Christmas With a Crown

Save the Library

This is a no more than serviceable Prince Pretending to be a Commoner in America story. He is visiting a small town trying to discover the true meaning of Christmas, so camouflaged as it is in the palace by meaningless tradition and formality. He goes to the town where a late former friend of his mother lived and that to him embodies the spirit of Christmas via her letters to his mother, the queen. He gets on the wrong side of a woman who is trying to save the local library by reviving her mother’s yearly project, the Winter Fest. Her mother, it turns out, just happens to be the woman whose letters to his mother have brought him to town.

Teryl Rothery plays the queen, who is pretty unpleasant throughout almost the whole movie. Marcus Rosner, a Hallmark veteran is good as the square-jawed dimpled prince. He was princely. I actually liked his use of a quasi-English accent when in his prince persona and an American accent when in disguise. Unfortunately, the actress who played his love interest was not a good match, in my opinion. For one thing, she seemed too mature and worldly-wise to be a romantic lead for a prince in disguise in Small-Town U. S. A. The character got on my bad side right away by foolishly turning down his enthusiastic offer of help with saving the library because he was a visitor and not “part of the community.” Especially since No One in the Actual “Community” stepped up to the plate. Everyone had an excuse.

There is a priceless scene near the end of the movie where Queen Teryl orders Prince Nicolas to kneel before her and pulls out a crown that looks like it was snagged from the Burger King mascot. She **spoiler alert**coronates her son right there in the middle of Winter Fest. I’m not sure whether this added a star to my rating or subtracted a star. But one thing for sure, Teryl and Marcus looked distinctly uncomfortable.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

December 14, 2021

Holiday Date

And for Something a Little Different…

This is a genuinely amusing little variation on the usual Hallmark template. It starts off with all of the clichés in place: Nice girl gets dumped before the holidays when she is expected to bring the dumper to meet the family for the first time. she can’t bear the humiliation or to disappoint them so she falls in with a plan to substitute an actor to impersonate the architect “Mr. Christmas” ex-boyfriend. He is a born and bred New York City actor who is anxious to visit a small town to get a feel for a role he is up for. One problem. He is Jewish and can’t even build a gingerbread house. The chemistry between the charming leads was great, there was some ample support from veteran actors Bruce Boxleitner and Teri Rothery. And the talented Anna Van Hooft, who usually plays the villain in Hallmark movies, does a credible job in a throwaway part as the supportive sister, for a change. And let’s not forget the contribution by a Hallmark stalwart Peter Benson as the brother-in-law and all of his helpful advice.

This was a nice romance with some good laughs fueled by the tension of when will the truth come out, and what will happen then, and the cluelessness of fake fiancee Joel, played with aplomb by newcomer Matt Cohen.

One of the best this year. Hallmark Christmas movie fans: Don’t miss it!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

December 16, 2019

Sweet Mountain Christmas

Pretty Bad.

I guess I expected a bit more effort to support Megan Hilty, a fairly high profile singer-actress. I was disappointed in the writing as Greg Rossen has penned some of my favorite Hallmarks. And Lifetime movies are usually a bit of a cut above. Neither the plot nor the motivations of the MCs or the townspeople made sense. Instead of welcoming their home town star, they turned a cold shoulder to her when she was trying to be involved in helping the community. If your town is in trouble, here is a hint. Be nice to the famous and rich superstar who is coming home for a visit. If they were trying to be loyal to their beloved mayor and ex-boyfriend of our star, that’s wack too. He was the one who stood her up, not the other way around. I did not understand the lack of communication(do I ever?). They should have done a better job with Laney’s character arc, which was non-existent. She was nice (if understandably busy) from beginning to end. All in all a cookie cutter assembly line effort complete with a “cute” popcorn fight instead of the usual cliché snow-ball fight. I expect to roll my eyes a bit during a Hallmark-type movie, but cringing is a no-no.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

November 3, 2019

Road to Christmas

Some Special Touches

Very pleasant. Nothing super special, but nothing to make you want to throw your remote at the TV set either. The acting was definitely above average by Jessy and Chad Michael Murray. I like the actress who played the mother, Teryl Rothery. She is in many Hallmark films and always very reliable. I liked the plot with the three adopted Brothers finally reunited as a surprise for Christmas. It added an emotional Depth that’s been missing in many of these Hallmark Christmas stories. I love the graphics that showed the journeys of the two protagonists! One normally does not see such creativity and cuteness in a Hallmark movie. It took me by surprise.

One final comment that I hope isn’t too mean but just needs to be said. Jessy Schram has lost way too much weight and looks a good bit worse for wear. If she’s been sick I hope she gets better soon because she really is a top-notch Hallmark actress.**7 out of 10 stars**

Rating: 1 out of 5.

November 7, 2018

All for Love

Romancing the Seal (Navy)

I thought I’d re-watch this one, because I usually really like Sara Rue, and the very sexy Steve Bacic has become one of my favorites. He is a very busy actor and occasionally stops in to do a Hallmark movie. I wish he’d do more. I thought I would be bumping this one up to an 8 after I saw it again, but no, it’s still a 7. The main reason was that Sara really got on my nerves. Both the actress and her character. The actress really overacted and over-did the “I’m so adorable and spunky” bit.

Jo is a romance novelist whose last novel was panned because she got so many details about firefighting wrong. She is in a slump because her novels have lacked authenticity. The current rough draft is about a Navy Seal, and it suffers from the same problem. Her editor, a wonderfully no-nonsense Teryl Rothery, sends her to Seal training school, run by her brother Colin, a former Seal. (Just go with it) Steve Bacic is perfectly cast as the ex-Navy Seal. And Sara Rue is as well as the soft and feminine Jo.

Jo’s wimpy behavior at the end when she jumped to conclusions about Colin still being hooked up with his ex was very irritating. I hate the “big misunderstanding” cliché which could be quickly resolved with a little honest communication. When she learned the truth, which had to stalk her and attack her and overpower her to be believed, she was still very namby pamby about going after him. She had to be coerced and implored by all and sundry to fix her stupidity.

This one had a lot of potential, and was still pretty cute, but Sara’s over-the-top performance and her character’s lack of gumption in the end really disappointed me.**7 out of 10**

June 13, 2021

Sweet Carolina

Hallmark Takes a Daring Step Forward

It’s not often Hallmark actresses get to portray anguish on camera. Luckily they have a real pro and bona fide actress in Lacey Chabert, who did a very credible job. I can think of very few in the stable of regulars who could have pulled off the scene where she learns her beloved sister and brother-in-law have been killed. I cried. The whole ensemble handled the story very well. You can tell they pulled out the “big guns” to meet the challenge of a script that actually called for a range of emotion: Gregory Harrison and Teryl Rothery as the parents, good ole Peter Benson as the city boyfriend who gets dumped for the small-town coach, who was played by the always welcome Tyler Hynes. I appreciated that they got a normal-looking kid who could act to play the introverted son.

There were very real problems and conflicts that had to be resolved. The father was a good guy, but too controlling. Gregory Harrison managed to keep him likable. I groaned when they were setting up for the customary Hallmark food fight ( or snowball fight if it’s winter) but it was actually funny, thanks to the performances.

It was good to see Hallmark break out of its own box a little bit. Fear not, most of the usual templates were still in place, but baby steps! Kudos.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

May 17, 2021

P. S. I just noticed that Lacey Chabert was actually one of the writers. You go, girl! **8 stars out of 10**