Hey everyone! I hope you are enjoying a great Valentines Day. This is a holiday which can be challenging for single adults like myself. To try and embrace the holiday … Continue reading Happy Valentines 2019
It’s 3:20am and I should be sleeping but alas I am just not tired so I figured I might as well update my blog. I should have updated it sooner but I have been in over my head with podcasting. Today I literally watched my 50th Christmas movie, both Hallmark and other networks and amazingly enough I am still on board for more holiday films! The Hallmarkies Podcast has been doing great this year with us making the top 120 TV and Film Podcasts on Itunes and getting over 16k listens in the month of November! Wow! I am still blown away by all of that. It has been an insane amount of work but I am so proud of what we have built.
We have a new merch store for the first time which is so much fun! You can get all kinds of holiday and Hallmark inspired gear:
I’ve managed to have a little bit of fun doing other things for the holidays including setting up my traditional holiday decor. Each year I have a memory tree that is full of ornaments that symbolize different parts of my life:
My memory ornament to symbolize this year is all about podcasting and I found this adorable headphones ornament! I was so excited!
I also fulfilled my dream of getting a white tree (4 ft) for my office. I love it!
I also have already kind of celebrated Christmas. My brother and 2 nieces came into town for a weekend and so they came to my house and we had a baked potato bar, exchanged gifts and had a great time!
It was a really great time to be together and celebrate Christmas. My parents are going to be gone for most of this month so I’m planning on just working on my podcasts as much as I can and do a few fun things (Thursday I am going to see Christmas Carol at Hale Theater).
The one crazy thing about the podcast is there is always more work to do. There are people to contact for interviews, movies to watch, notes to prepare, the list goes on and on. Never a dull moment! I want to be ready to reach out to sponsorships in the new year and maybe develop a patreon account but I want it to be done right and not just thrown together. I’m very excited to see what the New Year has in store for our podcast and to have survived Countdown to Christmas 2018.
Also we have 2 hour church coming in January which I am over the moon excited about! Yay!
How have you guys been? I hope the beginning of your holiday season has been going great!
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
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
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).
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
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)
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.
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
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)
Tonight I went and saw the new romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians and it is delightful. I read the book of the same name prior to seeing the film and they change a bit but it is a pretty dead-on adaptation. I will post my full review on either my youtube channel or my other movie blog but I thought it would be fun to share something here first. With the success of Crazy Rich Asians you will definitely hear about the ‘return of the romcom’ and while I agree with that there have been some fun films that went under the radar that I think are worth checking out. Some aired on Hallmark Channel (check out my Hallmarkies podcast if you haven’t already) and some were feature films.
So here is my list of recent romcoms you should check out! (in no particular order)
Everybody Loves Somebody
I feel like this film should have been a bigger hit than it is. You have Karla Souza playing a doctor who has put romance on hold after a disappointment with a love played by Jose Maria Yazpik. She convinces her coworker played by Ben O’Toole to accompany her to a family wedding and when her ex shows up things get complicated. One of the coolest things about this movie is it is effortlessly bilingual. Clara speaks in Spanish with her family and then English with Asher and others at work. This is very unique and made the movie feel special. Clara can be a bit unlikable but she eventually won me over. It’s really sweet and fun.
All for Love
All for Love comes from Hallmark and it is one of the best from last year. It stars Sara Rue as a romance novelist named Jo who has lost her mojo. Her last book didn’t go over well and she is facing a deadline that her manager needs to do well. Since the book is about a navy seal Jo’s manager gets her brother (Steve Bacic) to put Jo through boot camp. They spar at first of course but they have a sweet chemistry and there are really cute scenes like when Colin teaches Jo how to swim and when he writes her a letter because he is too scared to tell her how he feels. It’s really sweet and the supporting cast is very charming.
Despite getting decent reviews, The Rewrite flew under people’s radar. Hugh Grant teams together with Marc Lawrence again (2 Weeks Notice, Music and Lyrics) and make a really good romantic comedy. Hugh Grant plays a screenwriter who won an Oscar early in his career and has struggled to duplicate that success. Desperate he takes a job as a screenwriting professor at a small college in New England hoping something else will come along soon and get him out of there. A big key in enjoying this movie is if you can put up with his terrible behavior at the beginning of the film and if you feel like his change is sincere. I did. I love him and Marisa Tomei who plays one of his students. I love Allison Janney who is his Jane Austen loving supervisor. I love J.K. Simmons as a fellow professor who loves his family so much he cries whenever he talks about them. It’s a movie that has something to say about writing, reading, movies and work which I appreciate. It’s a good one!
Off the Menu
Off the Menu actually came out in 2018 and I think I’m the only one championing it. I thought it was so sweet and winning. It stars Santino Fontana as Joel a trust fund kid who works for his family Mexican fast food chain and is sent to the Southwest to find some new flavors. There he meets the fiery chef Javiera (Dania Ramirez) who is protective of her recipes but has instant chemistry with Joel. The food porn is great. The romance is sweet and funny. I just really enjoyed it.
Woody Allen can definitely be hit and miss but I enjoyed his 2016 offering Café Society. This film stars Jesse Eisenberg as a young man named Bobby who goes out to Hollywood in the 1930s to make it big. Along the way he meets Vonnie (Kristen Stewart) who is dating a married man and the stunning Veronica (Blake Lively who is the classic shiksa goddess in this). It’s light and breezy and has great performances. Corey Stoll steals every scene he is in as Bobby’s mobster brother.
Bridget Jones’s Baby
While not as strong as the original Bridget Jones movie this 3rd installment is a significant improvement over the terrible 2nd film. Renee Zellweger is back as Bridget and this time she has gotten herself pregnant and she isn’t sure is it Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) or the super sweet Jack (Patrick Dempsey). To be honest, the shenanigans involving the father and being pregnant didn’t do much for me but what I loved was every scene with her at her work for a television news station. Sarah Solemani as an anchor was hilarious and a scene where she mistakes a limo driver for the North Korean ambassador made me laugh. It’s not the greatest movie but I enjoyed it!
The Birthday Wish
One of the best films to come out of Hallmark in recent years is The Birthday Wish. In a very clever screenplay by Julie Sherman Wolfe, the delightful Jessy Schram plays Gwen a woman who takes her career seriously as a commercial director and has been in a relationship with someone she seemingly has lots in common with (the always great wrong guy Marcus Rosner). Meanwhile her assistant director Dave played by Luke MacFarlane is just a friend she hasn’t paid much attention to. Well one day she makes a wish on her birthday and gets a glimpse of her life in 10 years and to her shock Dave is there! I like that it doesn’t go all Family Man on her and that her career and dreams are always respected by the screenplay. Luke MacFarlane and Jessy Schram have great chemistry and it’s really sweet and pleasant. I love it!
Love and Friendship
Honestly it feels a little unfair to have Love and Friendship in the same conversation as these other films as it is so far superior but oh well! Kate Beckinsale is so great as Lady Susan Vernon a woman who delights in manipulating and getting the best out of her friends and relatives. This might make her unlikable but as her relatives are stupid it is just hilarious. I love Whit Stillman’s adaptation. Someone like Lady Susan isn’t supposed to win in Jane Austen and yet I found myself rooting for her especially in her scenes with Chloe Sevigny’s character (so funny). It looks gorgeous and the entire cast does a great job. The fact that it got snubbed at the Oscars is ridiculous.
Dash of Love
One of my biggest take-aways from covering Hallmark last year was how great director Christie Will Wolf is and how much I love Jen Lilley. I wasn’t crazy about their recent collaboration Yes I Do but Dash of Love and Eat Play Love from last year were delights. In Dash of Love Jen Lilley plays Nikki an aspiring self-taught chef who dreams of working in a fancy kitchen. Through various contrivances she ends up getting a job at her culinary idol’s (Peri Gilpin from Frasier) restaurant. There she meets chef Paul (Brendan Penny) and they start a really sweet engaging romance. Some of the conflict involving Paul’s family is a little much for me but this is classic romcom executed very well. The leads have chemistry and all the food porn is great. It’s very romantic and enjoyable.
So there you go! That is my recommendation for recent romantic comedies. Are there any I missed? Let me know in the comments section and if you’ve seen any of these I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Hey you guys! How are things going? I just wanted to give you a little update. I wish I could say things have been rosy and perfect but unfortunately I’ve been pretty sick recently. In fact, this entire winter I have had a cold in one form or another. This is a problem for a person that does 5+ podcasts a week (this week I have 7!). Fortunately I have not lost my voice all together but it has been challenging. I was really bummed because this last weekend I was scheduled to go to the Tumbleweeds Film Festival but I was too sick. I managed to push through Sundance but since I had a cough this time I didn’t feel right about it. I think it is super rude to go to the movies if you know you will be hacking throughout it. Plus, I felt miserable so what’s the point?
It really has been a tough winter for me. I think part of it is the inversion has been very bad and that puts my sinuses at risk for infection and viruses. The worst thing is when you are coughing so hard that your chest starts to hurt and it feels like you can’t breath. I am also very mucusy and going through a box of tissues a day. My nose is raw and chafed from blowing it so much. Fortunately, my job has been super understanding and kind with helping me get better, which I am beyond grateful for. Even so, I wish I could take a weeks off to 100% get better and finally lick this infection.
I am just glad I don’t have kids because that would be so stressful while being sick. Plus, I’m glad there is Jamba Juice just a hop away. Caribbean Passion is my fav with immunity whenever I get sick. I also watched Happy Feet which is my traditional sick day movie (it’s dancing penguins. How can you be uncheered by that?)
Even while sick we have been plugging away at the Hallmarkies podcast and I’m very proud of our efforts. It’s entertaining, fun and people seem to really like it. Please check it out even if you don’t like Hallmark movies! (We are very charming. You don’t want to miss it)
Hey guys! Merry Christmas! Sorry it has been a bit since my last post. I have been frankly overwhelmed with everything going on at work and all of my other … Continue reading 10 Interviews!
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-
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.