Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12 Days of Cheesy Holiday TV Movies - Day 1

Nope, I'm not talking actual good Christmas movies.  I'm talking about the ones on Hallmark Channel, Lifetime Movie Network (yes, that's an actual channel), ABC Family or some other similar channel.  These movies typically star someone who was once famous or who never quite made the level of the B-list.  They take the essence of a typical made-for-television movie (overcoming a hardship) and add in a Christmas background.  I hate to be un-PC (no, I don't) but they're almost always about Christmas.  I did see a very good made-for-TV movie about a Jewish family but Hanukkah was not a major plot point in it.  Nor have I seen any about Kwanzaa.  PLEASE MAKE THEM!  I'll watch your holiday movie about any holiday other than Christmas if you put it on my TV.  Seriously.  I love these stupid movies.  They are guilty pleasures of the utmost degree.  And I suspect I'm not alone.

So I bring to you the first installment of my 12 days of Cheesy Holiday TV Movies. The report card style grading works like this: I can only compare these movies to each other.  I cannot, in good conscience, compare them to actual, theater-released movies.  If it gets an A (this rarely happens) it's because it's the best of this specific type of movie.  It is not because it is a good movie. We're starting off with an actual decent one. I'd hate to start you with a bad one.  You'd never come back.  One thing to keep in mind...they're almost always love stories.  There's a SHE and a HE and they must overcome some obstacle and fall in love by New Year's.  Oh and I'm very tongue-in-cheek about these movies so read these with the appropriate level of sarcasm.

Grade: B+
Channel: Hallmark

Debbie Macomber is an actual author with actual books you can buy so I had high hopes for a movie based on one said books.  Trading Christmas is one of those house-swapping movies with a decent cast of 'we were famous on TV once' types: Faith Ford (aka Murphy Brown's Corky Sherwood Forrest); Tom Cavanagh (aka Ed from, well, Ed), and Gil Bellows (aka Billy from Ally McBeal).  See what I mean?  There was another actress in it named Gabrielle Miller, a Canadian actress who mainly works, get this, in CANADA!  I thought they all came down here but it turns out Canada makes shows and movies for Canadians. Starring actual Canadian actors.

The story is:  

SHE is Faith Ford's Emily. She is a single, widowed mother whose daughter decides not to come home from college (Boston College) to Washington state for Christmas.  She is lonely without her daughter but lives and works as a second grade teacher in a small town where everyone knows her.

HE is Tom Cavanagh's Charles.  He is a single, left by a fiance, professor at Boston College (the coincidence!).  He wants some peace and quiet in order to finish his latest novel. 

THEY go online and find a house swapping site to fulfill their Christmas desires.  Let the hijinks ensue!

She has a friend, Faith, who is a corporate party planner and decides to surprise her friend whose daughter is abandoning her for the holiday.  He has a brother, Ray, who encourages him to get out of town but don't tell anyone you're leaving.  He does and finds himself in the quaint town of Levenworth, Wa.  He thinks he's landed in Whoville, what with all the Christmas decorations.  The nerve of small-town America.  She ends up in his stark, un-cozy Boston apartment which has no trace of Christmas at all.  This will never do!

HE and Faith
He starts to settle in at her place but is constantly interrupted by neighbor children or women armed with cookies.  The nerve!  All he wants to do is write.  Soon enough friend Faith shows up (having caught a ride with the helium kid from A Princess for Christmas-coming soon!) and Faith turns his world UPSIDE DOWN.  It's late at night and Faith has nowhere to go.  Faith must stay with him for the night and will be gone by morning.  Yup, that's exactly what will happen.  The next morning he drives her to the bus station but there's no bus until Christmas Eve.  Looks like he's getting a little Faith for the holidays.  Heh.

Upon arrival she calls her daughter to inform daughter of her surprise arrival.  But she gets the surprise that her daughter is off with her boyfriend in Arizona.  She is making herself at home in his apartment but can't figure out how to work the remotes, of which there are five.  She also manages to set off his silent alarm which alerts security who then alerts Ray.  Security and Ray show up and there are sparks.  Ray invites her to dinner since she's stuck there with no daughter.

Ray and SHE
He and Faith clash at first but soon enough she is forcing her opinions of his book onto him.  Turns out her notes (written on pink sticky notes) are good ones and he softens a bit.  Plus Faith runs interference for neighbor kids and women with cookies.  She and Ray spend many days and nights together (not like that! dirty minds) and get all sorts of kissy.  However, she's feeling guilty about moving on, gets over the guilt and gets more kissy with Ray.  He and Faith finally connect over her and Ray and get kissy themselves.  Sadly, she doesn't want to get too attached to Ray because she's leaving in a few days.  He and Faith don't want to get too attached because she's catching the bus on Christmas Eve.  Will he and Faith fall in love?  Will she and Ray find a way to bridge the distance between her life in Washington and his life in Boston?

WHAT HAPPENS?!?!  Well, what always happens?  A happy ending!  Duh.  All's well that ends well. THEY even spend the next Christmas together. Awwww!

My biggest complaint about the movie?  Ray's hair.  It's all greasy and slicked back.  Yucky.  Other than that?  This was pretty good holiday fare.

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