The Sweetest Christmas Review


It’s time to look at the next Hallmark film. This one is another Christmas rebound adventure but with a food themed plot to spice things up. When competitions are on the line even Christmas can get a little hectic. Still, the main characters are ready for anything and this is another solid film to check out.

This film starts out with Kylie lamenting her loss for the Gingerbread contest. She sent in a submission weeks ago but never received a response. At least things are going well at work and she thinks that Alex may be ready to take the next step as he invites her to a fancy restaurant. Her hopes are dashed when he says that he just brought her over so ask if she would like a promotion so they can be a team at work. Honestly it wasn’t a bad idea but Kylie already had her heart set on something else so she ends their “partnership” as he would put it. She then meets rebound guy #1…her ex Nick. Nick is living the tough life of being a single Dad at the moment since she formerly dumped him as well but now they can get back to the past. Also, Kylie ended up doing well on her submission, the letter was just loss behind the fridge. She is now determined to win the contest and prove that her cooking skills are the real deal!

This is a pretty fun film like the other Hallmark title. While I don’t think it is quite as impressive it still has all of the fundamentals down. First off, it’s an enjoyable movie with no real negative scenes to drag it down. I wouldn’t say that any of the characters are downright terrible and the pacing is on point as well. The cooking scenes are always nice and the supporting characters had nice contributions and managed not to feel tacked on. The writing is pretty good and I continue to be impressed with Hallmark in general.

On the other side of the spectrum, once again the whole film’s plot revolves around a rebound and the film pretty much justifies it here like in the last movie. I certainly find it hard to root for Kylie myself especially since Alex doesn’t even seem like a bad guy. Oblivious to be sure, but at least he’s not cheating on her or anything like that. I think the main character is where the last film really takes the edge. That’s a good segway into talking about our heroine. So, Kylie is an aspiring chef who has had a hard time breaking into the industry but is looking to do so now. This is her golden opportunity but you wouldn’t know it since she is so quick to throw in the towel all the time. As soon as she hears that a professional is joining the contest she is ready to throw in the towel and must be told repeatedly not to do so. Why does she have to be convinced to enter the contest she’s been waiting for her whole life? She throws the pity party way too quickly.

Then we find out the reason why she broke up with Nick and it’s a bad one. Basically his Dad died and Kylie didn’t want Nick to have to be busy driving to her place all the time since it was so far…so she broke up with him. She acts like she was doing him a favor but I think it’s pretty obvious why this would be one of the worst times to break up with him. With his life basically being turned upside down all she is doing is amplifying that even more. Things could have ended up pretty badly for him. Now when Nick is just getting over him she is ready to reconnect.

Meanwhile, Nick is fairly reasonable as he does his best to turn her away and also doesn’t make any kind of move until he is sure that she is no longer together with Alex. For him this is also a rebound since his wife died and the time frame can’t have been too long based on the timeline of when this all went down. Naturally the romance in this film is more of a weakness than anything. The movie is at its best when it’s focusing on the comedy and just having a good time. The film never gets too serious though and even the negatives in the romance are typically glossed over. I don’t think you’ll notice it much unless you are paying a lot of attention to it.

Ralphie is Nick’s best friend and he does a good job of looking out for him. The guy’s a lot of fun and certainly is supportive. Without him Nick and Kylie would have definitely been doomed. Likewise Kylie had a sister who was also with her throughout all of this and always had a good attitude about her. Again, the supporting cast was just quite good. I didn’t care much for Nick’s kid, but they can’t all be good. Alex was still fairly decent. He does his best to try to make things right with Kylie. He seems to have a hard time really expressing himself but you never get the feeling that he doesn’t care for Kylie. He’s just grown up in a business environment and doesn’t really know how to differentiate the two. He probably gets the saddest ending from all of the characters. His plan for the contest was certainly convoluted and didn’t work too well but again it was all for Kylie. If anything I found him to be a lot more impressive than Nick and he was certainly a more likable character. He’s the kind of guy where you knew he was doomed from the start though. He never stood a chance.

Overall, This was a fun Christmas film. There’s a lot of baking and solid characters to root for here. Even though this is primarily a romance/comedy film it only succeeds in half of its genre. That’s enough though especially since there are no true negatives here. There was no scene where I thought to myself “I’m gonna drop a star for that.” That’s definitely important and a big reason as to why I can safely recommend this title to anyone. It’s a nice feel good film to end the year with.

Overall 7/10

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The Polar Express Review

MPW-50959
THIS IS THE POLAR EXPRESS!!!!! When the conductor yelled that, it was an intense scene. It’ll remind you of a time when someone may have said that you’re homemade oven baked french fries tasted like McDonald’s so you’d say “What…THIS IS THE HOME COOKED DINNER I MADE!” I dunno, I just got that vibe and it was a pretty epic quote. I can’t say that the film is very epic though. It’s a nice Christmas story, but that’s about all that I can say for it right now. It definitely needed some work in different areas and doesn’t fully live up to its hype, but it feels good to see a quality Christmas film.

I didn’t actually realize this while watching the film, but the main character’s name was actually never said? That’s pretty surreal if you ask me. Well…it’s not like he was a likable character anyway so I can get around that. One day, the kid goes outside so he can catch Santa Clause in the act of giving away presents, but a train pulls into his backyard. The conductor tells him to climb aboard and the main character reluctantly obliges this request. Once aboard, he meets the other kids, but the main character can’t stay out of trouble. He drops a girl’s train ticket out the window so now he must try to find it as the train gets closer and closer to the North Pole. Time to meet Santa!

As you can already guess, I did not like the main character. He was constantly double thinking the other kids and was always way too hesitant. Who would leave their warm house on Christmas Eve in the dead of night to go aboard a mysterious train? I would have still had some respect for the kid if he had gone in right away, but he waited until after the train was leaving to jump on. These moments of hesitation just make him look bad. The main character also loses the girl’s ticket in rather clumsy fashion. How hard can it be to hold on to a ticket?

The film likes to be very mysterious so you can decide on whether things really happened or if they were a dream. In one scene, the main character sees the conductor take the girl to the top of the train where they braved the elements and walked all the way over to the front area where she took charge of the controls. The main character tried to follow them, but it was a long journey and he got to go Skiing. I’m pretty sure that he just fell in the snow and fainted before waking up and quickly walking over to the front. Still, I wonder if he had started making the journey at all and maybe this was all just an elaborate dream…nahhhh. I still would never say that this was a dream, supernatural elements are fun after all.

The main girl was all right so she helped to cover for the main character. She believed in having a good time and going with the flow. Unlike the main character, who forgot about the kid who jumped aboard and then did not want to take the risk of giving him any hot cocoa, the girl was always ready to help. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the shy kid who came aboard. Jumping on the train was already dicey, but then deciding to hide by himself in the final car….I don’t know about that. Seemed like a strange move and there weren’t even any token bullies that were around to keep him away. There was the smart kid who loved to talk and talk and talk, but the guy was never mean spirited. If anything, it was impressive to see him keep up with the main characters. Almost a little too impressive, but I’ll let it slide.

There aren’t a whole lot of Christmas songs to be found here, but a few did pop up before the film ended and those tunes were good. The soundtrack was good enough considering that I didn’t have huge hopes for it and the quick Hot Chocolate dance wasn’t bad either. It was neat to see how you can throw a Hot Chocolate in such a way so that it would not spill. Now that’s what I call true Skillz!

The animation still isn’t my thing. It sort of reminds me of those “Animate yourself” ads that played a while back before the hand drawn versions replaced them. It doesn’t feel very high budget even though it probably did cost a bit for the transition. I think American animation can be good, but I prefer more of a traditional approach like Justice League or something or that nature. It allows for more streamlined action scenes. For example, jumping on the train and getting across the mountains would be more intense visually using the classic animation strategies. The scenes were still cool though and the animation isn’t bad like some other styles, but this “theater” feel that I get from the film isn’t really a positive this time.

I felt like the film moved on at a fairly quick pace. I never found myself bored, but you definitely need to go into the film remembering that there is barely a plot. Most of the film is just the train ride to the goal and the slight setback of going through a factory first. Nothing really happens by the end so you can go away with an empty feeling, but maybe you’ll walk away with a grin instead. I feel like the film would have been significantly better with older main characters. Yes, not just better, but significantly better. I actually thought up a plot that would have made this film almost unrecognizable in terms of quality.

The main characters could have been business folk who never had time to spend with their kids on Christmas because they would work overtime or they would be catching up on zzzzz’s. So, one day a train rolls into the backyard on Christmas Eve saying that they will learn the true meaning of Christmas, and a large check of money if the trip was a waste. The business guys and gals would jump at the chance for this and during the ride: bonds would be formed, (Friendzone bonds because the main characters will all already have an attachment or just not be interested in that sort of thing) challenges would be overcome, and lessons would be learned. The dialogue would be much better and the characters would have a chance to be charismatic.

Tom Hanks ended up being the best character here and more adults in the film could have given him some competition if given the chance. Characters are very important and you can always count on that aspect of the film being able to tip the scales when given a chance. We need a Polar Express remake with adults and as long as the writing is on point, you can bet that it will be an improvement.

Overall, The Polar Express is a good film. I don’t really buy into the enormous amounts of hype that the film got back in the day, but it’s a fairly nice adventure. I just wish that the characters could have been more likable as that was the film’s main weakpoint. I wouldn’t have minded an action scene or two as well while I’m on the subject. You can’t go wrong with a quick fight right? I doubt this film is getting a sequel at this point, but if it does…I want Santa Clause to have to debate on whether he should work on Christmas anymore or not. I also want to see the parents ask where the kids went during the night, they must have noticed that something was up after all! (I do like how they dismissed the bell though, it was an epic troll moment. Of course, I could go on and on about the bell. Just when I thought the main character couldn’t get worse…he put the bell in his broken pocket. I just don’t see how you would do such a thing, you would notice that it wasn’t in your pocket immediately right? Noooooooooooo)

Overall 6/10