LLL 006: “Ships are for combat, not Christmas.”
Last-minute weddings, GIANT trees, and ~old-timey~ romance.
Hi, festive friendos!
Holy sugar cookies, we’re in the midst of an ACTUAL HOLIDAY as I’m writing this. Happy Hanukkah! As far as I can tell, there’s only ONE Hanukkah movie in this ~entire~ 70-movie batch and it doesn’t even come out until tonight. That’s fewer than last year! IDK why I expect anything at all ever from these channels, but I still do. Oy humbug.
Any-Whos-in-Whoville, below you shall find the films I had the “pleasure” of viewing this past week. Pretend there are actually eight so it better matches Hanukkah. Almost all of them star D-list (or higher!) celebs, so they’re a real treat.
Thanks a LATKE for reading!
1. Merry Liddle Christmas Wedding (Lifetime) 💍
Apparently, Merry Liddle Christmas had such a LARGE FAN BASE that Lifetime decided to do their FIRST-EVER CHRISTMAS SEQUEL. I think I watched it, but I genuinely can’t remember any details, so it’s possible I didn’t? Anyway, Jacquie fell in love with Tyler in the first one and now they’re planning their CHRISTMAS WEDDING. Jacquie hires some big-time wedding planner, but when the Liddles come to town, he can’t handle it and LEAVES IN A HUFF. Anxiety ensues. The Liddles and Tyler’s family come together to try to finish everything up last minute, but after a while, it seems like everything’s FALLING APART (like when Jacquie’s sister lights her wedding dress on fire and also spills wine on it).
Jacquie and Tyler decide they’re going to postpone the wedding THE NIGHT BEFORE it’s scheduled, so they tell all their guests not to come. (We don’t hear of anyone getting pissed, but I would’ve lost my shit.) But, luckily, Jacquie remembers that getting married isn’t about the PERFECT WEDDING — it’s about spending your life with someone you meet in a Lifetime Christmas movie. So, since the person who was going to officiate never gets their email, they end up having a SURPRISE WEDDING where all of their family members are in PJs. (They actually ask them to remain in PJs for some reason? Even though they’re fully decked out in wedding clothes?) Also, Jacquie’s sister fixes the dress AND falls in love with Tyler’s best friend. Yay for everyone.
My biggest takeaways from this movie are that 1) a Christmas wedding is selfish if your guests celebrate Christmas; 2) a destination wedding is evil and cost-prohibitive; and 3) IT IS SUPREMELY EVIL TO CANCEL A WEDDING THE DAY BEFORE IT’S SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN. Also, if you’re going to do a Christmas/destination wedding to begin with, don’t you think you should have everything planned and ready to go THE WEEK BEFORE THE WEDDING? If I fly out somewhere for a wedding and I’ve given up my holidays to celebrate, that better be the best GD wedding I’ve ever been to. Other than that, I do enjoy an ensemble cast. But this movie has very little standalone appeal — I would only love it if I was a HUGE FAN of the first one (and, reminder, I can’t remember if I saw it all the way through). I did think Kelly Rowland’s bonding with her movie future stepkids was cute, though.
Rating: 2 out of 4 💍
2. A Christmas Tree Grows in Colorado (Hallmark) 🌲
First, it’s important to point out that this is clearly a play on “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” which is why this godforsaken movie takes place in Brooklyn, CO. Erin works in the mayor’s office for her MAYOR DAD and is in charge of finding the perfect tree for their town’s tree-lighting ceremony. She’s over at a friend’s house (remember going to friends’ houses? Remember friends?) when she sees a BEAUTIFUL TREE SPECIMEN in a yard across the street. She goes and talks to the guy, Kevin, while he’s building a snowPERSON with his daughter. Erin posts a photo of his tree ACCIDENTALLY on the city’s official IG account and people lose their minds for it. (Apparently, trees are BIG NEWS in Brooklyn, CO.) The tree (and Kevin) even make the front page of their newspaper, but Kevin doesn’t see that until his FIREFIGHTER CO-WORKERS point it out to him. He’s not into it.
Erin visits Kevin at the firehouse and asks if they can use (CUT DOWN) his tree for the tree-lighting ceremony. He says HELL NO, but they do work out a deal where he helps her make sure the event meets fire codes or whatever for money. The problem is, EVERYONE WANTS HIS TREE — and attendance at the event is v important because the town is HURTING financially. So is the firehouse, so Kevin detests the mayor. Eventually, DUH, Kevin allows use of his tree and he and Erin fall in love. Erin also leaves the mayor’s office job to become a teacher. The end, Merry Christmas.
This may have been one of the worst movies of the entire season thus far. I THINK it’s because there was a lot of one-way acting and not actual connection? Or maybe the guy is just a bad actor? I don’t remember him being bad on “Instant Star,” but my is-this-good meter might have been off in high school. Speaking of I.S., WHERE IS ALEXZ JOHNSON? (APPARENTLY SHE’S ON CAMEO.)
Rating: 1 out of 4 🌲
3. A Godwink Christmas: First Loves, Second Chances (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries) 😉
Margie works in MARKETING for some retail chain that sells knick-knacks (paddywhack, give a dog a bone) and Pat works in some capacity around wintry outdoorsy stuff. They dated in high school, but they continue to bump into one another (CLASSIC) after Pat moves back home from Hawaii. (He got divorced and his dad died, so he wanted a FRESH START in a stale place.) Margie is kinda-sorta long-distance dating this guy (he was also in A Timeless Christmas!) who also works at her company, but he moves into town to learn marketing things or something. But, of course, Margie and Pat keep finding each other literally everywhere — so much so that it’s like a GODWINK (when god winks at you, duh).
After about a million coincidences/godwinks/whatever, Margie and Pat realize they still have feelings for one another and decide to be together. There’s a lil’ conflict because of the guy Margie’s sorta dating and because Pat doesn’t know where he’s going to work, but GOD KEEPS WINKING and Margie and Pat are both offered jobs in Seattle. One of the dumber godwinks of the many contenders is when Margie and Pat continue getting each other matching Christmas gifts. We don’t know the entire gift offering they had to choose from, so TBH not sure about the godwink of it all.
TBH, I did not hate this movie as much as I assumed I would based on the title. This is one of THREE GODWINK MOVIES and — GET THIS — they’re all based on TRUE STORIES. When I saw photos of the REAL Margie and Pat in the end, my heart grew three sizes like the Grinch’s. I wonder if Margie and Pat volunteered their story as a GODWINK or if someone else called it one? What’s the line between GODWINK and coincident? IDK. Anyway, not awful, not great. I am a somewhat fan of these actors from other TV shows, so it was fun to see them again.
Rating: 2.25 out of 4 😉
4. Five Star Christmas (Hallmark) ⭐️
Lucy comes home from her fancy branding job and discovers that her dad has TURNED HER CHILDHOOD HOME INTO A B&B. After a woman stops by and stays because of a flat tire, Lucy’s family thinks she’s this famous SECRET CRITIC, so they all pretend to be employees and guests. At the same time, this guy, Jake, who claims to be a GEOLOGIST (likely story), also comes to stay.
Throughout the movie, these things happen: 1) flat tire woman and Dad fall in love; 2) brother and sister-in-law find out they’re pregnant; 3) younger dramatic sister realizes she wants to be a CHEF; and 4) Lucy and Jake fall in love. ALSO, and this is IMPORTANT: The SECRET CRITIC is actually JAKE THE GEOLOGIST. He lies so no one will act any differently, but little does he know that they were already doing that. He goes by the pseudonym BEA, which was very confusing for this ensemble cast. Lucy’s pissed at first because of the deceit, but she gets over it and everyone’s HAPPY.
While watching this movie, I was GENUINELY blown away by discovering that Jake was the critic. GOBSMACKED. My mouth LITERALLY fell open. The whole geologist thing checked out because he seemed… dumb as a rock (badumCHING). Aside from that, the most remarkable thing to me was that their FATHER turned their CHILDHOOD HOME into a B&B. I WOULD NOT have been graceful with this news. Better you than me, Bethany Joy Lenz.
Rating: 2.5 out of 4 ⭐️
5. Christmas Waltz (Hallmark) 🩰
In case you were confused by Lacey Chabert’s iconic line about white-gold hoops and Hanukkah in Mean Girls, she is actually a Hallmark Christmas co-queen with Candace Cameron Bure. In this masterpiece, Lacey plays Avery, a HARD-WORKING ATTORNEY who’s engaged to this horrible bro who clearly lives in Kips Bay. They’re planning on having a Christmas wedding and, in classic Hallmark fashion, are making decisions at the last minute. Her fiance doesn’t seem AT ALL interested and ends up deciding to take a job in Boston — not to CANCEL the wedding, but in part to PUT THINGS ON HOLD. After Avery spends a little bit of time being sad, she decides to continue on with her scheduled dance lessons as a singleton. She used to dance as a kid, so she thinks it’ll be FUN and get her out of her my-fiance-just-dumped-me funk.
After 10 sessions, Avery and her instructor, Roman, have bonded (mostly because Avery accidentally knocked him on his ass in the snow, he hit his head, and she took care of him), fallen in love, Avery’s ex has tried to win her back, and Roman has asked Avery to dance alongside him in a BIG RECITAL (his partner was in traffic, but SURELY there was someone who was more than 10 sessions in?). Also, Avery has almost gotten fired because she completely shirked all responsibilities while she was galavanting around New York with Roman. But that’s okay because her boss doesn’t fire her and also LOVE.
This whole movie I found myself wondering if it was APPROPRIATE to spend time outside of class with your dance student? I mean, they’re adults and they want to hang out, so I guess it’s okay? TBH, it probably would be a little ~sessy~ to have an unspoken connection with your dance teacher. But she shows up at his HOUSE to make sure he doesn’t have a concussion after his fall in the snow? And he introduces her to his FAMILY when she’s just a STUDENT? Should I ask another RHETORICAL question? Anyway, Lacey Chabert is vaguely charming.
Rating: 2.5 out of 4 🩰
6. USS Christmas (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries) 🛳
HERE WE ARE WITH A JOURNALIST MEETS ARMY PERSON STORYLINE. Maddie is a journalist on the BUSINESS GUYS DOING BAD THINGS beat, but she really wants to write pieces that make people cry. She accompanies her sister, who’s in the Navy, to some Christmas shindig and meets this Navy guy, Billy, who’s nicknamed GRINCH because he hates Christmas so much. Maddie’s sister encourages her to take time off from COVERING MEN AT BANKS to go on this “Tiger Cruise” — an annual cruise people in the Navy can invite their families to. Maddie’s the daughter of a Navy guy, but she was too busy with her NOSE IN A BOOK to go in her youth. She begrudgingly accepts her sister’s invitation and goes. GUESS WHO’S THERE: Billy!
On the cruise, Maddie starts wondering how often people fall in love on Tiger Cruises during Christmas and SMELLS A STORY. She gets the go-ahead from her editor (who she calls Mr. Bailey like it’s the GD ‘50s) and starts ~investigating.~ Billy’s dad flew with Maddie’s dad back in the day, so he forces him to help Maddie out with the snooping. They find evidence of a couple meeting on the cruise back in the ‘60s and spend the entire time (including a day in NEW YORK) filling in the gaps of their story. In the end, they find the couple (their story is cute) and Maddie and Billy also FALL IN LOVE on the CRUISE like it’s the ‘60S.
First, I just have to communicate just how BLONDE this movie was. It HAD to have been a conscious choice. I get casting Maddie’s sister and mom as also blonde, but… the woman working at the diner? The woman Maddie spills wine on at the Christmas shindig (who also happens to be Billy’s platonic date)? Anyway, I tend to be a little meh about movies centered around military-ish themes, but I very much DID enjoy the B story about the couple from the ‘60s. It reminded me of the story of my Grandmere and Poppy (they met at a Red Cross dance in WWII). It also made Maddie and Billy’s love feel BIGGER and more EPIC. (I am but a mere mortal, don’t judge me!)
Rating: 3.25 out of 4 🛳
7. People Presents: Once Upon a Main Street (Lifetime) 🍫
Everyone knows that year-round Christmas stores are the best possible businesses to start, so, naturally, Amelia puts in an offer on a building to make her YEAR-ROUND CHRISTMAS DREAMS COME TRUE. Unfortunately, Vic ALSO puts in an offer for his chocolate shop. For COMEDY, they find this out after they have an unpleasant run-in in the parking lot. Since Amelia and Vic both REALLY want the space, they somehow get the name and address of the seller and stalk him in a nearby town. At first, a snowstorm traps them at a motel and there’s only one room left — the guy at the front desk basically forces them to share a room. It is awkward.
When they eventually get to the seller’s house, he’s v sad and lonely because it’s Christmas. Even though they’re only there at first to talk the seller into choosing them, they end up volunteering to take over his annual organizational duties for the town’s Christmas lights display. (Apparently, it’s a v big, v important thing.) As Amelia and Vic work together, they realize that the other DOESN’T SUCK and they fall in love. (They also try to kiss approximately 922002339 times and KEEP GETTING INTERRUPTED.) Also, obviously, they tell the seller that they’ll open a hybrid year-round Christmas/chocolate shop. We have the PLEASURE of seeing the couple a year later as they open their store and they inappropriately make out and cuddle in complete view of the street.
No offense to Vanessa Lachey, but has she always been this bad of an actor? I don’t remember her being this bad in last year’s movie. The guy playing Vic is also not great. Generally, this movie is not great. And I really, REALLY don’t see a year-round Christmas store being successful. I HATE anything Christmas-themed the second Christmas is over, but maybe that’s just me. I also really don’t think that combining it with the chocolate store makes a lot of sense. Can he only make Christmas chocolates now? Did they think any of this through? ANYWAY, not great. But Vanessa Lachey is G O R G E O U S.
Rating: 1.5 out of 4 🍫
The Last Line
I encourage you to REALLY take in the promo photos this week. They’re truly magnificent. First you have Kelly Rowland WITHOUT her co-star, then an entire family making weird faces around a ham, and, finally, a couple joined by the leading lady’s MOM (even though she’s not a major focus of the movie) simply because she’s been in a bunch of Hallmark and Lifetime movies. They really take a unique approach to promo photos that has very little to do with the actual movie — and I respect and appreciate that.
This week’s most common tropes:
An idyllic Christmas town (x4)
The ~all-important~ Christmas event (x4)
A very merry fall in the snow (x3)
An InTeRruPtEd KiSs (x2)
This week’s representation:
2/7 movies had a lead character who was a person of color.
0/6 had a lead character who was LGBTQ+ (though a lead’s best friend was!).
0/6 had a lead character who was bigger than a size 2.
0/6 had a lead character who was differently-abled.
0/6 centered on a holiday other than Christmas.
The actual last line: Lifetime and Hallmark are REALLY OBSESSED WITH WRITERS. Did they do some poll and find out that everyone in Nebraska loves a side of journalism with their holiday-themed love stories? Also, has anyone at any of these channels ever actually met a writer? This tickles me to no end.
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