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

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