This was enjoyable due entirely to Rukiya Bernard. I’m pretty sure that this is the first Hallmark that she has been the principal character, although even in this one, there was an abundance of supporting players. There were also a lot of stories. But like I said. Rukiya Bernard. I have been a fan of hers ever since I first saw her in One Winter Weekend. I love her energy: she has charisma to spare.
The multiple plots were not that interesting. Holly Robinson Peete’s fiancé gets snowed in and can’t make it back to Evergreen in time for his wedding or worse, Christmas. The actor might have been busy and couldn’t make it to the set, but we did see him on Zoom. Peete’s sister arrives for the wedding that is not to be along with her father. Sister is mad at Dad and cold to his nice new girlfriend. Rukiya’s story is that Elliot, her boyfriend, is opening a branch of their store in Boston and they will be separated. He didn’t check with her first. The other story is that she is now the head of the Evergreen museum but the eccentric Cooper Twins’ brother never signed off on using the building which puts the kibosh on the museum. He was horrible and mean. Rukiya did absolutely everything to get his cooperation but to no avail. How anyone could resist her charm let alone be so mean to her, I just did not understand. His inevitable epiphany was very weakly supported. He saw a video of his twin sisters saying the same thing Rukiya (and they) had been telling him in person throughout the movie. His change of mind made no sense.
So the whole thing was weak, but I enjoyed you know who.
There is one scene in this movie that makes it worth watching despite its problems. Or better yet, when it comes up again on TV, fast forward to around the last 45 minutes.
Two elementary school teachers have been engaged in a rivalry since childhood when one horned in on the other’s song solo. From then on, whatever one does, the other one has to better it. Each cannot stand the other to be in the spotlight. It’s fairly harmless until a handsome widower with a daughter comes to town. The story is mostly told through Erin Krakow’s character, so we know that she is the one we are supposed to root for with the actress’s trademark sweet, gentle, and sincere demeanor. Despite her questionable behavior throughout, we know she is a good person at heart. Her rival is effectively played by Miranda Frigon best known for playing the grumpy police chief in the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries.
Skipping to the scene in question. Miranda has invited all of the festival (there’s a festival) volunteers to a party at her home and is forced to invite Erin (“Your invitation will be shoved in your In-box”) Miranda is very proud of her singing ability and announces that she is going to favor the group with her solo rendition of Silent Night, snagging the handsome widower to accompany her on the piano. She has no shame, but as soon as she starts singing Erin starts sneaking up to her side as if she is under the Confundus charm and joins in. I’m like, “Oh no she is not going to….” But she did! Silent Night gets louder and louder as the two try to drown each other out, to the total befuddlement of all the guests, and the horror of Erin’s mother. When they get to the last line “When Chri-ist was born”, “Christ” comes out so loudly and aggressively as each of them vies for supremacy, that it’s almost sacrilegious. Then Miranda ends with a pose like she is the Madonna cradling Baby Jesus in her arms. It is the most irreverent and intentionally funniest performance I have ever seen in a Hallmark movie.
It provides the turning point in Erin’s journey. She walks out of the party with her deer-in-the-headlights look thoroughly shocked at her own behavior. She has finally gone too far. After some skullduggery on Miranda’s part to get through, the two former friends make up, and Erin gets her man.
This one had every freaking Christmas cliché in the book. Country good/city bad, specious current boyfriend/fiancé versus Christmas-phobic single Dad, Save the festival, magical Santa, frolicking in the snow, Christmas Cookies, and Christmas-centric small town. And… the boyfriend who appeared like a jump-scare in a horror film. I still liked it. I am one of the majority that really likes Ashley Williams. The screen loves her and she is never less than a sweetie-pie. This entry also featured two other shining stars: Jaida Lily Miller and Rukiya Bernard. Young Jaida is a Hallmark regular for good reason. She is a great little actress and a charming presence. I wish Rukiya were more of a regular than she is. I have seen her as a supporting player in 3 other Christmas Hallmarks and she quite simply lights up the screen. She needs to move over to Lifetime, Hallmark mysteries, Up, or Ion and start starring in her own movies. Move over Tatiana Ali. All this goodness was marred by the irritating mother who was a little too dependent on her beloved daughter. She needed a little therapy, as does many of these Hallmark mothers. As did the town, which couldn’t seem to function without the capable heroine.
The main attraction for me, in deciding to re-watch this Hallmark Christmas movie from way back in 2014 was Bethany Joy Lenz. She is a very talented actress, very likable in all of her efforts with Hallmark, and is an excellent comedienne. She didn’t have too much of an opportunity in this one to show off her great comic timing, but she really touched my heart in this portrayal as a down and out single mother who is being harassed by her heinous ex-husband. He was credibly played by Greyston Holt, who we usually see as a Hallmark hero these days-I really hated his guts.
Actually she is only down and out for the first 20 minutes or so, because as soon as she gets fired from her job as a waitress for being late for work, it is all uphill from there. She’s late because she saved a woman’s life(Susan Hogan). She loses her beloved locket in the process, but magically, good things start to happen. She gets a much better job in a bakery with a nice lady, Betty. She meets a nice handsome man who is looking for the woman who saved his step-mother’s life. (Guess who?) Due to mistaken identity he does not find her until the end. Her daughter has a fall and is concussed, but she’s OK and it leads to her meeting the lady that her mother rescued. Through coincidences and magical doings, everything bad turns to good for our lovable brave heroine.
I do want to especially give kudos to the two actors who played Christine’s children. They were both great, but Jaeda Lily Miller is a treasure. She is probably the most talented Hallmark child actress ever, and in this one, one of her first efforts, she is absolutely adorable. She steals every scene she is in.
And the icing on the cake that really sets this one apart is that Christine gets a big romantic kiss from her nice handsome man well before the last scene. No tentative interrupted at the last second chaste tender one either, but a real seal the deal sexy kiss.
I gave this one a 10 back in 2014. Yep, still a 10.