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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.

NorthpoleNorthpole

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

Network:Lifetime

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...scene!

And…scene!

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And Seen: Small Screen…Liz and Dick!

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This movie wasn’t great, but at least it taught us a few important things: the 60’s were a great time for adultery, if your husband/lover is going to leave you just threaten suicide and he will stay, Lindsay Lohan desperately needs a throat lozenge as evidenced by her wheezy laugh/cry. Here is what we thought of the movie:

Liz and Dick
Starring: Lindsay Lohan and Grant Bowler
Director: Lloyd Kramer
Network: Lifetime

 

We Want to Know:
Was it the intention of the costume/hair department to foreshadow Elizabeth’s future hairstyle with this fuzzy hat?

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.