The Most Wonderful Time of the Year Review

Hallmark has returned once again. This is a bit of an older Hallmark film and you can tell that it is quite a bit different from the newer ones. At least the ones I have seen thus far as this one has some action and a real sense of danger here. Things aren’t quite as happy the whole time although this is certainly still a feel good movie. It works rather well and I could call this one of the stronger Hallmark films. It’s not quite at the top but it has a lot of heart.

The movie starts with Christmas fast approaching and Jennifer is getting ready to pick up her uncle Ralph at the airport. It’s going to be a very nice Christmas celebration as her fiancé Richard is coming over and Jennifer will get to see his parents again. Ralph doesn’t seem crazy about Richard but he doesn’t seem like a bad guy either. Perhaps a bit stuffy but a decent fella. Well, things take a turn when Ralph bumps into a nice guy named Morgan at the airport and invites him over for Christmas. Is it time for Jennifer to trade guys?

I mean, it is obvious from the start that she is going to ditch Richard. The only question is, how quickly will she do this. Will this happen at the end of the film, Will Richard make a mistake or just lose out naturally? In this case I would say it’s a mix. Richard doesn’t do anything too obvious but there is one scene where his parents are making fun of Jennifer and he doesn’t stop them. It’s quick and the parents aren’t too exaggerated here, but I don’t care if it’s the thinnest insult out there, you have to defend your fiancé. After all, if you can’t trust your partner to help you out now then this whole thing is not going to work.

I know the film has to give Richard some bad quality so you don’t root for him in the end but each time I just wonder how the relationship even got this far. It’s interesting because I watched a film after this one with a similar romantic option where the “safe, nice guy” pick was the wrong one and that is the main critique Morgan gives here. Richard is just too basic and all of that. I never agree with that criticism though because I don’t see how that’s a bad thing. Like the joke of “Does he fold his clothes neatly” is seen as a bad thing. I suppose they would prefer a slob eh? So you don’t win any points by using that as an attack but Richard not defending Jennifer is enough for me to give him the thumbs down here.

I was just glad that the film had some restraint and didn’t make him out to be a total jerk or anything. He seems quite reasonable to me and of course it makes sense that he wouldn’t like Morgan since Morgan is trying to take his girl. Then you have Morgan who you know is doomed to be the main guy here. He is very quick to criticize Jennifer and her life choices like mailing out cards to everyone. She was right that this was real sudden considering they just met but he did apologize so that was good. On the whole Morgan’s a solid character and he does try really hard to help Jennifer get the toy for her son. He’s just a classic nice guy with no strings attached and so it all worked out for him.

That said, I would still say the romance here is weak because it’s a total rebound. Jennifer was a few days away from marrying Richard and suddenly she is completely together with Morgan? Yeah that’s just way too fast so I wasn’t buying into it. Beyond that Jennifer is rather mean in this film. She’s incredibly rude to her neighbor throughout the film and I didn’t think she deserved that. The neighbor is a little noisy and always talking but Jennifer just plays along which is only encouraging her. If Jennifer had told the neighbor she wanted the lights a certain way or something and the neighbor continued to pester her? Okay then that’s different but instead Jennifer is passive aggressive throughout the entire film which gets old really quickly. It just wasn’t deserved the whole time which is what hurts. By the end I like to think Jennifer is a nicer character…but I can’t be sure of that. There’s no real indication that she would be nicer to the neighbor since Morgan doesn’t like her either.

Finally we have Ralph and he’s a fun side character. He certainly has a preference for which guy Jennifer picks and does his best to run interference. He even plays a VHS to try and trick Jennifer at one point. His real standout scene is when he takes out some guy who tries to mug him though. Ralph doesn’t back down from a fight and clearly kept his combat skills even though he is retired. It had to be the most surprising scene in the film but in a very good way. That’s really how you get the job done. Ralph steals the show in this movie and is easily the standout character.

Every scene with him is a lot of fun. At the end of the day, that’s the core advantage that most Hallmark movies have. They’re just a lot of fun and really fly by in an instant. I wouldn’t say they have any big weaknesses and the character cast is always on point. You can feel the Christmas cheer here and the only thing the movie was missing was some Christmas cookies. We got a turkey which is a big subplot in the movie but a few desserts would have been nice to see too.

Overall, This movie’s a success and I would give it a thumbs up. If you’re looking for a good Christmas film to check out, you really can’t go wrong with this one. It ticks off all of the right boxes and just keeps the adventure rolling. The small fight scene we got at the beginning was fun and there’s even a scene later on where the main guy has to fight a store owner. Now, this moment is harder to cheer for since he’s basically taking out an innocent store owner. The guy was rather mean the whole time but Jennifer did arrive past her promised time at which he said that would be game over. By the end of the film your main message here is to always make your deadlines.

Overall 7/10

The Nine Kittens of Christmas Review

Hallmark returns with another big Christmas title. This one’s even a sequel to one of their earlier Christmas titles which is pretty neat. You definitely don’t see sequels like that very often. I don’t think it quite takes down the original but it’s fun to see the characters again. It’s hard to buy into them breaking up the way that they did but I suppose the film wanted to get some drama in somehow.

The movie starts off with Marilee getting ready to take a trip back home. She moves away after breaking up with Zachary and found a new man to love. In fact they are quite close to being married but he is unable to make it for this vacation and we find out this is not the first time they had to have a change of plans. Marilee breaks off their relationship and goes back home by herself. It’s all going well until she runs into her ex: Zachary. It turns out that he never rebounded with anyone once she left so maybe Marilee can get him once more. Will the two be together for Christmas and is there any reason we should think this will last this time?

Now the movie is a solid one as you’d expect with Hallmark titles but the romance has to be one of the weakest ones. Because the main characters have already broken up once you just feel a bit more jaded this time around. Clearly Marilee moved on quickly since she was getting ready to marry someone. Rebounds will always weaken a romance for me because you just have a lot of doubts here. You know that this wasn’t the first pick so it doesn’t feel as genuine. As the romance plays a big part in the film here, you can see how that hurts the movie a bit. You know where it is going from the start but you’re just not able to get on board.

The reasons for why Marilee and Zachary are kept rather vague too. It seems like Zachary was not ready for the big changes that Marilee wanted and so they drifted apart. It doesn’t seem like either one tried very hard to get the other back either. Ah well, at least both of them have found success on their own. Marilee became quite accomplished in her field of pet care and Zachary is next in line to be the chief. Both of them stuck to their guns and have done rather well.

Marilee’s a good main character who always wants to help people out. She’ll go the extra mile to ensure that the animals are well taken care of and won’t back down. Zachary’s a nice guy who can’t leave a kitten in need and is also super humble so he’s not sure if he’s ready to be a big boss. Both characters are solid even if a bit one dimensional so they work well in leading the movie. Then you have the current fire chief Sam who has really done a good job all these years. It’s clear that he has done well by the community and so it’s about time he lets himself retire.

The movie goes by really quick so the pacing is on point. I guess it just feels a bit emptier compared to some of the others. There really isn’t a big ordeal to overcome or any real big obstacles. There’s no rival, barely even any misunderstandings. I suppose the focus here is just on seeing the two get back together but otherwise it feels a bit more uneventful. This realization hits you a lot harder once the film is over though so during it you should be good. We get some Christmas music and all which is always a good thing.

At the end of the day there isn’t really anything bad about the film which is always important. It’s just a fun Christmas film to get you into the festive spirit. You can probably watch this at any time but doing it around Christmas will end up boosting the experience a bit. The kittens are nice enough as well. I’m definitely way more of a dog person so seeing a bunch of puppies around would have been cool but the kittens help get the characters back together which is important. Without them the heroes would not have made nearly as much ground considering how easy it is to push them apart.

Low key I have to give the heroine’s friends some credit here. Initially when they aren’t sure if Zachary would be a good match right now, they have Marilee’s back at all times. Whether it’s awkwardly asking if she wants to shop with them as a way to get away from Zachary or just standing by her, it was nice to see the loyalty here. It’s always good to have quality friends at the ready and Marilee’s friends were good.

Overall, There isn’t a ton to talk about in this film. It really doesn’t have a big plot or anything like that, it’s just a fun Christmas story with a lot of drama and some romance. I didn’t buy into the romance angle but beyond that the movie is strong on all sides so I’d recommend giving it a watch. There may not be a whole lot to discuss but you’ll have a good time and that’s the important thing in the end. Now that we have one sequel, hopefully they make a second so we can just turn this into a full trilogy.

Overall 7/10

A Kiss Before Christmas Review

The Hallmark channel has always had a great record when it comes to churning out solid Christmas films. This one is no different and makes for a good experience from start to finish. The film has good pacing, writing, and just ends on the right note. If anything the only element this film lacked was more Christmas snacks since the films usually give that quite the spotlight. Maybe next time and either way as long as the story is good that’s more of a bonus anyway.

The movie introduces us to Ethan who has always done things the right way while he watches his colleague Doyle take shortcuts at every opportunity. Ethan has always been proud of who he is, but lately he feels like he made the wrong choice by being a good person. He’s been stuck in the same job for 10 years while Doyle continues to move up and Ethan’s house is even super beat up. The last straw is when he makes a deal with a nearby newsstand owner instead of chasing her off the property. Now his promotion may be in jeopardy. In a moment of weakness Ethan makes a wish to go back to the moment in time when he first made the good guy move and instead to make the wrong one. Well Santa decides to humor him and so Ethan wakes up in this new world. In this world Ethan is super rich and is even the co-owner of the company. Ethan’s convinced that his life is now perfect and this shows that he made the right call all along. Is he right though?

Of course it’s nice to be rich but since Ethan met his wife on the elevator since he skipped the first one, this new timeline means they never met. That also means he never adopted the two kids and they are still at the orphanage currently. So Ethan’s new status came at a big price. Of course the moral here is to do the right thing and he should go back to his family. It’s a good moral although I almost feel like Ethan could have had his cake and ate it too in the end.

So in this film Ethan is unable to go back to the main timeline until he lives this period out through Christmas and discovers what he is lacking. At that point he will lose his memories of the old life although he keeps his new personality based on what we see. During the course of the movie he is able to win over his wife Joyce once again to the point where they are going out. So if he stays in this world he can still end up marrying her only this time he is rich and she got the degree that she wanted.

In this timeline her mother seemingly never got injured either. So the only loss here is that the kids are adopted by someone else already although their parents are clearly good people so at least there’s that. They still have a good life ahead of them and now Ethan can use his newfound money and power to make the city a better place. It’s a rather tempting offer to stay in the new world and enjoy it. Ethan will also get his memories of the new timeline back presumably which should help him not have to bluff everything anymore. He would have lost around 13 years of events from his family life though and he can’t get those back.

So it’s an interesting idea but of course it makes sense why he would want to go back. It also makes for a fun ending as we’ll see if everyone believes in his new story or if they think he just went crazy or was having a dream. All of those options are fairly reasonable since believing in a magic Santa would be tough. Also, he will have a more difficult time proving it since in the new world he could at least mention things he shouldn’t know. In this world though? Not really an easily solution like that.

Ethan was a fun character throughout. He did a good job of being a leader and really made everyone around him better. Then you have Joyce who was good in both continuities. As a lawyer she did a good job standing up for the youth center and ultimately pushing through until she could claim victory. Rona was the big boss in the original dimension and she’s a nice character. Ultimately she became really successful on her own and while she may have overlooked some dealings beneath her, she was someone who would look out for the little guy. She really came in clutch during the climax of the film since the heroes were nearly defeated. That said, it was a big mistake on Ethan’s part to forget that he was rich in this world.

Finally you have Doyle who serves as the main villain in this film. He’s an absolutely ruthless business man who will cut any corners and pressure anyone if it means that he gets his way. In a way Doyle seemed to even have more power than Ethan despite being co-owners. It was fun seeing Ethan pull a fast one on him during their TV appearance though. I was glad Doyle didn’t get off too easy here since he really did cause a lot of damage and destruction the whole time.

Of course we get some fun Christmas songs here as well. The soundtrack is on point and there’s also a lot of nice scenery. It makes for a very pleasant watch. The writing is good like you would expect and the movie really flies on by. Ethan has to overcome his own issues by the end of the film but you never feel like any character goes too far. The closest the film goes to having pointless drama is when Doyle nearly tricks Joyce into turning on Ethan. Fortunately that didn’t work but if it had that would have felt like a bit much because there’s no reason to trust Doyle at this point.

Overall, A Kiss Before Christmas is definitely a solid movie. It’s definitely a fun one to watch as you get close to Christmas. I have to say that Santa didn’t seem very heroic in this film though. At one point he starts messing with Ethan’s mind even before the Christmas deadline has appeared. That felt like he was hitting way below the belt since that’s not supposed to have happened to soon. Fortunately his attempt did not work but the characters should definitely be careful around him.

Overall 7/10

Love in Paradise Review

As with all of the Hallmark films I’ve seen so far you can expect Love in Paradise to give you a nice wholesome adventure. It’s a story about coming to terms with the real world and not hiding behind another persona all the time. Certainly there is a lot to appreciate here. While you can see the story beats coming a mile away the execution is definitely on point. I’d recommend checking this one out.

The premise of the movie is that Avery is in a bit of trouble. He’s an actor who has fallen on tough times because his movies aren’t selling very well anymore. He made the best westerns but after 6 films he was just old news. He is now doing bean commercials which do make some good money but he wants something more. Honestly he should be pretty satisfied with the commercials but then his agent receives a call for Avery to head to a hotel for a weekend to drum up business and get paid. It sounds like a win/win but when he gets there Avery is in for a surprise. This hotel is like a very real Cowboy destination so no Wifi or many electronics. It’s very low key and retro, elements that don’t work well for Avery as he’s more of a city guy.

Meanwhile, from the other perspective we have Heather who has been helping her Dad run the farm/hotel for many years now. Unfortunately business just isn’t very good. If they don’t make enough money this quarter then they will be out of business and corporate will be buying off the land. Heather doesn’t want to sell which is why she thought of inviting Avery. Will it really be enough to save the day though? He’s not exactly the farmer that the group had been expecting. Hopefully things work out for the best.

The main dilemma in the film is that Avery just isn’t used to Cowboy life and doesn’t want to bother changing himself. As far as Avery is concerned this is just a quick weekend check. Come to think of it, he may be getting paid in publicity and not actual cash so forget that last part. The issue is that he isn’t good at acting off script. Take the stage away and he has trouble even handling basic tasks like eating meat or getting on a horse. Considering that he can’t do any of this, he definitely should have let the main characters know right away. Granted, he is literally a famous actor so I was surprised that the characters were acting like it naturally had to be how he was off camera as well. The whole point of acting is that you’re playing a role so the opening questions should have been asking him what he could do, how many tasks he actually performed, etc.

Instead they just led him on the Cowboy path and he continued to bluff along which led to things snowballing for both sides. Avery definitely starts out in a bit of a rocky mood as he makes it clear that he isn’t happy and doesn’t even greet the guy who picked him up. Avery barely even acknowledges the poor guy when he first gets to the island. By the end of the film he’s a whole lot nicer and has even adjusted to the land to an extent which was good. It’s a pretty clear character arc from start to finish. On Heather’s side she didn’t really have a character arc since she was already a nice person doing her best but she definitely helped Avery out a whole lot. Without her backing him up Avery probably would have been doomed here. That being said, she was way too quick to believe Avery’s agent without at least trying to have a conversation with him.

Naturally I would say the romance was a bit weak in this case. Basically in the span of a week the two characters fall for each other and the whole thing is rather fast. You feel like it would take a lot longer as they barely even had a chance to be friends first. I’d change that bit of the story so that they were just friends instead. That would be my only big change though. The rest of the story is pretty strong. Having the main guy be an actor here was also definitely fresh on Hallmark’s side as I don’t think we’ve had another film with that role yet, at least from the ones I’ve seen.

The characters will ultimately need to renovate their resort at some point though since Avery’s presence can only help so much. If they continue to operate at a loss then ultimately it will catch up to them at some point. Ideally not as a thief in the night trying to break in though. It was good that Avery was able to take him down there. If he hadn’t been around it would have been a lot worse. The horse riding scenes were fun. I’m always up for seeing some animals running around and having fun, particularly in a film like this where I don’t have to be worried for their very lives. The adventure works out quite nicely this way.

Overall, Love in Paradise is a solid film. While it doesn’t beat a bunch of the classic Hallmark Christmas titles, it’s a pretty strong movie in its own right. I was also glad we didn’t have to worry about the whole ex plot for a change and instead we just had more of a straight up villain by the end. The guy’s redemption saga didn’t feel earned though as it was way too late in the game and sudden considering what he had just done. I wouldn’t have bought into it if I were the characters at the very least. It would just be too hard to buy into. The writing is strong and the pacing is on point so you can’t go wrong here. The humor is good and while you feel Avery could have done better at bluffing, it makes for a lot of fun scenes.

Overall 7/10

Christmas Waltz Review

Time for the last of the big Hallmark Christmas titles. The Christmas Waltz is a fun title although I would say that it has more weaknesses than some of the others. In particular both the main heroine and the main guy aren’t great. They allow themselves to be manipulated really easily and buy into rumors too fast. If they don’t trust each other much that doesn’t bode well. Still, it’s got the usual positive themes going which is always good and it’s a wholesome film to check out.

The movie starts with Avery getting ready for her upcoming wedding. She has been engaged to David for a long time and knows that he’s about to pop the question. Unfortunately he does not and instead says that he has accepted a job abroad. The exact thing he had agreed not to do earlier even after they had discussed it. Well, Avery breaks up with him and decides to pursue her old hobby of dancing. Unfortunately she falls for her instructor Roman pretty quickly and is on the rebound course. Complicating things is the fact that David is back and wants Avery to come back to him.

So the romance angle is unsurprisingly the weakest angle here. It just really stands out this time because of how indecisive Avery is the whole time. So, she breaks up with David at the beginning which is the right move because the guy wasn’t being serious at all. The issue is that after that when he arrives again she actually thinks about giving him another chance. If he hadn’t mentioned that he went over to threaten Roman then she may have actually gone with him. Even if she had said no later on, the fact that she entertained the idea after starting an affair with Roman is pretty bad. You definitely can’t have this kind of thing both ways.

Meanwhile Roman is just as bad here. He is very quick to believe David when the guy shows up saying that he and Avery are back together. Why would you believe what the Ex has to say so easily? At the very least he should have quickly asked Avery about it directly when they met up again instead of giving her the cold shoulder and ignoring her altogether. You can’t just go from 0-100 instantly like that. It shows that Roman is incredibly gullible. even in real life you see people accepting one side of the story very quickly without getting all of the facts and it always ends up being a bad idea. So right away both characters looked pretty bad here.

The cast is fairly self contained. Avery and Roman both have a best friend who gives them advice during the movie and the advice is pretty sound. At least those two were pretty reasonable which is good because if they were as impulsive then that would not have been a good dynamic for sure. The writing as a whole is still solid though. The script is good and if you take away the romance drama the movie’s pretty upbeat as expected. Hallmark has always done a good job with that so you can expect some Christmas songs, dances, and even slight cooking although not the usual desserts but Avery does make a burnt breakfast.

Whether this one can keep up with the other Hallmark titles for you will perhaps depend on how much you enjoy dancing. Dancing is the primary focus here as that’s how the two of them meet and begin their friendship. A subplot here is that Avery is a super busy executive who rarely has time for herself but she has decided to take up dancing. Her parents are a little skeptical at first but ultimately take it well. I’m glad they weren’t exaggerated or something like that. Being a little surprised is understandable since she hadn’t shown any interest in 20+ years.

One thing you can blame Avery on though is not having effective time management. She actually ends up forgetting about a task project that was due. Fortunately she did manage to submit it in the end but that definitely wasn’t fair to the job. She really left them in the lurch there so that does reinforce that the main characters here weren’t the best. It’s definitely a chance of pace though since you’re used to the main characters here being fairly exceptional at everything they do.

Overall, Christmas Waltz is a solid film. While it doesn’t quite match the average Hallmark film that I am used to watching, I would still give it passing marks here. It’s got a good story and at the end of the day the characters are nice even if they are a little gullible. The writing is solid and while dancing may not quite be my thing, I’m sure the choreography was good. Now if they can incorporate some dance dance revolution in one of these films that would definitely be pretty neat. Now that’s competitive dancing that I can get into. It could be a while before my next Hallmark experience so we’ll see how those stack up. It’s always a pleasure watching Hallmark movies so I’m sure they will bring their A game.

Overall 6/10

Christmas Town Review

It’s time for the Hallmark marathon to conclude for now. It’s definitely been a pretty good run I would say. When you see a title like Christmas Town you know things are about to get hype. It’s one of those small towns where everyone is pretty friendly and you could see yourself having a pretty good time there. How can it go wrong right? There’s a lot of cookies shown in this film as well so you may get hungry while watching.

Lauren has not been having a good time with her boyfriend who has prioritized work over her. He doesn’t even write or call anymore. So she decides to take up a teaching job in another city. Unfortunately her train is forced to make a detour due to the weather. This causes her to hitch a ride with Travis after mistaking the guy for one of the employees. He helps her find a place to stay in the meantime and she quickly grows close to the owner of the bakery (Betty) and Travis’ foster kid Dylan. Now she is unsure if she even really wants to leave this town and decides to help them with a fundraising drive first.

Lauren’s a pretty reasonable character right from the jump. She gave Eric a pretty fair chance but the guy blew it each time. If anything I don’t think she needed to give him quite so much time at the end. The instant that the letter didn’t come I would have said that was game over. You have to be able to deliver on something like that, especially when it was promised and agreed to. There’s no backing out of the deal just like that. His reasoning of not being a very good writer definitely didn’t work either. I do appreciate Eric not being portrayed as totally crazy of being a huge jerk. He’s just absent minded and clearly didn’t have her as a priority so this wasn’t going to work. They could possibly be good friends but that’s about it.

Meanwhile Lauren’s just a perfect fit for the town because she is always willing to lend a hand in just about any area. She is quick to support the bakery and then to get the fundraising at the ready. She’s definitely a quality character. I also liked Betty and Gloria a lot. Betty just seems like a great owner who really cares about her customers. Her cooking is also apparently quite good and based on how those cookies were looking I definitely believe it. Meanwhile Gloria’s role isn’t quite as large but she does enter the fray later on with some really critical scenes. She’s certainly got an incredible amount of influence over the school and makes the transition a lot easier on Lauren.

Then we’ve got Dylan. I’m still never a big fan of seeing kids get a big role in films. They tend to be pretty cheesy and Dylan’s no different. He also guilt trips Lauren quite a bit into not leaving although I expect she was going to stick around anyway. He certainly gets a lot of screen time. I’ll give him credit for being a nice kid in the end though. He does donate his coats to help others and is a very generous guy. As for Travis, he’s a pretty solid character even if he doubted Lauren quite a bit. I can’t really blame him there because he does have a point that she has only known Dylan for a week or 2 and is moving awfully fast. If you replace the scenario with someone other than the main character then you can definitely see why he was concerned. Still, he’s definitely someone that you can count on.

The writing and pacing as on point as expected of course and the scenery is definitely really good. There’s a lot of snow of course and the town is quite charming. It’s also a pretty generous town as everyone was able to chip in a lot of money to help the group who lost everything in a fire. Ultimately this town’s definitely built up a lot of goodwill and with a whole new generation here as well you expect that it will stay like that.

There’s also a subplot the film slowly builds up involving a statue of an Angel. Lauren got it from her father back when she was a kid but then it broke with the wing falling off. Her father sent it to be fixed but ended up forgetting to include the wing so Lauren kept it. Since he died shortly afterwards nobody was ever able to pick it up. Fortunately this was the town where it got sent to. So throughout the film you see the statute changing hands until it finally makes its way back at the end. It’s a nice plot to have around for sure. Her father definitely seemed to be quite wise based on the letters he sent.

Overall, Christmas Town was definitely a really fun movie. We also got some good depth with Lauren’s backstory as she read through letters her father gave her. The movie definitely has a lot of emotional scenes going for it to contrast all the happy moments eating cookies. It’s just a very wholesome film that makes for a satisfying watch. You really can’t go wrong here and by the end of the film you will be ready for your own Christmas adventures coming up. I would definitely recommend watching this film so you can add it to your collection. It’s quite solid without a doubt.

Overall 7/10

A Shoe Addict’s Christmas Review

Time for another Hallmark adventure for the ages. The whole shoe theme here was definitely pretty unique. I don’t believe it’s been done before. I know some people are really into shoes while others collect sneakers but I can’t say I’ve ever been into that. Just get me a pair of sneakers and I’ll wear them for the next 5-10 years no problem. Of course in this film it’s fortunate that Noelle enjoys her shoes since they are quite central to the story. Without them she definitely could have been in trouble.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Noelle. She’s pretty content as she has a nice job, good coworkers, and just loves Christmas. It’s a pretty fun time of the year for her. She is even put in charge of helping direct the annual charity party that co-operates with the Firefighters. Their liason here is a guy named Jake. They don’t initially get off on the right foot as Jake tries to make a good impression with some jokes while Noelle is fairly serious. Still, they’ll have to put aside their differences if this is going to be a big success.

There is something supernatural afoot here as well. A lady named Charlie appears and claims that she is Noelle’s guardian angel. Whenever Noelle puts on a pair of shoes from her past she is transported to that point in time to relive the memories and see what she could have done differently. Charlie is trying to make the point that Noelle has pushed her friends and family away while also turning down opportunities that could have helped her in the present. Noelle tries to point out that living in the past is dangerous but Charlie insists that she take a look at some of these alternate routes. Should Noelle listen to Charlie and try to hang out with people more or is she okay as is?

As always Hallmark’s got a pretty solid film here. There’s also just a whole lot of story developments and plot to sift through here so it’s a little busier than the average title. You’ve got time travel, angels, the firefighter plot, and even some family drama with Noelle and her father. The writing is on point as always and the film really flies by. The scenery is also good. There are no real weaknesses to speak of. At most maybe the boss gets a very rushed character arc at the end but it does help to wrap things up nicely for a quality ending. From all of the plots I feel like the Gala itself got the shaft for the most part since there just wasn’t enough time to grab everything. It’s why things had to move quickly at the end.

If anything I just didn’t agree with Charlie that Noelle made all of the wrong moves. For starters, she was perfectly content at her new job even if everyone was trying to guilt trip her into leaving. Put it this way, she makes a solid salary here and has quickly moved up the chains. Everyone seems to like her at this job so she seems to have a positive future. The pay is good as well while working for herself is a lot riskier even if it may end up paying well. Then Charlie says she wasn’t all that close to her father but they did seem pretty good to me from the opening scene. They had some banter and were even joking around with each other.

So I felt like Charlie was making this sound a lot more serious than it really was. It’s not like Noelle’s current life was really that bad at all. Still, Charlie herself was pretty nice even if she didn’t have a lot of experience in the gig yet. Noelle’s best friend Lorna was also really good here. She was always encouraging Noelle and had the heroine’s back from day 1. No matter what timeline Noelle went to, she certainly owes Lorna a lot for always being there. It’s been a little while since the main character had a solid friend like this so that was nice to see.

As for the main guy Jake, he’s pretty solid. He wants to move up the ranks even if it means no longer being a firefighter. He’s a bit worried since this means leaving his late father’s shadow but he does feel like it’s the right move. He does his best to make the firefighter gala a success. The ending is pretty tough on him since he effectively wasted a lot of time but ultimately at least Noelle helped him out a bit. It’s understandable that he wouldn’t have been a happy camper at that point. The romance is pretty rushed with him and Noelle though. I feel like they could have gone with the just friends angle and that would have worked out quite nicely.

Finally with Noelle, she’s a solid main character. It’s nice to have a character who’s super into Christmas for a change instead of coming around later. By all accounts she’s always been a nice person and has made a lot of good moves. She probably could have handled the situation of not telling Jake about the changes a little better but all in all I definitely can say that she was a fun lead. The cast is fairly small so each character really counts here.

Early on in the film Noelle gets stuck at work when due to everyone forgetting she was there and locking up for the night. She handled it pretty well as she really made herself at home and began eating the snacks. That would definitely be a nice perk of being stuck in a store like that. I always thought it could be pretty fun depending on the store. Spending a night trapped in there would almost be like a vacation of sorts with unlimited food. It’s fun to think about of course but so I’m glad she wasn’t panicking or anything. Taking it in stride is definitely how you should handle it.

Overall, Hallmark never ceases to churn out solid Christmas films and this one was no different. It’s been a little while since I saw one where they had a big supernatural angle from the start so that was a lot of fun. The Guardian Angel made for a fun character even if she wasn’t always helpful with how she likes to keep secrets and answer cryptically instead of just saying what she’s thinking. If you’re looking for a fun film to check out with quality characters then I would definitely say to watch this one. There’s really nothing bad to say about it and it consistently delivers with solid moments.

Overall 7/10

Switched for Christmas Review

It’s been a while since I saw a film where the main characters decide to trade places. It’s always a pretty fun concept though using the whole premise of how the grass always looks greener. It makes sense that both of the characters would think that the other one has the easier job. I would make the case that the VP of the huge company probably has it tougher because she really had to rise up the ranks but naturally both of them have tough jobs. At the end of the day nobody’s got it super easy. Everyone has something that they’re going through and trials to overcome.

The main characters are Kate and Chris. They are both twin sisters who have grown rather distant ever since their Mom died. They used to be close but that was a long time ago. Their father tricks them into having dinner together and after a spirited argument they agree to do the body swap. They figure nobody will notice the difference and each person’s life is so much easier that it’ll be like having a vacation. In a lot of ways the swap itself is easy but the tough part is that each of the main characters falls in love with a guy while in disguise. This is naturally not good for a lot of reasons. The main one being that this will cause a lot of drama when they return to their own lives. They have to find a way out of this predicament but can they do it?

In a lot of ways Chris really shined the brightest here. She got to show off her artistic talents, knowledge of children, and was just a great team player. She was really acing every part of her day and really fulfilled her end of the bargain. From the two characters she also just seemed like the nicer member. Her eating habits may not have been as healthy as Kate’s, but Chris still gets the job done in the end which is what counts. Naturally that isn’t to say that Kate’s a bad character. She does a reasonable job at making the edits to the school play. The main difference is that she was showing a lot of resistance at first which almost put the job in jeopardy. Keep in mind that a large donor has asked to change things up and yet Kate still tries to block this at first. She comes around later on but seemed slower on the uptake.

Both of them were shaky with allowing romances to develop during the swap though. That’s definitely the last thing you need to be doing at this point. It all ends up working out pretty nicely for the characters but it could have easily gone very wrong. Definitely a high risk play if you ask me. The core plot can be a bit weaker than some of the other Hallmark titles. I’d say from all the ones we saw recently this one just felt the least focused on Christmas. It was more accidental than being a core/focused part of the story. Not to overstate that, we still do have two Christmas parties and a lot of lights everywhere of course but it still didn’t feel quite as big here. Maybe that’s just because the main part of the story was really about the swap and because of that the rest feels like background elements.

This movie did go for a bit of a different kind of story from the norm though so I appreciate that. Usually you have the girl who ditches her fiancée or gets dumped by him and then meets someone else. They hit it off and the lead learns to have a little more fun on Christmas. This time around none of that happens as both characters do like Christmas, Kate just tends to be too busy to really celebrate it all that much. By the end of the film she has learned to make time though.

The two guys Tom and Greg are decent enough I suppose. They aren’t great at knowing which twin is which though as it probably takes a long time to really master that. In a lot of ways their personalities are super similar. Tom is a rich guy who enjoys spending time with his family and wants to make sure that the school year starts off well for his kid. Then you’ve got Greg who just enjoys helping out with the party decorating. Both of them seem like pretty decent guys so that’s always good. Then you’ve got Chris’ kids who fortunately don’t appear all that much so they don’t hold the film back or anything like that.

Overall, this is another solid installment. As always the writing here is pretty solid. The characters are good and you’ve got a pretty well rounded movie experience. There’s perhaps a little less going on for this film compared to a lot of Hallmark’s other titles but I still wouldn’t say that there’s anything here to really hold it back either. It’s got a unique premise and that’s always good since it shows that Hallmark is still trying new things. With two main characters to follow that means there is a little less screen time for each one but still enough to tell a full story. If you want to watch a good Christmas film then this is a solid option to check out although I would sooner recommend other Hallmark films at the ready. With this title complete, Hallmark continues its streak of always delivering quality experiences.

Overall 7/10

A Christmas Detour Review

Whenever you’re planning to go somewhere and your ride ends up getting delayed it definitely makes you hope that you’ll at least be able to grab some food. Some may really enjoy the detour while others will just eagerly await the moment where they can just get to where they were planning to go. This film deals with the main character having an exceptionally long detour but will this time allow her to avoid a potential mistake with her future? Right now there’s definitely a whole lot for her to think about.

Paige arrives to her plane with a decent amount of time to spare. This is fortunate because in the end she has to barter with the staff a while as she tries to bring more luggage on board than what the plane allows. She makes it onto the plane but then gets involved in a debate with Dylan on true love. Paige believes in this 100% as everyone has a soul mate and that’s the one true partner for them. Dylan doesn’t think that makes sense and thinks the odds aren’t in its favor. Well, they’re going to have a lot of time to be able to debate this with each other because as it turns out the weather is really bad so nobody will be getting to New York anytime soon.

For Paige this is troubling news because she had been heading to her fiancé Jack’s house so she could finally meet his parents. They are about to get married so this was a pretty big deal for her. Jack also warns her that if she doesn’t make it by Christmas day then they will have to put the marriage off for another year. The stakes are high. Meanwhile Dylan wasn’t thrilled about going home for Christmas anyway so he is thrilled whenever these occurrences happen. He has a lot of fun teasing Paige throughout the movie since she is very easy to trigger. There’s also a married couple of 20-30 years tagging along. They fall in the middle of the main 2 on emotions. They’re ready for a nice Christmas but are enjoying the detours as best they can.

This film has one of the better dynamics with Paige and Dylan. Certainly Dylan’s teasing can go a bit far at times but he’s just determined to have a lot of fun the whole time. Nothing is about to get him down and it makes him a pretty interesting character to follow. Of course you know the film is ultimately going to set him and Paige up but at least he has a lot of personality before that. He does have the right attitude about their situation. The heroes can’t exactly control when the storm will end so the least you can do is make the most of it in the meantime.

Paige definitely isn’t able to see the bright side here because she is very stressed out about her plans not going through. There’s also the added pressure of the marriage going back but that should have just been a red flag. When we meet up with Jack and his parents it’s hard to see how she ever liked him. Now, of course she would not have met the parents before so we can’t take that into consideration. They are portrayed to be comically antagonistic the whole time as they insult Paige to her face many times. Jack never actually defends her on this either so he loses more points right off the bat there.

The thing is, Jack isn’t really any better. He takes shots at Paige as well and is all too willing to have her lose out on her wedding plans. He just lets the Mom choose everything and expects Paige to follow suit. He doesn’t seem to care about her at all. I guess Paige was just a little oblivious at the time but there just didn’t seem to be much of a friendship between them at the bare minimum. It makes the whole soulmate thing look even more suspect as a result since this clearly didn’t end up working out. In theory you should go into a relationship as if it’s the only love you’ll have but the problem is in a film like this there are always constant rebounds so you can’t even take the premise seriously.

Unfortunately this whole plot ends up hurting Paige quite a lot though. She started the film off on a relatively strong note but started to really decline after that. She lies to Jack quite a few times and even by the very end of the film she continues to deceive him. She is basically forced to come clean once the photo is brought to light and Dylan himself appears. That already seems like a rocky start to her sticking through this next relationship. Keep in mind that she was already engaged prior to the film starting so no matter how she justifies it, she wasn’t exactly holding strong up to this point.

Additionally, Paige allowed herself to get steamrolled by the Mom during the whole second half of the film. She put up 0 resistance as all of her wedding plans were dashed. She would just shoot everyone astonished looks the whole time but wouldn’t say anything in her defense. That’s just not a good look. It shows that she’s not going to stand up for herself no matter what happens. Allowing everyone to walk all over you is never a good thing.

I ended up liking Dylan a lot more than Paige as a result. At least he always has a lot of good one liners at the ready and quick retorts. That said, Maxine and Frank were probably the more interesting characters here. They’re a very jaded married couple as mentioned, but they’ve still got a pretty strong bond going on. The end of the film actually gives them more of a serious plot than I expected. I kind of figured they were already doing well and the sarcasm was something they had fun with. Either way by the end of the film they’re pretty tight again. Without them Dylan and Paige definitely would not have been in a great spot. It’s been a while since I saw a Hallmark film with a supporting couple like this who get a big role. In fact, it may be the first time and I enjoyed it. It was a nice angle to have included.

Overall, Christmas Detour started out a lot better than it ended. The ending was just a bit weak with a lot of the decisions Paige ended up making. Still, I do like the premise quite a bit and so of course the best scenes of the film are before they actually get back onto the main path. There was a lot of good humor here and as always a lot of good writing as well so there’s nothing to really dislike in the slightest. You can expect a very balanced film here and I would definitely recommend checking it out if you want to see a good Christmas movie.

Overall 7/10

Christmas Under Wraps Review

Time for our next stop on the Hallmark channel express. They’ve always done a tremendous job with their Christmas lineup and unsurprisingly that is true of this film as well. Christmas Under Wraps is another solid entry in the franchise and is a very solid all around title. There are no real issues to be had with the film. It’s just a nice adventure where we get to enjoy some time at a local town where they have a fun time celebrating Christmas. Definitely gets you excited since that’s coming up pretty close now.

The movie starts by introducing us to Lauren who is a doctor getting ready to get promoted into the Fellowship where she will be able to finally have completed her life’s plans. She’s always lived by her plan and prepares to get married which will check another box. Unfortunately things don’t go quite so smoothly. Her boyfriend dumps her during dinner and then she loses out on the program. Lauren’s only available option is a small town in Alaska where they need a doctor. It’s not exactly what she signed up for but she lost out on the position in part because she didn’t have out of the box experiences so this is her chance to change all of that. It’s definitely a very different atmosphere. Can Lauren get with the program or is she doomed here?

Lauren starts off as a fairly reasonable character though compared to the last Hallmark adventure where the lead came in with a bad attitude from the start. Lauren’s not perfect and does show some clear disdain for the small town environment at first but the townsfolk do a good job of ignoring her slights and continually trying to get her on board. Eventually she does realize that the town’s actually pretty great and that’s when she can really start having some fun here. It’s no surprise that she would eventually get used to the town. All the people there are really nice and the town has all of the essentials on hand. As long as you keep an open mind you’re bound to have some fun. I didn’t see any pizza places though so I’m hoping they’ve got at least one.

Naturally there is a romance plot in this film as handyman Andy shows up to have a good time. I can’t give the romance here a thumbs up since Lauren literally went from being ready to marry someone else to dating this guy within a few days. Perhaps if we’re being generous you could say there were massive time skips and Lauren was at the town for months but I have my doubts. So that falls into the rebound territory. Otherwise Andy’s a pretty good guy though. He really helps out around the town doing whatever he can to help the others. He’s portrayed as just a very decent guy and he never really lets things get him down. It’s hard to find a more balanced character.

Although my favorite character would be Hattie. She was great at memorizing the coffee orders real quick and seemed to have a solid knowledge of the town as a whole. She was always around and ready to step in when Lauren was having trouble. She’s the kind of character who will always have your back. The rest of the town members are solid as well of course but she really stood out. Then you’ve got Billie who is the head nurse and also a good friend to Lauren. I’ll give her props for not beating around the bush and just asking the guy out. I do feel that if you like someone you should just go ahead and make the move as opposed to waiting to be asked out. Of course, when you make a game of it like in Love is War that can make for incredible dynamics but that’s more the exception to the rule.

Henry and Maggie are also portrayed as pretty nice parents to Lauren. Finally we have a more reasonable group here as her father is glad that Lauren will be following in his footsteps but doesn’t put any extra pressure on her. When she makes her decision to enjoy the town he’s quite supportive of it. Meanwhile Maggie was especially happy since she was hoping Lauren would slow down a bit to enjoy her time while it was around. After all, a career’s important but you do always need to make sure to leave time for everything else too.

Then we’ve got a subplot with Frank, a man who looks like Santa Clause. Throughout the film Lauren keeps noticing things that don’t add up like Elves running around and the fact that Frank even owns a Reindeer. The official story is that he’s part of a little parade the town throws on Christmas but is that really the whole story? He’s quite secretive about his shipping business to the point where he doesn’t tell anyone outside of the town about it. The whole town seems to be involved in some kind of conspiracy. Frank’s definitely a great character though and he certainly enjoys his cookies. Of course, why wouldn’t he right? Christmas is the perfect time to snack on a bunch of cookies. Chocolate Chip will always be my favorite but naturally sugar cookies are a lot of fun too.

Frank may not take great care of his health but he’s definitely a good guy doing his best during the busy season. He probably could have been more receptive to Andy taking over parts of the business but I do agree with him that they shouldn’t be so quick to tell Lauren the truth about the business particularly if she was still thinking about going home. That’s the kind of secret you have to wait until both characters are fully committed. Based on Lauren’s final decisions she clearly hadn’t been 100% committed at that point. In the end the big twist of what the whole town is involved in with the business is pretty fun. It helped add a subtle mystery element to the movie.

Overall, as always Hallmark delivered another great adventure here. The writing is really good and the cast of characters are solid as well. You just can’t go wrong with that combination. It makes for a really solid Christmas adventure and shows you the appeal of small town environments. Personally I’m still more of a NYC kind of guy since I just like having all kinds of stores around and the ability to go anywhere on a whim but I wouldn’t mind some of that weather. It feels like a while since we got a decent helping of snow and over in Alaska that definitely would not be a problem in the winter. If you want to see a nice uplifting film that gets you into a festive mood then this is definitely a good movie to check out.

Overall 7/10