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 (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.
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. ♥