Since 2019, I created the Gold Sally Awards. What was once a way to recognize the best Hallmark had to offer, it evolved into a series of polls highlighting the films covered or discussed on 18 Cinema Lane. In the beginning, voter turn-out was strong. The polls served their purpose of allowing readers to interact with my blog’s content. But as time went on, voter turn-out dwindled. There were times when I’ve had to select the winners because a particular poll didn’t receive any votes. With all that said, I will continue the Gold Sally Awards. But starting next year, there will no longer be voting polls. Instead, I am going to create separate, individual awards that are more unique/creative/fun. Now that this update is out of the way, it’s time to announce the winners of this year’s Gold Sally Awards!
Best Movie: The King and I
Best Story: The Three Musketeers
Best Ensemble: The Karate Kid
Best On-Screen Couple: Marshall Williams and Natalie Hall — Sincerely, Yours, Truly
Best Actress: Janel Parrish – Holly & Ivy
Best Actor: Marshall Williams – Sincerely, Yours, Truly
Best Supporting Actress: Jean Porter – Bathing Beauty
18 Cinema Lane recently celebrated its fourth anniversary! To commemorate such an important milestone, I am, once again, hosting the Gold Sally Awards! As I said last month, each award post will feature two polls at a time. This decision was made to help the voting process move at a faster pace. With that said, this year’s Gold Sally Awards will begin with the Best Movie and Story polls! Because I didn’t post any announcements for the Gold Sally Awards, the first two polls will be available for two weeks; from February 16th to March 2nd. Like years past, you are allowed to vote for more than one nominee. But you can only vote once per person. The link to the polls will be located under each poll. Just click on the word ‘PollMaker’.
What was the Best Movie of 2021?
1. The Karate Kid (1984)
2. The Three Musketeers (1948)
3. The Love Letter
4. Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host
5. Sincerely, Yours, Truly
7. Holly and Ivy
8. The King and I (1956)
9. A Star Is Born (1937)
10. Poisoned in Paradise: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery
Like I said in my list of the worst movies I saw in 2021, this year is a little different. Since 2018, most of the movies on my best list have been those I have reviewed. But a few titles on those lists weren’t covered on my blog. 2021 is the first year where every film on my best list has been reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane! It should also be noted how each of these titles were either blogathon entries or Blog Follower Dedication Reviews. Therefore, I will include a link to each of these reviews on my list! As I said in my worst movies of 2021 list, I saw several films this year that I liked. This article is reflective of those feelings. But unlike my aforementioned list, there will be Honorable Mentions. So, with that said, let’s end 2021 on a high note with the top ten best movies I saw in 2021!
Cape Fear (1962), Bathing Beauty, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Til Death Do Us Part, Elizabeth Is Missing, and The Girl Who Spelled Freedom
10. Poisoned in Paradise: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery
Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ Martha’s Vineyard Mystery series is a newer story that began last year. Despite how young this series is, it has grown over the course of four movies! This chapter not only recognizes its strengths, but also improves on some of the previous movies’ mistakes. Giving equal focus to the main and side mysteries is one example. Speaking of the mysteries, the overarching story was intriguing and engaging. There were even new characters added to this film I wanted to know more about. In Poisoned in Paradise: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, Jeff’s story didn’t receive a lot of development. With this and everything else said, I hope this series continues in 2022!
In my three (soon to be four) years of movie blogging, I never thought I’d ever see any version of A Star Is Born. But now that I have seen the original from the ‘30s, I can honestly say it was better than I expected! The story’s honesty about the entertainment industry and maturity toward heavier subjects was such a surprise. What was also a surprise was the use of mixed-media throughout the film, as it was ahead of its time. Even though A Star Is Born was released toward the beginning of the Breen Code era, it highlights the quality storytelling that came from this period in time. With the constant changes in the entertainment landscape, as well as technology, I can kind of see why this story has been remade on more than one occasion.
In 2021, there is at least one movie from the ‘50s on my best and worst movies list. But since I already talked about I Dream of Jeanie and The Trap, it’s time for The King and I to shine! This was the first time I had seen this version of the story in its entirety. Despite that, I found the film to be quite enjoyable! It is a good looking and sounding film, with the costume design, musical numbers, and set design building an aesthetically pleasing picture. The most memorable part of the movie was Tuptim’s interpretation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin! As I said in my review, it served as a good example of how everyone can view a text differently. The scene itself was more interesting than I expected.
Because Hallmark creates so many Christmas movies, it can sometimes feel like they blend together. However, that is not the case for Holly and Ivy! What helps this title stand out is showing realistic characters dealing with realistic situations. This is quite different from those Hallmark pictures where the conflict either revolves around returning to a small town, saving a beloved establishment, or planning a major event. The emotional balance within this story added to my enjoyment of the picture. It never felt like the creative team was trying to emotionally manipulate me or force a reaction out of me. Looking back on the few Christmas films I reviewed this year, I can say with all honesty that Holly and Ivy was the best one!
In my opinion, Rigoletto is to Beauty and the Beast what Ever After: A Cinderella Story was for Cinderella. What I mean by this is Rigoletto does an effective job at executing a non-magical version of Beauty and the Beast! Even though there have been musical versions of this particular story, such as the 1991 animated production from Disney, the 1993 film chose music as one of the story’s themes. This was an interesting choice, as it showed the audience the talent and skill it takes to be a good singer. Another interesting choice was the story taking place during The Great Depression. As I said in my review, this creative decision helped the film achieve its own identity.
This is the first year an UP Network movie has appeared on any of my best lists! While Sincerely, Yours, Truly does contain a similar story to those found on Hallmark Channel, it makes up of that in genuineness and sincerity. The movie also presented interesting ideas, such as a grant proposal process and avoiding the “it’s not what you think” cliché. The on-screen chemistry and witty banter between the lead actor and actress definitely added to my enjoyment of this film! I don’t know what’s in store for UP Network in 2022. But I hope they continue to release quality productions like Sincerely, Yours, Truly!
4. Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host
This entry in the Perry Mason movie series is one of the most memorable titles! One of the reasons why was the titular talk show host. Featuring real life talk show hosts in this story was a good idea. Having them portray talk show hosts on the radio was an even better idea, especially since some of those hosts had their own television show. That creative decision gave them new material to work with. The engaging nature of the mystery, where the outcome unfolds as the story goes on, maintained a steady amount of intrigue. This served as another way Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host stood out in the mystery genre!
Over the years, I have enjoyed finding and watching Hallmark Hall of Fame movies from years, even decades past. Sometimes, there are hidden gems that can be discovered. 1998’s The Love Letter is one of those gems! Unlike Chasing Leprechauns, the creative team behind the Hallmark Hall of Fame title found a way to allow the realistic and whimsical aspects of the story to co-exist. In fact, the whimsical part of the movie is what made the project one of the most unique in Hallmark Hall of Fame history! The film does contain the elements you’d usually find in a production of this nature, such as historical accuracy. But that just adds to the strength of The Love Letter!
Isn’t it interesting how another Gene Kelly movie made it to my best list’s top three? Despite the weird coincidence, I did enjoy this version of The Three Musketeers! There was so much about this project I liked, from the strength of the ensemble cast to the stellar fight choreography. However, the best part of the film was how much detail went into it. This can be seen in the set design and costumes, where research and care are also reflected. While I still haven’t gotten around to reading the novel this movie is based on, The Three Musketeers was definitely an entertaining story!
When it comes to the world of cinema, nothing beats the classics! The timelessness of 1984’s The Karate Kid allows the film to have a strong rate of re-watchability. The film’s story also contained ideas and messages that caused me to think, which is not something I’d expect from a sports movie. As I write this list, Mr. Miyagi’s words immediately come to mind. Whether it’s the famous “Wax on, Wax off” quote or his wisdom about karate, these words not only help The Karate Kid remain a memorable picture, but also give the audience something to apply to their lives. Add some exciting karate sequences and you have a solid film that has stood the test of time!
I know this review has been long overdue. With several projects on my plate last month, I wasn’t able to get to my review as soon as I had wanted. Like I mentioned in my Peer Pressure Tag post, I am using March as the month where I catch up on important articles. This includes the newest blog follower dedication review. This time around, I wanted to choose a movie that was different from the film I wrote about for my last review; Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host. Even though there is a mystery in Sincerely, Yours, Truly, the overall story is more light-hearted in tone. It’s rare for an Up Network film to be covered on 18 Cinema Lane. This is because I just haven’t gotten around to watching many of them. Beginning at the start of 2021, Up Network has been releasing a new movie almost every Sunday night. Since Sincerely, Yours, Truly has been on my DVR for about a month, I finally had an excuse to watch it!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Even though Natalie Hall has starred in Hallmark Channel movies since 2011, the only film of Natalie’s I have seen is A Winter Princess. The reason I bring this up is because it shows how Natalie has experience when it comes to working on films of this nature. Throughout Sincerely, Yours, Truly, Natalie was very expressive, which is reflective of her time appearing in Hallmark’s rom-coms and one of the Love Saga (Love Comes Softly) films. Toward the beginning of the movie, Natalie’s character, Hayley, and her friend, Elisa, have received good news about a potential grant for their non-profit, Growing Out. They dance around Hayley’s kitchen and squeal in delight, as they can’t contain their excitement. While we’re on the subject of Elisa, I also liked Nicki Whitely’s performance in Sincerely, Yours, Truly! Like Natalie, Nicki was also expressive. She had a good on-screen personality as well. Anytime Elisa interacted with Hayley, their friendship came across as realistic. The moments when they read the love letters are a good example. This was my first time watching any of Marshall Williams’ projects, so I didn’t know what to expect from Marshall, talent-wise. I have to say that I was very impressed by his portrayal of Josh! In the movie, he was charming, with his reactions and expressions appearing natural. Having good on-screen chemistry with Natalie also helped Marshall. One of Marshall’s best scenes was when Josh discovers a letter about a lost item. Josh receives his mail when he is on his way to work, not thinking twice about the task. As soon as he sees the letter, a look of curiosity immediately appears on his face.
The witty banter: In order to make any movie, let alone a rom-com, work, there needs to be good dialogue among the characters. Sincerely, Yours, Truly contained witty banter, which was one of the strongest parts of the film! Hayley and Josh meet when they argue over who should receive the last two jars of rhubarb jam. During this interaction, Josh lies about his reasons for wanting the jam. At first, he says he needs it for his sister because she’s having a bad day. Then he says he needs the jam because his sister is sick. Hayley comes back with witty remarks, calling out his falsehood in the process. After hearing both explanations of Josh’s, she asks him which one is true. This back-and-forth banter between these two characters was consistent, being both quick and sharp. Another example of this banter is when Josh is asking Hayley to put out her incense at their shared office facility. Because he’s entering her part of the office, Hayley responds by telling him not to spy, a reference from an earlier conversation. Not only do these interactions work because of the script, but also because of Natalie and Marshall’s talents!
The process of a grant proposal: A overarching narrative in Sincerely, Yours, Truly is Josh and Hayley attempting to win a financial grant for their respective non-profits. Throughout the film, the audience gets to see the entire process, from Josh and Hayley’s initial meeting to the final results. I found this part of the story interesting, as it allowed the characters to use problem solving skills and creativity. Even though Hayley’s non-profit was featured in the film more than Josh’s, I liked seeing her ideas come to life! This kind of insightful story-telling is what I’ve come to enjoy in stories like this.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Revealing the mystery too early: A mystery surrounding a collection of love letters was one of the major stories in Sincerely, Yours, Truly. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to watch this film. Within the first twenty minutes, a narration from a character the audience already met recites one of the love letters. The narration reveals the identity of the letters’ author. The mystery should have been drawn out for longer than twenty minutes, with the author’s identity remaining a secret for at least half the movie. This would give the audience more time to stay invested in the mystery.
No subplots for the supporting characters: While I liked the major stories in Sincerely, Yours, Truly, I didn’t find subplots for any of the supporting characters. What’s even more frustrating is how there were opportunities for subplots to take place. One example is Hayley’s mom, Camille. Over lunch between mother and daughter, it is revealed that Camille has a crush on a local butcher. However, this relationship is never explored and we only see Camille in two scenes. In the story, Elisa shares how she’s dating a dog-walker, whose profession is affecting her allergies. This conflict was not resolved anywhere in the movie.
Josh and Hayley never coming across as enemies: A classic rom-com trope that is found within the movie is “enemies to lovers”. Even though I enjoyed seeing Hayley and Josh’s interactions, I never felt like they were enemies. Sure, there were aspects of the other person they didn’t like. But their banter came across as playful than antagonistic. This made me question why the creative team behind Sincerely, Yours, Truly adopted this specific trope if they weren’t going to fully utilize it?
My overall impression:
I’m glad to see Up Network releasing newer films on their channel! It gives their audience something to look forward to and allows the network to compete alongside their competitors. With Sincerely, Yours, Truly, it was a film I ended up liking! While the movie does have its flaws, its sincerity and genuineness make up for that. I didn’t bring this up in my review, but Sincerely, Yours, Truly successfully avoided the “it’s not what you think” cliché. There were two instances where this cliché could have been used in the story. However, the film’s creative team subverted my expectations and chose not to use it, which made me enjoy the movie more! I want to take the time now to thank all of my followers. Reaching 300 followers is a big deal for me, so I appreciate all of the support!
Overall score: 7.8 out of 10
Have you seen any of Up Network’s newer films? If so, which one has been your favorite? Please tell me in the comment section below!
Even though I’ve reviewed several of the newer mystery films from Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, it has been awhile since I’ve talked about a Hallmark-esque movie. In fact, the last movie of this kind I reviewed was The Carpenter’s Miracle back in March. Since the last two movies that were covered on 18 Cinema Lane were darker, I chose a film that was somewhat lighter. Recently, Up Network aired the 1990 film, A Son’s Promise. Prior to watching it, I had never even heard of this title. However, I am familiar with Ricky Schroder’s acting work, especially his projects from Hallmark. So, I decided to choose A Son’s Promise as my next movie to review! I haven’t heard many people talking about this film, so this review is a perfect opportunity to give an under-rated movie a chance to receive a “standing ovation”!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: A common factor I noticed while watching the acting performances is the amount of sincerity the actors put into their roles. This is definitely the case for Ricky Schroder’s portrayal of Terry. Not only was his performance sincere, but there was also a pure goodness that showed through. In one scene, Terry is sad that he lost his job. As he carries out his tear-filled explanation, you can always tell his heart is in the right place. Veronica Cartwright’s portrayal of Dorothy also contained a genuine goodness to it. She was able to successfully show the gentle nature that humans can sometimes have. No matter what the situation was, Dorothy always remained calm. Donald Moffat did a good job portraying Paw Paw! He brought a sense of believability to his role that was convincing. A good example is when Paw Paw is in the hospital. You could feel the fear and uncertainty of that circumstance because of the quality of Donald’s performance. Despite his limited presence on screen, Donald brought a very memorable role to life!
The messages and themes: Movies like A Son’s Promise are known for containing messages and themes that are important and relatable. In this film, one of the messages relates to dealing with loss. At their mother’s funeral, the youngest son in the O’Kelley family asks if they are leaving their mother in the cemetery. Terry tells him no by telling him and his brothers that they will always carry their mother in their hearts. An overarching theme in A Son’s Promise is trust. When speaking with Dorothy, Terry confesses that he is the only person he can trust. Through Terry’s interactions with various characters, we can see how placing trust in others or choosing not to do so can shape someone’s perspective. This theme also shows how the company we keep can make or break a person.
The scenery: Because this movie takes place in rural Georgia, the surrounding scenery reflects this type of location. Near the O’Kelley family’s house, expansive farmland and rolling hills can be seen. Soft yellows and hints of green make up this location’s official color scheme. Other locations that are shown include a forest and a lake, which boast hues of green and blue. Similar to the aforementioned farmland and hills, these settings are serene and have a peaceful quality to them. Even the cemetery appeared as a tranquil space, with the orange of the fallen leaves set against the gray of the headstones. All of these locations gave the impression that time can stand still and there are places that can make people feel safe.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Some brothers receiving more character development than others: This story is about Terry trying to take care of his six brothers after his mother’s death. Because of the large number of siblings, it is difficult for some of the brothers to receive character development. The movie revolves around Terry, giving the audience an opportunity to truly get to know him as a character. Two of the older brothers are given some character development, while the four younger brothers don’t receive much character development. It also doesn’t help that the four younger brothers were in the film for a limited amount of time. Overall, I felt like I never really got to know Terry’s brothers, but only became familiar with them.
Dorothy’s role in Terry’s life: I liked the character of Dorothy as well as Veronica’s performance. However, Dorothy’s role was under-utilized in this story. When she first meets Terry and his brothers, Dorothy tells them she has more authority than a lawyer and how she has a multitude of resources. But, throughout the film, we never see her professional role in action. Sure, she helps Terry at times. She becomes a shoulder to cry on and provides a listening ear when necessary. However, Dorothy isn’t shown doing much to help Terry’s brothers. I’m not saying Dorothy’s role wasn’t important. I just don’t think its inclusion was effective.
A drawn-out story: The story of A Son’s Promise is centered around Terry trying to get his brothers out of foster care so they can stay together. Since this is the film’s primary focus, it causes the overall story to feel drawn out. I understand this procession would take a significant amount of time in real life. But, in the movie, it makes the project feel longer than its given run-time. Whenever Terry experiences adversity, it felt like the process became prolonged. It got to the point where I heard myself asking “How much longer until Terry finally catches a break”? Because of how drawn-out the story was, some details were glossed over. Throughout the film, a local appliance salesman steps in to help the O’Kelley family. His intentions are never made clear and he also doesn’t provide a reason for wanting to help. The lack of answers for these questions are the result of the drawn-out story.
My overall impression:
One of the most common types of film that is covered on 18 Cinema Lane is Hallmark/Hallmark-esque films. Not only do I enjoy talking about these projects, but it seems like my readers, followers, and visitors like reading about them. So, I try my best to include these films on my blog. I thought A Son’s Promise was a fine movie. The project contained elements that would normally be found in a movie from the Gold Crown company, such as quality acting and significant themes. But there were also flaws that prevented the film from being greater than it was. One example is how the overall story was drawn-out, causing the picture to feel longer than two hours. What surprised me about A Son’s Promise is how there was no mention of the real life O’Kelley family, despite how this film is based on a true story. In movies like this one, there is, more often than not, a message about the true events and/or a photo of the actual people the project is based on. Maybe the family wanted to protect their identity? If you like Hallmark films, specifically of the Hall of Fame variety, you may enjoy A Son’s Promise. Even though there are movies of this nature that are stronger than this one, its heart is in the right place.
Overall score: 7.1 out of 10
Have you seen A Son’s Promise? Do you like the movies that Up Network has recently aired? Let me know in the comment section!
Before I start this blog follower dedication review, I’d like remind everyone that Thursday, March 12th, is the last day to cast your vote for the Best Actress of the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards! The Best Actor poll will be posted on the 13th! Here is the link to the poll:
Last week, I received 185 followers on 18 Cinema Lane! To everyone that chose to follow my blog, thank you so much! Your belief in me, as a blogger, is what keeps this site going! Because of this achievement, it’s time for another blog follower dedication review! For this post, I’ll be talking about a film that was released in March of 2013. The only movie with a 2013 release date on my DVR was The Carpenter’s Miracle. Not only did it premiere in March of that year, but reviewing it now is very fitting. The Lenten season is upon us. This is a collection of days leading up to the Easter celebration. The events in The Carpenter’s Miracle revolve around the Easter holiday, making the film an appropriate choice for this time of year. Before watching this movie, I had seen Cameron Matheson’s acting work from Hallmark, as well as in the Lifetime movie, The Wife He Met Online. Some of those projects have been better than others. However, Cameron always finds a way to bring the best of his acting abilities to the screen!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: As I said in the introduction, I’ve enjoyed watching Cameron Matheson’s performances in various Hallmark films. The believability he brings to his roles is what makes these performances so great to watch! Cameron’s portrayal of Joshua was no different, showcasing how broad his acting range is. In the film’s opening scene, Joshua can be seen trying to save a young boy’s life. This scene is a perfect example of how good Cameron’s acting abilities are. I also felt the same way when I saw Michelle Harrison’s performance! Like Cameron, Michelle has appeared in several Hallmark pictures, including the upcoming film, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Heist and Seek. When her character, Sarah, finds out her son had died, Michelle’s acting talents really shined through. Not only was her portrayal believable, but she was also allowed to show off her broad acting range! Another actress that has appeared in Hallmark’s movies is Sarah-Jane Redmond. What I liked about her performance was how she effectively used facial expressions and voice inflections in a variety of scenarios. These things helped her portrayal of Delia seem convincing! A great example is in the scene where her character meets Joshua for the first time.
The cinematography: The Carpenter’s Miracle had better cinematography than I expected! The way some of these scenes were presented was creative and appealing to the eye! In one scene, Joshua visits his mother, Helen, at a local nursing home. While there, they watch the rain-drops falling on the window. During this scene, the camera cuts between the characters and the window. This creative choice gives the audience a chance to view that scene from Joshua and Helen’s perspective. The movie’s first scene was presented in a gray hue, showing Joshua’s act of rescuing a young boy as a dire situation. Because of this scene’s presentation, it brought forth the feelings of fear and uncertainty.
How Christianity/faith was included in the story: References to Jesus and the Bible were made throughout the story. The events in the film also take place around the Easter holiday. However, these references never feel preachy or heavy-handed. Instead, any mention of Jesus and Biblical themes are naturally woven into the script. The way they were written felt like they contained a double meaning: one connected to the film’s events and the other toward Christian messages and themes. The narrative itself placed more emphasis on a story than on delivering a message. Any Christian messages that appeared in the movie organically grew from the situations the characters experienced.
What I didn’t like about the film:
The protagonist given little to do: In the Bible, Jesus performs many acts that impact a variety of people. Because Joshua is meant to be a Jesus-esque figure in The Carpenter’s Miracle, you’d think he would have a packed schedule within the story. But within an hour and twenty-seven minutes, Joshua isn’t given much to do. Yes, he does help others through the power of healing. However, he only creates three miracles in the movie. One of them is heavily prioritized, causing the story to focus on the aftermath of the event. For the majority of the film, Joshua is seen spending time with Sarah, visiting his mother, or performing small maintenance jobs.
Limited journalistic presence: The main plot of The Carpenter’s Miracle is about how Joshua saves a young boy’s life. This event causes Joshua to receive a lot of attention. If a situation like this happened in real life, it would likely be covered in the news for about a week. People would also be talking about it on social media, with an official hashtag possibly being created to commemorate the act. In The Carpenter’s Miracle, the presence of journalism was very limited. The aforementioned event was covered on only one local news station. This same event was addressed on a nationally aired news program weeks after it occurred. The journalistic presence in the movie not only felt unrealistic, but it also seemed like there was little to no sense of urgency.
Too many plot points: There were several plot points featured in The Carpenter’s Miracle. This caused some of them to be addressed more than others. One example revolves around Joshua’s mother, Helen. Throughout the movie, she deals with a serious medical condition. While this situation does get resolved, it feels like it gets taken care of as a result of the film’s run-time. Personally, I wish this film had fewer plot points than it did. That way, they could have all been equally explored.
My overall impression:
The Carpenter’s Miracle is not the first faith-based film I’ve reviewed, especially for a blog follower dedication review. Last January, when I received 60 followers, I reviewed the 1959 movie, Ben-Hur. Looking back on both pictures, I can honestly say that Ben-Hur is a stronger project than The Carpenter’s Miracle. The story of the latter film could have been given a stronger script. It wasn’t as impactful as I had hoped. Despite this, the movie did contain aspects that I liked. For one thing, I did like the inclusion of Christianity/faith. The Easter holiday highlights themes like putting the needs of others before one’s self. Ideas such as this one were expressed well within the story. Even though I thought The Carpenter’s Miracle was an ok film, it is an interesting film to watch during the Lenten season. I’ve seen other movies with a similar story, with Working Miracles being one example. However, I do think the 2013 Up Network film is a better project than the 2010 Hallmark movie.
Overall score: 6 out of 10
Have you watched any of Up Network’s films? If so, which one is your favorite? Please tell me in the comment section!
Just three days ago, 18 Cinema Lane received 175 followers! It still amazes me how successful this blog has become in such a short amount of time. To all of my followers, thank you for exceeding my expectations! You are the reason why 18 Cinema Lane keeps going! As I was about to find a movie that premiered in January of 2003, I realized I had a 2003 release on my DVR. Even though A Time to Remember first aired in November, I thought it would be a good choice for this particular review! I’ve been taking advantage of UP Network’s decision to air older Hallmark films, as I have been trying to see as many of them as realistically possible. Also, the last time I reviewed a Hallmark movie for a blog follower dedication review was last July, when I talked about a Western called Desolation Canyon. Before I end this introduction, I’d like to share that this is my 150th movie review! I’ll be publishing a special post to commemorate this achievement in early to mid-February, as there are some blog posts I’d like to publish before the end of January.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: While the cast in this film was good, the two stand-out performances came from Doris Roberts and Dana Delany! I’m more familiar with Doris’ comedic talents on Everybody Loves Raymond. Because a show like that mostly relies on humor, there aren’t many opportunities for the actors and actresses to pull off any dramatic performances. As I was watching A Time to Remember, I was very impressed with Doris’ portrayal of Maggie Calhoun! What stood out to me was how Doris’ eyes contained emotion throughout the movie, even when Maggie was experiencing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Any time I see an actor’s performance, I always focus on their eyes to determine how much emotion is in them. For me, this usually makes or breaks the quality of an actor’s talents. This aspect of Doris’ performance not only helped bring a sense of realism to her character, but it also made her portrayal of Maggie effective. As for Dana, she displayed a variety of emotions in her portrayal of Britt Calhoun. What worked in her favor was how well she was able to seamlessly transition between these emotions. In a scene where Britt and her friend are sitting by a pond, Britt is happy to be spending time with this friend one minute and then overwhelmed at being a single parent the next. Similar to Doris’ performance, Britt felt realistic as a character because of the quality of Dana’s acting talents!
How exposition was incorporated: Hallmark movies usually devote the first twenty minutes to delivering the exposition to their audience. This is done through lengthy conversation or drawn out montages. In A Time to Remember, the exposition was brief, subtle, and wasn’t just reserved for the beginning of the movie. Towards the middle of the film, the backstory of Billy, portrayed by Louise Fletcher, is revealed in a conversation with Britt. What Billy shares provides enough information for the audience to know this character to a satisfying extent. Another way that exposition was incorporated was through natural sounding dialogue. In a phone conversation between Britt and Valetta, portrayed by Megan Gallagher, the audience learns about the strained relationship between Britt and her mother. Through tone of voice and specific choices of words, it also reveals how the sisters view one another. The conversation itself sounds typical, but realistic. It also lasts long enough to get straight to the point.
The horse-riding scene: In one scene, Britt is riding horses with her childhood friend. I really liked this scene because of how well it was executed! It starts with a beautiful sunrise, which was simply picturesque. The locations surrounding the characters, from a grassy field to an isolated pond, appeared peaceful and serene. Their appearance is the result of how well they were captured on film! Speaking of film, the horses were sometimes filmed in slow-motion when they were running. This made them look majestic and powerful! All of these elements helped create a scene that was truly memorable!
What I didn’t like about the film:
Too many storylines: A Time to Remember contained six major stories. Personally, I think this was too many for one script. Because of this creative choice, it felt like all six stories were competing against each other to win the attention of the viewers. It also felt like there wasn’t enough time for each story to be fleshed out. This caused their conflicts to be resolved way too quickly and easily. Just one example is Valetta and Julian’s marital issues. The script tries to accomplish too much in two hours.
The discussion of Alzheimer’s: Historically, Hallmark has incorporated serious, real-life issues into their films. A Time to Remember attempts to shed light on the complicated and life-altering condition of Alzheimer’s. While I commend this movie’s creative team for addressing this particular medical situation, I think this discussion could have been executed better. For most of the film, the members of Britt’s family are either hiding Maggie’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis from Britt or trying to find the right time to tell her about the diagnosis. This makes the script look like it is unintentionally skirting the issue. This also ends up doing a disservice to the audience, especially those who have been affected by Alzheimer’s in some fashion. When Alzheimer’s is finally acknowledged in the story, within the last forty minutes, the characters’ conversations consist of talking about a game plan instead of actually coming up with one. These discussions didn’t feel productive or proactive.
The small presence of Thanksgiving: On my list of The Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time, I talked about a movie called A Family Thanksgiving. One of the reasons why I don’t like this movie is because of how few references the Thanksgiving holiday received in that story. A Time to Remember, unfortunately, makes the exact same mistake. Throughout the movie, Thanksgiving is barely brought up by the characters. The story itself doesn’t really make a big deal out of the special occasion. The film’s last thirty minutes is when Thanksgiving finally gets the recognition it deserves. This aspect of the movie disappointed me because I was hoping this holiday would be given more emphasis in the story, similar to An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving or any of Hallmark’s Christmas films. If A Time to Remember took place in any other time of year, it wouldn’t change that much.
My overall impression:
A Time to Remember made me feel the same way When Calls the Heart: Home for Christmas did, as both films tried to say so much, but ended up saying so little. Another thing these films have in common is how they have too many stories featured in their respective scripts. For A Time to Remember, this choice hurt the film’s potential impact on its audience. Personally, I think the movie should have kept its primary focus on Maggie receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. This way, the story could have explored the idea of finding adversity, hope, and the love of family in a time of hardship and uncertainty. It also doesn’t help that Thanksgiving plays such a minor role in this film. Since the three women of the Calhoun family, Maggie, Britt, and Valetta, are mothers, it would have made more sense for this movie to have been Mother’s Day themed. This choice would have better reflected the landscape of the project, as all the locations in this film looked more like springtime than autumn. It also would have been better reflected through the film’s messages and themes.
Overall score: 6.1 out of 10
Have you watched any of the films from UP Network’s current collection? Are there any older Hallmark films you’d like to me to review? Let me know in the comment section!
Another year, another annual Top 10 article! In 2018, I published my list of The Top 10 Best Movies I Saw in 2018 first. This time around, I’ll be publishing my worst of the year list instead! For me, 2019 has been a better year for movies, as I saw far more good films than bad. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t see any movies I wasn’t a fan of. Similar to last year’s post, this list will be based on movies that I personally saw, as well as my own opinion. Also, this list is not meant to be mean-spirited or negative toward anyone’s opinions/cinematic preferences. Now, let’s begin by bringing up the Dishonorable Mentions!
Our Christmas Love Song, My One and Only, Over the Moon in Love, Hart to Hart: Secrets of the Heart, A Very Country Wedding, Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows, Nightmare Best Friend, Last Vermont Christmas, Always and Forever Christmas (I only watched half of it before turning it off), and Christmas in Louisiana (I ended up watching less than half of it before changing the channel)
10. After the Storm
Sadly, we start this list with an UP Network release. I was hoping any movie from this network didn’t have to end up on my list. But this movie is placed lower on the list than last year’s entry, Christmas on Holly Lane. So, I guess that’s a step in the right direction! Now, back to talking about After the Storm. What made me want to watch this movie is the discussion of natural disasters and their aftermath. In family-friendly, made-for-TV movies, this specific topic is rarely featured in the story. Unfortunately, this film’s narrative placed more emphasis on the romance than the titular storm and its aftermath. Another major issue I had with this movie was the questionable decisions the male and female protagonist make within the film. While these decisions were not necessarily bad, they were also given questionable explanations. I wasn’t able to stay invested in the protagonists and their relationship because of this creative decision.
9. A Feeling of Home
Texas is one of the states that isn’t always featured in a Hallmark movie. This part of the film made me want to give this project a chance. But, similar to After the Storm, the story placed more focus on the romance than in the conflict. There were some editing errors within this film that were painfully obvious. It also doesn’t help that the weakest acting performance came from the lead actress. Watching the female protagonist desperately trying to win over her father’s attention was, actually, quite sad. This made her appear weaker than the majority of female protagonists from Hallmark Channel. I have to ask: who greenlit this script when they knew it was this weak?
8. Christmas at Graceland: Home for the Holidays
In 2018, I saw and really liked Christmas at Graceland. While I thought Wedding at Graceland was ok, it’s the third film in this trilogy that I find to be the worst out of the three. There were a number of plot points in this movie that didn’t make any sense. Why would the female protagonist give her nieces only one small snowglobe but the male protagonist’s children an elaborate and large advent calendar? Also, for a movie set in Graceland, the famous location ends up being a glorified extra by having less than three appearances on screen. Because of this, it makes the story feel like it didn’t need to take place in Graceland. The movie made me wish Christmas at Graceland had never received any sequels.
7. Christmas Scavenger Hunt
The idea of a Christmas themed scavenger hunt is something that had never been shown in a Hallmark production prior to 2019. So, I was somewhat optimistic about this particular movie. Sadly, the potential this film had was wasted on a poorly written script. All of the scavenger hunt clues were way too easy to solve. There was no sense of urgency throughout the film, as well as two separate moments where the male and female protagonist came across as selfish. Not only was the lead actress’s performance weak, but so was the on-screen chemistry between the lead actor and actress. Like other films on this list, questions arose within the story that distracted me from enjoying the movie. One of these questions was why the female protagonist didn’t make her boyfriend take off his expensive tie before baking. All of these missteps added up to a movie that was less entertaining that it could have been.
6. Christmas Camp
When I first heard of this movie, I was excited to see a Christmas themed camp brought to life for the first time in a Hallmark film. I had reviewed this movie for Drew’s Movie Review’s Christmas in July Blogathon. Upon my first and only viewing of the film, I learned that the camp itself was nothing more than an afterthought. What this movie excels at is having a pointless plot and tradition shaming characters whose Christmas doesn’t look or sound “traditional”. Despite the fact this is a Hallmark film, these things don’t make it feel like a Hallmark film. If anything, it makes me wonder why the network would greenlight this movie at all? Hallmark has been known for creating a variety of Christmas products to celebrate a multitude of Christmas traditions. With Christmas Camp, it makes the network seem inconsistent with their message.
5. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
Back in October, I gave this film a second chance for The Second Spencer Tracy & Katharine Hepburn Blogathon. Looking back on it, I realize that was probably a mistake. Unfunny humor is the movie’s biggest flaw. Yes, I know that comedy is a very subjective thing. But if a comedic film barely makes me laugh, then it hasn’t done its job well. Other problems in this movie include the run-time and a weak story. There were elements that could have enhanced the project, such as commentary about greed and the power of money. But these things were swept under the rug for the sake of hosting a popularity contest instead of a movie production.
4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
This was the first movie I saw in 2019 and boy was it a disappointment. All of the humor was so forced, that I found myself not laughing at any of the jokes. The film’s plot was tedious, which made the movie itself feel longer than its run-time. I also found a few plot-holes within this film. One of them was so large and obvious, that it made me question the existence of the movie’s narrative. While I liked the acting performances and the special effects (both practical and CGI), there were more negatives to the film than positives. This could have been something quirky and fun. Unfortunately, the movie was missing those two important ingredients.
3. A Cheerful Christmas
This is not only the worst Christmas movie I saw in 2019, it’s also the worst Hallmark movie I saw in 2019. It doesn’t help when the lead actress ends up over-acting or when at least one of the actors clearly can’t carry a British accent. But it also doesn’t help when the story is poorly written. This movie made me ask more questions than I had planned to. One question was about the female protagonist’s ability to keep her job after all the business-related blunders she makes. I know that fictional stories require their audience to suspend a certain amount of disbelief. But this movie tried to make me suspend all my disbelief, making me feel uncheerful. While I appreciate the movie’s attempt to avoid a large number of “royal movie” clichés, it wasn’t enough to save the project. In my opinion, it felt like the film’s creative team put so much emphasis on making a pointless, family-friendly, Christmas remake of Pretty Woman, that they forgot how to make a good movie.
2. Ace of Hearts
I’m all for helping smaller, family-friendly films get the “standing ovation” they might deserve. However, for a movie to achieve a “standing ovation”, it needs to be good. Ace of Hearts, unfortunately, fails to meet that criteria. The majority of the acting performances are poor and the pacing is very slow. But the worst offense this movie commits is bad writing. This story had so many plot-holes and inconsistencies, that it was exhausting instead of enjoyable. When the protagonist’s daughter convinces her friend that the reason why her family’s dog is trying to get home is to get back at the film’s villain because it’s his “unfinished business” (she comes to this conclusion after seeing the title of a video game), that’s when you know you’ve come across a bad script. As if that weren’t bad enough, this movie is, apparently, based on a true story. If my true story were handled this poorly, I would be offended and embarrassed.
1. A Page of Madness
A Page of Madness is a silent film from Japan, for those of you who are not familiar with this title. I appreciate the director’s efforts to preserve this movie, especially since, according to Ben Mankiewicz from Turner Classic Movies, the majority of Japanese films created before 1945 are either partially or completely lost. I also understand what the director was trying to do with the project. But just because I’m a grateful and understanding movie blogger, that doesn’t mean I liked the final product. This movie has a plethora of problems that would make this list longer than it already is. So, I’ll share two reasons why A Page of Madness is the worst film I saw in 2019. The first is how it has no plot, narrative, or story. It just contains a premise that goes nowhere. The second is how, in reality, this movie is an artistic experiment masquerading as a film. Personally, I found this to be dishonest and manipulative. At two separate moments, I wanted to fall asleep and turn the movie off. This is one of those times where I wish I would have listened to my instincts.
What are your thoughts on my list? Which is your worst film of 2019? Leave your thoughts in the comment section!
Like I said in my post of The Top 10 Best Movies I saw in 2018, I’ve had a pretty good year in terms of movie-viewing. However, there were a few “stinkers” along the way. All movie bloggers will, inevitably, come across at least one film that either lets them down or was just less-than-stellar. This leads me to talk about this list of movies before 2018 is over. As the title suggests, the Top 10 Worst Movies I saw in 2018 will be discussed in this post. This list is very similar to the list of the best films I saw in 2018, where the list is based on my opinion and movies that I have personally seen. Also, like I said in my aforementioned list, this list was not created to be mean-spirited or negative toward anyone’s opinions/cinematic preferences. It is just a way for me to be honest about some of the films I saw in 2018. Now, let’s start off this list by looking at 2018’s Dishonorable Mentions:
One Winter Weekend, Frozen in Love, Love at Sea, Lilith, Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe, Mingle All the Way, and Island of Grace (this movie was so bad, I could only sit through about 5 minutes of it)
Now, let the official list of 2018’s worst movies begin! Starting with number 10:
10. Marrying Mr. Darcy
I’m going to be honest; I thought Unleashing Mr. Darcy was decent, at best. Therefore, I was not asking Hallmark to give this movie a sequel. However, I was hoping Marrying Mr. Darcy would be better than the first movie, so this series could grow and progress as time went on. Unfortunately, that was not the case. As I’ve mentioned before, one of my least favorite Hallmark movie clichés is the “planning-a-wedding-in-an-unrealistic-time-period” cliché. In Marrying Mr. Darcy, this cliché serves as the film’s plot. The dog-show element of Unleashing Mr. Darcy’s narrative was something that I really liked about the first movie, as dog-shows had not been featured in a Hallmark movie until that film. But, in Marrying Mr. Darcy, dog-shows are pretty much non-existent, taking away an important part of the first movie’s identity. If I had liked or loved Unleashing Mr. Darcy anywhere near as much as other people did, maybe I would find Marrying Mr. Darcy to be more disappointing that it was. But, because I wasn’t really a fan of the first film, its sequel received a low placement on this list.
9. Christmas on Holly Lane
In 2018, I watched about 19 newly released Christmas films. Out of all of those, Christmas on Holly Lane was the worst one. As I said in my review, Christmas is given such little emphasis in the story. This movie also has an assortment of other issues that I talked about in my review, from too much focus on the “doom and gloom” of the protagonist’s realities to having too many plots. What’s really disappointing about this specific placement is this is the second year in a row where my least favorite Christmas movie of the year has been an UP Network movie (I also didn’t like The Christmas Calendar). This channel has what it takes to create films that are really good in quality. So, hopefully, in 2019, UP Network can put together a movie that doesn’t end up on my Worst Movies of the Year list.
8. Waffle Street
Yet, another movie I’ve reviewed that joins the list. What’s so disappointing about Waffle Street, even more disappointing than movies 10 and 9, is the movie is based on a true story. Not only that, the story itself sounds really fascinating. Too bad the movie was no where near as interesting. The biggest problem with Waffle Street is the poor execution that was placed on the film. This led the movie to have creative issues, such as very little character development and a toilet scene that went too far. While the cast in Waffle Street did a pretty good job with the acting material they were given, there was nothing anyone could do to save this film. Maybe if this story was placed into the hands of a network like Hallmark, the movie could have done this true story justice.
7. The Graduate
I am fully aware that this choice is going to be controversial, especially since The Graduate is well-liked by a lot of people and is ranked in the Top 10 of AFI’s Top 100 Movies of All Time list. But, as I reflect on this film, I can’t help but wonder why this movie was made and what the creative team behind this movie was trying to say to its respective audience. To me, the majority of The Graduate feels like it was a product of its time. Also, there are several elements within this movie that feel like they were incorporated just for the sake of shock value. When I think about The Graduate, as well as the other movies I’ve seen in 2018, I’ve come to realize that I’m not a fan of the story-telling trope where situations or things are placed in a film just for the sake of shock value/ getting a reaction out of the audience. I will admit that Simon and Garfunkel have some really good songs, but I just think that their music felt out of place in this movie.
This movie has the distinction of getting worse as the story goes on. What starts out as an intriguing, action-packed mystery story slowly turns into a philosophical discussion on why people do the things they do. The character of Vincent is more annoying than menacing, with things happening way too conveniently in his favor. Similar to what I said about Waffle Street, I think the cast did a good job with the acting material they were given. But, also like I said about Waffle Street, there was nothing anyone could do to save this film. I won’t spoil this movie for you (even though I would not recommend this film), but all I will say is the ending was way too ridiculous for my liking.
5. Saturday Night Fever
Yes, another controversial choice for this list, especially because of how well-liked this movie is and how iconic this film’s opening scene is. When you take away the acting (which was good), the dancing sequences (which were really good), and the soundtrack (which is great), you are left with a movie that feels very long, is filled with unlikable characters, and has way too much swearing for my liking. I saw this movie on television and there was so much swearing in this film, I honestly thought the audio on my TV was broken. Another thing I’d like to add is the film’s climax is so predictable, that I, personally, didn’t find it to be emotionally affective. In 2018, I found out Saturday Night Fever was given a sequel a few years after its 1977 release. However, I have no intention of watching this sequel because a) I’ve heard a lot of negative things about the film and b) I didn’t like Saturday Night Fever anywhere near enough to want to give the sequel a chance.
4. Logan Lucky
Out of all the movies on this list, Logan Lucky is the only one that I just couldn’t finish watching. Maybe if I had finished watching it, the movie probably would have ended up in the Top 3. The biggest fault of Logan Lucky is how boring of a movie it is. Despite the fact that this a heist film, there is no excitement to be found. I will admit that this movie had the pieces to, potentially, be a good film. Unfortunately, because of a poorly written script, this entire concept was really poorly executed. Even as I start to think about the Top 3 Worst films I saw in 2018, I’m still trying to figure out how Logan Lucky received a score of 92 to 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
3. Menu for Murder
This is a Lifetime movie from 1990 that I’m not sure how many people are aware of. What enticed me to watch this film was how similar the synopsis sounded to the mystery films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Also, Menu for Murder had an interesting concept (a murder that takes places amongst a PTA group) set against an interesting backdrop (Encino, California). With all of those pieces put together, this movie sounded like something I would like; an engaging mystery story that has a good amount of creativity. But, all of this potential was wasted on a poorly written script. Not only was the mystery itself very lackluster, but all of the characters in the PTA group were defined by stereotypical personalities. The film’s climax was not suspenseful at all, but instead silly, over-the-top, and ridiculously bad to the point of not taking the climax seriously. To me, this was the most disappointing movie I saw in 2018.
2. Yes, I Do
If you have followed my blog for a significant period of time, you would have seen this movie coming a mile a minute. While Yes, I Do is the worst Hallmark movie I saw in 2018, it is now the second worst Hallmark movie I’ve ever seen (bumping Firelight off of my Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time list). As I said in my review, this movie was so bad, I had to fast forward through certain parts of the movie just to get through it. The film’s narrative is not good, even by made-for-TV movie standards. There were other issues I had with this movie as well, from a very unlikable protagonist to really poor screen-writing. Like I also mentioned in my review, this is the second year in a row where Hallmark’s “June Weddings” line-up ended with a movie that I didn’t like. Hopefully, in 2019, the last “June Weddings” movie can help the line-up end on a positive note.
1. The Birds
This has got to be the most controversial choice on this list. When I think about the movies I saw in 2018, The Birds is the only one to truly make me feel like I wasted my time watching it. Prior to seeing this film, I had watched Rear Window, Psycho, and Strangers on a Train. Because of this, I was familiar with the directing style of Alfred Hitchcock and the cinematic tone of his films. However, The Birds ended up being a 2-hour, slow, and boring build-up to absolutely nothing. No plot twist, no shocking ending, no explanation for why the birds were causing so much chaos in the first place. Nothing. For me, it felt like all of the characters were placed within this narrative just because they were obligated to be there. Their dialogue and subplots did not interest me at all. The only parts of the film that I liked were anytime at least one bird showed up, as the love birds leaning in the direction of the car’s turns was one of the best scenes in this film (because it was that hilarious). While I am all for watching Hitchcock’s films with an open mind, I feel bummed out that, in 2018, I found a Hitchcock film that I didn’t like.
What did you think of my list? What is the worst film you saw in 2018? Please share your thoughts in the comment section!
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!