It’s that time of year again. The malls are crowded, the elves are dropping like flies, and Hallmark Channel becomes a receptacle for candy-coated Christmas movies that raise the collective glucose level of the country to dangerous diabetic heights.
Starting after Halloween through the first week of January, Hallmark’s regular schedule of Golden Girls repeats and more Golden Girls repeats is ripped away and replaced with tales of successful women giving up their careers to have babies with hot Canadian actors.
Yep, that’s the template, and these films rarely deviate from that GOP wet dream.
Last year I took one for the team, bit the bullet, and watched a collection of Hallmark holiday movies, the best of which starred Brandon Routh and a cat.
And because I’m a glutton for punishment, in February I watched Hallmark Valentine movies, and then had a strange fever dream in which Hallmark unleashed Arbor Day films, all of which starred Hallmark queen Candace Cameron Bure.
Now here we are again. Just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in.
Unlike the previous marathons, in which I picked films at random based just on their titles, I knew exactly what movies I wanted to watch, as they both premiered over the weekend, and each promised something special.
Would they measure up to Brandon Routh and a cat? Let’s see.
A Christmas Melody
First up is A Christmas Melody. Executive produced by Mariah Carey. Directed by Mariah Carey. Starring Mariah Carey.
Thank you, Santa!
Actually, this wasn’t the Glitter bomb it could have been. It was mostly a generic “girl goes home and learns valuable life lesson” that this channel is constantly churning out.
Lacey Chabert (who is becoming as ubiquitous in these films as Candace) stars as a single mom who returns from the evil Los Angeles to her home town and runs afoul of mean girl PTA boss Mariah.
The first time we see Mariah, it’s in gauzy soft focus, which I guess is one of the perks of being the director. And producer. And star. And Mariah Carey.
But she has a lot of fun playing a bitch on wheels, and deserves kudos for giving herself the most unlikable role.
The always invaluable Kathy Najimy is completely wasted in a throwaway role as Lacey’s aunt, a diner owner whose dialogue consists of words of encouragement and groan-worthy one-liners.
Customer: “I’d like a pot pie, but with no peas.”
Kathy: “No peas? C’mon, give peas a chance.”
She deserves better.
This Hallmark movie’s Hot Canadian Actor™ is Brennan Elliot, best known for Strong Medicine, Cedar Cove and The 4400. He plays the school music teacher who’s putting the big holiday show together, and finds himself drawn to Lacey.
Will Lacey put her dreams of fashion success in the big city aside to settle down with this small town hunk?
Like all of these films, there’s not a single surprise. Mariah gets her comeuppance, and Lacey’s daughter becomes the star of the holiday pageant. It’s all very plastic and schmaltzy, but M.C. does get a few snarky lines, and she looks fabulous.
Plus it gets bonus points for the most hilariously obvious product placement in years.
On a scale of 1 to 5 Mariah festive décolletage, it scores a 3.
If the words “Luke Macfarlane stars with Marcia Brady” give you a small tingle, you’re in luck.
Jules Cooper (Nikki Deloach) is a “successful New York businesswoman who seemingly has everything: a rapidly growing career in marketing and a handsome boyfriend named Mitchell.”
You know what that means. Decision time!
Her late grandmother, named, I kid you not, Glinda (Maureen McCormick) has left Jules her beloved “Christmas Land,” a Christmas-themed village and tree farm in the countryside. Jules journeys back home where granny’s creepy portrait helps guide her to important life decisions.
Jules meets Tucker (Hot Canadian Actor™ Luke), the lawyer handling the estate, and sparks fly, until he and the town learn that Jules may be selling Christmas Land and heading back to the evil NYC.
Will Jules make the right decision, and give up her fabulous NYC life, her powerful career, and her fiance, all to save a relic from the past? Complicating matters is that her fiance is played by Jason Shane-Scott.
If you don’t know the answer, you haven’t been paying attention.
Without the ethereal presence of Luke, this would be just another Hallmark attack on career women, but he makes it palatable. Barely.
On a scale of 1 to 5 Mariah festive décolletage, it scores a 2.
A Christmas Melody and Christmas Land will repeat numerous times over the next week.