Haul out the Holly

Haul this one the Door

This was so messed up. I think it was supposed to be a  fun comedic look at recapturing one’s love for Christmas decorations after a childhood of one’s parents prioritizing the trappings of Christmas over their own child’s simpler needs and desires. The movie opens with the parents of a little girl leaving the house on Christmas morning to attend some kind of Neighborhood Christmas Carnival. The little girl begs her mom and Dad to let her open just one present before they leave. They impatiently agree but give her the present she has to open. It’s a camera so she can assist in the neighborhood project by taking pictures for the record. All the little girl wants is to open presents under the tree on Christmas morning as a family. The only thing her Mom and Dad want is to make sure the neighborhood carnival runs smoothly.

We meet the adult Lacey Chabert who after years of understandably avoiding Christmas with her mom and dad finds herself at loose ends this year due to a breakup. She decides to go home for Christmas. Her parents are happy and encouraging, but as she arrives at the front door, to her shock, her parents leave for Florida! Left alone at Christmas, she promises to take care of the house and put up the decorations for the neighborhood extravaganza as her Christmas present to them. This is the first example of a long line of Lacey getting taken advantage of and run roughshod over. As soon as her parents leave, she is visited by her old friend, Wes Brown, who is now president of the HOA. He informs her that she is being given a citation for inadequate Christmas decorations. And so it begins. The rest of the movie is about Lacey just wanting to have a relaxing peaceful Christmas but being hounded by the neighborhood to participate in decorating her house to specification and pitching in with all of the organized “fun”. Front and center among all of the obnoxious neighbors is the petty dictator of the HOA, who is absolutely serious when he measures her Nutcracker lawn ornament to ensure it meets the height requirement. Sadly, he is the love interest.

Lacey is way too people-pleasing for her own good and although at one juncture she points out that she doesn’t “have to” obey the covenants, she does, presumably to protect her manipulating deceitful parents. By the end, in what can only be the Stockholm Syndrome effect, she has bought into it all and the message is clear. The trappings of Christmas are more important than family, love, peace on earth, and goodwill toward men. It turns out that this fustercluck was all a ruse on the part of her parents to get her used to living in their house and complying with the HOA covenants as they are gifting the house to her. And also to fix her up with Wes Brown. Hopefully, he will put away his ever-present citation book before they settle down to marital bliss in the bedroom.

Even cameo appearances by Kristoffer Polaha and Eric Mabius can’t save this one. And neither can Stephen Tobolowsky who played Ned in Groundhog Day, playing a neighbor named Ned. And neither can Lacey, settling down to watch a Brennan Elliot Christmas movie professing “Oh I love him!” Cute inside joke for Hallmarkies. I did laugh. If you want to see the beloved Lacey Chabert, who plays a nice woman too tolerant and compliant for her own good, bossed around, manipulated, threatened, and bullied for almost an hour and half in service of an anti-Christmas message, this is the one for you.

Rating: 4 out of 10.

Wedding at Graceland

Cute Kellie and the Most Annoying Hallmark Mother Ever

No doubt we will see a lot of grouchyfaces bashing Kellie Pickler’s acting skills just like we did with her first foray into Hallmark land, the hugely popular Christmas at Graceland. Well I thought she was adorable in this one and the chemistry between her and Wes Brown was solid. She was cute, perky, cheerful, and authentic. She certainly has a lot more spark than most of the cookie-cutter Hallmark actresses. In this one, the couple have to deal with her cold sulky father and his overbearing steamroller of a mother who will stop at nothing to hijack the wedding. The plot is tension filled while we wait in vain for Kellie and Wes to put the parents in their place. This doesn’t happen, but they do realize the error of their ways eventually and all ends with a perfect wedding at Graceland. The lack of a huge telling off and catharsis knocks this down a bit, but all in all, this was better than the first one.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

June 4, 2019

Christmas at Graceland

Can Anyone really “spoil” a Hallmark Christmas Movie?

Ok, so Kelly Pickler may not be the best actress in the world, but I found her very appealing in this role. For some reason her authentic southern accent really captured me. I wish these Hallmark make-up artists would realize that their victims, oops, clients, are not contestants in a beauty pageant. I prefer the natural girl next door look, not the look of someone that is trying to sell cosmetics behind a counter in a department store. Geez, tone it down. It’s like they are trying to hide something. She seems like a very nice person, and that came across in her role. Wes Brown is one of my favorite Hallmark heroes, so this is another factor that boosted my rating. I also liked the little girl. All three are very talented singers. Of course the plot was pretty standard stuff. No surprises there. And I wish that we would have had some closure with her boss as it was his fault the business deal fell through, and I hate that she got the blame for it. this was directed by Eric Close, best known as an actor. I like to see familiar faces branching out. **6 out of 10 stars**

November 18, 2018