Normally a post about Christmas movies would be premature for September, but the Hallmark Channel Christmas Countdown Facebook page reminds us every day just how close we are getting to Christmas and to the Christmas holiday movie season. And those movies will be starting in just one month. And there are even more this year. About four years ago I became obsessed with watching every new Christmas movie on the Hallmark and Lifetime channels and even some from Netflix, Ion, and other stations. And somehow I watched 55 during the last holiday season. I shared my first 16 reviews last year, but I never managed to search through my Facebook posts and put the rest all together until now. But it is just in time for you to watch last year's flicks before you start the new ones in October. Keep in mind that all commentary was written during the last holiday season.
17. With Love, Christmas. Yes! I have made it to 17 movies with only two weeks to go. I just did not like this one, although I was writing a couple blog posts during it. It was another office romance story where a secret Santa exchange brings two rivals together. I think what ruins it for me is when I do not buy the two main actors as a couple. I like the down to earth farmer and girl next door stories better. And I don't understand how she thought he was such a great guy. He was mostly taking over their account and kind of boring. Spolier alert. And it was horrible of him to disappoint the girl he thought was his secret Santa. I am also not a fan of this actress from Chesapeake Shores. Another thing that bothers me is the cheesy office and home decorations, but I guess they have a low budget when they produce hundreds of these movies every year and I have actually seen many offices with cheesy old Christmas decor. Not much to say about this one. It just didn't interest me. I didn't care if they got together because I didn't like either of them.
18: Finding Santa. I knew I'd like this one because we are obsessed with Fuller House and if you can't have Candace, you can have Jodi Sweetin. However, should we really be encouraging a man to stop following his dream of being a writer and uber driver to be Santa and following in the footsteps of his dad? How much can a Santa make a year? It seems like this Santa did one holiday parade a year and took it easy the rest of the time unless he was training someone else to be Santa. It's kind of like a Santa pyramid scheme. How much work is it for a year round Santa? Santa's Village in Dundee, IL has one, but he's the real Santa so he probably works for free. Okay. I was wrong. Why am I not a Santa? I looked it up. They make $100-200 per hour and according to my Google search, they make $8-10,000 a season and talented ones can make $80,000 a year. I'm talented. But in this movie, it looked like Santa only had one gig a year and you can't live off $200 a year. So I'm still saying Uber driver and aspiring writer was the better choice. And they must have self published that book because the authors don't usually get to pick their illustrators. So it was kind of cute. It was just hard to take seriously the monologues on how much better a career Santa would be. But now I know.
19: The Christmas Cottage. Cute. Since you can go to the cottage anytime, I'd opt to spend my honeymoon somewhere besides the family cottage. But for others, it brings love and you can easily root for this couple. It was easier to believe their connection since they dated when they were younger and reunited when a bridesmaid and groomsman at a wedding. Roger can't act, but I guess he was supposed to be boring and unlikable. Ean looked familiar and I didn't watch any of the shows he was in, but I did remember him from Christmas Incorporated. A cozy Christmas cottage and rekindled love makes this a sweet story. But I'm starting to find watching these movies more of a chore than a pleasure. Let's hope the rest are good.
20: My Christmas Prince. Don't confuse this with the new Netflix Christmas movie, A Christmas Prince. Boring!!! Don't watch. It's the worst so far. It's like watching a practice for a bad high school play. First of all, the prince is from some invented country called Madelvia and he has a British accent. Second of all, they have nothing to say to each other. And third, the leading lady is more annoying than your worst coworker. She rolls her eyes at people and doesn't change her ways. She is probably only the first American this prince met. I had no idea she was in Pitch Perfect as she sounds like she came straight from a job with no acting experience. And who would want this whiny prince either? They don't seem to even like each other. I Do not recommend. But I did like that he had a salt block on his stove.
21: Wrapped Up in Christmas. This is a Lifetime movie. The first I've watched this year. It took me three tries to finish. The beginning confused me a little. They do have an all star cast of more familiar faces like Kim Fields and it was more diverse than most Hallmark movies. A woman has the job of closing down her boyfriend' aunt's store, although you know there will be a happy ending.
22: Snowed Inn Christmas. I am never going to finish by Christmas. This was another Lifetime movie. Pretty cute. After reading an article that said Hallmark rejects most movies about snow because of the cost of snow, I was expecting Lifetime to have more snow But they were snowed in an Inn in Indiana on a writing assignment because of snow in Colorado, so they avoided showing a lot of snow. I do like a good Santa story and the owners of the inn just happen to be Mr. and Mrs. Claus if you believe. The actress was cute and I couldn't place her at first, although I did not really watch most of the movies and TV shows she has been in before. Spolier alert, although not unexpected: In the end she tells her new coworker she loves him. Now although they have worked together a while, they had never really spoken until this assignment. And they spent about a week together with most of it hating one another. But I guess that's how love happens.
23: Magical Christmas Ornaments. It is part commercial for Hallmark ornaments. Like other movies with Hallmark products like Northpole and several ornament based movies, this movie highlights some of Hallmark ornaments, even some in labeled boxes. But it is their movie. Jessica Lowden is better suited for Christmas movies than 90210. At least this romance happened in a more natural way. They actually went on dates before falling in love. There were too many stories going on. The story with he ex was unnecessary Why does it matter if he wants to make money? She seemed to be treated unfairly at work. The ornaments could have been more magical. Their magic seemed more like coincidence. they needed a good Santa who wasn't really Santa to pop up and wink his eye with a twinkling sound in the background to make it more believable.
24: Christmas Encore. Had higher hopes for this one, but she didn't even make a good female Scrooge. The lead male was the villain in Chesapeake Shores so it was hard to buy him as a good guy. I kept waiting for him to show his evil side. Because she wasn't a great actress and the director wasn't that likable, I didn't care if they got together or not. Spolier alert: The theater was saved, but it is unlikely these two will ever work there again. It needed some singing.
25. Christmas Next Door. You would think I would be close to finishing all the new movies, but I am not. I have come to realize that I mostly like my Hallmark Christmas movies to have singing, a female lead with the down home girl next door look, Santa, shopping for a tree, kids, or someone who has acted in other things besides Hallmark movies. So Jesse Metcalfe has been in Desperate Housewives, the lead female had the cute girl next door look, they got a tree, and there were kids so it had four of the five. He doesn't seem smart enough to be a writer, though. And , of course, Jesse was dating the wrong woman easily discarded for the new girl. This is one I enjoyed and hoped (knew) they would get together.
26: Romance at Reindeer Lodge. Of course romance can't happen at a hotel. It has to be at a lodge or inn. But at least they aren't trying to fool you in this one. There will be a romance, although they hated each other for most of the 11 days they knew each other. I would think you would figure out sooner that you won a trip to Jamaica, Vermont and not the real Jamaica. Unless Hallmark or a fan faked the web site, there does appear to be a Jamaica in Vermont. And for a place that relies on reindeer to draw in guests, they only had three guests for 1 1/2 weeks. I was really hoping for the innkeepers to be Mr. and Mrs. Claus, but they were just innkeepers. This one is a pass.
27: Christmas Project. I only review new Christmas movies each year. This was a family Netflix show with a 2016 date, but labeled a new release. But I wanted something I could watch with my kids while I crafted. The beginning was slow and a Wonder Years/ Christmas story narrator wannabe. But after a while I really liked the message. The mom makes her kids do good deeds for a family in need every year and they can't tell the people what they did. While bullying is not acceptable, it shows the other side to the story. Sometimes people behave in a certain way because of their life situation.
28: Christmas Connection. I watched this a few days ago so my memory is fuzzy. This actually had an all star cast with Brooke Burns from Baywatch and Tom Everett Scott from many things including La La Land. So the characters were likable and a little older and more relatable to me. Brooke Burns smiles a lot and is not the best actress, but she is aging well. As a flight attendant, she couldn't get a seat to Italy and hangs out with a passenger as he helps her find out how her parents met and turns it into a story. Not sure what suburb, but she easily made the trip back and forth to her hotel in downtown Chicago. That's impossible. It was a nice love story, but (spoiler alert) don't give up on your lifelong dream of working in Italy for a guy you just met. It's not going to work out.
29: A Christmas Story Live. Not a Hallmark movie, but I gave up three hours for it and it's new so here it is. I did not read any reviews on this, but the people I know disliked it. I have never seen the original movie from start to finish so I can't compare and I know this was based on the musical. So I guess if you hate musicals and love the original, you would hate this version. But if you love musicals and never saw the original, you would love this production. I just thought it was well done. Everything flowed and seemed like it couldn't possibly all be live. My husband did wonder how the Christmas tree didn't appear until Christmas morning when they bought it days before and it wasn't there the day before. I thought Matthew Broderick was a great narrator and the kid sang well. It felt like a winters Christmas scene outside. I'd watch it again.
30: A Bramble House Christmas. I remember the lead actress most from No Ordinary Family. Not the most exciting and every step was predictable, but I did like that they made the lead male a children's book illustrator. Spoiler alert. And of course they plan to move in together after only a week. Not much to say about this one. It does seem like they would have had some reason to reunite with their father, though.
31: Engaging Father Christmas. These reviews are going to get shorter as I power through the rest. Sequel! Who needs a sequel to a made for TV movie unless it's Northpole? I can't remember if the last movie was to be continued. Last year the woman found out who her dad was and fell in love. But now we know that after a Hallmark movie ends, the people don't necessarily run off together. This couple still lived in separate cities. If there were unanswered questions in the first movie, I forgot all about it so I didn't need another. They couldn't find a new script for the When Calls a Heart lady? And although they kind of answered it in the end, why would you tell your ex boyfriend a secret when you haven't spoken in two years? I could have lived without seeing this one.
32: Christmas Getaway. Not much of a getaway for a travel writer. She goes to a small town where the cabin was double booked. This leads to a romance with the father staying in the same cottage. I was preparing gifts while watching this so not paying complete attention. Not that interesting. I did think the make lead was attractive and that she was a little high maintenance for all her cheap travel.
33: Sharing Christmas. I always wonder how Christmas stores survive all year. I'd agree with the developers to let this one go. Spoiler alert: But, of course, an old loophole and a smitten employee of the developer save the day. Since the store wasn't making a lot of money, I say give up your parents' dream and open your own store.
34: The Sweetest Christmas. Have to love a Lacey Chabert movie. Party of Five was one of my favorites. Another baking contest. I'm just not sure how she whipped a new design together the night before and this was the grand gesture to lure her ex back in, but it didn't work to lure her back to her other ex. The first ex seemed obviously disinterested. Unfortunately the plot wasn't that exciting. And maybe I missed what happened to the ex's wife.
35: The Christmas Train. I liked the all star cast, the train concept, and the different ending, but it was a little slow for me. I watched after an exhausting two nights of little sleep preparing for Christmas so I faded off a few times. It's the perfect type of role for Kimberly Williams-Paisley, but Danny Glover can do better. It was a good idea based on a book, but not that exciting for me.
36: 48 Christmas Wishes. This was a Netflix movie that must be more for kids. it's awful. The acting is bad as in an elementary school play. But my son is still watching. I'm giving up after an hour. If Santa is magical, he can figure out the kids' wishes in his own.
37: Enchanted Christmas. Hmm. Looks just like last year's A Nutcracker Christmas. In both a dancer has given up on dancing, but is offered the lead part in a Christmas show last minute. This one, however, does have several more conflicts involving family and jobs. The grandfather is wise making me wish someone would quote advice to me daily. Just okay. Not my favorite.
38: Mistletoe Inn: Were there really 38 of these? You have to love an Alicia Witt Christmas movie. She is worth 50 million and mostly from her recent six Christmas films. The end was predictable, but it was also what you hoped would happen. It had a unique premise of a writer's workshop. But who goes to a conference near Christmas and who flies away during a short conference? It was the only movie this year that brought a tear to my eye and one of my favorites for the season. Alicia Witt is perfect for playing the quirky girl you want to see find love for the holidays.
39: Karen Kingsbury's Maggie's Christmas Miracle. I'll admit that I was after Christmas online shopping while watching this one. I know Luke MacFarlane has been in other Christmas movies since Brothers and Sisters, but I still see him as gay and kept waiting for him to tell the mom in the story that he is. This made me realize there are no same sex Hallmark Christmas movies. With over twenty, can't we have one? He wasn't the greatest tutor. He was only interested in prematurely, unprofessionally, and a inappropriately, trying to date the mom. But the sweet ending tied it all together and made up for the flaws. I did not see this one coming, but then I wasn't paying close attention.
40: Rocky Mountain Christmas. Yay! I finished all the Hallmark movies. But I still have at least five more to go with Lifetime and Netflix. I didn't make my Christmas Day goal, but I should finish this week. I paid even less attention to this one. I wish I had more time as Treat Williams is a favorite of mine. He's up there with Rob Lowe. It's nice to have a Christmas ranch love story. Most of it is fuzzy since I was deeper in my online shopping while watching. But the end was a tip that maybe it didn't matter. It started raining, which I don't think was special effects. They commented on it, but no one used a raincoat or umbrella and it was coming down hard. Then the famous guy rides in on a horse wearing is $800 boots in the rain. It went from rain to no rain to snow in a matter of minutes. But the ending outside Christmassy scene was lovely.
41: A Very Merry Toy Store. Sabrina the Teenage Witch was a favorite of mine so I enjoy Christmas movies with Melissa Joan Hart. And it's nice that her aunt from the show keeps joining her in TV shows and movies. Beth Broderick was also in a Hallmark movie this year. This one was on Lifetime. Lifetime usually gets slightly better actors, although Hallmark stepped it up this year. I understand the feud between the toy stores and how they split, but is it really smart to have two so close together to begin with? And why would the large toy store pick this location to compete anyway? The character of the brother was a little too dumb and insulted librarians (I am one). It also had Brian Dennehy and Mario Cantone. Hart's stepdad also played a character, but I don't remember which one he was. Hmmm. It was produced by her mom.
42: Christmas Snowman . This is one of Lifetime's short films this year. It was only 14 minutes long (probably 7 after commercials) so I don't know if it counts as a movie. It''s basically Frosty the Snowman in real life so I can see why they didn't make it a full length film. A woman wishes for a boyfriend and the snowman outside comes to life. Now even if he was a real man, why would you invite a stranger in who just appears at your door offering to sweep the snow off your porch and then stops to make snow angels with you? And even after he proves he is a snowman, she actually believes him and wants to hang out with him. Now that's desperation. But was it just a dream? Premonition? I won't reveal the ending to this one.
43: The Ugly Christmas Sweater. This was another Lifetime short film. This one was only about 12 minutes (maybe 6 with commercials and credits.) I'm not seeing the point of these. Did they want to get more from their actors who were being paid anyway? Were these auditions for future Christmas movies? Movies gone bad so they cut them short? Relatives of the movie producers? A woman is having trouble getting ahead at work until she wears the ugly Christmas sweater her grandmother makes for her. I think this was just an excuse to throw ugly Christmas sweater in the title of a movie. The older gentleman was a little amusing. And I can relate as someday I will likely be on social media going on a tirade about something. But always listen to grandma as it helped her make her work wish come true.
44: Christmas in Mississippi. A Lifetime Christmas movie. Although I have seen the lead actress in smaller parts before, I thought she was the breastfeeding controversy lady from the HGTV show. I did like the concept of hometown sweethearts breaking up as they went their own ways and reuniting again. But this one was just a little slow and uninteresting for me, even though I did enjoy the actors chosen. There was a cute moment where the main character thought her ex boyfriend was getting married. I think she was made to be too much of a hero for her photography, although that is what brings her back home. It was unique that they chose a Christmas rejuvenation to the town's festivities after a hurricane hit years ago. But it doesn't matter what I write, as I am sure you all quit reading these after #10. As that is when I wanted to quit watching them. I am sure the light show was more impressive in person.There is also a director's cut for this one that I may or may not watch. I'll at least check out a few minutes of it. And i think a well intentioned surprise ruined Santa for the rest of the kids. But was Chris really Santa? Hmmm.
45: Delivering Christmas. Only 15 minutes. This had more off a Hallmark card or KFC commercial feel to it. You will get the chicken reference if you make it until the end. Awful except for the nice 12 days of Christmas decorations. Had to watch twice as it went so fast.
46: A Christmas Prince. This was a new Netflix original movie. It seemed a step up from the many Hallmark Christmas royalty movies. The lead actress was cute, but I liked the Prince better with a beard just like the Beast is more handsome than the prince. I did enjoy this although I watched it at the gym since it was on Netflix. There was a little twist to the end, but you knew something would save the day. It's another fake country where everyone has English accents except one guest at the party. The sister was nicely played too. Hopefully they don't remove this one until next Christmas so you can watch it any time.
47: Christmas Grandpa. The idea of this was sweet. A girl wants a grandpa for Christmas so she invites a local man to Christmas dinner. It was only 12 minutes, but half that with commercials. It had the feel of a Saturday night live sketch, but it wasn't funny. It was also nice to see most of the cast was black. Lifetime does better with diversity, although this was just a mini movie. It had Vivica Fox in it too. One of the better mini movies because of the cast.
48: Four Christmases and a Wedding. Lifetime. I was sure this was Jessica Alba until I looked it up. But then I was happy to see one of the minor characters was Judge Reinhold. I just don't see him as an older man yet, though. I was a little annoyed that she passed up the nice guy for the guy who would rudely show up flaunting his new model girlfriend, but then that all works out. You would think they could have exchanged contact information and kept in touch and all the problems would have been solved. The Christmas fair was cute and so was the mom and her gingerbread house making boyfriend. Spreading it over five years ended up being realistic. Some relationships take a while to develop. The actress annoyed me at times with her expressions and desire for a boyfriend, but it ended up being a pretty good movie for one of the last I needed to watch.
49: A Family for the Holidays. Lifetime mini movie. 15 minutes. A family realizes they are rushing and celebrating Christmas with lights and a perfect tree, but family is what is important so they invite their lonely neighbor over. More of a quick holiday message/reminder. Although we do include local family in our celebrations, it is a reminder to reach out to more family during the holidays.
50: The Spruces and the Pines. I swore I wouldn't watch an Ion movie. but I did. So now I still have at least one more to watch. Two competing Christmas tree farmers hate each other, but two family members fall for one another. Fine that they hate each other, but seems old fashioned to prevent relationships between families. The male love interest seems a little dumb. He can't even do his job right so I don't know what the girl sees in him. It was no worse than most of them, but better than previous Ion movies I've seen.
51: Christmas Inheritance. Netflix. I liked this one. I like small town movies and TV shows and quaint inns. I watched this one while folding laundry. I guess the main guy was in The Office, which was probably where I remembered him most. It did seem like a bit of an elaborate scheme and the daughter seemed to change her ways a bit too quickly, but it worked out in the end. And I like Andie MacDowall more after Cedar Cove and I see she has a new show coming out too. And it's by the water.
52: Runaway Christmas Bride. Ion. Awful. This reminded me why I don't watch Ion movies. But since I didn't make my Christmas Day goal anyway, I thought I might as well watch them. They are no longer airing them and I deleted mine so had to watch on YouTube. The acting was bad. It was a little cheesy with the guy in the hotel room and the ski instructor who was supposed to be hot. A commenter pointed out she had no money or luggage but somehow had a ski outfit the next day. I guess the idea wasn't bad, but the movie was terrible. Then she yells she loves him after only a few days. And the bride is actually married. She claims she said something else in the vows, but she did kiss the groom. And then she goes and hooks up with the next guy she meets. Same for the groom. Everyone, even family members treated each other horribly. I don't know why I kept watching. Worst one I've ever seen.
53: Christmas Cruise. Ion. Not bad. Vivica Fox was good. I liked the idea of a Christmas Island, but having it open for only a month with clubs etc. doesn't make much sense. And she gave in too easily about having no bed in her room just because the ship guy was handsome. Some corny acting and situations. I don't ever want to go on a cruise, but it seemed a nice way for singles to celebrate, even though it doesn't exist.
54: You Can't Fight Christmas. Almost done. I thought this was a Netflix original as it was in Netflix and had a 2017 date and wasn't released until mid December. However, it looks like it was an Up network movie. Okay. It was the only one with an all black cast. And the only one where the love interests hopped into bed together on the first night. The Christmas loving designer's job is in jeopardy as the Christmas hating son of the hotel owner has new plans. I just think both women were shown to be a little too eager for this man. One set up pie graphs to show they should get married and the other was all over him the first night. And the Christmas decorations looked like they were from a garage sale. That star was probably from Walmart. And if this was the hotel's biggest Christmas celebration ever, they probably do need to shut down that hotel. There is one more new UP movie and 2.5 more ion movies. I will attempt the Ion movies. Almost done with Snowmance.
55: Snowmance. Ion. Now on YouTube in a tiny screen. I oddly liked this one. The leading lady seemed familiar and I realized she was in a short lived show I liked called Privileged. Similar to the Lifetime mini movie The Snowman, a woman wishes for a boyfriend named Cole after building a snowman and poof one appears at the door and his name is Cole. They throw in hints that he may be a snowman like how he doesn't have a home or parents and likes the cold yet he can drive and has money. It's nice to see a romance between friends. I mean, love or snowmance. Am I done yet? I better be close as Winter fest starts tonight.
It looks like I never made it to the last two movies and I never will. After re-reading all 55 reviews, I realized I must really hate Christmas movies and I need to get better at giving short summaries besides my complaints. Yet I'm somehow excited for the new season. What else can I watch while wrapping gifts and online shopping?
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