CHRISTMAS MOVIE REVIEW 2016 – DAY 2: Journey Back to Christmas

Candace Cameron Bure is a seasoned and beloved Hallmark actress. She’s one of my favorites in the genre, and helped kick off the first round of 2016 Countdown to Christmas movies on Hallmark with Journey Back To Christmas by Maria Nation.

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So, with Candace on board, and also the hint of time travel, I had high expectations.

Perhaps too high. My final feelings on this movie are divided.

I wanted to rave about this movie. It promised to fulfill my anticipation with time travel, romance, and a little mystery at Christmastime.

This may be a personal issue, but time travel always messes with my mind. Kind of like The Twilight Zone.

One irony was that Hanna actually journeyed forward to experience a family Christmas that she’d never had in the past, so to me, the title Journey Back to Christmas was a bit misleading.

That question led to other questions:

Why didn’t Tobias develop the film in the camera Hanna left behind for 71 years when he was so clearly obsessed with the nurse who impacted his life and mysteriously left without a trace – especially when he knew there were photos of him on it?

How is it possible that Hanna vanished 71 years earlier, yet sent a postcard to her best friend three years later – and does not remember this development (which is a biggie but I won’t spoil it for you)?

See what I mean?  Again, cue the music.

Unanswered questions are not generally a good sign when analyzing a movie. Often they lead to more questions.

For example, it seemed perhaps there would be a romance between Hanna and Jake, the deputy who goes to bat for her. (And by the way, why wasn’t he the sheriff? In the final analysis, the sheriff’s and deputy’s roles could’ve been combined.)

At the end of the movie, out of nowhere, Jake fell in love with his partner who was his kid sister’s best friend, whom he never even noticed romantically until his sister and Hanna pointed out that his partner loved him.  Why hadn’t he realized this?…

I struggled a bit with this review because I so wanted to like this movie.

The enjoyable parts of watching this movie included:

1.  The film did a good job of elevating the tension surrounding the mystery.

2.  The 1940’s were convincingly detailed, and who doesn’t love a good period piece? It’s cool to see  how structures change or withstand the effects of time and progress.

3.  Candace’s portrayal of Hanna was so spot on, I thought she helped carry the movie.

I enjoy Candace in many other Christmas movies – like Christmas Under Wraps (to be reviewed). Last year, though I liked her character in Christmas Detour, I was a bit derailed by that unrealistic vision board (see last season’s review) she carried.

4.  There was a sweet dog angle, with very sweet dogs. (Aw)
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If you can let go of questions that might start to drive you crazy, I recommend investing the time to see this movie.

I give it a 3.5 of 5 Christmas Comet Tails.  ♥♥♥.5
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CHRISTMAS MOVIE REVIEW 2016 – DAY 1: A Heavenly Christmas

It’s that time of year. Christmas is three weeks away, but the days will move faster and faster until we’ll wonder where the time went. I’ve been impatiently waiting until December 1, so I could share my movie reviews.  I started watching Christmas movies a couple of weeks ago, to the point of scaring my husband away. He declared he is boycotting Christmas movies this year due to my overdosing.

We shall see.

(It’s possible I did overdo binge-watching Hallmark’s Christmas in July this summer, but it was refreshing.)
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For my first review, I chose A Heavenly Christmas from Hallmark, 2016, written by Gregg McBride, with actors and actresses I’ve always enjoyed.

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The story takes place in Chicago, and the cast includes Kristin Davis from Sex and The City as Eve;  Eric McCormick from Will & Grace as Max, and Shirley MacLaine from (most recently for me) – Downton Abbey as Pearl, so what could go wrong?

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She did spice it up.

It doesn’t. This movie had both fun and touching moments. Eve is nice even when  operating as “The Poacher” – the nickname her colleagues use behind her back. But her drive to succeed lands her in trouble from the moment we meet her.  Her scraggly cat’s name is Forbes, and is the only thing that looks amiss in her otherwise perfect apartment.

When she meets Max as they both vie for the same taxi, but end up sharing, she doesn’t give him a second thought. Her selfishness costs him a music gig that is a first step for him in healing the loss of his sister, with whom he shared musical talents.

We are quickly introduced to his adorable eight year old niece, Lauren, who now lives with him per the wishes of his sister and her husband who also died in a car accident. The husband’s in-laws believe it would be better for Lauren to live with them in Florida than stay with Max, who runs a local diner.

Without giving away too much of the plot, an unfortunate accident lands Eve in heaven with her childhood cat. She is soon mentored by Pearl who explains the “rules”.

Eve’s first assignment is to go back to Chicago and make Max happy without becoming attached to him – or Lauren. Though she doesn’t know how, she needs to help him find his music again.

One good thing for Eve is that she can eat whatever she likes and not gain a pound. She also gains a new perspective as she realizes the impact of her absence on her loved ones, whom she’s not made enough time for, her high-rise neighbors, and her co-workers. She cannot believe she was called “the Poacher” in her driven quest to succeed.

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This is against the rules. Pearl is not happy.

But Eve does become involved, which clouds her ability to help Max. Only when Max is ready to give up and let Lauren go because he has no faith in himself, does Eve realize what she has to do.  (And yes, watch for the final twists.)

This movie was very well done and the attention given to detail showed. All the set-ups were neatly paid off.

The movie lived up to my expectations of the cast.  A sweet and lovely way to kick off the Christmas season earned this movie five of five candy canes.  (What can I say, there are not one but two cats in this tale.)  ♥♥♥♥♥

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Christmas Movie Review – Day 25!!!

Drum roll please. Merry Christmas! I’ve saved the best for last, and though you may have already guessed, the Day 25 selection for my Christmas Movie Review on Christmas Day is It’s A Wonderful Life – 1946, Liberty Films.

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I choose this movie for one reason.

It’s my favorite.  (The fact that we named our dog ZuZu might tip my hand.)

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George and Zuzu

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ZuZu’s first Christmas

Why it is my favorite? Continue reading

Christmas Movie Review – Day 24

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and the Day 24 selection for my Christmas Movie Review is… yes, A Christmas Story – 1983, MGM. Those who know me well will wonder what took me so long to review this movie.

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The answer is simple. I want to end my 25 day Countdown to Christmas with positive reviews – no big surprises – but movies you can count on to bring a smile and a little “believing to see” the miracles around. Continue reading

Christmas Movie Review – Day 22

Though I thought twice about reviewing a movie that no doubt has been reviewed too many times to count, I couldn’t help myself.  Elf – 2003, New Line Cinema, is my selection for Day 22 of my Christmas Movie Review.

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In fact, I resisted watching Elf until last summer (I know, crazy.) when a friend loaned me her DVD.  It is one those movies that make you wonder why you held out so long.  You may think my review is a foregone conclusion, but I do have a caveat. Continue reading

Christmas Movie Review – Day 21

I finally watched Snow – 2004, ABC Family, my selection for Day 21 of My Christmas Movie Review.

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I’d been looking forward to seeing Snow, excited that one of my favorite actors, Tom Cavanagh (please see my Day 13 review for Trading Christmas), plays Santa.  And the story pivots around a reindeer – I love reindeer. Continue reading

Christmas Movie Review – Day 20

If you like your Christmas movies romantic, mysterious, and intense, my selection for Day 20 of my Christmas Movie Review is The Spirit of Christmas aka Hollygrove – 2015, Lifetime.

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Kate, a woman who initially scoffs at the possibility of ghosts, finds herself helping Daniel (a ghost) discover the reason he becomes a real person for twelve days before Christmas every year since he died 95 years earlier at the Hollygrove Inn. Continue reading

Christmas Movie Review – Day 19

I love reindeer and finally caught Last Chance For Christmas – 2015, Lifetime, as the Day 19 selection for my Christmas Movie Review.Day 19 -Last Chance For Christmas
When poor Prancer goes lame a few days before Christmas, the head of Santa’s Reindeer Department, John Stockton, is tasked with finding a replacement, or Santa won’t be able to deliver presents and Christmas will be ruined.  Continue reading

Christmas Movie Review – Day 18

Santa Baby, 2006 – ABC Family, is the Day 18 selection for my Christmas Movie Review. You might find yourself smiling like an elf if you listen to the links below.

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The Beach Boys’ The Man With All The Toys accompanies the opening scene when Mary (Okay, I would’ve named her Merry.) opens the door to her taxi, knocking over a street Santa and steps over him in her rush to a corporate meeting where she wows the board with a hi-tech proposal. Continue reading