Christmas Movies, Mini Reviews: Part 2

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Last year I shared some reviews on a handful of Christmas movies complied into one post with a “short and sweet” review format. This year to wrap up my reviewing of Christmas movies (at least until next holiday season), today I decided to share about the movies I watched over the Christmas week. Four out of five are from the Hallmark Channel and are among my favorites. (My Christmas flick radar is pretty good I think because I saved the best for Christmas week, which is just what I wanted. *wink*) Plus, over or not, as my friend Kara says, only the “cool people still watch Christmas movies.” I tend to agree with her. Nothing wrong with watching these into January methinks. 
The Christmas Ornament (2013)  

One of Hallmark Channel’s 2013 premieres – and one of its most popular (I totally get this), this one stars TV favorite Kellie Martin (Christy) as a recently widowed shop owner named Kathy. In addition to mourning the loss of her husband, Kathy struggles to keep him alive by keeping his dream alive in the form of the bike shop they opened. Sadly, the shop is all but failed. This is when she meets tree lot owner Tim Pierce (played by Cameron Mathison). Since his work is largely centered on Christmas, Tim’s charm does appeal to Kathy but since Christmas was always a big part of her and her late husband’s life, she keeps him at arm’s length. It’ll take a bit of faith and her best friend, Jenna (Jewel Satire) for Kathy to possibly open her heart to love.  

Bottom lining it, I thought this film was one of the sweetest I’ve seen. On my mental list of favorites, this one ranks high. Seeing Kellie in anything is always a pleasure because of the fond memories I have of her short-lived titular role in Christy. Nicer still is seeing her in something drastically different from normal. The interaction between the two leads is sweet and I liked how the story played out clichés or no. The baking subplot is cute and Jewel (Call me Mrs. Miracle) as the best friend was darling. If you’re looking for another Christmas movie, check out this one. It’s definitely worth a watch.  

Northpole (2014) 

This 2014 Hallmark Channel premiere is uncharted territory for the network. It journeys into special effects and consequently a “bigger” scale. Single mom Chelsea (Tiffani Thiessen) is moving again for her work as a reporter. Tagging along is her son Kevin (Max Charles) who is tired of being the “new kid.” Before long, Kevin begins communicating with the curious Clementine (Bailee Madison). Clementine is an elf from the North Pole, whose disappointment with the lagging belief in Santa Claus (played by screen legend, Robert Wagner) is met with a plot to bring back the spirit. This brings her to Kevin’s door. When Chelsea learns her son has befriended an elf, she chalks it up to a lonely, overactive imagination. Along with Kevin’s quirky teacher, Ryan (Josh Hopkins), the quartet has their work cut out for them. Bringing back the joy of Christmas is no small task!  

The basic premise of this is the same as every movie that tells a story of people losing their zest or belief in Christmas. That being said, I liked this one because of its cast. Seeing Bailee in anything is always fun since I remember some of her roles from way back when and she’s no stranger to these productions. Then there is Josh Hopkins who stars in one of my must-watch, favorite Christmas TV films ever (12 Men of Christmas) and of course, leading lady Tiffani Thiessen. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Tiffani in anything apart from her fabulous turn as FBI agent Peter Burke’s wife in White Collar so it was really entertaining to watch her in this very different atmosphere. The sets are all pretty good which ties into making everything full of wonder and magic for the films intended ideals. Clementine is a fun character as is Josh’s Ryan, who is not the average romantic interest. Suffice to say, this is a world I’ll be glad to revisit come 2015 with the sequel that’s already in the works.

Snow Bride (2013) 

I remember a friend talking about this one last year. Which meant this was a title I anticipated seeing on DVD this year. Unfortunately a studio didn’t release it. However I still had a chance to see what it’s all about. Greta Kaine (Katrina Law) makes her living off other peoples misfortunes. She’s a gossip reporter that’s pitted against a fellow co-worker to get the scoop on one of the most prominent political families in the nation. One of the sons is rumored to have bought a ring and whoever gets the scoop first earns the promotion. Son Ben Tannenhill (Jordan Belfi) has been hurt by love. So much so that he’s not likely to easily fall again. However when a woman in a wedding dress tumbles (literally) into his life, he has to rethink his belief of love. Greta didn’t mean to meet Ben in such an unconventional way, but she needed an “in” with the family and if that means letting Ben believe she’s a runaway bride, she’ll do it.  

Apart from just a “convenient” meeting, this movie also has other moving parts that make it the perfect remedy for a festive kind of rom-com. It also deals with a couple (Greta and Ben) pretending to date in order to make someone else jealous. I know this has been done tantamount times however something about this script made it come across differently. Maybe it was the “we’ll find ourselves under the mistletoe,” so let’s-get-the-kiss-out-of-the-way moment or perhaps it was the chemistry between the leads. Whatever it was meshes the story nicely and made this one a favorite. If you like romantic-comedies, this is one you should consider looking into. It’s got “magical” moments, pretty dresses and an ending that’s traditional albeit quite cute.  

The Tree that Saved Christmas (2014)  

Molly Logan (Lacey Chabert) left her small Vermont home town for New York with stars in her eyes. Her plan? She was going to be a popular author or edit books. Instead she’s the underappreciated assistant to the CEO of a publishing company. When decorating her boss’ house, she recognizes a tree that she once saved on her family’s tree farm when she was a young girl. Seeing this as some kind of sign, she takes matters into her own hands. She tells her boss (Jim Thorburn) she won’t be assisting him on the recent project he requested her for and hauls the tree home to the very tree farm that is now in danger of closing. While home, she rekindles a romance with her high school beau (Cory Sevier), reconnects with her family and learns that even the most hardened of hearts can be touched.  

This title was surprisingly very well rounded and good in comparison to its peers. One of UPTV’s 2014 premieres, it uses romance as part of its plot, but unlike most movies, it doesn’t just rely on that to move things forward. What I mean by this is that no relationship is treated badly or forgotten. For 90-some minutes, this script fits in a lot of material and seemingly does it well. There are a lot of familial relationships between Molly and her family. There are snapshots that sum up her relationship with each of her family members and in particular, there’s a cute scene between she and her brother. Then there is the romance that was meant to be, which we’re given as the obligatory romance bit (though not necessarily my favorite relationship). Most surprising was the role Molly’s boss, Walter and his two daughters play in the film. I confess as my mom and I were watching this one, we almost wished Molly wouldn’t end up with her old boyfriend although nothing ever wandered into a love triangle. Instead the lessons he learned through Molly’s generosity were much bigger than finding love again. That’s reason enough to enjoy this sweet story.  

A Very Merry Mix-Up (2013) 

Becoming engaged was the last thing Alice (Alicia Witt) expected this holiday season. When her uptight and perfectionist boyfriend surprises her with a ring, he also suggests they return to his parent’s home to share the news. Just before their flight, he gets a call that requires him to close one of his many real estate deals, which prompts him to send Alice on ahead of him. Having never met his family, Alice is wary of travelling there alone, but "chance" has other plans for her. She serendipitously meets Will’s brother Matt (Mark Wiebe). Matt brings her home where Alice grows to love each member of her soon-to-be family and Mark begins to have feelings for his brother’s fiancée… 

This Hallmark film is probably one of the cleverest I’ve encountered. The script manages to take some more unique twists I didn’t expect and some I did. Whenever a movie surprises its viewer it deserves admiration and with this, the script certainly takes a few “happy accidents” that leave us silly grinning. The cast is entertaining too as are the scenes between this oddly, thrown-together family. Think While You Were Sleeping if you’re looking for something that resembles this.  It's definitely one I'll re-watch each season. Watch it yourself and enjoy this festive "mix-up."

So… if you’re snowed in – like we are now – or experiencing the brutal cold, pick up a festive flick and snuggle in with a cup of mocha. You’ll find one that will still entertain.


  1. Loved your Christmas movie post, Rissi! I'm addicted to Hallmark movies the year round, so I believe I've seen the ones you mentioned, with the exception of The Tree That Saved Christmas. I'm so thankful for my DVR so I can record and watch when I'm in the mood! I haven't seen all of the 2014 movies yet, but my favorites so far are Angels & Ornaments, The Christmas Secret, and Angels Sing (Connie Britton, Willie Nelson). Thanks for sharing, Rissi.

    1. I thought The Christmas Secret was excellent! Didn't see the other two you mentioned, however they can be added to 2015's "list." As for The Tree that Saved Christmas, hope you can see it sometime. It's different than the average Christmas movie and I quite liked that. :)

      Thanks for reading, Carole.


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