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

It's No Wonder Hallmark's "Christmas Waltz" Was the #1 Most Watched Original Movie Premiere for 2020!

Starring:  Lacey Chabert and Will Kemp

Released:  2020

Summary:  After a woman's storybook Christmas wedding gets cancelled, a dance instructor helps her face her fear in life by fulfilling her dream of learning how to dance.  

Lacey Chabert & Will Kemp wow fans with their beautiful dance performance in Christmas Waltz  Image:  Crown Media

Jilted at Christmas

Getting dropped like a dense fruitcake during the most wonderful time of the year would ruin Christmas for most of us.  Each subsequent, annual celebration would be marred by the memory of heartbreak.  

Right after Avery (Lacey Chabert) decides on a Nutcracker-themed wedding cake and pays for 10 ballroom dancing lessons, she learns her fiance, David (Jeremy Guilbaut) has accepted a job in Boston and will be leaving New York.  Despite David's feeble attempts to keep their relationship alive after the devastating blow, Avery calls off the wedding and ends things with him for good.

You must admire Avery's spunk.  Too many women would disrespect themselves by desperately taking any scrap of hope the schmuck would throw them.

Taking it a "step" further, Avery even proceeds with the ballroom dancing lessons, even though they serve as a reminder of the wedding dance she won't have.  As they say, when life hands you eggs, make eggnog!

Are Kemp and Chabert Dancers?

Many fans assume Chabert and Kemp must be trained dancers, since they give viewers a beautiful and seamless performance.

Kemp is a classically trained ballet dancer, having performed the lead in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake from 1997-2000, both in London and off-Broadway before appearing in Bourne's other productions, like Cinderella, Spitfire, The Car Man, and Play Without Words. He was even dubbed the "James Dean of ballet" by Paramount Studios exec, Sherry Lansing.   

Kemp's sister, Daisy May Kemp, is also a professional dancer.  

In his interview with TV Insider's Mandi Bierly, however, Kemp admitted he had never done the type of dancing required in Christmas Waltz.  "People think that when you dance, you dance [anything].  Ballroom is a different technique, so I was nervous."

Chabert, on the other hand, is not a trained dancer, but you'd never know it watching her nail every graceful move despite the bruised ribs and broken toe that came with the territory!  She trained for three weeks at home followed by nine days of intensive training before working with the choreographer.  Dancing took Chabert out of her comfort zone, but she ended up loving it so much that she is continuing to take lessons. 
Image:  Crown Media

Chabert relates to her character, Avery--both are scared to tackle dancing, but neither allow the fear to hold them back.  Ultimately, dancing becomes a freeing form of self-expression.

Did you enjoy the hat tip to Singin' in the Rain?  It's the scene where Roman and Avery danced down the street after a wildly engaging evening with his family.  It ended up being one of Chabert's favorite scenes from the movie.  Yes, it was cool, but in reality, if I were dating a man who suddenly performed a dance number out in public like that, it would mark the end of our relationship.

Image:  Crown Media

Chabert and Kemp aren't the only amazing dancers on set--let's not forget JT Church, who plays young Nicky.  Church is a dance pro who won Dancing With the Stars:  Juniors  in 2018. 

Christmas Waltz is JT Church's first film.  Image:  Crown Media

Speaking of Dancing With the Stars, Candace Cameron Bure responded to Chabert's Instagram post on Christmas Waltz with, "I see DWTS in your future!"  Bure had starred in the iconic show in 2018, but there's no indication Chabert would be interested in such an opportunity, should it be offered.

A Poetic Ending

During Avery's dance training, Roman makes her look to the left, but as they grow closer and she rehearses with him for his pending performance with Elina at the Palace Theatre, he allows her to lock eyes with him.  His reasoning?  Certain dances tell a story.  

When David comes back in the picture and misleads Roman into thinking he and Avery have reconciled, Roman makes her look left again during practice, though he soon learns the truth.

Elina gets stuck in a gridlock and can't make it for the show, so Avery joins Roman on stage for an epic performance.  No words are spoken before or after that climactic kiss, but none are needed.  Their dance and their eyes both share the story of their love--a very poetic ending that ties the whole story together.

Kudos to Michael Damian

Soap opera fans remember Michael Damian best for his role on The Young and the Restless as Danny Romalotti.    

Those of us raised on radio also remember his 1989 number one single, Rock On.  

Damian wrote, produced, and directed Christmas Waltz, and he scored big with this number one fan favorite for the season.  Hallmark has been so distracted lately trying to act "woke" that they have exchanged good story-telling for political correctness, and it has earned them several ho-hum sleepers this year.  

Damian proves that when you put your heart and soul into developing an actual story instead of merely virtual signaling, it goes a long way in creating enthusiasm among  Hallmark movie fans.

Along with his wife, Janeen, Damian also wrote and directed A Princess for Christmas, which you can find on DVD to add to your collection.

Let's hope Damian will continue creating magical movies!

Celery Juice

Did you catch the scene near the beginning when Avery's lunch consisted of celery juice?

How in the world could anyone subsist on celery juice for a meal.  I had to Google it.  Turns out, celery juice is the latest "superfood" trend promoted by wellness gurus.

Celery juice is thought to aid in digestive health, fights high cholesterol and blood pressure, halt the growth of certain cancer cells, and combat inflammation.  

Juicing celery, however, removes the fiber.

Just a little side note!

Chabert's Sister Had a Cameo in the Movie!

Most of us missed this and will have to re-watch the movie to figure out where Chabert's sister, Crissy, made her cameo appearance.  We rarely get a glimpse into Chabert's family--they are a very private people! 

Lacey Chabert with her older sister, Crissy--posted on Twitter

Another deviation from the status quo in this movie is Avery flubbing up Roman's breakfast sandwich.  Hallmark fans know Chabert plays a fabulous cook and baker in all her movies, so burning food broke new ground!

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Chabert & Kemp create magic in Christmas Waltz.  Image:  Crown Media


  1. Excellent film and acting. Watched it several times!

  2. My Favorite! Best film this season. I've watched it several times.

  3. I taped it and have watched it every night since. I love Will Kemp’s eyes and sense of humor he displays so well on the screen. Lacey and Will are so natural together and it just makes me love this picture more and more. Can’t wait until I can buy this movie for my own collection.

  4. Get off the "woke" thing .They've gotten bombarded with negativity because they weren't diverse enough,so now they've overdone it.hopefully it evens out eventually.


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