Once Upon a Holiday (2015) – A Romantic Fairytale

November 25, 2015 9 Comments

Looking back on my favorite Hallmark “Countdown to Christmas” originals, I am beginning to mentally sketch out a pattern. Any productions that have some kind of fairy tale connotation seem to land in favored spots. Such is the case with tonight’s all-new premiere. Trust me you’ll want to kick off your Thanksgiving vacation early with this cute story.

Once Upon a Holiday

Once Upon a Holiday (2015) Hallmark Original Review

Life is a series of responsible acts and proper etiquette for Katie (Briana Evigan). There is good reason for that, the reason being Katie isn’t an ordinary young woman; she’s actually a princess. The ruling monarch of a small kingdom, Katie is currently in the U.S. for a series of obligatory press appearances. But all she can think about is the Christmas trips she took with her mother. Her sense of nostalgia is too alluring to keep her to her aunt’s strict schedule. This inspires Katie to sneak away from her entourage – security, lawyer and her overbearing Aunt Margaret, for a few hours exploring the city through the lens of her camera.

TV FILM REVIEW | A Princess for Christmas (2011) – A Contemporary Fairytale with Sam Heughan

Through a meeting of chance, she makes the acquaintance of Jack (Paul Campbell). A contractor and business man with a heart of gold… Jack’s also had that kind-hearted heart broken. Meeting Katie gives Jack a sense that she might be hiding something, but from what he doesn’t know. All he does know is spending time with her feels right…

Imitating an enchanting Prince and Me concept, this is definitely one of the TV productions you’ll want to set a reminder for. It’s as lovely as its title suggests and then some. The satisfying romance and engaging chemistry between its stars makes for an entertaining two hours. Seeing familiar faces on both of the primary actors is fun. Briana I’ve seen in one of the Step Up films (yes, I admit, this franchise is one of my guilty pleasures!) and Paul you may remember from Hallmark’s Window Wonderland. Suffice to say, I love these two together. Also entertaining is Jack’s sister who earns a cute subplot that ends with the viewer happy she finally realizes someone in her life isn’t good for her.

It’s rare that one of these films fully extends into something that can sell itself as being a “complete” ending. Somehow this one manages it. Sure there might be some questions lingering or perhaps we’d have hoped to see the story carry on, but the final scene is too fulfilling (and romantic) to gripe. Another fortunate positive is the script. It steers clear of grappling with a dramatic “break up” period that flails into hysterical dramatics which is nice considering the trope of a couple breaking up when a secret is outed is overused, especially in this genre.

Making Once Upon a Holiday a must on this, the eve of Thanksgiving, should be how you end your pre-thanksgiving busyness. Between the charm that is predominately anchored in a fairy tale world (all without overwhelming backdrops of castles or use of magic), there is also a story with purpose and the trademark romance we love from these productions. With over half of the 2015 premieres past us, this is one of – if not the favorite, my favorites. It has everything a Christmas movie should and needs to impose not to mention the fairy tale connections don’t hurt its already satisfying story. It’s a keeper in my repertoire of holiday films. ♥

You can rent or own Once Upon a Holiday on DVD or Amazon Video
Photos: Hallmark

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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  • Livia Rachelle November 26, 2015 at 4:54 AM

    Oh, how the girls in our family love Hallmark. We just watched Merry Matrimony and this movie tonight. I thought this one pretty cute (I like the actor; we love him in Winter Wonderland).

    I do not think any of the new ones yet will be in my particular "hall of fame." I am excited for the rest of the new movies this week!

    • Rissi November 27, 2015 at 11:36 PM

      I'm with your family, Livia. :) All of their movies are SOOO cute even though I do have my favorites.

      I missed Merry Matrimony but that's okay. I'll look for it next year, and I'm glad you enjoyed this one too!

      I've had some new favorites from this year, but some I'd 100% agree with you; they were cute but not favorites. :)

      Thanks so much for visiting.

  • Kara November 28, 2015 at 7:11 PM

    Clearly I need to try and watch this one soon! Certainly sounds cute. And if it doesn't have the obligatory "break up over secrets outed" all the better! :)

    • Rissi November 30, 2015 at 6:19 PM

      Right!? That is one plot twist that drives me nuts – the whole I'm-mad-at-you-and-we're-DONE thing wears thin. This one didn't have that feel even though Katie does have a secret. :) Let me know what you think if/when you catch it, Kara. :)

  • Anonymous December 1, 2015 at 2:10 AM

    Thanks for another great review Rissi! I just watched this movie, and thought it awash in Christmas magic myself, but thankfully not in an overly cloying or clichéd way. I greatly enjoyed getting to know these relatable characters and watching their stories unfold, something which was helped by a script which was both realistic and on point.

    I also think I've just found another hero to add to my ever-growing list of fictional guys I have a crush on; I loved Jack’s personality and interactions with pretty much everyone, and the way they portrayed his relationship with his sister, her boyfriend, and Harry and his wife was endlessly amusing. I agree that the resolution to his sister’s sub-plot was very satisfying, and I also appreciated how they chose to handle the big reveal in an unexpectedly understated but still emotionally impacting way. The ending quite a sweet way to finish while still being open-ended enough to stimulate the imagination on exactly how this relationship will work in the future, this movie has definitely become one of my favourite Hallmark offerings!

    Oh, I also watched Merry Matrimony, and I would absolutely recommend you try and watch it at some point; I don’t usually enjoy the premise it’s based on, but the chemistry between the two leads is VERY good.

    God Bless
    Eleanor Rose

    • Rissi December 22, 2015 at 10:03 PM

      Hi, Eleanor! Apologies for never replying to this comment; how I missed your insightful comment, I'll never know.

      Anyway… thank you for the kind words. As always, I enjoy reviewing these and like you say, this one was certainly awash in Christmas magic which (for me) is ideal movie-watching this time of year. :)

      YES! The whole boyfriend plot was really cute! Made me glad to see the sister realize what a goofball the boyfriend was in the end. ;) The fact that there wasn't a big breakup or accusation at the end of this one made me happy. In fact this entire movie did! I'm hoping Hallmark will continue these contemporary fairy tales because they're darling. My favorite is (still) A Princess for Christmas but this one came a very close second.

      Ooo, thanks for sharing about Merry Matrimony. I missed that one in reviewing though will hopefully find it on DVD next year. It looked SO cute and I did really want to check it out. Glad to know the chemistry was good – that excuses most any minor flaws. :)

  • Ash November 11, 2018 at 8:11 AM

    Who sings “silent night” playing in the background when Jack works at night?

    • Rissi JC November 11, 2018 at 12:54 PM

      Sorry! I don’t know. But on the DVD, if you let the credits play through, there should be a section in the credits that tells the song titles and who sings them. Hope this helps! :)

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