Movies, Television

Best of the Worst Hallmark Holiday Movies, 2019 Edition

Suuuuper late and kind of short edition this year but honestly with the way these networks and now streaming services are churning out holiday content, it’s become a full time job to keep up. Literally, I had to quit my job in order to have time to watch any of these. The things I do for shitty holiday movies. Speaking of getting paid to watch movies, I don’t know what it says about me that several people sent me the link to the contest that went viral where a marketing company was looking for someone to watch a shit-ton of Hallmark holiday movies for $1000. I mean I know what it says about me, but it says even more that I responded with $1000 is too low, considering I do it right now for free. But seriously, they were looking for the person to live stream while they watched and blast out free advertising on all social media platforms. These hot takes are worth more than $1000 and also I can confidently say that trashing half of their movies probably would be frowned upon. And so here we are, I watch far too many garbo movies for free—and then give you snarky summaries that hopefully make you laugh and realize that you too don’t have a life, ALSO FOR FREE! It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

SKIP

Holiday in the Wild – Netflix (Kristin Davis, Rob Lowe)

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My mom was in town and typically we surf through Netflix, pop on a movie and then she ceremoniously falls asleep halfway through and let me tell you thank God we chose this one because IT DESERVED A FULL SLEEP-THROUGH. It was my first festive movie of the season and I was taking a real chance anyway because it’s Netflix and as we’ve established on this blog in the past, Netflix should not be in the holiday movie game….but I thought, it’s Rob Lowe. That guy made Drew Peterson, a murderer of several wives, look slick as hell in a Lifetime movie. This can’t lose. Oh, but it did. Within the first 10 minutes of the movie Kate sends her only son off to college and is dumped by her husband at the same time she was going to surprise him with an African safari. Oopsie! She goes on the African safari solo and I assumed it was going to be a little Under the Tuscan Sun, Eat, Pray, Love vibes. It soon becomes a movie mostly focused on elephants. Which I can get down with. What I can’t get down with is Rob Lowe deadpanning, “Some say it’s the most dangerous animal out there but it’s not. We are.” SPARE ME, ROB LOWE. With that opening line from him, strap yourselves in for a whole lot of long, blank stares and 0 comedic timing. Kate casually extends a two week vacation into moving to Africa because we can all just do that no prob bob. In summary: elephants are cool has hell but they couldn’t save this dumpster fire of a movie.

Bonus Points: When Kate unpacks a framed picture of her college-aged son for her two week vacation. Normal stuff. Also this son is Rob Lowe’s IRL son, because of course.

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Check Inn to Christmas – Hallmark (Rachel Boston, Wes Brown)

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If you’ve read my yearly installment of this blog, you know that we’ve got two hall of fame heavy-hitters in this movie, which is why it was appointment DVR’ing for my sister and I. Here’s the deal: Julia is coming home for Christmas from the city where she has a hoity-toity corporate law job and wouldn’t you know IT’S THE CENTENNIAL CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION! It’s such a big deal that there’s a literal Grand Marshal of Christmas and wouldn’t you also know that Julia’s sister and Ryan’s brother are both competing for it. Their two families are small town rivals who both run inns and are getting pushed out by big resorts. Blah, blah, blah, as my sister shouted at the screen at one point, “less chit chat, more Wes Brown!” Obviously these bitter rivals team up to help each other out in the Christmas trivia AND IN LIFE! But what cannot be tolerated in this movie is the gross over-acting. I’m not sure if they all went to the same acting class where it was taught to them that facial expressions and yelling means you’re a good actor but dear lord it was vomit-inducing. Case in point, Grandma has the CRAZIEST eyes that are bulging 24/7. In any given scene, she has erect eyeballs just peeping in the corner.

Bonus Points: Julia, a grown adult staying with her parents for Christmas, is woken up by her dad (Al from Home Improvement) SCREAMING at the top of his lungs, “JULIA, DIDN’T YOU HEAR ME CALLING?!” If my parents ever woke me up in this manner I’d set myself ablaze. In fact, my sister thought it would be funny to try it the next morning for me but she forgot. Had she followed through, we would’ve had a murder on our hands. Also, all either family does for the entire movie is drink hot chocolate. You’ll never find them in a scene without hot chocolate in their hand. In my sister’s words, “mix in a cocktail.” What a bunch of shouting squares.

Christmas Unleashed – Lifetime (Vanessa Lachey)

christmas-unleashed

Becca heads from NYC down south to Gram’s for the holidays with her dog Henry. The opening scene is her talking to her dog an abnormal amount and then talking about him an abnormal amount to her Grams. I’m a dog lover so I was like well that’s her bestie so it’s whatever. I start to worry a little when her Grams says if only Henry was a person he would be perfect for you. And I wonder if this is going to be one of those “magical” movies where the dog becomes a person and I was ready to shut that right off. Instead, we find out that her ex boyfriend Max, the town vet, dated her for four years and also was Henry’s dad until they broke up, womp womp. The two reunite to find Henry, who is basically just a little rascal on a mission to get his mom and dad back together as he’s spotted at all of their most nostalgic spots then watches them reminisce. Spoiler alert: it works. Double spoiler alert: all of my worries at the beginning of this movie were confirmed when Becca has her first flashback of the movie and says in a gooey voice, “This is where Henry and I first met.” I have all of the uncomfies in the world because if I wasn’t convinced at the beginning, I am now, Becca would like to date and/or marry her dog. It’s a good thing Max is into that sorta shit, otherwise this would have a very different ending. Shout-out to my mom for wondering aloud, “Why are all these movies so cheesy?” Oh Cin, they keep making ‘em, and we keep watching ‘em. It’s the circle of life.

Bonus Points: At Henry’s first spotting on the tree farm, the group starts to look for him and excitedly shout, look like he’s headed that way, as they point to spray painted paw prints in the grass. Crack team. Also equally as entertaining as a dog leading his owners on a scavenger hunt is the gay law partners in town who are just learning to speak for the first time by the sounds of their very over-pronounced dead pan cliche We ❤ Lin Manuel Miranda dialogue. (Let it be known, however, both gays are WHITES. GASSSSPPPPP.)

Holiday Rush – Netflix (Romany Malco)

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I’m gonna be honest, I zoned out of this one almost immediately. I was like oh I love Rome from A Million Little Things and I work in radio, so let’s do the damn thing. Then I was immediately bored. Mostly because I hate spoiled little B’s and his children were THE MOST SPOILED. He’s a morning show radio host in NYC (big $) but the station gets bought out and he’s the first to go. And rather than his kids being supportive and all we’ll rally togets for the holidays, dad. They’re all like THIS IS THE END OF OUR LIVES HOW AM I GOING TO POST MY CHRISTMAS GIFTS ON INSTAGRAM?! If I were this dad I’d immediately disown these shits. But he sticks it through and works hard to create his own radio station but also downsize from their mansion to the house they originally had that his kids bitch about like Santa’s little a-holes. There’s a couple of ghost cameos by LaLa Anthony as the dead mom/wife to spice things up but unless you want to cringe your face off at spoiled kids and a matching jammies proposal, skip this B.

Bonus Points: The final scene when Auntie Jo strips down into a slutty red lace number and hits the stage for a live performance out of NOWHERE. Dear, sweet Auntie Jo has been hiding a WHOLE LOTTA WOMAN under those sweaters.

Holiday Date – Hallmark (Brittany Bristow, Matt Cohen)

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The movie kicks off with Brooke on the phone with her parents talking her new boyfriend up as Mr. Christmas and with that cocky nickname, I already know Mr. Christmas will be dumping her before he makes it home for Christmas. Coincidentally enough, Brooke goes to a party directly after the purely predictable dumping and meets an actor who wants to research a small town for an upcoming role and now she’s bringing him home to pretend to be Mr. Christmas. Unfortunately he’s Jewish and also the world’s shittiest actor. He gets a real hard-on over the town and method acting. At one point he cleans her dad’s glasses with glee and calls it a “prop”. So I guess he’s just pretending to be a Hallmark actor who has absolutely no chill. He’s playing himself, folks! I deemed this movie unwatchable and turned it off right around the point where they accidentally convince the family they’re engaged and Joel/Ethan turns to Brooke and no bullshit goes, “How do we ever reverse course from this.” Goodbye. Put me in the ground because this is the biggest loser to ever grace the Hallmark screen and it ain’t even close.

Bonus Points: When Brooke’s parents find out they might be engaged—her dad says “They’re engaged?!” and her mom replies “Why are you so surprised, they’ve been dating for 6 months! That’s how long it took you to propose to me.” UM, I’M SORRY IS 6 MONTHS LONG?!

A Christmas Wish – Lifetime

(Hilarie Burton, Tyler Hilton, the entire B team of supporting cast members from One Tree Hill)

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This year’s One Tree Hill reunion on Lifetime is a must-miss. It’s one of those magical Christmas “spell” movies so not only do you have to suspend belief, but also all fashion sense because everything that Faith wears in this movie should be burned. (After asking my sister if she had any thoughts to add to this blog she unprompted shouted “I HATED CHRISTMAS WISH IT WAS LITERALLY THE WORST AND EVERYONE LOOKED LIKE GARBAGE.” So basically we have the same brain.) Faith’s sister bullies her into submitting a Christmas wish to find herself a mans by Christmas and thanks to ~MaGiC~ it makes every male she ever comes across v horny for her. What a drag. Also I still don’t understand the relevance of this to the storyline, but someone bumps into her with hot coffee three times and HOW DOES THIS BITCH NOT HAVE THIRD DEGREE BURNS?! Dubz also, Faith has a date with someone she’s crushed on in the coffee shop and within 30 seconds of said date, tells him she stalked him on the internet before meeting up so maybe Faith really does need a Christmas wish to get a date because she’s a full-blown creepster. Lastly, true to this year’s trend, there is a gay brother in a bi-racial partnership with a mixed child. I’m noting this because every network except Hallmark (for obvious banned same-sex kiss commercial reasons) is SHOVING the gay, bi-racial brother bit down our throats. Never one to dip their toes in the water, they wanted to go full force with the LOVE IS LOVE theme, and what better way than an exuberantly gay couple that also has a little flava. Unfortunately for OTH fans, they chose Jimmy Edwards (as he will always be known) to prove this point. A flamboyant Jimmy is such a far cry from a suicidal gun-toting teen that it was more of a stretch than a Christmas wish that makes everyone slobber all over you. Mouth would’ve been more believable. Unfortunately they also tried to break him from his typecast and made him a drummer in a band. LOLOLOL. I realize that this blurb is only for lovers of One Tree Hill and I’m ok with that because as long as they keep whipping up this cast at the holidays while they’re on break from conventions in North Carolina, I’m going to keep talking about them as if they’re still the characters from a mid 2000’s teen soap.

Bonus Points: A cameo by Ryan Cabrera at the holiday party and he quite literally follows Faith around serenading her because he too has fallen under her spell. Also, Deb—get it gurl! Still lookin TIGHT. Bet she could still get after Skillz.

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WATCH

Let It Snow – Netflix

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MIXIN IT UP, YO! Tossing in a little youth flick. You know me, I love to get LIT with the YOUTHZ. Jk you really know that if there’s a teen movie on Netflix, I will immediately watch it. Though few live up to my eternal boner for The Kissing Booth, I am willing to shout out when one surprises me. This one definitely surprised me. It’s one of those following a bunch of different couples ala Love Actually that all intertwine in the end. If I may also draw another comparison, it’s basically a 2019 version of the all-time classic Snow Day. Instead of a creepy, rotting teeth snowplow man as the misunderstood villain, we have Joan Cusack as “Tin Foil Woman” driving a tow truck. This in itself made me cackle. Since we live in a much more snowflakes (pun intended) time period than when Snow Day was made, Tin Foil Woman actually has a heart of tin foil and we learn to love her and respect her differences even though she definitely could be a danger to society. She doesn’t ever reveal why she’s wrapped in tin foil though and this is something I will wonder until I die. ANYWAY, there’s too many characters to remember all of their names but the movie has the classic “anything can happen when it snows at Christmas” sort of vibe to it and everyone can enjoy that very optimistic sentiment about shitty winter weather. It’s cute and funny—there’s a girl who buys an actual piglet for her BFF as a Christmas gift, a classic commoner and superstar love story, a bleeding nipple, & the most epic final banger at the Waffle House that could not be more midwestern and high school snow day goalzzzzz.

Bonus Points: Since I championed how cute this movie is, I feel like it’s my civic duty to warn you that there is an organ duet in a church that made me cringe out of my skin and maybe you should 100% fast forward through this. It started out and they are both terrible singers and then they just fully committed to the whole song and I wanted to chop my head off and hide under the couch because how can people CONFIDENTLY SING when they stink this bad?!

Grounded for Christmas – Lifetime (Julianna Guill & Corey Sevier)

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Don’t know either of these leads but the female looks like a long-lost Olsen twin and that’s good enough for me. Look at me taking a chance on up & comers on the holiday TV movie scene. Truth be told my sister had to convince me to watch this one because I felt like I couldn’t believe in this straight love story after seeing how incredibly gay the lead guy looked in the preview. She assured me it was just a bad picture and it turned out to be a hit so I’m glad we had this completely irrational disagreement on choosing a movie. Tale as old as Lifetime, Nina and Brady are totes opposites, their flight is grounded by a snowstorm and they pretend to be dating so that Nina’s family doesn’t think she’s a sad single at Christmas. What a lovely lesson these movies teach us that if you’re considering going home for the holidays without a man on your arm, you should probably jump directly off of a bridge. But I digress, this movie isn’t really a wow factor but something that I did love is that Nina has a sassy best friend who calls Nina on her bullshit and I feel like we don’t see a lot of that on these preachy ass networks. They’re all so supportive and rah-rah all the time that sometimes you just need a best friend who sees that you’re falling for your pilot co-worker, tells you he bangs all of the flight attendants and that you need to maintain the no dating pilots GURL code. At one point Nina is all, no, no, I’m not really into him we’re just pretending, this is a role I’m playing. And Tara serves her with a dose of realness asking if she’s Meryl Streep now. YES TARA, CALL HER OUT. In the end Tara obviously supports Nina ditching their girls beach trip but I still ship a friend that doesn’t just go along with these garbage falling in love storylines right away. A skeptic, if you will.

Bonus Points: Nina and Brady attend a party at her brother and sister-in-law’s house and after the White Elephant gift exchange, the S-I-L walks around the living room with a mistletoe hanging off of a stick and hangs it over each couple as everyone stares at them and forces them to kiss and you know what, if Tara was invited to this party I’m GUESSING she’d call this a little rapey and weird. WHAT KIND OF PARTY GAME IS THIS?! Forcing people to smooch as adults while everyone watches is incredibly creeperoni. Knock it off!

Christmas in Rome – Hallmark (Lacey Chabert, Sam Page)

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This movie could easily go on the worst list because of all the awkward as hell things that occurred in it but I believe I have a little soft spot for cheesy Italian movies thanks to our gurl Lizzie McGuire. Angela is an American living in Rome, wanting to start her own tour company (she’s going to call it “When in Roma”–CLEVER AND ORIGINAL!!) and Oliver is the corporate tight-wad whose visiting to acquire a handmade ornament family business. It’s Angela’s task to teach Oliver the culture of Italy because they do business differently and Luigi ain’t gonna just hand over his family biz to a greedy American who will ruin everything. Oliver takes one tour with Angela and suddenly he thinks they’re dating. It’s a real weird transition but these two are both babes so I guess it’s ok that Oliver 100% coerces her into dating him even though she says she doesn’t date clients. What happens next is two people knowing each other for like 4 days and then discussing long distance dating from halfway across the world. Their first date Christmas gifts include a handprinted ornament and a framed selfie. THINGS MOVE FAST IN ITALY, JUST ASK PAOLO & ISABELLA!

Bonus Points: Angela finds Oliver in the last scene to tell him how she feels BY USING THE GPS TRACKER SHE PUT ON HIS PHONE IN CASE SHE LOST HIM IN A CROWD. That’s like year 8 of marriage, y’all. STALKER ALERT! Also their first kiss is to the tune of Under the Sea Jamaican version of The First Noel and I couldn’t stop laughing.

Ghosting: The Spirit of Christmas – Freeform (Aisha Dee, Kimiko Glenn)

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When I chose to pop this movie on, I was really just trolling myself and how far I was wiling to go for a holiday movie. Because the description of this movie is literally: Jess goes on the greatest first date of her life, but inadvertently “ghosts” Ben when she tragically dies in a car accident on the way home. And I asked myself, are we really doing this? And it turns out, when I commit to a bit, I commit hard. So yes, I filled up a solo cup with rosé and watched a Christmas movie where the main character dies in the first five minutes. Not only that, but I GLEEFULLY watched it. I couldn’t WAIT to rip this flaming hot garbage premise for a Christmas movie apart. But…I honestly… couldn’t. It really was a clever movie. It was self-aware to call itself out for the bullshit of a literal ghost being able to do some things but not others. I mean, she has sex with her alive man candy AS A GHOST because that can apparently happen but ONLY at the winter solstice. They consult a spirit guide to confirm penetration can occur between the living and the dead. I’m getting carried away here, just wanted to get straight to the ghost and human sexual relations but essentially the story is that Jess goes on a date with Ben, they hit it off and she’s already yapping about him to her BFF but then dies reading his flirty post-date text on her drive home—she literally stops in the middle of an intersection to read “You’re pretty great.” Let this be a lesson to us all, don’t text and drive unless you’re good at it. Jess unfortunately learned this lesson the hard way. Then she is stuck in ghost land and can’t ascend to heaven —only Ben and her bestie Kara can see her so they make it their mission to find out why she’s stuck and get her to ascend. Hence Ben banging her. Apparently he thought he’d give her such good D that she’d shoot right into the afterlife. Sorry for Ben’s sex skillz, but the real love of her life is her best friend because gurl don’t need no maaaaans, just a BFF4Lyfe! (& death)

Bonus Points: Jess died in the most aggressive car crash and yet…open casket. HOW. The writing in this movie is actually clever, but the writers also had a real boner for Notting Hill because the “I’m just a girl” quote was abused twice: “I’m just a ghost, standing in front of an alive guy, asking him to go on a second date.” AND “I’m just a ghost, standing in front of her best friend, asking her to fly.” Once was funny, TWICE WAS OVERKILL, guys.

Knight Before Christmas – Netflix (Vanessa Hudgens)

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I’ve been beyond complimentary to Netflix this year by putting not one but TWO of their originals on my watch list. I’m not going to get ahead of myself and say that they’re getting better—case in point, Holiday in the Wild, but I do think they’re so thirsty to become the go-to Hallmark for Christmas originals that they’re just throwing all of the shit at the wall to see what sticks. I will also point out that they’re so obsessed with themselves that they’re now using their own movies to advertise their other movies. This one featured the main characters WATCHING Holiday in the Wild and mentioned the fake town from the A Christmas Prince trilogy. Relax, Netflix, you’re trying the hardest and it’s getting embarrassing. Knight Before Christmas is asking us to do a lot of legwork in suspending belief because a witch in the forest sends a knight from 1336 to 2019. Sir Cole is just wandering around the Christmas market when Brooke runs into him with her hot chocolate. Then later on, for good measure, literally hits him with her car. Why? Because a snowstorm appeared out of nowhere and apparently we’re escalating “bumping into each other” as a meet-cute to potential vehicular manslaughter. See what I mean here? Netflix is extra. Brooke then feels guilty for hitting a stranger wearing full knight’s armor with her car so she invites him to come stay with her because she wants to get murdered at Christmas, apparently. Sir Cole can’t be a murderer though because he’s a babe soda and suuuuper chivalrous. He does good deeds all over town (f’real though, him saving Brooke’s niece is pretty swoonworthy), knows his way around the kitchen-there is a v. sexual bread-making scene, and still finds time to Netflix and chill. What a modern knight. Don’t worry, if this movie didn’t satiate your 14th century cosplay fantasies, they blatantly set up a sequel with Cole’s younger brother for next Christmas.

Bonus Points: This knight mf’er calls the TV “the magic box that makes merry” yet when he asks if he can take Brooke’s car somewhere she just casj tosses him the keys like it’s no big thang. REALLY? YOU THINK THIS MEDIEVAL TIMES GENT WATCHED YOU DRIVE YOUR CAR ONCE AND JUST KNEW WHAT TO DO?! HE RIDES HIS HORSE EVERYWHERE BUT SUUUUURE LET HIM DRIVE YOUR LEASE, BROOKE! Honestly this part triggered me and I found him driving her car and not killing anyone even more unbelievable than a witch sending him from 1336 to 2019 just to fall in love. Also, when Cole wants more “mead” AKA hot chocolate at the diner he pounds his glass and screams ANOTHER ONE, WENCH! And I for one welcome us making that acceptable again because there have been many a time that I’ve been at a crowded bar and wish that I could get a competitive edge over the next bar-mate on a beer refill. If I could do that without getting kicked out, we’d be GOLDEN.

Same Time, Next Christmas – ABC (Lea Michele, Charles Michael Davis, Bryan Greenberg)

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Easily, without question, the best new Christmas TV movie this year. Between the star power, the setting of Hawaii (if you could see me right now, I’m obviously doing the hang loose hand jive), and the fact that they expertly avoid many of the dumb ass holiday movie tropes that Hallmark so very much needs, this was a clear winner. Olivia and Jeff’s families have been celebrating Christmas in Hawaii since they were little and they obviously become vacation boyfriend/girlfriend who pen pal throughout the year and then kick it island style for the holidays. Rather than having two people fall in love in five minutes, or putting high school sweethearts back together immediately, this movie takes place over several years and it’s actually refreshing to have a believable storyline. Of course, it can’t all be believable and there is an enormous plot hole when they show all these lovely childhood Christmases with just Olivia and Jeff playing in the sand and their parents adoringly watching. Cut to fifteen years later and they both have older siblings. Huh? How do we just create siblings out of thin air? And of COURSE, Olivia’s brother is gay and married to a black man with a mixed child. DING DING DING, check those boxes ABC! (Hallmark, everyone still hates you.) But beyond the made-up sibz, both parents KILL it as supporting storylines. Jeff’s dad is the classic out of touch old guy who only speaks in sports references and Olivia’s parents are hippies who can’t stop tonguing each other. Hey, it’s Hawaii. IT’S ROMANTIC! Poor Gregg (Bryan Greenberg) gets the shitty boyfriend treatment standing in the way of soulmates but also when Jeff emerges from the ocean with a glistening six-pack it’s like GREGG, WHO?!

Bonus Points: Honestly I spent the whole movie with outfit envy for every single garment of clothing Olivia wore, drooling over her hot bod and also wishing I could spend Christmas in Hawaii.

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