Advent Day #18: A Gingerbread Romance

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OMG. Another movie with a baker? But this time the baker is a MAN?! What is the world coming to?

So. In A Gingerbread Romance, Tia Mowry-Hardrict plays Taylor, an architect who is given an assignment to participate in a life-sized gingerbread house contest. Taylor gets Adam (Duane Henry), a local baker, to be her partner. Along with his daughter, Brooke (Melody Nosipho Niemann), Adam teaches Taylor the ways of Christmas.

I am going to give the movie props for making the male lead the baker and the female lead the architect. (Yeah, we’ve already seen a female architect this season in A Majestic Christmas. Maybe it’s a new trope.) However, I have one giant problem with Gingerbread. I’m not sure if Mowry-Hardrict is uncomfortable with her mom bod or the director was trying to hide her second pregnancy (I’m not sure when the movie was filmed but she gave birth on May 5, 2018) but she spends the entire movie in either a cardigan, a jacket, or one giant sweater. (Yes, she has one giant sweater she wears without the jacket or cardigan. Everything else is covered up.) It was a little distracting to see everyone else wearing typical winter indoor wear and she has on a trenchcoat. As a matter of fact, it is what ruined the movie for me. It made it feel like there was some sort of judgement toward larger people. Which is annoying because she is absolutely not fat!

The rest of the movie was pretty bland. Taylor kept going on about how she travels so much and how she is an ARCHITECT so, therefore, she knows what she is talking about. And Adam repeatedly talks about how he wants to own his own bakery but the investors wouldn’t back him because he dropped out of culinary school. (I don’t think that’s how it works?) I suppose it’s awesome how Taylor includes Adam’s daughter in the project but it somehow feels contrary to her character. It’s more Tia and less Taylor.

If you are a fan of Tia Mowry-Hardrict, it isn’t a terrible watch. Just don’t expect an epic romance or even a decent story. It’s just meh.

Advent Day #16: Entertaining Christmas

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I swear that Hallmark and Lifetime know the plots for all of each other’s shows so they can air similar premises around the same time. Lifetime showed Christmas Around The Corner, Hallmark replied with Entertaining Christmas. The characters may not be the same but the general premise is.

Jodie Sweeten plays Candace Livingston, daughter of famed domestic goddess Liz Livingston (Jane Moffat). While Liz can cook anything perfectly, Candace is better at the background stuff. When Liz announces her retirement from her company, everyone assumes Candace would be her replacement. In order to prove her worth to the company’s board of directors, Candace visits a family that requested Liz’s help throwing a party for her father’s return from deployment. Can she pull it off or will she be exposed as the regular woman she is?

Entertaining Christmas is another movie where the female lead doesn’t really know what she wants out of life. She knows what is expected of her and she tries to live up to it but fails. And I am down for a good ‘finding yourself’ story. My only issue with the plot is the romantic story that gets tossed in. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against romance. And I understand that all of these Christmas movies revolve around holiday romance. However, it would be nice to see a strong woman finding her way in life without needing a relationship to make her whole. I mean, just as Candace is coming to terms with her less-than-perfection, in jumps John (Brendan Fehr) with lips to smooch. Can’t we let a girl be OK with being herself before we hook her up with a guy?

As I have said before in this series of reviews, this isn’t the most terrible movie I have watched. I mean, it was definitely better than her TV-sister’s movie, A Shoe Addict’s Christmas. At least here I could sympathize with the main character. It would just be nice to see her only be friends with the male lead instead of jumping into his arms. Learn to love yourself first, ladies!

Advent Day #12: Welcome to Christmas

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Well, I now have proof that the Hallmark Channel is capable of showing craptastic movies. I honestly thought that I had it all wrong and that Lifetime was the sole culprit in my hatred of Christmas romance movies. Thanks for setting my straight, Hallmark.

Madison (Jennifer Finnigan) is a real estate developer tasked to find a location for her company’s new ski resort. She prefers Mountain Park, Colorado while her rival co-worker is pushing for Christmas, Colorado. Their boss sends Madison to Christmas to check the place out herself.

OK. I admit that I stopped paying attention to this movie about 15 minutes in. It is absolutely terrible. I tried really hard to make myself watch it but I failed miserably. The characters are so bland that I had a difficult time keeping track of who was whom. Add to that the terrible writing. Nothing happened to make me care for the characters or the town or anything on the screen. There wasn’t anything particularly special about Christmas that differentiated it from any other small town. Even Madison’s ‘big’ emotional change from ‘cold corporate bitch’ to ‘small town girl’ was boring.

Seriously, stay away from this movie. I wish there was a way for me to get the ~90 back that it stole from my life.

Advent Day #10: Homegrown Christmas

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Another staple of holiday romance movies is “women who chose careers over family and are now miserable.” That is the basic premise of this movie. It’s probably my least favorite of the storylines.

Maddie (Lori Loughlin) has sold her popular shoe company. Now that she doesn’t have anything to do, she goes home to celebrate the holidays with her family, who happens to own a wood-working company that makes furniture. Her high school sweetheart, Carter (Victor Webster), works for the family company. Even though they are barely on speaking terms, Maddie and Carter have to work together to plan the high school’s winter dance.

I have issues with this movie. They aren’t giant issues but they are there. A lot of the “tension” in the movie is a result of two things: Carter didn’t move to New York with Maddie and Maddie didn’t stay in Claremont with Carter. The two of them harbor so much resentment over the fact that their high school relationship didn’t continue after graduation. I don’t think they state how old the characters are supposed to be but Lori Loughlin is 54 years old and Victor Webster is 45 years old. That is an awful long time to hold onto an ex. I can get into a “They were The One” plot as much as anyone but it just doesn’t work well here.

Also, Maddie frequently tells Carter how talented his woodwoorking is and how he should have his own business. Carter isn’t interested in owning a business and he’s not convinced that anyone would buy his work. Well, one - not everyone would be a good business owner. Just because he is good at making things doesn’t mean he would be good at selling it or keeping the books or any of the other things required to be a business-owner. Two - Carter makes the furniture for the family business! It may not be super creative like the wooden ornaments or miniature houses he made but they are the entirety of the family’s business and it is doing well enough that Maddie’s dad had retired before he passed away and now her mom is retiring. Most business-owners don’t get to do that!

If you can look past some of the problems in the movie, it’s not completely terrible to watch. It is more of a ‘turn on in the background for noise’ rather than a movie you can actually enjoy. I guess this is the first real dud for the Hallmark Channel.

Advent Day #7: A Majestic Christmas

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I never thought that I would be looking forward to a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie. After Lifetime’s duds, I’m depending on Hallmark to save the season. Movie-wise, at least.

A Majestic Christmas is a slightly different kind of Christmas movie. This one isn’t about the romance as much. Nell (Jerrika Hinton) is from a small town called Briar Falls. Every year, they have a 12 Days of Christmas Festival, which ends with a grand production in the town’s theater, The Majestic. The previous owner of The Majestic passed away, leaving it to her nephew, Connor (Christian Vincent). He has decided that, instead of keeping it as a theater, he’s going to change the building into a multi-plex. Nell, an architect, gets the project from her firm. Everyone in town is sad that they are losing their theater but maybe Nell can get Connor to change his mind.

While I didn’t love this movie, I did enjoy it. I liked that the romance aspect took a backseat to the community events. Instead of trying to make Connor fall in love with her, Nell tried to make Connor fall in love with Briar Falls. Yes, it still had a lot of the problems all of these movies have - people’s jobs are sketchy or they are doing things that don’t really fall into their actual job’s realm, everyone seems to have bundles of money even though they would barely make any with the jobs they have, etc. - but, well, you just have to expect those and look beyond them. I’m more concerned about the characters and the story. Are the ladies in the movie simply as a love interest or are they more than that? In Nell’s case, she is more. She still seems like a young woman who doesn’t quite know where she fits in the world but she is working hard to figure it out and she isn’t relying on anyone to help her do it.

So maybe it’s not a Christmas Classic but it is a Christmas Enjoyment.

Advent Day #4: A Shoe Addict's Christmas

Source: http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/a-shoe-addicts-christmas

Source: http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/a-shoe-addicts-christmas

Since A Shoe Addict’s Christmas first aired back in November, I was really hoping that Hallmark would re-air this in December so I could watch it. I mean, what Christmas movie list is complete without a Candace Cameron Bure movie? Thankfully, Hallmark came through for me.

Basically, this movie is a sort of romantic retelling of A Christmas Carol. Our girl, Candace, plays Noelle, a department store HR manager who (somehow) gets put in charge of helping plan a holiday gala for the local fire station. (The gala is for the fire station but the department store is footing the bill.) Firefighter Jake (Luke Macfarlane) gets assigned to help Noelle plan the festivities. One night, Noelle meets her guardian angel, Charlie (Jean Smart). Charlie tells Noelle that she has given up on her passions in life - photography and love. So Charlie uses shoes to transport Noelle back in time to show her the past three years of Christmases to get Noelle’s professional and love lives back on track.

Hm. Um. Yeah. Shoe Addict wasn’t as terrible as I was expecting. But that doesn’t mean it’s good either. While Noelle proclaims to love shoes, it feels empty. She continually claims that “every shoe has a story” but doesn’t really tell any stories about her shoes. I suppose we can say that Charlie using shoes to transport Noelle back to important moments in her life as a ‘shoe story’….no, no we can’t say that. Because those moments aren’t about the shoes at all. They are about Noelle saying no to things she should have said yes to. Then there is some shoehorned thing about a cross necklace that Noelle’s mom used to wear? It’s another semi-plot line that is introduced then thrown to the side until it’s needed again. Honestly, it feels like the writers wanted to throw so many things into the movie that they just couldn’t bear to cut any of them.

On the good side, I really did enjoy Jean Smart as the clutzy guardian angel. She seemed to be the most genuine character of the bunch. Everyone else turned their Cheese Factor up to 11. With that said, I’m glad I sat through a Candace Cameron Bure movie. I have seen a ton of commercials for her recent Hallmark movies but I’ve never actually sat through one. Now I feel like I sat through them all! And that is my recommendation - find one Candace Cameron Bure movie that sounds interesting and watch that one. Skip the rest.

Advent Day #2: Mingle All The Way

Source: http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/mingle-all-the-way

Source: http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/mingle-all-the-way

I admit that I don’t usually watch Hallmark Channel movies. Most of the time, I find them unbearably cheesy. Mingle All The Way had a few moments that made me roll my eyes but I, generally, enjoyed the movie.

Molly Hoffman (Jen Lilley) is the founder of an app called “Mingle All The Way.” It’s a networking app where busy singles can find someone to be their ‘plus one’ at all of their company/social events. When Molly has to prove the app’s worth to a potential investor, she signs up and matches with Jeff (Brant Daugherty), a marketing professional. Despite a rocky start, the pair end up falling in love.

There were a few low points in the movie. The awkwardly blatant product placement for Jergens lotion was one. (Seriously, it was a random close up of the bottle as Molly squirted some on her hand.) Sadly, another low point was Molly’s mother, played by Lindsay Wagner. A lot of movies have at least one parent who puts too much pressure on the main character. However, Molly’s mother goes way too far. She is pretty much verbally abusive to her daughter. And she doesn’t change her stance until a man tells her how awful she’s being. (Thanks, Jeff! Molly’s dad should have stepped up years ago.)

With that said, I did enjoy the on-screen chemistry between Jen Lilley and Brant Daugherty. They seemed to thoroughly enjoy each other’s company and I think that is really what saved the movie. I don’t think I would watch the movie a second time but I would recommend checking it out at least once.

Coming Soon - My Own Advent Calendar

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It is that time of year again. Time for the schlocky holiday romance movies to come out. To really kick off the rebirth of my blog, I will be doing my own sort of advent calendar. Every day from December 1 through December 25, I will post a review of a new holiday movie. Here are the rules:

  1. The movie must be new for 2018. No previously released movies.

  2. The movies will all be from one of three sources: Hallmark Channel, one of the Lifetime network channels (they will mostly be on Lifetime but some may be on the Lifetime Movie Network), or Netflix.

Yes, there are some holiday movies that have already aired. Apparently the holiday season begins in October, according to Hallmark Channel. Unless those movies are re-aired, they will not be reviewed. The cable channel movies will all be movies aired after December 1st. I’m giving Netflix a little more leeway since they have a weird release schedule.

If you have any movie suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments. And make sure you call me out if I break any of my rules. (I mean, I made them…I should be able to follow them, right?) Let’s celebrate the holidays the right way!