When I Think of Christmas

I Got Distracted From the Story

This had some good things about it. I really like Niall Matter and I saw Shenae Grimes in a few things a while back and also liked her very much. She plays a lawyer in the big city who comes home for Christmas to help her mother downsize and move into a new condo. She comes across her old music partner (Niall Matter) and we learn that she used to be a talented musician and singer like her late father. Niall gives her the cold shoulder and there is a lot of anger behind his eyes. They have a fight and the truth comes out. She won a scholarship to Yale University and abandoned their dreams to go to Nashville together and try to make a go at music. She didn’t discuss it with him and just left with no warning. She basically ghosted him after a long relationship. But after she got to Yale, she wrote him and tried to call him numerous times and he just ignored her. The best he could do on his own was be part of a band. He couldn’t attain any degree of the success he dreamed of without her, although he did make a little name for himself. He has been blaming her all this time for his lack of success and for choosing Yale over him and leaving with no discussion. He is back in town directing the town’s big amateur Christmas concert. They air it all out and forgive each other and start to work together.

To be frank I was so busy trying to figure out how old the Niall Matter character was supposed to be, that I kind of lost interest in all the ins and outs of the story. Shenae’s character is definitely 28 years old. She got her scholarship as a senior in high school and it’s been 10 years. The 10-year gap between 18 and present-day is confirmed several times. Given the situation and what we learned about their relationship, it appears that Niall is about the same age. They were a music duo and were singing together since she was about 15. They were young and in love and making plans to leave town together to make a go of it in Nashville. It is mentioned later in the movie that they were in 6th grade together. But later, when it becomes obvious that his career is not going well Shenae asks him what happened. He says he got tired of just playing national venues as just part of a band and wanted to strike out on his own. At this point, Shenae confirms that this was when he was 29. As if 29 was several years ago. He says he put everything and every dollar into it, but just failed. He is still a performer, but he is not a success. He is so beaten down and discouraged that surely he struggled for at least a few years? (He even churlishly refused to join a singer on stage during the tree lighting, when given a shout-out, publicly turning his back on her) I figured he was 31 to her 28 at the youngest. It just didn’t hang together chronologically or logically. My guess is that the part was written for them both to be 28 or so years old, but it was too much of a stretch when 42-year-old Niall Matter was cast, no matter how attractive he looks. So they added some lines to age him up a bit. My head hurt trying to make it all make sense. I don’t know, it just bothered me.

They both behaved badly and they were whiny about it. For a 30 or 31 (or older) year-old man, Niall was very immature and did not seem to have much gumption or a firm grasp of the realities of the importance of being able to make a living. Shenae blamed her mother for her very successful career in New York as a lawyer. She made her feel guilty about being a responsible caring mother and guiding her teenage self to make the choice of the Yale scholarship rather than probably throwing her life away on a big gamble in music. They both just acted like babies. The mom actually ended up apologizing to her. So that was just so wrong as well. Especially when we find out more about her Mom’s struggles before and after her husband was killed.

The performers at this all-important concert were not good. The whole thing was like high school amateur night. Peter Benson’s cameo rapping a Christmas Carol was a treat, though. For all of the build-up, Niall, Shenae and her mother were not great at performing either. They all had very pleasant serviceable voices, but not professional quality by any means. I liked Mom’s new romance, but there was too much involvement in past history.

The end didn’t help. Shenae decides to follow Niall around, take up music again, and maybe practice law on the side (?). Meanwhile, Niall buys a plane ticket to New York to be near Shenae and her big career as a lawyer. The end is very vague as to what they end up doing and how. But one thing’s for sure, actor Daniel Bacon has a lock on the post of the official Mayor of Hallmarktown. This is at least his fourth turn in that role in as many years.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

Blending Christmas

Blending Bradys

I thought this was a cute little homage to old Sitcom stars. Many of the original cast of the king of sitcoms, The Brady Bunch, were in this, including Cousin Oliver! Jennifer Elise Cox even had a role. She was the actress who played Jan in The Brady Bunch Movie (Marsha, Marsha Marsha!) and pretty much stole the show. She has her moment in this one with her “Michelle, Michelle, Michelle” (and her “Laura, Laura, Laura,” in case we didn’t get it the first time.)

Greg Evigan of BJ and the Bear, and Telma Hopkins(Family Matters, Bosum Buddies) who added a ghostly presence were cast, As well as Beth Broderick of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. She is always a welcome presence in a movie lending as always credibility, warmth, and common sense. Shout out to Mike Lookinland who played a very odd cousin with verve.

The plot was pretty slight with Aaron O’Connell trying to propose to Haylie Duff (7th Heaven among others) at a Dude Ranch (where else?) in the midst of feuding families.

It was harmless fun.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

December 15, 2021

Sister of the Bride

I Genuinely Couldn’t Guess How this was Going to Play Out!

I really did enjoy this one mostly because I really did not see how they were going to solve the dilemma that was threatening main couple’s relationship. Stephanie and Ben both had successful careers in academia. Stephanie is on the brink of obtaining tenure as a professor at her college, and Ben had just won a prestigious position at Oxford University to work under his idol. They were either going to put their engagement on hold and separate to pursue their equally beloved careers, or one of them was going to have to sacrifice their dream and hard work and talents in order to be together. Being a Hallmark romance, putting their relationship on hold was unthinkable. But how were they going to resolve this? Personally, I was all “go to England, girl!” But I knew it was a bad idea for her big chance for tenure. and that would have sent a bad message, really.

The other conflict was with her father, played by Michael Gross. He didn’t approve of the engagement because they had only dated 6 months. His behavior was contemptible. Very sulky and controlling in a passive-aggressive sort of way. A Grade “A” jerk. Then there was her sister, who had also gotten engaged to her boyfriend of 10 years and had a wedding to plan in less than a month. Then there was the parents selling the beloved family “vacation home”, which was a McMansion in a subdivision in Palm Springs. Weird.

So there was a lot going on, and all of the threads were handled very well, with even a teeny tiny bit of humor thrown in. Becca Tobin was excellent and the actor who played her fiance was competent. Everyone else was likable (both actors and their characters) except the Michael Gross character who very annoying, as he was supposed to be, I guess.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

July 3, 2019