Quick Hit Movie Reviews: Hallmark Channel's Countdown to Christmas

When it comes to spreading Christmas cheer, no other network does a better job than the Hallmark Channel. Every year, Hallmark Channel broadcasts a wealth of new original Christmas movies that are guaranteed to put viewers in the Holiday spirit, spreading joy to all who watch them.

There is no more surefire way to get in the Christmas spirit than to sit down and enjoy Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas. In this special edition of the Quick Hit Movie Reviews, Eclectic Pop offers a condensed version of its reviews for last year’s new additions: “12 Gifts of Christmas”, “Christmas Detour” and “Tis the Season for Love”. Merry Christmas!

Promo Art for The 12 Gifts of Christmas - Hallmark Movie
[Image by Hallmark Crown Media]

"12 Gifts of Christmas" (2015)

By and large, Hallmark Channel’s movies are known for their adorable innocence and whimsical fun, and in the “12 Gifts of Christmas”, those themes are exquisitely brought to life.

This smile-inducing installment in the ever-popular “Countdown to Christmas” franchise is a winner. The adorable storyline centers on a struggling artist (Katrina Law) who decides to turn her other talent (personal shopping), into a side business over the holidays. 

This puts her back in the orbit of Marc (Aaron O’Connell) a workaholic she briefly meets at a bakery, who employs her to pick out Christmas gifts for his family, friends, and employees due to his overwhelming work schedule. 

Exponentially adding to the movie’s appeal is that Anna is a worthy heroine and Marc; an equally viable love interest. That is a rare combo for romantic comedies in general.

Katrina Law is beyond charming as the vivacious Anna, showing off an impressive range when compared to her terrifically solemn performance as the icy Nyssa on “Arrow”. The two characters could not be any more different and she’s equally good at portraying both. Law also gleans significant chemistry with co-star Aaron O’Connell, who is more than believable as the preppy ad man.

This is one Hallmark movie; one would not mind seeing a sequel to it because it is actually sad to see come to an end. A cute story and endearing performances more than make this a Hallmark movie worth unwrapping. Rating: 8.5/10

Read Eclectic Pop’s Full Review, here

[Image by Hallmark Crown Media]

"A Christmas Detour" (2015)

Candace Cameron Bure stars as an uptight writer headed to spend Christmas with her fiancรฉ and meet her soon-to-be in-laws for the first time. Of course, things can never be that simple or we wouldn’t have a movie to watch.

So that means Bure’s Paige finds her New York-bound plane ride thwarted by a blizzard. In a desperate bid to get to her destination in time, she joins three strangers on a road trip to New York.

Of the trio; two are a long-married couple weathering a rough patch in their marriage and the other is a laid back bachelor; the type-A Paige immediately locks horns with. According to movie law; opposites attract and it is not long before Paige is questioning whether her picture-perfect beau is the answer to her dreams.

Through a series of misfortunes, Paige and company come to a respective crossroads in their relationships and the message on the married couple’s front is heartening. In contrast, the falling in love portion of the program is underwhelming. With the aid of some softer scripting, both Paige and Dylan could have been made more agreeable by leaps and bounds. The question arises as to why that did not occur. 

Paige is engaged and flirting with another man. Dylan is hunting a woman he knows is committed to another man and when the third act reveals the reason behind his single status; his behavior is made all the more puzzling. The whole scenario is a whiplash of surprising proportions. 

As a whole, the ensemble gives a respectable turn that remains compelling throughout and Bure is as endearing as possible as the neurotic Paige.

In terms of Bure’s other Hallmark Christmas movies; “Christmas Detour” does not shine as brightly as 2015’s fish-out-of-water dramedy “Christmas Under Wraps” or the outstanding “Let It, Snow”. Although, it still provides an entertaining detour for holiday time. Rating: 6.5/10

Read Eclectic Pop’s Full Review, here 

Promo Art for the Hallmark Channel Movie - Tis the Season for Love
[Image by Hallmark Crown Media]

"Tis the Season for Love" (2015)

Sarah Lancaster stars as a struggling actress hoping for her big break on Broadway when a trip to her hometown for Christmas opens a door to an alternative path in life. For Beth (Lancaster), returning home doesn’t mean she immediately falls back into the arms of the one who got away (he’s gotten married and has a kid).

Refreshingly bucking that Hallmark Movie formula, she instead finds romance in the form of her high school sweetheart’s best friend, who harbored a secret crush on her back in the day.

Faced with the unforeseen opportunity to return home, begin a teaching career and eventually start a family, she must reconsider her life in New York and whether she should continue her acting career

Many of the hallmark (pun fully intended) themes of “Countdown to Christmas” are in full force in “’ Tis the Season for Love”. From a character weighing the priorities of career versus family, glimpses into alternate futures and coming to grips with what one wants their life to be, versus where it really stands. The movie’s message is commendable: sometimes everything you have ever wanted has been under your nose the whole time.

“’ Tis the Season for Love” does not go full tilt on ‘what if’ reveries, relying on brief glimpses to drive its protagonist to wonder about her future and inspiring her to reassess the present. The movie also offers a refreshingly realistic approach to its majestic foretastes, making it clear that Beth’s subconscious is behind them and not Santa.

Another shining aspect of the movie is Sarah Lancaster’s performance, which thrives on her innate relatability. Even when Beth’s wishy-washy antics annoy, Lancaster somehow sustains her likability.

“’ Tis the Season for Love” is a sturdy installment for the “Countdown to Christmas” franchise. It plays with a higher uncertainty pertaining to its outcome and provides an engaging scenario on which to ponder. To sum it all up it ‘tis definitely worth watching. Rating: 7/10

Read Eclectic Pop’s Full Review here

[Featured Image by Hallmark Crown Media]