Today’s #WonderWednesday might be a little controversial, but I promise it’ll still be fun. And it has 2 WCTH actors: Jay Hindle who played Sir Lionel in Season 2, and…none other than the man himself- Daniel Lissing!  And that topic would be one of last year’s Hallmark Countdown to Christmas Movies:       A December Bride. TA DA!

I know, I know. Some of us love it, some of us can’t stand it, and some of us have mixed feelings, a love/hate relationship, if you will. I, myself have mixed feelings. So let’s start with some positive points about the film, we’ll squeeze “the vegetables” (the stuff we don’t like,) in the middle, then end with “dessert” so we walk away with happy hearts. But first, 2 funny coincidences: in Finding Father Christmas, Erin Krakow plays an interior decorator; in A December Bride, Daniel Lissing plays a man who falls in love with an interior decorator. The second is the names. The actress playing Layla, her name is Jessica; then her cousin’s character’s name is Jessica. Then we have our favorite “Jack” standing right next to the fiancé whose name is Jack. Interesting…

 Now, let’s start with my favorite thing: the broken stereotypes. I really love that this one doesn’t go where almost every other Hallmark movie does. If I miss any, PLEASE comment so it can be included

  1. No love triangle. They could have gone there with either Jack or Cooper. But Jack got married at the beginning, and Cooper wasn’t a boyfriend. He was completely interested, but was man enough to back down when he saw that Seth was in love.
  2. Seth comes right out and says he likes Layla. There’s no “guessing game” about his feelings, plus he does that cute head knock when it doesn’t go right. On top of that, there’s no silly misunderstanding that ruins how far the couple has come in the hour and 55 minutes you’ve been watching, then gets solved in the last 5 minutes of the movie.
  3. Neither of the main characters are in a dead-end, 5-year relationship that gets broken after knowing someone a week. They’re both single, and they’ve been friends for years.
  4. A big pet peeve of mine is when the first kiss is just thrown in at the end, especially when they always try to kiss, and get interrupted in the middle. In this film, they actually kiss before the end. In addition, they DO get interrupted the first time they try to kiss, but they don’t pretend it didn’t happen. In fact, they even pause to cuddle a little before Seth answers the phone.
  5. My favorite one: Seth isn’t a Scrooge; he doesn’t hate Christmas. He’s just never had any real experience, and he welcomes it with open arms, and that adorable smile. He really shows his wonder when he exclaims, “Everything looks so beautiful in here! It’s very Christmasy.”

So, on to the vegetables. You know, there really isn’t a whole lot I don’t like about the movie, but those things occur throughout the plot; so it seems like I don’t like more than I actually do. First thing’s first, and don’t hate me, but I don’t like the beard. I know scruff is the thing right now, and some women find it terribly attractive, but I’ve always been a clean-shaven girl. I think a man is more handsome when I can see his face. The other thing about that is Danes face has a few bald spots where hair refuses to grow, then the beard looks splotchy.  So it is this Hooked Heartie’s personal opinion that the man remain beardless.

My other criticism is the character of Layla. I have nothing against Jessica Lowndes; she’s gorgeous, and she’s been fantastic in other films. But her character here…I would call her “pretty but petty”. She constantly rags on Seth, so much so that sometimes I wondered why he was crazy about her. I understand her being bitter, her cousin marrying her former fiancé and all; but it lasts a little too long, especially with how kind Seth is to her. Dan brings all of Jack Thornton kindness to the character of Seth. He’ll do anything for her, he worries when she does, he reassures her constantly, and he rejoices with her at her victories. And he does the Daniel Lissing signature dirt brush – away on her cheek. Who in their right mind would stomp on that?

Okay! Enough of being Janie Raincloud! Now let’s have some REAL fun! This movie is full of hysterical one-liners and heartwarming scenes. Take the title, for example. It’s the best line in the movie! It comes from Layla’s suspicious brother who knows darn well after that completely awkward family dinner that Layla and Seth aren’t actually a couple. You can almost feel Seth’s urge to tug on his shirt collar.

To be totally honest, the rest of my favorite parts and lines all have Dan and his priceless reactions in them. So I’ll just mention them all together. 1) I nearly died laughing to see Seth dancing and singing so horribly, especially when we all know how beautifully he does both. 2) I smiled with pure joy when Seth’s dad found him a sleigh. Not only was it touching to see father and son connecting, but Seth’s reaction is flawless. Having majored in acting myself, I seriously wondered if that was scripted, or if Dan improvised it. 3) Who didn’t snicker helplessly when Seth was telling everyone how the “courtship” ensued? He’s totally making it up as he goes along; then the shock and horror on his face when the word “engaged” slipped right off his tongue = stomach pains from laughing so hard. 4) I saved the best for last. My favorite part is when Seth made gingerbread cookies for Layla, then almost kissed her. It’s evidence that he really listened to her, and Christmas has really captured him.

Well, I think I’ve said enough. I’ll just sign off with a personal note. Receiving a key to a mansion, a rich man’s credit card, and the instructions “Do whatever you want” with regard to Christmas decorating? SCORE BABY!

Okay, I’ll be honest. I was all set and ready to do a review of a certain Hallmark Christmas movie for today’s #WonderWednesday, but then I watched…The Christmas Train. It then became positively necessary to review this movie instead. DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU’VE WATCHED IT, OR DON’T MIND SPOILERS! I highly suggest you go find it…then come back and read the blog!

So it begins! First off, the connection. There are not one, not two, but THREE actors in The Christmas Train who are WCTH Alumni. Granted, they don’t play major roles in the series, but each plays a pivotal, plot – turning one. There’s Terence Kelly, who played the mysterious, yet helpful, Sam Bailey in the Season 4 Christmas special. Then there’s John Innes, who portrayed Clem Besser, the gentleman who sold Jack his land in Season 3. And of course, there’s Anthony Konechny, who we all know as Douglas Burke, Jack’s adorable Mountie protégé, who’s death prompted Jack to answer the call of duty in the Northern Territory in Season 4.

Now for their characters in THIS movie. Konechny plays his usual loveable role: a young man from high society Washington DC engaged to a Kentucky country girl. His father doesn’t approve, so they’re eloping on the train Christmas Eve. Innes is John Kelly, a lonely old man who recently lost his wife, and is trying to keep his promise to her of reading A Christmas Carol by Christmas Day. Terence Kelly plays the kind of person at which he excels: Higgins, the wise and experienced mentor who leads quietly, and it turns out he’s right.

And then The Christmas Train all-star cast: Kimberly Williams Paisley, Dermot Mulroney, Joan Cusack, and DANNY GLOVER! How they got him, I don’t know, but he was perfect! The powerful and famous film director who is still reachable and down-to-earth, and even downright friendly. Joan Cusack, ever the character actor, plays a quirky loner who seems very much like the nosy next-door neighbor in everyone’s business…and yet we love her every step of the way!

Paisley, (whom I’ve loved since Father of the Bride,) was so endearing. Her playful moments are so bright and natural, yet the pain she expresses is so deep and heartfelt. And she’s so beautiful! My one issue with her is something that’s not even her fault, but it bugged me! When they attend the wedding on board, she’s in a long-sleeved shirt and jeans. I get they’re on a train, and resources are limited, but she’s a Hollywood writer! The outfit she wore while boarding was fancier than that! As a side note, the wedding dress was FABULOUS! Tasteful, different; just the sort of thing I imagine a broke romantic buying if she’s eloping. Back to Kimberly, my favorite line of hers is when she’s talking to Max (Glover). She’s his writer, and he’s encouraging her to give life another chance.  She sardonically replies, “Happy endings are for movies.” Pretty clever and ironic, considering, you know, they’re in one.

Mulroney seems to have an acting style that keeps him a little stiff; I see it in several of his roles. So while I would have preferred to see him loosen up a bit, he played the cynical and world – traveling reporter quite well; especially when his eyes are being opened up to new discoveries. My favorite part of his was when his character, Tom, was going on and on, talking like he knew this ancient  legend. When Eleanor (Paisley) interrupts to call him on it, he says without breaking the flow at all: “I am TOTALLY making this up!”

And here’s a fun fact trivia question for you: What’s the link between Dermot Mulroney and Joan Cusack? If you’re suddenly feeling the urge to play “7 Degrees to Julia Roberts”, you hit the nail on the head! And it’s only 1 degree. Cusack was in Runaway Bride with her, (a personal favorite,) and Mulroney was in My Best Friend’s Wedding.

My favorite lines come from John Kelly. “Two things problems can never defeat: sunrise and Christmas.” That, and: “Hope begins when you stand in the dark, and look at the light.” Very appropriate, especially since #Hearties now have a window cling available that says, “I’d rather be in Hope Valley.”

My favorite part is where today’s title comes from. Tom and Eleanor are old sweethearts who parted badly, then meet by chance on the Christmas Train, right? Well what did you think when they discovered that script in Max’s trash that cited almost every occurrence on the train? I was completely thrown for a loop to find out it was all a set-up, another “Max Powers Production”, (which makes her “happy endings” line even better.) And then, instead of the stereotypical “I’m gonna kill him,” Eleanor more originally says she’s thinking of plotting a murder mystery aboard the train instead of a love story. I laughed SO HARD!

Well, I think that about does it for today’s #WonderWednesday. I hope you had as much fun reading this as I did writing it, and I really hope you’ll come back on Friday for another #FanFictionFriday. Until then, darling #Hearties!

Continue reading “Romance? I’m Thinkin’ Murder! Christmas Train.”

 

 

Welcome back, and welcome to #WonderWednesday. Today, I thought would be “the opportune moment” to talk about Erin Krakow’s newest Hallmark Christmas movie “Engaging Father Christmas”, as its premiere just happened on Sunday. I always “wonder” what it’s like for her taking a modern role when she spends so much time in the 1900’s. Maybe one day, one of us will find out!

I have to confess something: I’m a Christmas enthusiast BIG TIME, but I’m also a Christmas purist. I usually have a very strict policy of: NO CHRISTMAS MOVIES BEFORE THANKSGIVING. I broke it for this movie! GASP! I know! But it was strictly for research purposes…for the blog…I know, I’ll keep telling myself that. Truthfully, I was really excited for this movie. I watched the first one, “Finding Father Christmas,” last year, and I wanted to see how the story continued.

BRIEF RECAP OF MOVIE #1 – CONTAINS SPOILERS! “Finding Father Christmas” stars Erin as Miranda Chester, daughter of an actress who died onstage during rehearsal for “The Christmas Carol”. Obviously that has soured the holiday significantly, especially because there’s no other family, and she’s never even known who her father is. When she’s given an old case of her mother’s things, she discovers a hidden panel with a picture of a small boy on Father Christmas’s lap. The only identifying label is a stamp: “Carlton Heath Photography”. So she packs a bag, and flies from Seattle to Boston a few days before Christmas, and finds her way to the very Christmasy Carlton Heath Inn. The owners are a sweet, local couple with a very handsome and VERY SINGLE son named Ian (played by WCTH Season 3 regular Niall Matter). Through a series of events and Ian’s help, Miranda uncovers the truth: her father was a famous actor who passed away a few years ago, and his very wealthy family still lives in town. After the shock of the revelation, they welcome her into the family, and Ian welcomes her into his heart. And as a side bonus, she learns to love Christmas too!

Which brings us to “Engaging Father Christmas”. SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THIS MOVIE AND WCTH! By this time, Miranda and Ian have been dating for a year, so judging by the title, you can probably deduce what happens if you haven’t already seen it.  So let’s talk about it. First of all, watching those two play a couple, then seeing them play almost indifferent strangers on WCTH made me giggle. This coming from a girl who played a guy’s daughter in one play, then his mother in another. I still find it funny. The Hallmark circle is pretty small when you think about it, and sometimes it’s hard to keep everyone’s different relationships straight.

 I will admit that Niall doesn’t seem to have the same electricity with Erin that Daniel has, and I kept wanting him to go just a little deeper. But to be fair, Dan has had a LOT more time to develop said electricity. The character of Ian is just such a kind, understanding man. In fact, when the expected “drama” between the couple is supposed to ensue because he sees her with her ex-boyfriend, he calmly tells her that he expected him to try something. She’s so beautiful, how could he NOT think he’s missing out? And to top it off, he says the coveted line: “I love you” multiple times when we’re lucky if we hear it once in other movies. Can’t help but love the guy!

Let’s turn to the climax: the proposal. It was pretty spectacular! Horse-drawn carriage, path of lighted Christmas trees, gazebo with mistletoe, and a GORGEOUS diamond! They even added a little humor in there with her jumping the gun to say yes, and him saying, “Can I ask first?” One thing I will say: did her answer sound AWFULLY familiar? That’s because she said, “Yes, of course I will,” and in WCTH she said, “Of course I will, yes!” Willy Wonka comes to mind: “Strike that! Reverse it. Thank you.” And how many times is this actress going to get proposed to? Well, it’s Hallmark, so you never know!

Well my fellow Hooked Hearties, that about wraps up #WonderWednesday. Tune in on Friday for the first #FanFictionFriday, and have a FANTASTIC Thanksgiving tomorrow! Ta ta for now!