Love You Like Christmas

Nice

Bonnie Sommerville plays a big city marketing executive whose star client is getting married and she feels obligated to goto the wedding. On the way to the wedding, her progress is halted by a load of Christmas Trees that have fallen off a truck and blocked the highway. She has some banter with the owner of the truck (Brennan Elliot). She ends up driving her vintage Mustang onto the shoulder to bypass the accident which damages her car. She totally breaks down near Christmas Valley and meets the Christmas Tree Man again. Yes, it is meant to be. Business in the town is floundering due to a recent flood. Bonnie puts her marketing acumen to work and saves the town, including Brennan’s Christmas Tree farm. But her Big City career and life beckon.

As usual, during the Christmas Movie season, I’ll circle back to a movie I rated when it first came out but don’t really remember and watch it again. This one had Brennan and Bonnie, two favorites of mine (especially Bonnie), so I deemed it worth a re-watch. Also, it is a 2016 production which was before the tsunami of Hallmark Christmas movies produced in November and December which started in 2018, and the resulting emphasis on quantity over quality. And that does not include repeats like this one and all the other networks which now vie for our Christmas Movie attention. Not including the streaming services either.

Why I gave this a 4 originally, I don’t know. I must have been in a really bad mood. Also as usual, with a re-look at this after a couple of years, I’m upping my rating. This was sweet and harmless with likable leads and secondary characters. Bonnie Sommerville imbued the character with poignancy and likability. I’m upping my rating to a 7.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

November 17, 2021

Open by Christmas

Fantastic!

Once again, Hallmark is raising the bar, as this entry in the Hallmark Christmas movie sweepstakes demonstrates. Although many of their new movies follow the usual pattern, many have not. This one, for example, features a dual storyline of two best friends who have separate and different challenges to overcome. It leaves the well-worn and predictable path in some refreshing ways.

Simone is getting ready to marry her fiance during the Christmas season. She is conflicted because her 15-year-old son is growing up and, she thinks, away from her. He is bonding too almost too well with her fiance! Both of them spend more time with each other than with her.  In response, she becomes clingy and tense. To add to the strained atmosphere, her future mother-in-law will be visiting and she doesn’t like her, thinking her too critical.

Her friend, Nicky, played by Alison Sweeney who is wonderful in this, is coming home for Christmas. Right away, this one got my attention. When her parents tell her fearfully that they are selling her childhood home, instead of weeping and wailing and trying to “save” it, she is all for it! Hallmark indulging in a little inside self-deprecating humor?  Anyway, Nicky is a confirmed single woman who finds an anonymous Christmas love letter that was written to her when she was in high school. Nicky always felt she was an outsider during her high school years and thinks of those years with embarrassment and regret. In part, it is why she has remained single. She has been afraid of rejection and never put herself “out there.” The letter shows her that maybe she was mistaken in her perspective. The two friends go on a mission to find the letter writer, and Nicky learns that most of her classmates admired and liked her and her impact was positive.

Brennan Elliot, playing against type as an awkward, shy, and a little too eager real-estate agent plays Nicky’s love interest. He was very winning in this role and the two have super chemistry. Lacey Chabert should be jealous. It is telegraphed right away that he is the letter writer. I will not go further into the plot as it is complex and many-layered and this review would be very long. What made it great was the unexpected ways things developed. The two friends do not pander to each other and tell each other the truth no matter how unpleasant. “Be a normal person!” They get genuinely hurt by upset and with each other but in the way of true friends do not let things fester. The mother-in-law is set up to be over-critical and unpleasant. They do clash, but she ends up being supportive and gives Simone good advice. There was an interesting shocker when it is revealed that Jeremy, Simone’s fiance is the one who wrote Nicky the love letter! What?! Wait!

 It was heartwarming. It was suspenseful.  It had some important lessons to impart.  It was humorous. “Nothing says “Christmas” like a tamale!” And best of all, there was no meaningless Christmas filler. Every scene was important and advanced the plot. There were a couple of things I could be snarky about but I won’t.  It was fantastic.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

November 21, 2021

The Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver

I Came Here to Solve a Mystery

I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t remember watching this movie, because I know I would not have missed it. I really like the Crossword Mystery series and have it set up to record on the DVR. After relentless promotion, the movie never aired. Well now I know I’m not crazy. What the what Hallmark? ***finally saw it, after a 3 month delay.*** This installment was a disappointment although, in general, I think the Crossword series is going to be my favorite mystery series by Hallmark. Brennan Elliot’s investigative skills leave a lot to be desired. They consist of asking everyone in sight, “did you see anything unusual/out of the ordinary/strange?” Lacey Chabert is really starting to get on my nerves with her little “Heh-Heh” giggle after what seems like every other line she delivers.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

October 27, 2019

All Summer Long

A Wisp of a Plot with all of the Cookie Cutter Elements of the Typical Hallmance

This lame effort is saved by the appeal and the talents of the two stars, Autumn Reeser and Brennan Elliot. As always, their superior acting skills saved the day. They are very engaging with whomever they are paired with and it’s about time they were paired together. I was not disappointed. I just wish they had been given a better vehicle worthy of their talents. And I’ve got to say that “Admiral” character gave me the creeps for some reason. Also, a shout out to Christopher Russell, who played the romantic rival for Autumn’s affection. He was her leading man in one of my very favorite Hallmark Romances, Midnight Masquerade.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

August 27, 2019

All of my Heart: Inn Love

Bring on Part III!

All of my Heart is one of my top five Hallmark romances (although I apparently never wrote a review for it) thanks to the performances of Lacey Chabert, the very intriguing secondary characters ( Tommy, the goats, even Casey) and the brilliant comic stylings of Brennan Eliot. Just kidding, but seriously, he was really good!) The two leads had great chemistry and the script built the romance with just the right amount of humor, conflict, and relationship building. There were enough loose ends to make a sequel something I very much looked forward to. (Unlike 2 other totally unnecessary sequels that leap to mind.) I especially was interested in more about Tommy. AoMH: Inn love was not a disappointment, I am happy to say. Lacey was as reliable as ever, and I still loved Brennan Eliot’s character and his way with a line. As the two struggled to get their B & B up and running they met with more than their share of set-backs and expenses they could not afford. Brian’s return to Wall Street to make money kept my interest. Predictably, this created the main conflict as the two protagonists felt themselves grow apart. Of course this was inevitable, but Lacey’s passive aggressive sulking and pouting was a little hard to understand, considering the circumstances, and kind of made me hate her for a bit. There was more Tommy in the story, and I like the other side stories of the B&B blogger who was unexpectedly defanged, and the other guests. Yes, I can see another sequel on the horizon and I will be front and center. Some advice: Tommy needs to move on from his current love interest and needs to go back to the taciturn mysterious guy he was in the first one. It needs to be more about him next time, and Casey as well. **8 our of 10 stars**

October 12, 2017