Merry In-Laws

Enjoyably Screwball

A young mother from a scientific background who abjures anything fantastical gets herself engaged to Santa Claus’s son. And she doesn’t even like Video Games. This was cute, funny, and a nice romance. It was interesting to see Lucas Bryant in a more light-hearted role. Lately he has been playing the sullen, strong, silent types. Shelley Long was way over the top in my opinion, but I couldn’t help laughing. Also there were a few truly badly behaved, even hateful characters (her father) in this one which added some tension to the comedy.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

November 20, 2020

A Christmas Kiss

A Bravura performance by Evil Elizabeth

Very good romance with two appealing leads who had a nice chemistry. The supporting cast of friends and mentors contributed greatly. I also like the plot which goes somewhat off the beaten path of the last 2 years. The star of the show, though, was Elizabeth Rohm, as Wendy’s boss, Priscilla Hall. She is so ruthless, so manipulative, and so harsh behind her phony loving face she shows to Adam, who she is trying to trap while he and sweet Wendy are falling in love. She made such an impression with her portrayal, that they made a Christmas Kiss II, featuring her character. When was the last time Hallmark (or whatever) made a sequel to a movie featuring the bad guy rather than the two lovers? Never! It’s been a long time since I saw CKII, but I think she somewhat redeems herself in that one. Just FYI. Sit back and enjoy!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

November 20, 2020

A Wedding Wonderland

A Very Merry Mix-Up…Not!

I’m not sure what the message of this movie was supposed to be. Don’t be such a wimp? Put your too good to be true future husband before your mother from hell? Hallmark Christmas movies are not supposed to make you angry, frustrated, and disgusted.

Lucas proposes to Hallie at his parents snowy mountaintop vacation home. Hallie and her mother are prevented by circumstances from having the tropical destination wedding they both have dreamed of. Mommy is not happy. All hell breaks loose, while the poor bride and groom are put in the middle trying to keep the peace. The bride’s mother’s inexcusably rude and loathsome behavior, as detailed by some of the other reviews was never confronted the way it should have been by either the bride, her groom, or her husband. Or her gracious hosts, the groom’s parents, for that matter. She basically got away with an apology and a half-hearted promise to do better. And that twist at the end only made her horrible behavior even worse. And then, her disapproving but whipped husband just told her he was even more in love with her! What? There was no justice or balance. I feel most sorry for the wedding guests that traipsed all the way up the mountain to be cheated out of a nice wedding and told to go home with a gift bag, and then they ended up having the wedding with just family the next day. What?

I am disturbed by one review that said that the groom was too handsome for the bride. That they “didn’t match” and that he should have found someone more gorgeous. That is the one thing I really liked about this movie. He really was handsome and appealing. She was just a normal looking girl. But he was so in love with her. So tender and considerate. He loved HER, her kindness and generosity. They were friends that were also in love. It wasn’t just the sexual attraction for a beautiful sexy girl that might fade with time. It was true love. If their physical attributes didn’t “match”, their hearts did. Their relationship really lifted this movie to tolerable status.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

November 16, 2020

The Christmas Temp

Cute Story and Cute Leads

Two charming leads with great chemistry put this one in “rewatchable” status. I had just been thinking that Robin Dunne had a real Tom Hanks vibe going on when lo and behold he started to play Christmas songs on the giant piano keys. Coincidence? I don’t think so. The plot was interesting and amusing as the struggling female love interest worked to decorate our hero’s boutique hotel lobby for Christmas. His job and a possible promotion was on the line, and her art career would get a much needed jump start. I was a little underwhelmed by her final product, but everyone in the movie seemed to like it, so it must have been me.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

November15, 2020

Christmas on the Vine

Too Template-y

Yeh… This was just too by the book for me. Too many cliché set pieces: flirty sledding, flirty snowball fight, save the small family business from the big meanies, cookie baking, wreath making, and the Christmas festival (which also had to be saved). I think even Winter Storm Meghan has an impact! The only good things were Juliana Guill and the quality of the production values. Julianna plays a marketing expert who is sent to save a small local winery from bankruptcy and the evil conglomerate which is buying up all of the land and has it’s eyes on the little vineyard that could. Meredith Baxter Birney makes you hate her as the head of the evil winery. I didn’t like the male lead and didn’t think he had good chemistry with Julianna. Plus his character was stupid: resentful and fighting good advice and counsel almost every step of the way. The end came out of no where and was too abrupt.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

November 15, 2020

Grounded for Christmas

Winter Storm Meghan is Back and Better Than Ever!

One of my favorite romantic plot devices is the bringing a fake boyfriend home for whatever reason. This one did a great job thanks mostly to the great chemistry between the two likable leads. Cheryl Ladd as the warm and loving mom was a welcome addition. I have seen her also play a cold ruthless boss this Christmas movie season. She was equally believable in both roles. So that must mean she is a very good actress. And she still looks beautiful. The ex-boyfriend was really creepy, by the way. It was hard to swallow how Nina could ever had had her heart broken by him. Very cute and romantic ending.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

November 15, 2020

The Christmas Bow

Not Just a Cut Above, But Leaps and Bounds Above

Wow! This one was great! How did that happen? Two attractive and appealing characters played by two attractive and appealing actors who did a wonderful job. The acting, particularly on the part of musician, not actress, Lucia Micarelli, was so so good. I hope she continues to add “actress” to her impressive musical resume. The chemistry between the two leads was strong. I loved that she did not have the cookie cutter “Beauty Queen” looks, but was appealing in her own unique way. She well matched with Michael Rady, who is handsome, but in a “normal guy” kind of way. He’s one of my favorites.

The story was excellent and avoided the Hallmark tedious and corny set pieces that their Christmas movies are known for. The introduction of a woman bravely struggling with a largely unknown disease which rendered her dependent on a wheelchair and a grandmother with Alzheimer’s was laudable and affecting. The fact that they did not milk this for cheap tears is a wonder. Along with Kate’s brave fight to regain 100% of her violin skills after her accident it really made this movie both interesting and moving.

And just for the star on top of the Tree, we had the wonderful music. You made a wonderful movie, Hallmark. Was that really so hard?

Rating: 5 out of 5.

November 12, 2020

A Christmas Movie Christmas

A Christmas Hoot!

Two sisters wake up in a Christmas Movie. One sister loves them, one doesn’t. There was a lot to like in this movie. It joyfully includes every cliché in the Hallmark repertoire including the “token adorable child’s” surprise reunion with her home for Christmas deployed military parent. I won’t list them all because I might forget one. But trust me, nothing was missing. I love the reviews complaining that it was too predictable and had too many clichés. Oblivious much?

Unfortunately it kind of lost it’s way towards the end. Not sure why. Maybe it got kind of old, or maybe it started taking itself a little too seriously? Also, even alternate reality themed shows usually try to reground and explain the path forward after the heroine has returned to the real world. But in this one, the dream love interests just showed up again after the girls woke up. I don’t know, maybe that was part of the joke?

Kudos to Mr. and Mrs. Daugherty for writing and starring in their own movie. I hope they do it again. Kudos to the Gran Gran actress; I really enjoyed her performance. Did not enjoy the casting of Ryan Merriman, he looked like he had let himself go, a bit. Also did not enjoy Lana Mckissack. Personally, I did not find her appealing. Just my opinion, and why I didn’t give this a higher rating. I wish I had known this was filmed in Frankenmuth Michigan when I watched this. We used to visit every year in my childhood.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

November 11, 2020

The Christmas Yule Blog

Not Much to This One

There are no real subplots to keep interest going. A very slight secondary romance, between a pretty girl and a rather plump short chef. It was not a good match even though I like unlikely pairings. It’s basically a travelogue exploring the Christmas traditions of a small New Mexican town. The acting was very weak, though Sara Canning had flashes of adequacy. Her love interest, a doleful widower (of course) with a young son, looked more like her father. He was very weather-beaten and too thin and had a terrible wardrobe. Like Hollywood’s idea of what a Mexican-American man should be dressed like.

The flirty food fight was present and accounted for but thank goodness, the flirty snow ball fight was avoided but only because it was New Mexico. Very annoying Santa Claus imposter added to the overall fail. However, one star for the attempt at diversity with a Latino lead, however lame

Rating: 2 out of 5.

November 10, 2020

The Mistletoe Inn

Has the Big 3: Acting, Writing, and Premise

I’ve have become an Alicia Witt fan since re-viewing two of her excellent early movies. Even these later ones take advantage of her charm and great acting without quite reaching the classic status. This one, though, was really great and her talents pushed this above the Hoi Polloi of the usual Christmas movie fare. This one sends our heroine to a romantic writers conference and competition after her long-time boyfriend dumps her in a shall we say over abundance of ego that she is not the serious writer that he is. It features some authentic insights into the travails of unpublished romance writers. Her chemistry with both her new found friend, Samantha, and her love interest was tops. I usually don’t like traditionally handsome heroes (boring). But this guy had it going on. It should be said that that the producers hit a gold mind with the idea of setting this in a romance writers conference. Great premise, good writing and great acting push this one over the top.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

November 9, 2020