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

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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

Hallmark's "Haul Out the Holly" Is Simultaneously Entertaining & Disappointing

Haul Out the Holly Plot Summary

When a woman unexpectedly spends the holidays alone at her parents' house, their homeowner's association insists that she participates in its many Christmas festivities.

Starring:  Lacey Chabert and Wes Brown

Hallmark's Haul Out the Holly
Image:  Hallmark Media

Fans' Response to Haul Out the Holly is Divided

A new Lacey Chabert movie each Christmas is always the season's icing on the sugar cookie.  Until recently, every Chabert romcom has been pure gold in terms of ratings and enjoyment. 

For the first time in Chabert's Hallmark career, not everyone is raving about her latest movie.  One camp finds Haul Out the Holly a sheer delight.  It's Chabert's first Hallmark comedy, and the emphasis is heavy on humor and light on romance.  Many love the change-up.  After years of the same recycled plot lines and cookie cutter tropes, fans are relieved to watch something new and fresh.  Life is too serious, so it's fun to laugh and be entertained.

The other half of Chabert's fan base label it an epic fail.  Some have even called Haul Out the Holly "stupid," "silly," "obnoxious," "over the top," and "boring."  Many claim the movie is too horrible to even finish.

There seems to be no middle ground in the court of public opinion.  People either love or hate Haul Out the Holly, though one fan on social media joked, "I like it and dislike it at the same time."


What Do People Love About Haul Out the Holly?

There is plenty to appreciate about this movie.  Chabert's character, Emily, narrates the introduction and makes a very relatable observation.  She says that every year, she asks herself the same question:  Is Christmas merely the longest to-do list of all time, or is all that work actually fun?  This is a great line because preparing for Christmas is an oxymoron--all that we love about the season is a ton of work!

Another great scene is when Emily snuggles up with a blanket and a snack to watch a Christmas movie on TV.  Emily is delighted to see that Christmas in Vienna is playing, and she says, I love this guy.  Avid Hallmark viewers immediately grasp the allusion.  The star of Christmas in Vienna is Brennan Elliott, who has co-starred with Chabert in several movies including the All of My Heart trilogy and Crossword Mystery installments.  It's fun when fans "get" the inside joke.

The supporting cast adds a lot of spice to the story.  Melissa Peterman is hilarious as Pamela.  She is a well-established actress, maybe more recognizable from her recurring role in Young Sheldon and the series, Reba.  In Haul Out the Holly, Pamela is a take-charge person who is highly competitive and a little terrifying.  She has a crazy meltdown when she wins the cookie baking contest, even though she expected the title, but later doesn't seem to realize she had such an episode.  We learn Pamela has written a dissertation for a PhD, but her degree is in Arts & Crafts with a minor in Scrapbooking--don't laugh though because she takes her "degree" very seriously!  In spite of her intense personality, she does have a  heart, and it breaks a little when she learns her husband can't make it home for Christmas.

Melissa Peterman in Haul Out the Holly

Another fun character is Ned, played by Stephen Tobolowsky.  Ned is more than eccentric--he's outright unhinged.  He owns a variety of Santa suits, mostly non-traditional, which he formally loans.  He questions what type of coal is being used for snowman eyes because he's allergic to sulphites.  Ned is an oddball with a tendency to go too far, so the residents of Evergreen Lane know how and when to intervene.

It's supposed to be a big deal that John Travolta's oldest sibling, Ellen, has a role in the movie as Mary Louise.  Many of her acting credits can be traced back to John's coattails, so her part is rather insignificant, though you might find it cool to look for any family resemblance.

There are two great cameos!  Kristoffer Polaha appears as the husband of Emily's best friend, and Eric Mabius plays Pamela's husband whom Emily pulls strings to bring home in time for Christmas.  Fans adore it when Hallmark surprises us with cameos by our favorite stars.  Polaha does a marvelous Jimmy Stewart impersonation during a game of charades!

Image:  Hallmark Media

The humor throughout the movie isn't exactly slapstick, but the stars execute their lines to perfection.  Lines that are supposed to be funny are actually funny and don't fall flat.  After seeing stars like Wes Brown and Lacey Chabert in so many cookie cutter movies where they play the exact same characters with different names, it's great for them to have the opportunity to tackle comedic roles to stretch their talents and entertain us at the same time.  Some quips fly under the radar.  For example, did you catch why Santa had to cancel, leading Jared to take his place at the annual event?  Santa strained his lap!  


Here's Where Haul Out the Holly Misses the Mark 

Good writers can make even the craziest scripts believable, but there are several moments throughout the movie where they fail.

When Emily is a child, her parents prioritize the annual neighborhood event over their own daughter.  They don't allow her to open her gifts when she gets up in Christmas morning--how cruel!  As an adult, it makes no sense either that her parents urge her to stay with them after her break-up and intentionally deceive her by not divulging that they are immediately leaving for Florida, which means she'll be home alone at Christmas.  This family acts like they are very close, but Emily's mom and dad suck as parents.  Emily's mom is also a terrible actress who is annoying every time she's in a scene.

Haul Out the Holly
Image:  Hallmark Media

Despite her parent's self-centeredness, they still gift her with their palatial estate since they plan to retire to Florida.  What exactly does her dad do for a living?  Even for a rich person, you would think in retirement, the parents would need the money from the sale of the house.  Plus, how will Emily, who's merely a copyeditor, even pay the taxes and upkeep on such a large home?  The average salary for a copyeditor is under $63K, and even those in the upper echelons of the field rarely exceed $98K.  The average person simply cannot relate to a living relative forking over the keys to a gigantic home free of charge.

How does every resident on Evergreen Lane have time to devote to preparing and participating in daily Christmas activities?  They all own colossal houses, but no one is ever working, except Pamela's husband.  We know Jared is an architect, but he seems to function as a full-time HOA President.  While some HOA board members and presidents work for free, the national average for such a position is just short of $100K.  It just seems like spying on the neighbors looking for potential violations would not consume much of one's day.    


Albert Melrose, Emily's dad, pretends he no longer has any lawn ornamentation (though he secretly has squirreled them away in a rented storage unit).  He buys new each year because his wife says they have nowhere to store it.  Are you kidding me?  The house and garage are so big, you could get lost in them, but we're supposed to believe there's no room?  All of the neighbors with equally large homes manage to store theirs from year-to-year. 

Speaking of the neighbors, why do all of them congregate on Christmas morning at the Melrose house?  No one does this.  Everyone is home with their own families on Christmas morning.

The WORST part of Haul Out the Holly is that Emily is living with her boyfriend in the beginning of the movie.  They've been together for nearly three years, but they break up right before Christmas.  Emily originally found their place, but Dan's name is on the lease, so he refuses to move out.  She locks herself away in the bedroom until she can leave the next day for her parents' home, lugging all of her belongings with her.


Before Hallmark went "woke" with their "love in all its many forms" bull crap, no couple was ever permitted to be under the same roof unless it was made emphatically clear they had separate rooms and there were other adults in the house who served, in a sense, as chaperones.  This is one reason why Hallmark is no longer considered "wholesome" or "family-friendly."  Hallmark is bowing to a sin-sick, devolving culture instead of the Biblical values that once defined "clean" programming.  Everyone wants to do "what's right in their own eyes" rather than obey the blueprint for living God lays out in the Word.  Instead of setting a programming standard based on morals and values like they used to, Hallmark is glorifying sin so everyone can feel okay about their immoral choices.

It doesn't matter if "everyone is doing it," or how this reflects the times we're living in.  Wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.  Right is right even if no one is doing it.

The fact that Lacey Chabert has publicly proclaimed to be a Christian yet acquiesced to her character living in sin is also troubling.  Chabert compromised her principles in Groundswell, and now she's done it again in Haul Out the Holly.  It appears the bad company she's keeping with the woke Hallmark crowd is ruining her good morals, just as the old adage predicts.  Since Chabert's contract with Hallmark promises she will be able to headline, executive produce, and develop content for the network, one has to question if she's traded her values for fame, caring more about the things of the world than the things of God.  If this is the case, we may see her star power fading as disenchanted fans migrate to Great American Family Channel where Candace Cameron Bure stands firm in her beliefs without caving to the angry mob of liberals who want their godless ways promoted and accepted. 


Share Your Opinion!

Some of you loved the comedic focus of Haul Out the Holly while others felt cheated out of a sweet romance.  While one group of fans laughed out loud (or at least smiled), the other group rolled their eyes and turned the channel.

Let's see if the divide is equal, or if one side tips the scale:
I thought the movie was lighthearted and a welcome format change.  I also loved the bit of nostalgia for older viewers who remember Polaroid cameras and Tiara Christmas sweaters.  The cast's performance is fun and engaging.


Haul Out the Holly Ugly Christmas Sweater
You can find Wes Brown's ugly Christmas sweater on Amazon!  See the link about photo.
Did you know the White Elephant party was Chabert's favorite part to film?

However, I do not appreciate Hallmark movies that deviate from the original formula for moral decency, and the whole living-in-sin thing going on between Emily and Dan casts a big cloud over this otherwise cheerful comedy.

I'm giving Haul Out the Holly three out of five Christmas trees--it's not Chabert's best script, but it's not her worst either.

Comments

  1. I haven't seen it yet

    ReplyDelete
  2. I wanted Matchmaker Santa

    ReplyDelete
  3. I read that the movie was a comedy so I was kind of expecting what I saw. Great movie!

    ReplyDelete

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