Before Pale Writer’s Maxwell Caulfield Blogathon, I had seen two of Maxwell’s three Hallmark films. These titles were Missing Pieces, a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie from 2000, and Second Chances, a Hallmark Channel film from 2013. With one movie remaining, I selected the 2015 title, I’m Not Ready for Christmas, as my entry for the event. From a network that features the same actors and actresses in multiple projects, it’s interesting to note that I’m Not Ready for Christmas was Maxwell’s only Hallmark Christmas movie. As is sometimes the case, my review of this film was also this blogathon’s only article discussing any Hallmark film. When the movie first premiered five years ago, I skipped it in favor of other titles. This is because it was being compared to Liar Liar, a film I had not seen in its entirety, but was aware of the general premise. Personally, I like watching Hallmark films that either seem less predictable or have a creative component. Because the type of story found in I’m Not Ready for Christmas is more unique than Hallmark films from the past three years, I finally decided to check it out!
Things I liked about the film:
The supporting cast: There were several actors in the supporting cast that gave stand-out performances. One of them was this blogathon’s star, Maxwell Caulfield! Even though he was only in a handful of scenes, Maxwell found a way to make his character, Greydon DuPois, memorable. This was achieved through a confident personality and a strong on-screen presence. Another stand-out performance came from Mia Bagley, who portrayed Anna Geller, Holly’s niece. Her sweet demeanor reminded me of Jenny Wilder from Little House on the Prairie. Anna, like Jenny, wanted the best for the people in her life. The Christmas wish Anna tells Santa, where she wishes her aunt were more honest, effectively shows this. Brigid Brannagh is an actress I’m familiar with because her 2011 Hallmark movie, A Crush on You. While watching her portrayal of Anna’s mom, Rose, I could tell her previous experience with the network worked in her performance’s favor. This could be seen in the scene when Rose and Anna are at Anna’s Christmas recital. While Anna waits for Holly to show up, Rose’s face shows disappointment as she knows what lies ahead.
The messages and themes: Hallmark’s Christmas movies feature a variety of messages and themes that the audience can relate to. In I’m Not Ready for Christmas, a major theme is honesty, as Holly works on telling less lies throughout the film. Toward the end of the story, Holly is faced with a professional dilemma that could end her career. Instead of choosing what will benefit her, she chooses to do what is right. Seeing a character deal with a real-life conflict and make a positive decision is something that the audience can appreciate. It can also inspire them to apply these messages of truthfulness and placing others before one’s self to their own life.
What I didn’t like about the film:
An inconsistent performance: When it comes to Hallmark’s Christmas movies, Alicia Witt’s entries have been hit or miss. While I liked A Very Merry Mix-Up and Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane, I was not a fan of Our Christmas Love Song. In A Very Merry Mix-Up and Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane, Alicia was given material that complimented her acting abilities, allowing her performance to come across as consistent. Alicia’s performance in I’m Not Ready for Christmas, on the other hand, was very inconsistent. There were scenes where emotionality shined through, such as when Holly and Drew were sharing their life stories over apple cider. But whenever Holly was under her truth telling spell, she sounded robotic. Alicia’s performance made those moments feel awkward and jarring. I know Alicia has what it takes, talent wise, to carry a film. However, I feel she was miscast in this particular role.
Little to no sense in the story: Several moments in I’m Not Ready for Christmasmade little to no sense. One example takes place toward the beginning of the movie. Anna and her mom, Rose, are upset that Holly, Anna’s aunt, has chosen to attend a private dinner over Anna’s Christmas recital. They feel Holly will miss Anna’s performance because of her personal choice. But this movie was released in 2015 and I’m pretty sure Rose owns a smart phone. With that said, wouldn’t Rose record a video of Anna on her phone and show Holly the video afterwards? Speaking of Anna, another confusing moment happens when Anna interacts with Santa after the recital. In this scene, there’s no clear indication that the Santa Anna is talking to is the real deal or that they had ever interacted before. However, when Santa calls Anna by her name, no one questions how he knows her.
Solving a problem with a problem: An overarching conflict in I’m Not Ready for Christmas is Holly learning how to be honest with others. However, one of the ways she learns this lesson is for some of the other characters to lie to her. In one scene, Holly’s assistant, Jordan, asks for some time off so she can take care of her grandmother. But several scenes later, Holly discovers that Jordan was lying about her personal life. In reality, Jordan was on a date with her boyfriend at the same ice-skating rink Holly and Anna were visiting. I understand why Hallmark made this creative decision, as to remind the audience to treat others as they would like to be treated. But in this story, it felt like the script was trying to solve a problem with a problem. This misstep made the moments where Holly was changing her ways seem like positive outcomes were happening too conveniently in her favor.
A story that doesn’t feel Christmas-y: Despite this movie being titled I’m Not Ready for Christmas, the story itself doesn’t need to belong in the Christmas season. The themes of honesty and self-improvement can be found in any time of year. In fact, this exact plot could have taken place outside of Christmas and it wouldn’t have made a difference. While there are Christmas activities featured in this film, they were obligatory for the sake of reminding the audience that this was indeed a Christmas movie. The scenes themselves forced the film to pause the story instead of allowing those moments to find a legitimate place in the narrative.
My overall impression:
As I said in this review, a major theme of I’m Not Ready for Christmas is honesty. Therefore, I will be honest by saying I did not like this film. This movie makes the exact same mistake 2019’s A Cheerful Christmas did: putting so much emphasis on creating a pointless, Christmas remake of a well-known ‘90s film, that the creative team forgets how to make a good movie. The story has a more unique premise than other films from Hallmark’s library. However, the execution of that story was very poor. The truth telling spell Holly falls under does not lend itself to comedy. Instead, it feels awkward and jarring. What also hurts this film is not utilizing the Christmas elements within the script, causing the film to be devoid of true Christmas spirit. Instead of trying to copy what Liar Liar did almost thirty years ago, I’m Not Ready for Christmas should have been a combination of a modern twist on It’s a Wonderful Life and a Christmas version of the Touched by An Angel episode, ‘Monica’s Bad Day’. If this had been the plan, it might have brought something new to the table.
Overall score: 4.9 out of 10
Have you seen Maxwell Caulfield’s Hallmark films? Are there any Hallmark Christmas films you’d like me to check out? Leave your thoughts in the comment section!
For years, I’ve had this small, artificial Christmas tree. I tried to make an effort to put it up and decorate it. But, for one reason or another, I never found the time to do this. In order to help me remember, I’ve decided to take on a new on-going project! Every year, I will purchase a Christmas tree decoration that represents something about my blog! This idea came from Rachel from Rachel’s Reviews and Hallmarkies Podcast, where she decorates her Christmas tree with ornaments that reflect her year. For 2020, I’ve purchased a small colonial style hat! Last year, I wrote an editorial about why Jiggy Nye, from Felicity: An American Girl Adventure, is not an effective villain. Because Jiggy is from Williamsburg, Virginia and since I’ve been to Williamsburg, Virginia, this little hat was too perfect to pass up!
Do you like my new project? Which decoration would you suggest for my Christmas tree? Please tell me in the comment section!
Yes, I know I haven’t written a Word on the Street story since June. This is because I either wasn’t able to find a movie news story that interested me or I didn’t get around to discussing movie news. However, I did find some Hallmark related news that I had to write about. The first story features Hallmark favorite, Jen Lilley. In an article from soaps.com, Amy Mistretta reports how Jen revealed the plot of her new movie, which will likely air during the Christmas season. The article states that the film will revolve around a reporter who goes on a Tiger Cruise with members of the United States Navy. Amy explains that “the Navy puts on the special event once a year where their families can come on the ship for Christmas”. From what I can recall, the only film about Tiger Cruises that is known is the 2004 Disney Channel movie, Tiger Cruise. However, that film revolved around the events of 9/11. This news about Jen’s movie is interesting because it fills a creative void that hasn’t been revisited in sixteen years. Also, Hallmark can make a good military related film when they put their mind to it.
These next two stories come from the Twitter account, Hotline to Hallmark! In a tweet that was retweeted by Hotline to Hallmark, Rochelle S. Aytes, the star of the upcoming film, A Christmas Tree Grows in Brooklyn, announced that her movie has wrapped production! While the film’s synopsis is not known at this time, the movie will apparently feature horses, as Rochelle mentions petting a horse in her tweet. Another retweeted tweet from Hotline to Hallmark reveals that Will Kemp will co-star alongside Lacey Chabert in the Hallmark Christmas movie, Christmas Waltz! Denise Petski, from Deadline, shares that “Christmas Waltz reunites Kemp and Chabert, who starred in last year’s Valentine-themed Hallmark Channel movie Love, Romance & Chocolate.” As someone who liked the aforementioned Valentine’s film, it’s nice to see actors who had good on-screen chemistry work together again! I’m hoping Will and Lacey’s Christmas project is just as enjoyable to watch as their previous creative endeavor!
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 Houseon 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 Houseon 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.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Throughout the show’s lifespan, Little Houseon 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 Houseon 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 Houseon 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”.
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 Houseon 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.
My overall impression:
Little Houseon 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 Houseon the Prairie? If so, what is your favorite episode? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
In 2020, it seems like the world of film has been plagued with bad news because of the Coronavirus. Multiple movies saw their premiere dates pushed back as far as a year. Productions all across the world were temporarily placed on hold. Several events were cancelled or postponed, as well as businesses closing their doors for the time being. Recently, however, it seems like things are looking up. Film crews are slowly going back to work. Several occupational operations have picked up where they left off. Even some theaters have opened their doors again. In this Word on the Street story, I will be talking about films that are about to go into production, as of June 2020. Also, I have news about a film that I have mentioned on 18 Cinema Lane before. As I usually do, I will share my thoughts on these stories. Now, let’s talk about some good news in the world of cinema!
Last year, in my post called “A Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List 2019”, I said I wanted to see Words on Bathroom Walls receive a distributor. I’m happy to report my Christmas wish came true! In an article from Deadline, Dino-Ray Ramos writes how Roadside Attractions agreed to be the film’s distributor. The article also states Words on Bathroom Walls “is set to debut nationwide August 7”. This movie “marks the first theatrical release for both companies [Roadside Attractions and LD Entertainment] since the coronavirus pandemic”. Even though the film now has a release date, there remains the possibility for it to be pushed back. For months, Tenet was scheduled for a premiere in July. However, Pamela McClintock, from The Hollywood Reporter, shares that August 12th is the new date for the film’s release. I think this news about Words on Bathroom Walls is the best movie news I’ve talked about this year! I read the book and it’s become the best one I read in 2020! We don’t know how things will be in August, in relation to the Coronavirus. Hopefully, I’ll have the chance to see Words onBathroom Walls and review it or my blog.
Sources for this story:
As I said in the introduction, film crews are slowly going back to work. With some popular filming locations lifting lock-down regulations, studios and movie companies are either finishing or starting projects. One website, called Hollywood North Buzz, has recently listed several titles that are either currently in production or will soon be in production. These titles are the following:
For Better or Worse (Ended filming on June 23rd)
Kite Festival of Love
Wedding Every Weekend
Beverly Hills Wedding
My One True Love
Another website called JC Films announced an upcoming Christmas film titled “Light Up Night”. The film will star Dean Cain and will begin filming this July. According to the article, the film “is about all the community Christmas events wrapped around a modern-day Biblical story of Ruth”. More movie titles are listed on the website Creative BC, with production dates coming in the near future. These films are:
Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Reunited and It Feels So Deadly
Deliver By Christmas
When reading these titles, one will note that they all sound like they belong to Hallmark. However, as of June 2020, the only films that are confirmed to be a Hallmark production are “Wedding Every Weekend”, which was confirmed by star Paul Campbell, according to the Twitter account Hotline to Hallmark, and ‘Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Reunited and It Feels So Deadly’. While looking at the list, I noticed how most of the titles reference Christmas or weddings. If these movies are Hallmark projects, my guess is the wedding themed movies are created in preparation for next year’s “June Weddings” line-up. As for the Christmas movies, it’ll be interesting to see how many of them will be included in the “Countdown to Christmas” or “Miracles of Christmas” line-up.
This year, I’ve seen several tier ranking videos on Youtube. While most of these videos have revolved around books, there have been a few that focus on films. As I watched these tier lists being created, I discovered how there was no list dedicated to Hallmark’s productions. So, I decided to fill that void by making a list of my own! Because Hallmark has created so many movies, my tier ranking list focuses on all the Hallmark Hall of Fame movies I have seen in my life. This article is based solely on my own opinion and is not meant to be mean-spirited in any way. I also created this list to bring unique content to my blog. I was trying to complete this post yesterday, but this project took longer than I expected, so I apologize for its late arrival. For this tier ranking list, there will be five categories; Bottom of the Barrel, Ok, Decent/Fine, Good, and Great. I will give each film a brief, but thorough explanation for why it has earned that placement.
Bottom of the Barrel
Back When We Were Grown-Ups
Anyone who has read my list of the Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time would not be surprised to see this movie placed in the Bottom of the Barrel category. To me, this is not only the worst Hallmark Hall of Fame picture, but also the worst Hallmark project ever made. If you’d like to learn more about why I don’t like Back When We Were Grown-Ups, you can check out my list of the Worst Hallmark Movies at this link:
This is another movie I talked about in my Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time list. I’ve only seen Firelight once, but I found it to be so forgettable. When I think about this movie, on rare occasions, I wonder what message it was trying to deliver to their audience? If I, as an audience member, can’t determine what the intended purpose of that specific film is, that likely means something went wrong during the creative process. The rest of my thoughts on Firelight are found in my Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time list at this link:
From what I remember, the overall plot was very lackluster. I also found the premise revolving around a child rarely lying to be unbelievable. A Painted House contains other flaws that prevented me from enjoying this picture. One of them was how a few characters were unlikable for no clear reason. For a stand-alone film, having it end on a cliff-hanger wasn’t a good idea. I haven’t read John Grisham’s novel, so I’m not sure if the film’s creative team adopted any liberties for this project.
While I don’t think Rose Hill is a bad movie, I just wasn’t impressed with the final project. The story as a whole was not the most interesting and Rose herself seemed to sit on the sidelines of her own story. There was a mystery within this script, but that part of the story was poorly executed. This surprises me, as Hallmark Hall of Fame released a film in 1990 with a similar story concept titled Caroline?
My Sister’s Keeper
I liked the first half of this movie, where the audience witnesses the two sisters growing up alongside each other. It provided strong opportunities for each sister to receive character development and the film’s first half felt like it was building up to something bigger. When the second half of the movie arrives and both sisters become adults, the project hits a stand-still where nothing interesting happens. I will say the high-light of My Sister’s Keeper is seeing Kathy Bates riding on an elephant.
I’ve only seen about 50% of this movie. However, based on what I saw, I found the project to be just ok. I didn’t find myself feeling emotionally invested in the story like I did with other Hall of Fame titles. I wouldn’t mind re-watching this one, and maybe even reviewing it, to see if I still hold the same opinion.
When I first saw this film, I thought it was decent/fine. But since its 2013 release, it has been relegated to ok status. The Makeover is a glorified Hallmark Channel movie, complete with the male and female protagonist falling in love with each other. In fact, Hallmark’s first network released a movie with a similar premise the year prior called Fixing Pete. Maybe the first Hallmark Hall of Fame project of 2013 should have been given a stronger story.
Blind Spot was decent/fine upon initial viewing, but is now in the ok category. The film’s cautionary message was given more emphasis than the plot. This caused the movie to feel like it belonged on Lifetime when these kinds of films were in their hey-day. As I’ve said before, Karina Arroyave stars in this Hall of Fame presentation. However, her talents were under-utilized in this picture.
The Magic of Ordinary Days
This is one of the most beloved titles Hallmark has ever made. However, I don’t like or love this project as much as other people do. I found the main plot to be too unbelievable for my liking. Hallmark also glossed over the subject of Japanese internment camps when they could have provided some commentary on how prejudice can negatively affect someone’s perspective. There was one romantic relationship that I knew wasn’t going to lead anywhere, making me wonder why it was included in the first place. The Magic of Ordinary Days is another Hall of Fame movie based on a book, so I don’t know what elements from the novel where translated to the screen.
I reviewed this film for the James Garner Blogathon back in February. On the dvd cover, it is considered “the most-honored television movie of all time”. But, to me, the project is a bit on the over-rated side. I’m not a fan of “slice-of-life” stories, which is exactly what the plot of Promise is. The road to educating the audience about Mental Illness seems like it was paved with good intentions. As I say in my review, it could have been executed better though. You can read my review at the link below if you want to learn more about my thoughts on Promise.
Back in 2015, I felt Just in Time for Christmas was a good movie. After giving it some more thought, I’ve come to see the film as just fine. Like The Makeover, the project is a glorified Hallmark Channel movie. But, unlike the aforementioned 2013 release, Just in Time for Christmas tried to do something different with their creative material. Time travel is rarely incorporated in any of Hallmark’s projects. This release was, I believe, the first time it had been included in a Hallmark Hall of Fame title.
In Love and War
When The World War II Blogathon took place last September, In Love and War is the film I chose to review. As a movie, I liked it for it was. But, as a Hall of Fame picture, it didn’t leave as big of an emotional impact as other titles from this collection have. For a story taking place during World War II, there wasn’t a lot of action in it. There was also an imbalance between the ideas of “love” and “war”. If you want to read my review for In Love and War, you can click on the link below:
I haven’t seen this movie since its 2011 release. From I remember, it was just fine. While I liked the acting, the story was straight-forward. I also found the part about the pregnant teacher working and, eventually, bringing her baby to a compromising environment to be unbelievable. Like I said about Loving Leah, I’m not opposed to re-watching this movie and reassessing my opinion on it.
Front of the Class
This is another picture I haven’t seen in years. However, I thought Front of the Class was a fine film. Similar to In Love and War, it didn’t leave a big, emotional impact on me. But, as I’ve said before, I wouldn’t mind watching this movie again and seeing if my thoughts on it have changed.
The Secret Garden
In my Bonus Double Feature last September, I talked about Hallmark Hall of Fame’s version of The Secret Garden. I liked this adaptation, but I found it to be drawn-out. Looking back on this movie, it seems like the creative team placed so much emphasis on respecting the source material, they forgot to bring their own voice to the table. You can check out my thoughts on three different adaptations of The Secret Garden at these links:
I feel The Boys Next Door is one of the more under-rated titles from the Hall of Fame collection. The acting is solid and the perception of individuals with disabilities is mostly positive. My favorite character from this movie is Barry Klemper, but I felt he was under-utilized in the overall story. Also, some of the language toward the four men with disabilities reflects the time period the film was released in. I wonder how different the play this movie is based on is different from this adaptation?
The Valley of Light
Despite not having seen this movie since its 2007 release, I remember really liking this film! “She won’t give me my chocolate” is still one of my favorite quotes from a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. This film also contains one of the most shocking plot twists in the history of this collection. I definitely want to re-watch this film and possibly share my thoughts on this movie viewing experience!
As I have said before on this blog, Love Locks is the first newer Hall of Fame title that made me feel like this branch of Hallmark was going back to their roots! Yes, this is the type of story you’d likely find in Hallmark Channel movies. But the way Love Locks was presented made the overall project feel like a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. I also like the movie’s original poster, as it is one of the most creative pieces of marketing in Hallmark history! Personally, I think this is a good picture if you want to introduce someone to the Hall of Fame collection!
Love Takes Flight
This is the most recent release from the Hall of Fame collection I’ve talked about, as I reviewed the film last April. Love Takes Flight is a better movie than its marketing campaign made it seem. However, as I’ve noticed with the newer Hall of Fame titles, it lacks emotional depth because it feels like it adopted Hallmark Channel’s “formula”. It also contains other flaws, like having too many plots. Here’s the link to my review of Love Takes Flight if you’re interested in reading it:
The Beach House is another Hallmark Hall of Fame film that was given less-than-stellar marketing. But this didn’t stop it from being better than I expected! As someone who has also read the book, I think the movie did a better job at telling the story than its source material did! I also believe the overall quality of this project is a good reminder of why the Hall of Fame branch exists. This is another title I reviewed, so I’ll provide the link to that post here:
I thoroughly enjoyed Christmas Everlasting when it was released in 2018! In fact, the only aspect of the film I didn’t like was the limited on-screen presence Patti LaBelle received, as I expected her to have a larger role in the film. Similar to other Hall of Fame titles I’ll mention, this movie features a mystery within the overall plot. Mysteries are not often found in Hallmark Hall of Fame projects, so I like how Christmas Everlasting helped bring something different to the table. I reviewed this movie as well, so here is the link:
I liked this movie and the book it was based on! The overall execution of this project made it feel like a Hall of Fame production, making this the collection’s first newer Christmas film to make me feel this way. Similar to Christmas Everlasting, The Christmas Train incorporates a mystery into their story. While this element is also in the book, it brings a unique component to Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Christmas line-up. It’s also special in how most of the film’s events take place on a train, which is rare for a Hall of Fame movie!
The Lost Valentine
This is a good, but sad film! While I appreciate the effort that has gone into Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Christmas movies, it’s nice to see other holidays receive recognition within this branch of Hallmark. The use of flashbacks enhanced the overall story, giving context to the events being presented on screen. Because of how sad the film is, the re-watchability rate is on the lower side of the spectrum. But this is a project I would definitely recommend!
A Dog Named Christmas
A Dog Named Christmas is another Hall of Fame Christmas film I genuinely enjoyed! It does a good job at effectively showing how someone can make a difference in their community. Since this movie places a lot of attention on the titular dog, some story elements end up being over-looked. One of them is seeing how the main protagonist lives his life with a disability. I know there’s a prequel to this film called Christmas with Tucker. I haven’t seen it, but I’d like to see how it holds up to A Dog Named Christmas!
Sweet Nothing in My Ear
I saw this movie for the first time in 2020 and it made me miss the Hallmark Hall of Fame films of yester-year. Even though this story revolves around a debate, the overall project was interesting to watch. Both sides are treated equally and are given enough time to present their case. I don’t like the ending, but I can understand why the creative team made that specific choice. Sweet Nothing in My Ear is a unique addition to the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection!
Pictures of Hollis Woods
I haven’t seen this movie in years, but I recall having a good experience watching it. However, this film has flown under the radar for far too long. The acting is good and the overarching message of family is incorporated into the story very well. I also remember one of the characters lives in and owns a movie theater. This was a highlight for me because that is a dream of mine.
As I’ve said before, mysteries are not often found in Hallmark Hall of Fame projects. It is even rarer when the entire plot is a mystery story. The overall quality of the film’s writing is strong and I also liked the acting performances. However, like I said about Blind Spot, Karina Arroyave’s talents were under-utilized in this project. I’m surprised this movie has never been aired on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, as this title fits the network’s brand.
Grace & Glorie
One of the plot points of this film is a woman from a big city moving to a small town. However, it never felt like the project was following a formula. Instead, the story focuses on the friendship between Grace and Gloria. This part of the movie provided interesting opportunities for character development and exploration of certain themes. The movie also showcased wonderful scenery.
Christmas with Holly
In Christmas with Holly, the protagonist and his brothers take care of Holly after she loses her mother. This part of the movie reminded me of Three Men and a Baby. But what’s great about this 2012 release is how it takes a pre-existing story structure and creates a different narrative with it. While there was a romance in this film, it was never heavily emphasized like in other Hall of Fame titles. The overall story felt well-rounded.
A Smile as Big as the Moon
This is one of my favorite Hallmark Hall of Fame films! I was really impressed with the overall quality of the project when I first saw it in 2012. There is so much to like about this movie, from the acting performances to the messages and themes. To me, this is the perfect example of what a Hall of Fame should be.
I’m not going to lie; I thought the title sounded ridiculous when I first heard it. But the movie was better than I expected it to be! This film does a good job at exploring how childhood cancer can affect a child and the people around them. It also has a genuine sincerity that doesn’t feel too mushy or manipulative. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say this is a good choice to watch around Christmas-time!
The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler
Hallmark Hall of Fame movies are known for having larger budgets than a typical Hallmark Channel or Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film. The creative team behind The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler used that budget to their advantage. The presentation of this film is so good, it feels like a theatrical release! Everything about the movie feels like it is of the highest quality. I honestly wish Hallmark created more Hall of Fame pictures like this one.
Follow the Stars Home
From the moment I first saw this movie, I knew it would be a winner! But it sometimes feels like this film doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. The acting performances from the whole cast is one of the strongest components of this project. This movie also contains one of the most intense scenes I’ve ever seen in a film. Follow the Stars Home does a good job at balancing the lighted-hearted and serious moments of the story.
The Sarah, Plain and Tall trilogy
This series introduced me to Hallmark Hall of Fame as well as Hallmark films in general. I’d say this is one of the strongest trilogies in film history! The overall quality is consistent and it feels like the creative team truly cared about the project they were making. I would like to see Hallmark attempt another series within their Hallmark Hall of Fame branch!
Ellen Foster is an excellent, but sad film! What makes this movie work is Jena Malone’s performance, as she carries the entire project! This movie features one of the few times where a young person is the film’s lead. The story as a whole is an emotional roller coaster ride that makes its audience experience a variety of feelings. I haven’t read the book this film is based on, but I’d be interested in reading how emotionally intense it is compared to the film.
What the Deaf Man Heard
I have fallen in love with this movie since I first saw it! It does a great job showing how far someone will go to show their love for another person. This film also shows how easy it is for people to take things at face value. There are other solid messages in this story, but I don’t want to spoil it. What the Deaf Man Heard is another Hall of Fame title I can’t recommend enough! It’s also based on a book, so I’d like to read it someday!
Toward the beginning of this year’s round of polls for the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards, I posted the first two polls; the Best Movie Award and the Best Story Award. After these rounds were over, I discovered there was a tie in both divisions! To determine a winner, I have brought back both polls! You’re allowed to vote for more than one nominee. However, you can only vote once per person. This poll starts today, April 10th, and ends on April 16th.
Happy April! We’re almost finished with the acting division as the Best Supporting Actor poll arrives. This poll will help us determine who will be crowned the Best Supporting Actor of the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards! You’re allowed to vote for more than one nominee. However, you can only vote once per person. This poll starts today, April 3rd, and ends on April 9th.
Now that we have a determined winner for the Best Actress category, it’s time to move on to the Best Supporting Actress division. Like the previous two acting polls, this specific poll is for choosing the Supporting Actress that was the best of the year! You’re allowed to vote for more than one nominee. However, you can only vote once per person. This poll starts today, March 27th, and ends on April 2nd.
As I said in last week’s Word on the Street story, no winner was determined in the Best Actress division of the Gold Sally Awards. Because of this, I decided to re-post the Best Actress poll, so people who are interested in voting can have a second chance to choose among the ten nominees. Like the previous polls, you’re allowed to vote for more than one actress. However, you can only vote once per person. This poll starts today, March 20th, and ends on March 26th.