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

Review: Hallmark's "Joyeux Noel" Is a Good Story with a Bad Casting Choice

When a romantic painting of a Christmas market captures the imagination of copy editor, Lea, she is sent to France with a moody reporter, Mark, to uncover the mystery behind the artist.

Starring:  Jaicy Elliot and Brant Daugherty

Joyeux Noel movie poster
Image:  Hallmark Media

Joyeux Noel Combines Romance & Mystery

Joyeux Noel was written by Brant Daughtery and his wife Kimberly and tells the tale of a copy editor and aspiring journalist (Elliot) getting the break she's been waiting for.  

After visiting an antique store and purchasing an old jewelry box, Lea opens it to find a journal.  While she's deciphering its contents, she tunes into the news where journalists are raving about a new painting featuring an unknown artist known only as "F."

Lea is shocked to notice that a sketch in the journal matches the newly unveiled painting.  She reads on to discover that decades earlier, Mon Fleur had met and fallen in love with a woman at a Christmas market in a small French village.  The two shared a few magical days and planned to elope since her parents would not approve.  Did the two find their happy ending?  Lea doesn't know because the last pages of the journal are missing.

Lea's and Mark's editor sends the two of them to France to investigate.  Lea, having grown up reading the romantic childhood story, The Doctor and the Maid, maintains a romanticized view of their assignment while Mark, a realist, doesn't believe in the folklore of the Christmas market--that it has the magic to bring soulmates together.

After years in the business, Mark has grown a bit jaded, but working with someone as fresh and green as Lea helps him see life through a more optimistic lens.  

Mon Fleur's story doesn't end the way you would expect--there's a nice twist--but even more unexpected, the Christmas market works its magic on Lea and Mark after all.

Joyeux Noel Is Something a Little Different

With so many Christmas movies airing across different networks, it's challenging to produce a movie that is more than white noise.

Joyeux Noel includes mystery to keep things intriguing.

Bilingual teen, Ciara Prioux, plays Sophie, the impish daughter of the innkeeper where the couple stays for the duration of their trip.  Sophie warns Lea and Mark that the resident gnomes will play tricks on them if they don't leave small gifts outside of their doors.  Marks winds up with his shoestrings tied together and his coffee laden with salt from hesitating to leave the "gnomes" an offering.  Sophie is a fun character who livens things up, and since she plans to be a reporter one day, Mark gives her pointers throughout the movie.

Who knew that the French consume chocolate so often for breakfast?  

Christmas markets are sooo European.  America doesn't have a comparable alternative, so it's interesting to learn of the type of quality gifts and confections one might find strolling through a popup market in a quaint village.

My favorite thing about the movie is the way Lea frequently corrects Mark's grammar.  He writes good stories, but her job is to fix them to make them grammatically perfect.  She simply can't resist correcting his verbal errors due to her sensitivity to mistakes, and it's amusing.

The movie was also filmed mostly on location in France, particularly in Rouen, which is the capital of Normandy.

There Is ZERO Chemistry Between Elliot and Daugherty

It ultimately doesn't matter how unique or enjoyable the storyline is if the romantic leads share no onscreen chemistry.

Whoever cast the hefty Elliot opposite the gorgeous Daugherty should have known the movie would be dead in the water.  Have you seen Daughtery's wife?  Clearly, he would never be attracted to someone like Elliot, and he couldn't even fake it for a movie he co-wrote.

Image:  Brant & Kimberly Daugherty with son Wilder via Instagram

Elliot is a decent actress who received her big break by getting cast on Grey's Anatomy.  Since then, she has starred in Hallmark's Romance in Style and My Southern Family Christmas

Elliot is simply not leading lady material for a romcom (unless she's someone's sidekick) and would be better cast in mysteries and dramas where romance is absent.  

If she lost a significant amount of weight, Elliot would be a believable leading lady, but until then, she's just not the type any Hallmark hunk would remotely be interested in.

Why does Hallmark keep casting her?  It should be obvious by now that Hallmark is obsessed with "inclusion," and would rather risk a movie bombing than not to include it (though Joyeux Noel was the most watched cable program the day it aired).  Elliot keeps getting cast in leading roles because she "checks a box." Victoria's Secret did the same thing, but when sales plummeted, they revamped their strategy and returned to sexiness.

According to the CDC, 41.9% of Americans over the age of 20 are overweight.  It has been historically reported that the average size of the American woman is a 14, but that number has increased over the last 10 years.  A newer study conducted by the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology, and Education finds the average size of an American woman is now between 16 and 18.  A higher BMI is linked to medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.

When people say, "Weight is just a number," they are joining the body positivity crowd.  The truth is, weight is the number that decides whether you are fat and unhealthy or not.  Pointing out the obvious is now called "fat shaming," but it's actually a reality check.  Fat is unattractive, undesirable, and unhealthy, no matter how much culture tries to convince people to be happy with their overweight bodies.

While some men tune into Hallmark, the overwhelming majority of viewers are women.  Hallmark undoubtedly is aware of the statistical averages and is catering to the overweight women watching, letting them fantasize that they could land a handsome hunk like Jaicy Elliot does in the movies.  

Image:  Hallmark Media

The converse, however, is not included.  When have you ever seen a fat and unattractive male lead in a Hallmark movie?  To date, never.  To keep you coming back, Hallmark lures women viewers in with the handsome and fit leading men, but then casts someone like Elliot to make the female character's size more relatable.  The higher the number on your own scale, the more likely you'll find yourself jumping to Elliot's defense and having a meltdown over me using the "F" word.   

Joyeux Noel could have been a charming and delightful romance, but it flops because Elliot is too large to make the romance believable.  The final kiss even looks like she is struggling to get past her middle to reach his lips. The most Christmasy thing about the story is that her belly jiggles when she laughs like a bowl full of jelly.

My Christmas tree rating:  


  1. I probably would've watched this movie if they changed the lead actress. I don't care what any idiot says: Being fat doesn't make you 'pretty', it just makes you unhealthy and extremely unattractive. (and I just LOL's at your end quote! 🤣)

  2. As an overweight person who doesn't bs about it... I agreed with everything written here. I also feel like that last sentence didn't need to be added. It felt mean and nasty instead of just basic truth!

  3. My problem with this movie is, okay, she’s a “big” girl, but could they not get wardrobe to fit her properly? Especially her coats…they didn’t meet in the front and if it’s cold enough to snow, you’d need a proper coat.
    You’re right, the two leads were not a good match.

  4. Agree, so miss cast! The leading man needed a better leading lady. She missed the mark in this one.

  5. Jaicy Elliot just does not have the acting capability or charisma to play a leading role in a movie...let alone a romantic lead. She is unrelatable and boring...weight has little to do with believability

  6. I agree about zero chemistry between them which is why I turned it off after 45 mins. However her acting is subpar and its not about her looks. I think its cruel to make comments like her losing weight would make a difference. She needs acting classes maybe and for Hallmark to cast her with someone she has chemistry with. I like the male lead a lot and watch his movies but to me he looked like he was trying too hard to make the romantic chemistry with someone he knew he didn’t share it with.

  7. This was one of the biggest miscasts I have ever seen. Jacey is not Hallmark or any network leading lady material and never will be. Her acting is terrible and she had no chemistry with any of the leading men in any of her movies. She got the role because she is on Grey’s Anatomy they think the fans of that show will watch her in a hallmark movie. And also because she is young. Fans of hallmark do not realize that they are quietly adding more young stars as leads in their movies and the older stars are getting less and less roles.

  8. Hallmark has been losing its mind lately with their casting not only with this movie but a lot of their movies. When I heard about this movie I was laughing so hard I knew from then that this was a miscast. She is and will always be a supporting actress and not a leading one.

  9. I have watched hallmark Christmas movies for a long time and they are not as good as their older ones. Whoever is casting their movies is not doing a good job. A lot of their movies besides this have been miscast. The problem with this one is I do not for one minute believe that Brant and Kimberly wrote this movie with Jacey in mind for the lead actress. If anything after watching the two of them in A Christmas Movie Christmas I believe the role was written with Kimberly in mind to play the lead. When he took it to hallmark they rejected that idea and cast Jacey. Who has zero chemistry with any of male stars in her movies. Hallmark seems to think that she is a leading lady she is not at best she is a supporting actress.

    1. Are you writing all the comments here, or do 3 different commenters all just happen to spell Jaicy as "Jacey"?

    2. You mean that is not how you spell the her name. I assume since there is a local news anchor name is and spelled Jacey. That is how she spelled her name .And no I only wrote this one so I am guessing there are people who do not know how to spell her name.

  10. One of the problems is that the newer scripts are awful. The older movies had a christmas theme to them. It’s like they are taking any “younger audience” themed movie and injecting Christmas into it. That doesnt cut it. Their pairings of older, established actors and actresses with new younger ones isn’t working either. Hallmark needs to go back to what worked about 5-7 years ago. And go back to the older actors and actresses working together that have established chemistry together.

  11. I guess on twitter people can’t handle the truth. There are several tweets picking on this blogger for her opinion on not only this movie but it star. The part that makes me laugh the most is the tweet from someone who actively picks on other networks and also says that says this blogger wrote all of the comments. I know I am responsible for one and a few friends wrote comments as well. Some hallmarkies can not handle opinions that are actually true. Jacey is a leading lady on the only network that would give a role and the only reason for that and she is too stupid to realize is she fits the narrative from Hallmark who is trying to show they are diversitive.

    1. That last sentence makes zero sense and "diversitive" isn't a word.

    2. I guess talk to text did not understand me . I said/ meant diversified.

  12. I have to comment about the anonymous post about my spelling of Jacey name . If you want to claimed to be anonymous do not put the post on your twitter page. S


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Merry Movie Week 2023 Printable Schedule

Did MacFarlane & Patterson Really Play Their Instruments in "Chateau Christmas?" Find Out!

REVIEW: Why Hallmark's "Never Been Chris'd" Is Such a Flop

Hallmark Channel's Christmas in July 2023 Printable Movie Schedule

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

Review: Hallmark's "Where Are You, Christmas?" Is a Shot at Creativity that Falls Short

Hallmark's "Mystic Christmas" Starts Off Great Before Taking a Hard Left Turn

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

Review: "Ms. Christmas Comes to Town" Is Sad but Poignant