Family For Christmas Review


It’s time for another Hallmark film! This one misses the mark a little more than previous films and I would say that it’s the weakest entry. Mainly this is because I disagreed with the film’s moral and Santa ends up looking like a bad guy here. It definitely gets a little dicey at times, but at the end of the day the film still handles itself pretty well otherwise.

Picture this, you are Hannah a world famous reporter. You’re making a 6 digit salary and have just aced another story. You are so impressive that the higher ups have decided to give you a promotion along with a new job in New York. Everything is going perfectly, but then you get a Facebook invite from an old flame. Your boss wisely tells you to ignore this request. Block the guy before he tries to steal your money. You heed the advice to the extent that you don’t approve the message and run to your office. Unfortunately Santa breaks in and throws you into an alternate reality. In this reality you married the guy from your past named Ben and have 2 kids. You don’t have a job anymore and are just barely scraping by on paycheck to paycheck. Santa also refuses to let you go home until you’ve learned to enjoy this new life so it could be a while.

You just can’t help but feel bad for Hannah the whole time. She’s clearly worked hard to make it where she is right now so for Santa to just take it all away is pretty extreme. Especially since he’s claiming that it’s her fault that this happened when he very clearly changed things up himself. She should certainly be upset and with good reason. The problem is that the film plays it out that this alternate reality is the better one. The film basically says that she should have turned down the career opportunity at the beginning so she could let Ben support her instead and become a stay at home Mom. It’s a very dicey alternate reality. If you ask just about anyone I’m sure they would agree that Hannah made the right choice. Now, why didn’t Ben go with her? If he was serious then he should have gone, but we learn in the alternate reality that he really loves his old home so he wouldn’t want to move. In that case they both made their respective choices and Hannah simply won out in the end.

The alternate reality is also pretty annoying as we find out that Hannah didn’t even stay true to herself. We have a small scene where some Moms are complaining about the soccer coach having the players try out and it’s implied that the Hannah of this world would have agreed with them. While she is still a real go getter here, she has lost any kind of competitive edge and is content to just stay at home and wait for Ben. There’s nothing wrong with that lifestyle, but to say that it is better than being the rich CEO with connections that Hannah was is a big stretch to say the least. What makes it worse is that Hannah was perfectly happy in her position. It’s not as if she was depressed or something like that, Hannah was absolutely balling.

So, Hannah is a pretty good lead. You just have to ignore the ending to an extent as it gets pretty cheesy since Hannah is bullied into making the wrong calls. Unfortunately, Ben is not a particularly likable character. I think we can blame a good chunk of this on the fact that the film makes it impossible to like him. He is at least indirectly responsible for what has happened to Hanna and since he isn’t understanding of her plight at all then it’s hard to sympathize with him. The guy’s just not very reasonable.

The best character in the film is actually Hannah’s boss. The guy’s very pragmatic and keeps things real. Unlike 99% of main guys who would have panicked when Hannah announced that she was leaving, he didn’t care. He wished her well and stayed professional throughout the ceremony. Now that’s a true boss/friend. Sure, he may have given up on the romance real quick as well, but if it meant staying professional then he would do it. The guy’s a quick talker and always has an angle. You can see why he rose to the top so quickly. The guy was born to be the big boss.

So, the whole premise/plot is a bit out of whack which is unfortunate. Still, the writing is good beyond that I suppose. The basic concept of trying to live out someone else’s life is always interesting. It’s the basic principle of why Your Name did so well in theaters. It’s a nice concept even if it’s one that has been done many times before. I don’t think this film did it as well as others, but at least it’s interesting. I do think Hannah could have been quicker on the uptake though. She slips up so many times that it starts to stretch your disbelief a bit. The worst part of this would be having to live out the romance which is why I guess it’s lucky for Hannah that she used to like the guy. Still makes for a terrible romance though so I have to give the film a thumbs down there. Body switching romance type plots just don’t work. You’re effectively making the guy cheat on his version of the character even if they are the same individual.

Overall, Family for Christmas is the first Hallmark title where I can’t give it the full 7. I have to at least dock one point for this plot just not being particularly good. Wrecking Hannah’s perfect life and forcing her to live this one for a few days is just way too brutal. The film would have been way better if we had stayed in the real world. Also, this Santa should have faced some kind of repercussions for what he did. Furthermore, the 2 kids in that version also weren’t particularly likable. They lost their patience with Hannah real quick and weren’t very supportive. I think Hannah should have just came out and told them that she wasn’t their real mother but in a less misleading way. Since they’re kids maybe they would buy into the Santa miracle. If not? Well, no harm done with trying. Hannah should have also doubled down with Ben a little more. Regardless, it is what it is. If you can get around the premise then this is still a good Christmas film to check out, but otherwise all of the others are certainly superior.

Overall 6/10

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A Wish For Christmas Review


The Hallmark Channel has returned for another adventure. By this point you’ll likely know whether you enjoy the films or not. Hallmark is very well known for its formula in these Christmas films and stays true to it through thick or thin. I guess you could say that the big change here is that for once there is no “other” guy. There’s only the heroine and the guy who will inevitably fall for her. By removing the rebound angle it makes the film a lot more heartfelt.

This film starts off by showing us how much Sara loves Christmas. It’s something she looks forward to every year and she makes sure to take the day off to be with family. However, she is unable to enjoy the office party because her boss steals the idea she came up with and gets the credit for it in front of everyone. Sara prepares to leave the party but then Santa shows up and grants her wish to be brave. However, his powers are waning in his old years so he can only give her this ability for 48 hours. After which she will become the meek pushover that she always was. Sara intends to make the most of it and exposes her boss. After he is fired, the true head of the company, Peter, decides to take her with him to close out a deal with his biggest customer of all time. The whole company is riding on this. Sara agrees to go, but on the condition that she makes it home in time for Christmas.

Adding that supernatural twist here helps give the film a fresh edge. It works a little like a truth serum as Sara is unable to stop herself from being very outgoing and direct. If she has a thought in her head then she has to say it and even if it could lead to bad situations. As a result it’s not a purely positive thing, but for the most part it always tends to work out. It is important to be able to stand up for yourself so the film’s got a good moral to it. The boss taking the credit for your idea is something that is to be expected to a certain extent, but it has to be within reason. When you’re supplying ideas to your boss to help the company naturally he will take the lion’s share of the credit, but you need to at least get a honorable mention. Since Sara got none of that it was good that she took the boss down a peg. I do think that changing the whole presentation without letting the boss know in the email was a little dicey if he needed it that day though.

Sara makes for a good protagonist. I do think she could have managed a better equilibrium between being nice and sincere. Bringing drinks for everyone at work every day is a nice gesture even if it is something that I would never do because of the cost and the lack of convenience. That being said, if you secretly resent doing so or are only doing it to curry favor with the higher ups then naturally that is not a good thing to do. Sara’s friend seemed really nice even if she could be a bit cheap art times. With Sara’s new position hopefully she doesn’t go on a power trip and remember who had her back all this time.

Then we have Peter who I can’t say is a particularly good character. He seems all well and good for most of the film but when Sara is unable to close the deal with the main antagonist of the film we see his true colors. The guy leaves Sara feeling awful and just lets her get on the plane herself while he hashes things out with his father. That’s a big part of the film and it makes sense that he would do that, but why make Sara worry so much? From how it seems at the end he would have let Sara just up and leave without getting the letter she gave him. The guy switches sides way too fast and didn’t seem genuine to me. He definitely gets a thumbs down from me.

The supporting cast was pretty solid though. As mentioned, Sara’s friend was pretty good. I also thought Peter’s family was pretty solid too. The Mom and Aunt baking cookies was definitely fun and their setup was good. Every topping was there including the fruit candies although I can’t imagine putting that on a chocolate chip cookie. The father naturally had a bit of a rocky start but things were awkward with him and Peter both not wanting to be the first to approach but thanks to Sara he is able to get over it.

As always the writing is pretty solid here, but the romance ends up being a bit on the weak side. Peter just doesn’t seem like a team player at all and as mentioned he was very quick to ditch Sara. When they come together it’s hard to buy into it and you can’t help but feel like Sara shouldn’t want to be with him either. The romance doesn’t play a huge role in the film at least. If anything it comes almost out of nowhere at the end.

Overall, A Wish For Christmas is another solid title. It’s a solid film in all areas. It goes by very quickly and is just a pleasant experience. I’m not sure about the Christmas remix song at the beginning of the film though. This rendition was a little too slow I think and lost the energy that the original had. The soundtrack is still pretty good overall though. A little Christmas music is always a good idea to liven things up a bit. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I’d recommend checking it out. It’s also a good time to start thinking of what your Christmas wish/New Year’s resolution will be.

Overall 7/10

Pride And Prejudice And Mistletoe Review


Hallmark returns once more and this film is actually super new. I can’t say that you really notice the difference from the time since these films aren’t exactly heavy in special effects, but the backgrounds and such look good. After all, they are filmed on location I’m thinking so real life’s graphics are as good as ever. This is a pretty solid film. We do go back to the more retro trope of the first guy losing out to the old friend, but I guess if it isn’t broke don’t fix it right?

Darcy has had a lot of success at her company. It is now a big corporation and she is one of the highest ranking members on the board. Unfortunately, her views have stayed close to the ground while her partners want to sell out and keep on charging high premiums. They are now ramping up the pressure to kick her out. The problem is that she already went back home to Ohio to help out her Mom with a big fundraising event. She can go back to her job to secure her clients or she can stay with her family. If she leaves them at this stage then the event will be a disaster. What can she do?

It’s definitely a bit of a tougher problem than what we had in the last few films. Of course helping the family is the right option, but it’s also hard to not go back to work when you’re about to be kicked out. The film also makes you think who is making the right call here. Darcy wanted to switch the entire company’s policy towards letting in people with no bottom line. There’s a reason why most companies have a bottom line so taking it away would naturally be controversial. Of course, the antagonists are also trying to get her out of the company without a word so it’s not as if they’re in the right either. If I was Darcy I probably would have waited to bring this up until after she had returned from her vacation though. Her secretary was definitely very helpful though. Without her Darcy would have been doomed.

This film goes back to having a pretty strong supporting cast. I thought Darcy’s Dad was pretty solid here. He kept his end of the bargain as to not asking Darcy to come and work for him even though he knew that she was making a mistake in declining. He still raised up a pretty good empire in the meantime and was always around for Darcy to talk to him. I also think the backup guy here wasn’t all that bad. He was certainly hoping Darcy would go with him, but once he was rejected he accepted the answer and left. It wasn’t the answer that he was hoping to hear, but he didn’t get sour or try to get even.

As for the main guy, Luke’s pretty fun even if the “tough guy” approach doesn’t work as well with him since you know that he’ll be paired up with Darcy anyway. I think a film about him and Darcy being on the debate team would probably be fun. He does seem like the kind of guy who would probably enjoy taking the conflicting opinion just to spark a debate. He has a lot of good ideas and he’s certainly filled with confidence. Aside from quickly buying into an unlikely scenario at the end he doesn’t seem nearly as timid as a lot of the other guys. It’s good to see someone talking tough for the whole film this time.

That being said, I still wouldn’t say that the romance is particularly good here. It’s all pretty generic stuff and Darcy takes too long in shutting down the backup guy. He has to ask her first because she took forever to say anything. Granted, they were basically apart by this point but she was doing the whole “We’re not actually together” when talking about Luke only to go to him 2-3 minutes later to make it official. She had made up her mind by that point even if she couldn’t admit it. I think without the romance angle we could have gotten more of a focus on the party and the rivalry between her and Luke. Imagine a good rivalry like that which doesn’t lead to romance in the end. I think it could have worked out quite well.

As always I’d say that the writing is pretty good here. Darcy is also a good lead taking away the romance angle. While it is played out to be a bad thing, I do like how independent she is. Asking for help is a last resort for Darcy and she’ll typically try to do things on her own. If she makes a promise she’ll do everything she can to fulfill it. If it’s too much for her then she’ll ask for help, but she never does things halfway. That’s exactly the kind of person that you want on your team. The deal she made with her father also works out pretty well. She’ll be able to realize her dream while also keeping his company up. I would have liked to have seen a final scene with the hot dog guy though to show that he got to open the account. I was expecting it the whole time and was a little disappointed when it didn’t happen.

While the moral is that Darcy needs to trust in others more I feel like the movie almost completely backfires in trying to show this. Every company that the Mom called in to help ended up canceling at the last second. At the end of the day they weren’t able to trust anyone and the party was nearly ended several times. I mean, that’s not the point of the film of course, but Darcy’s loner approach was really working quite well. Trusting others within reason is always good of course, but maybe the film could have showed some more examples of trust actually working rather than the opposite.

Overall, This is another good Hallmark film. It definitely earns its Hallmark seal of approval and keeps the streak alive for these titles. There are no negatives to speak of here and it’s just a really fun film to watch. I think it’s one of the stronger titles I’ve seen from this series. Maybe I’ll make a ranking of them at some point or something since I’ve seen so many of them. If you haven’t seen this film yet and want to watch a fun little Christmas story then I recommend checking this one out. It’s just good all around and has no real weaknesses.

Overall 7/10

A Christmas Melody Review


Hallmark strikes once again as we get another Christmas film from them. By now you’ll likely be well aware of the series’ usual tropes and plots, but as long as they are executed well it isn’t really a problem. In fact, it makes the film have to work extra hard to stay exciting so when it succeeds that just makes the movie all the more impressive right? This is another solid adventure and even has a musical twist even if that is the weaker part of the movie.

Kristin has been forced to give up her dreams and move back to Ohio. Her startup business just wasn’t ready for the big time at the moment, but she knows that one day she will be able to make a comeback. She feels worse for Emily (her daughter) who will now have to start school again and try to make new friends. Fortunately there is a talent show coming up. The teacher is a guy who knew Kristin from back in school so he allows Emily to bypass the deadline and get into the show. Melissa, the PTA commander isn’t happy about that and decides to do her best to mess things up for Kristin. Will the lead be able to fight back or will this sabotage Emily’s one chance at happiness?

The main worry you may have here is that Emily isn’t quite ready hold her own film as a supporting character. Kids rarely can after all. I’m afraid you would be right as Emily is certainly not the most interesting character in the film. I could have done without her plot but as its the main focus of the film that probably wouldn’t even make sense. She could have been worse I suppose. At first she was acting a little mopey and everything but once Santa gave her a talking to she was able to see the light. Santa’s just really helpful like that. He’s always in your corner and ready to help. He surprisingly doesn’t get a big role here besides that though.

As for Kristin, she is a considerably better lead than the last few. She doesn’t let the bully Melissa push her around. If anything she gets combative from the start when it would have been easy to play into Melissa’s ego and get Emily an easy ride at the school. Kristin talks to Danny (the teacher) directly to get Emily in though so I like the fact that she was quickly able to adapt. This also feels less like a rebound compared to other films as I don’t even think she dumped anyone at the beginning here. It’s possible that I’m mis-remembering but either way this is a good lead.

Then we always need to have the bully/ex role in these films and Melissa works well. She’s grown so powerful with her influence over the school that even the principal defers to her. I thought this was a bit much to be honest, but I suppose she is just that skilled. She was a fun character and without her the school probably wouldn’t have had nearly as much personality. Then you have Danny who is the main guy of the film. Naturally this means that he is here for the romance section. He’s a nice guy who is always trying to help everyone out so that’s a good thing. He’s the kind of guy that you want in your corner. That being said, it didn’t save the romance.

Both Kristin and Danny are good characters individually but the romance comes off as rather rushed. They certainly didn’t know each other for very long here before realizing their feelings. It’s also so expected that you feel even less convinced since you can’t believe the characters when they act like it’s a tough decision. I get that the romance is a staple of this franchise, but I still think that it tends to not work very well in any of the installments. Just skipping the romance entirely would probably be a pretty good idea.

As always the writing and pacing are pretty solid. The film never drags on and there is always something happening on screen. There are less crazy miscommunications here compared some of the other films which is always good. As I mentioned, Emily’s scenes are a bit weaker than the others though. The scenes of her just hanging around or singing just don’t work as well as they would have with one of the main characters. The final song also really doesn’t sound like she’s singing it. I’m thinking the special effects crew maybe went a little too overboard at that point. In universe though, I’m pretty sure it was intentional.

Overall, A Christmas Melody is a fun film. As with the rest of them it plays out a bit like a wish fulfillment title as everything goes perfectly for Kristin and you imagine this as the ideal Christmas story. It does so without being too overly dramatic and avoids any real negatives. That’s really the secret to success in these films. Still, I do think it was just a little bit weaker than the rest of the Hallmark films I’ve seen so far. It was see-sawing between a 6 and a 7 even as I was writing the review. It’s a tricky case but while I’m not a big Emily fan I don’t think she takes the film down a full star either so I stayed with the latter score. I don’t think this would be my first Hallmark recommendation but if you’ve already seen the others then surely you should check this one out as well. It’s just a quality Christmas story.

Overall 7/10

A Royal Christmas Review


Hallmark has returned for another Christmas title. This one brings a royal air to the mix and we get a lot of new scenery compared to the first two films which is nice. I still say that the first Hallmark film I saw was the best one and this one also loses to the second, but don’t think that the series is already starting to decline. The first two films just set a rather high bar and this one is still roughly at that same level. The main character can just be a bit annoying again.

The film starts off with Emily having a good time. She is going to be spending her first Christmas with Leopold so naturally she is looking forward to it. Unfortunately, he chooses this time to drop a landmine on her. He is actually a prince and must get ready to inherit the throne. Emily is really upset at this since it’s a rather big secret to have been kept for so long but he assures her that he is the same person. To test that out, he wants her to come with him to the kingdom. Emily does so but quickly learns that Leopold’s mother Isadora is very against their relationship and will do whatever she can to destroy it. Can Emily stay strong or will she be humbled?

Most of the positives in this film mirror the last two. The writing is pretty solid and the film’s pacing is on point. You won’t be bored during the adventure and the film makes sure to steer clear out of any serious negatives. The scenery looks really nice and it’s just a pleasant film to watch. There’s no reason to cringe or turn away except for some decisions at times. This film does have less positives in general though which is what hurts it a bit. For starters, the supporting cast isn’t nearly as impressive here. Emily’s Dad can be a bit over the top and comes off as more annoying than supportive like when he forgot that his camera was off during the final scene and basically spoiled the moment.

Emily’s friend isn’t quite as helpful as the sister was in the last film and doesn’t really get to do much in general. Then you have the maids who turn on Emily a little too easily. They get along at first, but then Isadora decides to sack them to get at Emily and they quickly go into the guilt tripping tactic. Considering that they knew the rules and that Emily certainly couldn’t have been aware I don’t see how they can blame her. They come around by the end since the head butler re-enlists them but it’s hard to really like these guys. Of course getting fired is emotional and it was in the heat of the moment, but the point still stands.

As for Emily, she is a little too sensitive. She falls for every trick in the book and gets very easily offended. Just having the Leopold’s ex explain how close they are is enough to put her on edge. At times she tries to put on a brave face but it cracks with ease. In this situation everyone made it abundantly clear from the start that there would be several people trying to break her and Leopold up so Emily doesn’t have the excuse that she was unprepared. She knew exactly what she was getting into. Emily also decides to cut ties with Leopold so as not to be a bother but instead that just comes off as her giving up way too easily. If she is really serious about this relationship then she simply needs to keep on holding tight.

Meanwhile Leopold could certainly have done better as well. He basically lets Isadora walk all over him and to a large extent it’s fine. She is still his mother and he has to keep up the family legacy. That being said, there are some things he could have done better like not agreeing to go on a horse walk in the morning when Emily can’t ride. Alternately he could have rode with her since two people can ride a horse. I can’t really take too many points away from him though since Leopold does a much better job of actually going after Emily repeatedly rather than giving up.

Meanwhile Isadora is the main antagonist of the movie and does a good job in the role. She puts a lot of thought into her plans of getting Emily away. She always has the edge in this battle of wills. Naturally you can probably see where her character arc will go from the start, but she was still convincing up until that point. She also took her share of risks like approaching Emily while she was holding a sword. Some things may be a bit much like when she puts Emily on the spot both at a party and in the middle of many prestigious individuals. Wouldn’t it reflect poorly on the family if the Prince’s girlfriend is low class? Isadora should try to get rid of her privately, not publicly.

There is also the ex, but she gets less of a role than you might expect. Not only does she not have a chance from the start, but she doesn’t even feel as mean spirited as some of the others. She doesn’t actually do anything to Emily which is nice since sometimes bullies should be a little more subtle. Also, it’s not as if she is typically a bad person, she is basically acting under orders. That’s no excuse, but she was certainly not as bad as she could have been. With Emily giving up so easily that also doesn’t help the main heroine’s case.

Overall, The Royal Wedding is a fun film. I don’t think it is quite as strong as the last few films but it’s still a good watch. The Butler can be fun as he constantly talks back to Isadora. At first you’ll wonder why he hasn’t been fired yet, but there is a big plot twist that certainly explains this rather satisfactory. It could have been better, but I still recommend this film nonetheless. As long as you are looking forward to a fun Christmas (Well, it barely feels like one at times) comedy and you can get past the romance then this is a good film to check out. You’ll likely roll your eyes when Leopold first lets Emily know that he is a prince since the odds of that are so slim, but that’s a natural response and you’ll be able to get back into the movie after that scene.

Overall 7/10