LLL 008: “From your lips to Santa’s ears.”
The first movie about an Asian-American family, a father-daughter reconciliation, and sOoOoOo many inns.
‘Tis the week we’ve all been waiting for — and the week I’ve been watching movies about since October (lord). WE DID IT.
Since this is one of three (3) newsletters this week, I’m going to keep this a little shorter and ~breezier.~ That way, you’ll have more time to EAT COOKIES or WRAP PRESENTS or rewatch A Recipe for Seduction or whatever you plan on doing. I give you the GIFT OF BREVITY.
Now, let us uNwRaP all that Lifetime, Hallmark, and (of course) Hallmark Movies & Mysteries have given us in these next six movies.
Giddyup and keep reading, jingle horse! (Does anyone know what a jingle horse is?)
1. Christmas Ever After (Lifetime) 📖
Quick ‘n dirty thoughts ‘n feels: We all know I love a movie about a writer, but this one’s about a ROMANCE NOVELIST which is extra FUN. The whole premise is around the writer, Izzi, almost running into this guy with her car, Matt, who looks identical to the painted man on the cover of her books — and they, of course, fall in love. Also, it’s the first Lifetime or Hallmark made-for-TV holiday movie starring a differently-abled person (about GD time)! This movie is imperfect, but Ali Stroker is a delight to watch. She is way more entertaining than her love interest. My one open question is why bowling is such a THRIVING activity in their town?
Rating: 3 out of 4 📖
2. Time for Us to Come Home for Christmas (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries) 💌
Quick ‘n dirty thoughts ‘n feels: This movie (PRODUCED BY BLAKE SHELTON) is another one about an inn and featuring an ensemble cast (like Five Star Christmas), but everyone is brought together by MYSTERIOUS INVITATIONS (and free inn stays). The movie mainly focuses on why they were all invited. I 100% thought it was going to be Santa or some other ~Christmas magic~ thing, but it ended up just being the former owner of the inn. BORING. Also, speaking of boring, this is NOT Lacey Chabert’s best work. She didn’t really develop her character at all, which was insulting because her character’s name is Sarah. She falls in love with the NEW inn owner, and we learn about how everyone’s lives intertwined on one night in the ‘80s. Again, pretty boring. But love the choice to name the main character Sarah.
Rating: 2 out of 4 💌
3. The Santa Squad (Lifetime) 👨👩👧👧
Quick ‘n dirty thoughts ‘n feels: Allie gets LAID OFF (relatable) from her art teacher job and turns to her friend at the community center to find work. She ends up working on a “santa squad” for this v wealthy man, Gordon, and his two unrealistically precocious kids. (Notably, Gordon has a CARTOONISHLY MONSTROUS girlfriend who hates his kids and seemingly Christmas.) This was SO vanilla and boring, but the kids were kind of enjoyable. Also, the emotional transition Gordon undergoes happens WAY TOO FAST. I have a hard time believing his ENTIRE approach on parenting would shift just because some blonde comes over and calls out that the kids are neglected.
Rating: 1.75 out of 4 👨👩👧👧
4. Inn Love by Christmas (Lifetime) 🏨
Quick ‘n dirty thoughts ‘n feels: Mandy, a regional manager for a hotel chain, and Lucas, a Wall-Street-bro-turned-chef (okay) are former high school competitors and are now competing to buy the inn in their hometown. Mandy lives in Florida and Lucas has recently moved back home — which is basically the crux of ALL CONFLICT in the movie. Anyway, they fall in love, blah blah blah, and Lucas withdraws his bid so Mandy can buy the inn for her hotel chain (not a win for small business). Mandy decides she’s going to move to New York and commute to and fro, so they’ll be seeing A LOT more of each other. Maybe I’m inn’d out, but this was NOT AT ALL compelling for me. I DID, however, enjoy the opening scene because her outfit was very “Miami Vice.” I think Lifetime just googled “fashion + Miami,” but at least they tried!
Rating: 1.75 out of 4 🏨
5. Lonestar Christmas (Lifetime) ⭐️
Quick ‘n dirty thoughts ‘n feels: TBH, I don’t think I’m the target demographic for any movie with “lonestar” in the title, so take all of this with a GRAIN OF SALT. Erin is a single mom with two kids, a FULFILLING occupational therapy job (she has really bad boundaries with one patient), and a VERY STRAINED relationship with her father. Her kids want to visit her dad for Christmas, so she begrudgingly agrees, but then gets triggered by every little mistake her dad makes. (He wasn’t around much during her childhood because he was working, but we don’t really know HOW absent he was.) Anyway, Erin meets this chef guy, Mateo, and they… wait for it… FALL IN LOVE over tamales. Erin also somewhat reconciles with her dad, which was a nice moment. Otherwise, I was VERY BORED the whole time — these dumb movies NEED comedy!
Rating: 1.5 out of 4 ⭐️
6. A Sugar & Spice Holiday (Lifetime) 🍪
Quick ‘n dirty thoughts ‘n feels: This movie is noteworthy because it’s the FIRST-EVER Lifetime movie about an Asian-American family (that’s absurd). Suzie, the main character, pictures everyone she engages with as FOOD — which is FUN for the Lifetime graphics department. She’s a SUCCESSFUL LA ARCHITECT who goes back home for the holidays and is coerced into participating in a gingerbread-baking competition (because her grandma, who died, taught her everything she knows) while she’s supposed to be designing a pitch for a client. Suzie reconnects with her high school LAB PARTNER, Billy, who she had feelings for back in the day (which were reciprocated). They fall in love, but Suzie gets a PROMOTION because of her client pitch and has to move to AUSTRALIA. She offers CROSS-PLANET LONG DISTANCE after she and Billy realize they’re in love, and… Billy says I’ll just move with you? Before they even KISS? IDK, there were parts of this I really liked, but I just fundamentally DO NOT understand agreeing to move across the WORLD for someone you haven’t even kissed yet. Also, the coworker who she’s up against for the promotion is a racist POS and isn’t really called out for it.
Rating: 2.25 out of 4 🍪
The Last Line
These movies often like to throw in a FUN and QUIRKY comic-relief character, but about 95% of the time, it’s some of the WORST, MOST INDICATING-Y ACTING I’ve ever seen. It’s like Hallmark and Lifetime know they have to include certain ingredients and just kind of JAM them in. One-liners are NOT a personality (as much as I’ve tried to make that happen).
The most common tropes of these six movies:
An InTeRruPtEd KiSs (x4)
An idyllic Christmas town (x4)
“All I want for Christmas is this HOLIDAY-THEMED INN!” (x3)
If you spend the holidays ALONE, you’ll fall in LOVE (x2)
Representation in these six movies:
2/6 movies had a lead character who was a person of color.
0/6 had a lead character who was LGBTQ+.
0/6 had a lead character who was bigger than a size 2.
1/6 had a lead character who was differently-abled.
0/6 centered on a holiday other than Christmas.
The actual last line: Fun fact: I don’t believe I’ve ever stayed at an inn over the holidays. Maybe that’s why I’m still single.
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