Hallmark and Lifetime (mostly Hallmark) have been in the crosshairs in recent years as society has become more “woke” that they’re not really all about equal Christmas love representation. It’s funny that everyone has an issue with representation yet no one feels the need to question how two individuals can get interrupted right as their lips are about to touch MULTIPLE times in a two hour timeframe. Seriously WHERE DO THESE PEOPLE COME FROM?! At this point I wouldn’t be surprised if small town folk started popping out of the bushes to interrupt these dry ass kisses. Putting my almost-kiss outrage aside (for now), you’ll notice that the networks are really trying to branch out so they don’t get cancelled. This year we had our first gay Christmas love stories AND our first wheelchair badass rollin on up to the party. Really keeping things spicy here and despite the fact that I am the MOST unemployed, I can only stomach so many of these movies without alcohol and people to roast them with so I did not up my quota of movies consumed this year. I’m trying to live by the theory that you’re not an alcoholic if you wait until after dinner to start drinking by yourself, so that was the only time I could get down with these flicks. (If you’d like my Hallmark drinking game, inquire within.)
Also important to note: though they’re concerned with representation now, that does not include youths. This was the first time I’ve ever felt too young for these movies with the leads they’ve been trotting out from the grave. Or in my sister’s words “Hallmark really dipped into the olds this year.” There comes a point in time where it’s no longer believable that 44 year old Candace Cameron Bure is single, childless, never been married and looking for love at Christmas. And that was every movie this year. These movies should not exclusively be a reunion tour of 90’s child actors. If they don’t sprinkle in some younger leads next year I’ll be forced to permanently move my attention to Disney +. DON’T MAKE ME DO THAT. Anyway, let’s GET READY TO RUMBLE, AWFUL CHRISTMAS MOVIE STYLE.
A Very Charming Christmas Town – Lifetime (Natalie Hall, Jon Prescott)
This is your classic modern tale of Influencer or ASSHOLE?! Aubrey is an LA blogger and content creator who visits a charming town known for their Christmas tourism so she can review it for her blog. Obviously the second she gets there she’s out to shit on their “tourist trap schtick” and act like the kind of turd who stops in the middle of the street to take a picture for the gram and then gets mad when someone tells her to get out of the way. I hate Aubrey right from the start of this movie but what I hate even more is how creepy the male lead, Sawyer is. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen this gent in rotation before but he IMMEDIATELY gave me the cringies and there was no going back. In fact, if not for him, this movie would’ve been fine. Apparently in addition to Aubrey being a blogger, she also used to write country music hits. The fact that she’s recognized as a songwriter is laugh out loud funny because songwriters are like the least recognized people on this earth. Anyway, there’s an incorporation of her “original” Christmas song that makes me want to saw my ears off. Obviously the movie ends with a musical because that’s the trend of TV holiday movies now. SO MUCH GROUP SINGING.
Bonus Points: Sawyer holds Aubrey close to a candle, which is a weird enough thing to do on its own–are you going to light her on fire, sir? BUT THEN he makes it 6 trillion times worse by quoting her own lyrics back to her. RAPE ALERT. I crawled out of my G-D skin during this scene.
Operation Christmas Drop – Netflix (Kat Graham, Alexander Ludwig)
Erica is a tightwad workaholic who has been avoiding going home for Christmas since her mom died. She’s sent to this air force base to basically defund the military doing nice things at the holidays. Obviously it takes about 20 minutes for Erica to get on island time, swept up in Andrew’s beach bod and love for helping those in need. She’s got a raging charity lady boner for him. This was one of the first Christmas movies I watched this season and yet I declared in my notes that I’ve had enough of the impromptu Christmas music performances…followed by simply “STOP SINGING.” If only I had known that EVERY movie would feature all characters joining in song. Blow my brains out. There’s also a particularly outrageous CGI lizard that makes an appearance (really upping the production budget on these flicks) and the climax of the film is just people literally dropping shit in the ocean on Christmas Day. That’s it.
Bonus Points: A holiday party on the beach where “Clause” AKA Andrew tries to loosen up that tight ass Erica and tells her to just let go and dance. She lets go a little too far and turns into Elaine from Seinfeld. Everyone is embarrassed on her behalf. Maybe go back to being lame, Erica.
Happiest Season – Hulu (Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Dan Levy)
This movie was a HUGE deal and was getting a lot of press leading up to its release for being the first gay relationship holiday movie with legit actors. Once I knew Dan Levy was in it, I was jazzed as hell to see what kind of snarky sarcasm we would be treated to. I had high hopes and they were obviously all dashed because we as humans should never have high hopes. Whoops did that get too dark for Christmastime? I’ll save it for New Years. Another night of ridiculous expectations that are never met. ANYWAY, if you’re wondering why I took a sharp left turn into the candy cane forest of heavy emotional trauma, it’s because that’s exactly what this movie did. What started out with a little casj reindeer cosplay with whips suddenly morphed into Harper bringing her live-in girlfriend Abby (who just bought an engagement ring) home for Christmas but telling her in the car ride there that she’s not out to her family yet and told them she was bringing her roomie home for the holidays. OUCH city. The remainder of the movie is basically just Harper being a total closeted doucheroni and treating Abby like she has gay cooties except for when she wanted to sneak into her room at night for a little scissoring of course. I hated Harper in this movie and it was obviously much more emotional and deep about secrets and coming out to your family than I was really expecting. Shouts to Dan Levy and Mary Holland for much-needed comic relief, and Mary Steenburgen for being an asshole mom who shoves her iPad in everyone’s face for Instagram photos. Who takes Insta photos with an iPad?
Bonus Points: Everyone blatantly asking Abby what it’s like to be an orphan. Also John killing a bunch of pets.
Candy Cane Christmas – Lifetime (Beverly Mitchell, Mark Ghanimé)
Beverly lazy eye Mitchell is Phoebe and guy who can’t figure out if he has an accent or not is Eric (I’m guessing by that very foreign name he has an accent IRL and sucks at an American one.) These two drive me f*cking bonkers the entire movie. In fact, I had it on in the background more than once and still found myself getting fired up the few times I paid attention. After right off the bat declaring they were both single, they kept running into each other as only characters of a rom-com can do and still jumping to conclusions that the other one wasn’t interested or was with someone else. Just cut the shit, you MF’ers and go on a date. After they FINALLY start dating and are happy as clams, Phoebe overhears a conversation and still assumes Eric’s getting back together with his ex and overreacts her face off, crying and avoiding talking to him. Are you five?
Bonus Points: Phoebe’s friend thinks her and Eric aren’t happening so she forces her to date a bald lamewad who hates Christmas. Instead of just being like no thanks, Phoebe keeps giving this guy a chance FURTHER CONFUSING ERIC WHO ALREADY ASKED HER ON A DATE AND ALSO THIS FRIEND SUCKS FOR SETTING HER BFF UP ON A TERRIBLE DATE TO BEGIN WITh. Ok. I’m done being triggered by this movie.
Christmas By Starlight – Hallmark (Kimberley Sustad, Paul Campbell)
Annie is kind of a loser but Hallmark makes her into a cute & lovable loser because that’s what they do best. She wears pajamas a LOT, is suuuuper obsessed with her Terrier and lives in like a basement apartment at her parent’s house. Obviously greedy lawyers are trying to shut down her family’s diner and she takes it into her own hands to demand that the law office knocks it off. This turns into Annie and cute but maybe gay lawyer William working together so they each get something that they want out of the deal. My family watched this flick together which meant that we sat there pointing and laughing for the full two hours. The very first thing I noticed and couldn’t unsee was that Annie’s mom’s face doesn’t move ONE SINGLE time. It turned into a fun drinking game. Drink every time ole plastic ass face is on the screen! My dad also was NOT a fan of this female lead and was basically openly boo’ing her. Tough crowd. There were a lot of similarities that I saw between this flick and Two Week’s Notice..obviously a poor man’s version because that movie is top notch. But the comparison got me thinking, it would REALLY spice things up if they had a poop your pants scene in a Hally. Try to work that in next year, guys. Totally more relatable than these two eye banging the shit out of each other to Silent Night. Just saying. In the end, SPOILER ALERT, both of these jabronis were fat in high school so they’re meant to be.
Bonus Points: Annie showing that she’s just SO down to earth because she eats a power bar at a fancy French restaurant after a Passport to Paris level spit take. She also wears ugly Christmas sweaters *unironically.*
Christmas Carousel – Hallmark (Rachel Boston, Neal Bledsoe)
A royal storyline because princes celebrate Christmas too, I have to be honest my sister recommended this one because she had her DVR set up for it and the minute I saw the male lead I texted her “this guy is beat, you cannot watch this movie.” And I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but sometimes a guy turns you off so aggressively that you cannot possibly get into the storyline. I “watched” this whole movie as in it was on my TV as I wrote this blog but all I retained from it was that he was royal and there was a weird singing scene with a creepy song and child. Age was apparent in both leads and as much as I’ve had enough with the singing I had even more of enough with the cryptkeepers’ Christmas tales. If my journey includes me looking for love at Christmas when I’m middle-aged, end that journey right now. I’m sorry. I support anyone dating at any age if that’s what they want. Love that for you. What I don’t love is watching it. It’s not hopeful. I’d MUCH rather watch people in their young twenties fall in love in 5 minutes and get engaged so I can cackle and say WAIT UNTIL YOU TWO MOVE IN TOGETHER THEN WE’LL SEE HOW IN LOVE YOU ARE. That’s my happy place. My sweet spot. Not being the last standing single amongst friends and family and having to settle for the first guy who wishes you a Merry Christmas. And that’s my unwelcome rant on Hallmark only gearing toward the middle aged market this year.
Midnight at the Magnolia – Netflix (Natalie Hall, Evan Williams)
We’ve got a double feature from Natalie Hall this szn. And she really upgraded her mancandy for Netflix. At least this guy didn’t give me the heebie jeebies. Maggie and Jack are the kind of besties that everyone knows are going to end up together because they’re WAY TOO close to ever have other significant relationships and yet they’re the only two that can’t seem to figure it the F out. They host a radio show together and decide to fake date and plan a big reveal at New Years Eve because both of their sig oth’s dump them before meeting their families. As a former promotions coordinator in radio, this seems like an HR nightmare to manipulate a personal relationship for promo and marketing. But it really seemed to work out for these two personally and professionally because this is a movie and not real life. It’s totally one of those movies where there’s WAY too much family involvement (and an unwelcome fam group hug.) And of course, per this year’s trend, ends with an original song. Barf all over me.
Bonus Points: Maggie looks cute and normal the whole movie with long locks and then all the sudden shows up to the big party at the end with helmet head. Whoever did that updo/whatever we call this hack job should be sued for character defamation. In fact it was so bad that my sister texted me when she finally viewed it (with no prompting from me first) “wtf is up with this chick’s hair at the nye party?” It’s almost as if we’re related or something.
Five Star Christmas – Hallmark (Bethany Joy Lenz, Victor Webster)
I’m a diehard stan for Bethany Joy Lenz. I think she’s a total babe and typically her holiday movies are far more tolerable than others. This one features her family acting like they’re running a B&B with the home she grew up in because someone is coming to review it. So they all pretend they’re staff or guests which just turns into SO many hijinks. If by hijinks we mean them calling each other the wrong names a lot. SO SILLY. Anyway, there’s a grandma with a German accent that is ALMOST intolerable and lots of side stories happening with each member of the family. Even the dad is getting some lovin. Why? Cause it’s Christmas of course. Turns out the guy that Lucy is hot and heavy for is the reviewer that they were expecting. Classic mix-up. He wins her back after the family snafu by doing a weird Elvis impression in front of strangers. If someone breaks into song at the end of any movie I see for the rest of my life it will still be TOO SOON.
Bonus Points: In the first five minutes when Lucy says she stopped dating someone because he chewed with his mouth open. YAS GURL. SAME. Also when the “B&B guests” aka Lucy’s entire family decorates the tree together and her sister-in-law overreacts when the tree is brought in with “IT’s BEEEEAAAAUUUUTIFFUUULLLL” and a dramatic hand flourish. I wonder if the people in Hally’s go to a specific over-acting class before they book the role.
Once Upon A Main Street – Lifetime (Vanessa Lachey, Ryan McPartlin)
Amelia and Vic have both put an offer in on a storefront in the “perfect” spot on Main St so obviously they will battle to the death and try to bribe the owner of the shop to sell it to each of them. But the owner of the shop is Patrick Duffy and you can’t play him, he’s been around the block a time or two in the TV movie landscape. So instead these two will just fall in love and split the shop in the end, naturally. What lands this movie on the watch list is 1000% the side character of Rowena, aka “sassy pottery bitch” in my notes, who Amelia and Vic have to work with to win some Christmas award or something. In Rowena’s first scene, she refers to the local contest sourly and goes, “it’s not Jimmy Fallon or anything” and Vic says “what is?” and she replies dry as hell, “True, True.” It’s the first time I’ve genuinely laughed out loud at joke delivery in one of these movies and not at the person for their poor acting skills and cheesy dialogue. Sassy Pottery Bitch deserves an Emmy AND an Oscar for this role. The rest of the cast is just eh. If I had to venture a guess, Vanessa Lachey is pretty much playing herself.
Bonus Points: Amelia was a real annoying and over the top twat-asaurus in the first few minutes of this movie because she was overconfident about getting the building and pulled a sharpie out of her purse and WROTE SOLD ON THE BUILDING SIGN as IF THAT’S HOW THAT WORKS. To make matters worse she drew the O as a heart. Can you imagine if I put an offer in on a house and then just walked by and WROTE SOLD ON THE WINDOW? Then took a selfie?!
A California Christmas – Netflix (Lauren & Josh Swickard)
I started this movie and immediately texted my sister saying I feel like I’m in deja vu. Although this movie was brand new on Netflix, I felt like I had seen it before. Was I going crazy? Have I started to dream in shitty Christmas love stories? Have I just seen an ALMOST identical movie with these two “stars” somewhere else? As it turns out, yes. These two starred in “Roped” together which was another garbo movie on Amazon Prime about a rodeo coming to town and this bitch’s family trying to get it banned but plot twist she fell in love with the cowboy so that really threw a wrench in the horse shit. It was bad. Like embarrassingly bad. So bad I blocked it from my memory and leave it to my sister to make the connection and prove that we’re not going crazy, we’re just addicted to trash movies. ANYWAY, another fun fact is that these two probably met on that set, fell in love and got married because they weren’t married when that movie was made but they are now. Cue *we found love in a hopeless place*. Good for them.
Back to this movie, Joseph is Zac Efron Lite (give it a few minutes, but you’ll see it) who needs to prove his worth as a corporate hot shot in the family biz and goes to buy out a small family farm but pretends to be a ranch hand named Manny instead. This creates a whole side story of the real Manny who goes into hiding to teach Joseph how to do farm shit but also starts a bromance with Joseph’s driver. The real Manny is hilarious and I guess what I’m trying to say is the way to win my heart over with one of these movies is to put a silly side character in for comedic relief from all the sob stories. There are a lot of sob stories in this movie. It’ll go from the real Manny saying ““If you take a squat on a stump and take a dump does that make it a toilet-tree?” (Poop humor kills every time) to sad music and a graveyard. Real rollercoaster. But the most important factors are that both of the leads are babe sodas, plus it’s Netflix so there’s LOTS of kissing and none are interrupted. In fact we even get a S-E-X scene GASP. In a field! Netflix, we need more of your PG-13 activities each holiday season.
Bonus Points: Within five mins we’ve got a whole ass calf being pulled out of a cow. I saw April the giraffe give birth and honestly that was enough firsthand nature to last a whole lifetime. No more fluids for me.
The Christmas Listing – Lifetime (Lexi Giovagnoli, Travis Burns)
I gotta be real up front with you here, one Sunday I planted myself on the couch and watched FIVE (5) Lifetime movies back to back to back to back to back. In fact, I got a work call during one of them and I was legitimately T’O’ed that I had to mute it and do something productive. It was truly what Sunday’s are for. Especially at Christmas time. I started out with a cheerful vigor that I was about to just watch one and move onto something with more substance. And then they just kept rolling on and I became one with the almost kiss. Jk it still enrages me to no end.
Spoiler alert: I definitely got dumber. This one was lucky number 5 and it was 11pm by the time it was in rotation. I watched about 10 minutes of it. Here’s what I wrote in my notes: Babe soda Aussie, the girl is named Julia, is this a sign?! It WAS a sign. A sign that it was time for me to go to bed because there was nothing good about this movie other than the fact that the guy was of an appropriate age for me and handsome as hell. Take your W’s where you can.
Bonus Points: There was probably some sort of zany explanation for this but they were clearly at a house they didn’t plan on being at for a long period of time so they had to borrow clothes from guests left behind. All of their clothes were matching couples outfits. Nothing brings two people closer together than wearing his and hers Christmas sets.
Dash & Lily – Netflix (Austin Abrams, Midori Francis)
CURVEBALL! I figured since I tossed in a YA flick last year to keep things interesting, I’d add another newbie to this year’s list. It’s actually a series so it was 8 episodes, 30 mins. If you’re as much of a loser as I am, you banged this series out in an afternoon. Dash has a super messy family life which has turned him into a Grinch and he’s not even out of high school yet. Lily loves Christmas and also is JUST weird enough that she only hangs out with her family and has 0.0 friends. The two of them “meet” through a notebook and a scavenger hunt in a book store then basically become pen pals through said notebook because they’re in high school and they’re too insecure to meet in person. As someone who is still just as insecure now as she was in high school, I vibed with this. It was SUPER unrealistic of course, but after my obnoxious rant about Lifetime and Hallmark barking up the olds trees, I was happy to have some youthful spirit injected into my viewing szn. These two will probably break up by college but at least they’ll always have FALLING IN LOVE THROUGH A BOOK AT CHRISTMAS. Heartwarming.
Bonus Points: The Jonas Brothers. Not only did they make a cameo in concert form performing a Christmas banger, but Nick Jonas plays himself trying to give love advice to a bunch of high schoolers. It is perfection.
Cross Country Christmas – Hallmark (Rachel Leigh Cook, Greyston Holt)
Lena and Max are both heading home for Christmas and wouldn’t you know they’re from the same town and went to high school together and just bump into each other on the plane! But WHOOPS there’s a storm coming in and the plan has to land in Ohio and all of the buses are booked and the rental cars are gone and no planes are flying out so I GUESS THEY’LL JUST HAVE TO MAKE THEIR OWN WAY! What I liked about this movie immediately is that they didn’t give these characters the tried and true hate each other but are stuck traveling together energy. Of course, as soon as I made this note they started fighting after their truck broke down. But that was like halfway through. Lena has one of those made up jobs you see on the bachelor “creative solutions consultant” or something and she just wants to help everyone wherever they go. So they adventure across the country and stop and make new friends in each town. It’s not overly cheesy and I’ve digged Rachel Leigh Cook all the way since She’s All That HOWEVER…out of all the songbird scenes I consumed this year…this movie’s version was the most horrific trainwreck to watch. They’re asked to sing a carol together and unfortunately for all of us they don’t say “no thanks, we’re not really singers.” Instead, they tackle We Three Kings. They’re asked to sing a carol and instead of Jingle Bells or something equally as singalong worthy–these MF’ers pick WE THREE KINGS. And they butcher it loud and strong right up until the last line which they whisper. WHY NOT JUST WHISPER THE WHOLE THING YOU TONEDEAF BUTTHOLES? DO YOU WANT TO PUNISH US AS VIEWERS?! The answer is an obvious yes. UGH. Other than that scene, everything else was good. (You know, good for Hallmark.)
Bonus Points: They run into each other on the plane for the first time in what I would assume is 15 years and Lena goes the extra mile to bribe a flight attendant to get an eye mask for the flight. When Max asks if he can get one too Lena goes, oh I got these for you, I remember you being a big napper back in high school. CREEP CITY, POPULATION: LENA! Also when she plays Mary in the nativity play and comes onstage flailing her arms all over the joint was pretty cringe-licious.
Christmas Ever After – Lifetime (Ali Stroker, Daniel di Tomasso)
I mean this in the most sincere way possible, this was my favorite movie this season. This was the one that was interrupted for a work call that I was FURIOUS about and I circled back to finish it so you KNOW I was committed. It’s no secret that one of my favorite episodes of the Saved by the Bell is the one where Zack dates a girl in a wheelchair and spends the entire episode drawing attention to the fact that she’s handicapped. Since this was the first time a movie had a wheelchair-bound lead, I assumed it would be the same sort of mildly offensive travesty. Lucky for girls on wheelz everywhere, it wasn’t. However, that didn’t stop them from making Izzie the most awkward bird of a human on this earth. And that’s where I thrive. Not only that, she is a trashy romance novelist and the lead man in her books is called Desmond. She goes to her favorite lodge that she spends the holidays at each year and lo and behold, she sees a guy who looks JUST LIKE the lead character in her erotica. Obviously she takes this as a sign to live out her books IRL and get inspiration for her re-write. About 30 seconds after laying eyes on Matt for the first time, she pants over him to each member of his family separately, including Matt’s daughter. Put it on ice, girl, his kid doesn’t want to hear that she has a DILF. She even gets caught trying to snap sneaky pics of him to send to her editor. What an embarrassing human and also relatable as hell. We’ve all been there. Izzy continues to be thirsty AF for Matt and at one point we see her waking up with a start and honest to God my first thought was oh she just had a wet dream. If this wasn’t a PG network, I would’ve really appreciated some red hot read scenes in this movie. It would’ve been a perfect match. Instead, when I googled the movie I was met with this image:
And boy do I love the internet. I NEVER would’ve known watching this movie that their kisses were plexiglass style due to COVID. Now that I can’t unsee this, I remember that they obstructed both of their smooches in the movie so we couldn’t see that there was a WHOLE ASS PIECE OF GLASS in between those lips. Jeeze these networks really take prude to the next level. Netflix would’ve been tongues out AWL day.
Bonus Points: Izzy has quite the bond with Matt’s dad and I didn’t know how weird it was until he turns to her in a crowded room and goes “Izzy, what do you think?” And she replies, “Yeah, let’s do it, let’s sing” and slowly spins her wheelchair around and breaks into solo song as people are sitting and eating their dinner. Also anytime she calls going for a walk “a push” and when Matt kneels down in front of her so they’re eye to eye and she goes what are you proposing? And he says no, the view’s just better down here. SMOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTH.