When I started writing Word on the Street posts back in February, one of the first topics that I talked about was a film called “The House of Holly Lane”. At the time, I speculated that the movie could be a Hallmark production, pointing out clues such as each cast member’s involvement with Hallmark movies and the title itself. As more information for the film was revealed, the title not only changed to Christmas on Holly Lane, but it ended up being an UP Network production. This is not the only time where I thought that an upcoming movie would be a potential Hallmark project. In May, I speculated that “Poinsettias for Christmas” could be a Hallmark movie because there has, so far, not been a Hallmark story centered around the subject of poinsettias. However, Poinsettias for Christmas became a Lifetime movie. Because I have talked about Christmas on Holly Lane on 18 Cinema Lane and because both posts about the movie gathered a combined total of 107 views and 7 likes, I felt that I owed a review of this movie to all my readers and followers. Was this movie as good as the typical Hallmark Christmas film? Take a sleigh ride through this review if you want to find out!
Things I liked about the film:
- The acting: For the most part, the cast of Christmas on Holly Lane was good! Because I’ve seen most of these cast members appear in several Hallmark movies before, I knew they had what it takes, talent-wise, to pull off a good acting performance. Even though Giles Panton has starred in nine Hallmark movies, I have never seen him in a lead role. After watching Giles’ performance in Christmas on Holly Lane, I, as an audience member, saw that he definitely has the talent to, one day, lead a Hallmark production. Any time I’ve seen Karen Holness in a Hallmark film, I notice that she always brings her A game to her specific role. Karen’s portrayal of Riley in Christmas on Holly Lane was a highlight in the film, as it appeared natural and believable. Like I said about Giles Panton, Karen Holness absolutely has the talent to, one day, lead a Hallmark film.
- More than one protagonist: In Christmas on Holly Lane, there were three protagonists instead of just one. This story-telling format is not usually seen in Christmas movies. The only other Christmas movie I’ve seen with a similar format was the Hallmark movie, Charming Christmas. For Christmas on Holly Lane, I thought this format worked because each character was given their moment to shine. They also were given their own unique personalities and specific situations for them to resolve. It made it seem like each of these protagonists had an equal amount of importance.
- The on-screen chemistry: As I mentioned before, Karen Holness’ performance was really good! Another actor that I was impressed with in this movie was Jaime M. Callica! Both Karen and Jaime gave good acting performances individually and as a pair, with their on-screen chemistry being a highlight. I liked seeing Riley and Jake’s relationship develop over the course of the movie because it appeared very believable. The quality of the acting performance helped me, as an audience member, stay invested in the on-screen relationship.
What I didn’t like about the film:
- A slow pace: The pace for Christmas on Holly Lane was slow. It was so slow that after watching 30 minutes of the film, I wondered if anything significant would happen. While the story picked up a little bit after the initial thirty minutes, the pace continued at a slow rate.
- Too many plots: While watching Christmas on Holly Lane, I counted a total of twelve plots (yes, you read that right) within the film. When these plots unfolded on-screen, I found myself not caring about, at least, half of them. A few of these plots had the potential to be interesting, like Cat creating her own restaurant. But, because there were eleven other plots competing for attention, Cat’s specific plot couldn’t be explored as thoroughly as it could have.
- Lack of Christmas spirit: The biggest issue I had with Christmas on Holly Lane was how little emphasis was put on the Christmas holiday. To me, it seemed like Christmas was incorporated in this film just to provide the movie’s aesthetic. Christmas themed morals and lessons (such as the power of giving, for example) were pretty much nonexistent. With a town called Holly Lane, I was hoping that a Christmas obsessed town would be featured on-screen. Sadly, the only two things that were prominently featured in the town of Holly Lane was Sarah’s house and Cat’s restaurant. If this exact same story were placed in any other time of year, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference.
My overall impression:
In recent years, UP Network has put an emphasis on creating “uplifting” movies and shows to give their audience. But after watching Christmas on Holly Lane, I did not feel uplifted at all. Honestly, this movie made me feel bummed out. When I think of a typical Christmas movie, I think of movies that have a sense of goodness to them, whether because of the film’s messages or the heart-warming nature of the characters. With Christmas on Holly Lane, however, it puts too much focus on the “doom and gloom” of the protagonists’ realities without providing enough positive counterparts to balance out the negativity within the story. It also doesn’t help that the Christmas holiday is given such little emphasis in this film. Out of all the Christmas movies I’ve seen this year, so far, Christmas on Holly Lane is the worst one. This is a shame because, in the past, UP Network has created some really good films. In fact, my favorite Christmas movie last year was Christmas Princess. Hopefully, UP Network can have better luck with their movie making endeavors in 2019.
Overall score: 5.1 out of 10
Have you seen any of UP Network’s Christmas films? What is your least favorite Christmas movie this year? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!