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The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

Season’s streamings: Keep the holiday spirit going with these Hallmark movies

We watched the top three Hallmark movies of the season, here are our rankings
A shot from Hallmark’s “Christmas Under Wraps”

The holiday season is slowly coming to an end. It’s the middle of January, but that doesn’t mean Hallmark movies are off the table! After viewing these films, we ranked them based on the following categories: drama, romance, character personalities, holiday joy, and endings. We hope you find these movies as festive as we did.

3. “Christmas at Graceland” (2018) – can be streamed on Peacock

Laurel, a hardworking Chicagoan makes her way back to her hometown, Memphis, for just a week to focus on her job. Reunited by Christmas magic, the ex-singer and her third grade crush, Clay Sheppard, meet again and realize there was more to their story than they anticipated.

Drama: 3/5
Most of the theatrics in the film stemmed from Laurel’s tight work schedule and inability to see her young daughter, Emma. However, while in her hometown, Laurel struggled to understand where her heart truly belonged: her daughter or her job. Rekindling her old relationships helped her truly realize what she was missing in her daily life. But, there wasn’t any banter or confusion between Laurel and her lover, Clay, which left something to be desired.

Romance: 3/5
One may say rekindling an elementary school love is as romantic as it gets, but we disagree. In the movie, Laurel and Clay seemed to jump right back into their old habits like twenty years hadn’t even passed. It seemed unrealistic and like they hadn’t changed at all during that long period of time. While their relationship felt quite unnatural, they still managed to give us that classic Hallmark-style eye contact and revived affection. Both characters displayed a rare understanding of each other, and were able to slowly enter into a new rhythm.

Character personalities: 1/5
These two main characters lacked all traits necessary for an audience to like them in literally any way. Let’s start with Laurel. Not only did she have an aggressive and distracting southern accent that was overly reflected in her singing, but she also had a true obsession with being an independent, working woman. There’s nothing wrong with this, but when not asking for help is your whole personality, you don’t seem genuine and it’s weird in any character. However, the most horrible part for us was her atrocious and unsettling singing. The editors really knew how to abuse the auto tune and butcher the lip syncing. At least try for the sake of our sanity. As for Clay, (what kind of name is that) he was so obviously consumed with her each and every movement. How much free time can one guy have to not only find a woman’s hotel room, whip out a polished acoustic guitar, and have it delivered to her all in one night? To say the least, these characters weren’t it.

Holiday joy: 5/5
The homey feeling of the town and creative use of Elvis’s house, Graceland, really gave this movie a cozy and festive vibe. We loved the way that despite Laurel having such a busy career, she wanted her daughter to experience all the wonderful things that Christmas brings. Not only was the entire town snowed over, but the film also incorporated holiday festivals, ice skating, and a sense of togetherness.

Ending: 4/5
Although the personalities themselves weren’t our favorites, we enjoyed Laurel’s commitment to her career, daughter, and life before her reunion with Clay. It was refreshing to see her putting her own needs before her boss and even Clay. It was obvious that she wanted to stay in Memphis for the good of her family. Clay was just a nice bonus.

Overall 16/25

2. “The Christmas Train” (2017) – can be streamed on Peacock

In honor of his dad, Tom Langdon boards the Christmas train in order to find ideas for his next article, while Eleanor Carter, his long lost love, searches for ideas for her next best movie script. After recognizing each other, they quickly spiral into a state of shock, and wonder if fate brought them together for a reason.

Drama: 5/5

From excessive miscommunication to the high amount of flamboyant character traits, “The Christmas Train” creates drama from every angle. Right off the bat, we meet Agnes, an older woman who knows everything about everybody on the train. How does she know this? That is a question for the ages. Is she a serial stalker? Most likely, yes. But despite her odd mannerisms, she has a son, who of course she lost communication with. At the end of the movie, they find each other again (we’ll come back to this).
Throughout the length of the movie, Eleanor and Tom seem to be incapable of making a decision. And oh, sorry, did we forget to mention that they were together for SIX YEARS? How did their relationship not manage to break apart sooner? Another question left unanswered.

Romance: 2/5

When you think of hallmark movies, you think romance, right? In this case, wrong. “The Christmas Train” lacked the chemistry we expected between the two protagonists. You would think they would have even more chemistry based on their long history together, but the level of uncomfort and awkwardness trumped all feelings of love. The only sign of ‘romance’ was the amount of banter and taunting they exhibited. Not only did they kiss TWICE in the whole film, it lacked all the cheesy pickup lines, cringey eye contact, accidental hand touching, and flirtatious comments we were expecting. They really let us down.

Character personalities: 3/5

We’ll give Hallmark points for Tom’s tragic backstory about his Dad, but we’re missing some iconic character traits present in other films. The only ‘trauma’ that Eleanor endured was her pouty sob story about her apparent lack of writing talents. Boo hoo.
Tom’s story was better since it was actually believable. He decided to ride the train because it was his deceased father’s last and only wish. Tom appeared to be an adventure-seeking dude, yet throughout most of the movie, except when he trampled through the snowy woods with Eleanor, he was slightly depressed and gray. This took away from his more energetic side, and made it feel like he wasn’t adventurous at all.

Holiday Joy: 3/5

When we think of Christmas, we think of being surrounded by family in a cute house with a warm fireplace and colorful blinking lights on the tree. Trains, on the other hand, are dull. Frankly, the atmosphere was rather sad and gloomy, lacking the typical mistletoe and Christmas garlands everywhere. Yes, the train was decorated, but where was the hot cocoa? I mean, what’s a Hallmark Christmas classic without the aggressive lighting and convenient mistletoe placement?

Ending: 4/5

After the whole chaotic and confusing train ride, Elanor and Tom exit the vehicle, of course, already DEEPLY in love. It turns out, the whole ride was a scam put on by Eleanor’s boss, the infamous movie director Max Powers, a household name of course. Every passenger was an actor playing into the scheme. But, blinded by their love, Elanor and Tom didn’t have a care in the WORLD! Tom gets down on one knee, like the chivalrous forty-one year old gentleman he is, and proposes, ending the movie with a celebratory snowfall. Wow. Incredible. A masterpiece. A work of art.

Overall 17/25

“Christmas Under Wraps” (2014) – can be streamed on the Hallmark Channel

Lauren Brunell, an ambitious doctor, unexpectedly moves to Alaska to begin a job she didn’t exactly plan for. Not only does she warm up to the cozy, Christmas-crazed town, but also falls in love with one of its longtime residents, Andy Holliday.

Drama: 2/5

While daily struggles portrayed in films feel relatable and “normal”, it’s expected that Hallmark movies are more dramatic. At the start of the “Christmas Under Wraps”, we see Lauren’s “perfect” life spiral into chaos, as her long term boyfriend suddenly breaks up with her and she doesn’t get picked for her dream fellowship program. We liked to see a movie that represented real aspects of life, however it didn’t feel like it fit in a Hallmark setting. Throughout Lauren and Andy’s relationship, we see little to no major conflict or resolution. Their communication is steady and it felt very mellow. These qualities are ideal for real-world relationships, yet in Hallmark films, these feel rather bland. Where’s the drama, people?

Romance: 6/5

Wow. Out of all the Hallmark movies, this one by far topped our romance expectations. We even had our feet kicking. Andy was clearly the ideal man for Lauren. Right off the bat, they made jokes left and right, and he wowed us with his kind heart and pure intentions. He always tried to hangout with her and respected her time. It was obvious from the beginning of the film that they were a perfect fit. Not only did their first kiss feel genuine, but they slowly got to know each other over time rather than rushing into anything. Chef’s kiss!

Character personalities: 3/5

Obviously, Andy was a 5/5, but Lauren brought down the score a decent amount. We didn’t feel that she had a lot to bring to the table, and frankly we felt bored by her character. Unlike Andy, Lauren didn’t give us something to root for.

Holiday joy: 5/5

The film started off with a typical Christmas city montage, and was followed by the “small town” trope the rest of the film. Colorful lights, real reindeer, and thousands of snow-covered Christmas trees resided throughout each street. When watching this movie, we felt the warm and cozy atmosphere radiating through the screen. It gave off the ideal Christmas vibes, and we were here for it. A highlight of the film was Andy helping Lauren get her first ever real Christmas tree. It was such a classic move and so cute. Hallmark did a jolly good job showing us what we would miss out on this Christmas season.

Ending: 4/5

Hold on for dear life, because this ending is a classic. Andy’s dad is the perfect candidate for Santa Claus; he’s always eating cookies, has the old white guy with a beard look, owns a reindeer (who does that?) and clearly has a secret. As it turns out, he IS Santa Claus. During the film there are many hints of Frank Holliday being the big guy. There are weird creatures that run around near his house, and he has a shipping company for… toys? Literally such Santa behavior. At the end of the film he gets into a big red sleigh (and sleighs it). And, obviously, he flies into the night, following snowfall and a kiss from Lauren and Andy. What a great way to wrap it up.
Overall 20/25

We hope you enjoyed watching these movies as much as we did. While our reviews were a bit harsh, we just wanted to give you a brutally honest idea of what you’re getting yourself into before sitting down and hitting play. Make sure to factor these into your everyday movie night!

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