This movie review was written before July 14th
For the Christmas in July Blogathon from Drew’s Movie Reviews, I knew that I wanted to review a Hallmark Christmas movie. However, I was originally going to talk about Hallmark Hall of Fame’s A Heavenly Christmas. Because I forgot to record that movie and because I have a lot of movies stored on my DVR, I chose to review Christmas Camp instead. This is the latest Christmas movie from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Having a new Christmas film air in July is not a new concept, as this has been done on both of Hallmark’s channels in the past. What makes this film sound interesting is the idea of a Christmas-themed camp. This idea has never been featured in a Hallmark movie before, so I wanted to see how it would be executed in the story. Did this movie make me a “happy camper”? Take a sleigh ride through this review of Christmas Camp to find out!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: I was not familiar with Lily Anne Harrison’s acting abilities before watching Christmas Camp. In fact, this was the first Hallmark movie that Lily had ever starred in. Despite this, she did a good job with the acting material she was given! Because of her performance, her character, Haley, came across as a very pleasant individual. Another character that was a pleasant person was Jeff. Bobby Campo also did a good job at bringing this character to life, providing the charm and likability that made his performance enjoyable. The rest of the cast was talented! They complimented one another’s acting abilities and shined on their own merits!
The cinematography: For some of the scenes involving natural landscapes, the cinematography was really good! Anytime a snowy forest was featured in the movie, it looked beautiful on-screen. What stood out to me was a shot of a sunset behind a snowy forest. This was captured very well on film! There was other good cinematography inside the Christmas Camp. In one instance, a close-up of a gorgeous Christmas tree was shown before a scene began. This was a great way to showcase some of the facility’s Christmas decorations!
What I didn’t like about the film:
A pointless plot: The premise of this movie is a businesswoman being sent to Christmas Camp in order to find inspiration for an upcoming business project. But within the first ten minutes of the film, Haley’s boss gives the coveted business project to another employee. This made me wonder why she would entertain the idea of giving Haley the project if she already gave it to someone else? During her time at Christmas Camp, Haley discovers her idea for the aforementioned business project. This idea was found at the local community center, not at the Christmas Camp. It made me ask why she was forced to go to the Camp when she was able to find inspiration elsewhere?
A hypocritical message: The overarching message of Christmas Camp was to uphold Christmas traditions. However, this message ended up coming across as hypocritical. Earlier in the film, Haley shares that her Christmas tradition is taking a family vacation to the Caribbean and watching Christmas movies in the hotel room. Her boss thinks that she needs an “attitude adjustment” because her traditions aren’t “traditional”. Throughout the film, Haley is guilted into changing her Christmas traditions to align more with those of the Camp. Another guest of the Camp shared that one of his Christmas traditions was opening presents on Christmas Eve, due to his father being a professional basketball coach. Shortly after sharing this, the guest’s wife is critical about this particular tradition. Everyone has their own unique and special way of celebrating Christmas. So, for this story to look down on that is very frustrating.
Christmas Camp as an afterthought: The idea of a Christmas-themed camp is something that has never been shown in a Hallmark movie before. Because of this, I was curious to see how this concept would be incorporated into the story. Unfortunately, the Camp itself was treated as an afterthought. The activities associated with Christmas Camp seemed so interesting. Yet, most of these activities were barely shown in the film. One example is when the campers are required to pick out a Christmas tree and decorate it. However, the only person the audience sees doing this activity is Haley. Also, for a place called Christmas Camp, Haley’s bedroom was poorly decorated. It barely featured any Christmas decorations, which made the room look less than festive.
My overall impression:
After watching this movie, I’m starting to understand why Hallmark Movies & Mysteries aired Christmas Camp in July and not during their “Miracles of Christmas” line-up. This film had so much potential to do something different from other Christmas movies on the network. There was also potential to share a message that would have been relatable. Unfortunately, all of this potential was not taken advantage of by Christmas Camp’s creative team. Instead, I ended up getting the worst Hallmark movie I’ve seen this year, so far. I’m hoping that during Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ “Miracles of Christmas” line-up and Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” line-up, movies as disappointing as Christmas Camp will be a rarity.
Before I end this review, I would like to add a name to the invitation list for Drew’s Christmas Party. The actress that I would like to see get invited to Drew’s Christmas party is Karina Arroyave. I’ve seen several of her acting work in various television shows and movies, including two Hallmark Hall of Fame films (Blind Spot from 1993 and Missing Pieces from 2000). I think she’s a very talented actress. But, at the same time, she is also very underrated. By suggesting Karina’s name for Drew’s invitation list, I’m hoping that she can, sooner or later, receive the recognition she deserves!
Overall score: 5.1 out of 10
Have you seen Christmas Camp? Do like watching Christmas movies in July? Leave your thoughts in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!