If you need a royal fix post Will and Kate’s American tour
Rating: 4 out of 5 candy canes

The Gist: A poor seamstress falls in love with a guy who is secretly a prince. He hid his identity so he could travel to America without his bodyguards. Prince Leopold (Stephen Hagan) or Leo as he is known in the America’s must confess his princely secret to Emily (Lacey Chabert) because he’s been called back to Cordinia for Christmas. So he brings Emily with him and introduces her to his mom Queen Isadora (Jane Seymour) who is not to pleased to have a poor commoner hanging around with her noble son. Queen Isadora gets Leo’s ex, Natasha (Katherine Flynn) to start hanging around so he can remember the type of lady he should be with.  It all comes down to a ball (as it should) and when Leo proposes Emily has to say no. She puts his country and duty ahead of their love. Could the Queen have been wrong, and judged her too harshly? A trip back to the America’s to get the girl!

The good the bad and the cameos:

  • Poor Emily, she wants so badly to make a good impression. What she lacks in a royal blood line she makes up for in heart: she befriends the staff, helps orphans, doesn’t slap the Queen when she says really bitchy things to her…a saint really.
  • When the Queen gives Emily a hideous dress to wear to the ball Emily transforms it a la Pretty in Pink (or What a Girl Wants for a more current reference). And because she doesn’t know how to act at the ball Emily enlists the help of Victor (Simon Dutton) the Queen’s right hand man a la Pretty Woman to help her learn proper ball etiquette.
  • Jane Seymour is born for these kinds of roles, somehow the more insulting she is the more likeable she becomes. She should guest on Downton.
  • Double product placement within the first five minutes of the movie. Someone had to pay for that castle location.

Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas EverGrumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever

Watch the trailer: here

Santa: supernatural force that helps, but unspecified
Holiday Romance: minor sub-plot
Christmas Proposal: No
Heartwarming Moments: No
Valuable Lessons Learned: No

Good to watch: If you want to feel bad about yourself
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 candy canes

The Gist: Grumpy cat (voiced by Aubrey Plaza) lives in a pet store since her grumpy personality keeps her from being adopted. When a 12-year old girl, Chrystal (Megan Charpentier) makes a wish for a friend she finds she can understand what Grumpy is saying. They work together to thwart the thieves who are trying to steal an exotic dog (the sale of which will save the pet store) and Grumpy remains as the name would suggest the entire time. Despite Grumpy’s protest a forever friendship is formed.

This movie is painfully self aware. They realized how silly it was to base a movie on a youtube cat, so it seems they thought if they could beat us to the punch and insult this movie before we could they’d win. But here’s the thing, if you keep insulting people for watching your movie, and telling them how stupid they are for engaging with it, it doesn’t make them want to watch, no matter how “clever” you think you’re being. Grumpy is an exact replica of Aubrey’s character April on Parks and Rec, so if you love that “I hate everything so I’m just going to mock the world” type thing you might enjoy this as well.

Grumpy cat insults

This about sums it up.


The Santa ConThe Santa Con


Santa: No
Holiday Romance: No
Christmas Proposal: No
Heartwarming Moments: Yes
Valuable Lessons Learned: Yes

Good to watch: If you want to remember the good times of TGIF
Rating: 3 out of 5 candy canes

 How this movie is not getting better billing is mind blowing with it’s stars of days past cast: Barry Watson (7th Heaven needs any positive press), Melissa Joan Hart (who also directs), Jaleel White, Scott Grimes, John Ratzenberger and Wendy Williams.

The Gist: Con-man Nick (Watson) has just been released from prison and is staying with his sister, Rose (Hart) who is skeptical and waiting for him to screw up again. She gets him a job as Santa (who wouldn’t hire an ex-con to be around kids) and as he’s counting down the moments until his Santa shift ends he absentmindedly promises a kid he’ll get the kids parents back together. Rose is pissed he would get a kids hopes up like that, has Nick screwed up so soon? After some soul-searching and a chat with Pastor Ruth (Williams) Nick decides he will fix it and get the parents back together. After all he is a con-man, manipulating people into doing things they don’t want to do is his thing. But he ends up conning himself into being a better person and learning to put other people first.

Also, every movie should end with Wendy Williams winking.




And Seen…About Time!

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Time travel, rom-com, Rachel McAdams. Check, check and check.  It really was one of the feelgood movies of the year.  Plus, it’s a great movie to see until you can get into a showing of Hunger Games: Catching Fire where you don’t have to sit in the first three rows.

About Time
Starring: Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams
Director: Richard Curtis






And Seen…Captain Phillips – Guest Review!

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Unfortunately, we will not be seeing Captain Phillips together… or at all (Traci is seeing it with her dad and Julie has boycotted pirate themed movies since Pirates of the Caribbean 2). So we enlisted the help of hilarious and awesome screenwriter Katie Anne Naylon to review Captain Phillips for us.

Have you seen Captain Phillips?


What was your favorite part of the movie?

I liked the conversations between Captain Phillips and Muse, the leader of the Somali pirates on board. They did such a great job of making you empathize with all the characters in the story.

What was your least favorite part of the movie?

I thought the opening sequence with the “Captain Phillips has a real family back home” felt vaguely unnecessary and forced.

If you could change one thing in the movie what would it be?

Would I also be changing history if I said I wanted to change Somalia to be a nice safe place for young boys to become young men (and a place for ships to sail past without fear)???

There was a weird sub-plot with a neighboring ship trying to help and then the Navy Seals trying to help and them sort of stepping over each other…they should have finished that plot or not included it, I suppose.

Did you cry? Good cry or bad cry?

I almost cried. Does that count? It would have been a good cry. I was really engaged by the story.

Rate this Tom Hanks performance:

  1. Absolute favorite
  2. Top 5
  3. Top 10
  4. Better than Larry Crowne worse than Castaway

How many times did you think of Castaway while watching this?

  1. 1-3
  2. 3-5
  3. 5-10
  4. 10+
  5. Wait, this wasn’t Castaway?

Which co-star would you like to see Tom Hanks reunited with?

  1. Meg Ryan
  2. Elizabeth Perkins
  3. Daryl Hannah
  4. Matt Damon
  5. Shelly Long
  6. Robin Wright
  7. Peter Scolari
  8. None of the above
  9. All of the above – let’s take a minute and imagine that movie

What is your feeling on pirates after seeing this movie?

  1. Love ’em
  2. Hate ’em
  3. They’re just misunderstood
  4. A complicated mix of emotions I couldn’t possibly express in a multiple choice box

How would you rate this movie?

  1. See it in the theater
  2. Rent it
  3. Plane movie
  4. Watch it when it comes on cable
  5. Never ever see this movie

Why should people trust your opinion?

Katie Naylon


I’m a screenwriter, filmmaker and producer. A veteran of Sundance 2012. If you haven’t seen my passion piece, check out For A Good Time, Call….and if you don’t laugh once, I will pay you $3 in quarters.

Watch the trailer to Captain Phillips here 

And Seen…Prisoners!

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Remember when we used to do movie reviews?  We know it’s been awhile, but we’re back!  Bringing you our thoughts on the dark thriller Prisoners.

Starring: Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal
Director: Denis Villeneuve






And Seen Small Screen…Hostages!

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It’s that special time of year when we get to guess how long new shows will remain on the air.  We’re here to help you figure out which shows you shouldn’t get attached to. Some shows we will watch all season others might not be as lucky.

First off, the new CBS thriller Hostages.  Or as we like to call it Homeland Light.


Rogue FBI agent Duncan Carlisle and his band of bad-ass agents hold Dr. Ellen Sanders and her family hostage.  They give Ellen a fun choice: kill the President (who she happens to be operating on) or they will kill her family.  Kidnappers can be so demanding. And so it begins…

What we Liked:

Well hello cowboy - Dylan/Duncan is introduced to us in a dramatic slow motion turn.

Well hello cowboy

Duncan is played by handsome Dylan McDermott (he might look a bit like a camel, but that is one dreamy camel).  We learn everything we need to know about Duncan when they introduce him in a slow, dramatic turn.  He’s a man who makes his own rules and will decide on the pace of his turns.



Super cute right?

Super cute right?

New bangs are always a struggle to style

New bangs are always a struggle to style, such realism

Ellen is played by the ridiculously talented Toni Collette. Not her most amazing performance (thus far) but she’s keeping pace with her TV husband, Tate Donovan, who’s also a little lackluster.  We really like Toni with bangs.  Even if she’s not making strong acting choices she’s killing it with her hair choices.



What we didn’t like:

She looks as upset by her nickname as we are

She looks as upset by her nickname as we are

Overall, the acting on this show is surprisingly awful.  Especially the kids.  Speaking of kids, Duncan has a daughter named Sawyer.  Her mom/his wife is in the hospital undergoing chemo. As if this poor girl doesn’t have enough tragedy in her life her nickname is Soy Soy.  She sounds like a condiment.





Trying to come up with ways to avoid having to kill the President, Ellen takes a pair of scissors and attempts to cut her pinky finger (off?!). She ends up just slicing her finger, but was the plan to amputate it so she didn’t have to to operate? That seems like a crazy move and one she wouldn’t be able to explain to the kidnappers without them offing a family member. We didn’t include a picture because it was gross.

Keep Watching?

We are committing to this one for the season.  We hope it gets better.  It’s billed more like a mini-series so we feel at the very least it will be a short relationship.


Ellen’s family ends up being not as perfect as they seem.  Her son is involved in some drug dealing (we can’t wait to meet the head dealer Nico). Her teenage daughter is pregnant, by some dude whose acting would be bad even if this was on the CW.  Her husband is cheating on her (obvi how else can we set up sexual tension between her and Duncan).  At the end of the episode she does not kill the President, she tells the media  – thus telling Duncan – that she doesn’t give up that easily.  Oh it’s about to get crazy up in here!

Watch Info:

Monday nights at 10:00 p.m. on CBS – that’s right, tonight! We’ll recap tonight’s episode shortly.

And Seen…The Bling Ring!

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We love you all so much that sometimes we hold our reviews until the movie is out of theaters so you aren’t able to see it. Now and again we are more about the community service than the review.  Here’s some reasons to avoid The Bling Ring, even on video.

The Bling Ring
Starring: Katie Chang, Israel Broussard and Emma Watson
Director: Sofia Coppola












Julie - Aqua Shadow in 30e

Julie – Aqua Shadow in 30e

Traci - Studio Matte lip color in Rich Red

Traci – Studio Matte lip color in Rich Red


Click on product images for more info – all products are our own opinions.

And Seen…The Heat!

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It’s almost as though the studios planned this heatwave as an impressive marketing campaign to drive people into the theaters. Avoid the heat by seeing The Heat.  Well played.

The Heat
Starring: Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy
Director: Paul Feig