Showing posts with label hallmark. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hallmark. Show all posts

Saturday, January 6, 2024

New Years Watch: Royal New Year's Eve (2017)




Watched:  01/05/2023
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Director:  Monika Mitchell
Select:  Amazon Watch Party group decision

We had folks kind of scattered around Friday evening when K asked if we were doing a watch party, and so we quickly threw together a movie selection with Jamie's family.  So, this was our first watch party that was attended by my father-in-law, who absolutely got what we're up to and joined in.  

Turns out, there are, in fact, Hallmark New Year's movies, and Royal New Year's Eve (2017) is absolutely one of them.  

The movie takes place in the days just prior to Christmas and til midnight on NYE, as a general assistant/ secretary/ gopher at a New York-based fashion magazine meets the prince from a small, apparently very wealthy European country, who is having Christmas and New Year's in New York for some reason, staying in a mansion with his intended - but not official - fiancée (Hayley Sales).  

The set-up is absolute madness.  The magazine Our Hero works for is hosting an NYE party for the Prince (ok, fair enough) - and it's a charity fundraiser.  But there's also the expectation that the Prince (Mad Men's Sam Page) will propose at midnight to his lady friend, as that's some sort of royal tradition?  But somehow no one has really talked about this behind the scenes yet, despite the fact this proposal would be very public?  And historic for the unnamed country?  

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Report on Hallmark Movies 2023

don't worry, they play brother and sister


So, here we are in 2023.  

In addition to Direct to Streaming Christmas movies, I've been throwing on the Hallmark Channel since way back in November.  

Apparently what both Jamie and I need this year is to just zone out for 90 minutes from time to time, and to be able to talk over a movie featuring characters we don't really care about a whole lot.  And that's absolutely the intention of a Hallmark Christmas movie - a minimum of drama and plot, reasonably good looking people predictably falling for each other, and a happy ending that guarantees these people will now be as boring as you are, because the events of this movie was the biggest thing to ever happen to them.

I copped to watching the film in 2015 and wrote my treatise on Hallmark movies back in 2017, and I think it shocked a lot of you to find out how very, very much I know about these movies that so many so casually get sniffy about (with good reason, tbh).  But a lot has occurred since 2017.  We're in the dark future of 2023 now, and the world is not what it was.  

A very, very big part of me would love to know how Hallmark works and how these movies come into being.  I have some theories based loosely on what I knew from a friend's mom who wrote Harlequin Romance novels, but there's zero confirmation on any of this.  I'd just be guessing.  

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Straight to Streaming Christmas: Candy Cane Lane (2023), Genie (2023) and Noelle (2019)





Watched:  CCL 12/01/2023, G 11/27/2023, N 12/02/2023
Format:  Amazon Prime/ The 'Cock/ Disney+
Viewing:  First for all
Director:  Reginald Hudlin / Sam Boyd / Marc Lawrence

We have a lot going on, and so we've been seeking out comfort-food-movies.  As this is the Holiday Season, that means Christmas-related movies.  

Yes, we've watched a shit-ton of Hallmark movies, enough so that I've forgotten all that we've watched and I'm not sure I'll post on it.  Instead, I'm taking a look at three of the "well, it's free on the service" movies we watched this week.  

I don't understand what the story is/ was on Noelle (2019).  It was listed as a 2019 release, and maybe it was.  I mostly remember it as one of the first "originals" I saw listed on Disney+, but not something I'd gotten around to watching (this makes me want to rewatch Togo, which I remember really liking).  But no one ever mentioned the movie to me, and so it just kind of fell into the background.  But maybe it had a theatrical run? 

But, this being 2023, we finally got to it.  

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Pre-Christmas Cat Watch: The Nine Lives of Christmas (2014)




Watched:  11/12/2023
Format:  You know where we watched this, commercials and all
Viewing:  I swear to god, I think it was my third viewing
Director:  Mark Jean

Jamie had a medical procedure this week, and was all nerves and needed something to just coast along on.  Guess what was on?

So, yeah, it was round two or three for me of watching this particular holiday gem.

This movie features my favorite Hallmark-specific star, Kimberly Sustad, and I'll leave it at that.




Saturday, December 24, 2022

Hallmark Watch: A Glenbrooke Christmas (2020)




Watched:  12/21/2020
Format:  Hallmark?
Viewing:  First
Director:  David I. Strasser

This movie wasn't very good.  

Basic "I'm lying about who I am" plot as an heiress goes to an idyllic smalltown and falls for a fire fighter in generic Hallmark style.  The movie comes remarkably close to saying some true things about what happens when rich people start eyeing a community as the next hip place to move (they ruin it.  See: Austin), and that rich people are weird and don't relate well to non-rich people (in my experience - about 50/50.  It surfaces in subtle ways to absurd ways.).  This, of course, makes the rich person mad.  And the movie has to back pedal and say rich people are totally normal and don't fuck up the economy of middle-class towns.

The excuse-plot is that the heiress came to hear Christmas bells her parents loved, and the carillon is broken (the movie refuses to use the word carillon for mysterious reasons, and keeps describing the carillon instead.  You can teach people new words, Hallmark.).  The cost of repair is $10,000.  Not chump change.  But the hero is a millionaire many times over.  That's a write-off for her if she fixes it, but the movie refuses to let her just find a way to and over a bag of cash and instead leverages her rich pals to buy Kinkaid knock-offs from local teens.  

Discovering that (a) his new ladyfriend is a millionaire and not who she said she was, and (b) knowing that even if he got past that, she and he will have nothing in common, our firefighter reasonably calls it a day.  But she doodled him in a sketchbook, and rather than seeming creepy, he decides this means its love and he was wrong about her and the situation, and he judged her wrongly.  

Eh.  Did he, though?  In some ways, you'd really have to think "I've been dating a sociopath."  But at the same time, deciding to rush into marriage with a multi-millionaire before the endorphins clear and she thinks of a pre-nup is a baller move.   

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Friday Watch Party: Holiday in Handcuffs

we're going to be studying the composition of this poster for decades to come




What could be more merry than watching 90 minutes of Unlawful Restraint charges pile up?  Not to mention assault, etc...

Join us as I get in a trifecta of Saved by the Bell alumni in Christmas movies in this Mario Lopez/ Melissa Joan Hart pair-up.  (See:  Lucky Christmas and Northpole).  

Is it good?  Probably not.  Is it free?  It depends on how you categorize your Amazon Prime membership and viewings.  

Anyway, you'd hope something with handcuffs this much at the center of the film that isn't The Defiant Ones would be kind of fun.  I don't know how any of this set-up will play out in a way that doesn't work a bit like the Saw franchise, but that doesn't seem very Christmassy.  And it's not, like, *fun* handcuffs.  It's an ABC Family original film.  

It's also got Markie Post!  Who doesn't love Markie Post?  No one.  She was great.

But I am sure we can make something out of this.

Day: Friday December 23rd
Time:  8:30 Central, 6:30 Pacific
Service:  Amazon
Price:  I think it's streaming for free with Prime

(link live 10 minutes before showtime)

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Hallmark Watch: Northpole (2014)




Watched:  A few weeks ago
Format:  I don't remember, but I didn't pay for it
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Douglas Barr

This movie is a super-weird remnant from a different era of Hallmark film where they went in on special FX and name talent.  Usually, like, 1 name talent per movie, and it's not Sandra Bullock.  But it is Tiffani Theissen, who I think we can agree holds a special place in the hearts of us early-90's teens.  (I mean, I think I've been very clear I was a Jessie Spano man, but that's a different post for a different day).  

Theissen is a good actor!  She could have been an interesting Lois Lane.  And here she plays an investigative reporter, don't you know.  But also a single mom dealing with the passing of her husband, and moved to a small-ish town.  And she thinks her son is going crazy (my words, not hers) because her son is legit given a 2-way radio so he can communicate with a very real elf in the form of a spunky teen (Bailee Madison).  

It's a lot of plot, as she tries to sort out what looks like corruption in town (it is not, and this plot point makes almost no sense and pitches sentiment over how things work in a functioning democracy, but whatevs).  And her son is navigating trauma, the very real existence of Santa and Mrs. Claus and a whole civilization of eternal elves.  And homework.  There's so, so much going on.  Oh, and Theissen kinda finds at least a make-out buddy in her son's teacher, which is probably going to cause the teacher HR issues.

But, like, this movie has a budget for Clementine the Elf to fly around in a sleigh, grab the kid, take him to The North Pole - which we see from an aerial view and it's pretty cool! - and then kinda elaborate sets that are the North Pole.  

I'm not sure this could have been released to theaters, but for 2014, it's a big production for deep cable, and a reminder that Hallmark was not always just young actresses with bad hair and guys with two weeks of beard growth.   

Monday, December 12, 2022

Hallmark Holiday Watch: Lucky Christmas (2011)

for the record, I don't believe there's any snow in this movie



Watched:  12/10/2022
Format:  Peacock (apparently now carrying old Hallmark movies...)
Viewing:  First
Director:  Gary Yates

So, did I watch this 11-year-old, largely forgotten Hallmark movie because it stars Elizabeth Berkely, she of Jessie Spano of Saved by the Bell fame?  

Buddy, you know I did.  

Let's get to it. 

Is the movie good?  No.  

Is it Berkley's fault?  In no way.  She's doing what she can here.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Friday Holiday Watch Party: A Christmas Melody (2015)




Watched:  12/09/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Director:  Mariah Carey (...I KNOW!)

I thought it was very strange that A Christmas Melody (2015) does not play more on Hallmark's two 24/7 Christmas movies channels.  It stars Hallmark favorite Lacey Chabert and America's Accidental Christmas Mascot, Mariah Carey, with a supporting role from the omnitalented Kathy Najimy.  I mean - seems like a winner, as far as Hallmark goes.  I was wondering if Carey had some deal that made it financially onerous for Hallmark to run the movie, or there was some extenuating circumstance.  But, no.

Friends, this movie isn't very good.  

I mean, sure, you could blame the fact they gave a whole movie to Mariah Carey to direct (no, she did direct it), but something is wrong at the script stage and it feels like 2015 was a year Hallmark's writers were still figuring out the formula and forgot to do things like give the male romantic lead any inner life so he doesn't seem creepy.  

Friday, December 9, 2022

Friday Watch Party: A Christmas Melody





When it comes to people who have tried to make a career out of Christmas media, it's hard to top Ms. Mariah Carey and/or Ms. Lacey Chabert.  Way, way back in 2015, this power duo teamed up for a single Hallmark movie.  Hold onto your hats, because this one was also directed by Mariah Carey.  I'm pretty sure its about a kids' singing competition or concert or some nonsense. 

Anyway, this combo is like loading your 5 lb. bag of Christmas with like 100 lbs. of Christmas, and we're gonna do it, and we're gonna like it.  No, I have not seen the full movie, just parts of it, which seems impossible.  

We're gonna Holiday the @#$% out of this %$#@.

Day:  Friday - 12/09/2022
Time:  8:30 Central, 6:30 Pacific
Service:  Amazon Streaming
Cost:  $3-$4

Saturday, December 3, 2022

PODCAST 223: "The Nine Kittens Of Christmas" (2021) - a Hallmark Holiday PodCast w/ Maxwell and Ryan



Watched:  12/2/2022
Format:  Hallmark Channel 
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2020's
Director:  David Winning




Maxwell and Ryan explore the concept of Hallmark Christmas movies via a single entry. How does it reflect the formula? How does it differ? What is the formula and why? And why so many cats? So think hard about your unshakeable Christmas traditions, grab a cup of cocoa and warm up in the cheery glow of a podcast that is alight with Christmas cheer.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Jingle Bells - Jingle Cats
White Christmas - Jingle Cats

Links:

Holidays 2022

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Hallmark Watch: A Holiday Spectacular (2022)




Watched:  11/27/2022
Format:  Hallmark Channel
Viewing:  First
Director:  John Putch

It's easy to forget that before they had a cable channel and the need to fill programming 24/7, Hallmark started making movies for network television.  Back in the day, Hallmark used to deliver semi-prestige Sunday-night movies with name talent.  I don't think this happens anymore as they've moved these movies to The Hallmark Channel and the budgets have taken a hit of sorts, but the DNA of those "Hallmark Presents" movies still exists.  So, every Christmas, tucked amongst the usual low-budget fare of the Hallmark movie season, you do get a movie or three with name actors or big set pieces. 

One of this year's offerings is A Holiday Spectacular (2022), which has only two name actors, one of whom is Eve Plumb, which blew my mind, and Ann-Margret.  Ann-Margret mostly only appears in a framing sequence and probably knocked her part out in 2-3 days of shooting, but it's still a delight to see her.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

So it Begins Watch: We Need a Little Christmas (2022)



Watched:  11/6/2022
Format:  Hallmark
Viewing:  First
Director:  Kevin Fair

I watched this because it stars Erica Durance, full stop.  This is an Erica Durance stan site.  

Look, if all goes well, we're going to podcast a Christmas movie or two this year and I'll talk more about Hallmark Christmas movies.  They're not something you watch or discuss individually, but watching them is a longterm investment in observing an ever-evolving living organism of Christmas cheer.  Collectively, they're something that mutates to respond to the environment and to best dominate the landscape.  Thus, talking about any individual Hallmark movie is missing the point - you have to be talking about all Hallmark Movies or none at all.  

We also will talk about what the movies are for, and how you watch them.  And this movie served that purpose pretty well this weekend.  

To that end, I had it on, I put on the movie and occasionally looked up to see what was happening as it unspooled.  I performed household tasks in need of doing  - like changing lightbulbs and cleaning and doing dishes and dealing with recycling.  I was in and out of the house during all of this, and thanks to ample commercial breaks (this was recorded off cable) and the friction-free plot that just kept happening with no real conflict to mar the story, I'm pretty sure I followed the movie just fine.  I saw a lot of great, large kitchens and Erica Durance in a wide-array of outfits.

In these films, characters always state their motives and feelings in clear terms, including "I don't know what I'm feeling".  Because these are movies about things that cause feelings.  Sadness.  Melancholy.  Stress.  But always curving toward happiness and joy derived from Christmas, new friends, and new love.  

As I say - I watched this because it stars the lovely Erica Durance, who played Lois Lane on several seasons of Smallville.  Here, she's a recently widowed woman who has moved she and her young son to a new town to open a new interior design business (away from friends and family?  Now?  It doesn't all add up.).  And - showing that Hallmark movies have dared to make the formula a bit different - it's about Durance meeting a new neighbor who went through similar (or worse) experiences decades prior, and how Durance and the neighbor - played by Lynn Whitfield, who you've seen in like 15 things at least - find friendship and mutual understanding despite their lack of any differences of opinion on anything of consequence.  

The drama plays out in microbursts, which seems to be the new thing for the Hallmark movies.  There's no single issue or misunderstanding, it's more like little episodes as characters get to know each other.  It's kind of a weird style of storytelling that I can only really point to older novels or a few 80's or 90's movies to compare it to.

Yeah, a possible suitor for Durance is introduced, but the movie also knows it is *too soon* for romance to be more than a possibility by movie's end.  Thus, he's an endlessly polite and patient dude who also does the things dudes do when they hope it will get them in good with Erica Durance - like dropping all of their Christmas plans to do a 5 hour turn around trip.  It's a shocking amount of restraint in comparison to how these movies worked a decade ago.  Like I said - evolving organism.  

So it includes Hallmark staples

  1. Single Mom
  2. Kid unnaturally concerned with the feelings of adults
  3. Attempt to recreate Christmases past
  4. Weird Christmas events that don't happen in nature (Christmas camp for kids?)
  5. Local man who everyone in town adores but who is unattached
  6. Solider/ Veteran 


Monday, July 25, 2022

I Forgot To Post On This Watch: Open By Christmas (2021)





Watched:  I dunno.  Let's call it 07/10/2022
Format:  Hallmark's Christmas in July
Viewing:  First
Director:  David Weaver

I watched this for two reasons:  (1) I put it on for two seconds and then it ended and I'd just watched a whole movie and that's how Hallmark movies get you.  (2) Erica Durance was in it, which was the fuel in the fire, I guess.

Judging this movie by the current standard of Hallmark Christmas movies, it was... fine?  Good?  Let's settle on "it was okay at doing what it set out to do", which is all you can judge it on, anyway.

Not long ago, Hallmark started letting themselves make movies that weren't one of five plots, so now you kinda don't know what you're going to get.  I mean, the same bland, friction-free spirit is there.  You know everything will be okay.  But these days they've learned that's the thing, not any particular formula of story.  Thinking about it, the Vandervoort starring Hallmark pic I watched last Christmas also had two narrative threads, so maybe that's the thing?  Cast Smallville actors and two plots.  I'm calling it now.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Forgot to Mention it Watch: Crazy For Christmas (2005)




Watched:  12/17/2021
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2000's
Director:  Eleanore Lindo

For me, this film is ground zero for what has become what I oversimplify and refer to as my Hallmark Christmas Movie fascination.  I'm not sure I even watched Crazy for Christmas (2005) on Hallmark the first time.  It could have been Lifetime or some other network.  But I think I watched it Christmas 2005 when it first aired.  I know I watched it in Phoenix, and by 2006, I was in Austin.

What I mostly remember was that it starred Howard Hesseman of WKRP in Cincinnati fame, which was how I wound up checking it out.  "Oh, yeah, that person" quickly became what brought me back to these movies as I checked in on the Tiffani Amber Theissens and others who were happy to pick up a check and turn in a performance in a movie that would get eyeballs and not embarrass anyone became a thing. 

This movie co-stars Hesseman, but really hinges on Andrea Roth, who has an imbd page as long as your arm, as a single mom struggling to finish school and raise a kid.  She works as a limo driver to pay the bills.  On Christmas Eve, a local eccentric millionaire requests her, specifically, to drive him around for the day.  She has a kid and doesn't want to do it, but the money is too good.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Christmas Cat Watch: The Nine Lives of Christmas (2014)



Watched:  12/20/2021
Format:  Hallmark Channel
Viewing:  First?
Decade:  2014
Director:  Mark Jean


The Nine Lives of Christmas (2014) is the movie that precedes The Nine Kittens of Christmas, which we just watched.    Some of the cast from the follow up is in this movie, like Gregory Harrison.  But it's a different and oddly cheaper film than the sequel.  

But it does have stars Brandon Routh and Kimberley Sustad.  I can kinda see why people liked them enough that this got a sequel.  The acting isn't robotic, and you can see its not just people smiling at each other like morons.

It's basically a movie about two adults as shy and dumb about romance as two middle schoolers, who are eye-@#$%ing each other for 3/4ths of the movie but, do not do anything about it until the final, Christmassy pronouncement of love.  

Because TV, and especially these movies, works a certain way - there's a scene when it's just the two of them, alone in a house in which they both live, and they kiss, and then apparently time and space no longer matter, because they're then telling their confidants about the kiss in two different locations.  And I'm like... so... what happened for the 12 hours or so inbetween here?  You said nothing to each other?  I would think you would say something to each other.  Like - I get that that felt good in the edit bay, but it literally makes no sense at that point.

ANYWAY, these movies are not about making sense.  They're about dumb misunderstandings.  And Christmas-time romance.  And picking out a tree.  And talking about Christmas when I was a kid.  And hitting all the beats.  Plus, cats.

The movie doesn't really set up Routh's character quite the way I imagined they would based upon the sequel, which states that he has a hard time with change.  I mean, maybe?  But not a pathological fear of change as presented.  He's adjusting to the idea of taking a girl seriously rather than having fun, but he does do it on his own.  

Anyhoo...  there's a couple of cute cats.  And I realize now several things in the sequel were call-backs to this movie, which means the people who made the sequel were assuming we were very, very familiar with this movie (I don't think I'd watched it all the way through before).  

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Christmas Watch: Single All the Way (2021)




Watched:  12/18/2021
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020
Director:  Michael Mayer

Not going to bury the lede.  Single All the Way (2021) is the gay-starring romcom for the holidays that Netflix's DataTron3000 realized would do quite well for clicks as it would serve a perpetually underserved audience.  The probably good news is that it is not trying to either fit the Hallmark mold, nor is it a Hallmark spoof.  It's its own, stand-alone, comedy movie.  

I am already aware that it is also a YMMV affair, as are many-a-comedy, as I've had one pal weigh in with a "that sucked" response, and - hey - you probably do not want my opinion of your favorite comedy.  Unless it's Young Frankenstein.  Or anything with Madeline Kahn.*

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Hallmark Christmas Watch: The Nine Kittens of Christmas (2021)




Watched:  12/15/2021
Format:  DVR of Hallmark
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  D. Winning

So, a few years back I noted that occasional Superman and Ray Palmer actor Brandon Routh had signed up for a Hallmark movie.  It makes sense.  He films in Canada all the time, anyway.  Might as well get a little scratch between seasons of TV and whatever else he's up to.  

What I remembered about the movie was (late edit: I had not seen all of this movie):  Routh was a fireman, he was doing home maintenance, a cat was involved, and the love interest could also act (Hallmark has to balance how terrible their leads are, and many of them are truly wooden robots).  But a lot of name folks pass through the Hallmark factory every year, so I enjoyed it for what it was and then chucked the movie from anything resembling RAM in my head.  

Well, lo and behold, someone scraped enough pennies together and got the cast back together from the cat-related movie and came up with a concept for a sequel.  If one or two cats worked - why not 9?

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Christmas Comedy Watch: A Clüsterfünke Christmas (2021)




Watched:  12/12/2021
Format:  On VOD from Pop
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Anna Dakoza


Hallmark movies have now been around long enough that you do spot spoofs and satires.  This is the second one I've spotted just this year, the other I need to finish (The Bitch Who Stole Christmas, which appears to be a whole thing).  

A Clüsterfünke Christmas (2021) is the kind of spoof you kind of crave, but also think won't be as good as you hope.  But, in the rarest of Christmas miracles, it was actually consistently funny for the runtime of the movie.  It never gets lost in the machinery of telling a story or caring what happens to anyone and remembers that it's job is to insert a joke every 30 seconds.  But, you know, the film both stars and was written by Ana Gasteyer and Rachel Dratch, so - trusted sources.  

Christmas Watch Party: The Tree That Saved Christmas (2014)




Watched:  12/10/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's
Director:  David Winning

At some point we had the Up! Network, which was all positive vibes and Christian messaging, if memory serves.  Basically Hallmark Network, but a little more toothless and less competent.  During the Christmas Movie Wars of a few years back, when Hallmark was running 3 networks 24/7 from October 20th on, Lifetime was in the game, and one or two more - UP! showed up with its offerings which somehow were the Dollar Store equivalent of Hallmark Channel's Target merchandise.  With both Netflix and Amazon in the game now, I'm not sure Up! is still playing, but in 2014 - they reached for the brass ring on the tiny shoulders of Lacey Chabert.

Lacey Chabert, the Queen of Nice and a Hallmark staple, was clearly shown the money by Up, who lured her in for The Tree That Saved Christmas.  Which is a confusing movie.  

It feels like an alien watched Hallmark movies, took random bits from them, missed some key bits, wrote a script, and then the aliens deeply underbudgeted and no one had any money after getting Chabert.