“Christmas Land” Hallmark Movie Review

By Ruth on December 20, 2015 in Christmas, Holidays, movie, review, television
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A successful New York businesswoman learns her beloved late Grandmother has left her 'Christmas Land', a magical Christmas themed village in the country side.

A successful New York businesswoman learns her beloved late Grandmother has left her ‘Christmas Land’, a magical Christmas themed village in the country side.

Let me apologize in advance. I suspect that it was not the best decision to air this film after one of the most outstanding nights in Hallmark’s “Countdown to Christmas.” In many ways, this is a potential disenchantment after the massive promotion for Mariah Carey’s directorial debut and her Christmas special. This may be considered a bit anticlimactic.  And regrettably, anything that follows this grand night will probably be viewed that way. However, in another sense, things are winding down for Christmas, so maybe this is the perfect film to sit back and relax with the family while sipping hot cocoa and devouring a colossal bowl of popcorn. And thankfully, this film still has Hallmark’s charm, wit, and guaranteed picture-perfect ending. And in the words of my mom, this film is “cute.” I just don’t want anyone to feel disappointed if they are expecting more than what they will receive from this film.

Maureen McCormick Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Michael Larsen

Maureen McCormick as Grandma Glinda Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Michael Larsen

Well, this film begins with an especially familiar face–Maureen McCormick–viewers may know her as “Marcia” from The Brady Bunch. She plays the grandmother of Jules, who is responsible for leaving Christmas Land to the granddaughter who promised to never forget Christmas Land. Although Maureen isn’t on screen long, she is memorable. I didn’t immediately recognize her, but now I see it. I tip my hat to Hallmark for completing the season with this iconic actress who still so beautiful, talented, and noteworthy.

Maureen McCormick Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Michael Larsen

Maureen McCormick Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Michael Larsen

Shayla McCaffrey, Maureen McCormick Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Fred Hayes

Shayla McCaffrey, Maureen McCormick Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Fred Hayes

In her debut performance, Shayla portrays young Jules alongside this legendary actress. Shayla’s role is tiny, but here’s hoping we will so more from her in the future.

Unprovidentially, twenty-five years pass, and Grandma is deceased, and we are now left with her granddaughter, Jules, who has grown up and forgotten the true spirit and joy of Christmas. As per normal in these films, Jules is all about making money no matter what.

Wes Right as Uncle Frank

Wes Wright as Uncle Frank

With very few credits to his name, Wes is an absolute natural in the role of “Uncle Frank.” I figured he was a qualified professional, but at least from what I could tell, he’s a relative newbie. Let’s hope that Hallmark and other networks find plenty for this guy to do. Indeed, his imposing personage could fill out a variety of roles.

Annette Wright as Eliose, Chonda Pierce as Gretchen

Annette Wright as Eliose, Chonda Pierce as Gretchen

These spunky ladies certainly brighten up the screen, and their respective experience is varied (although they are perfectly matched in this film). Annette has been featured in tiny roles in a couple of Hallmark films, but this is the first time I have seen her in a role with a smidgen of substance. She is exemplary, and she matches Chonda’s portrayal of Gretchen to a tee. In fact, they are like the proverbial “old lady gossiping friends” who are almost always seen together and invariably are aware of everything happening in the town (actually, if they don’t know, they probably fabricate it). Chonda doesn’t have a lot of experience as an actress, but her writing and comedienne credits are well-known. No matter their experience, they are an absolute delight on screen, and I anticipate more from both in the future.

Jason-Shane Scott as Mitchell

Jason-Shane Scott as Mitchell

As per Hallmark style, there is “the other guy,” and he is played impeccably by Jason-Shane Scott. Now, I have not seen this veteran actor in anything else that I can recall, but his experience precedes him. He fits exceptionally well as the handsome, successful, but not entirely candid Mitchell. While he is more of a two-dimensional character, that is all Mitchell requires (or deserves). He seems so suave and debonair, but he’s also slick and shrewd. It’s difficult to despise Jason in the role, but once his true colors are revealed, it becomes much easier to disregard him and his paltry feelings.

Richard Karn as Mason Richards

Richard Karn as Mason Richards

The moment Richard walked onto the screen, I knew I recognized him, but I couldn’t place him until I did some research. How could I not recognize the guy who played Al Borlin for so many years on Home Improvement? And then I’ve seen him also on Last Man Standing–but I know exactly why I did not readily identify him. I am so used to seeing Richard portraying a good guy that it is a bit harsh to see him as a bad guy. Well, not necessarily a bad guy, and that is why Richard plays this character so well. The character of Mason seems like a truly decent guy, and I struggled to see him as a villain even before I recognized him.  Richard has a benevolent disposition that he carries with him to every role. Now, maybe he can play a genuinely diabolical character, but I have not ever seen him in any such role. He engenders sympathy for his character in this film even when he’s being a good businessman and making the demands that he feels he must. If it were not for the fact that he knows what he is potentially giving up, I don’t believe his character would have demanded of Jules what he did.  No spoilers, but pay careful attention to him near the conclusion of the film, and I think you will definitely see that signature kindness radiating through.  Regardless, I applaud Hallmark for giving him a momentous role that shows us a different side of him. And, of course, Richard lives up to our expectations without a fault.

Luke Macfarlane as Tucker, Nikki Deloach as Jules Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Fred Hayes

Luke Macfarlane as Tucker, Nikki Deloach as Jules Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Fred Hayes

At the heart of this film is this couple, Tucker and Jules as depicted by Luke and Nikki. I couldn’t place Luke at first, but I have seen him in The Memory Book. Alas, I felt I should know Nikki, but I don’t recognize any of her listed credits. Nevertheless, this couple is exactly what Hallmark viewers ordered–charming , unembellished, and visionary.

Luke Macfarlane, Nikki Deloach Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Fred Hayes

Luke Macfarlane, Nikki Deloach Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Fred Hayes

Through Luke’s influence, we see the transformation that Jules makes as she is exposed the unpretentious joys of the community where Christmas Land is located. The wonder of Christmas returns to her, and she remembers what she promised her grandmother so long ago.

Luke Macfarlane, Nikki Deloach Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Fred Hayes

Luke Macfarlane, Nikki Deloach Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Fred Hayes

Together, these two transport us on the typical journey of Hallmark love, but it is credible and authentic without being overdone. Their chemistry is never artificial, and it is evident that there is a magical force that is drawing these two together (maybe it is the force that drives Christmas Land itself).

Nikki Deloach Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Michael Larsen

Nikki Deloach Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Michael Larsen

As we travel this film through the eyes of Nikki’s character, Jules, we viewers are treated to a plethora of emotions as she embarks on her own self-discovery voyage. To look at Nikki, we might expect her to be the conventional, run-of-the-mill Hallmark actress who can deliver a solid performance with a moderate amount depth. However, that would be an incorrect assumption. While Nikki plays an ordinary Hallmark heroine, she immerses herself fully in her character, and she lends her skill entirely to this complex character.

Nikki Deloach Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Michael Larsen

Nikki Deloach Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Michael Larsen

As her character ripens and changes, we see the undiminished spectrum of emotions as only a capable actress who has sincerely connected with her character can give. Do not underestimate the caliber of this actress. If not for her stirring performance, I may have somewhat lost interest in the film, so I applaud her legitimate talent.

Luke Macfarlane Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Michael Larsen

Luke Macfarlane Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Michael Larsen

However, I would be remiss without mentioning and praising the talent of Luke as Tucker. Although he may not be as celebrated in Hallmark circles, he is the distinctive leading man in this genre with an uncanny knack for infusing genuine emotion and warmth into the character which he depicts. For his character, Jules is the only woman he has ever loved, and every mannerism–whether facial expression, gesture, or vocal inflection–assures us of his undying devotion to her. He grapples with doubts about her sincerity and only longs to believe the absolute best about her.  When he believes that he may lose her, his performance is precise that we want to get in his face (just like Gretchen does), tell him off, and literally drag him to her to “kiss and make up.” Though he may appear mediocre, don’t belittle Luke’s gift for acting. His refreshing appearance and prowess are exactly what makes a film like this become unforgettable.

As a finale to Hallmark’s star-studded and extensive “Countdown to Christmas,” this is like coming home. Don’t expect a story that will challenge your beliefs nor send you into the throes of sorrow. Instead, expect a story that will gently tug at your heartstrings and remind you of cherished moments and the joy of the holiday season.

For more information:

http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/christmas-land

 

 

 

 

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth

43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl
Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA
Entertainment Writer
Available For Interviews and Reviews
Substitute Teacher

13 Comments

  1. Aline Guillot December 30, 2015 Reply

    One big problem with the movie’s script — how could such a savvy, successful career woman from NYC sign a contract without reading it? Oh, that’s right, she trusted her no-good attorney boyfriend and ignored all those “hints” he had been giving that all he cared about was money. That was SO annoying and made me wish I had “slap-o-vision”!

    • Author
      Ruth December 30, 2015 Reply

      Christmas Land was not my favorite Christmas film, and I full agree with you. But it had its merits. Thanks for your comment!

    • DC January 1, 2017 Reply

      I completely agree with Aline. It seemed like plot-driven writing; to make this savvy businesswoman succumb to such idiocy as to signing a contract without reading it. Made her look stupid. Also, I don’t share your charitable nature when it comes to Mason Richard’s character. He lied to her to get the deal done, he was a real worm. AND you think he was showing kindness to sell it back for ONLY $1.3 million profit (for owning it for a week?)? HORRIBLE. I highly resented that he was actually even included in the happiness at the end when she got it back. My preferred way to get out of it would have been to have Tucker pop the contract somehow – he WAS the top in his law school class, after all – or take it to the press and make the guy look like the jerk that he was.

      So yea, up until that point, i was onboard. But that was just stupid, plot-driven writing.

      That, and I found it highly unfeasible that the Coffee Company would pay her $850K to serve only their coffee there.

      • Author
        Ruth January 1, 2017 Reply

        DC, I always appreciate critical comments, and no, this wasn’t my favorite. You might have misread the charitableness I showed toward that character as it was more the actor rather than the role he was playing. And I was also doing my best to not give away any details as the review came out prior to the airing of this film. This is Hallmark, and while many see the plots as cheesy or idiotic, it is part of what makes Hallmark work. It is not my favorite Christmas movie by any means–which is why I was surprised it was in the top 10 posts for the year–but it is what it is. And it had some really dynamic characters in it that were nice to watch. Not every Hallmark movie is stellar. So realize I always celebrate the merits of a film–I am very cautious when it comes to bashing anyone. I realize that the writing may not have been what is warranted for every situation, but it was about par for the course.

  2. Earl October 26, 2016 Reply

    Hi Ruth, just watched Christmas Land again and read your review.. Really enjoyed the movie and i thought the cast was terrific..The leads were very good, very easy together and the rest of the cast filled in nicely…I reckon it was a weakness on Jules part to not check into the contract more since she is a savvy business lady, but with that being said, she for sure tried to do everything she could to right the wrong… Really enjoyed your review and as a Heartie…..Can’t wait for Christmas…….

    • Author
      Ruth October 26, 2016 Reply

      Earl, thank you again for your kind words! I do try my utmost to review films honesty, with respect, and with positivity. You inspire me to make sure I review more films this Christmas!

  3. Carol Nielsen November 12, 2016 Reply

    I loved the movie Christmas Land! I was wondering if Nikki DeLoach is related to Maureen McCormick? They look so much alike. I’m a Christmas time lover. Decorating has always been very big in my house. I loved doing it for my kids and now I’m doing it for my grandkids. I guess that’s why I loved your movie so much. I’m grandma Gilda!

    • Author
      Ruth November 14, 2016 Reply

      As far as I know they aren’t related Carol. Glad you liked it.

  4. Bob DeLacy Jr November 13, 2016 Reply

    I liked Christmas land.All it matters is how Christmas ends up for everybody.Maureen McCormick playing Grandma Glinda briefly was fun to watch.The painting of her was nice but cannot see anything on it in internet.Did they ever take pictures of the picture?

    • Author
      Ruth November 14, 2016 Reply

      I really don’t know Bob. I’m sorry. Probably not

  5. Jodi November 26, 2016 Reply

    Omg, was it just me or did anybody else notice how much jewels that played the granddaughter of Maureen McCormick looks so much like her. I was so convinced that they were related somehow that I looked it up, in fact I even thought that it was her daughter in real life. So a big shout out to who ever was responsible by picking out how to play the granddaughter, they couldn’t have done a better job even if they weren’t trying. And it was a good movie and had its own outtake on Christmas just like all the other Hallmark movies have their own story and give you a warm and special feeling during the holidays.

  6. Luana boyles December 5, 2016 Reply

    Is nikki related to maureen mccormick in real life

    • Author
      Ruth December 5, 2016 Reply

      No but many people think they are. It is a very popular search as a matter of fact. They just look like they are related.

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