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

Take 3: The Santa Incident Review

Back in June, I published my list of the Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time. Since then, it has become my most popular post on 18 Cinema Lane, acquiring over 1,000 views! In the comment section of that post, a blog reader named T. Ann suggested that I check out a Hallmark movie called The Santa Incident. Because I’ve never seen this movie and because I don’t take movie requests from readers and/or followers often, I chose to review this movie and see if it was truly as bad as T. Ann made it seem. Personally, I don’t watch movies where I have a strong feeling they could be bad. While I watch every movie I see with an open mind and low expectations, there are some films that I’ll simply take people’s word on because of how bad they seem. However, there have been few Hallmark Christmas movies that I’ve ended up disliking. If you look at my aforementioned list, you’ll find only one Christmas movie on that list, with seven Christmas movies found in the list’s Dishonorable Mentions section. Will The Santa Incident be placed somewhere on the list of the Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time? Please keep reading this review if you want to find out!

20181203_215139[1]
I did watch The Santa Incident, even if this photo doesn’t say so. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Things I liked about this film:

The acting: I thought the acting performances from this cast were good! Every character in this movie appeared believable on-screen. I really liked James Cosmo’s portrayal of Santa Claus, as his version of this character was likable and somewhat different from other versions of Santa that I’ve seen in movies before. In The Santa Incident, Santa volunteers to help various people in exchange for supplies, so he can finish making toys for Christmas Eve. In all the Christmas movies I’ve seen in my lifetime, I have never seen Santa engaging in activities uncommonly found in Santa focused stories, such as participating in community service. James’ acting performance and the screen-writing helped set this version of Santa apart from other Christmas themed movies featuring the famous figure.

 

Some of the creative choices: While I watched this film, I really liked some of the creative choices that were found within this story. The premise of The Santa Incident is a good example of this, with the film asking the question, “What if someone perceived Santa as a criminal”? This question has never really been explored in Christmas movies, let alone those by Hallmark, so this creativity added interest into the story. Another creative choice I liked in this movie was how the elves were presented. The elves in The Santa Incident were members of a secret agent squad who were trained to save Santa. They even used toys as tools to help them in their mission, such as using a toy robot to locate Santa’s location. These creative choices showed how the screen-writer thought outside-the-box when it comes to a Christmas themed story.

 

The humor: Like in a lot of Christmas themed Hallmark movies, there was a good amount of humor in The Santa Incident! Most of the comic relief within this movie came from the characters of Erickson (portrayed by Greg Germann) and Cunningham (portrayed by Sean McConaghy). The differing personalities of these two characters help make them a great comedic duo, even though they are meant to be the villains of the story. One of the funniest scenes in The Santa Incident was when Erickson utilizes stuffed animals to interrogate Santa. As I just mentioned, Erickson and Cunningham are meant to be the villains of the film’s story. But, the comedic timing of these two actors was such a pleasant surprise!

180564-OWVPWB-850
Adorable Santa image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/christmas-background-with-funny-santa_1324597.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A little too drawn out: In my review of Shoelaces for Christmas, I talked about how the film being a little too drawn out was one of the movie’s weaknesses. The Santa Incident faced the same issue. There were some scenes that dragged on longer than others, making the movie, at times, feel longer than it might have been intended. To solve this problem, either some scenes should have been cut or the script should have been written a little bit tighter.

 

Some filler scenes: When I watched The Santa Incident, I noticed there were some scenes that felt like “filler” material to satisfy the film’s run-time. An example of this is when Daniel, Sophia, and/or Santa walk to the “Ghost Factory” in more than one scene. If some of the scenes like this were cut from the movie, it would have helped The Santa Incident not feel as drawn out as it did.

 

The editing: During the movie, there were some scenes that felt like they ended too quickly. I noticed this, sometimes, happened whenever characters were having conversations with one another. This seemed to be an issue related to the film’s editing. For these scenes, I think they should have been a little bit longer, so the conversations can feel like they had a natural finish.

181370-OWVORZ-84
Christmas snowman image created by Freepik at freepik.com  <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/christmas-tree”>Christmas tree vector created by Freepik</a> <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/set-of-pretty-christmas-tags_1337932.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> Image created by freepik.com

My overall impression:

Honestly, I thought The Santa Incident was ok. While I think Hallmark has made stronger Christmas films, The Santa Incident is, to me, no where near the Top 10 Worst or even Dishonorable Mention bad. Even though this film had its flaws, I believe the creative team behind this movie had good intentions when they brought this story to life. John Campea, from The John Campea Show, has said on his show in the past that “All films are subjective”. This is a statement that I agree with because everyone looks at movies differently. Someone’s favorite film could be someone else’s most despised movie and vice versa. No matter what your opinion is on The Santa Incident, I’m just glad that I was given a chance to see this film. Thank you, T. Ann, for suggesting that I watch The Santa Incident because, otherwise, I may have never seen it.

 

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

 

Do you like Hallmark Christmas movies? How many Hallmark Christmas movies have you seen? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Word on the Street: Hallmark Channel’s “Christmas In Evergreen” will likely receive a sequel

With Hallmark releasing over 30 movies this Christmas season, there is bound to be a sequel somewhere in the mix. While Crown Media Family Networks has not revealed an official list of the upcoming Christmas movies on their website, Hallmark has recently mentioned at least one of these films. On Hallmark’s corporate website, there is a special page titled “Celebrate the Holidays with Hallmark”. While scrolling through the page, three interesting Christmas themed products are listed: a North Pole Mailbox, a Santa Key in Box, and an Evergreen Water Globe. According to Hallmark, these items will be featured in their upcoming film, Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa. There are two observations that I have found that point to this movie possibly being a sequel to the 2017 film, Christmas in Evergreen. The first is that the snow globe on Hallmark’s corporate website looks exactly like the wishing snow globe that was featured in the first film. The second is on the “In Production” page on the website, Creative BC. This particular page has the movie listed as “Christmas In Evergreen 2”. As of August 2018, Hallmark has not released an official press release or premiere date for the film. However, Hallmark Channel does have a preview special for their upcoming Christmas films in October, so Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa could get mentioned by the host.

Christmas In Evergreen poster
Christmas In Evergreen 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%20In%20Evergreen&IsSeries=False.

When I first found out about this upcoming film, I will admit that it was a bit of a head-scratcher for me. Out of all the 2017 Hallmark Christmas movies that had the potential to receive a sequel, Christmas in Evergreen was, in my opinion, one of the least likely. I did watch the film for the first time during Hallmark Channel’s “Christmas Keepsake” marathon and, honestly, I thought it was a decent movie. Christmas in Evergreen wasn’t one of my favorites from last year’s “Countdown to Christmas” line-up, but I would give the movie an Honorable Mention. Also, the way the story wraps up at the end of the film doesn’t seem to leave much room for a potential sequel. A concern that I have for Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa is the movie feeling less like a movie and more like a commercial for Hallmark products. When I discovered the three Christmas themed products on Hallmark’s corporate website (the North Pole Mailbox, the Santa Key in Box, and the Evergreen Water Globe), it reminded me of when Hallmark sold Christmas themed products that correlated with the film, Northpole. Anyone who has read my Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time list would know how much I don’t like that film. One of the reasons why that film didn’t work, for me, was because Northpole felt more like a commercial attempting to showcase Christmas themed merchandise to a younger audience. Besides the Evergreen Water Globe, the significance of the North Pole Mailbox and the Santa Key in Box are unknown at this time because Hallmark hasn’t released an official synopsis for Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa. Because we are two months away from the start of both of Hallmark’s Christmas movie line-ups, it’s likely that Crown Media Family Networks will make an official announcement for the film sometime in the near future.

180564-OWVPWB-850
Adorable Santa image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/christmas-background-with-funny-santa_1324597.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What are your thoughts about this potential sequel? Are you a fan of Christmas in Evergreen? Please tell me what you think in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

Here is a link to the page where you can find the Christmas themed products I mentioned in this post and the short statement about Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa: https://corporate.hallmark.com/holiday2018-2/

Here is a link to the “In Production” page on Creative BC’s website: https://www.creativebc.com/crbc-services/motion-picture-services/in-production/films.php?type=mow (if you visit this page after September 7th, “Christmas In Evergreen 2” may be taken off this list)