The Top 10 Worst Movies I Saw in 2022

My worst movies list of 2022 is different from that of the previous year. This time, I’ll be talking about more films that were “so bad they were bad”, as only three of these movies were disappointments. The Dishonorable Mentions portion of the list has also returned! Though I did see more good movies than bad, I couldn’t avoid coming across a “stinker” every now and then. I like to think I’ll, one day, see less than ten films for my annual worst list. But someday has not come this year, as the title of this article suggests. As I’ve stated in past lists, I did not write my list to be mean-spirited or negative. It’s just a way to express my own, honest opinion. Since some of these films have been reviewed on my blog, I will provide links to those reviews.

Dishonorable Mentions

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Vows We Have Made, A Place for Annie, Swim Instructor Nightmare, Nikki & Nora: Sister Sleuths, The Corsican Brothers (1985), and Donnie Brasco (I only watched forty minutes of the film before turning it off)

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10. The New Adventures of Heidi

In 2022, I was hoping to finally find my coveted “so bad, it’s good” movie. Sadly, The New Adventures of Heidi was not it. As I said in my review, this film is “spectacularly average”. The more I think about the 1978 made-for-tv movie, the less justifiable reasons I can think of for the project’s existence. Yes, The New Adventures of Heidi was intended as a “modern” re-telling of Johanna Spyri’s story. But the movie didn’t feel unique enough, despite all the changes. Every year I’ve participated in the So Bad It’s Good Blogathon, there has been a pattern between movies that turned out ok and movies that were just disappointing. Hopefully, in 2023, I can break this pattern.

Take 3: The New Adventures of Heidi Review

9. Love in Wolf Creek

When I first read the synopsis for Love in Wolf Creek, I was excited at the idea of a “cozier” story filled with adventure and excitement. The 2022 television film seemed better on paper than in practice. For a movie titled Love in Wolf Creek, there was very little romance in the story. The writing was weaker than I hoped, filled with scenarios that were too unrealistic for my liking. This project was too ambitious for INSP, the network who created the film. It was so disappointing, I didn’t bother watching its sequel, Christmas in Wolf Creek.

8. Harvey (1950)

I think the 1972 Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation of Harvey is better than its 1950 predecessor. While I’m aware how controversial my opinion is, the 1972 film had more success executing its intended points. A mistake the 1950 movie makes is trying to be a comedy and a drama. This decision led the comedy to not only be underutilized, but also showcased medical negligence in a way that didn’t sit well with me. “Magical realism” was lacking in the 1950 film. This took away any opportunity for the story to be charming and whimsical. When I reviewed Harvey back in January, it was the most disappointing movie I saw in 2022. Now, eleven months later, the 1950 picture still holds that title.

Take 3: Harvey (1950) Review

7. Journey

The 1995 Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation made the same mistake Durango did: not giving the audience a reason to care about the characters and their story. In the case of Journey, the creative team failed to provide explanations for the characters’ choices. At the beginning of the film, the protagonist’s mother, Min, abandons her family, claiming she hates her parents. But the script never explains why she made this decision. Even when there are cut-away scenes featuring Min, she isn’t doing anything significant. How am I expected to care about Min’s choice affecting her family when I don’t even know why she left in the first place?

6. My Mom Made Me Do It

According to a synopsis I read for this 2022 Lifetime film, the protagonist, Jade, turns to stealing in order to help her mom pay the bills. Both the title and synopsis turned out to be a lie because 1) Jade’s decisions were made on her own and 2) Jade never steals anything. What she does instead is crash wealthy people’s parties and photographs their belongings. Other issues contained in this movie are weak lead performances and characters who make one dumb choice after another. I will admit there was at least one effective plot twist. But I wish it had taken place in a better film.

Harvey (1950) poster created by Universal Pictures

5. The Sundowners (1960)

For a little while, I thought The Sundowners was going to be the worst movie I saw this year. Even though I was proven wrong, the 1960 film has still remained in my top five. Like I said in my review, one of the worst things you can do as a film-maker is waste your audience’s time. The story felt longer than necessary, which made the movie two hours and thirteen minutes not well spent. One of my biggest issues with The Sundowners was its “bait and switch” ending. While I won’t go into detail about the ending, as I don’t want to spoil the film, I will say it was cruel for both the characters and the audience.

Take 3: The Sundowners (1960) Review

4. The North Avenue Irregulars

This movie attempts to answer the question; “Wouldn’t it be funny if a group of women came together to solve a mystery”? By the time The North Avenue Irregulars was released in 1979, that question made the film dated on arrival, as there were several television programs from the ‘70s featuring at least one female character solving mysteries or fighting crime. The movie’s creative team told too many types of stories, yet failed at all of them. One minute, the film felt like a precursor to the Mitford series, revolving around a preacher trying to live his best life. The next minute, the film turns into a gangster heist picture, paired with car chases that were longer than necessary. Honestly, I wish this movie was a Scooby Doo-esque story about the film’s fictional band, Strawberry Shortcake. Maybe then the movie would seem more timeless.

3. Lake Effects

For the first time in 18 Cinema Lane history, all the movies in my worst list’s top three are Hallmark productions. Accepting the bronze is the 2012 film, Lake Effects. This movie has so many Hallmark movie clichés, you could create a bingo game around them. You could also create a bingo game around the many storylines found in this script. Lake Effects is a production that relies on style over substance. While Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia was captured well on film, there’s only so much the movie’s creative team could do with the weak script at their disposal. In my review from August, I stated how the movie seemed forgotten over the years. Its poor quality makes it not worth remembering.

Take 3: Lake Effects Review

2. A Boyfriend for Christmas

In 2019 and 2020, a Hallmark Christmas movie ended up in the top three of my annual worst movies list. History is kind of repeating itself with A Boyfriend for Christmas in second place. Like Lake Effects, the 2004 film contained a weak script. But in A Boyfriend for Christmas, I only liked two minor parts of the story. The lack of Christmas magic made my movie viewing experience unenjoyable. It was one of those stories that became worse the longer I watched it. I know this movie is one of the most beloved titles in Hallmark’s cinematic library. Honestly, though, I found it over-rated.

Take 3: A Boyfriend for Christmas Review

1. Francesca Quinn, PI

Remember when I said one of the worst things a film-maker can do is waste their audience’s time? Well, another worst thing a film-maker can do is disrespect their audience’s intelligence. As I watched Francesca Quinn, PI, I was given the impression the film’s creative team didn’t want me to solve the mystery alongside the protagonist. That’s because Francesca explained things that didn’t need explaining. Despite Francesca being a professional private investigator, she constantly made decisions an amateur detective would likely make. Her lack of personality didn’t help either. According to IMDB, Francesca Quinn, PI could replace the Mystery 101 series. The reason is “the main characters’ relationship and the crime at the end of Deadly History are the same as the main characters’ relationship and crime in Francesca Quinn, PI”. If this is the case, the Mystery 101 fans, including myself, deserve so much better.

A Boyfriend for Christmas poster created by Hallmark Entertainment,  MAT IV,  Alpine Medien Productions, Larry Levinson Productions, Gaiam Entertainment, and Hallmark Channel 

Have fun in 2023.

Sally Silverscreen

The Top 10 Best Movies I Saw in 2022

As the sun begins to set on 2022, it’s time to publish my best and worst movies of the year lists! Last year, every film on my best list had been reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane. But that’s not the case this time around. For this list, only two movies were not reviewed, while another movie served as an editorial subject. Any film I covered on my blog will have a link included in this post. I’m thankful another year was filled with more good movies than bad. I’ll even have more titles in my Honorable Mentions! While these lists have become great traditions on their own, the variety of this collection of films has become another tradition. So, without any delay, let’s begin the list of the best movies I saw in 2022!

Honorable Mentions

Cut, Color, Murder, Sailor Moon S: The Movie, Cyrano de Bergerac (1950), Children of a Lesser God, Sweet Revenge: A Hannah Swensen Mystery, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Honeymoon, Honeymurder, The Princess and the Pirate, Dirty Little Secret, Singin in the Rain, McBride: Tune in for Murder, McBride: Dogged, McBride: Requiem, Hugo, Akeelah and the Bee, The Shoplifting Pact, and Secrets at the Inn

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10. Fiddler on the Roof

When I reviewed the 1971 musical back in February, I said it was too early to say whether it would be one of the best movies I saw this year. But Fiddler on the Roof captivated me so much, the film ended up on my annual top ten list! I described the movie as a well-made quilt, with each of the film’s strengths representing a different quilt piece. The inclusion of Jewish faith/culture also gave the project a unique identity by asking questions and discussing topics that aren’t often found in musicals. Looking back on this movie, Fiddler on the Roof was three hours well spent. It’s a special project in both the world of musicals and cinema. I hope to check out more Jewish cinematic stories in 2023!

Take 3: Fiddler on the Roof Review

9. The Lost Empire/The Monkey King

Out of all the movies on my best list for 2022, The Lost Empire/The Monkey King is the most unique one! A fantasy film based on Chinese folklore, this was an imaginative production I enjoyed watching. The story was sometimes thought-provoking and even somewhat educational, as it included literature related discussions. Strong acting performances brought to life characters who seemed believable. The set designs boasted a realistic and fantastical setting, which effectively presented the illusion of an immersive world. I wish Hallmark created more movies like The Lost Empire/The Monkey King, where the stories and ideas are more creative. With the network prioritizing rom-coms and dramas, though, I don’t know what their decisions will be in the new year.

Take 3: The Lost Empire/The Monkey King Review

8. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Haunted by Murder

Talking about this movie is bittersweet, as it is the last film in the Aurora Teagarden series. I’ve thought about all the moments the fans will never get to see, such as Aurora and Nick’s first Christmas, Phillip’s college graduation, and Sally falling in love. But if this is where the story must end, at least it ended on a strong note. The realistic and supernatural elements of the story complimented each other nicely. Supernatural elements being incorporated at all gave this chapter a more creative approach to the series. It was nice to spend time with Lawrenceton’s favorite residents; the acting performances and on-screen camaraderie remaining consistent. Even though I would have loved to see the Aurora Teagarden series continue for many more years, I know nothing lasts forever. But as the saying goes “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened”.

7. Redwood Curtain

There are very few movies I found better than their source material. Redwood Curtain just so happens to be one of them! The creative team behind the Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation took advantage of the expansive nature of film by providing the story with more locations. Allowing characters like Julia and Laird to appear in the movie showcase the Riordan family dynamic not present in the play. I found Geri more likable as a character in the movie. Lea’s performance paired with the screenwriting gave Geri an empathetic and understanding personality. Redwood Curtain is a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation I wish was re-released on DVD.

‘Redwood Curtain’: From Stage to Screen

6. The Pit and the Pendulum

The Pit and the Pendulum was one of the biggest pleasant surprises of 2022! Despite the film not being my first choice for its respective blogathon, I thought it was engaging and entertaining. Vincent’s performance didn’t disappoint, as his portrayal of Nicholas was versatile and fueled on emotion. The mystery not only started right away, but it also allowed the audience to experience the journey alongside Francis, the main character. The Pit and the Pendulum is, to me, one of the more effective horror movies, like 1962’s Cape Fear. While this film would be a perfect choice to watch on Halloween, I’m glad I had the opportunity to see it around Vincent’s birthday!

Take 3: The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) Review

Redwood Curtain poster created by Chris/Rose Productions, Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions, American Broadcasting Company (ABC), and Republic Pictures (II)

5. The Song of Bernadette

And another film of Vincent’s joins my list! Faith based films come in two forms; those that emphasize a message and those that emphasize a story. The Song of Bernadette falls into the latter category, as it revolves around religious phenomena affecting a small town. What I like about the 1943 film is how different perspectives relating to the phenomena are explored, highlighting how various members of the town view the events unfolding. The story doesn’t choose sides on the main topic, allowing the audience to come to their own conclusions about what is taking place in the movie. Even though The Song of Bernadette was released during the Breen Code era, the film is a good representation of the quality from that period in cinema. As I said in my review, Easter would be an appropriate time to watch the movie!

Take 3: The Song of Bernadette Review

4. Heaven Is for Real

Heaven Is for Real shares a major similarity with The Song of Bernadette. The 2014 film also revolves around religious phenomena affecting a small town. But what Heaven Is for Real does differently is encourage the audience to have a conversation about their beliefs on Heaven. Like I previously stated, faith based films come in two forms; those that emphasize a message and those that emphasize a story. However, I’ve rarely seen a movie of this nature start a discussion about one of their themes. This creative decision brings something new to the table and gives Heaven Is for Real a unique identity.

3. Words on Bathroom Walls

It seems like I’ve been talking about this title for as long as my blog has been around. But I’m glad I finally got the chance to see Words on Bathroom Walls this year, as it was such a good adaptation! There were changes between text and film. Despite that, the adaptation was, for the most part, respectful to its source material. The visual presentation of the story gave the audience a glimpse inside Adam’s mind. Interactions between the characters were believable, thanks to the actors’ performances and screenwriting. As I mentioned in my review a month ago, the adaptation for Words on Bathroom Walls seems more underrated. Based on the response my review received, my statement may be wrong.

Take 3: Words on Bathroom Walls Review

2. Top Gun: Maverick

I’m going to be honest; I had low expectations for Top Gun: Maverick. That’s because sequels released over ten years after their predecessor can be hit or miss. Top Gun: Maverick ended up surpassing my expectations, making it in the top three of my best of the year list! From what I know about Top Gun, the sequel respected what came before it. At the same time, new elements were added to the story, like focusing on an overarching mission. In a cinematic landscape where a film receiving over a billion dollars has become a rarity, Top Gun: Maverick achieved what some studios only dream of. As the 2020s move forward, maybe more filmmakers will turn to this film as an example of what can be cinematically possible.

Take 3: Top Gun: Maverick Review + 450 Follower Thank You

1. A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love

When it comes to “Godwink” stories, I prefer those that focus on a conflict. While that is the case for A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love, I found the overall production impressive! The interactions among the characters, as well as each volunteer’s talent being showcased, provided a nice amount of character development. Christmas activities were incorporated in more unique ways, such as the Romero family’s gift exchange. The inclusion of Advent was a newer approach to the Christmas movie genre. I don’t know what’s in store for the Godwink series. But I’d love to see more adaptations of these stories!

Take 3: A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love Review

A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love poster created by Crown Media Productions and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

Have fun in 2023!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: A Boyfriend for Christmas Review

This month’s Genre Grandeur theme is ‘Films With Santa Claus or Santa Claus impersonators’. With that in mind, I knew I’d find at least one Hallmark movie starring jolly old St. Nick. While reflecting on various titles, I remembered one film I had never seen in its entirety. That film is 2004’s A Boyfriend for Christmas. Over the eighteen years since its release, this movie has garnered a reputation among the Hallmark fan community. A Boyfriend for Christmas has been labeled a “classic”, as well as, more often than not, securing a place in Hallmark’s annual Christmas line-ups. When it comes to Hallmark Christmas movies with notoriety, I try to check them out in an attempt to discover if their “hype” is deserved. This is why I reviewed The Christmas Card and The Nine Lives of Christmas in the past. So, has A Boyfriend for Christmas earned its reputation? Keep reading my review while you’re waiting for Santa’s arrival!

A Boyfriend for Christmas poster created by Hallmark Entertainment,  MAT IV,  Alpine Medien Productions, Larry Levinson Productions, Gaiam Entertainment, and Hallmark Channel 

Things I liked about the film:

The parallels between Holly and Ryan: When the audience meets the film’s protagonists, Holly and Ryan, in “present day”, they see these two characters are at odds with each other. On the surface, Ryan and Holly are as different as night and day. But in one specific scene, it is shown they have more in common than they realize. In this scene, Holly and Ryan come home after a long day. The choices they make in their respective home are presented in parallels, alternating between the two characters. For example, Holly turns on the radio at her house, while Ryan turns on his television at his apartment. Toward the end of this scene, Holly and Ryan look out their window to observe their landscape. Ryan is greeted to a lighted city skyline and Holly sees her neighbor’s outdoor Christmas decorations, as well as the moon. Through these visuals and without the use of dialogue, the idea of Ryan and Holly sharing more similarities was effectively showcased!

Holly’s figure skating past:  When Ryan shares dinner with Holly’s family, he and the audience learn about Holly’s figure skating talents. Not only did she place second in a state final (when she was younger), she also has the trophies to prove her dedication and athleticism. As indicated in the dialogue, Holly retired from the world of figure skating. However, she performs an impromptu skating solo at a local outdoor rink. This was the most interesting part of Holly’s story! I wanted to learn more about her relationship with the sport. It’s too bad this side of Holly was only brought up in passing, as it could have lent itself to a fascinating subplot.

Ice skating pair photo created by fxquadro at freepik.com. Image by fxquadro on Freepik

What I didn’t like about the film:

Inconsistent writing: Throughout A Boyfriend for Christmas, there were several instances of inconsistent writing. Holly’s interactions with Ryan are a perfect example. Toward the beginning of the story, it is revealed she and Ryan are working on the same pro bono case. This scene’s dialogue gives the impression Holly has met Ryan before. While leaving the court house, she crosses paths with Ryan, hearing his voice and seeing his face. But when Holly and Ryan interact at a Christmas tree lot several hours later, it doesn’t seem to cross her mind that she’s recently heard his voice. Even when Ryan arrives at Holly’s house on Christmas Day, she acts like she’s never met him. Inconsistencies like this one made the story too unbelievable for my liking.

Lack of Christmas magic: When I reviewed Chasing Leprechauns last March, I said the film wanted to have its cake and eat it too. This was because the story included a magical element (leprechauns), yet prioritized the realistic aspects of the movie’s world. A Boyfriend for Christmas makes the exact same mistake. Santa appears several times in this story. Yet, he never utilizes any Christmas magic. Even when he’s giving Holly her titular boyfriend for Christmas, the execution of her wish was not magical or whimsical. It honestly makes me wonder why Santa was incorporated in the movie at all?

Holly’s subplot with Ted: Ted is Holly’s ex-boyfriend. His behaviors and actions clearly indicate how he’s “bad news”, providing one reason why he and Holly aren’t meant to be. I know his inclusion in the story was intended to present a conflict for the protagonists. However, it reminded me of Paul and his conflict from The Christmas Card. Ted’s personality, plus Holly’s lack of interest in getting back together with him, gives the audience the impression this relationship isn’t going anywhere. Because of that, this subplot felt like a waste of time.

The fast pace of Holly and Ryan’s relationship: In a typical Hallmark movie, the protagonists’ relationship progresses in a shorter amount of time. But in A Boyfriend for Christmas, Ryan and Holly’s relationship evolved too quickly. In fact, it felt very “insta-love”. Despite acting like she’s never met Ryan before, Holly almost immediately falls head over heels for him. She doesn’t even question why Ryan is suddenly interested in her. Because of how fast this on-screen relationship progressed, it was difficult to determine if Kelli Williams and Patrick Muldoon had any on-screen chemistry.

Santa stationary image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/creative-christmas-letter-and-envelope-template_3281562.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/christmas”>Christmas vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com. 

My overall impression:

There are some Hallmark Christmas movies that have gained notoriety. Some of this “hype” was earned, such as the case for The Nine Lives of Christmas. Other times, the “hype” felt more over-rated, like how I kind of feel about The Christmas Card. Sadly, A Boyfriend for Christmas falls into the latter category. This is not a movie I was impressed with. The script was one of the weakest I’ve ever witnessed in a film. Like I said in my Lake Effects review, if the script isn’t strong, there’s only so much a creative team can do to remedy the issue. Unfortunately, the other aspects of the movie didn’t make up for the script’s weaknesses. The acting ranged from wooden to serviceable. The set design didn’t leave a memorable impression. There was no charm, whimsy, or Christmas magic present in the story. If anything, A Boyfriend for Christmas was a huge letdown from what it could have been.

Overall score: 4.3 out of 10

Have you seen A Boyfriend for Christmas? What Hallmark Christmas movies do you think are surrounded in “hype”? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

A Movie Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List 2022

Tis the season for my Movie’s Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List! For readers who don’t know, this is an annual tradition where I create a list of movie related things I want for Christmas. This year, there are four items on my list. Some of them are realistic, while others are wishful thinking. My Christmas wish-lists take me a whole year to create. That is because I try to put a lot of thought into each category. These categories follow the quote; “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read”. So, with that said, let’s begin this year’s Movie’s Blogger’s Christmas Wish-List!

Christmas letter to Santa image created by Freepik at freepik.com Image by Freepik

Something You Want

In March of 2021, I published an editorial about why Bai Ling should join the main cast of When Calls the Heart. This post explained the reasons why Bai’s inclusion would be beneficial for the show. Unfortunately, she didn’t make any appearances in When Calls the Heart’s ninth season. As far as I know, there have been no major cast announcements either before, during, or after season ten’s production. Therefore, as of December 2022, I have no idea if Bai will become a “Heartie” in 2023. If When Calls the Heart’s creative team decides not to cast Bai in their upcoming season, then I would be interested in seeing her join the cast of Fast & Furious 10. From what I’ve heard, this film is still in the pre-production stage. I also don’t believe Bai has ever appeared in the series. Based on her projects I’ve seen, Bai has talent to offer to the Fast & Furious franchise. But like I said in my aforementioned editorial, Bai’s career is her own, which means her decision to join either the Fast & Furious or When Calls the Heart series will ultimately be up to her.

Here is a screenshot from Bai’s Asian Voices interview from 2018. Screenshot taken from the Youtube channel, AsianVoices Tv.

Something You Need to See

Last month, I wrote an editorial explaining why Das Sound Machine should represent Germany at Eurovision 2023. In this article, I discussed how Das Sound Machine could realistically compete in next year’s song contest and why that idea should work. As of mid-December, 2022, none of the participants in Germany’s national final have been announced. If Das Sound Machine did compete in Germany’s national final, that information wouldn’t be revealed until sometime in early 2023, as the national final is scheduled to take place in March. You can read my editorial at the link below if you’re interested in learning more about this idea:

Why Das Sound Machine Should Represent Germany at Eurovision 2023

Das Sound Machine image created by Gold Circle Films, Brownstone Productions, and Universal Pictures

A movie related piece of clothing or accessory I’d want to wear

In A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love, one of the protagonists, Joy, carried a purse. This purse was a red, satchel style bag with a cross-body strap. I really like how versatile this purse is! It not only looks great during Christmas-time, it also looks great any time of year. The combination of color and style work together to create a visually appealing accessory! I would love to have this purse in my wardrobe!

Out of all the scenes in A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love featuring this purse, this was the best shot of it I could find. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

A book I’ve read that I’d like to see adapted into a film

Years ago, I read To Catch a Pirate by Jade Parker. From what I remember, I really liked it! It’s one of those stories I always thought would lend itself to a film adaptation, as To Catch a Pirate contains action, adventure, romance, and intrigue. In the 21st century, Disney has dominated the pirate movie genre with their Pirates of the Caribbean series. But as I said in my Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama review, this shouldn’t discourage other studios from creating their own pirate stories. If the success of Top Gun: Maverick has showed the world of film anything, it’s how audience members will show up if the movie contains a solid story. Maybe, just maybe, they would also show up if To Catch a Pirate became a movie.

To Catch a Pirate book cover found on Goodreads

What are your thoughts on my Christmas wish list? Are there any movie related things you’d like to receive for Christmas/the holiday season? Please tell me in the comment section below!

Have fun at Christmas!

Sally Silverscreen

Oh Lil Christmas Tree: 2022 Official Ornaments

It’s that time of year again: the reveal of 2022’s official ornament for ‘Oh Lil Christmas Tree’! You might have read the title of this post and thought I made a typo. Putting an ‘s’ after ‘ornament’ was totally intentional, as this year, I’ve chosen four ornaments to join my collection!

Despite reading only one of Jan Karon’s books, I absolutely love these ornaments! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

These four snowmen are from Hallmark’s Mitford Snowman Jubilee set, based on Jan Karon’s book, The Mitford Snowmen: A Christmas Story. While I haven’t read this book, I did read (and review) At Home in Mitford last year. I also reviewed its 2017 Hallmark Channel adaptation. As of December 2022, 18 Cinema Lane has been around for four years. So, a set of four snowmen ornaments seemed fitting for this year’s addition!

This is what my Christmas tree looks like this year! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love Review

As I stated in my USS Christmas review, I will be making a greater effort this year to review more Christmas movies. For my second Christmas film of 2022, I will be writing about the 2021 title, A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love! In my list of the top five Hallmark films based on a true story, I mentioned the 2019 movie, A Godwink Christmas: Meant for Love. While talking about that film, I said the sequel was stronger than the first movie. This is because the 2019 title did a better job at explaining and showcasing what a “Godwink” is. Since publishing that list, I have seen the third and fourth films in the Godwink series. The 2020 movie, A Godwink Christmas: Second Chance, First Love, was, in my opinion, fine. However, it was reminiscent of the first movie, where the “Godwinks” feel more like plot conveniences. What are my thoughts on the fourth film? Keep reading to find out!

A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love poster created by Crown Media Productions and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

Things I liked about the film:

Character interactions: Like I said in my Words on Bathroom Walls review, interactions between characters are only as good as the actors and actresses portraying those characters. In A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love, I enjoyed watching these character interactions, as they were pleasant! One reason why was how believable the camaraderie felt! A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love revolves around Joy and Eric’s experiences volunteering during the Christmas season. During their time together, they work alongside two other volunteers, Adam and Sadie. Anytime these four actors (Katherine Barrell, Alberto Frezza, Josh Ssettuba, and Faith Wright) interacted with each other on-screen, I always got the impression their characters truly got along with one another and enjoyed each other’s company. This was accomplished partly with the help of the actors’ and actresses’ acting talents!

The inclusion of Advent: Advent is an important part of the Christmas season that, almost always, gets overlooked in Christmas cinema. So, imagine my shock when I see Advent included in A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love! Advent was the name of the non-profit Eric and Joy volunteered for. However, the candle lighting and messages associated with Advent were incorporated into the script, correlating with what is happening in the story. The non-profit’s volunteer leader, Angelo, lights each candle at select moments in the film, explaining the significance of every one. Honesty is a message associated with the Advent candles, which connects to a dilemma Joy is facing in her personal life.

The incorporation of a conflict: It’s been several years since I’ve seen A Godwink Christmas: Meant for Love. From what I remember, the story contained a conflict the characters were working to resolve. As I said earlier in this review, Joy and Eric volunteer during the Christmas season in A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love. The volunteers’ goal is to help a family who lost their house due to a fire. Because the characters work together to resolve this conflict, this part of the story gave the audience a reason to stay invested in the film. It also provided better explanations for what “Godwinks” are.

Showcasing each volunteer’s talent: As I said in my Top Gun: Maverick review, it can, sometimes, be difficult to evenly distribute character development to every character in a group. But in A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love, the group of volunteers was smaller, which allowed the audience to get to know the characters. One way the movie’s characters received character development was having their talents showcased in the story! Sadie is one of the volunteers, like I mentioned earlier in my review. She is an expert when it comes to computers and technological equipment. When she discovers the Romero family’s computer hard-drive was destroyed in the house fire, Sadie finds a way to save at least some family photos. These photos were given to the Romeros as portraits for their new baby’s room.

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What I didn’t like about the film:

Joy’s relationship subplot: At the beginning of the movie, Joy is introduced as a woman in a serious romantic relationship. She has been dating her boyfriend, Danny, for five years. Throughout the film, Joy wonders if she should continue her relationship with Danny. I know A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love is based on a true story. I’m also aware Joy needed a personal conflict to work through. However, I, personally, didn’t think the relationship subplot was necessary. In fact, I found this subplot to be the weakest part of the overall story.

An unresolved story: In this review, I’ve been mentioning how the Romero family lost their house due to a fire. This is why the volunteers of the Advent non-profit are helping them. Because the Romero family play such a vital role in the film’s story and because A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love is based on a true story, I was hoping they would receive an update at the end of the movie. Unfortunately, the Romero family was never mentioned. This exclusion made their story seem unresolved.

A missed opportunity: When Joy and Eric first meet Katie Graber and her husband, Dr. Louis Graber, they learn about “Godwinks”. Louis claims that, because he’s a man of science, he thinks “Godwinks” are simply coincidences. Meanwhile, Katie is a firm believer “Godwinks” are God’s intervention. While Louis eventually changes his mind on “Godwinks”, I feel the movie’s creative team missed a good opportunity to explore how people can have differing opinions around a singular subject. As I’ve been saying in this review, A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love is based on a true story. I also know there’s only so much story you can tell in two hours. However, I wish a little more time had been given to that aforementioned idea.

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My overall impression:

A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love is only the second Christmas movie I’ve reviewed this year, so far. But based on what I saw, I was impressed! The fourth chapter in the Godwink series was reminiscent of the 2019 movie, A Godwink Christmas: Meant for Love. This is because both films a) do a better job showing and explaining what a “Godwink” is and b) featured a conflict the characters were trying to resolve. These types of Godwink stories are the ones I prefer. The movie’s creative team adopted interesting choices that made the story feel more unique. One example was how gift exchanging was incorporated into the script as a way for the Romeros to become acquainted with their new neighbors.  While gift exchanging has been featured in countless Hallmark productions, the way it was presented in A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love was creative. From what I’ve gathered, there were no Godwink films released or planned for release in 2022. Perhaps we’ll receive one in 2023, on either Hallmark Movies & Mysteries or maybe even Great American Family?

Overall score: 8.4 out of 10

Have you seen any of the Godwink films? Are there any “Godwink” stories you think should be adapted into a movie? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Top Ten Characters Who Didn’t Reach Their Full Potential

For my World Television Day Blogathon, I was originally going to review one of the books in the Murder, She Wrote series. But with the recent passing of Angela Lansbury, I thought it would be a bit too soon. Therefore, I decided to write about the top ten characters who didn’t reach their full potential instead. What does it mean for a character to reach their “full potential”? In my opinion, it means a character is given the opportunity to reach their goals, make their dreams come true, and allow their stories to be told to a satisfying extent. Unfortunately, some characters are denied these opportunities for various reasons. This list will address the characters I wish had received their full potential. For the sake of this discussion, I will focus on characters who appeared in television shows or made-for-tv movies. While there are some characters I have talked about before, I tried to include those I never talked about on 18 Cinema Lane. There will also be spoilers for the television shows and movies discussed in this list.

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1. Matthew Rogers from Little House on the Prairie

Yes, I’m starting this list with a character I’ve written part of an editorial about. However, I feel there’s an argument to be made for Matthew not reaching his full potential. On Little House on the Prairie, he was introduced in the show’s last season. Within that season, Matthew only appeared in a total of three episodes, departing in the series finale. This left him with little to no time to reach his full potential. Meanwhile, characters such as Albert Ingalls, Willie Oleson, and even Nancy Oleson had their potential recognized because they were introduced in earlier seasons. Had Matthew made his debut in, say, season seven, his chances to reach his full potential may have been stronger.

2. Jamey Farrell from 24

24 was released during a very interesting time. It was almost ten years after the premiere of Jurassic Park, a film that showed Dr. Ian Malcolm breaking the mold of a “geek/nerd”. But 24 was also released almost ten years prior to Iron Man, when the idea of the “cool geek/nerd” would be fully embraced by the media. Before Robert Downey Jr. accepted the role of Tony Stark/Iron Man, Karina Arroyave portrayed Jamey on 24. A beautiful, intelligent, and charismatic woman, Jamey had the potential to be the Dr. Ian Malcolm of the show. In fact, I think if the show’s writers had allowed her to reach her full potential, Jamey could have been the reason why the media embraced the “cool geek/nerd” idea a lot sooner than they did. As the events of 24’s first season unfolded, though, Jamey’s sparkling personality became watered down and her unique attire morphed into looking just like every other employee. Becoming a villain and dying after appearing in ten episodes ended all chances of Jamey reaching her full potential.

3. Jiggy Nye from Felicity: An American Girl Adventure

Another character I’ve written an editorial about joins this list. In the 2005 made-for-tv film, Jiggy was presented more as a victim than a villain. This is because he didn’t come across as a big enough threat to the protagonist. It also doesn’t help how Jiggy’s backstory was poorly incorporated into the script. Felicity: An American Girl Adventure is based on a six-book series. Like any adaptation, changes were made between books and film. When it comes to Jiggy’s part of the story, though, it seems like he received the short end of the stick. From a writing perspective, he deserved so much better.

4. Libby from Lost

Out of all the characters from Lost to not receive their full potential, especially those from season two, Libby is the one you can make the strongest argument for. Introduced as one of the “Tailies”, there was so much mystery and intrigue surrounding her and her story. When Libby and Hurley started a romantic relationship, things seemed to be going well with her character development. Sadly, Libby’s story was short-lived, as she died toward the end of the second season. Because of her departure, none of the mysteries surrounding her were ever addressed. Libby never even received any flashbacks.

5. Amédée Chevalier from Hallmark Hall of Fame’s O Pioneers!

I first mentioned Amédée in my review of the 1992 Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation. In his limited appearance in the movie, he had so much potential. From his athleticism to his charisma, Amédée could go anywhere and be anyone he wanted. Sadly, his story was cut short due to dying off-screen of appendicitis. From the information I’ve found about Amédée, he only made three appearances in the book. This makes me wonder if his full potential was always meant to be denied?

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6. Captain Lynch and Judy from Crusoe

Long before 18 Cinema Lane existed, there was a television adaptation called Crusoe. In the season premiere, Captain Lynch and Judy arrived on Robinson’s island. Similar to Libby from Lost, Judy and Captain Lynch were surrounded in mystery and intrigue. But toward the end of the season premiere, these characters departed from the show. While Captain Lynch died, Judy was taken away by the Royal Naval Police, never to be seen again. It also didn’t help how Crusoe survived for only one season.

7. Barry Klemper from Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Boys Next Door

I always thought there was an argument to be made for Barry Klemper’s full potential in the 1996 Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation. A photogenic and articulate man, Barry had a passion for golf, which he kept alive at his job at a driving range. Had he received a more one-on-one, individualized approach to his care, I honestly think Barry could have lived a, somewhat, independent life. But all that momentum Barry had was destroyed when his father showed up and intimidated him. This interaction caused Barry to spend the remainder of the story in a psychiatric hospital. The Boys Next Door is based on a play that I have not read or seen in its entirety, so I’m not sure how respectful the adaptation is to its source material. All I know is Barry Klemper not reaching his full potential is, in my opinion, heart-breaking.

8. Moon from Cedar Cove

The proprietor of Moon’s Café, Moon is one of the most important characters of the 2013 Hallmark Channel show. Along with coffee and baked goods, Moon serves up wisdom to those who will provide a listening ear. I even recall one episode where he claimed he was adopted. This tidbit could have opened the doors to a compelling story for Moon. But during Cedar Cove’s three season run, Moon, more often than not, was overshadowed by the other characters and their stories. Since the show ended in 2015, there have been no announced plans to release a Cedar Cove movie or reunion special. Hallmark’s lack of interest in revisiting their first scripted show leaves Moon with no more chances to reach his full potential.

9. Harris Trinsky from Freaks and Geeks

After watching some episodes of Freaks and Geeks, Harris has become my favorite character from the show. His “wise beyond his years” perspective make him a character the “geeks” can trust and others can respect. Harris also had a lot going for him, from his intelligence to his interest in Dungeons & Dragons. Unfortunately, Freaks and Geeks lasted for only one season. The fact Harris was a recurring character didn’t help his case either, as he appeared in ten of the show’s eighteen episodes.

10. Jesse and Clara from When Calls the Heart

When I was creating this list, I, at first, didn’t think there were any characters from When Calls the Heart who didn’t reach their full potential. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized Jesse and Clara fit my list’s criteria. Clara came to Hope Valley in season two, still healing from a broken heart. Season three saw the arrival of Jesse, seeking a second chance after living a life of crime. When Clara and Jesse became a couple, they had their whole lives and relationship ahead of them. But the longer they stayed on the show, the more overshadowed they became. Jesse and Clara were given few good stories during their time on When Calls the Heart. They were also denied the outdoor wedding of their dreams. Clara and Jesse were written out of the show after season seven.

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Have fun on television!

Sally Silverscreen

Welcome to the World Television Day Blogathon!

The day you’ve been waiting for is finally here; the World Television Day Blogathon! Since the dawn of television, this particular medium has become a staple in popular culture. Through this lens, history has been recorded and memories have been made, giving people a way to look back on the past. Television’s broad landscape has provided something for everyone, from cozy mystery shows to beloved musical competitions. In this blogathon, various television related topics will be showcased. Each entry highlights different decades, made-for-tv movies, and shows, illustrating the importance of World Television Day!

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18 Cinema Lane — Four Reasons Why ‘The Flamingo Rising’s Adaptation is Different from its Book, Top Ten Characters Who Didn’t Reach Their Full Potential

The Stop Button — THE JERICHO MILE (1979, MICHAEL MANN)

Taking Up Room — My Top Twelve “Gilmore Girls” Episodes

Four Reasons Why ‘The Flamingo Rising’s Adaptation is Different from its Book

When we talk about book-to-film adaptations, we are quick to point out how both pieces of media are different. Some of these differences can lead to insightful conversations between the fans and the casual audience. Other differences can cause a negative reaction, from readers walking out of the theater mid-film to Youtube videos showcasing fans’ rants and complaints. But one topic I haven’t heard addressed is why these changes between book and film likely happened. This topic can be applied to any adaptation. For the sake of my editorial, though, I’m writing about Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Flamingo Rising. Back in June, I published a list of the top ten movies I’d love to, one day, review. The 2001 Hallmark Hall of Fame movie was on that list. Because I own a copy of Larry Baker’s novel, I thought it would be interesting to read the book after I saw the movie. Now that I’ve consumed both pieces of media, I have gained an understanding for why Hallmark likely made the changes they did. There are four main reasons why The Flamingo Rising’s book is different from its adaptation, which will be explored in this editorial. This article contains spoilers for the story of The Flamingo Rising.

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The Run-Time

Abraham Isaac Lee is the protagonist of The Flamingo Rising. In Larry Baker’s novel, Abraham takes a biographical approach to telling the story, reflecting on various moments that occurred in his life. He even goes into detail about the history of his parents and Grace’s parents. According to IMDB, Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Flamingo Rising has an hour and thirty-four-minute run-time. As I’ve said before on 18 Cinema Lane, that run-time gives a film’s creative team only so much time to tell a story. Hallmark Hall of Fame’s adaptation of The Flamingo Rising condensed the events in Abraham’s and his family’s life. The book explains how Hubert, Abraham’s father, purchased the land for The Flamingo Drive-In before Abraham and his sister, Louise, were adopted. While Hubert was a soldier in the Korean War, he sent building plans and business ideas to his wife, Edna, who was put in charge of putting those plans into fruition. The purchase of the land and creation of The Flamingo Drive-In, in the movie, took place long after Hubert left the military and in a shorter amount of time. Both Abraham and Louise are teenagers for the majority of the movie, with only one flashback showing the siblings as babies.

There are many characters in The Flamingo Rising. While reflecting on his life, Abraham takes the time to explain who each person in his life is, as well as giving these people a significant presence in the story. Most of these characters were present in The Flamingo Rising movie. But because the film’s run-time is an hour and thirty-four-minutes, their parts of the story were reduced. Abraham’s sister, Louise, is one of these characters. The book reveals Louise grew up to become an actress, as Abraham claims she had the talent for it. In one scene, Louise expresses interest in flying in Harry “Judge” Lester’s plane. This interest was sparked by a promise Hubert made to his children. The movie’s script, however, never addresses why Louise wants to fly with “Judge”. In fact, the audience never sees her flying in “Judge’s” plane. When it comes to Louise’s acting, it was only mentioned once throughout the movie. During a conversation between Abraham and his friend, Gary, Abraham mentions how his sister wants to be an actress someday.

Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Flamingo Rising VHS cover created by Hallmark Entertainment, Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions, McGee Street Productions, CBS, and Artisan Entertainment 

The Budget

From what I’ve heard over the years, a typical made-for-TV movie costs somewhere between one to three million dollars. While that sounds like a lot of money to the average movie blogger, that amount is actually on the lower end of the financial spectrum, when it comes to making movies. If the aforementioned millions were the budget for Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Flamingo Rising, it would explain why some parts of the source material were cut from the movie. In the book, Abraham shares his family had a temperamental dog named Frank. This dog was so unstable, he not only bit Louise, he was forced to live in an empty room above Abraham’s room, due to the dog’s behavior. In the film, however, Frank the dog is nowhere to be seen and is never acknowledged by any of the characters. If a movie’s creative team chooses to include an animal in their production, the training, veterinary care, and other related expenses will need to be factored into the overall budget. Working with an animal trainer also requires time, something the creative team behind The Flamingo Rising only had so much to spend. Therefore, the inclusion of Frank the dog was an expense the adaptation’s creative team likely thought was unnecessary.

Location scouting is a film-making component also affected by a creative team’s budget. Like I said in my editorial, ‘Redwood Curtain’: From Stage to Screen, a location scout might not be able to secure a location similar to one described in the source material. Even if they succeeded, there’s a process in order to film at a residential building, especially if it’s someone’s real-life home. This process, along with the budget, is the probable reason why the funeral home has a different appearance in the movie than described in the book. Larry Baker’s novel gives the West Funeral Home the look of a “Southern plantation style house”, complete with white columns and Jeffersonian arches. The Home also contains a garage full of hearses and limousines. The Flamingo Rising’s adaptation gives the funeral home a different exterior. Referred to as the Knight Funeral Home in the movie, the facility boasts a bungalow style in a dark green hue. The Home’s garage is not shown on-screen. However, the Home itself does feature a full-sized porch. The funeral home’s interior has more appearances in the book than in the movie. In fact, the only time the Lee family enter the Knight Funeral Home is shortly after Edna dies. For those two scenes, the creative team may have filmed them on a set, away from the building that portrayed the funeral home.

Image of The Flamingo Rising by Larry Baker found on Goodreads

Appropriateness of Content

For many years, Hallmark garnered a reputation for presenting themselves as a “family-friendly” company. This has been reflected in their programming, including their Hallmark Hall of Fame productions. As someone who’s read The Flamingo Rising book, I’ll be the first person to say there are some parts of the story that are not “Hallmark appropriate”. One of these parts is Louise’s social life. Abraham, in the novel, recalls how, one night at The Flamingo Drive-In, Louise snuck out with some male college students. During this interaction, these males attempt to take advantage of her. Even though Louise is saved just in time by some of the drive-in’s employees, the ordeal is a frightening one. This event is not included in the movie. The only older characters Louise is friends with are Polly and Alice, who all happen to work at the drive-in. It should also be noted that Abraham and Gary are the only male characters Louise hangs out with in the film.

Louise’s story was not the only one to change in Hallmark’s efforts to keep the adaptation “Hallmark appropriate”. Polly, an employee of The Flamingo Drive-In, is a very problematic character in the book. A reason for this is due to her racism. Polly expresses how she didn’t like her high school becoming integrated. She also thinks Abraham is “too brown”, causing Abraham to have self-image related issues. Even though Polly’s role in the movie is smaller, she never comes across as racist. In fact, racism is never addressed in the film. Polly, along with Alice, appear to get along with both Abraham and Louise. Alice, throughout her time at the drive-in, gives Abraham advice and looks out for him, like an older sibling would look out for their younger brother or sister.

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The Casting

When an author creates a story, they sometimes don’t consider how that work could be translated to film or television. If that author’s work does receive an adaptation, the casting can dictate how the story changes. Abraham describes Alice Kite, in the book, as being “as tall as my mother”. Edna is six feet tall in the novel. Because of her height, Alice wore baggy jeans and shirts, never shorts. Elizabeth McGovern and Angela Bettis were cast as Edna and Alice in the Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation. According to IMDB, Elizabeth is 5’7, while Angela is 5’3. Alice wardrobe’s, in the movie, included tank tops and shorts. This creative decision was likely made to compliment Angela’s height.

In both the book and movie, Grace looks like her mother. Turner, Grace’s father, tells Edna, in the film, “she looks just like her”, referring to his daughter’s resemblance of his late wife. But Grace’s mother never makes an on-screen appearance, as she dies before the movie’s events. Therefore, The Flamingo Rising’s creative team cast an actress that resembled the actor portraying Turner. William Hurt portrayed the owner of Knight Funeral Home. He appears blonde in the film, despite his character having “coal-black hair” in the book. Erin Broderick was cast as Grace, though it isn’t known if Erin or William was recruited to the movie first.

Since The Flamingo Rising takes place in Florida, I figured featuring this screenshot was appropriate. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Image originally found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiBkULOrf7Y.

When I reviewed the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, O Pioneers!, back in July, I said that story should have been adapted into a multi-part mini-series or a television show. That’s because I felt an hour and thirty-seven minutes was not enough time to tell a story with that many moving parts. I feel similarly about The Flamingo Rising. Because Abraham, in the book, is reflecting on his life, there are a lot of characters and plot points included in the text. With the Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation being an hour and thirty-four-minutes, Larry Baker’s story was forced to be condensed.

There are several parts of The Flamingo Rising book that were either omitted or changed in the adaptation, due to these parts not being “Hallmark appropriate”. With that said, it makes wonder why Hallmark Hall of Fame chose to adapt Larry Baker’s novel over a story that was more “Hallmark appropriate”? This situation kind of reminds me of when Hallmark Channel adapted At Home in Mitford. Last September, I reviewed the 2017 film for one of my double features. After reading the book and watching its adaptation, I came to the conclusion the network was attempting to fit a round peg into a square hole, trying so hard to fit At Home in Mitford into their brand of film-making. Perhaps something similar happened to The Flamingo Rising, causing history to repeat itself sixteen years later?

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: USS Christmas Review

While looking through some of my movie reviews from last year, I came to the realization I only wrote about two Christmas films. To make up for that, I will make a greater effort this year to review more Christmas movies. As it was Veteran’s Day two days ago, I decided the first Christmas film review of 2022 would be for USS Christmas! In the two years since its release, I’ve heard good things about this particular Hallmark picture. The network also has a pretty consistent track record when it comes to their military related Christmas titles. This is not the first time I’ve talked about USS Christmas. Back in 2020, I wrote a Word on the Street story about the project. I mentioned that the only Tiger Cruise movie I knew of was the 2004 Disney Channel movie, Tiger Cruise. Therefore, USS Christmas was filling a creative void that hadn’t been revisited in over ten years.

USS Christmas poster created by Crown Media Productions and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Jen Lilley portrays the protagonist, Maddie. Her reason for joining the Tiger Cruise was to spend Christmas with her sister, Amelia, who was portrayed by Stefanie Butler. I really liked the on-screen camaraderie between the sisters! While sharing breakfast at a local restaurant, Amelia and Maddie talk about a variety of subjects. Throughout their conversation, Jen’s and Stefanie’s facial expressions changed with fluidity. The actresses also had nice on-screen chemistry, giving the impression the sisters got along really well. It’s been a while since I’ve seen one of Trevor Donovan’s movies. However, I have always thought he was one of Hallmark’s strongest actors. In USS Christmas, Trevor portrayed Lt. Billy Jenkins. At the start of the story, Billy is distant with Maddie, maintaining a sense of professionalism. As the film continues, a kind hearted, more spontaneous side to Billy breaks forth. This progression in Billy’s personality was well executed through Trevor’s acting talents! The naturalness of this progression allowed Billy’s part of the story to be believable.

The set design: Like any Hallmark Christmas film, USS Christmas contained its fair share of seasonal décor. But it was the way this décor was incorporated into the set design that caught my eye. When Maddie’s family has their first dinner on the Tiger Cruise, the dining room is surrounded by white walls. White and blue Christmas decorations are placed in the background, from a blue garland to a white Christmas tree with blue ornaments. These complimentary hues added a sense of elegance to this space! Garland was a nice touch to other sets. A traditional green garland paired with red ornaments and bows was framed around the dark wood windows of the Jenkin family home. A similar looking garland framed the kitchen window of the Contino family home, a room that contained white cabinets. That garland shows how a simple Christmas decoration can complement various different spaces!

The mystery: Mysteries are uncommon in Hallmark’s Christmas films. So, the inclusion of a mystery in USS Christmas was a pleasant addition! In an effort to write a story about finding love on a Tiger Cruise, Maddie finds a journal written by a man named Sam. In this journal, Sam talks about falling in love with a woman named Dorothy. Maddie and Billy spend the rest of the movie searching for Dorothy and Sam, going on a journey to figure out what happened to this couple. While I won’t reveal what Billy and Maddie discover, I will say the mystery itself was intriguing! It gave me a reason to stay invested in the story.

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What I didn’t like about the film:

The Tiger Cruise itself getting overshadowed: It’s been years since I’ve seen Tiger Cruise. From what I remember, the cruise itself was focused on to the point where it was its own character. With USS Christmas, I felt the cruise was overshadowed by the mystery of Sam and Dorothy. As I already said in this review, I liked the mystery in this story. However, that part was prioritized above everything else. When Maddie and Billy go to New York, I thought, “Wait, isn’t this movie supposed to be about the Tiger Cruise”?

Underutilized characters: On the Tiger Cruise, Charlotte is boarding alongside her brother, who is a member of the U.S.S. Polaris. Because Charlotte is also a writer, I assumed she would help Maddie in her quest to find Sam and Dorothy. Unfortunately, Charlotte and her brother briefly appeared in the film for about three scenes. These are just two characters I feel were underutilized.

Inconsistent use of Easter Eggs: The inclusion of Easter Eggs can be a nice treat for viewers and, if done right, can be cleverly woven into the story. There were some nice Easter Eggs in USS Christmas. But I was confused what the overarching direction for these Easter Eggs was. Toward the beginning of the movie, I found a few Easter Eggs related to It’s a Wonderful Life, as Maddie says that is her favorite Christmas film. Throughout the movie, there were at least two Easter Eggs referencing Top Gun. I even caught an Easter Egg connected to Hallmark itself. I wish the film’s creative team had chosen one topic for their Easter Eggs and consistently stuck with it.

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My overall impression:

As I said in the introduction, Hallmark has a pretty consistent track record when it comes to their military related Christmas titles. While some of these titles have been better than others, I haven’t seen a military related Hallmark Christmas movie that was bad or disappointing. With USS Christmas, it was a nice, pleasant film. It isn’t an instant classic for me or a new favorite movie. But, for what it was, USS Christmas was fine. Hallmark’s efforts to tell more creative stories seems to be an exception to the rule. So, I appreciate how the creative team behind USS Christmas strove to create a type of story that isn’t common in entertainment media. It also helps how a mystery was incorporated into the film, as mysteries aren’t often found in Hallmark’s Christmas offerings. I’ve heard Jen Lilley and Trevor Donovan have begun appearing in Great American Family’s (GAF) movies. I’ll have to check out their films from that network!

Overall score: 7.1 out of 10

Have you seen USS Christmas? Which military related Hallmark Christmas movie do you like? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen