Trading Christmas

Bumped up to an 8 after 7 years.

After watching Trading Christmas the other night, and enjoying it very much, I was astonished to see that I had only given it a 6 on IMdB.I must have been much more discriminating way back then. Or the movies that Hallmark produced were so much better across the board. After years of looking at Hallmark movies, I guess I am more surprised and delighted when they deliver a movie that has some excellent acting, a plot that has some freshness, and more than cookie cutter characters. Trading Christmas has all 3, so I bumped it up to an 8. who knows? Maybe in another 7 years, it will be a 10!

The 4 leads were excellent, and playing characters that diverged from the Hallmark template just enough. Tom Cavanaugh, always entertaining, plays a real Christmas grouch, and has a knack for delivering his real snarky lines. His slamming the door on the Prince and Princess Super-cute Hallmark neighbor children was almost a knowing send up of the usual reaction that our typical nice-guy Hallmark Hero would have had. Snowball fight! Snowman! Sledding! Well in fairness, he does do all 3 later on, but only when his character starts to warm up with Christmas cheer (After all this *is* a Hallmark Christmas movie.)

Gabrielle Miller, who played the bad girl in another Hallmark favorite, Holiday in Handcuffs, was hilarious. Her character could have been very annoying, but she was just off the chart charming with her pushy, assertive personality, and gives as good as she gets from put-upon Tom C. I couldn’t wait until they fell in love and got together.

The older couple, Faith Ford and Gil Bellows, were less interesting, but Faith is a really good actress, and so made her nice, daughter-dependent, and small town perky Mom character likable and relatable. In a less talented actresses hands she would have been dull as dishwater and irritating. Gil Bellows was her bored, sophisticated, wealthy match. At first, I wasn’t too impressed with him (wow, has he aged!) but then I realized he had a real Jack Nicholson thing going on.

The plot was pretty much a rip off of The Holiday with Kate Winslett and Cameron Diaz, but I enjoyed that movie, so I enjoyed the Hallmark take on it. Free advice: Hallmark, break out your cookie cutter characters and gimmick-reliant cookie cutter plots and make more like this 2011 Hallmark classic! Grab some out of work talented actors that are not interchangeable with any others in your usual “stable”, and get some writers who aren’t afraid to write characters that break the mold a little bit! **8 stars out of 10**

December 2, 2018

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