Following an on-camera flub in which she says she doesn’t like Christmas, a popular morning show host is assigned, along with her producer who is also her old college flame, to cover the Christmas week festivities in a town known for its tremendous holiday celebration. But when she suspects something is amiss in Hollyvale, the investigative reporter surfaces and she becomes determined to get to the bottom of it, rediscovering her lost Christmas spirit – and rekindling the flames of love — in the process.[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaQhmdeQ424[/embedyt]
DISCLAIMER: While I always attempt to keep my reviews spoiler-free, sometimes there are things included in my reviews that may have the potential to tell the reader more than he/she would like to know about the movie. Please understand that this is unintentional, and if you are concerned about spoilers, I ask that you not read any further. However, if you don’t mind a bit of information without giving away too much of the plot, by all means, please continue.
I almost don’t know where to begin when it comes to my thoughts about one of the most unique Hallmark Christmas films I have ever seen. While we are assured of a happy conclusion, lots of romance, yuletide cheer, and family-friendly fun–in short, everything we love about this network–this film has brought the viewers a different take on the familiar Hallmark formula. In fact, it is so unique that there was never a dull moment for me.
If you watch your screen closely for the character Michael Harper, you might spot Michael St. John Smith in that role. If you luxuriate in Hallmark Christmas films, you might recognize the actor from Family for Christmas as well as a mutli-decade career of prestigious guest star roles on various well-respected network shows. Decdiedly, he portrays this role with his solid and versatile talent and energy.
In typical Hallmark fashion, the network has highlighted some and up and coming actors in this film. If you look for him, you might see Gary Sekhon as Peter–he has been seen recently on shows such as Wayward Pines, The X-Files and more. And of course, he deserves this honorable mention.
Even more exciting to me was Dakota Guppy! I remember her from The Returned as I watched that show with intense interest and was even a bit disappointed when it was canceled. But she is not new to Hallmark. She was in Ice Sculpture Christmas, and she was even featured in Fox’s Wayward Pines. Although her role is small in this film, watch out for this girl as her career is on the rise.
I bet you recognize this guy–or at least the shows and films on which he has been featured–several Hallmark, SyFy, and more. But here’s a bit of trivia. If you look through Nelson Wong’s credits, you will notice he played this character back a few years ago in two different films. And here’s even more trivia. Ron Oliver directed those two films. And Ron Oliver appears on the writing credits of this film. So, needless to say, playing detective made this an interesting find. Watch Nelson in this film, and you’ll see why he’s had such a long, successful career. And thanks to Ron Oliver for completely “blowing my mind” with this scavenger hunt! Very nice!
Hearties, I found a season three connection in this film! Blair Penner portrays Darren in this movie, but in season three of that beloved show, he played Peter in the Forever in My Heart episode. In fact, he’s been in a few Hallmark films and shows as well as some of the leading Vancouver shows. And he does not disappoint in this film either. His credits are few, but impressive, so keep your eyes peeled for this guy!
Definitely a memorable face and name as well as a crackerjack actress, Karen Holness should be easily spotted in the role of Wendy. Hallmark and the surrounding networks understandably love to spotlight her in their shows and films. She is just as beautiful and as talented as ever in this film, and it is a delectable treat to see her.
I recognized her name, but until I saw her, I couldn’t place her. Another vibrant lady can be treasured in the role of Olive in this film–Hannah Pederson. While her roles might be few, they are always striking, and no doubt, this role will be just as significant.
In keeping with Hallmark’s commitment to continue to employ such gifted, noteworthy actors, yet another gem appears in this film. Mark Brandon can be seen as Paul Greene (okay, you noticed the name play again, right? I think the writers were having way too much fun with the character names here.) You’ll recognize this guy, I’m sure, and his role is done with precision in this film.
Kazumi Evans, voiceover artist and a favorite of Hallmark, appears in this film as Sam, the receptionist. I’m going to have to watch for this actress as I had no idea I was more familiar with her work than I realized. So make sure you investigate her role in this film as her character should be easy to identify.
Yet another “up and comer,” Kate Isaac plays Mitzi. And she is indeed exceptional. Can you believe the caliber of talent highlighted in the minor/supporting roles alone? It’s absolutely amazing as is Kate in this role. You might recognize her from Cedar Cove, but if not, be sure that you keep an eye on this beauty.
Eileen Barrett is another one to watch for in the role of Millicent. She’s been around off and on, and she did make an appearance in The Convenient Groom this summer. So look out for this lady as her part is reputable and admirable.
An exceptional portrayal in this film is the wonderfully talented Omari Newton as Sheriff Omari. His presence on screen speaks for itself in this small but integral role. His body of work is impressive, so you may have seen him before. Continuum and other works are listed, so if you were a fan of that show, you probably know of him. First-rate in this film, for sure.
I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but I will. My mom recognized Kevin O’Grady before I did. I wasn’t thinking about him, but she looked at my screen in passing and said, “He’s in Garage Sale Mystery and plays the detective.” Yes, she is correct. And here he plays another fun role who is still trying to keep Lori Loughlin’s character out of mischief and danger. He plays Doug, the cameraman. It was truly a delight to see him here.
Of course, you probably recognize the other actress in the picture, right?
If not, let me help you out. She’s related to Lori in real life. Isabella Giannulli plays the very delightful Mia. It was an absolute joy to see mother and daughter together. And Isabella has that genuine talent and charisma very much like her mom does. I loved seeing the two of them sharing the screen together.
If you do not fall in love with the prowess of this talented, young lady, I will be surprised. Her character is absolutely precocious but unspoiled and ready to try absolutely anything! And I would venture to say that Isabella is much the same way. Whatever this young lady wishes to do in life, she will no doubt be successful in the extreme. While it helps that her parents are famous, I think Isabella has enough talent to rest on her own merits without riding her parents’ coattails. But they are so supportive of her, and that is all a daughter could ask for, right?
Welcome to a character that is definitively pivotal to the story that without him, I think the message might fall flat. Although Willie’s character of Vernon Hollis is not large by any stretch of the imagination, I found this some of the best work I have ever seen from him. While Willie is versatility personified within the entertainment world, his roles often are not deep and fraught with genuine emotion and meaning.
As Vernon, Willie has the opportunity to demonstrate his acting prowess in a fashion he has not had the opportunity to exhibit heretofore. I was fully mesmerized by the quiet and gentle way he portrays this guy, and I hope to see Hallmark feature him in more roles in a similar vein in the future.
Portraying Mayor Drysedale of Hollyvale is a task that Bruce Harwood tackles with ease. Of course, he has had plenty of experience playing a mayor, right Hearties? He played Mayor Silas Ramsey in When Calls the Heart, which is why he appears to be so familiar. Of course, he has an imposing body of work, and no doubt, you’ve probably seen him in other shows and films without realizing it. What I appreciated most about his character is that he is not always what he appears to be. I won’t ruin the surprise, but Bruce executes this role with impeccable timing.
Probably another familiar face to many is that of Catherine Lough Haggquist as Lauren Foster. She has been in some Christmas movies on various networks, including Hallmark (Snow Bride), but her body of work embraces many different genres. She is stunning and acts to perfection in this role, and I am glad that Hallmark has brought her back into the fold as it’s been too long since we’ve seen her on this network.
Let’s talk Lori and Colin, all right? These two are absolutely magnificent with plenty of gentle, fun, and realistic chemistry between them. Of course, I believe that Lori is such a professional that she could seriously counterbalance anyone and act to an infallible standard. And that is what Lori does. In fact, I was just telling one of my actor friends up in Vancouver how long I have been her fan (since Full House), and not only does the woman not age, but her acting skills never fail to exceed expectations. She gets better and better!
The way in which these two interact on screen is absolutely charming and immaculately timed. I never tire of watching them. Lori gives Colin plenty to work with, and Colin is able to give that same amount and more back to Lori. It is the ideal marriage of chemistry, timing, and sheer enchantment on screen.
Now, I’ll be honest. I didn’t know of Colin until Cedar Cove came around. And I was a “hard sell” on that show in terms of his character. I wasn’t sure I liked him as the D.A. who was pursuing Olivia. In fact, it was only towards the end that I finally embraced his character, and then the show got canceled. So seeing Colin in this role was such a blast! This role was meant for him. I cannot think of anyone who could have played it with more style, grace, and emotion. When his character is supposed to appear awkward and unsure of himself, Colin inserts just the right amount so as not to overdo it. But when it is time for him to be romantic, kind, caring and sincere…
…a picture says it best, I think. I hope that Hallmark will feature Colin in more films (and maybe even shows) as he has more than earned that honor through the caliber of talent he has demonstrated in this film.
In some ways, this is my favorite role of hers. Why, you ask? Well, because as Kate Harper, Lori plays an uncharacteristically “not nice” role. Now, I don’t mean Lori is mean. I mean, I saw her play crazy once, and she did it so well I was frightened. But in this film, Lori’s character is not a fan of Christmas. She still has those traits we love (trying to uncover a mystery much to chagrin of her co-star, strong and confident woman, etc.), but there is an edge to her character that we don’t often see in her films. And in my opinion, only an actress of Lori’s capacity could perform this role with such integrity that we don’t dislike her. No, we root for her. She is endearing even in her distaste for the holiday season. She has a few prickles here and there, but Jack is able to soften Kate’s heart. Additionally, it is the story that Vernon tells that begins to break down those walls in ways she never anticipated. I won’t spoil the ending (although you can guess what happens). Lori adds just the right amount of spice to this role to make Kate Harper fascinating without going to the extreme. She has just the right amount of pepper to make you sneeze, but once that fit is over, a savory dish is before you. Combined with the simplicity and sincerity of Jack, Kate and Jack are a feast that the viewers’ eyes will relish to behold.
So please tune in Saturday, November 12th to the Hallmark Channel (sorry I won’t be there–I’ll be in Vancouver myself) and watch Every Christmas Has a Story. I truly believe this is the next big holiday classic that will be treasured year after year.
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