Tag: Countdown to Christmas

2018 Holiday Movie Survival Guide

“Wait a minute…” I can hear you saying upon reading the title of this blog “Halloween hasn’t even arrived and Rachel is already talking about Christmas movies?” Well my friends, in my world Christmas has officially arrived with the start of Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas season. It all begins this Saturday, October 27th, with the premiere of Christmas at Pemberley Manor.

Christmas at Pemberley Manor Final Photo Assets

 

Last year I gave you a ‘Hallmark Christmas Survival Guide‘ and all of those guidelines hold true for this year, but I thought I would add to it for 2018 and broaden the scope to more than just Hallmark Channel. So, here goes your 2018 Holiday Movie Survival Guide:

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  1. Get Ready to Sing– Naturally singing usually goes along with Christmas but this year in particular we are seeing it showcased all over the place. Hallmark has 2 country music star vehicles with Christmas at Graceland (Kellie Pickler) and It’s Christmas, Eve (Leann Rimes). They also have films with singing in it such as the before mentioned Pemberley Manor, and likely in Christmas at Honeysuckle Lane, Christmas Wonderland, Midnight Kiss and more. There is also Time to Come Home for Christmas which is based on a Blake Shelton song and a book written by his mother, so I expect some original songs there.Other channels are getting in the game with Lifetime’s Christmas Harmony, Hometown Christmas and Jingle Belle, Up Network’s Hometown Holiday and Netflix’s  The Princess Switch.
    In the world of feature films get ready for the Christmas zombie musical Anna and the Apocalypse!

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  2. Vermont is Holiday Magic Land- Hallmark has long had a love of the little state (movies such as Falling for Vermont and Moonlight in Vermont) but this year it is particularly the place of all Christmas magic.
    We have Last Vermont Christmas, Road to Christmas, Entertaining Christmas, and many others that appear to be set in Vermont but we don’t know yet from the preview
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  3. Royal is Romantic- With 2018 having 2 British royal weddings it shouldn’t be a surprise that many royal movies have crept their way into this season. Netflix alone is giving us 2 with The Princess Switch and A Christmas Prince: the Royal Wedding (a sequel to last year’s surprise hit A Christmas Prince). Up Network has Christmas with a Prince. Hallmark Channel has their 6th royal movie this year with Christmas at the Palace.pandp mistletoe
  4. Bring on the Classic Literature- this year we have a number of films based on classic literature. Naturally we have takes on A Christmas Carol with Every Day is Christmas from Lifetime and mildly A Shoe Addict’s Christmas (also based on the novel). In addition, we have 2 movies based on Pride and Prejudice with the before mentioned Pemberley Manor and Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe starring Lacey Chabert and Brendan Penny.
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  5. TV Reunions- another trend this year is bringing back cast-members from popular shows for Christmas movies. One Tree Hill alums Hilarie Burton and Robert Buckley are in The Christmas Contract on Lifetime. (Also from OTH is Bethany Joy Lenz in Poinsettias for Christmas on Lifetime). Also on Lifetime we have a Cosby Show reunion with Tempsett Bledsoe  and Keisha Knight Pulliam in Jingle Belle. (Also from Cosby Show is Dondre Whitfield in Christmas Everlasting on Hallmark who played a memorable role as Vanessa’s smug boyfriend Robert for multiple episodes).
    Finally, you won’t want to miss a Wonder Years reunion with Danica McKellar and Dan Lauria reteaming for Christmas at Grand Valley.christmas everlasting
  6. Diversity- What’s this? Non-white people celebrate Christmas? This is very exciting. We have POC leads on 6 Hallmark movies with Christmas Everlasting (the Hall of Fame film), A Majestic Christmas, Memories of Christmas, A Gingerbread Romance, Christmas Made to Order and Midnight Kiss.
    On Lifetime we have My Christmas Inn, The Christmas Pact, Jingle Belle, Every Day is Christmas, A Twist of Christmas and Christmas Lost and Found. Also on Netflix is the adorable looking The Holiday Calendar starring Kat Graham.
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  7. Christmas Magic Everywhere but Hallmark- with 37 new premieres you’d think we would be seeing lot of St Nick and his elves on Hallmark but alas it is not to be. The only potential Christmas Magic (outside of God magic with A Godwinks Christmas) is possibly Northern Lights of Christmas which is about a woman who inherits a reindeer farm and Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa (although it may be just letters no actual Santa sighting). There is a magical guardian angel in Shoe Addicts Christmas but no Santa.
    Fortunately the other channels are coming through in droves. On Lifetime we have Santa’s Boots, Christmas Perfection, and the epic A Very Nutty Christmas about a nutcracker that comes to life! Also A Christmas in Tennessee teases a visitor with a ” well-known sweet tooth for cookies and milk”
    On Netflix we have The Holiday Calendar and The Christmas Chronicles with Kurt Russell playing Santa.
    You won’t want to miss The Truth About Christmas on Freeform about a woman who is cursed to not be able to lie after sitting on Santa’s lap. And on Up Network we have A Christmas Switch about 2 Moms that switch places magically for Christmas.
    And we may actually get a good feature film of The Nutcracker with Disney’s Nutcracker and the 4 Realms.
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  8. Technology is the Thief of Love- this isn’t necessarily a new theme but I noticed in a lot of the descriptions mentions of apps or websites mucking things up for our heroines. The biggest example is Mingle All the Way about an app designer who tries to match businessmen and women together with her app but ends up matching much more. Return to Christmas Creek and It’s Christmas Eve also feature app/website designers.  And on Lifetime we have Christmas Pen Pals about an app that connects lovelorn with pen pals.

So there you have it! Christmas season is upon us, and I can’t wait! Make sure you are following The Hallmarkies Podcast as we cover all these films in one way or another. We have interviews and guests lined up and it is going to be amazing!

Recent Festive Hallmark Reading

Good morning friends! It may be only October but my life is already in full holiday mode with Countdown to Christmas starting this Saturday! The Hallmarkies podcast is planning on covering every film (and some from other networks) and that is no easy task with 37 films from Hallmark alone!

Part of getting ready for the season includes reading the many books that the Hallmark films are based on. I still have a few left to finish (most I am listening to as I work) but I thought I would update you on my thoughts on the various festive novels

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The Nine Lives of Christmas by Sheila Roberts

This is the novel that a classic Hallmark film of the same name is based on and honestly I prefer the movie. The lead in the novel is a little too dumb for my liking (Kimberley Sustad is so fun in the movie). This is harmless and a little steamier than movie but nothing too crazy

2.5 crowns

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The Godwink Effect by Squire Rushnell and Louis DuArt

If you enjoy inspirational stories like the Chicken Soup for the Soul books then you will enjoy this book. It’s about little coincidences which to the authors are proof of God’s investment in our lives. In Mormon world we might call them tender mercies of the spirit. They are making a movie off of one story from the book featuring Kimberley Sustad and Paul Campbell who we love (and are going to appear in a combined interview later on our podcast).

3 crowns

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The Christmas Company by Alys Murray

This book actually comes from Hallmark Publishing and we had the chance to interview Alys (who was a delight). For a Christmas Carol nut like myself this was a lot of fun. It’s about a town that recreates Christmas Carol each year when the company man wants to stop it. The girl who is obsessed with the tradition and big business conflict and opposites might just attract. It’s really cute

4 crowns

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Hope at Christmas by Nancy Naigle

Normally I’m a sucker for books about readers but this didn’t do much for me. It’s about a woman with single Mom and her daughter who become friends with a local bookstore owner and a local teacher. Ryan Paevey will need to bring tons of charm to this one as our hunky teacher because it was just flat

2.25 crowns (Nancy has another book Christmas Joy on this season but I haven’t read it yet because not available on audiobook)

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The Trouble with Christmas by Debbie Mason

This book actually started out really strong. I liked the snarkiness of the lead character and it was kind of novel to have her be the bad guy for refusing to bring the usually evil business to the small town of Christmas. However, the more in love she got the more bland it got (and steamy to be warned!). It ended up just being a fine romance novel if you like that kind of thing. Eric Mabius should be fun playing the sheriff in the Hallmark version.

2.8 crowns

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Time for Me to Come Home by Dorothy Shackleford

Please ignore the snore-worthy title this actually wasn’t half bad. It is based on a song by Blake Shelton and written by his Mother. It is basically a road trip book with a cynical country music star and a sarcastic young lady burned out on love find they have more in common than they thought. LOL. This one is pretty clean and short so not a bad little read. Megan Park is an appealing actress so hopefully it will be a fun little movie

3.25 crowns

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Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa De La Cruz

This honestly was disappointing as I am huge Jane Austen fan and enjoyed Unleashing Mr Darcy which aired on Hallmark Channel. I am confident the movie will be good with Lacey Chabert and Brendan Penny but the book didn’t work. I don’ think making the lead female Darcy instead of Lizzie really works. Aside from the proposal and helping Lydia Darcy doesn’t take as many risks in the story so he works better as the secondary lead not the main lead. It ended up being a fairly flat romance novel about a stuck up city girl who kisses an old flame under the mistletoe and then determines she is actually in love with him. Not really Jane Austen worthy drama LOL

1.75 crowns (sorry but I have high expectations when you involve Austen. Not as terrible as Austenland at least)

So there you have it. What are some of your favorite Christmas reads? Any good Christmas romance you enjoy? I would love to hear your suggestions.

(I am also currently reading The Second Sister by Marie Bostwick and enjoying it. It will be the Hallmark Hall of Fame film for this year called Christmas Everlasting)

Hallmark Christmas Week 2 Mini-Reviews

So today is Monday and that means we’ve had another weekend of Hallmark original movies. Make sure you are subscribed to our podcast on itunes and/or youtube to hear Amber and my full thoughts on the films every Wednesday.

Until then let me share with you my mini-reviews of the 4 new movies we got this weekend. Let me tell you guys- it was a little rough! There is one I particularly didn’t like but the rest were just ok for me. I think Amber and I will have a ton of fun hashing them out on the podcast and I did enjoy live tweeting them. One thread you can see my path to crazy town and how it went down! LOL

The Sweetest Christmas-

This movie was perhaps a little better than I expected it to be because the plot is pretty lame. Lacey Chabert plays a woman who wants to enter a gingerbread contest but needs to borrow her ex’s oven to do so and sparks fly! Some Hallmark movies rise and fall on the chemistry of the actors and this would be one of them. Also the side characters were really strong. I loved her sister who actually told her how stupid she was being (when Kylie asks her what she should say about the oven she said ‘You could say can I borrow your oven?’. That made me laugh). Also his buddy at work played by Jonathan Adams was a lot of fun. I also thought it was strange that the ‘wrong guy’ in this was the one that made more of an effort and seemed more invested in winning her heart. Still Lea was a charming single Dad and these high school boyfriends are hard to pass up on Hallmark Channel. This is no Miss Christmas but it’s an okay way to spend an evening.

Overall Grade- B

A Song for Christmas-

This is another one that was a hair better than I thought it would be because the plot is very tired. Becca Tobin was very cute as a singer who is left behind by her stupid manager in a small town and she gets to know the VERY hunky Kevin McGarry. They had good chemistry and the movie did a good job giving them lots of flirty situations that were fun (like getting a tree off of a truck never felt so cozy).

However, I did have some issues with the movie. First, she does not sound like a country singer at all so they should have just made her a popstar. I think this fact prevented us from hearing much music which we were kind of promised in the publicity. The title is A Song for Christmas and you literally hear 1 song. He spends a lot of time strumming on the guitar which was dreamy but I would have liked to hear more singing. And my other problem is this movie leans heavily on the ‘city girls are stupid’ Hallmark trope. There is so much dialogue about how the city has poisoned poor Addie and she needs to be rescued by the country. My favorite was the mother (a rescued city girl) says ‘When I got here I didn’t know the difference between a palm tree and a Christmas tree…’ It’s so funny because I would say most movies it’s the country folk that are perceived as less educated but not in Hallmark. LOL.

Overall Grade- B-

Enchanted Christmas-

Going into this weekend I was pretty excited about Enchanted Christmas. I love dance movies and the chance to see real life couple, Carlos and Alexa PenaVega, together was exciting. However, it was just okay for me. They obviously had great chemistry and the dancing was fun. I liked it was set in Utah and on twitter I got to make a lot of lame Utah jokes, so that was enjoyable.

My issues with the movie is a plot thread where he gets an opportunity to go on a world dance tour with a fellow dancer annoyed me. This friend is relying on him to join the world tour and it is a tremendous opportunity. I know we are expected to give up everything for love in these movies but shouldn’t our true love also be supportive of our dreams? Couldn’t you write the story so he did both? I saw another this week where a girl gave up her dream of being in a Broadway play because her love couldn’t handle waiting 6 months for her. Why not have the play and it ending with her doing both? That would be so romantic and meaningful. This was particularly weird because he left his partner in the lurch. I guess perhaps I am asking too much and should just get swept up in the magic but I think there are ways to do both (One Starry Christmas is an example of supportive work ending).

I also felt like the weak attempt at diversity was disappointing. Having one of your characters make tamales for Christmas is not enough Hallmark Channel! You need to do better!

Overall Grade- C+

Engaging Father Christmas-

So this movie was a sequel to last years Finding Father Christmas and Hallmark sequels have a dubious track record at best but this one was based on a book so I had hope. I ended up being severely disappointed!!! There are good things about this movie. The chemistry between Erin Krakow and Niall Matter was great and the proposal sequence and their kisses was very romantic.  I also love Andrew Francis in anything!

However, I could not get over the idiotic plot of Miranda getting blackmailed by a creepy reporter who is threatening to expose her background as the son of James Whitcomb, the famous stage actor of the previous film. The idea that anyone would care about the child of a stage actor is tough to believe but the lengths to which she goes to hide this made me crazy. In no world is it a good decision to break things off with Ian in order to save a family that won’t publicly recognize her shame. This is crazy talk and it made me crazy. Plus, it was all so telegraphed and the script expected you to be surprised by the reveal of the reporter. Groan. I hated it. At a certain point the gossip monger is telling the truth and the Whitcomb family needs to grow up and acknowledge that. It’s certainly not worth sacrificing your love for it!!!

Also, they make a big Christmas Carol error having Ghost of Christmas Future showing Scrooge his young self. No sir!!! (That’s a small thing but it did annoy me).  It was just all so stupid and annoying. I couldn’t take it!

Overall Grade- D+

So there you have it. My thoughts on this weekends movies. What did you think of the movies? Make sure to listen to the podcast and let us know what you think.