Because of several blog related projects, I haven’t gotten around to reviewing any of the Christmas movies. But now that I’ve completed those projects, I can finally start talking about some of these films! Since I didn’t review A Veteran’s Christmas last year, I thought I’d make up for that by reviewing Holiday for Heroes. I love Operation Christmas, a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film that premiered in 2016. But since then, I’ve felt that the military related Christmas movies from Hallmark’s second network haven’t been as good as the aforementioned film. While I liked Home for Christmas Day, it was released during Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ “Christmas in July” marathon. When Holiday for Heroes was first announced, I had to lower my expectations in order not to become disappointed. It also didn’t help that the story reminded me of The Christmas Card, a movie that I found to be just ok. But I hoped for the best as I gave this movie a fair chance. Was I pleasantly surprised or was the film as expected? It’s time to report for duty and read this review!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: I’ve seen all of Marc Blucas’ Hallmark films. In these movies, Marc has always taken his roles seriously and presented the best of his acting abilities. This was no different in Holiday for Heroes, as Marc brought his character to life with believability and charm. While this is the second time where Marc has portrayed a member of the military, his performance was different in Holiday for Heroes. Marc’s character, Matt, was more light-hearted. He also had a more playful and fun personality. This was Melissa Claire Egan’s first Hallmark movie. Despite this, she did a great job portraying her character, Audrey. Her performance was very expressive, allowing the audience to witness the well-roundedness of her acting abilities. It was also emotional at dramatic moments, making those scenes effective. Both Marc and Melissa worked well with all of their co-stars, helping this cast become strong as a whole.
The on-screen chemistry: As soon as Audrey and Matt met in person for the first time, I knew that Marc and Melissa were going to have good on-screen chemistry! Throughout the film, the audience got to watch their relationship grow over the course of the Christmas season. Even though their reunion was inevitable, because that’s how Hallmark movies work, I liked seeing everything work in their favor. It was a joy to see Melissa and Marc come together to make this on-screen relationship a reality. Because their acting styles were similar, it allowed their characters to adopt similar personalities from one another. Out of all the Christmas movies I’ve seen this year, so far, this is one of the best on-screen pairs of 2019’s Christmas season!
A sense of reality: In my review of The Christmas Card, I said that the unrealistic nature of the titular card was one of the things I didn’t like about that film. This aspect of that story asked me to suspend my belief more than I wanted to. In Holiday for Heroes, the letter writing that took place between Audrey and Matt felt realistic. Because Audrey’s brother happened to be in the same division of the Army as Matt, their acknowledgement of one another makes sense. This movie featured other elements that also seemed realistic. One example is when Audrey and her friend, Jade, found out that their family members in the military would not be coming home for Christmas. When they both received the phone call, the look on their faces and the tone of the voices say everything that the audience needs to know. This was the result of good acting and good screenwriting.
A good level of sincerity: When it comes to Hallmark Christmas movies, there are some that try too hard to be sincere. For Holiday for Heroes, the sincerity in the story felt genuine. What worked in this movie’s favor was how the primary focus was placed on, simply, telling a good story. It also put emphasis on finding the right people to help tell this story, both in front of and behind the camera. The overall project gave me, as an audience member, the impression that the creative team’s heart was always in the right place. By watching the film, I could tell that there was a lot of care and effort that was put into it. These are the things that, I think, not only make a great Christmas movie, but also a great movie in general.
What I didn’t like about the film:
The “red herring” love interest: In some Hallmark films, there will be a “red herring” love interest placed in the story in an attempt to trick the audience into thinking the protagonist won’t fall in love with the other protagonist. In the case of Holiday for Heroes, this role was given to a character named Luke, who was portrayed by William Rubio. While the character himself was fine, I don’t think Luke needed to be a love interest. Because Hallmark movies almost always have the male and female protagonist fall in love, the idea of featuring any “red herring” love interest just doesn’t feel necessary. This creative tactic might be effective for audience members who don’t watch a lot of Hallmark projects. But for people, like myself, who consume a lot of Hallmark content, this could insult their intelligence.
The “it’s not what you think” cliché: In my list of The Top 10 Worst Clichés from Hallmark Movies, I talked about how the “it’s not what you think” cliché is hit or miss. This cliché’s inclusion in Holiday for Heroes was not needed. In the movie, Matt was led to believe that Audrey and Luke were falling in love based on their interactions he witnessed. Because of this, Matt automatically made assumptions instead of immediately addressing his issues. As I already said, Luke was the “red herring” love interest and most Hallmark movies feature the male and female protagonist falling in love. This makes me believe that Holiday for Heroes would have better off without this cliché.
My overall impression:
Holiday for Heroes was a genuinely good film! Instead of reminding me of The Christmas Card, the movie reminded me of Operation Christmas more than I expected! What is great about this film is how it doesn’t rehash the story of the 2016 project. Holiday for Heroes tells a story that happens to share some of the same themes. There were several components that worked in this movie’s favor, from the acting to the film’s sincerity. These things added to my enjoyment of the movie! Even though we’re not half-way through the Christmas season yet, Holiday for Heroes is my favorite Christmas movie from 2019, so far! It was heart-warming without trying too hard to be and I think it’s a good movie for both Hallmark fans and casual viewers of Hallmark.
Overall score: 8.6 out of 10
What are your thoughts on Hallmark’s Christmas line-ups this year, so far? Which movie has been your favorite? Please tell me in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!