And that is a wrap!
And so ends this endeavor for yet another year! A third year! Over a hundred and fifty movies have been reviewed for this thing, and that seems absolutely insane to me. There was a time when I thought there wasn’t going to be enough movies to cover one year of this blog, and here we are at the end of the third year, and that half-written Borrowed Hearts review from 2011 is still begging to see the limelight!
Maybe in 2014 it will finally get its go around to the blog. Because I do plan on returning to this blog in some capacity come next year. I may tinker with lowering the posting schedule down a bit, because this blog is such a major time commitment and I do not get any compensation for it*.
However, knowing me, hitting the big 200 review mark next year is a siren call I’m too unwilling to ignore. So I’ll see you again on November 1st as we continue to explore this genre. That sounds fun, right?
Happy holidays! And if you have any ideas or suggestions for 2014, please feel free to submit them to me through the sidebar links.
P.S. Remember to check out the archive if you are looking for any last-minute recommendations!
*If you enjoyed what you see, and feel like contributing even a few dollars, I’d surely appreciate it. This blog is a labor of love, but one that takes a lot of time and stress out of me. Plus, it costs money to pay for DVDs of some of the older films I review here. You can find my Paypal button on the side bar of this blog. Thanks so much!
A Holiday to Remember (CBS, 1995)
You’re projecting your fears onto my driving!!!
Starring: Connie Selleca, Randy Travis, Rue McClanahan, Asia Viera
Plot Synopsis: Carolyn is leaving the big city with her daughter Jordi for her childhood village, deep in the forest. She meets her former fiancé, who she left at the altar several years ago. She also finds a lost boy who she wants to adopt, but Jordi is not too keen on the idea. (x)
In My Humble Opinion: I feel really awful ending this year’s edition of review with a negative one, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes isn’t it?
Anyway, this film features some of the worst acting I have ever seen. I can’t decide who was the worst because everyone is awful except for Rue McLanahan, who doesn’t really have anything to play anyway. The script tries to do too much, and apparently is against sensible behavior and I would get angrier about it but ultimately it was too boring to stir up so much protest.
And geez, the acting in this is so bad. So painfully bad. I can’t stress how bad it is, but it’s as bad as you can possibly imagine. Yikes.
Watch If: All you want for Christmas is a divorce, if you don’t use nice things because it makes you soft, or if you have no idea what a chestnut is.
Skip If: You can’t handle being called provincial, you kick and scream at the idea of having a bath, or if you don’t think cutting down trees is the picture of fun (insert Dexter joke here).
Final Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
A Very Merry Daughter of the Bride (Lifetime, 2008)
A groom in an ugly tux is a REAL turnoff!
Starring: Joanna Garcia, Luke Perry, Helen Shaver, Lucas Bryant
Plot Synopsis: A wedding planner looks to persuade her mother not to marry a man she’s only known for a brief period of time, until an unexpected development forces her to re-examine her feelings. (x)
In My Humble Opinion: This film could also realistically be called Beverly Hills, 90210 alums behaving badly. Frankly, I’d enjoy it more if it was Beverly Hills, 90210 alums behaving badly. It’d be a lot more enjoyable than this family drama where basically everyone is the worst, and we’re supposed to pretend that the only people who are irredeemable were graduates of West Beverly Hills High.
I watched this years ago, and everything involved with it frustrated the shit out of me, and it still holds. I felt like I had nothing to root for with this. And when it comes to these kinds of movies, I need something to root for. This movie, I hate it. And yet, I’ll give it an extra star for the peacoats. I’m a sucker for peacoats.
Watch If: If your codename is Rainbow Girl, if your favorite weddings take place on Christmas, or if you like a lot of wine (in moderation!).
Skip If: If your first marriage was done on a dare, if your life would not be complete just by being called Trish Dish, or if you don’t deserve more than a quickie courthouse wedding.
Final Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Hats Off to Christmas! (Hallmark, 2013)
Mom, I feel really strong today. Like I could do anything if I wasn’t in this wheelchair.
Starring: Haylie Duff, Antonio Cupo, Sean Michael Kyer, Kendra Anderson
Plot Synopsis: A young mother must decide if the new hotshot at work could be the Christmas miracle she has been waiting for. (x)
In My Humble Opinion: This movie’s idea that Christmas hat shops are a thing that could be plausible in a small town is the craziest and most fun thing about it. Otherwise, it’s just a paint-by-numbers romcom with a dash of melodrama thrown in via a kid whose in a wheelchair (because you know, let’s add some human heart). You can watch it, but you’ll probably forget it until someone talks about Santa hats and you remember that a movie existed that hinged around the existence of a Santa hat store. Geeez.
Also Anotonio Cupo looked way hotter in Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade. WAY HOTTER.
Watch If: You take your pumpkin carving contests very seriously, you need an interpreter to talk to your dad, or if you like encouraging your kid to do homework because at least that makes SENSE.
Skip If: You don’t need a relationship manager because you’re single, if you’d rather spend all your time with spreadsheets, or if you think nostalgia DOES pay off bank loans.
Final Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas (UP, 2013)
Have you looked in a mirror, woman?
Starring: Drew Lachey, Mackenzie Porter, Evan Bird, Olivia Cheng
Plot Synopsis: Jaded rock star Dax is found by New York paparazzi passed out in his car with a frozen holiday turkey in the passenger seat. In order to repair his tarnished image, Dax publicly agrees to grant a fan’s “Dear Santa” Christmas wish. To his dismay, his manager Jason drops Dax off in Cedar Grove, a Midwest small town, where he’s committed to spend a week and perform in a local holiday Christmas concert. At first, Dax is horrified to be stuck in the Reverend Harding family’s home with strict rules and a curfew. But he soon becomes charmed by the Reverend’s wife Lynne, teenage son Tim and very surprised contest winner and daughter Kelly, a sassy, unemployed book jacket writer. Dax begins to appreciate what the Hardings have as a family – love, caring and an uplifting holiday spirit. (x)
In My Humble Opinion: This movie is weirdly low key, and sad in its production values. It’s always gray and cloudy. The scene transitions are basically power point slides. Everyone speaks in monotone and the script doesn’t really try to add much jokes.
Also, it is absolutely horrifying to watch Drew Lachey who looks old make out with whoever plays the lead girl who is 23 but looks younger, and who they keep mentioning has had a crush on him for ~years~. It’s weird and it’s gross and I actually cringed watching them mack on each other.
Frankly, I got much more value out of rewatching Nick & Jessica’s Family Christmas ABC special which was so ridiculously 2004 that it’s crazy when it comes to Lachey holiday fare. Cue that up on Youtube instead of this would be my rec if you want something more fun. (IT’S SO 2004!)
Why do so many of these movies waste good premises with sketchball execution?
Watch If: If fresh biscuits constantly destroy your diet, if you want all your Christmas movies to have an alpaca, or if you have a hankering for mercury poisoning.
Skip If: You don’t think cranberry sauce is overrated,if you don’t think lakes are quaint, or if you being in a room isn’t special enough for people.
Final Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
All I Want for Christmas (ION, 2013)
I can *hear* that you are not saying anything!
Starring: Melissa Sagemiller, Brad Rowe, Tom Arnold, Stuart Pankin
Plot Synopsis: After being told by her boss that the company needs to attract more clients, Elizabeth, a skilled executive, meets one of Santa’s helpers, who blesses her with an extraordinary gift allowing Elizabeth to hear everyone’s unspoken thoughts. While first using her new-found power to get ahead at work, she soon learns to become a better person, turning an office rivalry into romance while learning the true meaning of Christmas along the way. (x)
In My Humble Opinion: Total honesty here, I totally gave this movie an extra half-star because it included a clip of the Christmas classic Santa Claus Conquers the Martians which means I have an excuse to link to this and get this song stuck in your head for the rest of your lives. (You think I’m kidding!!!)
Most of my issues with the come from the script, which seems to only want the characters to talk about major plot points that have happened and/or set up new plot points. It’s very much all about getting characters into position for the next big development, without putting thought into why characters are acting the way they are. Also there are some really weird bits of ION channel synergy that seem randomly thrown in there and aren’t even funny or interesting to merit their conclusion.
That said, it does feature so many tropes I am so into like rivals to lovers that it’s hard for me to turn on it completely. I mean, how can you turn completely on a movie that features Santa Claus Conquers the Martian? Someone on this set has a sense of humor about this whole thing and that on its own is enough to merit the three star rating I’m giving it. It’s the sense of humor and the tropes that would let me rewatch it in parts if I came upon it at some point in the future.
Watch If: You don’t want a cappuccino because you are already wearing one, if you believe the only small clients are the ones who are under five feet, or if when you talk about you and your boys, you mean you and your dummy (as in ventriloquist dummy).
Skip If: You could be bought for a trip to Starbucks, if you would totally waste your visit with a magical elf to get a stupid action figure, or if you get all the ladies handing out magic pins.
Final Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I did review My Santa, which if I recall correctly, I enjoyed the cliche and tropes of the story but not some of the presentation (mainly that one flashback scene, that one flashback scene was brutal.)
However, the main thing I need to thank you for though is the knowledge that Matthew Lawrence was in Mrs. Doubtfire. That’s a gamechanger. That is information I needed to know. How did I not know this before? Bless you for bringing this knowledge into my life.
Sorry for the late response, by the way! I was busy the last couple of days. Thanks again for reading the blog. It’s always good to know people are reading and getting something out of this crazy venture!
Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Miracle (UP, 2013)
Starring: Allison Hossack, Aaron Pearl, David Kykl, Siobhan Williams
Plot Synopsis: Due to an unforeseen road closure, eight strangers are forced to take refuge in an abandoned church during a storm. During their time together, they learn from one another how to manage through various personal dilemmas, and that despite their differences; by working together they can make even the most unlikely miracles happen. (x)
In My Humble Opinion: The problem with this movie is that it’s super duper boring. Like it’s a disaster movie where everyone gets caught up in a church or something, and you’d expect it to be an interesting kind of play structure, but it’s so boring. It took me a full week to watch this movie in chunks because I kept getting bored.
It’s just badly written in general. The characters are all nondescript and I couldn’t tell you a single one of their names if I tried, the dialogue is mainly a bunch of spiritual malapropisms and characters describing their marriage problems in vague terms. The most interesting thing was this one guy hallucinating a monologue to a church, but that runs up into my problems of faith-driven films telling us all about how we need Jesus to save us and whatever.
Honestly, my thoughts on this film all come back to the fact that it took me an entire week to watch the whole thing. I’m pretty much a TV movie masochist, so if you make something that makes me stop watching repeatedly, your movie probably isn’t something I am going to recommend.
Watch If: If you were so excited because your first fight as a married couple was about texting and driving, if your foot is as cold as the building you are in, or if all your woes come from getting caught up in life.
Skip If: If you are a woman who doesn’t believe she should be compared to a tea kettle, if you think answers DO fall from the sky, or if you don’t think love is tolerating someone wearing heels in blizzard.
Final Rating: ★ (★) ☆ ☆ ☆
Finding Christmas (Hallmark, 2013)
What’s your major malfuction, Sean?
Starring: Tricia Helfer, Mark Lutz, JT Hodges, Cristina Rosato
Plot Synopsis: Owen Harrison and his sister Ryan have bad luck in their romantic lives. Owen just found out his first and only love is now engaged and Ryan is too busy being a single mom; balancing parenthood with her career. Sean Tucker is the owner of a successful advertising company, but cannot enjoy the same fortune in his love life, as his girlfriend asks for a break when he decides to ask her to marry him. His assistant Mia suggests that he sign up to a house swap website that will give him a chance to get away and regroup.
Sean finds Owen on the website and they decide to switch homes for the holidays; both needing a break from love and work, and that the magic of Christmas will find them both their true love. (x)
In My Humble Opinion: If I have learned absolutely anything from watching Christmas movies, I have learned that a foolproof way to fall in love over the holidays is to do a house swap. Foolproof! It never fails!
This one film in the genre seems to be written from the male point of view. I mean, why else would there be a one minute slo-mo pan up a random lady’s legs before the doorman comes skeevily smiling out of the corner to talk about how ~GREAT~ New York is (and by great he means full of babes you wanna bang!!!!)
On top of that there are a bunch of scenes, where the two men WHO ARE STRANGERS are just calling each other, and basically are like “Sure, screw over my close female friend/sister!! She’s usually a dummy when it comes to romance!!” It’s sketchy to me. Super sketchy.
And yes, I did notice the not subtle at all take-down of the Nice Guy one of the love interests does. But how can I call a movie feminist when it seems to do that as some kind of mea culpa after so many misogynistic scenes?
Whatever, aside from that the beginning break-up scene features some of the worst acting of the year. And yet, with all this criticism I didn’t hate it? I’m sure I’ll watch bits and pieces of it when it comes on TV in the future. I just don’t think I would ever ever seek it out.
Watch If: You fix everyone else’s problems but your own, if being a veterinarian makes you positive, or if where you want to be is the PRESENT.
Skip If: If you can’t imagine living in a dry county for the life of you, if you think New York is doing just fine even without hayrides, or if your friendliness comes with obligations.
Final Rating: ★ ★ (★) ☆ ☆
Christmas on the Bayou (Lifetime, 2013)
They are selling like catfish!
Starring: Hilarie Burton, Randy Travis, Ed Asner, Tyler Hinton
Plot Synopsis: A divorced workaholic executive goes back to her home town to spend Christmas with her son and mother. Through a rekindled romance and a small miracle, she discovers where her heart truly belongs.(x)
In My Humble Opinion: I’m so tempted to make this review a bunch of One Tree Hill jokes, because once I realized Tyler Hinton was playing Hilarie Burton’s love interest I laughed so hard I fell off the bed. (I still can’t believe that’s a real thing. Everything tells me that the love interest is played by Tyler Hinton, but I have my doubts.)
In other news, part of me feels I’m not able to properly judge some aspects of this movie, because I am not from “the bayou”. I know nothing about Papa Noel, and I can’t properly tell you how wrong the movie portrays the area.
But outside of that, I feel like this movie is fine. It runs into the same damn tropes that always irk me in these movies: working is bad, the city is bad, what we really need to do is return to our roots where everything is simple and there’s probably not an Apple store for miles. But! The leads have a cute enough chemistry and the movie kind of works as a low-key, laidback vibe you can keep on in the background while you look at and watch other things. Also, if you love mentions of alligators you will love this.
And if that doesn’t work, think of all the One Tree Hill jokes you can make!
P.S. I need to link this here. I can’t in good conscience write a review with this many mentions of One Tree Hill and not include this here.
Watch If: If you like to invite dead people to eat lunch with you, if you are not a shopkeeper you are a saint, or if you dress the way you do because you are an angel.
Skip If: You’d rather have a Santa Claus than a Papa Noel, if your biggest failure in life is not teaching your children what baking powder and baking soda do, or if you once bombed your audition for the Christmas pageant as a kid and the memories are too painful.
Final Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆