December 25th was a special day for Hearties: it was Christmas as well as the premiere of When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing! Hearties were given the opportunity to not only partake in the festivities of the season, but also to celebrate the arrival of When Calls the Heart’s next chapter. Even though I was looking forward to this film, my expectations for it were low. When I first learned about the film’s synopsis, it sounded like Cody and Becky’s story from When Calls the Heart: New Year’s Wish was being rehashed to a certain extent. Earlier this month, in a Word on the Street post, I shared my thoughts about the trailer for When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing. At best, it was just fine, not heightening my expectations for the film. However, I still wanted to watch the movie, especially since I am a fan of the show. Because I also re-cap When Calls the Heart in my “Sunset Over Hope Valley” series, reviewing this movie would keep up with 18 Cinema Lane’s continuity. Thank you for joining me for this review, as you’re about to discover my thoughts on When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: One of the best components of When Calls the Heart has always been the strength of the cast! Just like on the show, the cast in When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing was one of the strongest parts of the film! Everyone in this cast portrayed their specific character very well, providing enough natural emotions and reactions to bring a sense of believability to their particular role. A pleasant surprise within this movie was Morgan Kohan and Jocelyn Hudon’s performance! While I’ve never seen any of Morgan’s acting performances before, I remember watching Jocelyn’s performances in The Christmas Cure and Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Love Locks. Their portrayals of Grace and Lillian were so believable, it felt like their characters had a good familial bond.
The humor: More often than not, Hallmark has done a pretty good job at incorporating humor into their films. In When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing, all of the humor felt good-natured and genuine. One of the funniest scenes in this movie was when Bill and Abigail were taste-testing the figgy pudding that he had made. Because Lori and Jack provided reactions that seemed very natural for that particular situation, it made the scene that much funnier. Another funny scene was when Bill accidently counted Robert while he was trying to figure out how many orphans arrived in Hope Valley. Similar to what I said about Lori and Jack, Jaiven’s reaction was so genuine that it helped that scene to be humorous in a good-natured way.
The character interactions: As I have already mentioned, one of the strongest parts of this movie was the cast! What is wonderful about this cast is witnessing how strong the on-screen chemistry is amongst the characters. Seeing the various characters interact with one another was a very great highlight of When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing. Like I’ve said before, Morgan and Jocelyn both pulled off such a believable performance, the familial bond that they portrayed felt very real. This is also the case when it comes to the connections between the other characters. What helps is the film’s cast is also the cast on the show, having those relationships already established in previous stories.
What I didn’t like about the film:
A two-hour commercial for “When Hope Calls”: When I talked about the trailer for When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing, I mentioned that the main plot of the movie was how a group of orphans are stranded in Hope Valley during Christmas-time. While I thought this plot was the best one in the movie, I feel it should have been a subplot. During the commercials in-between this film, it was revealed that the main plot of When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing would serve as the premise for the new show on Hallmark Movies Now, “When Hope Calls”. It was also revealed that “When Hope Calls” would premiere on Hallmark’s streaming service next summer. Going back to why I think the main plot from When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing should have been a subplot, it doesn’t seem like any aspect of this main plot will be transferred over to When Calls the Heart’s sixth season. Also, because the story for “When Hope Calls” was introduced about six to eight months before its premiere, the creative team behind When Calls the Heart/ “When Hope Calls” could run the risk of making any hype for this new show quickly disappear before it has a chance to receive any amount of anticipation from a potential audience. Because of how much attention this main plot received, it felt like the characters from When Calls the Heart were placed on the side-lines. I, honestly, think that the creative team behind this movie should have waited to introduce “When Hope Calls” in a two-part episode on When Calls the Heart.
The subplots: Like I previously mentioned, the best plot in When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing was the one involving the orphans and their care-givers. However, I found all of the subplots to be weak and uninteresting. For example, throughout the movie, Jesse and his friends are trying to find a suit so Jesse can take Clara to a special performance of The Nutcracker. This subplot feels like a step backward compared with the subplot Jesse was given in When Calls the Heart: The Christmas Wishing Tree. Even his subplot in the ninth episode of the fifth season was stronger than his subplot in this film. To me, these subplots lacked depth and intrigue, causing me to not feel invested in any of these stories.
Tom Thornton’s absence: In my season finale post from the “Sunset Over Hope Valley” series, I said that Tom’s incorporation into When Calls the Heart’s Christmas movie would make up for Tom’s absence in the season finale of the show. Unfortunately, not only was Tom nowhere to be found, but he was never referenced in any part of the movie. Of course, I was disappointed by this. I think he could have been given a really well-written story arc where he has to deal with becoming an uncle and spending his first Christmas without his brother. This story arc could have shown the two different sides of Christmas: the joyous side and the emotional side. Because this was Hope Valley’s first Christmas without Jack, but there were also good things to acknowledge about the Christmas season, Tom’s story arc could have shown a nice balance between these two ideas.
My overall impression:
While I thought that When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing was a good film, I honestly thought it could have been better. If I had the choice, I would choose last year’s Christmas movie, When Calls the Heart: The Christmas Wishing Tree, over this one. This is because all of the plots in last year’s film were stronger and equally well-told. The screen-writing was the biggest flaw of this year’s movie, causing me to lower my expectations for When Calls the Heart’s sixth season. Even though I’m still looking forward to this show’s return, I have my concerns about the overall story for the upcoming season. During the commercials in-between When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing, there was an advertisement for the new season. The biggest plot-point in this trailer was how Hope Valley will be receiving a telephone. While there could be an interesting story associated with this idea, the commercial didn’t give me a reason to get excited about a telephone coming to Hope Valley. However, in this same commercial, it was mentioned that Clara and Jesse are planning on building a barn. This part of the advertisement excited me the most, as this detail left me with several unanswered questions. Hopefully, When Calls the Heart’s next season can be filled with more intriguing stories. This show, in my opinion, has a pretty good track record when it comes to story-telling, so I will be optimistic about what’s to come for this show.
Overall score: 7.8 out of 10
Are you looking forward to When Calls the Heart’s sixth season? What is your favorite When Calls the Heart Christmas movie? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!