Here's a checklist of all the Hallmark original romance movies prior to 2011 along with my comments on those I've seen.
Special movies of note are marked Favorite, Good, Okay, and BAD.
Wishing Well (Jordan Ladd and Jason London • January 9, 2010)
Not seen yet.
Ice Dreams (Jessica Cauffiel and Shelley Long • January 23, 2010)
Not seen yet.
Elevator Girl (Lacey Chabert and Ryan Merriman • February 13, 2010)
Not seen yet.
Uncorked (Julie Benz, JoBeth Williams, Elliott Gould and Scott Elrod • March 6, 2010)
Not seen yet.
Healing Hands (Eddie Cibrian and Lisa Sheridan • March 20, 2010)
Not seen yet.
A Soldier's Love Story (Lori Loughlin and Johnny Messner • May 8, 2010)
Not seen yet.
Freshman Father (Drew Seeley, Britt Irvin and Annie Potts • June 5, 2010)
Not seen yet.
Dad's Home (David James Elliott and Sharon Case • June 19, 2010)
Not seen yet.
You Lucky Dog (Natasha Henstridge and Harry Hamlin • June 26, 2010)
Not seen yet.
Jack's Family Adventure (Jonathan Silverman, Dedee Pfeiffer and Peter Strauss • July 17, 2010)
Not seen yet.
Lies Between Friends (Gabrielle Anwar and Craig Sheffer • July 31, 2010)
Not seen yet.
Class (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe and Justin Bruening • August 14, 2010)
Not seen yet.
The Wish List (Jennifer Esposito and David Sutcliffe • August 28, 2010)
Not seen yet.
✓ Fairfield Road (Jesse Metcalfe and Natalie Lisinska • September 11, 2010)
Jesse Metcalfe never ceases to surprise me. I first remember seeing him as the yard boy sleeping with his client's wife in Desperate Housewives, which was barely worth a mention. But his work for Hallmark... including the 2019/2020 Martha's Vineyard Mysteries... has always been pretty good stuff. So when I ran across this movie on my television, I decided to give it a try. Turns out Metcalfe has always been a fairly capable actor, I just never knew it. This time around he's playing a political strategist who loses his existing job when he tells off his boss the mayor... his upcoming job when his future-boss gets arrested... and his girlfriend when he discovers she's cheating on him. He heads to Cape Cod to pick up an engagement ring he ordered, but a delay means he has to hang around for a while, getting involved with a local election... and a possible new love. Could his minor detour become a permanent relocation? Spoiler alert: the answer is (not surprisingly) yes.
Growing the Big One (Shannen Doherty and Kavan Smith • October 23, 2010)
Not seen yet.
✓ Favorite A Family Thanksgiving (Daphne Zuniga and Dan Payne • November 6, 2010) — Princess Vespa devotes her entire life to work as an attorney. Bucking for a partnership at her firm, she demands that her staff work until 3:00 on Thanksgiving. Alas, her own sister (whom she has blown off for Thanksgiving dinner yet again) is one of the people protesting the case that will make her partner! But then Faye Dunaway shows up, shows her the life she could have had if she did anything except work and took the time to be kind to people. Lesson learned! She needs to find balance between her old life and the life she's been shown! This is yet another retread of It's a Wonderful Life. But it's actually a half-way decent one. I may have taken a jab at Daphne Zuniga just there (I love Spaceballs more than I could ever enunciate), but she's actually pretty good in this. The kids drove me insane, at first, but even they turned out to be a great part of the story at the end. The questionable legal ethics at the court case resolution are absurd, would lead to disbarment, and should have been better-handled... but I guess you can't have everything.
The Good Witch's Gift (Catherine Bell and Chris Potter • November 13, 2010)
Not seen yet.
✓ BAD Cancel Christmas (Judd Nelson • November 13, 2010) — These "Santa is a real person" movies are usually a bit weird, but this one is next-level weird. Santa is Judd Nelson? Santa reports to a board of directors? Kids are too greedy, so unless Santa takes the form of a normal guy and change the ways of awful kids so they be nice again, Christmas will be canceled! I don't care if the story was great (it's not), but "Santa" and his "Elf" are so incredibly creepy, annoying, and bizarre that I had an impossible time getting through it and ended up fast-forwarding through chunks. Irredeemable and terrible in every way.
The Night Before the Night Before Christmas (Jennifer Beals and Rick Roberts • November 20, 2010)
Not seen yet.
The Town Christmas Forgot (Lauren Holly and Rick Roberts • November 25, 2010)
Not seen yet.
Call Me Mrs. Miracle (Doris Roberts, Eric Johnson and Lauren Holly • November 27, 2010)
Not seen yet.
✓ Good November Christmas (Sarah Paulson and John Corbett • November 28, 2010) — When a little girl has a serious illness which may prevent her from seeing the holidays, her father works to move everything up on the calendar so she can see Christmas. Starting with Halloween in August, he makes it to Christmas in November with the help of a neighbor and the community. This is a saccharine-sweet movie that almost crumbles under its own emotional weight, but manages to stay afloat thanks to some good performances (including Sam Elliott!). While I think this would be a bit over the top for any other time of year, it seems most apt for Christmas.
✓ Okay The Santa Suit (Kevin Sorbo • December 2, 2010) — Raving lunatic Kevin Sorbo plays a greedy toy company CEO who decides to exploit department store Santas to push his products on kids during the holidays. When the real Santa Claus becomes offended by the idea, he turns Kevin Sorbo into a Santa lookalike. With no money to his name, he has to take a job as one of the department store Santas so he can try to start a new life. Along the way he starts to rediscover the true meaning of Christmas by helping others, including a young girl with whom he has a surprising connection. This was a surprisingly decent flick with a good story, capable acting, and a nice message. Sure it drags a bit in the middle, but it's above average when it comes to A Christmas Carol clones, and that's something.
✓ Farewell Mr. Kringle (Christine Taylor • December 4, 2010) — The most memorable thing about this movie for me was when Todd the Dog shows up. And when the name "Christopher Wiehl" showed up on the opening credits. He is an actor I recognize because he grew up an hour-and-a-half from me in Yakima, Washington. Ever since I saw some kind of "local boy makes good" story year ago, I notice him popping up from time to time in odd places. Anyway... a journalist (who doesn't celebrate Christmas because she lost her husband on Christmas Eve) is reluctantly tasked with doing a story on the 50th anniversary of Kris Kringle... a man who thinks he's Santa Clause... in the town of Mistletoe. As she starts to interview people in the town the journalist discovers that Kris Kringle lost his wife in a car accident the week of Christmas, and copes with it by becoming Santa. His infatuation with Christmas becomes so integrated in the town they changed its name from "Summerland" to "Mistletoe" and start celebrating Christmas all year long. But when he decides to stop being Santa, what will happen? And has Kris Kringle and the handsome inn manager changed the reporter's mind about Christmas? This is a straightforward movie with not a lot to offer... except an abundance of Christmas charm. If that's your thing, this is the movie for you.
The Santa Incident (Ione Skye and Greg Germann • December 9, 2010)
Not seen yet.
✓ An Old Fashioned Christmas (Catherine Steadman and Leon Ockenden • December 11, 2010)
A sequel to 2008's An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving... and twice as horribly boring. It's as if they wanted to do a period drama romance then crammed a Christmas setting into it without caring that it did nothing for the story. Even worse, the "period" of "period romance" consists entirely of wardrobe and occasionally references to facts garnered from Wikipedia ("They just established the Weather Bureau in America!"). Also, though this is a sequel, they changed out the actress playing Tilly, which is horribly distracting. This time around, Isabella drags Tilly to Ireland in the hopes that her ex-boyfriend can get Tilly's writing published. Or something like that. But it turns out that her ex-boyfriend's estate is poor, and they have hatched up a scheme to have their son marry Tilly to get her family money. But then Tilly's fiancé appears after two years apart, and the scheme is sabotaged. OR IS IT? The son actually ends up falling in love with Tilly, so a love triangle begins. But not really (TILLY AND GAD 4EVAR! Gad is ever so dreamy!). =yawn= About the only scene that was remotely interesting was the fencing match, and even that seemed overly-staged, so I'd just skip this one altogether.
✓ Three Wise Women (Fionnula Flanagan and John Rhys Davies • December 14, 2010) —
After catching her father cheating on her mother, then her boyfriend cheating on her, an Irish girl decides she will never love again. With her heart hardened, her guardian angel is removed from her case. After seeing the girl age into a bitter old woman, the guardian angel is given a second chance to save her by recruiting her younger and older selves at a critical point in her life... she's about to marry the wrong man. With some redirection to the right guy, she might just have a happy life after all, apparently. This is a sweet enough story, I suppose. But it didn't really go anywhere surprising in the Relm of A Christmas Carol inspired films.
✓ Gift of the Magi (Marla Sokoloff and Mark Webber • December 16, 2010) — "Between you and me, I'm not sure how a guy like me got a girl like her!" Yeah, buddy, everybody watching this movie was wondering the same thing! You know, many Hallmark movies do a pretty good job of making the most out of their low budgets, but this one just felt so... cheap... I guess is the word I'm looking for. When struggling newlyweds agree to not buy each other Christmas presents, it looks like the holidays are going to be bleak indeed. But then they each secretly find extra work so they can earn additional money to buy each other gifts. Except the secrecy leads to lies and suddenly their good intentions give way to suspicion and jealousy. Fortunately they have friends who compare notes and hatch a plan to keep them from splitting up. Not particularly memorable or well acted... but typical Hallmark in every other way.
Battle of the Bulbs (Daniel Stern and Matt Frewer • December 18, 2010)
Not seen yet.
✓ The Nanny Express (January 9, 2009) — Usually the kids in these things are unintentionally irritating. These kids are irritating by design. Didn't care for this one much at all, but Vanessa Marcil is her usual awesome self as a nanny trying to balance caring for her ailing father and being a nanny to an asshole daughter and struggling son who lost their mom, so I guess it's okay. Even though the chemistry between the nanny and the dad was awful.
Expecting a Miracle (January 10, 2009)
✓ Good Loving Leah (Hallmark Hall of Fame • Lauren Ambrose and Adam Kaufman • January 25, 2009) — An unobservant Jewish man is expected to disavow his deceased rabbi brother or marry his childless widow. But when it comes time to renounce his brother, he can't do it. So he and his brother's widow come to an agreement that they will pretend to be married but live platonically at his home in Washington, D.C. so she can go to college. But what starts as pretend starts to become real as they spend time together. This is a really sweet movie which attempts to provide insight into a world that many people will never know. I have no clue how accurate it is, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Taking a Chance on Love (January 31, 2009)
✓ Okay Before You Say I Do (David Sutcliffe and Jennifer Westfeldt • February 14, 2009) — A guy proposes to the woman of his dreams only to be brutally rebuffed because his girlfriend's horrible first marriage soured her on the idea. She relents because she does love him, but can't go through with it. After a car crash, the guy wakes up ten years in the past... before his girlfriend gets married. With the opportunity to mold his future exactly the way he wants, it seems like the perfect scenario. Or is it? This fantasy romance hybrid film hinged completely on the guy being a good enough actor that he's able to pull off his part. Fortunately David Sutcliffe was up to the task. Where the movie falters is the ridiculous extent that the woman's cold feet went. It goes straight past silly and right into absurd. But that's what starts off the entire film, so I guess it is what it is.
Bound by a Secret (March 7, 2009)
Relative Stranger (March 14, 2009)
Love Takes Wing (April 4, 2009)
Chasing a Dream (April 25, 2009)
Living Out Loud (May 2, 2009)
Safe Harbor (May 30, 2009)
Come Dance at My Wedding (June 6, 2009)
Angel and the Badman (July 5, 2009)
The Gambler, the Girl and the Gunslinger (July 11, 2009)
Mending Fences (July 18, 2009)
Mrs. Washington Goes to Smith (August 1, 2009)
Love Finds a Home (September 5, 2009)
Citizen Jane (September 12, 2009)
Always and Forever (October 24, 2009)
Flower Girl (November 14, 2009)
✓ Good The National Tree (November 28, 2009) — When the Capitol needs a tree to be the National Christmas Tree, a video blogger named Rock Burdock enters the contest with a Sitka Spruce that was planted for him at his birth by his arborist father in Oregon. Because his mother died when he was young, Brock's dad Andrew McCarthy raised him alone, but doesn't really try to understand his son. After winning the contest, Rock's dad Andrew McCarthy wants to nix the plan out of concern for the tree, but eventually relents under the condition that he be the one to drive it cross-country, and his son has to accompany him. Thanks to Brock's video blogging, the entire country rallies around his tree, and they pick up fans wherever they go. But when the tree starts to become a marketing gimmick for a toy company instead of the symbol it was intended to be, will Brock have a change of heart? Will father and son find a way to be a family again? Will Andrew McCarthy find love with the toy company marketing executive along for the trip? Will Brock end up with a new girlfriend? Will the crazy drama they invent for the journey sink this movie? ALL THESE QUESTIONS AND MORE WILL BE ANSWERED IF YOU WATCH THIS PRETTY GOOD (and actually kinda funny) CHRISTMAS MOVIE!
✓ Okay A Dog Named Christmas (November 29, 2009) — When a 20-year-old guy with developmental challenges hears about a program from the local animal shelter which allows people to temporarily foster a dog for Christmas and then return them after, he begs his dad to get one. Alas, the father has a traumatic story of losing a dog who saved his life during the war, and is resistant to the idea. Mom convinces dad to let the guy get a dog, which he names "Christmas." Afterwards, he makes it his mission to get all the dogs adopted for Christmas, and their lives take a turn for the better. This is a touching movie that was great to watch... despite a few inexplicably lame turns at the end.
Mrs. Miracle (December 5, 2009)
✓ Good Christmas in Canaan (December 12, 2009) — Asshole white kid picks on nerdy Black kid because he's too smart. But eventually, thanks to the manipulation by their families and an injured dog, they become friends. All the tropes you know and love are here, including a white savior in the form of... Billy Ray Cyrus?!? As with all these films that put a feel-good face on "good people" in the face of racism, you can't really take them too seriously. That being said, the two younger kids are really good actors, the older kids are great actors, the story is sweet, the dog is awesome, and it makes for a pretty good Christmas movie.
⊗ NO The Three Gifts (December 19, 2009) — Usually I don't give a crap about somebody's politics. I am easily able to separate an actor from their work, and do so all the time. Democrat? Republican? I'm neither, so I honestly don't care. But there's no way I'm supporting the career of somebody who is in bed with the toxic waste assholes at the Family Research Council like Dean Cain. Guess I'll have to be happy with watching all the Hallmark movies except the handful he appears in.
Charlie & Me (January 5, 2008)
Daniel's Daughter (January 12, 2008)
Jane Doe: Eye of the Beholder (January 12, 2008)
The Good Witch (January 19, 2008)
The Russell Girl (January 27, 2008)
Bridal Fever (February 9, 2008)
Final Approach (May 24, 2008)
Shark Swarm (May 25, 2008)
Every Second Counts (June 15, 2008)
A Gunfighter's Pledge a.k.a. The Pledge (July 5, 2008)
Murder 101 New Age (August 17, 2008)
Dear Prudence (August 23, 2008)
For the Love of Grace (August 30, 2008)
Ladies of the House (October 18, 2008)
Generation Gap (November 1, 2008)
Mail Order Bride (November 8, 2008)
Accidental Friendship (November 15, 2008)
✓ An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving (November 22, 2008) — While I am not a fan of period dramas at all, I have to admit that this one wasn't terrible... just boring. A widow and her three daughters are so poor that they can't even afford a turkey for Thanksgiving. But then, thanks to the eldest daughter Tilly dreaming up a story, the woman's wealthy mother arrives to save the day... except the woman wants nothing to do with her mother and would prefer to live in sickness and poverty than accept her help. As if that weren't enough drama, the dreamy Gad (son of the woman who rents the widow her home) is in love with Tilly and wants to marry her. Ultimately this is a warm, feel-good movie that fits the Thanksgiving spirit of giving well and is worth a watch... just so long as you're well-caffeinated.
✓ Moonlight and Mistletoe (November 29, 2008) — There are times that it's just fine that Tom Arnold is Tom Arnold in every movie (it was perfect for True Lies and Undercover Blues)... but in movies like this, you kinda need him to disappear into the role. Which he doesn't. On the other hand, this is one of the earlier Candace Cameron Christmas movies, and it was easy to see how she quickly became Hallmark's Queen of Christmas. And so... young Candace Cameron works as an elf in Santaville where it's Christmas 365 days a year. Her father is Tom Arnold and plays Santa like he means it. Thanks to being inundated by Christmas 24/7 as a kid, she ends up hating Christmas and escapes Santaville to become a successful businesswoman in Boston. But when her father is injured in a sleighing accident, she has to go home for a few days when her old schoolboy crush calls to tell her the news. When she arrives, it's time to SAVE DAD'S BUSINESS, because of course it is. But sure. Well, s gets her Christmas spirit back, falls in love with her old crush, Santaville is saved, and you get the sappiest of sappy endings, so I guess that's all you can ask for in one of these things. This was a decent story with likable enough leads, but wasn't anything overly-special when all is said and done.
Front of the Class (December 7, 2008)
The Christmas Choir (December 9, 2008)
✓ The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (December 13, 2008) — An always-working single mom with no time for Christmas nonsense gets a visit from her uncle, who just happens to be The Fonz! And because he's super-cool, Fonzie brings along a guy he met who ended up being stranded while traveling. Can a total stranger help her regain her Christmas spirit? Especially when he runs afoul of HER BOYFRIEND?!? But not for long, amirite? It's a pleasant enough movie but didn't have a lot to say.
Our First Christmas (December 19, 2008)
✓ A Kiss at Midnight (December 27, 2008) — Corky Sherwood runs a matchmaking service whose business is threatened when a computerized match-making service opens up in town. Oh noes! In order to prove that a computer can't match people like she can, she sets up a profile on the computer so she can figure out how to combat it. But the widowed owner of the computer matchmaking service has daughters who go through the profiles so they can find their dad a new love. GUESS WHO THEY MATCH HIM UP WITH! JUST GUESS! Groan-inducing predictability ensues. This is not a terrible movie... or a terrible idea for a movie... and turned out far better than I thought it would.
Sacrifices of the Heart (January 10, 2007)
Mystery Woman: In the Shadows (January 13, 2007)
McBride: Semper Fi (January 20, 2007)
Murder 101 College Can Be Murder (January 29, 2007)
Love Is a Four Letter Word (February 3, 2007)
McBride: Dogged (March 17, 2007)
Jane Doe: Ties That Bind (March 17, 2007)
Love's Unending Legacy (April 7, 2007)
A Stranger's Heart (May 5, 2007)
Jane Doe: How To Fire Your Boss (May 8, 2007)
Pandemic (May 26, 2007)
Marco Polo (June 2, 2007)
You've Got a Friend (June 9, 2007)
Avenging Angel (July 7, 2007)
Murder 101 If Wishes Were Horses (August 9, 2007)
Claire (August 11, 2007)
✓ Okay A Grandpa for Christmas (November 24, 2007) — It's strange how Ernest Borgnine appears as though he's the least likely person on earth to have any acting chops, but brings the goods every time. This movie, which he shot when he was 90 years old (yes, ninety!) was a showcase for his talent, and a fairly decent flick if you can stomach a bratty kid being thrown in the mix. Anyway... when a woman is in a car accident and ends up in a coma, her 10-year old daughter is sent to live with a grandfather who doesn't even know she exists because he and his daughter have been estranged for decades. Of course the granddaughter is an ungrateful snot... but she eventually comes around, as they always do in these movies. The twist being that the reason for the estrangement is a bunch of lies told by Ernest Borgnine's ex-wife. Which leaves him with a dilemma... does he set the record straight, or disparage the memories that his daughter and granddaughter have of her? Enjoyable enough for a look if it comes your way.
✓ All I Want for Christmas (December 1, 2007) — Bratty, obnoxious, irritating, rude, creep of a kid enters a contest to have your Christmas wish come true. But when he wishes for a new husband for his single mom, the wish goes viral and their lives will never be the same. From the very first scene you know exactly how the movie will end, making the entire affair a complete waste of time. Wouldn't be so bad if the journey wasn't so vacant and lacking in fun.
✓ The Note (December 8, 2007) — A newspaper columnist is going to lose her Heart Healer column if she can't find stories with heart to write about. She's given one last chance to improve her numbers by Christmas or she'll be fired. Meanwhile, a plane crashes off the coast, killing all onboard. But before dying one of the passengers manages to write a note to their child and the columnist finds it washed up on the shore. Addressed only to the initial "T" and signed "Dad," she sets out to find who the note was intended for and deliver it so she has something "with heart" to write about in her column. Her investigation leads her to interview family and friends of the passengers who perished. This movie was popular enough to inspire two sequels. I don't really know what people loved about it so much. Yes, the investigation is compelling and the stories she uncovers are interesting and inspiring, but it didn't really hold up for me. Everybody places entirely too much important on her visit and it just felt... off?... I guess is the word I'm looking for? The way she exploits the story for her career and the way she lords the story over a television reporter who's also trying to uncover the recipient was kinda gross. And then there's the twist ending that belies any form of rational belief. Yikes.
Love's Unfolding Dream (December 15, 2007)
The Valley of Light (2007)
Hidden Places (January 28, 2006)
Falling in Love with the Girl Next Door (February 4, 2006)
Our House (March 25, 2006)
Though None Go with Me (April 8, 2006)
In from the Night (April 23, 2006)
Where There's a Will (May 6, 2006)
The Curse of King Tut's Tomb (May 27, 2006)
McBride: Requiem (May 31, 2006)
Blackbeard (June 17, 2006)
Desolation Canyon (July 1, 2006)
Wild Hearts (July 8, 2006)
Final Days of Planet Earth (October 14, 2006)
✓ Favorite The Christmas Card (December 2, 2006) — Too many people forget about those in the military who are serving far from home during the holidays, which is why movies like this hit me the hardest. John Newton, who played Superboy in the short-lived TV show, is great as an Army sergeant who receives a Christmas card from a church group that acts as his "lifeline" to home. When one of the men in his unit dies, his tour ends and he decides to visit their widow... then travel to the small town to meet the people who sent his Christmas card. Naturally the woman who wrote the card turns out to be the woman of his dreams and he falls in love with her. Unfortunately she's in a long-time relationship with a creepy wine broker that she rarely sees, so his hope for romance is dashed. Or is it? I didn't expect this movie to be as good as it is, and it quickly became a holiday favorite that I watch again each year. If there's a flaw, it's that we're expected to believe that the creepy, whiny, gross, snooty, weird wine broker guy is in any way competition for literally Superman. I mean, come on. I guess they want you to root against the current boyfriend, but this was unintentionally hilarious.
✓ What I Did for Love (December 9, 2006) — Big city lawyer Jeremy London wants to marry his big city doctor girlfriend, but she wants to go slow and take him back to meet her family on a ranch out in the middle of nowhere first. And it's Christmas! Every conceivable stereotype about city slickers and rancher hicks ensues. Of course Jeremy London makes many inexplicably stupid mistakes, but eventually wins over the family by helping their battle with the Bureau of Land Management. There are many sweet moments tucked in-between the idiocy, which is why this one is so frustrating. It's like they couldn't decide what kind of movie to make so they just smashed two of them together. But Jeremy London shoots a poor wolf for no reason (he could have just scared it off with a shot)... and the way everybody does a 360 at the end is just so lazy. A shining example of Hallmark gone wrong.
Love's Abiding Joy (December 16, 2006)
Annie's Point (January 22, 2005)
The Colt (February 6, 2005)
Family Plan (February 12, 2005)
Thicker than Water (March 12, 2005)
Out of the Woods (April 2, 2005)
Icon (May 30, 2005)
Fielder's Choice (June 18, 2005)
Back to You and Me (July 23, 2005)
Karol: A Man Who Became Pope (August 15, 2005)
Supernova (September 5, 2005)
Mysterious Island (September 17, 2005)
The Reading Room (November 2005)
Ordinary Miracles (November 23, 2005)
✓ Okay Silver Bells (November 27, 2005)
A young man tires of helping his dad at their Christmas tree farm and dreams of pursuing his love of photography. While they are in New York City selling their trees, he meets a woman at the museum who looks at his photos and encourages him to go to photography school. But when he tells his dad about it, the father forbids him from enrolling. They fight and he runs away. A year later the dad returns to the city to sell trees again... and runs into the woman who has been watching out for his son but doesn't know she's doing so. Eventually the father and son meet again, but it's far from a happy reunion. This is an okay movie, even though the year-long jump doesn't give much context for what either the father or son may be feeling... and the romance kinda falls flat considering she had been lying to the dad about his son.
Love's Long Journey (December 3, 2005)
✓ Meet the Santas (December 17, 2005) — Unspectacular and unnecessary sequel to a cute film about Santa's son trying to find his Mrs. Claus. This time around, they're trying to get married on Christmas Eve so that they can spend Christmas Day together at the North Pole (confusing, because isn't Santa delivering presents on Christmas Eve?). Nonsensical story and an inexplicable amount of irritating ho-ho-hoing ensues.
✓ Love Surreal (AKA Everything You Want) (Shiri Appleby and Nick Zano • 2005)
This looked positively terrible, but it had Shiri Appleby in it, and I wanted to see what she was up to post-Roswell. Turns out the movie was only marginally terrible, so bravo for exceeding my expectations. Anyway... Shiri Appleby has the perfect boyfriend. Too bad he's a figment of her imagination. Then a guy comes along who's hardly perfect, but at least he's real, so she ends up falling for him despite a horrible first (and second) meeting. What's weird is that in the beginning of the film you aren't supposed to know that the boyfriend is imaginary, but it was totally spoiled in the movie description. If I hadn't known about the twist, I think I probably would have liked this more than I did. As it were, Shiri Appleby was great (as expected) but there wasn't much else here.
Just Desserts (February 8, 2004)
A Place Called Home (March 7, 2004)
The Long Shot (April 18, 2004)
Plainsong (April 25, 2004)
Frankenstein (May 10, 2004)
King Solomon's Mines (June 6, 2004)
La Femme Musketeer (June 20, 2004)
The Trail to Hope Rose (July 3, 2004)
Life on Liberty Street (July 6, 2004)
Wedding Daze (September 4, 2004)
Love's Enduring Promise (November 20, 2004)
✓ Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus (November 25, 2004) — Wow. When this first aired, I could have sworn it was from at least a decade earlier than 2004. I mean, casting Police Academy's Steve Guttenburg and Wings's Crystal Bernard? Anyway... When Santa wants to retire, he tells his son (an aging Steve Guttenberg) that he needs to settle down with a Mrs. Claus before he can become the new Santa. Lucky for him a little boy wants a new love for his widowed mom, and she's the perfect candidate! The result is a movie that's high on cheese but not much else. Still, it's a bit charming in spots and has good holiday appeal. Apparently Hallmark liked it better than I did, because the commissioned a sequel that felt unnecessary.
✓ A Boyfriend for Christmas (November 27, 2004) — After helping a little boy's sister get the courage to visit with Santa, a girl makes a wish for Santa to give her a boyfriend for Christmas. Santa leaves her a snow globe telling her that she'll have to wait. Fast-forward ahead twenty years and their paths cross again... in an entirely predictable Hallmark way. The highlight here is Charles Durning as Santa, the rest is fairly forgettable.
When Angels Come to Town (November 28, 2004)
Eve's Christmas (December 6, 2004)
Angel in the Family (December 18, 2004) — Dead Meredith Baxter Birney comes back to spend Christmas Day with her surviving husband (who just had a stroke) and two estranged adult daughters. The resulting movie is not bad at all... but was drenched in sentiment that didn't serve the overall story the way you would hope. Great performances though.
✓ The Last Cowboy (January 17, 2003) — The mother of all "SAVE THE RANCH" movies, and it's so angsty and absurd as to be laughable. Lance Henriksen is a one-note-angry cattle rancher who has fallen behind on payments and is going to default to the bank if he can't come up with the money. Facing defeat at every turn... the drama just keeps piling up. After he punches the bank manager in the face, you're like "ugh"... but then his barn catches on fire from a lightning strike and it goes completely off the rails. Co-starring Jennie Garth as his daughter and featuring an inexplicable guest appearance by Bradley Cooper(!), this is Hallmark at its absolute worst. No entertainment value whatsoever, but there's plenty of scenes of cowboys wrangling cattle, if that's your thing.
Straight from the Heart (February 9, 2003)
Love Comes Softly (April 13, 2003)
Audrey's Rain (May 11, 2003)
The King and Queen of Moonlight Bay (June 15, 2003)
Hard Ground (July 12, 2003)
Prince Charming (July 13, 2003)
Monster Makers (October 26, 2003)
A Time to Remember (November 23, 2003)
✓ Good Fallen Angel (November 23, 2003) — Gary Sinese grew up as a child with a hard-working but distant father who maintains cottages in the off-seasons for their wealthy owners. After the death of his mother, their relationship gets progressively worse and Gary Sinese moves to L.A. where he becomes a high-powered lawyer. After his father dies, he returns to Maine to dispose of the estate. While there he discovers that things in his past were not quite like he thought they were, and a woman he met in his childhood who was a part of a shared tragedy could change his life. This is a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, which means the budget allowed for exceptional talent and locations... and it shows. There's a twist to the story that's a pretty good one, and the romantic angle isn't half-bad. Chalk up another feel-good Hallmark holiday flick that's entirely worth your time.
✓ Finding John Christmas (November 30, 2003)
This movie is from 2003 but feels like it's much older. Valerie Bertinelli works in a hospital and was just given the news that the ER there is going to be closed because of a budget shortfall. Her day has been ruined... until she gets home and sees a photo of a man who might be her brother on the front page of the newspaper! But he disappeared 25 years ago! Desperate for answers, she tracks down the photographer who took the photo (along with his annoying daughter). Turns out the guy was talking to PETER FALK in Santa pants... who DISAPPEARED FROM THE PHOTOS LIKE A GHOST! But no worries... he keeps popping up like an angel throughout the movie to guide people in the right direction. After the "mystery man" goes on to save the life of a guy having a heart attack, the city goes on a hunt for him, whom they've dubbed "John Christmas." This one was too sappy sweet for my tastes, but the performances were pretty good. It's a sequel to the 2002 film, A Town Without Christmas (also with the amazing Peter Falk).
✓ Favorite A Carol Christmas (December 7, 2003) — Tori Spelling gets a bit of a bad rap. Is she a great actress? No. But she's no worse than half the actors in Hollywood. In this re-telling of A Christmas Carol, Tori Spelling plays an actress with a stick up her butt and a mean streak. A real Scrooge, if you will. But then the Ghost of Christmas Past (Gary Coleman!), the Ghost of Christmas Present (William Shatner!), and the Ghost of Christmas Future (I dunno who, but not James Cromwell!) show her the errors of her ways. I'm not going to pretend that this is my favorite interpretation of A Christmas Carol (that would be Scrooged), but it's a fun one and I love it enough that I watch it every year.
Roughing It (March 16, 2002)
Stranded (June 15, 2002)
Johnson County War (August 24, 2002)
✓ Santa Jr. (December 6, 2002) — "This is ridiculous and childish!" Santa's son wants to be the new Santa and impress his father, but gets arrested while attempting to deliver presents because his magic comes from Christmas spirit and he's coming up empty. Fortunately Lauren Holly is his public defender who believes in him. In addition to defending him in court, she also gives him a place to stay. What's surprising is how this cornball movie manages to actually work. Kinda. My guess is this is thanks to how Nick Stabile plays it completely serious despite having to act in something so screwball and do things like read a letter from "dad" saying "Last one back to the North Pole has to clean the reindeer stables."
Snow Queen (December 7, 2002)
✓ Favorite Silent Night (December 20, 2002) — If there's a movie which celebrates what Christmas is supposed to be about, this would be it. The fact that it's based on a supposedly true story is just icing on the cake. German Sarah Connor and her son live in a cabin in the woods in war-torn Germany 1944. Three American soldiers arrive (one wounded) to escape the bitter cold. Then three German soldiers arrive and the situation is tense indeed. But Sarah Connor insists that everybody lay down their weapons and have Christmas dinner together. The result is a truly remarkable film that isn't just good for a Christmas movie or a war movie... it's just a darn good film period. Largely due to Linda Hamilton leading some truly great performances. No joke. How Linda Hamilton avoided awards for this is beyond rational thought. I can't vouch for her German accent, but it sure sounds more believable than half of what I've seen in films with a much, much larger budget. Sure things seem a bit too naive... even saccharine at times... but it's such a good story and its told and performed so well.
A Christmas Visitor (December 21, 2002)
The Flamingo Rising (February 4, 2001)
Second Honeymoon (March 11, 2001)
The Lost Empire (March 11, 2001)
Follow the Star Home (May 6, 2001)
The Infinite Worlds of H. G. Wells (August 5, 2001)
Snow White: The Fairiest Them All (October 28, 2001)
The Wedding Dress (October 28, 2001)
In Love & War (November 18, 2001)
✓ Twice Upon a Christmas (December 8, 2001) — The inexplicable sequel to 2000's Once Upon a Christmas where Santa's daughter Kathy Ireland has to come back with the kids to save Christmas from her evil older sister Rudolpha, who is wanting to sell off pieces of the North Pole and put up Trump's North Pole Tower (I kid you not... they even got a look-alike to play Donald Trump!). But first Kathy Ireland has to remember that she's Santa's daughter because she lost her memory when she stayed in the mortal world. While not as irritating as the first movie, there's really nothing worth watching here... except Kathy Ireland being stunningly beautiful the whole time.
✓ A Town Without Christmas (December 16, 2001) — Okay. I'm going to ignore that a fictional town in Central Washington (where I live) is inexplocably called "Seacliff" and try to suffer through. Luckily Peter Falk is in the mix so the movie is a little easier to swallow. Anyway... our movie begins when a letter to Santa is intercepted at the post office from a young boy named Chris who wants to "go be with the angels" if Santa won't bring his dad a job and his mom some food. Meanwhile a news reporter is sent to find Chris and create a story about him. Meanwhile again, a failing children's book author receives some paintings at his greeting card job which compel him to look for the artist... because the paintings seem to be clues to finding Chris. Along the way Peter Falk keeps showing up at just the right time to keep people moving in the right direction. The story is supposed to be heartfelt, but comes across as staged and hokey. And the mystery of Chris, while not terrible for a Christmas movie, is still pretty lame.
Missing Pieces (February 6)
A Storm in Summer (February 27)
Cupid & Cate (May 7)
Personally Yours aka Wilderness Love (October 8)
The Runaway (December 10)
Special Delivery (December 10)
✓ The Christmas Secret aka Flight of Reindeer (December 17) — John Boy Walton believes reindeer can fly and sets off to prove it. Never mind that his scientific "proof" is mind-bogglingly idiotic, he's a scientist and that's apparently supposed to be enough. Anyway... after flying multiple runs trying to find elusive flying reindeer, he finally spots one. Then immediately crashes. Luckily one of Santa's elves (sorry, "Christmas engineers") was able to rescue him and take him to Santa's magical village where he meets Santa Beau Bridges. Everything that follows is charming... kinda... I guess... but it was a concept that seemed to drag out for way too long. I mean, it seems like it was aiming to be a kid's version of Lost Horizon, which is fine, but the way it was all hobbled together was pretty bad. There's magic... but also technology... and they are integrated poorly and to lame effect. And then there's the ending, which takes the kludginess to new levels of annoying.
✓ Okay A Season for Miracles (December 12, 1999) — Silk Spectre is having to take care of her sister Laura Dern's kids while she's in a hospital ward for overdosing again. Homeless and with no future, she runs away from it all to save the kids from foster care. Eventually ending up in the city of Bethlehem (Pennsylvania?), Christmas magic and the kindness of a guardian angel in the form of Patty Duke creates a series of "miracles" which keep them headed towards a better life. A nice enough film with a great holiday message makes this typical Hallmark fare for this period (i.e. before they went all romance all the time).
✓ The Love Letter (Hallmark Hall of Fame - February 1, 1998) — Well, wow. Campbell Scott, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Estelle Parsons? I'm intrigued! For some reason, I think I've seen the whole "Desk With Secret Compartment Allows Two People To Write To Each Other Through Time And Fall In Love" a couple times before. What sinks this one is weird conviction Estelle Parsons has that if you use the right paper, correct ink, and proper postage for 1863 will somehow be delivered across time... and her son Campbell Scott saying "Do you really think it will work?" as if sending a letter across time is a perfectly normal thing to do. Seems they could have found a way to have the magic happen without this bizarre disconnect in logic. Like him putting his letters back into the secret compartment so it acts like a time portal or something. And then there's the fact that they are hopelessly in love after just three letters? Weird. What saves this one is the cast, which is pretty darn good and falls into their roles easily enough. Though the time-crossed lovers story has been done better elsewhere, this wasn't that bad.