Updated: Nov 17
My name is Tim Demeter and I have a confession.
I love Hallmark Christmas movies.
It started innocently enough. My immediate family has a rager every Festivus and I’m always hungover on Christmas Eve as a result. On those hungover Christmas Eves I’d watch whatever Christmas movie was on Netflix and doze. Well, after a few Christmas Eves I’d seen them all and one year joked, I’ll put on a crappy Hallmark Christmas movie. Watching Hallmark movies MST3K style became a Christmas tradition for me henceforth. At first it was a couple a season. And then a few per month starting Black Friday. Then one a week… and now. I am lost. I don’t bother with the Hallmark roku app anymore because I’ve seen all those already so I’ve got the Hallmark live TV app, FRNDLY, so that I can gorge myself on the full 45 movie buffet.
I figured if I’m going to do this, rather than laugh at my own jokes, I may as well write them down and present them to you, dear reader. My Christmas gift to you.
Here are the rules:
· I’ll shoot to post one or two of these a week through New Years. No, I will not, nay cannot, watch all 45 movies.
· I’m just going to watch what is live on FRNDLY and react. No curating the really easy to make fun of ones.
· These are going to be written stream of consciousness as I watch. I will edit and clean up after the fact but I promise to leave my in-movie predictions intact. Some entries may be shorter if it takes me a day to write up my notes and I forget stuff.
· Review tone and plot accuracy will vary based on when I watch. I will endeavor to watch one or two after I’ve been drinking.
· If I fall asleep there is no rewinding. We will work around the plot gaps together.
· Guests writers are likely to appear.
· A video episode or watch party is a possibility.
Is this something I’m doing for your entertainment or to enable my love of shitty rom-coms? You be the judge.
Alright, here we go with Coming Home for Christmas, starring Generation X’s sweetheart and Hallmark All-Star Danica McKeller aka: Winnie Cooper.
“An Estate manager tries to bring a family together to celebrate Christmas in their estate one last time before it sells but the estranged clan makes this a challenging task for her.”
The stage is set with a license-free Christmas song. Like one does. No aerial shot of the location though. Subverting those Hallmark tropes right out of the gate. I love it.
McKeller is decorating a Christmas tree. Given this is the Hallmark Christmas Cinematic Universe it is likely early September. We’re not told. We are, however, told A LOT of other things. Our star has just lost her job! And she dumped her really nice boyfriend! And he was gonna propose that night! And her dad is dead! But she loves Christmas and baked goods. Holy shit I can’t type fast enough to keep up with all this exposition. There is more plot in the first 90 seconds of this movie than the whole second Hobbit movie.
She also mentions that she studied Art History. HOLD THE PHONE, DEAR READERS. Guess who else studied Art History as established in the Wonder Years series finale? Yes. That’s right. WINNIE EFFING COOPER. This movie is clearly in-universe with The Wonder Years and this is not just Danica McKeller. It is WINNIE EFFING COOPER. Strangely, people are calling her Lizzie and she has a new family. Did she run afoul of some bad dudes in Europe and is now in witness protection? Was she in a parasailing accident and now has amnesia? BOTH? Does Kevin Arnold know? If this vexes you as much as it does me, fear not, all will be explained in my already-started fan-fiction: Winnie’s Last Christmas – ENTER: LIZZIE.
Okay, back to Winnie’s current Christmas.
Our friend Ms. Cooper is jumping right into the “woman at a crossroads” template required by all protagonists in the Hallmark Christmas Cinematic Universe. She doesn’t know what to do with her career and bemoans to her mother (who’s only character trait is supportive baker) that she doesn’t know what can “fill her up.” Please insert you own “that’s what she said” joke here.
Enough of this talk about catastrophic unemployment it’s Christmas let’s get to some bathroom humor. Real dialogue from this scene:
“Please tell me you made a chocolate yule log”
“No. I made two”
POOP JOKES in a Hallmark Movie! It’s the first scene of the first movie and I’m already dead!
— I’m being told that was not a poop joke and I am in fact 8 years old. Whatever.
Okay, time to start the plot. Winnie needs a job so her helpful real estate agent sister suggests that she help one of her super-rich clients sell their art cause she knows art stuff. For reasons that are unclear this requires Winnie to also live at the ginormous Home Alone house and become their errand girl. This is established to be pattern behavior for the household and a cavalcade of women have been through in a similar role. All certainly fleeing due to the unwanted sexual advances from the brothers therein. Grandma and Jarvis the butler also live in this weird sibling sex cult. Oh! And so does the only person of color in the whole movie. She’s the wizened maid and has like three lines. Try harder Hallmark.
Winnie meets the first of the brothers. He’s the one in charge of the sale and look out Winnie he is ALL BUSINESS. You know it because he angrily hangs up the phone by saying “just do what I pay you for!” What a jerk. Let’s get out of here Winnie. Uh-oh! Wait a second. He’s age appropriate and likely been in a number of un-aired CW pilots… Love interest ahoy! He’s the Icy Love Interest that she needs to change. I personally prefer the heart of gold lumberjack love interest (these are the only two choices) but it’s an imperfect world and we have a long Christmas season ahead.
Let’s learn a little bit about Icy Love Interest. Oh no! His parents died when he was a kid. That made him hate Christmas and NOT become Batman. Tough draw there Icy Love Interest. You missed being awesome by mere inches. Regardless, Icy Love Insert’s parents are dead and that’s why he hates Christmas. Winnie Cooper’s dad is dead and that’s why Christmas is so special to her. The point is everyone is dead and that has a big impact on Christmas in seemingly arbitrary ways.
Back to the plot. Icy Love Interest is going to spend Christmas in The City. ARE YOU MAD, ICY LOVE INTEREST? There is no greater sin in the Hallmark Christmas Cinematic Universe then spending Christmas in an urban hellhole. This won’t stand. We’ll have to solve that later though because super charming brother of Icy Love Interest is here. He sure is fun and those unwanted sexual advances are flying fast and loose! What a crazy guy!
Good thing he’s here because Pippie does not want to sell and she needs Charming Bro to talk sense into Icy Love Interest. (I’m not clear on why they call grandma Pippie but don’t forget this house is a weird sibling sex cult so I assume it’s some kind of title as madame of the house.)
Out of left field Pippie lays into Winnie for being in her 30’s and not being married. Really twisting the knife on your audience there, Hallmark. I mean, not me. I’m not an unmarried woman in her 30’s watching a Hallmark movie. I’m an unmarried man in my 40’s watching a Hallmark movie. I have NO life choices to really think hard about.
What? Oh! Chrsitmas! Yay.
Winnie Cooper is now also the house’s party planner for some reason. She’s an art broker, house manager AND party planner all the sudden? You CAN have it all, Winnie Cooper! Good for her as there is no duty more sacred in the Hallmark Christmas Cinematic Universe than planning the Christmas party. You got this Winnie Cooper.
Too bad it’s the LAST Christmas in this beautiful family house and there’s no way that Icy Love Interest will learn to love Christmas and he and Winnie will get hella married and live in that house forever and ever. THAT WOULD BE CRAZY. [Ending becomes evident at the 34 minute mark. Late for a Hallmark move. These screenwriters are working.]
MEANWHILE: Charming Bro wants Winnie Cooper to come to a caterer’s tasting for the party! He gets her to agree and says “I knew I’d get you to cave!” So this guy is on a list right? Text a girlfriend where you’re going and when please, Winnie.
Cut to outside and OH SHIT! Winnie is on a frozen pond behind the house. AND OH SHIT! apparently it’s Icy Love Interest’s favorite place. 100% chance they kiss on that pond. It will be snowing and there will be a license-free Christmas song playing. MAGICAL. I can hardly wait.
Good news! Icy Love Interest has come home from The City for… reasons! Rejoice! His soul is saved! Sadly, it is just in time to see Whinnie “Wholesome Smoke-Show” Cooper leaving with Charming Bro. OH NOES!
Well, we get to see about 45 seconds of this date with Charming Bro but Icy Love Interest sure has a lot of questions about it. (During a hilarious bedroom mix-up no less!) A LOT of questions for someone who doesn’t care about Winnie or Christmas or anything. After an awkward conversational transition that would not occur in any version of real-life, the topic shifts to Winnie’s parents first date. That’s def a conversation to have with a new acquaintance in the middle of the night. What am I saying? Who cares! THE CHRISTMAS MAGIC IS HAPPENING YOU GUYS.
Commercial! NOOOOOO!!! The magic is happening!
Okay, we’re back. Icy Love Interest is suddenly opening up about feelings and other things that are not in the other movies I watch. He’s also suddenly making popcorn garland. Character development is a lot of work and sometimes it’s easier to just be like “He’s nicer now. You want that frozen pond kiss or not?”
Charming Bro shows up at just the wrong time like he does and is all: “hey I had a fun last time last night” to Winnie. What a buzzkill.
Oh nice! Icy Love Interest’s sister is here and she has precocious kids! 53 minutes without precocious kids is a bold storytelling choice for a Hallmark movie but I’m so invested in this inevitable frozen pond kiss that I didn’t even notice.
Suddenly we discover that -- wait a minute... Icy Love interest doesn’t want to kick Pippie out of her house... she’s sick and can’t stay. Doctor’s orders. (It’s not said but I think the doctor is married to the real estate agent.) Anyway, Icy Love Interest is being the bad guy FOR THE FAMILY... and it’s breaking his heart... but he’s Icy. He spent time in The City. THE. CITY. How can this be?
In lighter news, the party is coming together. Winnie says the house is looking good but it needs a Christmas smell. If this isn’t leading to a chocolate Yule log callback then I quit.
GOOD NEWS DEAR READERS, I DON’T HAVE TO QUIT THEY WENT RIGHT TO THE CHOCOLATE YULE LOG CALLBACK FOR REAL! LOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!
I can’t believe that. I’m starting to think these writers are on board with toilet Christmas humor and it’s not just me.
These writer’s apparently have also heard of subplots and decided they should put one in this movie. Sister’s husband is unemployed and didn’t come with for Christmas. He’s in The City looking for a job. Too bad for him that the only three jobs available in the city in the Hallmark Christmas Cinematic Universe are street walker, drug dealer and Lex Luthor. This is just a subplot though so let’s drop it and not talk about it for a while. That’s how subplots work?
YES! Christmas tree lot scene! If you’re new to the Hallmark Christmas Cinematic Universe then head’s up friend, there are two things that grow on Christmas tree lots:
Winnie and now Luke Warm Love Interest are talking about childhood trauma at the Christmas tree lot. It’s on. Ohhhhhhhh and he’s detailing his plan to steal Winnie’s parents first date idea and guess where he wants it to take place: THE MOTHERFUCKING POND.
Oh and Winnie is telling Luke Warm Love Interest that he’s doesn’t have to sell the house. I AM AN ORACLE.
From out of nowhere Charming Bro just bursts onto the scene. Are you seriously cock-blocking Christmas tree lot true love, dude? I’m glad my brothers are awesome and not this jerk. They’d never cockblock me at true love’s Christmas tree lot.
Back at the ranch: Oh no. Sister’s husband didn’t get that street walker job and now he doesn’t want to come for Christmas because he can’t afford presents. Luke Warm Love Interest says let’s not buy presents, let’s make things for each other! And don’t worry he’ll take care of the precocious kids -- even though they haven’t been seen for a solid 30 minutes of runtime. Who’s been taking care of the kids up until now? Why is this suddenly a concern? Oh - it’s so we can see that now straight up Warm Love Interest is good with kids! We need this cheer because Sister is heading to The City to rescue her husband! In a big reveal it’s not just any city: IT’S WASHINGTON D.C. In the Hallmark Christmas Cinematic Universe D.C. is basically Mordor. Godspeed, Sister. Know that even if you succeed you will never be the same.
Charming Bro decides this moment of family crisis is the time to monologue his villainous plan: He wants to take Winnie to Athens. What a horrible brother. Warm Love Interest asks “Does she even want to go to Athens?” It’s a foolish question. We all know she only wants to go to Pond-Town USA for some G-rated making out and surely Charming Bro has been defeated before the game is even afoot.
Now it’s time for the mandatory trying on gowns scene. This is the female friendship equivalent of the Christmas tree lot. Pippie and Winnie are trying on elegant evening wear and also deep personal bonds. Spoiler: they both fit perfectly.
Cementing that these writers skipped the subplot parts of their writers book of choice, Daddy made it back from Mordor. End subplot. That was super-easy. Barely an inconvenience. Just in time too. Warm Love Interest is dressing up as Santa now. The metamorphosis is complete with a half hour of runtime left. Now what?
Oh! The house sold! I forgot that’s what this movie was about. Someone should tell this real estate agent she’s about to get shafted out of her commission by true love’s pond.
It’s Christmas Eve (the denouement of every Hallmark Christmas Cinematic Universe movie) and the big party is finally here! Charming Bro wastes no time pulling Winnie away for a dance. I hope Final Form Love Interest punches him out George McFly style. What am I saying? Physical violence does not exist in the Hallmark Christmas Cinematic Universe. Good thing that in lieu of that Pippie swoops in and cockblocks Charming Bro!
OH! HOW’S THAT FEEL, CHARMING BRO?
Final Form Love Interest finally makes his move but Charming Bro comes back like Jason Vorhees and says Winnie needs to check on the desserts. (I assume this is some sort of chocolate Yule log emergency.) Charming Bro just will NOT stand down. I hope in the post-credit scene he morphs into Tom Hiddleston confirming my theory that he’s been Loki the whole time.
Loki uses his clever ploy to ask Winnie to Athens for real! What an ass! Oh no! Final Form Love Interest is hearing it all. Don’t walk away before she turns him down, Final Form Love Interest! Oh no! He did exactly that! What a hilarious misunderstanding!
Having defeated Loki, Winnie sets out to find Final Form Love Interest but is sidetracked when she is offered a rewarding career by a complete stranger. Love that Hallmark trope! That’s how jobs work!
Her financial future secure, Winnie resumes the chase. Too late! Final Form Love Interest is heading back to... THE CITY!!! On Christmas Eve?! His heartbreak is driving him to the godless heart of an urban center. Everyone knows there is no Christmas in cities!!! What now?
A matching jammies pep-talk from Winnie’s mom (who hasn’t been seen since act 1. Probably cranking out another chocolate yule log) and sister will do the trick! There’s only five minutes of runtime left Winnie! Get yo’self to that pond, girl!
Pippie and Jarvis (who seem like they might be smashing now) have ventured into the barren hellscape of D.C. to save Final Form Love Interest. I’m shocked that Hallmark is even showing D.C. and still allowing this a G rating. Pippie sets love interest straight. Good thing too because there is only three minutes of runtime left. Get to that pond, son!
Wait. He’s going to her house?! What? No! POND! BULLSHIT!
Well, at least Final Form Love Interest says he ain’t selling the house and the real estate agent IS pissed. So I got those right. Still. I want the hat trick. Gimme dat pond.
Aw! The big kiss is just in her mom’s kitchen! Really guys? ... Wait... he has one more surprise...
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?
It’s the damn chocolate yule log!
What is with these writers and that Yule Log.
Wait. He as one MORE gift. Come on pond...
It’s a romantic slow dance. By the tree. Inside. WTF?! The pond was right there. THE WHOLE TIME. I can’t believe the act one poop joke paid off more than the romantic pond. I guess it goes to show that even after producing 100s of these movies Hallmark can still kind of surprise you.
And also slightly befuddle you with chocolate Yule logs.
See you soon, dear readers! Merry November 14th!