Movies, Pop Culture, Television

Best of the Worst Hallmark Holiday Movies, 2021 Edition

We’ve reached the point of no return. I am no longer even giving a “Watch” or “Skip” rating to these made-for-TV (or streaming) holiday flicks. This is my 7th annual blog recapping the art that is an awesomely bad cliche holiday movie and if you’re reading this I’m assuming you know that it’s a real love/hate relationship that I have with these hot garbage flicks. And by that I mean, every time I finish one, I hate myself a little bit more for having sat through it at all. So rather than slap a “must-watch” stamp of approval on anything this year, I’m going to get my jokes in, tell it like it is and let you decide for yourself if you’re willing to put yourself through it mentally and emotionally. If you enjoy torture and one lame dry as hell kiss at the end of a movie, stick to Hallmark…if you want to get a little saucy and see more sexual tension and tongue action? May I suggest a peruse of Lifetime or Netflix, even Peacock snuck in this year! Here we go…

a-castle-for-christmas

I got straight duped with this one. Netflix hit me with the “this is a 98% match for you, WATCH IT NOW!” And I was like aggressive, but ok let’s see what this is all about. I gave it 25 minutes before I turned it off. Between the HEAVY Irish accents and the fact that the target age demographic was my mom (seriously, how old does Netflix think I am?!) and the lead actor who probably wasn’t even sexy 20 years ago aka the last time he was an age appropriate male lead for me…I’m sorry but for all of those reasons and so many more, I’m out.

acaliforniachristmas2

The most unwarranted sequel I’ve ever heard of but isn’t that the name of the game for Netflix? People watched something so they crank out 5 more. If you missed my review last year of the OG, peep that here before getting the lowdown on *city lights.* I said it last year and I’ll say it again for the people in the back, Manny is the only star of this movie. I don’t even care about the lead couple, I’m only sticking around to see Manny’s goofy one-liners and funny faces. The good news is Netflix realized what a gem he was in the first and upped the ante for his role in the second. The third installment of this franchise better be all about Manny’s life or we riot. Right out the gate I’d like to let everyone know that there’s a PG-13 rating on this flick and boy do they earn it with a sensual sex scene in the first fifteen minutes. My sister and I had to cover her baby’s eyes as this was far too mature for a six month old to take in. If you’ve ever seen a sequel one time in your life, you’ll know that once the couple has gotten together, part 2 is all about how maybe they rushed into things and they’re not right for each other. Nothing screamed that harder than the rich boy doucher outfit Joseph dons to show off his life back in the city to his farm girl fiance Callie. The dude was wearing a white overcoat, white flare dress pants and loafers. We get it buddy, you grew up going to the country club for golf with the boys. For the rest of the movie we watch Callie’s younger sister who has no living parents left and is in the custody of Callie get straight up neglected and basically raise herself, sustaining a serious injury that no one gives a flying F about because big sis is preoccupied planning a fancy San Fran wedding. All the while, our villain (Joseph’s ex and co-worker) Victoria is out to ruin the wedding. Seriously, there’s not one scene where this hooch isn’t just peeping Tom’ing all over their lives while in bright red evening-wear. Hey guys, before you get caught up in making out, maybe notice the devil 4 ft away from you glaring at you…But all’s well that ends well when Manny tries to ask out Callie’s BFF while she has her arm directly inserted into a cow’s vagina. Thank God for Manny, his cow-spotted nightgown wearin’ ass deserved to find love.

Bonus Points: One of Joseph’s “city friends” (skankwads) greets him for the first time in a year by doing a two-handed slide and scoop on his butt while he’s bent over cleaning something up in a public hotel lobby. WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?! Is this the new era credit card swipe? IS THIS HOW FRIENDS GREET EACH OTHER IN SAN FRANCISCO?! Doing the ole 10 finger wiggle near someone else’s butthole…in white pants no less..seems like pretty dangerous territory, especially while the receiving end is bent over at a 90 degree angle letting it all hang out. We gotta get on the same page about how we catch up with old friends in different states because I really feel like I’m missing something here.

love-hard-poster

I’m a little bit cheating with this one because I feel like it came out FOREVER ago but it IS a Christmas movie and it WAS terrible so I feel like it’s important to include it. I had high hopes because Christmas movies can have raunchier humor over in the no rules land of Netflix. Also, Darren Barnet has proven to be quite a babe in Never Have I Ever (great show.) Natalie writes a dating column about her online dating mishaps. She meets Tag on an app and even though he lives across the country, they have such a good long distance connection that she thinks he’s the one. She flies out to surprise him for Christmas and realizes she’s been catfished by Josh–who as you can see looks drastically different from Tag. It’s one of those movies that is supposed to point out that we’re all shallow assholes and it’s more about falling in love with the person & all of their inner beauty than their 6 pack abs. Yeah, yeah, yeah we get it. Leave that shit for the real world. None of us are marrying someone with washboard abs so in all of my movies I WANT TO SEE THE QUIRKY GIRL END UP WITH THE SEXY BEAST. Is that really too much to ask? Regardless, this movie was painfully unfunny and it seemed as though Natalie’s only joke (and an overplayed one at that) was that her favorite Christmas movie is Die Hard. #CoolGirlNat

Bonus Points: Ever the feminist (who loves Die Hard, don’t forget) Natalie CANNOT STAND “Baby It’s Cold Outside”–how original I know–and so when they’re asked to sing a carol on the spot in front of the family, Josh and Natalie break into an impromptu 2021 version of the classic. Not only do they completely butcher a wonderful song, but I almost had to call the uncomfortable police from watching this scene. No words will do it justice but please PLEASE for the love of God, CAN WE BAN DRAWN OUT SINGING SCENES FROM HOLIDAY MOVIES?! It downright ruins my Christmas and NO I’M NOT BEING DRAMATIC, OK?!

averymerrybridesmaid

My first Hally of this year and what a joyous occasion it was. I forced my ex boyf to watch it with me just like I forced him to carry my Christmas tree up my apt stairs and therefore the cutting commentary was UNLEASHED upon these poor unfortunate souls. It also happened to be chock full of ridiculousness & worth every snarky observation we made. Leah is about to turn 30 on Christmas Eve and also her brother decided to plan his wedding for that same night (TOTAL asshole move, if one of my siblings did this I’d get trashed at their wedding and make a scene while wearing a 30 crown.) Her childhood crush, Drew is back from his world travels to fix up his dead grandma’s house where he lived (next door to Leah) and wants to make sure the big 3-0 isn’t forgotten amongst the wedding kerfuffle. (Spoiler alert: it most definitely is.) The best part about this movie is the lead who plays Drew is fresh meat. He’s not a tired old recycled Hallmark actor who has been in 1900 holiday flicks, looking more weathered than Santa. He’s young and rocking that rugged burly man hotness. Total eye candy. And everything else pretty much goes downhill from there. Leah’s family is WEIRD. Her brother looks like he’s on coke 24/7 with the most expressive eyes I’ve ever seen and the parents are also vying for our attention with over-acting anonymous. They all interact as if they’ve never met each other. The brother’s fiance is named Julia and oh boy does that suck because she plays the bratty bride cliche the entire movie. Bitch flew to London 3 times in one year for a wedding dress from a specific designer. Obviously the dress got lost in a flight. We have a big build-up to the wedding dress she finally wears and it’s a short sleeve paper bag. Outside. On Christmas Eve. With snow on the ground. Hot tip: if you want to get lit up like a Christmas tree, may I suggest taking a drink every time any character references that they are in fact in Rose Lake. Nothing hits harder than a fictional town being forced into every single scripted sentence. Oh Christmas in Rose Lake? Nothings beats Rose Lake. I remember when we were growing up here in Rose Lake…

Bonus Points: Creepy brother has his bach party at their parent’s house and it’s ugly sweater themed. When Drew offers the groom-to-be a beer he replies, “Uh is there a mineral water, gotta fit into my tux.” God I want to punch this guy right in the face. Also, the girl who couldn’t possibly leave *Rose Lake* to travel the world because her local store needs her (yet she’s never once seen working at this store during the busy Christmas season) is gifted everyone else’s frequent flier miles for her 30th birthday. Wanna know how you’re the black sheep of the family? Your brother plans his wedding on your 30th birthday then gifts you with his leftover frequent flier miles and probably a used set of United ear buds. GOD WHAT AN AWFUL GIFT. Buy this girl a trip somewhere or just hand over cash. She probably can’t even use your miles to get a free magazine subscription, you cheap animals.

holidayinsantafe

I had this on in the background while I was wrapping presents one night and even as background noise it was offensive to my soul. I’ll tell you the exact moment I had to turn it off because it still haunts me to this day. These two clowns pictured above are spending some quality time with a niece doing Christmas shopping (played by Mario’s actual daughter) and she pulls them over in a little town square and sets up her phone on a tripod and goes we’re gonna do this TikTok dance. They do one run through of a solid 30 second dance with intricate choreography. The little shit goes, “got it? ok let’s go” and then they just do the TikTok. One take. Full choreography. I’m not often overcome by a deep jealousy and outrage of something so unrealistic but as someone who has tried the simplest of TikTok dances meant for geriatric F*cks and can’t get through 3 seconds without screwing up royally, I CALL BULLSHIT. Get out of my face.

Bonus Points: Mario never ages and if anyone is going to nail a TikTok, it’s the guy who invented sitting backward in a chair and doing a smooth split to Barbara Ann

slater

realhousewives

I appreciate Peacock making a name for itself right out the gate. Between Paris Hilton’s show featuring the QUEEN Kathy Hilton and a Real World-esque show taking the OG Housewives and sticking them on an island together for a week, this app is already worth the $0 I pay for it because I stole it from my ex-boyf, alimony style. Really all it comes down to is that the world needs more Housewives and Andy Cohen giveth freely (behind a paywall.) At first I was worried we were in for a holiday flick centered completely on two women in their forties bickering but the good news is this movie has LAYERS. And the layers are their children falling in love in a town where reindeer freely walk down the street. That’s something I can get down with. The boy (he’s 29, so it’s legal) is one of those classic pretty boy babes that Netflix keeps trucking out as high school movie leads as if anyone in your high school ever looked like that.

Anyway, there’s some great backstabbing hijinks, a gossipy town, a badd bitch troop of girl scouts and young love at Christmas. What more could you ask for? Oh yeah that’s right, a cameo from the fabulous Sonja Morgan and Santa drilling Kyle Richards with a snowball. (Basically only watch this if you’re a Bravo-holic.)

Bonus Points: The two kids smash face for the first time and mid-tonguing the girl goes our mom’s won’t like this very much and the guy goes can you not bring up our mom’s right now? #BONERKILL

royalqueenschristmas

I sure do LOVE Canadians, Brits and Californian’s putting on a New Yorker accent that is over the top and makes me want to rip my ears clean off my head. NAHT. “Capisce” complete with 🤌 was used unironically in the first five minutes of this movie. But anyway, we can’t have Christmas without a royal pretending to be a commoner and falling in love with a street rat only for it to be revealed at an incredibly inconvenient time that he could buy the entire country if he so pleased. DD is part of a zany working class fam in Queens who has a number of incredibly weird Christmas traditions that they try to pass off as normal American. No one is having a snowman building competition in their neighborhood or a Christmas Wishing Tree festival, let’s not give Colin the wrong impression on what America’s all about during the holidays (shopping, drinking and eating cookies.) Colin’s trying to dodge an arranged marriage and stepping up to be King of his fictional country and pursue his passion of “music.” I put music in quotes here because when he gets recruited as the pianist for DD’s charity children’s concert, he plays jazzy cool upbeat piano jams while kids scream sing at the top of their lungs. Hot combo. Obviously the wishing tree brings them together in the end with lingering eye contact and a piano ornament.

Bonus Points: Coming in at number one for MOST cringeworthy moment of the 2021 movie season, the children are singing “Joy to the World” at a normal slow speed and Colin is playing the piano at twice the speed…and everyone is smiling and loving it. It sounds like absolute trash and that’s saying a lot considering every children’s concert sounds like forks in a garbage disposal. This fast/slow tornado in my ears took it to a whole new level and people in the audience were genuinely like wow this is amazing, real raw talent here, this guy should go on tour and not listen to anyone else on stage and just play whatever tempo and song he wants!

Single-All-the-Way

Last year we broke down the first lesbian Christmas flick and this year we’ve got some man on man action. Heavy hitters Jennifer Coolidge and Kathy Najimy essentially carried this movie for me. As the overbearing mom who just wants to be accepting and understanding of her son (she’s read books about loving your gay son) Carol demands to be called Christmas Carol for all of December and greets Peter and his roomie Nick with a “Sleigh Queen” sign in the driveway. I immediately love her. Then we’ve got Jennifer Coolidge as zany Aunt Sandy who jacked ornaments off her sister’s tree and was wearing them as earrings. Even though Nick and Peter have been roommates for life, Peter’s whole family wants them to end up together and boy oh boy is this family FULL of pushers as it pertains to his dating life. If they were my family I would jump off a cliff. Except Aunt Sandy. She can hang.

Bonus Points: A family dance party to Britney’s original Christmas classic My Only Wish (This Year) – suck on that Mariah. Honestly, a cheesy Guncle dance montage for #FreeBritney is way better than a try-hard tiktok hoochie dance…Lifetime and Mario Lopez, I’m lookin’ at you.

theholidayfixup

Sam’s a famous HGTV wannabe who is back home for Christmas for the first time since her and her high school sweetie broke up.  And ope would you look at that, Coop and Sam have to work together to restore the inn and make Harborfest happen in honor of dead Rita (RIP Rita.) Here’s a new fun thing that Hallmark was hammering down our throats this year: the female lead is an “influencer” and super into social media and the small town aw shucks guy HAMMERS her for it until he sees by the end that social media isn’t the DEVIL. Coop openly mocking Sam for her IG story updates on their renovation progress and then loving the camera and being on her show with her by the end was LAUGH OUT LOUD hypocrisy. Here’s a tip, why don’t all you turds who are off the grid not come so hard at Instagram cause whatever homemade shit you’re peddling needs some sort of digital platform (in this case, it was wood-burned signs that looked like a kindergartner made them.) Also important to note that Jana Kramer got a very public boob job after her husband cheated on her for the zillionth time (and she spilled the tea on their joint podcast before finally kicking his sorry ass to the curb) and RIGHT off the bat in this movie that rack is prominently displayed in a lacy lingerie set. My exact note when my eyes popped out of my head seeing it was: “BOOB JOB IN RED LINGERIE.” It was so obvious that my sister also texted me about it too. Well played, Jana.

Bonus Points: The most unrealistic snowball fight scene I’ve ever laid eyes on. Even Twilight’s CGI vampire and werewolf battle scene was more believable than this. Is it Lifetime or are they trying to film the latest Marvel movie loaded with ex-lover sexual tension? Woof. The slow motion and intense music was cringe. Add all the gladiator music you’d like but it doesn’t cover up bad acting.

tistheseasontobemerry

Bold of Hallmark to still be trotting out Rachel Leigh Cook as if she’s not at the age where she plays a mom to a teenager in most movies. I also laughed out loud at the fact that her name is Merry. Simple tropes for simple folks. Merry wrote a dating expert book about a fictional relationship that she “snagged” by following her strict rules of love. Obviously her boss finds out she’s not engaged and she’s actually single AF, so she takes a trip home with her bestie to figure shit out/fall in love with her bestie’s hot brother. And oOoh baby is this guy quite the Christmas ham. They meet (again) via a tasty naked run-in when he lays his chiseled bod on top of her as she’s taking a nap on his bed 🤤 Not only does Adam clearly work out, but he also drives a red pickup truck, adding all of the bonus points to his sex appeal. As someone who has fully embraced the red pickup truck with a Christmas tree in the back decoration style, covering my home in it, DAS MY TYPE. He can’t be PERFECT though, ladies, amirite?! He’s another one who clowns Merry for her social media usage. She takes a photo of her pie for the gram and he snarks, “Does that taste better digitally?” Sick burn, bruh. I liked her comeback better when she told him that picture would be seen by 3.2 million people with just one click. SO HA, BIRD BRAIN IN A SMALL TOWN DRIVING A DUSTY OLD TRUCK. TAKE THAT.

Bonus Points: (Seems to be a trend where my bonus points is actually the most cringeworthy scene of the movie) The most dramatic DON’T GO airport scene where Merry screamed at the top of her lungs and honestly I had the most secondhand embarrassment for someone who screams that loud without letting the other person speak. Yikes on bikes. Turns out, he wasn’t even going anywhere, so her blood curdling whiny “don’t leave me” was even MORE mortifying. Move to a different country and change your name immediately, Merry. Honestly, change your name anyway because 11 months of the year it just doesn’t work.

unexpectedchristmas

Normally a big fan of any holiday movie Joy stars in, this one was kinda lukewarm for me. I think it’s because the guy was such a wiener. They usually match Joy up with a hottie with a sense of humor and this guy was a little too whiny for me. Jamie and Emily dated for a few years and then he dumped her but decided to not tell his family because they all loved her so much. They’ve been broken up for 2 1/2 months, but they COINCIDENTALLY arrive in the same town at the same time for Christmas and the family assumes they’re still together. Rooooigghhtttt. Totally. Jamie continues to be a coward and not tell anyone the truth but obviously a couple that fakes it USUALLY MAKES IT! Except that I can’t get on board with Emily downgrading this hard. She’s cool and funny and well-traveled and while they’re playing family charades, Jamie guesses “you after you’ve had a few drinks” 15 times. He also broke up with her over the phone while she was in a meeting. Yikes, dude. When she roasts him for that I wanted to whoop it up from my couch. #TeamEmily

Bonus Points: A Christmas play where the wiener has to play a unicorn and a sassy grandma who tells it like it is when her grandson is being stupid.

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