Hallmark Review: Christmas Land (2015, dir. Sam Irvin)


IMG_5321I’m going to go ahead and quote The Cinema Snob review of Ghosts Can’t Do It (1989): Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! Wibble Wobble Wazzle Woodle What The Fuck?

Oh, this is bad.

The movie opens up by showing us some Christmas decorations before cutting to the front of a private residence. Inside there are six kids sitting at a table when a woman played by Maureen McCormick of Brady Bunch fame walks in with a picture of herself looking down on everyone from the background.

IMG_5323She circles around them before saying to one of the kids that the ornament she is holding isn’t quite right. The little girl says she’s right because it’s missing something to this woman she identifies as her grandma. Grandma tells the kid to add glitter. The little girl says, “You were right! Now it’s beautiful.” Here is the shot of Grandma’s face as she says it.

IMG_6207Grandma responds with, “Just like you.” Then she gets up to say, “Children my name is Glinda Stanwyck, and I love Christmas so much that I created this entire holiday village for you and your families to come and enjoy. But it’s getting late, and you don’t wanna miss the Christmas tree lighting ceremony, do you?” Where are their families? Parents maybe? Cut to the outside and apparently we are in some place called Christmas Land.

IMG_5341A white carriage starts going down the center of town. Then this happens.


IMG_5347The kid says, “I love you, Grandma!” They get out of the sleigh and Grandma Glinda goes to a podium to say Merry Christmas. Everyone follows with Merry Christmas. They light a tree and after Glinda says to the little girl she’ll, “never forget you”, it cuts to New York City 25 Years Later.

Yes, it all comes across as creepy as I hope I got across to you with the screenshots and dialogue quotes. Why? Why was it necessary to have it start with Maureen McCormick coming across this way? Oh, and that’s just the beginning. There’s more to come. Even my Dad who loves watching these Hallmark movies and cries at every one of them thought these opening scenes were creepy. I’m just gonna say it. She comes across as a pedophile. No joke. It’s really weird.

IMG_5375Next we are introduced to that little girl as an adult. Her name is Jules Cooper played by Nikki Deloach. She has started a business campaign called “Wear Red. Go Green” for a coffee store chain. This is when Ms. Nickerson played by Cynthia Gibb comes up to her and thanks her for her work on the campaign for her business. I wouldn’t bother introducing her character, but she is one of the things that makes this movie weirder in the one additional scene after this in which she appears.

After her boss thanks her for her work and offers her a promotion, we are introduced to Jules’ boyfriend (Jason-Shane Scott). Better known as guy who will add another really odd thing to this movie. I would mention her ugly top that looks like it was designed by Jason Voorhees and his machete, but who cares when there’s so much more to talk about. He starts looking through the mail and there’s a special piece of it. Turns out she has inherited Good Witch Grandma Glinda’s Christmas Land. Cut to modern day Christmas Land.

IMG_5431This is when we are introduced to a guy who is every small town attorney/doctor/big city, but living in a small town profession person. In this case, his name is Tucker Barnes (Luke Macfarlane). He remembers her and Grandma Glinda. She thought she just inherited the Christmas tree lot, the house, and the buildings around them, but he tells her she now owns “everything the eye can see from here…” Considering they are walking down main street and can only see the buildings she already mentioned, I am not sure what he is referring to, but later we will be told 200 acres in a contract and 206 acres by another character. She’s been in town for only a few minutes and has been treated well. That’s why we meet Uncle Frank (Wes Wright)!

IMG_5483He initially acts weird thinking she has come to take up her Grandma’s throne for no logical reason whatsoever and when she tells him she is considering selling the place he all but calls her a bitch before storming off. No joke. She has just shown up in town, doesn’t show an immediate desire to run a theme park, so he treats her like garbage. Think he is going to actually apologize for this. Nope! He will issue an empty and meaningless “apology” only because she said she might have changed her mind. The only slight excuse here is that Tucker may have said that she might be coming back to reopen the place. In other words, he is part of the jumping to conclusions thing, but is far more down to Earth and realistic about it.

Now Tucker talks to Jules and shows a great deal of enthusiasm and love for the place. We will also find out later that he just genuinely likes living there. Think that would lead her to not sell the place, but give him control of it seeing as she thinks it’s a special place, doesn’t have what a place like this needs, doesn’t have a deep connection to it, and isn’t the person the film tells you right here should obviously run the place to touch the lives in the wonderful way her grandmother did? Of course not! The rest of the movie will be convoluted BS where characters act irrationally to push this film towards a conclusion that makes no sense.

Now she is introduced to two more ladies who tell her how much they are glad she is going to reopen the place even though they have no reason to believe that. After she tells them that she doesn’t plan to reopen the place, they also treat her like garbage. Well, to be fair to them. Cue ball Uncle Frank pops in to take a dump on Jules again, then the ladies also turn on her. One of them even asks, “then what is she doing here then?” Hmmm… maybe to take a look at the place she inherited out of the blue from a woman she presumedly hasn’t seen in 25 years. But yeah, that means she’s an evil woman who has come to mislead them and needs to be demonized. After Jules dares to say that she doesn’t live there and that she has a job and an apartment in New York she receives this line from this woman before the lady storms out of the room.

IMG_5517Tucker has her look at some papers and say that Glinda had buyers over the years who she ignored because they had their own ideas about the place. Won’t say what those ideas are, but it’s assumed they are evil. Jules decides to take a look around the place. Probably because she is worried they will crucify her if she doesn’t. Then a little girl is marched in front of her to guilt her some more so she lies that she is going reopen Christmas Land. I might too considering I’m surrounded by crazy people who seem like they are on the brink of attacking me.

Now Jules calls her boyfriend up to tell him she is reopening Christmas Land. She talks about brining the place back to it’s former glory in order to sell it. In other words, make sure the place is in pristine condition so that whoever she sells it to will see it in all it’s beauty rather than a rundown 200 acres. Evil! Of course as soon as she mentions that it’s 200 acres, her boyfriend gets really happy before telling her he will find her a buyer. At least he seems like he’s legitimately shady. Oh, and we are only 25 minutes into this thing. There’s more!

Now Tucker tells her that Uncle Frank and the nice ladies she met are getting Glinda’s house ready for her to move in. You know, the guy who came up to her and barely stopped from calling her a bitch, and the ladies who came in and treated her in a similar manner. Those people!

Cut to the house and she says that she is not thinking about moving in, but getting the place up and running since apparently to be treated like a human being in Christmas Land means you have to spell out everything to people or they will jump to baseless conclusions and treat you like crap when you don’t meet their unfounded expectations. Then Tucker guilts her under the guise of telling her why he likes living in this small town. Now her boyfriend calls up to drop another weird element into this movie.

IMG_5575Turns out jerk off boyfriend knows Tucker from law school and that “he had a reputation.” Think they will explain that? Nope! It cuts to the outside of the house to show Tucker getting into a car before cutting back to their conversation. Later he will allude to that this reputation has to do with barns. In other words, bestiality. Wow! Let’s keep going.

The next morning Frank is making pancakes so he can say he’s sorry. And by sorry I mean I’m sorry because you appear to be doing what I wanted you to do in the first place: “Jules, I wanted to apologize about yesterday and how harsh I was. Tucker said that you’re gonna be opening up the old place again.” Hmmm… was it too hard to have this character we are supposed to like simply say, “I’m sorry”? Even Gloria Steinem’s apology for her, and other feminists of her era, comments about people like myself (trans woman) for being self-mutilators sounded more genuine. Anyways, that’s human rights and we are here to discuss what the fuck.

IMG_5618Jules discovers Glinda’s Santa costume, which she will wear for numerous scenes in the movie. Yeah, that makes sense. After everyone in town jumped to wild conclusions without any basis, let’s parade around in this to…fuck with them??? She even tells the lawyer she still intends on selling the place. This is when she says to the lawyer that she intends to find a buyer who will keep the place open. She could just continue to own it and give it to Tucker to run on a day to day basis. Never mind. Realistic solutions and actual compromise are for the Hallmark movie Lead With Your Heart. A much better movie. She even says, “Keep everyone’s spirits up. Seem’s like you’re the one who does that anyways.” 38 minutes into this now.

Now we see that the carriage she rode in as a kid could use some fixing up before visiting the tree lot. If you go to IMDb at the time of writing this, the plot summary will say that she inherits a Christmas tree lot. No mention that she has actually inherited a mini-Christmas themed Disneyland sans rides. Then she says the typical Hallmark I’m out of touch because I actually have intelligent business ideas lines.

IMG_5693Now in case we forgot how creepy the opening of this movie is, it’s time to recreate it with Jules. The difference is we have had setup, there are other adults in the room, there’s context, and Jules doesn’t act weird. Next we visit the store…

IMG_5716and meet Harry Belafonte…I mean George. Belafonte is who I immediately thought of when I saw him. George is actually nice to her. Isn’t that amazing. He even has useful things to say. You’d think there’d be mention of how Christmas Land touched people’s lives and that that’s whats important rather than her replacing her Grandma, but George is the only one to really bring that up. He talks about how Christmas Land helped to save the local businesses and thus the community. But enough of reasonable people. We need to get back to the crazy. Now we get a montage of fixing up the town.

IMG_5739Then we cut to Frank at the Christmas tree lot. He has actually embraced Jules’ ideas and gives the customer 25% off christmas decorations or lights because he is buying a tree. I’m just going to assume Frank fell off a ladder during the montage and hasn’t recovered yet from the blow to his head. Either that or this is an example of characters who are all over the place as the screenwriters command to force this plot to come to fruition. We need more weird. Where’s that boyfriend?

IMG_5782He comes in the barn and recognizes Tucker. He tells Jules she looks like a hobo, but “it’s great to see you.” He says to Tucker, “‘Though I’m not surprised to find you in a barn.” What is this reputation they mentioned earlier, and is that what this barn comment has to do with? Somebody explain this to me. Then the boyfriend once again brings up the barn.

IMG_5803Later it turns out that Tucker graduated top of their law class. I would simply have written this barn stuff off as him insulting Tucker for being so smart, but retreating to a nowhere town. However, after his comments the last time he was in the movie about a “reputation”, I have to think he means something else other than a fondness of his hometown. And we have reached the one hour mark. Cynthia Gibb still hasn’t returned for her weird addition to this film.

Good luck for Jules though, because the boyfriend has a buyer lined up, and he even knows about Christmas Land. Oh, and here’s a picture of Tucker looking like he wants to crack the boyfriend’s nuts like the statue next to him cause apparently I snapped it and it would be a shame to let it go to waste.

IMG_5834Now we get a scene to remind us that Jules is getting into the role because her wearing the costume didn’t already tell us that. This is followed by Tucker bitching about having to lie to the people of the town. Now she goes back to Chicago to meet the buyer. It’s Richard Karn!

IMG_5902Oh, but before they meet him, Tucker reminds us of the barn again. Can’t let us forget that movie, can you?

He says he has a fondness for Christmas Land and took his family there years ago. Then after handing her a check for $1,700,000, she just blindly signs his contract. She tells him it’s her Grandma’s legacy and that she doesn’t want to see it tarnished, but apparently that doesn’t mean bothering to read the contract. If she acted like she had a brain, then how are we going to have a third act?

And literally two minutes later in the movie…

IMG_5932this guy shows up and says he is going to bulldoze the place and chop it up into lots. Oh, my God! It’s like the guy who bought the land wants to do with it as he pleases. I had no idea that selling someone something meant they can do with it as they please…said no one watching this movie. And certainly not someone who is supposed to have the business experience she has at the beginning of this movie. After finding out her boyfriend is a douche. We are in the last 30 minutes or so of this movie. How is she going to get out of this?

She goes to Karn to complain. Karn actually is remarkably reasonable. He tells her that he’s okay flipping it back to her for a profit. It’s reasonable. He sees she cares about the place and it doesn’t make him evil that he wants to make a profit from his investment. She has a check from him for 1.7 million. He wants 3 million. That means she needs 1.3 million dollars by Christmas, and he’ll rip up the contract to give her back the property.

After she watches that creepy video her Grandma shot of her in the carriage, she places a phone call to Cynthia Gibb. At this point, I honestly didn’t expect to see her again in the movie.

IMG_6050She tells Jules that she will provide $850,000 dollars if they will give her the exclusive right to serve Nickerson’s Coffee at Christmas Land. She does this all while acting like that’s a prostitute sitting next to her. Actually, I believe he is a guy named Tim that was in barely a few seconds at the beginning of the film and is a photographer. But seriously, this scene makes it look like he’s a prostitute. I’m sorry, it does.

Anyhow! This means she needs $450,000. I said to my Dad how is she going to get that money? He said she’ll probably find it somewhere on the property. Not too far off. Remember Frank?

IMG_6106He has a huge wad of cash just sitting in a can. You know, as people living in a small town with no apparent income, life, or any kind of existence whatsoever are known to have. And it’s not just him.

IMG_6141The town is able to raise $450,000. And by the whole town, I mean it appears to be the three other people other than Frank that we have met. Yep, this town apparently is loaded. Now Christmas Land is saved with Jules taking over as the people who treated her like shit when she showed up wanted her to.

Wow! So let’s summarize here. We had Maureen McCormick looking like a pedophile. People treating the lead like crap. People acting in ways that don’t make sense when there’s an obvious compromise right in front of their face. Signing contracts without reading them because the plot desperately needed a final speed bump. A character that comes across as a prostitute. Oh, and the numerous allusions that Tucker likes to have sex with animals in a barn. God, I hope I didn’t miss something.

The saddest part here is that I actually liked Nikki Deloach and Jason-Shane Scott in the leads. If this hadn’t been absolutely insane, but an actual movie, then I could have enjoyed it. As it is, it’s the worst Hallmark Christmas movie I’ve seen…so far. Also, one of the worst Hallmark movies I’ve seen in general. That’s out of the 141 I’ve seen at the time of writing this review.

Source: Through the Shattered Lens

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