Christmas Movies: Mini Reviews

December 23, 2013 11 Comments

Since I’ve posted so many Christmas movies, I thought that repetitively reviewing televised seasonal movies may be tiresome to you all. But, I do like sharing about favorites, so instead of “full” reviews, I’ll share some “quick” thoughts on some of the Christmas movies I have recently watched. A post that will be the last (*sniff, sniff*) of the Christmas films around here considering the date. However I make no promises… especially since I have more yet to watch. You never know, this may mean some show up in the week after Christmas.

Christmas Movies: Mini Reviews

Featured below is not one or two but five of the recent Christmas movies I’ve either re-watched or seen for the first time this year. Read on below to find out more about them.

Christmas Bounty (2013)

Have you ever watched a crazy Christmas movie in which everything goes array? Or one that uses the “meet the parents” ploy to add pressure? (Think Christmas with the Kranks or Deck the Halls.) This trope basically sums up this new movie. Starring ABC Family Channel alumni, Francia Rasia, the story follows Tory, a teacher whose world is about to get a whole lot of complicated. Currently in a relationship, this Jersey girl is poised to get everything she ever dreams of. But then an ominous phone call lures her back home to her roots, and her former life.

Christmas Movies: Mini ReviewsThe family business is an unusual one to say the least and along with her parents, it turns out Tory has a secret life – she’s a bounty hunter. Things get more interesting when her boyfriend shows up unexpectedly, Tory’s ex Mike still works with her parents and the man she once put away isn’t taking it well.

In a nutshell, Christmas Bounty is cute. There was nothing fantastic about it or anything unique but seriously, I laughed through the entire 70-minutes. And if you’re wondering if that runtime is a type-o, no you read that right – this one is a shortie which on the upside is nice since most movies of this genre can get away with telling a story in a reasonably brief amount of time and anything else is just awkward pieces of material to fill time. Sometimes the absurd does get in the way of “realistic” story-telling, however what filmmakers were striving to do was create an extensive gap between the world Tory came from and the world she created for herself. Bridging this drastic of a chasm doesn’t always work but…

For this script, everything comes together nicely. Francia, Mike Mizanin and Company thrive without taking anything too seriously. Plus for adrenaline junkies, there are some decent action sequences here which is distinctive to the “safe” reliability of Christmas movies. If you like The Bounty Hunter or any Christmas movie that takes crazy to a whole new level, check out Christmas Bounty.

CONTENT: there are a few instances of profanity and one or two instances of innuendo. Immodest clothing (jokes are made about Tory’s mother wearing low-cut tops).

A Christmas Kiss (2011)

Life isn’t exactly ideal. But for Wendy Walton (Laura Breckenridge), working as an assistant to New York’s top interior designer is where she needs to be. As an aspiring decorator, Wendy hopes that getting her foot in the company means someday, she’ll earn clients. The trouble is, Pricilla (Elisabeth Röhm) is a demanding boss. She doesn’t give Wendy the opportunities she knows Wendy can pull off. Instead Pricilla sends her for coffee, and petty jobs Wendy complies with at the drop of a hat.

Things become complicated when Wendy shares a spontaneous kiss in the elevator with a stranger, a stranger that turns out to be the wealthy Adam Hughes (Brendan Fehr) – and coincidentally, Pricilla’s boyfriend.

TV FILM REVIEW | Christmas Joy – Sparkles and Sweet Cookies

With sprinkles of fairy tale charm and plenty of Christmas cheer, this is one of the most endearing Christmas movies from its yearly line-up. With festive settings and “magical” moments, the romantic comedy is part Cinderella fable and part Christmas script. All of which is festooned with an overabundance of holiday ornamentation. If I were to nitpick, I’d complain about the wardrobe which could have been otherwise cool but… eh, nothing is ever quite right.

You know how in movies there is usually one “fancy” scene to anticipate, and you think the character will be dressed to the nines? Yeah, that moment in this movie is a letdown. The silver lining is that Laura Spencer has a role in this movie albeit a small one. Either way, I have to confess it’s fun going back to watch this now knowing her from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. That alone is worth something. If you like a fun fairy tale, be sure to check this one out.

Christmas Magic (2011)

Lindy Booth stars in this Hallmark original that tells the story of a successful career woman. When she becomes an accident victim, she wakes up with a “spirit guide” and a mission. In order to cross over, Carrie must help a single father rediscover the meaning of life. Anyone who likes Family Man, A Christmas Carol or the classic Jimmy Stewart It’s a Wonderful Life will no doubt pull similarities from all three of these. It does offer alternatives, and places its heroine on a path of what could-have-been. Then it teaches her what it means to indulge in that perspective rather than viewing life through a narrow gaze of worldly prosperity.

At its heart, this is a good movie. If you scrutinize it too severely, cracks begin to appear. So much so, you wonder at writers spinning another tale of pseudo-sorrow. The unique seal of this film is how “real” its characters are. You see each of them and feel like they fit the mold of their character; no one is miscast or visually seems misplaced and that’s part of what makes the movie work. Sure, the price of that is a simple, family-friendly romance that doesn’t use chemistry in a sparks flying sort of dynamic to further or enhance the moments between Carrie and her would-be beau yet all the same, the scenes were sweet. There are some priceless (sappy) moments, decorations galore and a little Christmas magic for anyone to behold.

Coming Home for Christmas (2013)

Five years is the gap between when sisters Kate (Carly McKillip) and Melanie (Britt McKillip) last spoke. Eldest Kate left the family home on the day of Mel’s wedding. The O’Brien family lives in the same small town, but the girls haven’t seen or spoke to each other since that day. Suddenly everything changes when Kate learns that their parents (George Canton, Amy Jo Johnson) have separated. Five years melt away in an instant. Instead of a foolish feud with her best friend, Kate realizes that in order to give her family a family Christmas, she needs Mel at her side… even if that means pulling off the impossible.

Christmas Movies: Mini Reviews

This Norman Rockwell inspired movie may be one of 2013’s best. I quite enjoyed watching it and willingly got wrapped up in its simplistic charm. A relationship between sisters isn’t always easy to script with accuracy. However I think this one is fair, honest and easy to relate to.

Given the five year blank space in which the girls were absent from the others life, the awkwardness is real. But above their past, the friendship between them is foremost at the center. As the story progresses, they don’t figure everything out, but I cannot help but smile at their reminiscing or the cute reconciliation music scene. Fun trivia fact: the actresses who play these parts is the Canadian musical sister duo One More Girl. I suspect this is the reason why music plays such an important role in the lives of their characters.

Just as any Christmas movie should be, at its core, this story is about family. It’s refreshing to see a film that doesn’t lose focus of the relationship between Kate and Melanie. It’s a nice switch up for the romantic comedy bit to be in the background. Never fear, sweet romance does play a role – and I quite adore it! (Although admittedly, this could have to do with the hero being a former marine. Who doesn’t love a hero in uniform, right!?) If you’re interested in something new this holiday season, look into this one. The scenery, characters and in general, everything is lovely. It reminds us that no matter what happens, family is important, and we’re never too old to come home for Christmas.

CONTENT: mild references reveal that a married man wasn’t faithful to his wife and was a flirt only interested in marriage for appearances sake.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (2008)

This is one of my very favorite holiday movies. It’s one of Hallmark’s oldie but goodies, and a frequent re-watch. It tells the story of a single mother, Jen (Brooke Burns). She’s a list-making, type A personality with visions of a “perfect” Christmas. Only trouble is, she doesn’t have a clue how to make a turkey with all the trimmings. When her uncle Ralph (Henry Winkler) visits for the holidays, Jen’s lists grow longer. The plan? Give her son a special day, and dazzle her future in-laws. All of this goes according to plan until Ralph brings a stranger (Warren Christie) home with him.Christmas Movies: Mini Reviews

There is something about this movie that’s… irresistible. The cast works well together, and I adore the chemistry between the leads. The spunk comes from Henry Winkler’s corner, and he nails every one-liner. Young Brian is also quite cute in a very serious kind of way – think reflections of Susan from Miracle on 34th Street. To add humor is the rare appearance of a nosy neighbor; and Jen’s worry over manufacturing an old-fashioned Christmas. The only thing about this one that may not set well with would-be viewers is its bad case of “insta-love.” If you consider the time frame, it’s hardly realistic to expect Jen to react as she does over Morgan, and vice versa. However, romantic that I am, I accept it and also don’t take anything too seriously. If you keep that forefront, then you’ll understand why this film has the most popularly coined phrase to describe this season as its title!

A 'mini review' post of *five* #ChristmasMovies! Have you seen any of these? Which are your favorites? Christmas Movies: Mini Reviews Click To Tweet

What about you, friends? Do you have a favorite Christmas movie from this year… or any? Share in the comments, you know I’d love to read about it.

About Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

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11 Comments

  • Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com December 23, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    Oh I want to see all of these.
    Especially Christmas Bounty.
    I liked Holiday Engagement this Christmas.

    • Rissi December 24, 2013 at 5:54 PM

      Christmas Bounty is really cute, Juju. Made me laugh the whole way through.

      Loved Holiday Engagement; it was really cute! Plus I liked seeing one of my favorite Rizzoli & Isles actors in it. ;)

  • Evelyn December 23, 2013 at 7:18 PM

    We just watched The Christmas Card, last night – I love that movie!!! I had watched half of it before, but missed the beginning, and it was way better (and more emotional) when I watched the beginning. :)

    Merry Christmas Rissi, and a Happy New Year!!

    • Rissi December 24, 2013 at 5:55 PM

      Aw, yes! I get what you're saying about Christmas Card. That IS a precious movie – one of my all-time favorites – plus I love that it honors the military. Glad your family enjoyed it.

      Same to you, Evelyn. Merry Christmas – and happy 2014!

  • Ella December 24, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    What channel was Coming Home For Christmas on? Or where did you hear that one????

    Merry Christmas my FRIEND <3

    • Rissi December 24, 2013 at 6:37 PM

      I'm pretty sure Coming Home for Christmas is a direct-to-DVD release, Ella. It may be on somewhere on TV too but I saw it on DVD and it's listed as a "video only" release. Hope you can see it (let me know what you think if you do) – I really liked the sister relationship and it was cool to know the actresses were really siblings.

      Same to you! MERRY CHRISTMAS, friend! Hope you and yours enjoy a fabulous holiday. <3

  • Birdie December 25, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    I love your Christmas movie reviews, Rissi! There are so many Christmas movies and your reviews help me pick the best ones (simply can't watch them all!) This year I rewatched A Princess for Christmas (still lovely) and watched A Christmas card and Christmas with Holly for the first time. Plus the British Christmas comedy Nativity 2, but that one you didn't review ;-)

    • Rissi December 27, 2013 at 8:39 PM

      Thanks for saying that, Birdie! I'm always conflicted whether or not to go all Christmas-review crazy this time of year but in the end, I go for it. :)

      Same here; I re-watched A Princess for Christmas (LOVE that one) and Christmas with Holly (which is seriously precious) though I didn't see Christmas Card this year. I'm pleased to know you saw 'Holly,' hope you liked it.

      I saw your Nativity 2 review! It sounded quite funny, glad you shared. :)

  • Valerie December 31, 2013 at 8:07 AM

    Oh my word, I LOVE "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year". There's just something about it, and I can't help but laugh no matter how many times I've watched it. It's become a classic around here, I watch it every year! Normally Hallmark movies are a one-time viewing for me, but that one…. it's just awesome. So glad to see in mentioned on your list! :)

    • Rissi December 31, 2013 at 7:01 PM

      Same here, Valerie! There IS just something about 'Time of Year' that makes me giggle each time I see it. It's sparkling with great humor (thanks largely to Henry Winkler) and I like the cast for once (sometimes SOMEONE is miscast in these TV films). Every Christmas, we re-watch the new-to-DVD Hallmark Channel movies as well as those that are "old" favorites and this is always on the list. :)

  • […] year I shared some reviews on a handful of Christmas movies complied into one post with a “short and sweet” review format. […]

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