Reviews In A Pinch

When You Just Need an honest review in a pinch.

Movie Monday – Christmas 2014 Edition

Today’s Movie Monday post is a little bit different.  Sorry to those who don’t celebrate Christmas, that’s kind of this week’s theme.  Hopefully you still enjoy the season and some of the movies.

I have a confession to make:  I am obsessed with Hallmark’s (also Lifetime’s and ABC Family’s) Christmas movies.  The acting isn’t great.  The stories are cheesy.  And I.  Don’t.  Care.  They are perfect feel-good movies during the Christmas season (a time when you want to feel good).  This is the one-time when I don’t seem to mind terrible stories or awful acting.  I mean I have some standards, but they’re nowhere near as high as they are for a movie shown in theaters.

In celebration of the holidays, today’s Movie Monday post is all about those cheesy Christmas movies (in case you hadn’t already guessed as much).  There aren’t any ratings, just a few of those TV movies that I’ve genuinely enjoyed watching and thought you might like to know about.

Below you’ll find a blurb and quick “review” (more of a succinct opinion) of a few of my favorites to watch over and over again during the holidays.  Keep in mind that I haven’t seen every movie made on these channels and these are the stand-outs for me.

Top 10 Cheesy Christmas Movies Perfect for Spreading Holiday Cheer


1.  12 Men of Christmas (with Kristin Chenoweth, Josh Hopkins, Anna Chlumsky) – I bought this on DVD the first year I saw it on Lifetime and I watch it religiously every year.  I never get tired of Kristen Chenowith kicking butt as a New Yorker transplanted in Montana.

  • Overview:  It’s anything BUT a Merry Christmas for publicist E.J. Baxter when she loses both her high-powered Manhattan job and her lawyer fiance on the same night at her office Christmas party. E.J. winds up taking a job and moving to the opposite end of the earth: Kalispell, Montana. To help the local search-and-rescue station raise desperately needed funds, she tries to convince the male rescue workers to pose for a naked calendar and along the way discovers what really matters to her. Based on the book “Decent Exposure” by Philippa Ashley.


2.  A Princess for Christmas (with Katie McGrath and Sir Roger Moore) – Super corny, but I watch it whenever it comes on anyway.  Katie McGrath’s American accent isn’t great and the chemistry between her and the prince leaves a lot to be desired, but in the end I don’t actually care.

  • Overview:  Jules Daly struggles with parenting her orphaned niece and nephew. A trip to visit the childrens’ grandfather–a royal duke in the English countryside–makes for a magical Christmas season.


3.  A Royal Christmas (with Lacey Chabert, Stephen Hagan and Jane Seymour) – One of Hallmark’s new movies this year.  I recorded this on my DVR and have now lost count of how many times I’ve watched it.

  • Overview:  Prince Leopold, heir to the throne of Cordinia, has no ambitions of marrying into royalty after falling in love with Emily Taylor, a humble seamstress from Philadelphia. But the young prince’s wishes are challenged by Queen Isadora, Leopold’s mother, who has other plans for her son.


4.  Christmas in Paradise (with Charlotte Ross and Colin Ferguson) – There are a few parts that I shake my head during, but overall a happy experience.  I’ve only been able to find it as part of a double feature DVD so I haven’t bothered to buy it yet.  Plus it’s on On Demand, which is free.

  • Overview:  Two families looking to escape bad holiday memories take a vacation to an exotic Caribbean island over Christmas. Dan and his two daughters and Dana and her two sons meet as the cruise ship docks in Puerto Rico. Given all they have in common, the parents and kids develop bonds over the course of their stay at a beautiful Puerto Rican beach resort. Dan and Dana try to put their separate disappointments with love behind them as they begin to grow closer, until an unexpected visitor from the past appears and threatens their tentative romance. What promised to be a happy Christmas filled with fresh hope and new relationships turns complicated as each character has to sort out their feelings and choose their own path. Eventually, the two families come back together in love, friendship and filled with the Christmas spirit.


5.  Christmas on the Bayou (with Hilarie Burton, Tyler Hilton, Ed Asner, Markie Post, and Randy Travis) – I watched this because I used to watch One Tree Hill and wanted to see Hilarie Burton and Tyler Hilton together again.  It ended up being better than I expected.

  • Overview:  Emotionally scarred by a failed marriage, Katherine has plunged into her successful career as a NYC marketing executive, but her workaholic ways are taking a toll on her 8 year old son, Zack. Concerned over Zack’s increasing disaffection, Katherine decides they will spend Christmas in her home town in Louisiana’s bayou country, where her mother, LILLY, is soon match-making with a vengeance. When Caleb, Katherine’s old admirer, tries to rekindle a childhood romance and convince her to move home, Katherine is torn between the bright lights of the big city and the quiet, gentler rhythms of her Southern roots. But a small Christmas miracle, orchestrated by the mysterious Papa Noel, convinces Katherine that her heart belongs back in the bayou where she was raised.


6.  Fir Crazy (with Sarah Lancaster, Eric Johnson, and Colin Mochrie) – It’s actually called Oh Christmas Tree! on Amazon which is slightly confusing.  It’s an adorable Scrooge turned sweet movie with Colin from Whose Line Is It Anyway!

  • Overview:  When marketing executive Elise MacKenzie decides to help sell Christmas trees at her family’s Christmas tree lot after she loses her job and her dad breaks his leg, she discovers a newfound fondness for the holidays. But all could be lost when the store owner who hosts the tree lot on his block wants to shut it down, and it’s up to Elise to find a way to rekindle his Christmas Cheer.


7.  Recipe for a Perfect Christmas (with Carly Pope, Bobby Cannavale and Christine Baranski) – I originally watched this with my Mom because we both love Christine Baranski and then I remembered Carly Pope from the show Popular.  Not the best Christmas movie out there, but it delivers some laughs.

  • Overview:  A hilarious holiday treat about a first-time food critic who bites off more than she can chew! JJ Jenner’s orderly life is turned upside down when her estranged, free-spirited mother, Lee, shows up unannounced to stay for the holidays. Desperate to get some work done, JJ sets her mom up with Alex, a sweet and ambitious young chef, in exchange for reviewing his restaurant. When writer’s block suddenly hits, JJ begins to realize that her true feelings for Alex may be the problem.


8.  The Mistle-tones (with Tia Mowry-Hardrict, Tori Spelling, and Jonathan Patrick Moore) – I’m pretty sure I only like this movie because it’s a Christmas musical.  Tori Spelling almost ruined it for me, but I just fast forward through most of her parts and then I’m good.

  • Overview:  A talented young singer starts her own musical group after being rejected for a slot in a legendary Christmas group founded by her late mother.


9.  The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (with Brooke Burns, Warren Christie and Henry Winkler) – This is probably my favorite of the cheesy Christmas movies.  Henry Winkler is amazing in it.  I love the story, even if it is a bit ridiculous.  I actually watch this one multiple times every year and my mom’s only comment on the movie is, “I hate that kid!”  She really can’t stand the kid that plays Brooke Burns’ son (he doesn’t bother me).

  • Overview:  The overwhelming tasks that go along with Christmas have taken the joy out of the holidays for busy single mom Jennifer Cullen. Then her Uncle Ralph arrives at her home with the young, handsome Morgan Derby. Morgan’s love of Christmas, and life, is contagious and as Jennifer glumly navigates through the holidays, she soon realizes that what she needs most is right under her nose.


10.  Window Wonderland (with Chyler Leigh, Paul Campbell, Naomi Judd, and Cameron Mathison) – I haven’t managed to add this DVD to my Christmas collection, but I probably will this year (if I can find a copy).  It’s been on my DVR since last year.  The acting is pretty good in this one and it’s not nearly as corny as most of the others.

  • Overview:  With Christmas season fast approaching, department store window decorator Sloan Van Doren is hoping to take over the recently vacated, head window designer spot but finds she has to prove herself by going up against rival Jake Dooley. As the two compete they find they may have more in common than they think.

Do you love watching cheesy made-for-TV movies during the holidays?  Any recommendations?


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