' Cinema Romantico: 10 Made For TV Christmas Movies To Watch This Holiday Season (by synopsis)

Thursday, December 03, 2015

10 Made For TV Christmas Movies To Watch This Holiday Season (by synopsis)

It’s December. In movie-land that means it’s the time the heaviest awards-hitters are finally unveiled. For the public, yes, but mostly for the press, for the critics, for the people with access, while most everyone else will have to wait for those persnickety one-week late-December runs until mid-January. And while we here at Cinema Romantico take pride in spotlighting films of fine pedigrees, we also find just as much joy in other places, broader places, ludicrous places, don’t-judge-me places like the Hallmark Channel. I mean, it is Christmas, and because it’s Christmas that means Hallmark is Counting Down to the big day with its 24 hour buffet of holiday-themed movies about hard-charging event planners and vaguely defined consultants played by people like Yuletide Movie MVP-For-Life Jennie Garth. I’m not saying I have watched a few of ‘em between bouts of foreign and indie screeners (and at commercials of college football games), but I’m also not saying I haven’t. (I have.)

So if you’re not interested in Eddie Redmayne hitching his star to another makeover role in attempt to go back-to-back like Tommy H., and if you’re not interested in some fly-by-night indies that could nonetheless smack those big studio Boeings right outta the sky, I’m here to offer the cream of the Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas crop…based on synopsis, of course, because there is nothing more fun on TV than reading the synopsis of a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie.


10 Made For TV Christmas Movies To Watch This Holiday Season (by synopsis)

10. Christmas With Holly. A coffee shop owner is determined to connect with his orphaned niece in a quaint Washington state hamlet, but their lives are about to change with the arrival of a free-spirited woman who opens a toy store just before Christmas. If she’s not an event planner, she’s a free-spirit. You know how they do.

9. A Cookie Cutter Christmas. Two teachers compete in a bakeoff, but their rivalry escalates when they fall for the same man: a charming single father. You were sold already, obviously, but let me finish this off with a windmill dunk: Alan Thicke plays the bakeoff judge.

8. The Christmas Secret. A respected zoology professor (Richard Thomas) who is obsessed with proving that reindeer can actually fly meets up with the real Santa Claus (Beau Bridges). “Jonathan, bring me my green light!”

7. Christmas Incorporated. As chance would have it, I’ve seen this one! And so I’ll just give you an uber-tight review rather than quote the synopsis. (Clears throat.) More spirited than serviceable, Christmas Incorporated is Capra-esqe in its fanfare for the common man and woman, re-claiming the titular holiday as a season of goodwill rather than a commercialized chunk of the calendar. Though Steve Lund effects a less effective version of Joel McHale at his smarmiest, Shenae Grimes-Beech scores with a performance of winterland whimsy, suggesting the effervescent mirth of Anna Kendrick.

6. On Strike for Christmas. A group of wives goes on strike in the days leading up to Christmas when they cannot get their families to participate in holiday preparations. It’s Lysistrata meets “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”!

5. A Christmas Wedding Tail. When Susan's (Jennie Garth) dog Rusty falls for Jake's (Brad Rowe) poodle, these canine matchmakers help their owners fall in love too. Jennie Garth!!!!!

4. One Starry Christmas. A woman with a successful boyfriend is smitten by a cowboy while on her way home for the holidays, and their unexpected encounter makes him contemplate whether she longs for safety or adventure. We need to break this down more closely. “...with a successful boyfriend...” Wait, how do we define “successful”? Is he in advertising. I bet anything he’s in advertising. “...is smitten by a cowboy...” IS SMITTEN BY A COWBOY!!! “...while on her way home for the holidays...” Which means I hope she gets stranded at some motel in a four-corner town in Montana where he’s out in the parking lot, like, roping steers. “...whether she longs for safety or adventure...” Safety in the form of “a successful boyfriend” or adventure in the form of a dude in a Stetson. And frankly, this one only gets better when you look it up on IMDb and discover the “Woman” (named Holly, of course) is an “aspiring astronomy professor and Christmas enthusiast.” If there is not a scene in which Holly looks through her telescope to see the stars only to inadvertently see what appears to be Santa and his sleigh…

3. The Christmas Blessing. Neil Patrick Harris, Rebecca Gayheart. A medical resident returns to his hometown after losing a patient on the operating table, and decides to work with his mechanic dad. I mean, can’t you see the Meet Cute? CAN’T YOU??? Rebecca Gayheart, a hard-charging event planner, is late to her event when her car breaks down and so, flustered, she takes it to the local auto shop where Neil Patrick Harris, with a well-placed smear of oil grease on his cheek, saunters out and offers whimsical assistance.

2. Becoming Santa. Connor is in for a shock when he discovers he’s actually headed to the North Pole and Holly’s parents are none other than Santa and Mrs. Claus! Starring: Michael Gross, Meredith Baxter. This one airs on Lifetime, not Hallmark, but look, all on its own this could be #10 or #9, but factor in that top-notch stunt casting of Steven & Elyse Keaton re-uniting as the Clauses and you have massive potential for small screen auroral activity.


1. Lucky Christmas. A struggling single mom (Elizabeth Berkley) wins the lottery, but her car is stolen with the ticket inside. One of the thieves develops feelings for her, however, and considers returning the ticket to save their budding romance. I want to see “Lucky Christmas” more than “The Force Awakens”, and you can quote me, Hallmark. Seriously. Quote me.

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