It’s 2022, baby! We’ve got about 6 zillion streaming services and FINALLY they’re all making original Christmas movies. We are no longer SHACKLED to a network geared toward the middle-aged female demo making four of the exact same movie starring Candace Cameron Bure each and every year with the grand finale being a Sahara desert dry brushing of lips. We’ve got OPTIONS now! When I sat down to make my list of preferred flicks to watch, I clicked through 174 BRAND NEW original Christmas movies. And from that monster list (shout out Entertainment Weekly), I narrowed it down to a conservative 33 movies as a guideline, adding and deleting along the way. Let the records also show that CableTV.com put out a call for one person to be the “Chief of Cheer,” watch 25 movies in 25 days, submit commentary and get paid $2,000 for their services. I nearly broke my keyboard whipping up a lengthy rambling of a submission PLEADING my case that I’m already the Chief of G-D Cheer and I deserve compensation for it for ONCE. Spoiler alert: I did not get the job. Big mistake, CableTV.com, HUGE.
For anyone who cares, here was my submission that was so unjustly overlooked. I hope everyone at CableTV.com gets coal in their stockings this year.There’s truly nothing better than pouring myself a glass of wine, snuggling up on the couch in my sherpa-lined red truck blanket, staring at the twinkling Christmas tree in the corner & smashing play on a holiday movie. It is the true meaning of Christmas.
Not only do I enjoy consuming a sleigh-load of holiday movies each year, but for the past 8 years I’ve maintained a pop culture blog (thesaltyju.com) and each year I recap the newest Hallmark & Lifetime holiday movies and share my opinions with the world (whoever stumbles upon my blog.) Considering each streaming network is now competing for who can release more original holiday movies each year, this is quite an undertaking and I feel as though my fervor to watch each one and record my thoughts before Christmas Day is impressive. I’m dedicated to watching overworked corporate girlbosses return to their sparsely populated hometown and fall in love with the local carpenter as they harmonize at the church Christmas pageant that they managed to cobble together after many holiday hijinks, sharing one chaste kiss under the mistletoe as the credits roll. And if I’m that dedicated WITHOUT pay, imagine the effort I’ll put in with a little incentive?!
Even though I make time for 20-30 new holiday movies each year (while keeping Hallmark running in the background as I “work” from home so I can rewatch old ones as well) I always make sure to revisit the classic Christmas movies I grew up on. Each Christmas season *must* include Home Alone (1 & 2), Elf, I’ll Be Home For Christmas, The Santa Clause (1&2), Love Actually, Miracle on 34th Street, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation & The Grinch. Of course, I’ll make room for new classics to be sprinkled into the mix, most recently Netflix’s The Christmas Chronicles has become a fan favorite in my household of one. Kurt Russell gave Santa an edge that we haven’t seen since Tim Allen in the early 90’s and I can always get down with a cool Santa sax solo.
Anyway, as you can see, I’m already crushing it as a Chief of Cheer every holiday season like it’s my J-O-B, so why not get paid for it?! I would LOVE the opportunity to watch Christmas movies and share my feedback with CableTV.com. Thank you so much for your consideration and keep the change, ya filthy animals!
Anywho, back to the matter at hand, Hallmark has really jumped the shark since the aforementioned CCB left and now that the streaming services are releasing their own Christmas movies, pumping a fraction of our ungodly subscription fees into the production value, there really is no competition. That’s not to say I ruled out the OG giants of Christmas (Hallmark and Lifetime), but I will give you fair warning that in the world of streaming cable, you can’t have both. You either get Hulu Live TV with Lifetime or YouTubeTV with Hallmark. There’s a special place in hell for ex boyfriends who cancel their Hulu Ad-Free Live TV that they know you’re using, in PEAK Christmas movie season, without even a courtesy warning. Which is how I found myself scrambling to get a YouTubeTV subscription and therefore had no option but to F with Hallmark exclusively this year (Sorry, bout it, Lifetime.) So without further ado, I’ve divided by network–in alpha order–so you can roll right past the networks you’ve chosen not to pay for (or steal logins for.)
Something From Tiffany’s
A product of Reese Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine, the plot of this one is a wee bit of an engagement ring mixup. Ethan gets a big ole rock to propose to his LA girlfriend, Gary gets his girlfriend diamond earrings, their bags get switched and each woman opens up the wrong gift on Christmas day. Except instead of correcting the mixup, Gary goes pedal to the metal and proposes anyway with a ring he certainly doesn’t have the coin to pay for. We all know they have to make the current partner hateable so we don’t feel like it’s cheating when there’s a spark with someone else…but I feel like they went too far here. Gary the tattoo artist is a thieving scumbag. And word on the street is it’s ok to leave your fiance when he’s a poor dirtbag with no morals. This movie was kinda boring overall save for BFF Terri who provides comic relief and rips on the shitty boyfriend, but it’s a nice Christmas in the city story overall. Definitely can tell its got that Reese cashflow.
Your Christmas or Mine?
I guess this one was geared toward the younger crowd as it featured two college students. Ah, to be young and in love at Christmas with a posh accent. Leaning on the “let’s surprise each other” but do it at the same time and completely miss each other trope, James ends up celebrating Christmas with Hayley’s family in one town and Hayley ends up suck with James’ dad in another. Obviously neither one has told their family about the status of their relationship because they’ve been dating basically five minutes. Secrets are revealed, families are the worst, and the ONLY time I chuckled was when Hayley’s family shows up at James’ mansion (he’s a Lord) and make a comment about how she could’ve pulled a proper Meghan Markle. Otherwise, this movie is a dud and you couldn’t PAY me to spend a holiday with a brand new sig oth’s family WITHOUT THEM THERE. Pure torture.
When Christmas was Young
This is primetime. The big leagues. This movie premiered after 60 Minutes! What a lead-in. You know it’s good shit when it’s getting the Sunday night feature like it’s awards season. Happy to report it did not disappoint, especially since it was the last movie I viewed this season and I already had quite an ear full of “original Christmas songs” that made me want to scoop out my ear drums with a butter knife. With Sheryl Crow as an EP, you can trust the music will be legit and it sure was. Luke Dawson (hot name) is a doucheroni country music agent who gets fired and his last Hail Mary to keep his biggest client is to get the rights to a song written by Melody. Tale as old as time, Melody shows him the charitable and family side of Christmas so he stops being such a turd and Luke repays her by giving her song away anyway so he can keep his job. All’s well that ends well though, obviously in song. I really don’t have a lot of snark for this one because it followed the holiday movie formula to a T and it didn’t have any weird actors overdoing it in the background or terribly cringetastic scenes. Round of Applause for the Canadians here, they know how to make a solid Christmas movie.
GREAT AMERICAN FAMILY
Molly is the chipper go-getter of a business owner trying to land a catering job for a rich family and Carson is the privileged nephew photographer of said family who has a boner for her. This movie was the equivalent of a Christmas cutout sugar cookie, sweet and basic. No major conflict, no exes to get rid of, and even when Carter had to pick going to Milan over staying in his hometown to be chairman of the family biz, it was *very* anticlimactic. Bonus Points for an opening scene of Carson sneaking up on his aunt and taking a picture of her before even saying hello…stalk, much?! And a suuuuper random side love story between the butler and the aunt that escalated very quickly. We went from sidelong glances to a proposal in RECORD speed.
Haul Out the Holly
Holly’s parents run the neighborhood Christmas festivities every year and basically have been ruining her Christmas since she was born because instead of getting to open presents at home she has to be free labor for their festival. Less than 5 minutes into the movie we’ve got a “I’m not happy in this relationship” and Holly will be returning home for Christmas with her overachieving parents. Except this bitch has the worst parents in the world. Like someone commit these two clowns to a mental institute. Who invites their daughter home and is like, “Bye babes, Happy Christmas we’re moving to Florida right now! Sorry about your breakup, please watch our giant house and make sure it’s decorated up to HOA code!” There are no redeeming qualities to this movie as everyone is rude and weird & sketchy and she’s an ADULT. Say no and get the hell outta there! And the lead male HOA president nerdbomber is a fucking loser. I don’t care if he’s an architect, he’s giving citations for not having a porch nutcracker, someone needs to give him a swirlie and then stuff him in a locker. And OF COURSE he plays the guitar. Extra cringes for the classic bludgeoning of an all-time great Rom Com line with: “Just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to be Santa.” WOOF. MAKE IT STOP.
A Cozy Christmas Inn
I only stomach’ed like 45 mins of this and I was barely paying attention but I knew the minute I heard two old biddies in a town with a stupid name say “Believe in the magic!” that this was very much not the movie for me. I dig Jodie but we all have to have boundaries and a movie where Santa is the main hunk’s dad is mine. I don’t know exact plot deets here but I know Andy is the ex and Erika is there to buy his B&B leading to the often predictable “PROMOTION OR LOVE” decision…but with lots of twinkle sound effects and lines like “stop listening to your head and start listening to your heart!” From someone who thinks exclusively with her heart this is BAD advice from the friend of the program. Extra cringies for Erika asking Santa (Andy’s dad) for Andy for Christmas. I almost puked in my hands typing that. And it wouldn’t be a “one of a kind town” without annoying AF side characters trying to bring main character energy. I don’t care about your small town life in Garland, old diner people, kick rocks.
Christmas Class Reunion
As a Julie Taylor fan (yes I’m using her character name instead of her real name) I had high hopes for this one. She’s cute, the lead guy is a babe, what could go wrong?! Everything apparently. The opening scene is a complete rip of the Carrie pig’s blood dumping but Hallmark style. Then we fast forward 15 years later to all of these goons and where they are now. The over-acting in this one is next level and the way that each character acts like where they are in life is the END OF THE WORLD. (I was unemployed and moving back home right around the time my high school reunion took place so let’s cool our jets with pretending life sucks when you’re all gainfully employed.) The couple that was soooo in love in high school is separated now (color me shocked) and is hoping the reunion would spark their magic again. Since Hallmark isn’t about showing divorce, I think we can safely assume nostalgia will trump couples therapy in the end. None of these fools have talked to each other in 15 years but doesn’t stop them from acting like they’re besties when they’re reunited and also I HAVE A BONE TO PICK. When will Hallmark learn to fill the coffee cups with at least water so everyone stops tipping obviously empty cups toward their dome piece and pretending to sip. Shout out to random unnamed co-worker of Julie Taylor for the most memorable line of the whole damn thing, “They’re saying it’s a federal investigation…as in the FBI!” Oh, is that what that is?!
Jen runs a home decorating shop with her sister and makes lil videos and Max is her BFF from college who helps photograph and film her. They decide to enter some sort of HGTV knock-off celeb couple contest for influencers posing as a married couple with a baby. Obvs they become finalists and let me be the first to say this Hally threw me for a loop. It didn’t really follow the formula and everyone pretty much hated Jen for most of this movie. Her mom, Max who has been in love with her forever with her friend zoning him HOARD. Jen was not a fan favorite and not to pile on but she still hasn’t gotten any better at doing an American accent since her days starring as Scarlett on Nashville. But as we’ve learned, if anything can make you stop being an asshole, it’s Christmas…and also pretending to be your nephew’s mom on a stage in front of tons of people when he says “mama” for the first time and he ain’t talkin to you. Pro Tip: If you want to make this movie more fun, drink every time Jen pops into “influencer” voice and worry about the future of our youth who live in influencer voice 24/7. For realz, I saw a middle schooler prop her phone on a shelf at Wegmans and start doing a dance in the aisle. #We’reAllFucked.
A Tale of Two Christmases
It’s on me that I didn’t read the description (or the title) with any sort of common sense and still chose to watch this. I can’t get down with groundhog day or magical alternate universe movies so as soon as Santa “granted a Christmas wish” and the clock stopped working I knew I was screwed. Not only that, but I was confused. When this parallel Christmas first started I had no way of telling which was which. I guess what I’m trying to say is I think I’m finally too stupid for Hallmark? Also ain’t that some shit that you tell some fat guy ringing a bell that you “just want something to work out for once” and you get to live out two Christmases to let you know which man candy to choose and how to crush it at your career. WHERE’S MY FAT MAN?! I’d love an insider tip, homeslice. I want to help my middle school bully sensually strip his chunky knit Christmas sweater off after declaring it’s hot in here! Anyway, no spoilers but Emma’s Christmas with fancy lawyer Max and her promotion to lead architect ends up being a real disaster and as it turns out moving home to Vermont and starting a biz with her dad and smooching the guy she grew up with is THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS. “You know I’m not perfect, right?” “You are to me!” AWWWWWGagggmylifeawayAWWWW.
Homeless chick Gail drives around the country in a van and does open mics, but she’s keeping her followers up to date on the journey which is high key obnoxious to watch her be an influencer who can’t afford an apartment but can afford to overshare. And wouldn’t you know her van/home gets totaled by a goat or something on her way to LA for her big break. The man, the myth, the legend, JD McCoy (clearly the Friday Night Lights characters are a HIT in the Christmas movie scene), is the mechanic who will fix her van and then make it rock if ya know what I mean, WINK WINK. Not gonna lie, grown up JD was doing it for me in this movie and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Sure, the movie took an emotional turn that I wasn’t prepped for but we got a sex scene. HELL YEA. HBOMax has no rules and I DIG IT. Unfortunately that’s immediately followed by children singing which is a big HELL NO. Overall dece movie but I’d be remiss not to shine a light on the worst part…the hispanic actress that I saw in THREE movies so far this year and she was playing a loud obnoxious caricature in all three. Was she running a special on “annoying over-animated screecher” as a character?! I was mega embarrassed for her every time she graced my TV this year.
A Hollywood Christmas
Jess is directing a Christmas movie about a lawyer shutting down a bakery and as it’s shooting, Christopher, a finance bro from the network, comes to shut down the Christmas movie division, Omg SO meta. A few minutes later I discovered that Jess’s assistant has a cartoon baby voice that made me want to blow my brains out and I PRAYED that her speaking role would diminish as this flick progressed. That was my one Christmas wish this year. And that Christmas wish was quickly shattered because this girlie was basically a main character flapping that squeaker of hers to point out all of the ways in which Jess’s life was playing out like a Christmas movie. It certainly didn’t help matters that I was already cranky and starving as I watched this movie on my colonoscopy prep day. The treat your real life like a Christmas movie WHILE filming a Christmas movie that has almost the same plot all voiced by lil miss helium pipsqueak was a hard no for me. I paused it several times and it took everything in me to finish it. Then it ended on a musical number to really seal its fate as worst movie ever. PS: STOP TRYING TO MAKE THE “IS DIE HARD A CHRISTMAS MOVIE” ARGUMENT CUTE FLIRTY DATING BANTER. IT IS NOT.
Merry Kiss Cam
Jess (clearly a hot name choice this year) is an artist and Danny owns a hockey bar that was passed down from his dad. Danny is also the hottie from Bring It On and dayumnnn he aged well. Anyway, the initial attraction between these two crazy kids is they both are adults who eat snow. And honestly I can see that being listed as a kink on a dating profile. “We’re the same kind of weird if…we both eat snow.” I really need to get off of the apps. But I’ve got nothing but love for this movie. I liked both of the leads, they had the most adorable couple banter and I love a good falling in love montage, which this gave in the form of smooching at college hockey games so they keep up their winning streak. My only snarky comment is that I wish she would’ve gotten those godforsaken bangs out of her eyes. If anyone is on the fence about cutting bangs, watch Jess spend the entire movie pushing them back so she could actually use her eyes while painting.
My Christmas Fiancé
This was so bad that I honestly double checked to make sure it wasn’t a parody and I didn’t fall for it. As it turns out, the creator of this movie was serious and for that I am so sorry. When the movie started and we were getting artsy shots of food in a prep kitchen I thought wow, these TV movies are really trying to make it to Cannes these days. But then as I kept watching it became clear that there is no shot this wasn’t a student-made film. Besides the next level bad acting that reeks of volunteers from class, the camera was constantly moving like a dad behind a camcorder. At one point, a waitress comes into the kitchen probably trying to do a different accent then her own and goes, “what are you guys doing here” and I swore I was losing my mind and/or tripping on shrooms because I thought somehow my TV switched to slow motion cause it took so long for her to get that sentence out. And the CHERRY ON TOP is that this abomination to the term movie actually had a recognizable name in it with Denise Richards. I watched the whole damn thing and I still have no idea what Denise Richards’ role was other than to pop up and watch the main characters cr33p style or say a few incoherent words here and there. I don’t think even she knew she was on a movie set. She probably thought it was for her OnlyFans. I would say skip this movie but I also kind of want someone else on this earth to have gone through the torture that was watching it so pls report back so we can commiserate.
Steppin into the Holiday
Billy Holiday gets fired from his dance show with his wife (IRL) because what is a holiday movie without Mario Lopez’s entire family making a cameo. He goes home for the holidays and sees an opportunity to keep twirling with his nephew’s dance teacher Ray. It may be disrespectful to critique the children in movies but this one deserves to be knocked down a peg or two. Billy’s nephew is the most annoying little shit in the history of annoying little shits. He’s a TikTok dancer who thinks he’s going to be famous so he stops studying at school so he can record himself shimmy shaking. As my sister and I noted out loud anytime he graced the screen, “what a cocky little fuck.” Besides CLF, the aforementioned obnoxious side character actress from Holiday Harmony also plays Billy’s sister (annoying shit’s mom, go figure) and gives off a REAL weird sibling energy. It goes from immature to flirty real quick when she tells him they should wrestle for the bed closest to the door. It gave me all of the ickies. Thank GOD for Cheri Oteri popping in throughout for a much-needed case of the giggles.
Cloudy with a Chance of Christmas
No. Just, no.
Falling for Christmas
Sierra is a rich, spoiled asshole with an obviously gay influencer boyfriend Tad. Mid-proposal, they both fall in an avalanche or something equally as ridiculous and Jake, the small resort owner that’s about to go under, claims Sierra because she doesn’t remember who she is. Since they had a not so pleasant run-in while Jake was asking Sierra’s dad for funding to stay afloat, I thought we were watching an Overboard remake where Jake was going to punish Sierra by making her live like a commoner and learn the value of a dollar. But it turns out this guy is really dumb enough to not remember someone yelling at him one day prior and had no clue who she was until the end. There’s a magical Santa that plays absolutely no role in the greater plot other than appearing with sleigh bells music every once in a while and giving a creepy smile. Most importantly, we are served with the most horrible hair in the history of men’s hair that I was so disgusted by I got right up on my TV and rewound to snap some pics for proof.
IS HE PULLING THAT FACE BECAUSE HE CAUGHT A GLIMPSE OF HIS OLE PLASTIC HEAD ASS IN THE MIRROR?! BOOM. ROASTED. Shout out to my girl LiLo for a solid comeback and one of the few somewhat enjoyable movies this year.
Christmas with You
If I had a dollar for every time I typed the sentence “this is next level bad” into my notes app during a holiday movie viewing, I’d be able to afford the houses that all those cool kids my age are getting. Angelina is a popstar who needs to write an original Christmas song for her label and Miguel is a music teacher whose daughter is obsessed with Angelina and makes a TikTok that she notices. And that’s how two sassy ladies (Angelina and her comedic relief assistant) end up hitting up a 14 year old and her old ass dad for inspiration. Seriously, there’s no planet where I believe this hot tamale of a popstar is getting sucked in by a 46 year old man. Oh shit, nevemind, I just IMDB’ed her age and she’s 44 proving the theory VERY wrong that men age better in this scenario because I thought for sure this chick was 30 tops. Hand up, I judged the age difference here and there is none. Whoopsie. Anyway, it still doesn’t justify a very sensual dough-touching scene for these two to have while the rest of the fam makes ‘let’s get it on ‘eyes at them, INCLUDING THE TEENAGER… CRINGE MY LIFE AWAY. Unfortunately, this was also hands down the worst original song I’ve ever heard and that’s saying a lot considering I watched the Netflix original Purple Hearts where they pounded their original ditty into your brains by performing it 16,000 times. She even switched into Spanish for a hot second too so this song could blow in two languages! Feast your ears on this fiery hot garbage that somehow even fictionally got a slot on SNL. IS LORNE DEAF?!
The Noel Diary
My mom and I sat down to watch this one together and I had to run an errand and she asked if she should pause it. I told her I’d catch up. Came back with a half hour left and had the whole thing figured out so I guess I’m not too dumb for Netflix, which is comforting. This movie is obviously made for moms all over the world who think Justin Hartley is charismatic and dreamy. I’m not sellin what he’s buyin, so I could really judge this movie without falling for his movie star smile. Leaning a little more on the dramatic side, Jake goes back into his family history after his mom dies to reconnect the maid with her long-lost daughter who he obv can’t resist. My bone to pick here is that this girlie full-on cheats to be with him. Clearly no one at Netflix is doing their research cause that’s a hard no in holiday movie-land. You don’t cheat, you just emotionally connect with someone better and then your partner does something horrible and inexcusable and you don’t have to feel guilty that you don’t actually love them. DUH. But don’t ask me what I think of this movie, ask my mom who was sobbing on the couch as the credits rolled.
I Believe in Santa
Magazine writer Lisa says the word wiener to her boss within 5 mins and I was sold…until I laid eyes on Tom. This is the creepiest male lead I’ve ever peeped and I am not exaggerating when I say that this guy would be much more fitting for a serial killer / stalker role in a Lifetime movie. How quickly it can go from wiener jokes to the cringiest movie alive. Lisa hates Christmas and Tom is so obsessed with it that he should be on a watchlist. Then she discovers he genuinely still believes in Santa and judging by her sticking with him in the end, they probably both could benefit from therapy. As much as this movie gave me the uncomfies every time Tom’s face graced the screen, what really jammed my glock was the way Netflix was trying to hide deeper lessons about religion, race, and humanity into arguments about Santa. That was more than I was willing to learn from a low budge Christmas flick. Not trying to contemplate the existence of God in my pjs while I wrap Barbie’s on a Saturday morning, guys, so let’s cool our jets here. I do suggest taking this one for a spin if you’d like to have nightmares that feature Tom’s terrifying face for the foreseeable future.