Tag Archives: Hallmark movies

One Winter Proposal

In 2020 I was living in a narrow, dark little world, ignorant that Hallmark had its own shared universes and extended stories. But late last year I came into the light and there’s no looking back now.

Just a week ago I was telling you about One Winter Weekend, in which a couple of gals rented a ski chalet that turned out to be shared with a couple of guys, unbeknownst to all four. They were all mildly attractive and wildly single, so by the end of just one (winter) weekend, they’d coupled up, strangely along race lines. Happily ever after is assumed when you close with a Hallmark kiss, but this particular movie has since reached franchise status with a sequel that gives us a glimpse of what’s been happening in the year since.

In fact, it’s been a very good year for Cara (Taylor Cole), who is now publishing that mystery novel she was working on when we first met her, and boyfriend Ben (Jack Turner) who has indeed founded a new snowboarding company that makes a helmet with a ponytail slot. They’re spending a romantic weekend together at the same chalet that started it all, and Cara suspects an engagement might be imminent. Ben is less sure – Cara is impossible to surprise, plus the weekend’s turning out to be less about romance and more about business as he’s meeting a possible investor there. Oh, and there’s the fact that Megan (Rukiya Bernard) is tagging along, for work. And Sean (Dewshane Williams), well, he gave up his Seattle surgeon gig to be a ski resort doctor full time, so the whole gang’s back together. Not together together – Megan and Sean never made it was a couple – so it’s either going to get super awkward, or shit’s about to get rekindled.

Will Ben’s company get funded? Will Cara get a ring? Will Megan and Sean bump uglies? The possibilities are endless, and each more juicy than the last. Hit them up on Hallmark.

Pumpkin Pie Wars

Ten years ago, Faye McArthy (Michele Scarabelli) and Lydia Harper (Jennifer-Juniper Angeli) were best friends, until a pumpkin pie contest was their undoing. Competing against each other with rival pie recipes, their friendship unraveled in front of a live audience as Faye accused Lydia of betraying her, of seizing an opportunity to open “their” bakery alone. Ten years later, the McArthys and the Harpers are sworn enemies with rival bakeries across town from each other. Faye is really hoping to win this year’s pie bake-off to bring much-needed business back into the bakery as times have been tough, but an accident leaves her with an injury that forces her off her feet and out of the kitchen. Daughter Casey (Julie Gonzalo) has heretofore been solely on the business end of the bakery, but now she’ll have to win the contest – and, um, learn to bake first, of course. Meanwhile, over in the Harper bakery, Lydia thinks it’ll be good for business to stoke the family rivalry by sending her own son Sam (Rico Aragon) to compete in her place – 2nd generation feud and so on. Small towns! Rico is a very talented chef who’d love to expand his mother’s business to include more than just pastry, but Lydia is risk-adverse and keeps pushing him off.

Wouldn’t you know it, Sam and Casey have no vested interest in carrying on their family’s feud and in fact agree to help each other out: Casey will help Sam create a viable business plan to present to his mother, and Sam will teach Casey how to bake. Like any good Hallmark movie (or indeed, any bad Hallmark movie), Sam and Casey fall in love, because that’s what happens when you spend time with someone. But wait! They both actually really need to win this competition for their moms! Can their relationship possibly survive the rivalry? Or will their feelings allow them to find a common goal? One can only hope…

Love in Winterland

This movie made me rationally angry. I rolled my eyes, I yelled in vain, I gestured wildly, I made that little vein in my forehead swell up in anger, I put my heartrate in the danger zone, I made myself into a furious little anger ball until I got the sweats, but every bit of it, I assure you, was a rational reaction. I’ve been watching loads of Hallmark movies lately, and though their premises tend not to be grounded in reality, I’ve been surprisingly cool about it. I just watched an animated film that I basically called a sexist dumpster fire, and while I wasn’t cool about it, nor did I overheat. But this movie? This movie really got my goat.

Ally (Italia Ricci) is a contestant on a dating reality show that wants to remind you of The Bachelor without treading on any copyright laws, and without the constraints of actual reality. By the time The Bachelor airs, the season has been done taping for months, and the editors have worked their magic, manipulating the reels and reels of footage into a pseudo-narrative that plays up the drama and crafts characters the audience will both root for and hate. In the Winterland universe, the shows are taped one a time. Ally doesn’t live in a mansion with the other contestants, she goes home to her apartment, watches the show with her friends, and has no idea how things will pan out because that’s next week’s episode. In next week’s episode, in fact, Ally is surprised when eligible bachelor and “international man of many hats” Tanner (Jack Turner) selects her for the Hometown Date.

It’s been ages since Ally’s been to Winterland (the apparent actual name of her hometown), and while she’s thrilled to see her parents and to show Tanner around town, the reason she’s stayed away keeps rearing his ugly head. Brett (Chad Michael Murray), the ex who broke her heart, shows up a lot. Like, he’s hanging out with her parents on the regular, apparently. Plus she’s staying at the hotel he owns. And he likes to eat/eavesdrop in the next booth over at the local dinner…you get the point. And as soon as the producers smell drama, they’re pushing the three of them together like love triangles are going out of style. On a dating reality show!

Even though there’s nothing wrong with Tanner and everything wrong with heartbreaker Invasive Brett, the film really wants us to root for Brett and Ally getting back together. Even though Chad Michael Murray has inexplicably decided to do this film in a Batman voice! Plus Brett acts like a jealous brat and claims to have pined for Ally despite the fact that he broke up with her by never showing his face again, which is hella rude and awkward, and doesn’t seem to know what personal boundaries are. Brett is a yuck human being, and I’m not even that big of an Ally fan, and I still don’t want her to end up with a garbage boyfriend. I mean, she’s on reality TV so clearly she’s willing to risk it. Don’t worry guys, she’s only really there to promote a job she doesn’t even like. As if that makes it better. She sold her soul for nothing!

There’s no way you’re desperate enough for cheesy romance to watch this movie. If you’re on the Hallmark channel already, there’s plenty to choose from, and almost all of them will be better than this.

Love On Iceland

On Saturday evening, I was wakened at approximately 6:30pm (go ahead and judge) by a siren blaring from my phone. Our new lockdown curfew was set to commence at 8pm and the government saw fit to wake me up in order to warn me to stay home. Not to worry: I’ve been home. I’m doing my part. The last time I was out of my home was 3 weeks ago, before Christmas, for bloodwork. The time previous was 3 weeks before that, for an MRI. You get the idea. Medical appointments only. Sean leaves the house for 3 things: food, prescriptions, and work when it absolutely necessitates it. We support the lockdown and the curfew and yes, even the siren. We have radically changed our behaviour in order to support the collective well-being. It’s not easy, but it’s saving lives, so there’s no question that it must be done. There’s also no question that it isn’t always easy. Last weekend we jacked up the heat in the house, dragged our garden lounge chairs out of storage, donned our swimsuits, and served up margaritas, pretending we were on the beach in Mexico, one of our favourite winter escapes. We are travelers. 2020 was the first year we didn’t travel outside of the country, and that’s only partially true because we were actually already in (real) Mexico when we rang in the new year, so we started off the year abroad and had lots of plans to keep it up, all of which had to be cancelled when the pandemic hit. Which is fine. We just miss it. And I bet most if not all of you do too. Even if you’re not in the habit of travelling annually, the mere fact of being on lockdown has given most of us cabin fever, so we’re dreaming of destinations more frequently than ever. Luckily, even lockdown affords us certain escapes, and movies continue to be one of them. They may not be playing in theatres, but they’re still playing right in your living room, and even a made for the Hallmark channel movie like this one can transport you to a new and interesting place.

Most Hallmark movies start off with stock footage of New York City, or perhaps Chicago. They never film there. They film in Utah, or Vancouver. But once in a blue moon, they film in an exotic location, and this is one of those rare and beautiful times when they did just that.

Iceland is a beautiful country; I’ve never been but I’m definitely not opposed! Chloe (Kaitlin Doubleday) heads there when she needs a little adventure and inspiration, tapping her college group of travel buddies to join her, including (accidentally) her ex, Charlie (Colin Donnell). Their tour guide shows them everything that Iceland has to offer – hot springs, shopping, museums, ice caves, the northern lights and more – you might almost think that Iceland paid for a very glossy, live-action, movie-like tourism brochure that aired for 84 minutes on the Hallmark channel. Regardless, it is indeed a thing of beauty and I got to travel there vicariously, no luggage hassle, no bulky parkas, and best of all, no breathing in recycled virus air on a plane for 8 hours!

One day, we will travel again, and it will be splendid. It will not be Hallmark perfect. I won’t find room to pack a different scarf for every day of the week, and my lipgloss will occasionally smudge, or wear off completely. Sean won’t profess his undying love for me, and his sweetest gesture will be carrying around my glitter polka dot Kate Spade tote without complaint. And between you and I, NONE of our friends look good in viking hats. But we will travel again. Until then, you might want to engage in some pure escapism with a Hallmark romance.

Love On Ice

Spencer (Andrew Walker) came to town to coach skating prodigy Nikki to gold at regionals and beyond, but it’s her former skating teacher Emily (Julie Berman) who catches his eye. Emily is cute, single, and age appropriate, but she’s also a former pro skater herself. She gave it up 8 years ago to care for her dying mother, but Spencer thinks there’s still greatness in her, and when Emily finally allows herself to look deep within, she finds she’s still got the heart of a competitor.

Of course, there are a few obstacles, not even counting her (relatively advanced) age, or the many years she’s spent off the competitive circuit and not in competitive shape. There’s her relationship with Nikki, for starters, a very nice young girl who didn’t really deserve to have her coaching time split though it would seem she was still paying full price. And Nikki’s super alpha competitive mom, Mia, who doesn’t appreciate the interference or a less than militaristic style of coaching . And Nikki’s new coach slash Emily’s old coach, Lindsay, who is ruthless and plays dirty. And a local reporter who puts skating rink gossip on live TV as if people would actually care. And money, always money. And there’s the fact that Emily’s maybe falling in love with Spencer, and Spencer’s maybe falling in love with her. Just a few obstacles to an ideal comeback, but who’s counting?

Between training montages, diner fundraisers, obligatory skate sharpening cuts, and a very odd “kids these days,” “old ladies don’t like rap” scene (wherein the old lady was a 27 year old), there was very little time for romance. Which was just as well because I don’t think Andrew Walker is particularly good at acting in love, an unfortunately flaw when Hallmark is your bread and butter. As much as I rolled my eyes at the title, Take A Shot At Love was a much better skating-themed Hallmark romance, if that’s your jam.

Winter In Vail

Please for the love of retinol in my skincare and all that is holy, will you please let me know in the comments whether you’ve ever inherited something from a long-lost uncle? And I don’t mean the ones you hear from in your spam folder. Those uncles don’t count. I’m talking cold, hard inheritance, in your hands, at whatever rate of taxation your country pretends is fair.

Clearly all of my uncles are duds. My which of course I mean poor. Or, you know, “middle class” (same difference). But in the movies, uncles are wonderful. They make zero demands on you. You may have even forgotten they exist. You let them die alone in their big old houses and then one day you get that jackpot call from a lawyer who’s almost as incredulous as you are. That’s how it happens Chelsea (Lacey Chabert), only her dead uncle’s lawyer spares her even the awkward phone call. One no-nonsense letter later, she’s the proud owner of a property in Vail. Up until this point she’s been a hard-working party planner in Los Angeles but she suffers – well, not exactly a set back, but a disappointment based on a rumour from Larry in the mailroom she only heard about 20 minutes ago. So I’m not sure how close to her heart this sudden hope could really have been, but between that and her new landfall, she quits her job and high-tails it to Vail, a picturesque ski resort town in Colorado.

In Vail she immediately makes friends with all sorts of Vail legends, who all knew her dead uncle of course, but makes an enemy out of the one man she’ll need to rely on, out of a parking dispute of all things. Owen (Tyler Hynes) is a former architect turned handyman, and he’s the only one who can help her restore her uncle’s house into a livable home (turns out he was mid-renovation, and that phone call might have come in handy after all). Though she no longer has an income, Chelsea somehow finds the money to restore plumbing, heating, flooring and more, all the while kitting herself out in more than one new ski ensemble.

Turns out, handyman Owen is actually in town to help his dad stabilize his struggling restaurant, which used to be co-owned by Chelsea’s uncle. Old Vail is being left behind by tourists for newer, fancier more high-end options, and many businesses are failing. Chelsea decides to put her event planning skills and her dead uncle’s recipe to use, co-founding StrudelFest along with Owen to highlight the charm Old Vail still has to offer.

Romantic strudel making ensues. Strudel wooing follows. But when Chelsea’s old boss comes begging for her to come back, what happens to Vail, to her uncle’s house, and to her new something-something with handyman Owen? Guess you’ll have to watch to find out 😉

Taking A Shot At Love

Ryan (Luke Macfarlane) is a professional hockey player who’s trying to come back after a complex ankle injury. None of the usual rehab protocols have gotten him to where he needs to be, so his agent proposes something radical: ballet. The agent’s cousin Jenna (Alexa PenaVega) is a former professional dancer who was able to make a comeback after the same injury, using some fundamental ballet exercises. Since her dance studio is struggling, she agrees to take on Ryan as a rehab patient (although, to be clear: she is completely unqualified to do so) and since he’s desperate to get back to the NHL and has no other options, he’s in too.

This Hallmark movie has a ring of The Cutting Edge to it, certainly enough for a toe pick loving girl such as myself to get a little excited just by the premise. Almost all of Hallmark’s winter-but-not-Christmas themed movies are about skiing, so hockey was a nice change of pace. Of course, it wasn’t really about hockey, it was about ballet and ankle injuries. And it wasn’t so much about ballet and ankle injuries as it was about falling in love on the dance floor.

I am rehabbing from my own ankle injury and have been since…2012. Yeah. It’s a crapfest. I was in actual literal rehab for it right before the pandemic hit, and not so much since, unfortunately. I wore nitro patches on my wonky tendon for the past year and have had several cortisone injections in the joint which has now gone arthritic. I just heard back from my doctor after my second (ankle) MRI, which has now been sent off to an orthopedic surgeon who, mark my words, won’t be able to do anything either. I am doomed to limp in pain forever. Although, to be honest…I haven’t tried ballet. At least not since the ankle injury. I did do ballet as a little girl (and despite my expression in the photo, I was generally pretty thrilled about it) but I don’t remember it being very ankle-forward at the time.

To my surprise, Taking A Shot At Love, despite the horrible title, is an unhorrible Hallmark movie. Jenna’s all about that hygge life, Ryan’s not afraid to be unmanned by a woman, and when the power goes out, they keep each other warm. PenaVega and Macfarlane are in Hallmark’s top tier of talent and their charm and chemistry are not just watchable but delightful. If you’re looking for a cozy Hallmark romance to take the edge off, this new addition to their lineup is a straight up goal.

The Convenient Groom

Dr. Kate Lawrence, PhD. (Vanessa Marcil) is a small-town celebrity for giving no-nonsense dating advice. She’s about to announce her surprise engagement to boyfriend Brian, the elusive “no red flags” guy, proving to her fans that she can walk the walk. Kate thinks this incontrovertible proof that her relationship advice is the real deal will push her career in the right direction, so she allows her agent to nudge her engagement announcement into a very big, very public thing, which is pretty inconvenient when Brian unceremoniously dumps her in the middle of a live feed. Luckily (or shall I say conveniently), his identity has remained unknown to fans, so at the last minute, Kate’s old high school bud Lucas (David Sutcliffe) subs in, pretending to be her future groom.

With a book deal, not to mention her reputation, on the line, they agree to carry on this ruse for the foreseeable future. I don’t think anything could go wrong, do you? Her agent of course insists they go through the motions of planning their pretend wedding, even setting a date just three months hence. If you’re wondering what’s in it for Lucas, he’s harbouring a secret crush on her and has been since they were kids. Naturally. Very convenient indeed. Anyway, for lots of couples, planning a wedding can be quite stressful, but it turns out if you’re a fake couple planning a fake wedding, it can almost be kind of romantic. Especially when you’re doing it in front of cameras. Apparently.

You know what? Don’t worry about Kate and Lucas. They’re going to be okay. Plus they’re going to get to taste-test some raspberry-filled chocolate cake that they don’t ever plan on needing, so don’t feel too badly for them. perhaps feel a little badly for David Sutcliffe who once upon a time played Lorelai Gilmore’s baby daddy and is now reduced to this. Which is almost slightly better than average because he’s in it, and he’s a better than aver Hallmark actor. However, Vanessa Marcil is a worse than average addition to the cast, and her confusion between acting and hair tousling makes for a frustrating viewing experience. So the two cancel each other out, leaving just the story to make or break your experience, and it’s a pretty weird and contrived premise, even for Hallmark. These two are clear soul mates, only because between them they don’t have an ounce of dignity, and that’s makes us an awkward third wheel.

Love on the Slopes

Alex (Katrina Bowden) wants to be a travel writer but her boss at the travel mag tells her that travel writers are courageous and impetuous, things that she is not. But Alex really wants this new job and is determined to show her boss he’s wrong, so she decides to go on an extreme sports vacation even though using a paperclip where a staple would normally be required is usually as extreme as she gets – and even that scenario makes her sweat a little.

Anyway: does she have a panic attack causing a human pileup on the chair lift? Possibly. Did Sean invent the word “helichopter” because helicopter just wasn’t extreme enough? Undoubtedly. Was that a Hannah Montana reference I just heard? No idea. But hang on to the seat of your snow pants, folks, you’re in for a pretty wild ride – ziplining, suspension bridges, extreme tobogganing (well, it was pretty regular tobogganing, to be honest, but down a larger than average hill). Nothing so extreme it smudges Alex’s lip gloss, but extreme for the Hallmark channel, thanks to her “guide,” adventure photographer Cole Taylor (Thomas Beaudoin). Now, it is difficult to sift the bad dialogue from Beaudoin’s awkward delivery, nay, impossible, but there’s more than enough blame to go around.

Well guys, what do you think? Will Alex uncover a roaring desire for extreme sports? I mean, it’s Hallmark. They’ve got to channel their horniness into something productive, amirite? Those hormones have to go somewhere – might as well be off the side of a very high cliff.

One Winter Weekend

A recently dumped travel writer goes on a ski getaway with her best friend and they find themselves double booked with two eligible men. 

That’s what IMDB, indeed the movie itself, would have you believe it’s about. Let me make a few corrections. First: recently dumped? Not quite. More like, the guy she was seeing for all of 3 weeks kissed someone else on New Year’s Eve. She didn’t stick around for a dumping, if such a thing is even necessary after only 3 weeks. In fact, I think she’s the one who decided their fate when she simply turned and left. Next: travel writer. Not at all. Currently writing about relationships, formerly about beauty, aspirationally mysteries, never travel. And last: ski getaway. I mean, they are in fact vacationing at a ski resort, but all 4 people are avowed snow boarders, so let’s be accurate.

Cara (Taylor Cole) and her best friend/colleague/roommate Megan (Rukiya Bernard) take a weekend snowboarding trip up a cold, snowy mountain, which is usually the kind of thing I run away from on vacation, but there’s no accounting for taste. Cara is a relationship writer who’s currently on a dating cleanse; she’s contemplating novel writing and grad school instead, and working on all of the above even though this is very much just a two-and-a-half-day weekend. The powder is fine and no one’s complaining about the cold, but they’re less enthusiastic about the fact that both Megan and some random dude Sean (Dewshane Williams) both accidentally booked one half of the same ski chalet. Sean, a handsome young surgeon, and mysterious buddy Ben (Jack Turner), are also there for a quiet friend getaway, but now they’re on some sort of awkward double date, all four of them getting cozy and intimate against their will…until it’s not. Love ensues, as it always does. They got that part right. Love, to Hallmark, is inevitable. Soul mates magically come in pairs, and even though they all meet while on vacation, they also discover they live within blocks from each other back home.

But first there will be après-ski fondue (the only part of skiing of which I approve), a medical emergency, lots of trivia, and even some paparazzi. How does it all equate to love? Spend a winter weekend of your own finding out on the Hallmark channel.