Pop Culture, Television

Best of the Worst Hallmark Holiday Movies, 2018 Edition

Listen, Hallmark really doubled down this year and it was actually difficult for me to keep up. Starting BEFORE Thanksgiving, they were on a roll debuting 2-3 per week, getting an AGGRESSIVE jump on the holiday movie watching szn. Obviously that was far too overwhelming for me. So with the help of my equally as TV holiday movie obsessed sister, we printed out each channels schedules and highlighted our favorites based on plot and if the guy was hot. We created quite a robust list and got to watching. So here we are, your annual installment of the best of the worst in holiday trash movies. PS Due to the large number of movies to view between the two Hallmarks and Lifetime (and I guess Netflix), Ion and ABC Family had to be cut from the list. You understand why. Please respect our decision at this very difficult time.

SKIP

graceland

Christmas at Graceland, Hallmark (Kellie Pickler, Wes Brown)

Right off the bat you would think this is going to be a golden Hally because of ya boy Wes. He’s higher up on the list of Hallmark hotties and I thought that would be enough to pull us through this flick. Sadly, I am here to report that it was not. Centered around a music theme ala Graceland, this movie was nearly unwatchable. Laurel goes back home to buy a bank or something corporate and Clay is like remember when we used to sing together and god I wish she hadn’t remembered. Could have saved us all from a whole lot of Silent Night. No seriously, this one song was performed no less than 6 million times throughout the course of this 2 hour movie. I feel it is also important to point out that although Kellie Pickler is actually a singer, she chose to lip sync in this movie and I’ve never seen a more horrible hack job. Even pop stars still sing during their music videos so it looks real. COME ON, KELLIE! Also, there is a child in this movie and she sings as well.

Bonus Points: Kellie not even attempting to hide her southern twang and everyone else in the movie having no trace of an accent. At the end (spoiler alert) when Laurel gets everything she ever could’ve wanted, she could not look less enthused. What an actress.

evergreen

Christmas in Evergreen:Letters to Santa, Hallmark

It took me the entirety of this movie to figure out that this was a sequel to an already present story line on Hallmark. I would’ve really hated to have to sit through more than one of these. Lisa doesn’t want to put down roots but she really wants to go back to her hometown for Christmas. YA, Ok. On her way home she has side of the road flirtations with the guy that she’ll most obviously end up with when she seems like the ultimate cool girl who fixes his truck. There’s a whole slew of characters all coinciding at once in this Evergreen place and naturally that means Hallmark needed to toss in a dubbs coups because they can’t just focus on one cookie cutter romance at once–it’s their new favorite thing to do and I for one, hate it. This particular version had a white couple and a black couple because black people fall in love at Christmas too. #Diversity on Hallmark. There’s a little wrench in the mix when Lisa’s PLATONIC BFF comes into town and Kevin thinks she’s taken but have no fear because they kiss when the bells ring and the little kid with the lisp FINALLY finds a lock that his key works in. THANK GAWD.

Bonus Points: When these two discover that they REMEMBER EACH OTHER FROM CHILDHOOD and there’s a flashback to them literally just being in the same general store writing letters to Santa like every kid in that town did.

tennessee

A Christmas in Tennessee, Lifetime (Rachel Boston, Andrew Walker, Patricia Richardson)

Andrew Walker, once of Hallmark royalty, now switching over to the Lifetime side, is typically a must-see for holiday staples. He’s cute and charming and usually has a little bad boy edge to him. Unfortunately, I’m gonna need him to take a beat after this one and reassess. The story revolves around Allison, whose a baker and single mom to Olivia. Patricia Richardson makes a star-studded appearance as her mom and naturally Matthew (Andrew Walker) is the corporate big wig trying to buy out the family business and take over the town UNTIL he spends time there and realized the importance of Christmas and family and that is obvious. To be completely honest this movie is all over the place and there’s so many stories happening at once that it’s exhausting. Santa and Mrs. Clause like Allison’s cookies so it becomes a marketing ploy/reason for Allison’s daughter Olivia to get bullied for still believing in Santa. There’s a conniving assistant to Matthew who forges a signature to sell the property. Allison’s dad died recently, Matthew lost a fiance 4 years ago, the mom is still sad about the dad dying and an old guy is pursuing her HARD. As my notes read, “Pull the story together homies or we take Andrew Walker back.” You’re on notice, Lifetime.

Bonus Points: At the children’s play when little Olivia (a partridge in a pear tree) gets bullied about being poor, dad-less, and believing in Santa by a kid with a drawn on Hitler ‘stache. REALLY?! This mf’er is bullying someone while he looks like that?! I would’ve knocked his stupid nutcracker hat clean off his head if I were Olivia. Kids are the worst. Also, the mom from Home Improvement sings at the end to close up the randomness that was this movie.

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The Princess Switch, Netflix (Vanessa Hudgens)

This now marks the second Netflix Christmas movie that has been so awful that I’ve turned it off before finishing it. That alone should be evidence enough that Netflix needs to read the room and slowly moonwalk out of the holiday movie game. You came late to the party and nobody likes you, cut your losses and leave before Hallmark and Lifetime have to physically boo you out of here. Anyway, from what I did watch here’s what I can tell you…Stacy is a baker who got dumped and her ex already moved on with what seems to be a real biddy. So she goes to a baking competition in a country probably located next to Genovia in made-up fairytale land. A weird magical guy who pops up all over the joint is VERY fixated on fulfilling a Christmas wish for Stacy. There’s an annoying over-acting child and a straight rip from The Parent Trap handshake. And true to the switching places classic trope, Stacy finds that the Duchess of Belgravia(?), Margaret, looks identical to her and is yearning for a normal bakers’ life of chaos. Of course since we’re dealing with a fictional country, an accent that sounds somewhat British and somewhat bullshit is tossed into the mix so watching Vanessa Hudgens navigate that is lolworthy.

Bonus Points: A VERY predictable love interest switcharoo and a Chicago baseball cap that never goes away in case you’re ever wondering where Stacy hails from. Also the two “twins”/ “distant relatives” physically running into each other the first time they meet.

 

christmasatthepalace

Christmas at the Palace, Hallmark

It pains me to do this because we all know I have a raging girl crush on Merritt Patterson, but this movie blows big time. It’s no coincidence that the two royal movies were B2B on my skip list. Katie and her bud Jessica, are just two average girls from Trenton, NJ who have an ice skating show in made up San Senova. Katie PHYSICALLY runs into King Alex in the plaza even though neither of them are blind. It’s alarming how often they have people bulldozing each other over as meet-cutes in these garbage royal movies. They’re hired at the palace to throw an ice dancer Christmas pageant because the King’s daughter Christina, is a real fan girl. She takes up FAR too much of the storyline and obviously drama ensues leaving them both to bail on the pageant. Well, one of them bails and then comes back and skates right onto the ice as if she never left. Nice try, girl.

Bonus Points: When Katie breaks the news to Christina that she’s ditching her lame ass pageant, even though the whole thing started because her and Jessica–professional skaters–were hired to put it on, she gives her a cheap ice skating figurine at the same time AS IF THAT WILL MAKE HER ANNOUNCEMENT LESS DOUCHEY.

HometownXmas

Hometown Christmas, Lifetime (Beverley Mitchell, Stephen Colletti)

Noelle’s dead mom used to run the live nativity in her southern hometown every year, so Noelle (who is supposedly a doctor in Chicago, though it’s mysteriously never brought up again after the first ten minutes) comes back to revive it. Her high school sweetheart who broke up with her to go pro in baseball lives back at home now because he blew out his arm or something equally as cliche. The whole movie throws a lot of incesty vibes with Noelle’s family, especially her relationship with her brother, which is far too flirty for comfort. In fact, when the whole fam troops on over to the county fair, they go to do a “southern snowman” contest and Noelle is like obviously we’re partners to her brother and he has to be like um, maybe this year my partner should be my fiance. YIKES NOELLE, READ THE ROOM. In another completely unbelievable storyline, their dad announces he’s dating someone new, then invites Noelle’s ex boyfriend Nick and his mother over to go to the county fair where they immediately eye bang each other. It is VERY apparent that he’s dating Nick’s mom, and yet when the two are found playing tonsil hockey underneath the mistletoe 20 mins later, Noelle is like DAD WTF YOU’RE DATING HER?! How was that not obvious? No seriously, what idiot didn’t pick up on those clues. The two of them were basically drooling when they greeted each other and both kids were like oh this is normal, they’re just friends?! ANYWAY, after 100 million things go wrong (and Noelle and Nick make amends even though their parents are dating as well), the nativity DOES happen and of course, per 2018 holiday movie tradition, ends in TERRIBLE song.

Bonus Points: When the church floods and they have to find a new venue for their live nativity, they go to the local theater and the owner is like oh damn, we’re all set up for this week’s production of a barnyard play. And Noelle and Nick are like the world is ending. Then Noelle has a light bulb and goes to an abandoned barn, where they decide to hold the nativity. IF THE THEATER WAS USING A BARN SET, HOW IS GOING TO AN ACTUAL BARN ANY F*CKING DIFFERENT?! Ok. I’m done. If you’d like to be entertained by this movie instead of triggered by their stupid script writing, check out Bev’s very apparent lazy eye and drink every time it’s looking in a very different direction from the other.

WATCH

THE-CHRISTMAS-CONTRACT

The Christmas Contract, Lifetime (OTH Reunion)

You knew that no matter what, I was gonna love this movie as a diehard One Tree Hill fan. Was it confusing that they cast this movie then did a reunion immediately following it without Chad Michael Murray and Bethany Joy Lenz who were also in tv holiday movies this year? Sure was. But either way, I’m gonna ship any sort of cast hang for a show that was basically my obsession from ages 13-22. The movie itself has Jolie (what a southern name) bringing her bestie’s brother Jack  home for Christmas as a fake boyfriend  because her ex has already moved on. Other than the fact that Skillz and Rachel Gattina are married in this movie, we get a song and performance from Tyler Hilton (with gratuitous slow dancing in jean shirts) as well as a little Clean Teen drop in from the leather pants wearin hussy who stole Mouth’s virginity. They really pulled out all of the stops for this one. Something that is extremely important to note, Jolie’s ex boyfriend is hideous. He has FOREVER greasy hair with quite the five head. In fact, my sister pointed out he’s basically a younger version of Marv. So he’s got that going for him.

marv

Obviously the two fall in love while fake dating and learning about each other and the fam loves Jack. There’s even a campfire singalong to Deck the Halls that makes me want to rip my ears off. Good, clean, holiday fun for all.

Bonus Points: For all of you 7th Heaven stans, Jeremy London is a supporting role and wears a variety of fedoras. One is corduoroy. There’s also a fun scene where Jolie has to teach her greaser of an ex boyfriend that breaking up means not talking anymore. Also, Robert Buckley in dark framed glasses…sup?

Full Disclozsh: If you’re watching and feel so inclined to watch the HOUR OTH reunion they tacked on afterward to grab more viewers, SKIP IT and thank me later. It’s a bunch of not at all related to OTH Christmas games and it’s embarrassing for everyone involved.

 

poinsettiasforchristmas

Poinsettias for Christmas, Lifetime (Bethany Joy Lenz)

It seems as though it would be approps to get all my fellow OTH’ers out of the way at once. Bethany has been lookin like a dime lately and really killin it in the holiday movie game. Last year she had a winner with Andrew Walker and this year she got me to care about Poinsettias. Control freak Ellie comes home to her family’s farm to help save it and there’s a babe soda working there, encroaching on her fam’s territory so obviously they are going to butt heads and fall in love. There’s the classic ole spray each other with a hose and have a snowball fight with virtually no snow as flirting. There’s a chance the Poinsettias won’t be ready for delivery by Christmas and it’s a real nail biter until obviously Ellie pulls some bullshit theory out of her ass and saves them. There’s some random side story about Sean possibly dating this TV personality who was trying to buy the family farm? but in the end they “break up” and at the Christmas parade, Sean tosses aside a hot dog before smooching Ellie, which almost makes me put this movie on the shit list. DO NOT WASTE A PERFECTLY GOOD WIENER FOR ANYTHING, let alone a mediocre closed mouth kiss.

Bonus Points: Boo thang Sean built his own log house. What a Noah Calhoun swoon.

prideprejudice

Pride, Prejudice & Mistletoe, Hallmark (Lacey Chabert, Brendan Penny)

Darcy (Lacey) comes home to take time away from her job. She immediately dumps her boring finance boyfriend who also happens to work for her dad and reconnects with her high school debate teammate Luke while they plan her mom’s Christmas event. My first thought is could her family BE more involved in her love life? My boyfriend’s first thought is all of the men in this movie are clearly gay. He’s just bitter I’ve already forced him to watch double the amount of holiday movies as last year and we weren’t even into December yet. Although in relation to the men in this movie, the only requirement I saw for a male role was having a ridiculously deep side part. There’s a song and dance (not literally, this can be confusing as many Hally’s this year have leaned heavy on the musical numbers…rest assured this is a welcome non-singing installment) about kissing under the mistletoe where Darcy continuously hard passes Sean every time he tries to sneak a smooch “per Christmas tradition”. Obviously she finally gives in at the end.

Bonus Points: When Darcy’s bro and sis in law announce their pregnancy on top of her breakup announcement. They’re like can’t wait to celebrate Christmas the four of us and Darcy’s like uh no we broke up and those assholes are like NO THERE’S FOUR OF US, pointing to her belly. Way to breeze right over her heartbreak and still manage to make it about your not even showing baby bump. Thank u, next.

mingle

Mingle All the Way, Hallmark

In the spirit of full disclosure, I saw like the last 40 mins of this movie but it was enough to tell me that it was much better than some of the trash they were tossing out this year. A lot of this review has to do with the fact that the guy is cute and there was NO singing. Molly creates an app that pairs people up (much like a dating app) so that you can have a companion for all of your holiday biz parties/events. Her and Jeff get matched up and since she wants to prove to her judgmental AF parents that her app is a success, they stick it out for all of the holiday season, natch falling in love in the process. I don’t know who the hell has this many events around the holidays but I’d like your job, plz. I haven’t been able to score one open bar holiday party since about 3 years ago and these people are like we have multiple engagements. MUST BE NICE. Although not to brag, but totes to brag, I won a $50 gift card to Target at my holiday party for my part time job this year so I’M BASICALLY RICH. I’m still excited off of the high of that. Didn’t need a date from an app to WIN BIG AT THE RAFFLE. Anyway, there’s a little ex reappearance at the end to confuse this maybe professional maybe romantic relationship (go away, ASHLEY) but in the end, dating apps take the W in this very 2018 Hally.

Bonus Points: Molly somehow manages to fall OVER the Christmas tree and right into Jeff’s arms for a catch FULL of panting, staring and sexual tension. Spoiler alert: this doesn’t result in a kiss because it’s not the last scene of the movie and any kiss before the final 5 minutes is ALWAYS interrupted. Also at one point Molly says “My compliments to the Jeff” while eating Jeff’s cooking and my eyeballs roll at rapid speed out of my skull.

itstimetocomehomeforchristmas

Time For Me To Come Home For Christmas, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries (Megan Park, Josh Henderson)

Famous country singer Heath (we quickly learn he only sings country Christmas songs), who also confusingly sometimes goes by Lee meets Kara at the airport in one of those classic we’re both going home for Christmas but our travel plans keep getting f’ed so we’re just going to end up making our own way together, road trip with an attractive stranger style. It takes Kara an unnatural amount of time to figure out that Heath is a Grammy-winning singer, which she irrationally gets pissed about. Sorry he’s not a douche who announces that he’s famous when someone doesn’t recognize him, Kara, THAT’S ACTUALLY AN ADMIRABLE QUALITY. True to this year’s traditions with Hallmark, there’s a LOT of singing (specifically terrible lip syncing, which I guess is just their MO) as well as annoying children trying to steal the spotlight. I’m willing to ignore all of these things because somehow I still found this movie more tolerable than most. There’s a lot of sob stories as we learn that Heath/Lee lost his dad recently and Kara lost her mom. They also stay with an old friend of Heath’s en route and the wife is sick. At one point in the movie my boyfriend had an outburst where he yelled, “is this guy gonna choose whether or not he wants to have an accent?!” And that was probably the most exciting moment of the movie. Clearly we’re both triggered by actors being terrible at accents. I perfected my British accent just from being obsessed with Harry Potter movies when I was 12, actual actors who get paid for it should probably know how to do a southern drawl or an American accent. In the most cringeworthy of grand finales, Heath/Lee is struck by inspiration and writes/sings a new song on Christmas day around the fire. Kara joins in, making it a duet of a brand new song that she’s never heard. His mom awkwardly stands far too close to him and bops in his face while he plays the guitar, then she too takes a solo verse right there on the spot and then Kara jumps in for one as well because why not? Suddenly out of nowhere there’s a violinist and Heath’s sister is playing guitar. I literally had to ask myself if I was on drugs or if this scene was real life. Everyone breaks into applause when Kara and Heath hug. Goodnight.

Bonus Points: Lee/Heath’s mom gives him a photo album that they’ve been talking up for the entire movie that she spent all year making. He flips through it at rapid speed, looking completely disinterested and then abruptly gets up to leave and find Kara who he just saw five minutes earlier. Instead of his mom being like wtf you ungrateful twat, she’s like follow your heart, son! Also, at the beginning of the movie there’s a flight attendant that is vying for worst movie character of all time. She denies Heath a spot in first class on the plane and tells him there’s no exceptions then asks him for an autograph. The same condescending MF’er then escorts annoying kid #1 off the flight and when Heath gifts the kid wings from his dad who was a pilot, she whine-sings “LOOK WHO GOT HIS WINGSSSSS.” Bye, bish. Get lawst.

Christmas-Wedding-Planner

Christmas Wedding Planner, Netflix

I DIRECTLY contradict myself with this one. My artfully worded diss to Netflix on my Princess Switch review will be eaten in full after watching this number. Technically it’s a last year edition that was overlooked, but nevertheless it IS a Netflix original and I DID like it. Turns out it was based on a Harlequin novel and judging by my rabid taste for red hot reads, I’m not surprised I loved this one. I’m giving the novel credit here instead of Netflix because I’m still annoyed at the fact that they’re trying so hard to be a holiday TV movie competitor. Regardless, Kelsey is a disaster, clumsy wannabe wedding planner and her first job is planning her cousin’s wedding. So basically me minus the planning my cousin’s wedding part, which can easily be remedied if my cousin who is getting married in the fall is reading this. But I digress, Kelsey’s cousin Emily and her aunt Olivia are classy AF so the pressure’s on to throw the perfect event. She has a little meet-cute moment with her cousin’s ex boyfriend who also happens to be the PI investigating her cousin’s fiance, Todd. Ya follow? They do everything they can to make Todd look like a supreme slimeball. I literally cringed out of my body the first scene he’s in where he drops off jewelry to the bridesmaids and says “he just wants to keep his ladies happy.” BARF BARF BARF. He also has a very apparent tick where he winks on every other word that escapes his perv-tastic mouth. These are red flags! How did this beautiful girl fall in love with this dirtbag? As you might presume, Kelsey and Connor investigate Todd while she continues to plan the wedding. They naturally fall in love, probably because Connor’s business partner and BFF is Joey Fatone. No seriously, JOEY FATONE. And his acting is NEXT LEVEL bad. We get it Joe, you’re Italian. In the end, there’s a soap opera wedding moment where it turns out *SPOILER ALERT* Todd knocked up the maid and his parents tried to pay her off. GROSS, TODD. Since the wedding is canceled it obviously makes the most sense for Kelsey and Connor to get married because who needs Connor’s family at the wedding and most marriages that’re built to last start from knowing each other a couple weeks before getting engaged and married right on the spot…everybody knows THAT.

Bonus Points: A very rom-com stakeout montage. They laugh, they snack, they sing and dance in goofy sunglasses, they take selfies, they snuggle into a nap. The makings of every great relationship depends on how good they montage. Plus these two are both babes. 5 stars.

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