Hallmark's "A Maple Valley Christmas" Is Based on a Book

A Maple Valley Christmas Plot Summary   A rancher has spent her whole life working the family farm with her mother and sister, but when a man arrives and disrupts her plans, she starts to question what she actually wants. Starring :  Peyton List and Andrew Walker Image:  Hallmark Media The Movie Is Based on a Book A Maple Valley Christmas is based on the 2018 novel by Jerry Todt, but the Hallmark flips the script.  In the book, Erica is the real estate agent tasked with convincing a maple syrup farmer to sell, but after spending time in the small town, she has to decide between love or becoming a partner in her firm. When Hallmark fans love a movie, they always ask Hallmark for a sequel.  It will be interesting to see if Hallmark produces one because Todt released a follow-up novel in 2020 called A Maple Valley Wedding , which is set one year later.  Erica is in love, she's come to faith in Jesus, but then her ex shows up and sends her on a downward spiral. Did you enjoy this m

Review: Hallmark's "Ghosts of Christmas Always"

Ghosts of Christmas Always Plot Summary

A Ghost of Christmas Present must help one soul rediscover his Christmas spirit, but this year has something unusual in store.

Starring:  Kim Matula, Ian Harding, Reginald VelJohnson, and Lori Tan Chinn 

Ghosts of Christmas Always
Image:  Hallmark Media

How Many Spins Can You Make on A Christmas Carol?

Just when you think you've seen every possible twist on Dickens' timeless classic, you're surprised by another creative rendition.  

Hallmark has tweaked the holiday classic many times through the years:

  • A Carol Christmas (2003)
  • It's Christmas, Carol (2012)
How does Ghosts of Christmas Always measure up?

Here's What's Great About Ghosts of Christmas Always

Hallmark has been testing new talent over the past year, and many of them have been flops.  Fans know their favorite leading actors will eventually grow too old for the type of parts they play, but they expect rising stars to be of equal caliber.

Ghosts of Christmas Always is a treat because it boasts a star-studded cast that actually knows how to act.  Kim Matula (Katherine) is beautiful and amazing in her role, and Ian Harding (Peter) is very animated and endearing.  Harding's mannerisms and delivery might even remind you a bit of Paul Campbell.  Reginald VelJohnson (Roy) stirs up nostalgia for anyone who remembers him as the iconic father, Carl Winslow, in the popular 90's sitcom, Family Matters.  Veteran actress Lori Tan Chinn (Arlene) also has several credits on her resumĂ©, though her performance is a little crusty, grumpy, and off-putting.

The second dynamic that makes Ghosts of Christmas Always stand out is the plot twists.  For anyone weary of the familiar, stale, and predictable Hallmark formula, this movie is for you.  Spoiler alert (skip to next paragraph if you haven't seen the movie):  Katherine can't grasp how Peter can see her and then remember her a year later, but the mechanics of this is explained at the end of the movie in the "big reveal."  The audience is led to believe Peter is the ghost team's case for the year, only to find out a mistake has been made and they are supposed to be Scrooging his father.  Just when you recover from that plot twist, you learn Katherine has been the case all along!  It's brilliant storytelling.

Another interesting flip-flop is how we learn Katherine had been hit by a car while handing out blankets to the homeless.  Her best friend, Betsy, and her new husband established the Frog Hollow Angel Community Center in Katherine's honor to help the poor and the homeless.  A picture of Katherine adorns a table in the center.  Later, when Katherine gets a second chance at life, the community center is reopened at the former Rooty Tooty's, and Betsy's picture graces the wall to honor her memory instead--a nice touch.

Four Strikes Against Ghosts of Christmas Always

Hallmark was once a network that told inspirational stories rooted in faith, but under new "woke" leadership, faith has all but been squeezed out of newer movies and replaced with New Age philosophy and mysticism, which is completely antithetical to faith.

Katherine and Peter have such a spark and connection that viewers desperately hope they find a way to be together, even though we know she's technically dead and it seems impossible.  However, when Katherine walks through the door labeled The Great Unknown, she is given back her life.  You might be glad a happy-ever-after was achieved, but at the crux of the solution is reincarnation.  There is no such thing as reincarnation.  After death, you are in heaven or hell.  There are no second chances or coming back in some form.

The second strike is the character "Charlie," the person who is in charge of handing out "Scrooging" assignments to each team.  Hallmark continues to stuff as many LGBTQ characters as they can into each new movie, and the actress they chose for this role looks somewhat androgynous and has a fictional name used by both sexes.  This is intentional.  The actress who plays Charlie is Blair Baker.  You can find her page online where she boasts, I am queer, activist, feminist storyteller passionate about making and being involved with work that represents the underrepresented.  In other words, she's another perverted freak--the exact type Hallmark is courting these days.

Blair Baker
Hallmark's casting isn't inclusive--it's perverted.

Hallmark is trying so hard to be less white, even though the "diversity" they promote is just a veiled form of racism.  A cast should be selected based on merit, not skin tone.  When a story is well told, no one cares what color the actors are.  The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future are seasoned actors, so the viewer pays little regard to their respective races, which is how it should be.  However, it's obvious Hallmark made a deliberate choice to include a white, black, and Asian.  Identity politics ruins entertainment.

The fourth strike is the idea that rich, successful businesspeople are bad and wealth should be redistributed for social justice.  Peter's father is a type of Scrooge figure, which the movie needs; however, he's painted as a villain for not wanting to continue his own father's failed attempt at supporting a community center for the needy.  Peter's grandfather might have a big, generous heart, but his financial decisions caused him to go under, and he had to be rescued by his own son.  There is no such thing as a free lunch.  Someone has to pay the bills. Peter tells his father, I'd rather be broke and good than rich and broken, as if those are the only two options. The story ends up finding a balance between good business and community goodwill, but socialism is an undercurrent.

My Christmas Tree Rating

Despite the movie's flaws, Ghosts of Christmas Always is a credit to many of the movies Hallmark has been producing lately.  While I don't agree with the veiled undertones, the story is well-developed, the acting is top-notch, the chemistry between leads is tangible, and the plot twists are refreshing.  

I'm giving the movie three out of five Christmas trees.


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