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And Seen…Guide to (TV) Holiday Movies pt. 2

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The Christmas ConsultantThe Christmas Consultant
Watch the whole movie: here
Channel: Lifetime

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

Good to watch: If you’re looking for some spiffy holiday wardrobe ideas
Rating: 1 out of 5 candy canes

I am sorry to report that this movie is not “Hoff the Hook” (Hasselhoff’s own term. I don’t take credit for it, but I love it like a kitten in a basket).  When you hear David Hasselhoff and Christmas movie you think, where has this been my whole life?  But after you watch it you’ll wish they decided to do a Baywatch Christmas Special (next year?) instead.

In this The Hoff plays Owen, a Christmas consultant, who is hired to help a work-a-holic mom (Caroline Rhea) with her holiday festivities.  But Owen does more then just add wreaths and make a stiff glass of eggnog, he brings laughter back into their lives (no, wait that’s The Sound of Music) but somehow he does bring the family closer together. Well, all of them except the working mom who’s missing out on the fun.

This movie is full of awkward and uncomfortable moments such as a horrible caroling adventure – we get it David you like to sing, Germany loves you.  There’s a weird overuse of the soft focus lens (I call it the Cybil Shepard in Moonlighting lens). I thought the soft focus was for Caroline Rhea but noticed it was used more on David. Unfortunately, The Hoff plays a caricature of himself in this, but I don’t think he’s in on the joke.  I fell asleep three times trying to watch the ending of this movie.  I’m sure it ends with the mom learning to spend more time with her family, but I’m not really sure. I also realized I didn’t really care.
Naughty or NiceNaughty or Nice
Watch the trailer: here
Channel: Hallmark

Santa: Yes
Holiday Romance: Yes
Christmas Proposal: Yes
Heartwarming Moments: Yes
Valuable Lessons Learned: Yes

Good to watch:While wrapping gifts
Rating: 4 out of 5 candy canes

For something that sounds like a holiday lingerie line at Victoria’s Secret, this movie is surprisingly charming.  Plus this is the first one to have all five of the essential holiday movie elements! Poor Krissy Kringle. She has an unfortunate name, she happens to live on Candy Cane Lane and instead of getting a promotion she was fired from her job. Krissy is not feeling the Christmas spirit.  Adding to her bah-humbug-ness are the piles of letters she gets addressed to Santa (stupid name, stupid address).

This year Krissy stumbles upon something in her pile of letters: a book called Naughty or Nice. Krissy soon figures out if she says a persons name the book opens and shows her how that person is naughty (e.g. her plumber is lying to her and isn’t having car trouble he is just sitting lazily on his couch). Being able to call people on their lies and know their darkest secrets is pretty awesome.

Krissy starts her make-shift job as a holiday elf/gift wrapper and lets her elf co-worker in on her secret book. Together they catch people in lies and put them in their place.  They are like Bonnie and Clyde but instead of guns they use the truth as their weapons!  There was something so refreshing about having her friend be a platonic male friend instead of a gay guy or a quirky girl. But it’s not all fun and games.  Just like Spider-man, Krissy learns with great power comes great responsibility. She is not using the book for good. She’s using it to hurt people and to spy on them. She finds out that the reason she was fired was because the girl she was working with lied about her and threw her under the bus. She also finds out her boyfriend lied to her.  Darn you book!

But everything has a flip side. Krissy realizes if she turns the book over it’s the nice list and it shows the nice things people do.  Good people might do bad things now and again but it doesn’t make them a bad person. Lesson learned! Now she has to right wrongs, win her boyfriend back, get herself rehired and get this book back to Santa where it belongs!  One other fun thing: Krissy’s parents are played by Mr. and Mrs Keaton of Family Ties. It’s nice to see those two together again.
Hitched for the Holidays

Hitched for the Holidays
Watch the trailer: here
Channel: Hallmark

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

Good to watch:While avoiding your in-laws holiday party
Rating: 3 out of 5 candy canes

A popular holiday theme is hiring/bartering/blackmailing someone to play your boyfriend/girlfriend for the holiday season.  Be warned, if you do this you will end up falling in love even though it was just supposed to be a business arrangement.

In this Joey Lawrence plays Rob, a guy with commitment issues.  You can tell he likes options and freedom because anytime he orders food/drinks he gets a bunch of different items because he just can’t decide!  Then there is Julie (Emily Hampshire) a theater critic who is nice to everyone and likes to tell little white lies so she doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings.  She is able to keep her job for the newspaper (really?) even with her mundane overly nice reviews.

What do these two have in common? Pushy parents who want them to settle down.  Julie’s mother (Marilu Henner) is trying to set her up with every single guy she knows because Julie and her fiance broke up last New Year’s Eve.  While Rob’s grandmothers dying wish is to meet the woman her grandson will marry before death carries her away.   Both head to Ricky’s List (a.k.a. Hallmark Channels Craigslist) to find someone to pretend to be their boyfriend/girlfriend for the holidays.  Ricky’s List must be way better than Craigslist because instead of finding murders or rapists they just find each other.

They set out to meet each others parents and to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah.  Then something strange starts to happen, they start to like each other and start changing for the better.  Julie starts writing truthful reviews and Rob (who only freelances) is offered a full-time job and thinks about taking it.  Everything is going great! Until Rob finds out it was Julie who dumped her fiance last New Year’s Eve. Apparently that is his deal breaker.  Because the reason Rob won’t commit to anything is because he is afraid of being left alone.  Of course! The climactic end scene involves New Year’s Eve, making bold choices and Rob on a horse chasing down Julie’s cab through the streets of New York.  Hallmark sure knows how to close a movie.
Finding Mrs. ClausFinding Mrs. Claus
Watch the trailer: here
Channel: Lifetime

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

Good to watch: While snuggling by the fire sipping hot cocoa
Rating: 5 out of 5 candy canes

This might be my favorite role of Mira Sorvino’s since Romy and Michelle (sorry to the one fan of At First Sight). She is ADORABLE in this.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus are in a bit of a rut and he forgets their 500 year anniversary (but really it’s so hard to shop for  the half millennium anniversary gift).  Jessica Claus is feeling neglected (I think that’s an odd name choice for someone of yore so I’m just gonna stick with Mrs.). Since Santa is sleeping their anniversary away Mrs. Claus decides to go through his fan mail. Such a dedicated wife.  Lo and behold she finds a letter addressed to her. Suck it Santa, you’re not the only rock-star up in this Pole. The letter is from a girl named Hope asking for her single mom to be happy again (read: her mom needs a man because alone people are sad and true happiness comes from having a husband).

Mrs. Claus only has one choice, she must go to this town of Las Vegas and help this girl and her mom.  Hitch up the reindeer and add some magic dust so Mrs. Claus can go from frumpy to fabulous.

Mrs. Claus arrives and starts scouring Vegas for potential suitors for Hope’s mom, Noelle (Laura Vandervoort). Meanwhile, Santa is not coping well without his Mrs. by his side. He finally gets her whereabouts from an elf and together they head to Sin City to find his beloved.  He also adds some magic dust. He doesn’t come out as sassy as Mrs. Claus, but he’s pretty darn likeable with a very believable “ho ho ho” chortle.

Santa and the Mrs. keep missing each other the same way Noelle keeps missing the fact that her Mr. Perfect was right in front of her the whole time.  He’s Miles (Andrew Walker) the bartender she banters with and who already loves her daughter.  A few misunderstandings, a Christmas pageant and some more magic and everyone is back on track.  Noelle realizes Miles is for her and Mr. and Mrs. Claus renew their vows with an Elvis impersonator singing their song. I’m adding this movie into my holiday movie rotation.

Bride for ChristmasA Bride for Christmas
Watch the trailer: here
Channel: Hallmark

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

Good to watch: While kissing under the mistletoe
Rating: 2 out of 5 candy canes

More like “A horrible cliched wolf in rom-com’s clothing for Christmas”. In case it’s not clear I did not care for this movie. It gets 2 candy canes because I liked Arielle Kebbel in this (she was killed off Vampire Diaries way too soon) and there are some really cute dogs in the movie.

Ah, the classic tale of a Runaway Bride meets a Player.  The player, Aiden (Andrew Walker) makes a bet with his friends that he get a girl to marry him by Christmas.  He is willing to totally mess with a girl’s emotions for a window office. That’s not an OK thing to do.  Luckily, anytime you make a bet to get someone to marry you it seems you will have no choice but to fall in love with them for real.  He must have known that going in so that’s what makes it OK, right?  Aiden, finds Jessie, the runaway bride, at an art show and foolishly picks her as the girl he will get to marry him.  What he doesn’t know is that she just ran out on her last wedding, has been engaged three times, and has given up on wedded bliss all together.  But he has a window office in his sites, he will not be thwarted so easily.

Aiden hires Jessie to help him decorate his condo (she’s an interior designer so that part makes sense) and figures he can woo her via swatches and throw pillows.  Once Aiden spends some time with Jessie he’s able to find out what she does and follow her.  That’s how he starts volunteering at the dog shelter with her.  The difference between a stalker and a guy with “shared interests” is simply based on how attractive and financially secure he is.

My biggest issue with this is I just don’t buy their love.  The moment Jessie falls for Aiden is when a guy is trying to return the dog he adopted because the dog is too hyperactive.  Aiden steps in and yells at the guy and tells him he made a commitment to the dog as Jessie watches on lovestruck.  This is not an “I love you moment”, it’s a “let’s talk about your anger issues and work on persuasion techniques” moment. Aiden isn’t even able to convince the guy to keep the dog. But Jessie is wooed and kisses Aiden. It is right then she knows he’s the one.  So she takes that next logical step and proposes to him.  They have known each other for three weeks. She has broken off three engagements, one only three weeks ago. Who is letting her make these life choices?  Please someone step in a give this girl a therapist or at least a Magic 8-ball so she can make better decisions.

Of course Aiden has fallen in love with her too.  He even forfeited on the bet before she proposed to him because he liked her so much.  Aiden accepts her proposal and they are bound for wedded bliss. But Jessie’s ex-fiance overhears Aiden and his co-workers talking about the bet. He tells Jessie and she breaks off her fourth engagement.  That’s when Jessie’s over involved mom steps in. She plans a secret Christmas day wedding for Jessie with Aiden. Worst mother of the year award. Again, he made a bet.  Whether he forfeited on the bet or not, this is a serious character flaw.  Anyone who would play with human emotions like that is not someone you should be committing to. Or marrying on Christmas day after only knowing them for 4 weeks. How about an engagement period to see if this guy has any other shady flaws up his sleeves? Oh and Jessie just happens to wear a white dress to Christmas dinner. It’s after labor day Jessie, you’ve failed again.

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And Seen…Guide to (TV) Holiday Movies pt.1

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Fun Fact: We’re huge fans of Christmas movies, and not just the classics like Miracle on 34th Street, Elf, or Die Hard but even all the made for TV holiday movies. From now until Christmas we’ll be reviewing made for television holiday movies, so you know which ones to tune in for.  Note, in order to watch these kinds of movies you need to be a fan of: Santa, holiday romance, Christmas proposals,  heartwarming moments (often involving children/orphans) and people learning valuable lessons.  Now, let’s hear those sleigh bells jingling!

Matchmaker Santa

Trailer: here
Channel: Hallmark

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

Good to watch: While baking holiday cookies

Lacey Chabert is the new go-to girl for holiday movies, which makes sense there is something elf-ish about her.  In this story we see a little girl, Melanie, watching her parents be so in love with each other (not in the “get a room” kind of way just in the sappy “you’re my prince charming” kind of way) and decides to write Santa a letter asking for her own prince charming one day.

Cut to years later and Melanie is now the owner of a bakery and dating the CEO of a company (how fancy!). But he’s so busy CEO-ing he never has time for her and always sends his assistant, Dean, to do the things he should be doing.  Who is that outside her bakery ringing a bell for donations? Why that would be Santa, but not the pretend kind the for real kind. He’s finally ready to grant Melanie her Christmas wish. At this point I wondered for way too long whether it was odd that neither Melanie nor Dean gave any money to Santa. Isn’t this the point in the movie where we learn how good these characters are and therefore deserve not only each other but happiness? And then her boyfriend could pass by and not donate his change and we’d all be like , “Oh yeah he’s that guy, she can do better”…

Melanie’s boyfriend invites her to his lake-house to meet his mom over the holidays!  Guess who she meets on the plane? Santa.  But he goes by Chris and says he’s been hired to play Santa for the weekend (what a trickster).  Her boyfriend sends Dean to pick her up at the airport and they see Chris/Santa stranded (he totally planned it) and offer him a ride (all part of the plan).  When they get him to the enchanting small town their car breaks down (still part of the plan).  What will they do?  Good thing there are fun people about (like Florence Henderson), cookies to bake, replacement elves to dress up as, and love to fall in to. Meanwhile, her boyfriend runs into his old girlfriend and they keep trying to get to Melanie and Dean, but every time they’re thwarted (more of Santa’s tomfoolery).  Oddly, in a movie that features Santa and all kinds of magic the most unbelievable part of the movie is the super amicable ending between exes.

It’s Christmas, Carol!

Trailer: here
Channel: Hallmark

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

Good to watch: While shopping online for gifts – Christmas spirit y’all

This whole movie probably unfolded when someone came up with the name. Pitch meeting: It’s basically a Christmas Carol, but instead we’ll make it about a girl named Carol and call it It’s Christmas, Carol. Emphasis on the comma. Get it?

Standard Christmas Carol story, they didn’t change too much.  They added the unique twist of making it a girl instead of a guy which is fun because as she learns her valuable life lessons she gets a subtle makeover where she stops wearing such severe makeup and incorporates pinks and flitty scarves into her wardrobe (they were always there she just couldn’t see them past her power suits and anger). There is no Tiny Tim, which is for the best since that is the one character guaranteed to make me cry. Instead of three ghosts there is only the one played by Carrie Fisher, and she does make a Star Wars reference.  They try to add in some sassy fun co-workers with Carson Kressley but it’s kind of meh. At the end, when celebrations are ensuing, we finally see what she typed on a typewriter earlier and I wanted so badly for it to be “God bless us everyone” even though I knew that wouldn’t make any sense. Instead it’s something boring and anti-climatic (snooze).  What I’m saying is, this is no Scrooged, but really what is?

Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade

Trailer: here
Channel: Hallmark

Santa: No
Holiday Romance: Yes
Christmas Proposal: Almost – Thanksgiving proposal
Heartwarming Moments: More than expected
Valuable Lessons Learned: No

Good to watch: If you’re not ready for Christmas yet since it’s more about Thanksgiving

The best part about holiday movies and rom-coms (holi-rom-com?) is how predictable they are. Even though you know exactly where this movie is headed (it’s in the poster for goodness sake) it’s still a fun ride and I got swept up in the romance.

Emily is in charge of running the Thanksgiving Day parade (I’m still unclear if this is a year-round job or if it’s part of a bigger job and we’re just focusing in on the parade time in her life? Because, if parade runner is a full-time job, I’m making a career change).  A wealthy businessman, Henry, strolls into town. He’s tasked with deciding whether the parade is profitable.  Um, you can’t put a price on joy, Henry. I’m sure you’ve seen the MasterCard commercials stating as such. So we have a by the numbers businessman versus a loving, quirky parade enthusiast.  What will happen? I’ll tell you. They’re going to fight, warm up to each other, sing karaoke together (which was impressively done by Autumn Reeser with a rendition of Heart of Glass – not an easy one to pull off), share intimate details about themselves they haven’t told anyone else, and then fight more.

Climactic ending where Emily and Henry realize they were wrong and they’re in love with the other. But is it too late? This all goes down during the parade which you would think would be Emily’s busiest time since she’s in charge of it. But somehow she has a lot of free time to walk around and discover facts about Henry, talk to people about him and break up with her boyfriend. My point being, if being in charge of a parade really is a job it might be the easiest one in the world and I want it.

The March Sisters at Christmas
Channel: Lifetime

Santa: No
Holiday Romance: Yes
Christmas Proposal: Yes
Heartwarming Moments: Of Course
Valuable Lessons Learned: Always
Good to watch: While drinking spiked eggnog

This is what Lifetime should have done with it’s remake of Steel Magnolias. If you are going to update something just go for it, don’t worry about Louisa May Alcott’s precious Little Women.  Make the girls drink, be slutty and have modern jobs. Why not? This isn’t the BBC, it’s Lifetime.

In this version instead of being a writer Jo is a ghost tweeter for celebrities.  Meg is a law student, way to step it up rather than just being a gal that hopes to wed.  Instead of being an artist (a.k.a teacup painter) Amy works at the theater. I assumed as an actress but it seems she does more of the tech side of things. Beth remains an accomplished piano player and homebody. But she might apply to college especially after Meg creates her a color-in vision board where you get to color in any goal you achieve (Do they make these? Can they make these? I need one).  And Teddy is still a rich boy who lives next door, because that works in any time period.

Plot: Mrs. March is going to sell Orchard House because it needs too much work and the girls are grown. But these feisty March sisters will not give up their childhood home so easily.  While their mom is conveniently away for three months, to bring their injured father home, the sisters decide to fix up the house. If this plan didn’t work I assumed they would fake haunt the house a la The Brady Bunch to scare away any potential home buyers.  This movie hits the big plot points of Little Women: Teddy being in love with Jo, Meg and John Brooks getting together, Amy and Jo fighting, Mr. Lawrence giving Beth the piano (oh how I missed Claire Danes and her chin tremble in this scene).  But I think the best part of this is it’s only a short period of time in the March sisters life, which means we don’t have to see Beth die (another brilliant Claire Danes scene – I may still have her death speech memorized).  Just don’t compare this to the book or movies (I’m clearly partial to the 1994 version) take it for what it is, silly holiday fun.