2022 Hallmark Christmas Movie Reviews w/ Audrey Farnsworth

Last year, celebrated Twitter user Audrey Farnsworth and myself watched and reviewed six 2021 Hallmark Christmas Movies. This year in the interest of time, we’ve had to scale back and review only three. Unfortunately, we did not have time to watch and give you reviews of such 2022 Holiday Hallmark films as:

Lights, Camera, Christmas!

A Royal Corgi Christmas

We Wish You a Married Christmas

Christmas at the Golden Dragon

A Christmas Cookie Catastrophe

Hanukkah on Rye

and

A Christmas Class Reunion

We did however have a chance to see Three Wise Men and a Baby, #XMAS and Ghosts of Christmas Always. Here are our thoughts…

Three Wise Men and a Baby

84 minutes (2 hours with 36 minutes of Hallmark commercial breaks)

directed by: Terry Ingram; written by: Paul Campbell, Kimberly Sustad

cast: Paul Campbell, Tyler Hynes, Andrew W. Walker, Margaret Colin, Matt Hamilton, Nicole Major, Felicia Simone

GREEN = Margetis ; RED = Audrey

Three Wise Men and a Baby begins with a special message from the Hallmark stars who play the three brothers/baby daddies. One is the writer of the movie. Imagine starring in the Hallmark Christmas Movie you wrote, that would be Top 5 for me. Anyway, they’re like “Get ready, we had fun making this movie, hopefully it’s good!” And you already know it’s not going to be. We’ll keep cutting back to these Hallmark dudes during commercial breaks but anyway….

Three Wise Men and a Baby is about a baby that gets abandoned at a fire station. The fire dude on the clock at the time, Luke Brenner (Andrew W. Walker) decides to take the baby home and temporarily be a dad. As luck would have it, the youngest brother of the family and the real Grinch of the group, Taylor Brenner (Tyler Hynes) just got fired from his job at the video game factory for not liking Christmas. Literally, his boss, dressed like a magician, fires him in front of everyone at the office party because he isn’t happy about Christmas. Also, the third brother Stephen Brenner (Paul Campbell – who also wrote the friggin’ thing) is currently living in the mom’s guesthouse because he’s in a state of arrested development or something. Point being, these three bros need to learn to be responsible, God-fearing adults so luckily a white male baby has appeared. They decide to temporarily raise it and things go predictably off the rails.

As off-the-rails as a Hallmark movie can go I suppose, they really don’t show much of the crazy stuff that apparently happens. They keep beginning scenes with “Can you believe this happened?” or referencing events, without actually showing you the comedic chaos of that event. I think they were afraid of Three Wise Men and a Baby being too funny. My mom watches Hallmark Channel while she wraps presents and bakes cookies, and if it’s too funny it might distract her into burning the house down. There’s a scene where they dress up as elves with the baby, a scene where they do a dance routine for their mom and girlfriends and a scene where they dress up as – you guessed it – the three wise men for a Christmas House Decorations contest they’ve entered in order to stand up to their asshole neighbor.

My favorite secondary character in this is their asshole neighbor who hates them for no reason other than they are other men and he’s threatened by them. This asshole drives a giant truck that he just drives over into their driveway to insult them and leave. That’s it. This guy goes to people’s houses in his truck just to bully them. What an asshole. Anyway, he goes all out and decorates his house like a true asshole. He ends up winning the competition but the three brothers learn the more valuable lesson – life is about taking care of babies.

Anyway, it ends with the birth mom coming back into the picture and being like “Yeah, I got scared or bored or something of having a kid so I left him at the fire house. Anyway, can I get that back?’ The video game designer brother stops being such a grinch and dates a lady, the guesthouse brother starts dating a woman with a poodle and the fire fighter brother starts dating the mom who abandoned her baby. It’s a Christmas miracle. Audrey, what did you think?

Lmao. First of all, let me start by talking about this neighbor. This guy starts by yelling at them from his front yard and ends by driving a truck up to their house–from his house NEXT DOOR–to yell at them more. Frankly, I expected him to drive on their lawn to insult them next and THEN drive INTO their home. I’m upset this didn’t happen. Honestly thank god this guy won the Christmas decoration competition because it seems to be all he lives for.

AND WHILE WE ARE ON THE SUBJECT of minor characters in this film, PLEASE let me speak about the “love interest” of one of our wise men. Video Game Factory Grinch’s potential/former love interest is a lady he works with, who seems like a perfectly reasonable woman–mainly because she is no longer with him and seems to understand that he sucks ass, legally. And yet–AND YET–this woman shows up time and time again to help him, clocking in over and over again for some undeserved emotional labor. Also, this guy was fired but keeps showing back up to his old place of employment like he wasn’t fired? What is wrong with this man? I mean the answer is “everything” but I’m still overwhelmingly confused!

And then of course we have the Huge Dance Scene(s). Plural. There are two. I think? I don’t know. I can’t remember. The fact that there’s one is upsetting. When these three men started doing a little dance to “hip” Christmas music, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I looked around my apartment in a cold panic, feeling like I was in danger for no reason and needing an escape route except I didn’t need one and I wasn’t in danger I was just watching something that made my whole brain turn upside down and try to slide down my neck to attempt becoming disconnected to my eyes. Does this make sense? I don’t care. No one should be allowed to dance if they do not have a personality to back it up.

I’m going to be honest with you, though. I enjoyed myself while watching this. I probably would’ve enjoyed myself more if the Video Game Factory guy didn’t get his job back OR get back together with the lady he treated like shit, but y’know, what can you do? This is basically a movie about three assholes learning how to respect their mom. And that I can get behind.

#XMAS

84 minutes (2 hours with 36 minutes of Hallmark commercial breaks)

directed by: Heather Hawthorn Doyle; written by: Emily Baer, Joie Botkin

cast: Clare Bowen, Brent Daugherty, Karen Kruper, Lillion Doucet-Roche, Sebastian Stewart, Anna Van Hooft

GREEN = Margetis ; RED = Audrey

Honestly, maybe the best “movie” we watched out of the three. It’s certainly the most competent. Basically this is a morality tale of why it’s no good to lie – especially if you’re doing it for followers. Jen and her sister run a decor store and Jen’s obsessed with this one couple’s YouTube page or something because they have great taste, are gorgeous humans and seem like they have the perfect marriage. The YouTube Couple puts on this design contest that looks heavily at people and their stories, so Jen decides to lie and pretend she’s married with a kid. In fact, she’s not married and doesn’t have kids. The kid is actually her nephew and the fake husband is her male best friend who is also a photographer or something.

This lie leads to her somewhat estranged mother being like “WHAT?! YOU HAD A KID?!” and then trying to awkwardly reconnect with her. The mom brings along her new husband and he’s a very inoffensive doof. Finally the lies catch up to ol’ Jen and she decides to out herself at a festival in front of her mother and the YouTube couple. There’s a huge scandal and she has to issue a heartfelt apology over Facebook Live. Everyone watches and feels really #iamjen. The YouTube couple is also going through marital problems and everyone agrees at the end that sometimes it’s ok to not be perfect, but you know, still look perfect like you’re in a Hallmark movie. Jen laughs and then decides to date her best friend.

This is a really bland and flavorless movie, but the production value is better than most of these (looking at you Ghosts of Christmas Always) and the performances are fine across the board. The mom character in particular is grittier than most Hallmark moms, which means she’s like a really bland mom character in a regular movie. She was honestly my favorite part of the movie, I actually enjoyed Karen Kruper’s performance throughout. I don’t have much more to say about this movie other than that hat was ridiculous and the social media credits were hilarious. Audrey, what did you think?

Hahaha, oh my god, I actually liked this movie. I liked it! Sorry! It was cute! I mean, I have some issues with like several million things, but overall, I think this movie sort of had a good message? In that this woman sincerely didn’t like herself and admitted that? She was clearly depressed and had zero self esteem, said in using words at the end of the movie, and then learned how to like herself. She ran away from then dealt with her depression. That’s a good fucking message dude. That’s relatable, sorry!!!!!! That is relatable to me. What can I say. “Been there” ha ha, am I right? I am. I have been there. Genuinely pleased to see mental health be a big part of a holiday Hallmark movie.

That said, it was kind of annoying that every other character in this movie tried to convince this woman who was clearly struggling with her own self worth that she should be in a relationship with anyone? Even if it is The Perfect Guy For Her? I think this movie would’ve had a better ending if she ended up with no one? Am I thinking too much? Probably, huh? WHO CARES, DEAL WITH IT.

ANYWAY, the biggest issue I had with this is that this woman kept saying she was “a mess” and “not perfect” but everything she did and said and lived, generally, WAS NOT a mess, like at all? Like she would point at herself and be like, look at me I’m disgusting, while looking perfect and being generally not disgusting? Like this lady has her own store and “brand”! She seems pretty dang together to me! THEN AGAIN, maybe that’s…ugh, I can’t believe I’m saying this…the point? Like, we can think these terrible things about ourselves, when really they are nowhere NEAR true, and everyone else can see that but we can’t?

I’m sort of sick of seeing not-a-mess people claiming to be a mess and a movie centering around that, but I can’t really get too mad at THIS movie for doing that. HOWEVER, I WOULD LOVE to see some movies depicting an awkward, messy, I-don’t-have-my-life-together lady who actually embodies that…and learns how to like herself anyway. Y’know, rather than someone who just believes that they suck shit when really they’re a beautiful model? Just saying!!!! That would be cool, in my opinion!!!!!

Anyway, I liked this movie. The mom was really fucking weird, they handed a baby off through a window for some reason, and everyone acted like they were surprised that things were happening despite them actually making the things happen, but whatever. I’m fine with it!!!! Sue me!!!

Ghosts of Christmas Always

84 minutes (2 hours with 36 minutes of Hallmark commercial breaks)

directed by: Rich Newey; written by: Zac Hug and Annika Marks

cast: Kim Matula, Ian Harding, Reginald VelJohnson, Lori Tan Chinn, Beth Leavel, Kathleen Garrett, Christopher Innvar

GREEN = Margetis ; RED = Audrey

Has the distinct honor of being the most boringest Hallmark Christmas movie I’ve ever seen in my life. This shapeless chunk of Holiday horse shit begins in the most jarring fashion, in the middle of one of the biggest exposition drops ever. I’ve seen movies start abruptly but this is just ridicuous. Two seconds into Ghosts of Christmas Always, we have four people quickly communicating with each other the entire plot of the movie. Basically this woman, Susan Kraine, has just been #scrooged hardcore. Three ghosts – the always smiling Roy (Die Hard‘s Reginald VelJohnson), the always grimacing Arlene (Awkwafina is Nora from Queens‘ Lori Tan Chinn) and the always boring Katherine (The Bold and the Beautiful‘s Kim Matula) – have restored this poor woman’s Holiday spirit and set her on a path of being happy and nice. From there, we learn that these three ghosts are basically part of a Monsters, Inc.-type ghost network where instead of professionally scaring minors, they professionally SCR00GE adults. We learn this when the three ghosts return to Christmas Ghost HQ which looks like a two-story banquet hall somewhere in the heart of the Bible Belt. All the extras are dressed in outfits ranging from Texas mine inspector to 1920s flapper to Aladdin. There’s even a Mad Hatter. It makes no fucking sense.

From there we flash forward a year into the future where the trio of Ghosts are assigned to Hartford, Connecticut, which gets its own destination door. I’ve seen the hall of doors, there’s 15 doors, tops. How is one of the major doors fucking Hartford, Connecticut. Even if we assume that they only handle AMER scroogings, Hartford isn’t one of the top 15 cities in the U.S. I’ve been to Hartford. It sucks. Anyway, there they are assigned to the most boring look man ever, Peter Baron (Pretty Little Liars‘ Ian Harding), a grocery store heir that’s about to inherit some lame ass bodega enterprise from his uptight dad. Peter and Katherine fall in love, but the big problem is Katherine is one dead ass ghost. She also might be Peter’s grandmother. Unfortunately, the grandma reveal never happened even though it would be a better movie if it did. Instead, Katherine was revealed to know Peter’s dead grandma, and was the last person she talked to the night she died. Because when you die on Christmas, your God makes you an indentured servant that has to spend eternity SCR00GIN people. That’s what you get for dying on Christmas, I guess. You idiot.

Anyway, it all gets resolved when Katherine decides to not be a ghost anymore (I guess you can do that?) and be a human and be married and have babies with Peter, the most boring man under 40 in Hartford, Connecticut. Peter makes up with his grumpy dad and even sets up his grumpy dad with the original SCR00GED victim, Susan Kraine, who has since become a singer or something dumb. It ends as abruptly as it began with someone saying something. I dunno. I might have been asleep. Audrey, did you fall asleep? Was I asleep? Am I asleep now?

What? What did you say, dude? Sorry, I must’ve taken a little snooze! What were we doing? Oh, right, we were watching The Ghosts of Christmas Always! Shit! I fell asleep???? But I was so excited about it! The title rules?????? Wait….did I dream this or was it….oh my god. It was, wasn’t it? IT WAS BORING.

NO!!!!! NOOOOOOOO. How????? How is this possible????????? Are we sure? Are we SURE it was boring, dude?

Ugh. Yes. Yes, it was.

HOW WAS THIS SO BORING WHEN IT HAS THE FUNNIEST TITLE EVER GIVEN TO A HALLMARK MOVIE. The Ghosts of Christmas Always?! Are you KIDDING me? Dude, that is SO funny. Really GREAT title. But like, yeah, the movie started and it felt like we were 45 minutes into the movie already. Everyone was yelling at each other! It was like walking into a movie theater thinking you’re about to watch some previews before the feature presentation, but then all of the characters from the movie are fist fighting IN the theater. I think I screamed.

The Christmas Ghost HQ / banquet hall was EXTREMELY CONFUSING.  Like, even if they’re Christmas ghosts, their meeting place should still be a little fucking morbid, y’know? They’re GHOSTS. Make it festively morbid! What is this? Is it a holiday convention at a Best Western? Is it a holiday meeting of department store managers from around the country? Because there’s no way that IT’S GHOSTS. Everybody just looks like they’re checking into a hotel the whole time they’re being ghosts together!

Anyway I spent the whole movie thinking this guy was falling in love with his dead grandmother while also wondering why the hell all of the ghosts—Ghost of Christmas present, future, and past—were always all together. They’re not supposed to be all together? Like, I didn’t even know they KNEW each other! Don’t those guy work alone? These guys were like, always standing in a line like they’re being in a play together! Oh, THAT’S what this movie felt like! A play from college! Where the ghosts of Christmas stand in a line together becauSE THEY’RE BEING IN A PLAY TOGETHER ON A STAGE.

OTHER HOLIDAY ARTICLES

2021 Hallmark Christmas Movie Guide w/ Audrey Farnsworth

My 40 Favorite Christmas Movies

Best New Year’s Eve Movies w/ Genevieve Rice

Franchise w/ Me: Home Alone w/ Ty and Ella Turdsby

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