Take 3: Holly and Ivy Review

For the third year in a row, I am participating in the Christmas in July Blogathon, hosted by Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews! This time around, I went back to the Hallmark well. When I first joined the blogathon, I reviewed a Hallmark film titled Christmas Camp. If you read that article, you would know that I wasn’t a fan of it. Last year, I wrote about Little House: Bless All the Dear Children, a film that was a fine, family-friendly picture. Since I still had the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries movie, Holly and Ivy, on my DVR, I chose to review this title for the 2021 blogathon. In 2020, I didn’t see a lot of Christmas films from Hallmark. In fact, the only newer release I watched and/or wrote about was The Christmas Bow. Within a year, I have heard good things about Holly and Ivy, with my family sharing similar sentiments. Therefore, I figured it was time to finally check the movie out. How does it compare to The Christmas Bow? Like a child counting down to Christmas Day, you’re just going to have to wait to find out!

Holly and Ivy poster created by Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and Crown Media Family Networks

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: If the interactions between the characters feel like they are having real-life conversations with each other, that’s how you know the acting in a given film is good. That was certainly the case within Holly and Ivy! All of the characters got along well with one another, as they had good on-screen chemistry. It also helps that the cast as a whole was talented! I’ll be honest, I have never seen any of Janel Parrish’s projects from her filmography. However, I did see her on Dancing with the Stars. The way Janel’s character reacts to various situations came across very naturally. While Melody and her neighbor, Nina, are decorating Melody’s Christmas tree, she shares her reason for collecting elf ornaments. The tone of Melody’s voice and the look in her eyes highlights how reminiscent she is over something as small and simple as ornaments. These acting techniques helped make Janel’s performance feel believable. While we’re on the subject of Nina, let’s talk about Marisol Nichols’ performance. While portraying this character, Marisol embodied what a good mother should be. Despite dealing with her own medical issues, she always tries to take an active role in her daughters’ lives. While decorating her family’s Christmas tree, Nina reveals a special tradition that involves Nina performing a dance routine with Holly and Ivy. This scene shows how much she enjoys the life she has created for herself. While I like the performances of Sadie Coleman and Piper Rubio, the actresses who portrayed the titular characters, I want to talk about Jeremy Jordan’s performance. Similar to Janel Parrish, I am not familiar with Jeremy’s filmography. However, I still liked seeing his portrayal of Adam. His on-screen personality was easy-going and care-free. While he took his profession and hobby seriously, Adam just wanted to have a good time. When he interacted with Melody, you could tell just by watching them that these characters were made for each other. It helped that both Adam and Melody had similar personalities, but were traveling on similar paths in regards to their respective careers.

The presentation of Christmas tropes/activities: Hallmark is known for featuring a plethora of Christmas related tropes and activities within each story. But sometimes, these films are oversaturated with them, as if there is a checklist that needs to be completed. Holly and Ivy shows some Christmas related activities that have been featured in other Hallmark films. It’s the way they are included in the story that sets Holly and Ivy apart from the network’s other titles. In one scene, Melody is decorating homemade Christmas ornaments with Holly and Ivy. The purpose of showing these characters creating Christmas decorations is to give the audience some of Melody’s backstory. That small piece of information was emphasized more than the activity. This scene is an example of how there was enough presentation of Christmas tropes and activities for the viewer to get the intended point. At the same time, if you were to put this same story around any other holiday, it would still work.

An emotional balance: In films that revolve around a serious, real world topic, such as a potentially terminally ill relative, the overall tone tends to be heavy. There are times when viewers warn one another to “have a box of tissues at hand” or share that the film will “pull at your heartstrings”. While there are somber moments in Holly and Ivy, the movie itself never felt sad. In fact, feelings of sorrow and despair never crossed my mind. That’s because the script doesn’t rely too heavily on the sadder parts of the story. Instead, the creative team strives for a balance by also focusing of happier, more joyous moments. As I mentioned earlier in this review, Nina is dealing with medical issues. Even though these issues are discussed and an emergency plan is created if the worst-case scenario happens, Nina puts her energy toward helping Melody and being present in her daughters’ lives. In fact, I can think of more scenes where Nina is enjoying the company of her friends and family than worrying about her medical situation.

The 2021 Christmas in July Blogathon banner created by Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews

What I didn’t like about the film:

Adam’s conflict: It’s typical for the male and female protagonist to have their own conflicts within a Hallmark picture. However, I didn’t like Adam’s conflict in Holly and Ivy. Throughout the film, Adam’s parents wanted him to come work at the family car dealership. But Adam would rather stay a contractor and focus on his woodworking hobby on the side. This conflict reminded me of a young, college-bound adult not seeing eye-to-eye with their parents on a potential degree. Because of this, it felt a bit immature for a character that appears to be in his early 30s. One of the film’s messages and Adam’s parents’ mantra is “help where help is needed’. By being a contractor and taking up woodworking, Adam is doing exactly what his parents wanted; helping where help is needed. It baffled me how his parents failed to realize this until the end of the film.

 Chippewa Falls Library being unbelievably ill-equipped: I understand that some libraries deal with more challenges than others. But based on what the movie presented, the town of Chippewa Falls appeared to be doing just fine. There’s no evidence of the town being a predominantly low-income community or having a high crime-rate. What the characters said about the library’s issues didn’t match up with the visuals. During her time volunteering at the library, Melody comes up with several ideas in order to solve some of the library’s problems. Two of these ideas are renting out meeting rooms for events and setting up a “Mitten Tree” to collect hats and scarves for citizens in need. I can only speak from my own experience, but my local library already does these things. With that said, I find it hard to believe that the Chippewa Falls Library wouldn’t utilize these resources already.

The inclusion of Betty the dog: Holly and Ivy have a dog named Betty, who periodically appears in the film. While I don’t have anything against the dog itself, I don’t think it was necessary to include a dog in this story. Having Betty in the movie felt like she was there just for the sake of being there. If you had written the dog out of the script, I don’t think it would make a difference.

Christmas family image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/nice-family-christmas-scene-singing-together_1458033.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Like I mentioned in the introduction, this is my third year participating in the Christmas in July Blogathon. Out of the three movies I’ve reviewed, Holly and Ivy is, by far, the best one! Within the past few years, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries has, in my opinion, made stronger films than their companion, Hallmark Channel. This is because Hallmark’s second network appears to try different things when it comes to storytelling. Holly and Ivy is a good example of this, as I highlighted in my review. There wasn’t a heavy emphasis on Christmas tropes/activities like in other Hallmark films. Creating a balance between the happier and sadder moments of the story also helps shape the film’s identity. I ended up liking this movie almost as much as I liked The Christmas Bow. Come to think of it, I wish Holly and Ivy was the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie for 2020. This story certainly has the ingredients for that to have been a reality. But I guess that wasn’t meant to be.

Since we’re still talking about Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, it’s time for me to share who I’d invite to Drew’s Christmas party! This year, I chose John Christian Plummer! For those who are not familiar with him, John is the father of Charlie Plummer and is one of the screen-writers of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ Mystery 101 series. When I look back on the celebrities that have been “invited” to Drew’s Christmas party in the past, actors and actresses made up the majority of the guests. While choosing an actor or actress as a guest is totally fine, I wanted to change things up a bit. To an extent, screen-writers are underrated, especially from Hallmark. Therefore, my invitation will, hopefully, give recognition to at least one of them. Like in 2019 and 2020, my invites are about giving “standing ovations”.

Overall score: 7.7 out of 10

What are your thoughts on Holly and Ivy? Which Hallmark movies do you wish had become Hallmark Hall of Fame titles? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at Drew’s Christmas party!

Sally Silverscreen

Hallmark’s Top 10 Missteps From the 2010s That Should Not Be Repeated

When I published my review for Teenage Rebel last December, it became my 225th movie review! Since then, I’ve been thinking about what kind of article I should write in honor of this milestone. A few days ago, I saw a video on Youtube titled ‘Top 6 AG Trends that need to *GO* this Decade’. This video focused on how American Girl could correct their mistakes from the 2010s. Created by pinksmartiesag, it inspired me to think about the ways Hallmark can improve in the 2020s. Like any company, Hallmark is not perfect.  There are areas where they can grow and find success. During the first year of the 2020s, I have seen Hallmark’s mistakes from the past decade seep into 2020. In this list, I will talk about the missteps that Hallmark should leave behind in the 2010s to have a chance to make better choices in this new decade. Similar to the list-articles I’ve written in the past, everything I talk about is based on my opinion of the things I have noticed as a fan and consumer. The list is meant to be critical in a constructive way, not mean-spirited or negative. When I refer to Hallmark in this article, I am focusing on the entertainment division of Hallmark; which consists of the Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and Hallmark Drama.

Image of 2010 and 2020 on chart created by Macrovector at freepik.com. Infographic vector created by macrovector – www.freepik.com
1. Hallmark Channel’s Over-Reliance on the Romantic Comedy (Rom-Com) Genre

In the 2010s, when Rom-Coms made less appearances in the cinema than in previous decades, Hallmark made it their mission to save this genre from extinction. While Hallmark attempted to preserve Rom-Coms, they ended up putting almost all their eggs in one basket. Now, every movie on Hallmark Channel is a Rom-Com, telling the same types of stories over and over again. This decision has caused the films on this network to feel repetitive and predictable. When you look at a typical poster for a Hallmark Channel movie, you already know how the story will play out. Lately, I’ve been watching and reviewing past Hallmark films, which have much more interesting stories. It feels like those were the days when Hallmark would embrace originality and not shy away from taking creative risks. I would like to see Hallmark experiment with different genres and tell a variety of stories in the 2020s. Creativity and imagination should be the rule moving forward!

2. Continually Using the Same Tropes and Clichés

Because Hallmark Channel has focused on the Rom-Com genre, there are several genre related tropes and clichés that are continually used throughout Hallmark’s film library. In my list of The Top 10 Worst Clichés from Hallmark Movies, I talk about some clichés that have run their course. How many times can you tell a story where a woman from a big city goes back to her small hometown before you call it quits? The constant inclusion of these tropes and clichés cause a given film to be more predictable. Even though some creative teams have approached these story-telling concepts in new and interesting ways, it feels like that has been the exception to the rule. It’s time for Hallmark to either put a new twist on these clichés and tropes or abandon them altogether.

3. The Hypocrisy

Ever since 2019, I have noticed Hallmark’s blatant hypocrisy when it comes to certain areas of their entertainment division. For this point, I’ll provide two examples. In my editorial, When Hallmark Made Their Fans Really Upset, I wrote about how, in 2019, Hallmark advertised they would be airing a new movie every Saturday night for an entire year on Hallmark Channel. However, that statement turned into a broken promise, as there were some Saturdays where no new movies premiered. I also said in that editorial how Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries kept their promises to air a Christmas movie every Thursday and Friday night in correlation with the 10th Anniversary of Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” line-up. When it comes to subjects that Hallmark cares about, like Christmas, that becomes one of their top priorities. For everything else, it falls to the wayside.

While promoting Hallmark’s Christmas line-ups last year, George Zaralidis, Hallmark’s network program publicity vice president, claimed that “diversity and inclusion is a top priority for us”. But there are times when these words sound empty. The upcoming Hallmark Channel movie, Fit for a Prince, is a perfect example. Based on promotional material directly from the network’s website, we can see this is the same type of “royal” movie, starring the same types of actors in the same types of roles. Remind me how this is diverse? When it comes to story-telling, diversity is more than just a character’s appearance. It’s also about the perspectives, beliefs, and journeys those characters bring to the overall story. In my award post, The Sunshine Blogger Award and The Blogger Recognition Award: Two Awards for the Price of One, I said that I wanted to see Bai Ling join the main cast of When Calls the Heart as Hope Valley’s first female Mountie. One of the reasons why I want this is because it would be a beautiful opportunity for Hallmark to put their money where their mouth is. If diversity is that important to them, then they will take no issue in casting Bai on Hallmark Channel’s most popular scripted show.

4. Hallmark Making Promises They Know They Can’t Keep

As I just mentioned in point number three, Hallmark broke their promise to air a new movie every Saturday night for an entire year on Hallmark Channel. But that wasn’t the only promise the company broke in 2019. In my aforementioned editorial, When Hallmark Made Their Fans Really Upset, I talk about several films that were mysteriously removed from Hallmark Channel’s and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ schedules after being promoted for weeks or months. If Hallmark had any thoughts about moving films out of their respective premiere dates, why would they spend so much time promoting them and setting dates? In the seventh season of When Calls the Heart, Clara and Jesse had entertained the idea of having an outdoor wedding. But when the wedding arrived, their ceremony ended up taking place indoors. According to Kami, from Hallmarkies Podcast, that episode was filmed in November. This begs the question; if the creative team behind the show knew it would be too cold to film any outdoor events, why would they mention the idea of an outdoor wedding in the first place? In the 2020s, it would be nice to see Hallmark stick to their word more often. Broken promises lead to broken trust with the viewers, which is not good for any business.

5. An Adoption Ever After Segment During the Seasonal Line-Up Preview Specials

When Larissa Wohl first joined Alison Sweeney in 2019’s “Valentine’s Day & Adoption Ever After Preview Special”, the program was used to not only promote Hallmark Channel’s Valentine themed movies, but also that year’s Cat Bowl, Kitten Bowl, and American Rescue Dog Show. At the time, the cross-promotion made sense. But as Larissa kept appearing in Hallmark’s other seasonal line-up preview specials, as well as the Crossword Mysteries & Friends Preview Special, she ended up overstaying her welcome. Instead of promoting a worthy cause, it felt like she was interrupting the regularly scheduled program to host an infomercial about homeless pets. Most people can get behind the idea of raising awareness for shelter animals. However, using the same tactics over and over again gets repetitive and runs the risk of turning away potential supporters.  I don’t know if Hallmark has any plans to air preview specials for the various seasonal line-ups in the 2020s. If they do, I hope they think twice before adding the Adoption Ever After segments to the specials.

Heart shaped balloons image created by Katemangostar at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by katemangostar – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.
6. Hallmark’s Excessive Obsession with Christmas

Hallmark loves Christmas; I get it. But is it really necessary for them to do the following?

  • Airing both Christmas line-ups for almost three months
  • Showing Christmas movies on three networks throughout the year
  • Creating over twenty movies between two channels
  • Devoting an entire month to Christmas in July

In my opinion, the answer is absolutely not, as there is a fine line between loving something and going overboard. Because of Hallmark’s excessive obsession with the holiday, they are actually doing more harm than good to their line-ups. In 2019 and 2020, the “Countdown to Christmas” and “Miracles of Christmas” line-ups received less viewership than in years prior. Hallmark’s decision to make more Christmas movies year after year prevents their films from becoming beloved classics. Movies like The Christmas Card, A Boyfriend for Christmas, and The Nine Lives of Christmas were able to achieve long term success because they premiered in years where Christmas line-ups were smaller, allowing these projects to stand out. As I’ve said before on 18 Cinema Lane, Hallmark needs to pull back the reigns on their approach to Christmas. Give Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries ten movies each, as it would challenge each creative team to create something new and unexpected. Save Christmas films for a week in July and for a month and a half toward the end of the year. Once upon a time, Hallmark’s Christmas line-ups were anticipated events. Now, it has become run of the mill and one of the only things Hallmark cares about.

7. Movie Premiere Twitter Parties

For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, Twitter parties take place for the premiere of new Hallmark programs and movies. Let’s use the upcoming movie Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: How to Con a Con as an example. Before the film appears on television for the first time, someone directly connected with the project, either the director, producer, or stars, will encourage viewers to send tweets during the movie. There may even be pop up advertisements for the Twitter party while other films or shows are on T.V. When Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: How to Con a Con airs on March 14th, viewers can tweet about their thoughts on the film, share their theories with other viewers, and have brief conversations with the stars. Personally, I never participated in these Twitter parties because I wanted to give my undivided attention to the film I was watching. The tweets from the Twitter parties are laced with spoilers, which means I have to avoid Twitter after a new movie or television show episode has premiered. From what I remember, Bill Abbott was a big advocate for this kind of interaction with the customers. But in 2020, Bill stepped down as President of Hallmark’s entertainment division. Also, Twitter isn’t as popular of a social media platform as it was five or ten years ago. With all these factors, it makes me wonder why Hallmark would still promote Twitter parties?

8. Giving Movies Unnecessary Hype

I haven’t seen this happen often on Hallmark networks. However, I have seen it happen enough to know that Hallmark needs to discontinue the practice. The two examples I’ll use for this point are 2014’s Northpole and 2019’s Bottled with Love. Before Northpole premiered, it seemed like news about the film was inescapable. Commercials would air constantly, reminding viewers of what they already knew. Even products directly associated with the film, like the North Pole Communicator, were sold at Hallmark stores. Even though the film received a large viewership number and a sequel, the movie has become forgotten. As the years go on, it is rarely featured in Hallmark’s Christmas schedules. As I mentioned in my review for Bottled with Love, Hallmark chose to overhype this film by proclaiming it was “the best movie you’ll see all year”. But when the movie premiered, it was only a “flash in the pan”. Its viewership numbers were fine, but nothing spectacular. I shared the same thoughts on the film itself. What Northpole and Bottled with Love have in common is how Hallmark overhyped these movies so much, they prevented them from being memorable in the long run. I’m hoping this was just a phase within Hallmark’s lifespan.

9. Launching Television Shows from Movies

Since Cedar Cove became Hallmark’s first scripted television show, Hallmark Channel has had three shows that originally started as a movie or a series of movies: When Calls the Heart, Good Witch, and Signed, Sealed, Delivered. But the only one that has found continued success is When Calls the Heart. While Good Witch has received more than five seasons, its overall quality has dropped since season three, as I’ve mentioned before on my blog. Meanwhile, Signed, Sealed, Delivered was converted into a movie series after the show’s first season and moved to Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. This isn’t a good track record for Hallmark. Instead, they should create shows based on new ideas or well-liked books that are overshadowed by more popular titles.

10. Hallmark’s Summer and Winter TCA Events

Twice a year, Hallmark partners with the Television Critics Association to host a special event where they announce upcoming media related projects. Back in 2018, I wrote a Word on the Street story about announcements made at Hallmark’s Summer TCA Event. Recently, it seems like Hallmark makes their more interesting announcements before or after these events. At each TCA event, announcements consist of projects most fans already knew about. Because of this and the fact that fewer social gatherings are taking place because of the Coronavirus, I question why Hallmark still hosts these events? I wish Hallmark would use those finances, time, and resources toward something more productive.

Hallmark’s Summer TCA Event poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=&ShowTitle=2018+Summer+TCA.&nbsp;

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Here is a link to the article about George Zaralidis’ statement:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/entertainment/news/hallmark-will-include-lgbtq-storylines-in-christmas-movie-lineup-diversity-and-inclusion-are-top-priority-for-us/ar-BB16Py6W

Take 3: Little House: Bless All the Dear Children Review

This movie review was written before July 12th

Last year, I participated in Drew’s Movie Reviews’ Christmas in July Blogathon for the first time. My submission was about the Hallmark film, Christmas Camp. Unfortunately, the film was not as good as I had hoped it would be. For this year’s Christmas in July Blogathon, I already had my film selected before the event was officially announced. But this time, I decided to step away from Hallmark and expand my cinematic horizons. Recently, UP Network aired Little House: Bless All the Dear Children. Since I hadn’t seen this movie before, but had seen the show on multiple occasions, I chose this film for the Blogathon! Little House on the Prairie is a show that my family has enjoyed watching. In fact, I’ve talked about my favorite episode, “The Wild Boy” Part 1 and 2, in the editorial, “Bucky Barnes and Matthew Rogers: Paralleling Stories of Disability”. After the show ended in March of 1983, the creative team behind Little House on the Prairie created three films to tie up loose ends and give beloved characters a proper send-off. Little House: Bless All the Dear Children was the last of these three to be released.

I tried to find a more Christmas-y poster for this movie, but was unsuccessful in my search. So, as the next best thing, I took a screenshot of the film’s poster from my television. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Throughout the show’s lifespan, Little House on the Prairie was blessed to receive a strong starring cast. Even as actors came and went, the quality in acting never faltered. Most of the main actors from the show also appear in Little House: Bless All the Dear Children. Because of this, the consistency in the acting quality was maintained. The regular actors from the show appeared comfortable in their roles. It was also nice to see familiar faces and fan favorites. While I enjoyed watching the performances from the main cast, there were two performances from newcomers of the show that I found to be the most memorable. The first one came from Patricia Pearcy. In the movie, she portrayed Elsa, a mother who is mourning the loss of her baby. What I liked about her performance was the emotional range that was found. Toward the beginning of the film, Elsa learns about the fate of her child. This ends up being one of the most powerful scenes, as Patricia brings the emotional weight a moment like that requires. The second performance was Joel Graves’. He portrayed Samuel, a young orphan from Mankato. Anytime he was on screen, Joel had a sweet personality, which gave his character a likable persona. Samuel brought so much joy to the story, as he was an adorable and kind-hearted child.

The messages and themes: Within their nine seasons, Little House on the Prairie has incorporated important messages and themes into their episodes. These messages and themes have come in various forms, from exploring the horrors of child abuse in “The Wild Boy” Part 1 and 2 to showcasing the value of human life in “Times Are Changing” Part 1 and 2. Little House: Bless All the Dear Children also contains messages and themes that not only fit in the context of the series, but also in the context of Christmas. When Mr. Edwards asks Mr. Montague if he’d like any Christmas presents, Mr. Montague declines this offer, as he feels that Christmas has become materialistic. The idea of the commercialization of Christmas is just as relevant today as it was in 1984, the year this film was released. It also reminds the audience of the holiday’s original purpose.

The humor: Even though there are moments on the show where serious situations take place, Little House on the Prairie also contains moments of joy and laughter. The humor on this program is both wholesome and well-written. It is not only consistent on the show, but it also finds a place in Little House: Bless All the Dear Children. During the Christmas season, Nancy is responsible for finding the perfect Christmas tree for her family. She eventually locates one in the front yard of her family’s property. The hilarious part of this situation is that Nancy chooses the tallest tree she can find, causing the tree to crash through a window into her family’s living room! This moment reminded me of when Stephanie, from Full House, crashed a car through her family’s kitchen because she thought the “R” on the car’s control pad meant “radio” instead of “reverse”.

Christmas in July Blogathon 2020 banner created by Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews. Image found at https://drewreviewmovies.wordpress.com/2020/06/16/announcing-the-christmas-in-july-blogathon-2020/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Christmas spirit’s inconsistency: In most Christmas films, the spirit of Christmas can be felt throughout the story. In fact, there are times when it radiates off the screen. With Little House: Bless All the Dear Children, however, the Christmas spirit doesn’t feel consistent in the overall story. Some parts of the movie contained a strong sense of this spirit, like the narrative involving Jason trying to spread Christmas cheer. But Christmas spirit felt like an after-thought in the majority of the main plot, where Mr. Edwards, Almanzo, and Laura search for Rose. This made the narrative seem like it could have taken place in any time of year without making much of a difference.

Too many narratives: Little House: Bless All the Dear Children featured a total of six narratives. I understand that an end-of-series movie is meant to tie up story-related loose ends. But because of the screen-writer’s decision to squeeze as many sub-plots into the film as possible, it caused some of the narratives to feel under-developed or there for the sake of being there. A good example is Mr. Montague’s narrative, where it revolved around his views on Christmas. While it wasn’t a bad idea for a sub-plot, it didn’t really lead anywhere. Another example is Nancy’s narrative, where she is put in charge of picking out the Oleson family Christmas tree. Like Mr. Montague’s sub-plot, it didn’t lead anywhere. It also didn’t do any favors for Nancy’s character development or serve the overall story. If anything, it seems like she received her own narrative because she had appeared on the show for two seasons.

A quick and easy resolution: The main conflict in Little House: Bless All the Dear Children has been featured on the show before. In the season four episode, “My Ellen”, Laura gets kidnapped by her grieving neighbor shortly after their daughter passes away. Personally, I think the situation was dealt with better in that episode than in this Christmas movie. During her escape in the aforementioned episode, Laura leads her neighbor to their daughter’s grave to help them face their grief and realize the reality of the situation. In Little House: Bless All the Dear Children, Elsa’s grief and the seriousness of Rose’s kidnapping are glossed over when the conflict is resolved. I know that whenever a conflict arises on Little House on the Prairie, it is dealt with in a wholesome way. But it seemed like the situation was handled as easily and quickly as possible just to move on to the next narrative. I was also surprised that Laura didn’t disclose her kidnapping in relation to her daughter’s predicament. Had she brought up this past experience, it would have promoted the show’s continuity and helped Elsa face her grief.

Adorable Christmas card image created by Rawpixel.com at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/christmas-greeting-card-vector_2824854.htm’>Designed by Rawpixel.com</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/christmas”>Christmas vector created by Rawpixel.com – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Little House on the Prairie is a show that has stood the test of time. Its wholesome programming, relatable messages, and memorable characters have won over the hearts of fans for decades. Little House: Bless All the Dear Children is an example of why people have fallen in love with this show. The consistency in acting and the lessons instilled on the audience help keep the tone of the show intact. Even though the movie had its strengths, I feel this particular story would have benefitted as a two-part episode. Smaller narratives, like Mr. Montague’s perspective on Christmas, could have been taken care of in one episode. The story of Rose’s kidnapping would have been the overarching narrative of both episodes. This choice would have also given the creative team more time to explore Elsa’s grief and reach a satisfying resolution to the episodes’ main conflict. Little House: Bless All the Dear Children is a fine and enjoyable film. Personally, I would have loved to see Matthew Rogers perform “O Holy Night” in sign language during Christmas Mass. But I guess we can’t always get what we want.

Now we’ve come to the part of this review where I select a guest for Drew’s Christmas Party. This year, I have selected Anjanette Abayari. I first became aware of her existence when I watched the music video for the Timmy T. song “One More Try”. I haven’t seen her other acting work and I don’t know much about her. But, based on what I read, it seems like she has experienced some serious situations in her life. The reason why I chose Anjanette for Drew’s Christmas Party is so she can, hopefully, receive more recognition than she may be currently receiving!

Overall score: 7.4 out of 10

Have you watched Little House on the Prairie? If so, what is your favorite episode? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Christmas Camp Review

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!

Christmas Camp poster
Christmas Camp poster created by Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and Crown Media Family Networks. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Christmas+Camp.

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!

Christmas in July Blogathon 2019 banner
Christmas in July Blogathon 2019 created Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews. Image found at https://drewreviewmovies.wordpress.com/2019/06/18/announcing-the-christmas-in-july-blogathon-2019/.

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.

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Cute Christmas image created by freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Backgroundvector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

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!

Sally Silverscreen