Showing posts from December, 2019

REVIEW: The Hallmark Sequel "Haul Out the Holly: Lit Up" Is as Silly as the First One

Emily and Jared are looking forward to celebrating the holidays together as a couple, and they prepare to work with their neighbors on Evergreen Lane to make this year's Christmas celebrations the best yet.  When a house on the block goes up for sale, the soon-to-be-neighbors are holiday royalty, but they are so competitive that they nearly ruin Christmas for everyone. Starring:   Lacey Chabert, Wes Brown, Stephen Tobolowsky, Ellen Travolta, Melissa Peterman, Seth Morris, and Jennifer Aspen Image:  Hallmark Media Haul Out the Holly:  Lit Up Has a Moral When the residents of Evergreen Lane learn that their new neighbors are the Jolly Johnsons--famous holiday reality stars--they are thrilled to welcome them to the block.  Everyone assumes the Johnsons will fit right in since they share their same affinity for elf culture. Emily, Jared, and the rest of the holiday crew quickly realize that the Johnsons aren't interested in joining in on the fun--they plan to take over. Image:  Tw

A Godwink Christmas: Meant for Love--Did It Make You Cry?

Starring:  Cindy Busby and Benjamin Hollingsworth  Released:  2019 Summary:  Multiple coincidences and a chance meeting bring two strangers from very different family backgrounds  together for a weekend wedding celebration. Image:  Crown Media, United States LLC This One's A Tear-Jerker! A Godwink Christmas: Meant for Love  stands out among the 2019 Hallmark holiday releases because it is based on a true story. Maybe that's why it touches the heart and causes the eyes to start squirting. Alice Marina is running the retail store her dad and uncle founded as young men, fresh off the boat from Italy.  She tries to preserve their dream and legacy, but her heart isn't in it.  She craves connecting with people, listening to their stories, and helping them through difficult seasons of her life. When Alice meets Jack Totah, he inspires her to follow her dreams of becoming a therapist.   Just as romance begins to bloom and Jack prepares to accept a promo

Hallmark's Write Before Christmas: Do You Send Christmas Cards?

Image:  Crown Media, USA LLC Starring:  Torrey DeVitto and Chad Michael Murray Released:  2019 Summary:  A recently single woman sends out Christmas cards to those who have impacted her life. Do You Send Christmas Cards? It seems less and less people send Christmas cards. It's much easier to post a greeting on Facebook and tag all your friends or just stick it in your feed and hope everyone sees it.  Maybe you send an annual update letter to those on your mailing list, or a simple photo card from Walmart. Digital communication is such a paradox--it connects people from all over in an instant.  It is so accessible, yet completely isolating, shallow and devoid of intimacy. In Write Before Christmas , Jessica recaptures tradition when she sends handwritten notes in her cards to the five people who have made the biggest impact on her life:  her brother, the aunt who raised her, a singer from a boy band, her former music teacher, and her best friend. Her reci

Hallmark's Christmas Under the Stars--The Sub-Plot Shines Brighter

Image:  Crown Media, United States, LLC Starring:   Jesse Metcalfe and Autumn Reeser  Released:   2019 Summary:  An investment banker gets fired from his job in the middle of the holiday season, so he decides to take a job at a Christmas tree lot.   Missing:  The Proverbial Spark Did anyone notice the lack of chemistry between Nick Bellwith (Metcalfe) and Julie Gibbons (Reeser) in this movie? I laughed out loud at the kiss in the parting scene--it was so robotic, cold, and uncomfortable.  It felt like two people just met 30-seconds ago and shared an awkward kiss with a total stranger.  What makes this so surprising is that the pair starred together back in 2015 in Hallmark's A Country Wedding and were amazing together.   I expected more! Does it have anything to do with Metcalfe looking like Eddie Munster's distant relative (though he's still hot) or Reeser's sassy hairdo?  Hallmark women are supposed to have long, curled locks like Reeser had in A Brambl

Hallmark's Christmas Town--A Foster Parenting Focus

Starring:  Candace Cameron Bure and Tim Rozon  Released:  2019 Starring:  A woman leaves her old life behind in Boston and pursues a new chapter in her career and personal life, but a detour leads to unexpected discoveries. Image:  Crown Media, United States LLC Queen of Christmas Stamp Candace Cameron Bure executive produced Christmas Town , so her fingerprints are all over it, meaning the movie has a strong focus on faith, family, and loving one's neighbors. Unlike the cotton candy fluff of many Hallmark Christmas movies, this one serves a deeper purpose than merely providing the viewer with feel-good entertainment.   Foster Care, Adoption, And Finding Family Hallmark is known for its Adoption Ever After program to find forever homes for shelter pets.  Since humans are far more valuable than animals, it is heart-warming to see a focus on foster care and adoption in this movie. Have you ever been in foster care or been a foster parent yourself? Many of

Does Hallmark's "Christmas in Rome" Make You Want to Visit This Ancient City?

Starring:  Lacey Chabert and Sam Page   Released:  2019 Summary:  A tour guide gets fired from her job in Rome just before Christmas, but she soon crosses paths with an executive who want to buy a high-end company. Image:  Crown Media Location, Location, Location This movie swerves off the well-worn Hallmark path that predictably leads to a small, quaint and snowy American town. Did you like the switch-up or not? The movie was filmed on location in Rome, although some scenes were shot in Romania.   Angela de Luca feels at home in Rome.  Although she was raised in Seattle, her parents took her to Rome to visit when she was 10, and it made a lasting impression. After they both passed away, Angela relocated to the city dripping with old world culture, history, and charm.   It wouldn't seem like Christmas to most of us if we had to spend it away from home, unless you are the adventurous type not bound by tradition. Have you ever ventured away for the holi

The Mistletoe Secret--What Puts Your City on the Map?

Starring:  Kellie Pickler and Tyler Hynes   Released:   2019 Summary:   A woman convinces a travel writer to do a story about her hometown in Utah, but her heart begins to feel torn between the travel guru and his ghostwriter. Everyone loves Tyler Hynes, but many aren't crazy about Kellie Pickler.  Image:  Crown Media Christmas Crazy During the 2019 holiday season, Hallmark went overboard to pack as much holiday cheer as they could into every movie premiere.   The Mistletoe Secret boasts a Christmas Council that accomplishes more in a few weeks than Santa's elves do in an entire year at their North Pole workshop. In fact, so many Christmas activities are scheduled in the town of Midway, Utah, that a passport is given to participants, which gets stamped each time they complete a challenge. Do small towns really go all out like that every Christmas? I doubt it. It's not uncommon for larger cities with park and recreation districts to plan mult

How Does An Actual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony Compare to Hallmark's?

I talked my family into joining me for our city's annual Christmas tree lighting.  Although we've called our city home for nearly 14 years, we've never attended the event. When we first arrived, I felt like I was on the set of a Hallmark movie.  I was giddy! There were carriage rides, a scavenger hunt, cookies, hot chocolate, and a children's choir singing carols.  A costumed character meandered through the crowd, pausing for pictures with kids brave enough to stand with him and hold a sign. A local radio celebrity helped lead the event until passing the microphone off to the mayor, who commended the city council and event organizers for their efforts before calling all the children to gather in front of the tree and lead the countdown. Seeing not only the tree, but the entire street and city commons area surge to life was spectacular!  If you joined all the light strands together, they would stretch for seven miles!  No wonder there was such a loud cheer

Holiday for Heroes--How Did Hallmark Do Honoring Our Veterans?

Image:  Crown Media, United States LLC Starring:  Melissa Claire Egan and Marc Blucas Released:  2019 Summary:  After a year's worth of letters exchanged between a woman and a soldier, their worlds collide, and the spirit of the season brings their love beyond the letters. Pen Pals There are so many things to love about this movie, and the pen pal relationship between Audrey Brown and First Sergeant Matt Evans is one of them. Too often, couples hook up and become so infatuated or consumed by physical attraction that they neglect nurturing the most important aspect--getting to know each other.  Building a strong and deep foundation is accomplished through heart-to-heart conversation, along shared interests, mutual trust and respect, and other key elements. Although it feels a bit surreal and awkward when Audrey and Matt finally connect in person, their romance blossoms because they already know so much about each other.   We find out Audrey's letters kept

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