Take 3: Christmas Town Review

Yes, I know it has been two weeks since I last reviewed a Hallmark movie. I’m also aware that I haven’t been reviewing as many Hallmark Christmas films as I did last year. But, don’t worry, I’ve been trying to watch as many of the 2019 releases from both networks as possible. At the same time, I have been searching for nominees for 2020’s Gold Sally Awards. For now, though, I’m here to present a review for the most recent film I saw from Hallmark Channel, Christmas Town! When I think about this movie, I realize that I didn’t review Candace Cameron Bure’s Christmas project from last year. That’s because I just never got around to writing a review for it. To me, A Shoe Addict’s Christmas was just ok. While it wasn’t one of her worst movies, I didn’t find it to be one of Candace’s best movies either. How did Christmas Town compare to last year’s film! Keep reading if you want to find out!

Christmas Town poster
Christmas Town 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=Christmas+Town.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: What I like about Candace Cameron Bure as an actress is how expressive she is. No matter what role she is given or what happens in the story, Candace always brings a wide range of emotions to her characters. This helped her character, Lauren, appear believable in the film. Candace always has good on-screen chemistry with her co-stars. It is especially the case in Christmas Town! Even though this is Tim Rozon’s first Hallmark movie, he also gave a good acting performance. Throughout the movie, Tim appeared at ease in his role of Travis, giving the impression that he enjoyed what he was doing. His performance seemed natural and believable, allowing his character to be just as expressive as Candace’s character. I also enjoyed the performances of the supporting actors and actresses! Their talents complimented one another and their on-screen interactions were a joy to watch!


A new take on a familiar cliché: I’ve said in my list of The Top 10 Worst Clichés from Hallmark Movies that my least favorite cliché is the “woman from the city coming back to her small hometown” cliché. This cliché causes the story to feel more predictable than it needs to be. With Christmas Town, however, this cliché was given a new take. Instead of the protagonist being guilted or forced to stay in the small town, Lauren actually wanted to stay in that town on her own free will. In the movie, she voluntarily takes a teaching job in a small town, which allows her to move out of the city. Because of her love for the small town, she finds a way to make a meaningful difference in the community. Her actions feel genuine, which makes it easy to root for this character. Because of these things, it makes the execution of this cliché feel like a breath of fresh air.


The discussion of foster children: In my review of Christmas Under the Stars, I mentioned how I liked the discussion of foster parenting that was included in the story. While foster parenting is brought up in Christmas Town, the primary focus is on the discussion of foster children. Not only is a foster child featured in the story, but the protagonist is a former foster child herself. These two characters were able to use their experiences to form a solid friendship. This discussion of foster children was not only a well-written component of the overall story, but it was also handled with a sense of reverence and respect. Outside of this Christmas season, the discussion of foster children is rarely brought up in Hallmark films. I’m glad this movie’s creative team chose to fill a creative void by incorporating this topic into their script.

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What I didn’t like about the film:

The weaker conflicts: In Christmas Town, there were several conflicts that I enjoyed seeing in the story. They were interesting and felt like they flawlessly fit in that world. But these conflicts were weaker than they should have been. This is because they appear to be too easy to solve. The conflicts are also taken care of too quickly. These aspects cause them to take away a sense of intrigue from the movie’s plot. It forces the audience to sit and watch everything unfold on screen instead of letting them try to figure out what will happen next.


The “protagonist’s ex showing up unannounced” cliché: Because of the weaker conflicts, it made the film’s creative team adopt the “protagonist’s ex showing up unannounced” cliché. In Christmas Town’s case, this cliché did not need to exist in the narrative. It didn’t add anything to the story and appeared to be a time waster. Even the character of the protagonist’s ex does not play a significant role in the film’s events. If anything, this creative decision made him look insecure about the future of that relationship. After all is said and done, it just felt like the cliché was placed in the story just because it had to be there.


The under-utilization of the letters: Within Christmas Town’s story, the protagonist owns a series of letters written by her late father. The letters themselves were fine, but they should have had a stronger importance in the story. Similar to what I said about the “protagonist’s ex showing up unannounced” cliché, these letters felt like they were included in the movie just for the sake of being there. They didn’t contribute anything to the plot or propel it forward. The letters also did not play a huge role in the protagonist’s decision-making process. If these articles were written out of the story, I don’t think it would make much of a difference.

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My overall impression:

Even though there are Christmas movies from 2019 that I like more than this one, I do think that Christmas Town is a stronger film than A Shoe Addict’s Christmas. What I like about this film is how the creative team purposefully incorporated story elements that are not always found in Hallmark movies. This allowed the story to be memorable and stand out from other titles in this year’s Christmas line-ups. I also liked the acting, as it helped me stay invested in what was happening with the characters. But despite the fact that I did enjoy this film, there were some things that I did not like about it. For me, the weaker conflicts were the biggest flaw of this movie. However, Christmas Town is a sweet film that is perfect for the Christmas season! Before I finish this review, I wanted to let all my readers and followers know that this is my 300th post! Every time I publish 100 posts, I coordinate a special double feature in honor of the accomplishment. That will take place in January of 2020, so stay tuned for that event to occur!


Overall score: 7.6 out of 10


What are your thoughts on this year’s Christmas line-ups from Hallmark? Do you have a favorite Christmas film that has been released in 2019? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!


Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Christmas Under the Stars Review

So far, I’ve seen nine of Hallmark’s Christmas films from this year. To me, most of them have ranged from ok to decent, with a few standouts. Since I haven’t reviewed a Christmas movie from Hallmark Channel yet, I decided to talk about one of the network’s more recent pictures, Christmas Under the Stars! This film was one of my most anticipated of the season. Jesse Metcalfe and Autumn Reeser reuniting as co-leads was one of my reasons why. I really enjoyed their first movie together, A Country Wedding, especially since they had good on-screen chemistry. Jesse and Autumn have never starred in a Christmas movie together, so I thought this would help make Christmas Under the Stars an interesting project.

Christmas Under the Stars poster
Christmas Under the Stars poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found at https://www.hallmarkchannelpress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Christmas+Under+the+Stars.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Christmas Under the Stars had a solid cast! I enjoyed seeing each actor’s performance immensely, as they brought the best of what they had to offer, talent wise, to their roles. One example is how Jesse Metcalfe brings more emotionality to his portrayal of Nick than I expected. At some dramatic moments, it looked like Jesse was about to cry. Because he stars on a television show that features a variety of situations, it helps prepare Jesse for roles that require a certain amount of versatility. Clarke Peters is another example of how talented this cast is. His portrayal of Clem was very endearing, making this character easy to root for. Clarke also appeared to have good camaraderie with his co-stars. Speaking of camaraderie, what worked in this cast’s favor was the on-screen chemistry and interactions between the characters. These encounters felt believable, like they had come directly from real life.


The business side of Christmas tree lots: When Christmas tree lots are featured in Hallmark movies, they are either on screen for a short amount of time or the business aspect of them gets glossed over. In this movie, however, the story allows the business side of Christmas tree lots to be explored. It provides a unique perspective that is educational and intriguing for the audience. This also adds something that most Hallmark movies don’t incorporate. More often than not, I say that Hallmark needs to take more creative risks and think outside the box. The interesting way that a Christmas tree lot was showcased in this film is a good example of this.


The discussion of foster parenting: If a single parent is included in a Hallmark movie, that character’s relationship status is usually caused by divorce or becoming a widow/widower. Autumn Reeser’s character, Julie, is a single parent because she chose to be a foster parent. Even though this discussion of foster parenting was very brief, it represented a family dynamic that is rarely seen in Hallmark productions. It also provided an interesting component to Julie’s backstory. Because Julie adopted her foster child, Matt, it makes Christmas Under the Stars the second 2019 Hallmark Christmas film to include adoption in their respective film’s narrative.


Sytar 2
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What I didn’t like the film:

A semi-misleading synopsis: While I liked this film’s story, I felt the synopsis bent the truth to a certain extent. One example is the basic premise, where Nick loses his job. This idea reminded me of a movie I reviewed last year called Waffle Street. In that film, the protagonist not only loses his job, but the event was catastrophic on his life. The protagonist in Christmas Under the Stars didn’t have the same experience. Yes, Nick did lose his job. But he was still able to keep his high-rise penthouse apartment and his vintage Porsche. Another example is Julie’s occupation. When I was led to believe that she was an astronomer, I was so excited to see this profession incorporated into a Hallmark story. However, Julie’s job ended up being a science teacher. While this is an important career, the astronomy aspect was overshadowed.


The protagonists spending so little time together: Jesse and Autumn had good on-screen chemistry. What helped was them starring in 2015’s A Country Wedding together. But the difference between this movie and Christmas Under the Stars is how little time the protagonists spend with each other in the latter. Nick and Julie do become a couple, because that’s how Hallmark movies work. But when they eventually end up together, their union doesn’t feel earned. That’s because there was no build-up leading up to that part of their relationship. What also doesn’t help was how they barely identify the other person as a potential love interest. I understand that the screenwriter wanted to try something different. But, in this case, it didn’t work in the film’s favor.


An under-utilized subplot: In the film, Autumn’s character is trying to help a student who is always late to class. When this subplot was first introduced, I thought it would play an interesting role in the overall story. Since this is a Christmas film, the subplot had potential to be impactful and uplifting. But as the movie went on, it became too simplistic and was resolved way too easily. Because this subplot was competing with other story-lines, it felt more forgettable than it should have. This resulted in the subplot being under-utilized.

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My overall impression:

Before watching this film, I was highly anticipating Christmas Under the Stars. This was a film that I thought I was going to fall in love with. While I liked the movie, it probably won’t become one of my favorite Christmas films from this year. Sure, it was good. The film had its strengths, such as the cast and some of the topics that were incorporated in the project. But the movie had flaws that prevented it from being great. Christmas Under the Stars is certainly one of the stronger picks from Hallmark’s Christmas line-up, as it is one of the network’s more memorable presentations. The creative team behind the film did a good job with the material they were given. It’ll be interesting to see what the quality of the rest of Hallmark’s Christmas films looks like.


Overall score: 7.7 out of 10


What do you think of Hallmark’s Christmas line-ups so far? Are there any movies that you are fond of? Please share your thoughts in the comment section!


Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen