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The Christmas Waltz

This movie reminds me very strongly of another movie that I can't name. Many details are exactly the same including taking the lessons for a wedding dance, and dancing on the sidewalk. Otherwise, the story is a bit different than many of the Christmas movies coming out every year.

At least one of the developments may be predictable, but it is totally outlandish. That's OK though. I recently pointed out in another review that this type movie is only a couple of steps removed from the Fantasy or SciFi genres for suspending realism. Realism aside, it was quite a beautiful and dramatic development.

Beside the beauty of the dancing, the attraction here is the chemistry between Lacey Chabert and Will Kemp. They also starred in Love, Romance and Chocalate. For me this movie was a great improvement for both of them.

Chabert commented in at least one interview that she had to work hard to even learn the basics for the dancing. She's not a young kid - got to hand it to her for the effort. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying Chabert is ready for professional waltz contests, but for most of us amateur viewers there was some nice dancing together with Kemp.

I get a little uncomfortable in these movies when one of the main males takes on the Neanderthal approach. I guess the outcome of that effort here makes it clear that there is no place for that attitude.

USS Christmas

There are some typical themes in this story but also some fresh angles. An investigative reporter has a dream to do a human interest story so we have a fairly usual quest for the story. But the setting is a Navy carrier and her personal backstory as a Navy brat folds into the larger story. There are echoes of the earlier Christmas movie "Operation Christmas" which is one of my all time favorite Christmas movies. Maddie faces similar concerns as Olivia did in the other movie, but for Maddie the concerns are more first hand.

Jen Lilly and Trevor Donavan have chemistry from the first wine spill. Even as each of their characters hesitates, they are still comfortable with each other. The obligatory sparring is never mean spirited. Maddie and Billy's relationship is fun as they chase a mystery together.

The mystery is never really one for the viewer to solve because the details have to be pursued by the reporter and her helpers. But that story folds into Maddie and Billy's story in a heartwarming way. There are several other heartwarming moments even before we learn the outcome of the story.

A little like the old JAG TV show, military honor and service are idealized, but not overly so.

Please, if you found discrepancies in military protocol or other factual issues, remember that this is not a documentary and it doesn't seem like rigid accuracy was the goal of the people making the movie. These movies are only a few steps removed from Fantasy or SciFi in terms of realism.

A Twist of Christmas

Really rough start
Abby starts out as one of the most overprotective mom's ever seen in these movies. In the beginning, both Abby and Ryan are complete jerks who think the world revolves around them. Then we meet Ryan's ex. She and her current partner are equally stuck-up but not quite as mean. Abby's mom calls Ryan "driver". This is a really likeable group of people. Rudeness and antagonism continue through a full third of the movie. The rudeness miraculously disappears and the antagonism becomes flirty banter.

As for professional lives the world does not work this way. Missing the interview is pretty big and walking out on a merger meeting is worse. As another reviewer pointed out, the viewer needs to work hard to suspend belief.

The story is based on one unnatural contrivance after another. Abby and Ryan are thrown together repeatedly. With basically half the movie gone, some chemistry starts to develop between Vanessa Lachey and Brendon Zub. I was impressed with Lachey as a single mom. Her connection with Christian Convery, as Elliot, is great despite the over protectiveness.

There's a side story in the arrogance of the always superior book author. His arrogance extends to forcing attention on himself away from Abby's child while spouting parenting advice.

The conflict is likewise unlikely contrivance (a chain of things that people like these just won't allow to happen).

So maybe half the movie is enjoyable, but lacks any real story. There are no real highs or surprises.

The Christmas House

Selling the house
Yet another movie of grown up kids coming home to find mom and dad are selling the house. The single male, Mike, reacquaints himself with his female friend from high school, Andi - it seemed they were sweethearts but maybe not quite. And she is a single mom. Mike has potentially lost his job but is hoping for news that will take him back to far away LA. The movie centers around preparing the house for private family version of a Christmas festival. Something isn't right with mom and dad. All of these are common plot lines, although usually not put together quite this way.

There are a lot of memory moments. There are themes about family and close friends. The climax is totally predictable. Unfortunately there are no great highs or lows or surprises. There are four tension points, but all of them are mild tension like selling the house.

When the story isn't sparkling, I look to the people and relationships. There's a story about tension between mom and dad. There's a story about the two married men adopting. And there's the story about Andi and Mike. The first two didn't excite me and I am usually drawn to the romance story which would be Andi and Mike. Unfortunately Ana Ayora and Robert Buckley had almost no chemistry. In fact, Ayora's character, Andi, had very little personality. Their backstory had potential. There was a critical moment in their teen years shown once from each of their perspectives. This was probably the liveliest part of their story and don't blink or you will miss the point.

Early in the movie I started noticing wardrobe and obstacles around Ayora, so I paid attention all the way through. She almost always had an overcoat or a jacket or her knees or something in front of her. One scene with a slinky dress could easily have been a double because she was turned away and distant for most of it . You know what this usually means. I haven't been able to find any news about Ayora and her social media pages have few recent posts. So maybe, maybe not.

There was a lot of Twitter activity about "the kiss" when the movie premiered. Likewise, there have been some reviews here focused mainly on that issue.

3 Holiday Tails

Almost nothing to do with Christmas
This story isn't full of all the usual stuff. But there's really no surprises. It's kind of a mishmash of embarrassing situations often caused by the dogs. Lisa, Kelly and David talk a lot of nonsense that sends the story around in circles with David committed to Kelly but his heart isn't in it. Kelly is pure annoying. Lisa is wimpy. I didn't see any chemistry between Julie Gonzalo and K.C. Clyde. The only thing that makes sense is that Lisa and David really are friends.

The story with the two kids is at least as interesting as Lisa and David. The girl is over the top as far as understanding things. The dogs are the other highlights.

Five Star Christmas

Little bit different story
Of course a seasoned blogger isn't going to notice all the people who obviously don't know what they are doing or what they are talking about, not to mention being fake guests. Fake world travelers. Fake accents. I have mentioned before that humor by exaggeration is not my favorite. This is no exception. It's like they were trying too hard to be funny. I will admit that the scene where Victor Webster sings like Elvis is hilarious, and that's not an insult to him because it was supposed to be funny.

Bossy Lucy, played by Bethany Joy Lenz, eventually starts developing a relationship with Jake, played by Victor Webster, and there was chemistry. At least Lucy didn't exactly pick a fight with Jake over the candy cane. However, there are a few times that Lucy disappointed me as a person. Details how are potential spoilers. I will say that the story of their relationship was rushed so much that the depth of the attachment didn't make sense. The conflict, climax and outcome are all predictable even if pushing the envelope on unrealistic.

I never heard of Grace Beedie and her resume is short, but I sure hope we see her again in future movies.

The story manages to use many of the same old themes but mixes them up so there is a different feel. There's a few different threads going on including a second romance relationship.

The looming secret of the story is not that much of a surprise so it's not that disappointing when it is clearly revealed to the audience early.

Sometimes the enjoyment of a movie transcends the sum of all the pros and cons and that is the case here. As I have mentioned, I really would have liked to see some things done differently, but I still enjoyed the movie more than usual.

Good Morning Christmas!

Sweeney and Blucas
While the story line of a pair of cohosts doing a live show in a "Christmas town" is not unique, it also isn't the most common premise. Having one or both leads participate in all the usual Christmas activities is very common. Misunderstandings causing a conflict, especially when a rival is involved is maybe universal in this type movie. While the ultimate outcome is inevitable, there is a nice twist that helped get it there.

The real attraction is the leads Allison Sweeney and Marc Blucas. I have loved both of these stars in several movies and they even did one together before. Blucas has hit home runs in 3 previous Christmas movies and Sweeney was great last year in one and good in one two years before. The two eventually developed great chemistry in this one after Blucas' character, Brian, stopped acting like a stuck-up jock. It took a little time for me to stop seeing Brian that way.

Christmas by Starlight

Susted and Campbell
Despite the fact that the setup for the story was crazy ridiculous, there are still elements of the same old plot lines. Annie marches off in her pajama bottoms to save the family café from being torn down by the evil developer. The irresponsible son of the company's owner needs to grow up. Annie turns out to be brilliant. I had to get over hating the premise, because really it was all just a vehicle to let Kimberley Sustad and Paul Campbell give the audience some delightful sparring and great chemistry.

Campbell is a veteran at the irreverent and carefree male lead. I'm glad to see Sustad is becoming a regular for Hallmark as the leading lady. And as many reviewers have noted, these two have been together before. Both of these stars are involved in writing for the movie.

As I said, there are a lot of the same old plot lines right down to the final scene in the movie. It's all predictable. There's no real surprises and the only tension is that one thing you know will get resolved somehow. But this movie is about the stars (not to be confused with the starlight).

A Christmas Tree Grows in Colorado

Middle of the road
This movie is a knock-off of Miss Christmas. There were some minor differences that gave it a slightly different feel, mainly how the mayor got involved. I preferred the story and the leads in Miss Christmas.

While Rochelle Aytes and Mark Taylor had chemistry, it did not compare to Brook D'orsay and Marc Blucas. Aytes' Erin began the movie with too much arrogance and entitlement as the mayor's daughter. Eventually, as is almost always the case in these movies, her character softened and became likeable, especially in her relationship with Claire. Claire's backstory and appeal as a character helped make the movie more enjoyable.

The aspects of the story surrounding the politics were frankly insulting. I don't want to spoil and say exactly what aspects those were, but I think they would be obvious to anyone who viewed the whole movie.

Heart of the Holidays

Pretty average
The premise is like dozens of others - woman loses her job and goes home to small town where she encounters an old flame. One difference is that she quit because her brand new dream job got turned into the same old grind she's been knocking herself out in for years. And her current boyfriend did it to her, not intentionally, but still. The situation with the old flame is pretty bitter until of course, well you know what happens through the rest of the movie. Throw in the charity drive she pulls out of nowhere, with no time to do it. We get the same theme that runs through almost all of the Hallmark regular Christmas movies, and many on other networks - big city crush bad, small town community good.

Vanessa Lengies is energetic as Sam once she stops acting like a victim. She eventually settles down in a likeable role once she has a mission. She and Corey Sevier develop some chemistry once Sevier's Noah stops pouting about the past. Not that Noah doesn't have reason to be upset, and he's pretty much a saint besides. Following them in the movie is nice, but it's not great.

There's another woman interested in Sam who keeps flirting with him, but that character is just filler. Most of the acting is decent, although Bill Lake as Bob goes a little overboard in his role as clueless.

The movie is textbook predictable. It even has some of the standard plot devices to throw a temporary monkey wrench into the inevitable.

I've said this about a lot of Christmas movies - there are no great highs or lows or surprises. Something does happen just before the climax that might have been a little surprise if it wasn't such a typical plot device. It was presented a little differently than the usual.

Observation: Writers often present a character whose personality never could have gotten that character to where the backstory places her (or him) at the beginning off the story. Sam is presented in the first few minutes as someone to count on to get things done in a prominent NYC agency. She is a bit of a people pleaser, but the first scenes establish her as eminently successful in a high stress, high performance, cutthroat environment. Then she gets home and she adopts a timid personality. She's afraid to see anyone and afraid to go anywhere. She absolutely avoids any confrontation. This woman wouldn't have lasted 5 minutes in the environment the movie started her in, which is too bad. She eventually regains her competence, but I'm talking about personality. Sam's personality wouldn't last in that cutthroat NYC world because she's too sensitive and has too much self doubt.

Plea to directors: please make text messages readable to everyone who watches.

Homemade Christmas

Good chemistry
The premise boils down to consultant-comes-in-to-save-the-business but there's a different flavor to it. For one thing, there's also a Christmas-coach slant to it. And the consultant to save the business isn't really a business consultant, but a Jacqueline of all trades who majors in DIY. The movie didn't cram in all of the usual Christmas devices, but the snowball exchange was a little obvious. There are no big surprises.

Michelle Argyris has chemistry with both of the male leads, but after a bit, Chase turns into the business-focus exec who doesn't really care about people. He's also controlling and not too respectful of women.

Meanwhile Kurt, played by Travis Nelson has obvious connection with Argyris even when they are sparring with each other and it only goes up from there. This is the enjoyable part of the movie watching these two get closer then back away and then repeat.

Megan seems a little too good to be true at least as far as selflessness. She has some insecurities that come out over time, but a really tough façade.

A Godwink Christmas: Second Chance, First Love

Good cast
I loved the second Godwink movie where Cindy Busby's character faces a difficult future but the Godwinks are bringing someone special into her life at a crucial time. The first movie was nice, but didn't knock me over. I put this movie about the same as the first. It's decent but I didn't think there were any great highs or lows, or major surprises.

It would be hard for me not to like a movie with Brook D'Orsay. She is such a joyful actor and it's hard not to smile when she's around. (At this writing, this website doesn't even acknowledge her in the cast despite her presence in the promo picture as one of the leads. Likewise Sam Page.) And Page is always a strong presence. They have instant chemistry and share a fair amount of screen time. However the movie also uses a lot of screen time to set up the various situations that bring them to the right place for the inevitable result.. The main supporting actors ranged from adequate to good. The two boys did a pretty good job.

The movie is very predictable in general, but each Godwink is a mini twist. Margie's fearful assumption was pretty silly given how much her boss obviously approved of her. I saw where things were going right about the time of the overheard phone call.

Dashing Home for Christmas

Another movie about travel home problems
Every year has a few more of these travel problem movies and they all are pretty similar. Many of the problems are the common ones, like weather, and many are a little out there. Emily loses her ID and credit cards in the first airport at security so after that she should have been dead in the water. Simon bails her out time again.

Emily has a bit of an attitude, but she also gets treated pretty rudely several times. Seems like none of the businesses or authorities have any desire to help a traveler who literally has no recourse, at least in this movie. For me, this went on long enough that it soured me on the movie through the first third or so and took a while to regain any positivity.

Paniz Zade and Adrian Spencer were in virtually every scene together after they met. A combination of Emily's arrogance and their mutual awkwardness made it take a while to build up any positive chemistry.

Emily's sister brings up all the usual teasing common in these movies like "is he handsome; send me a picture". Numerous strangers they meet at various places do the usual "such a lovely couple" type comments.

I think there were many attempts at humor but I don't think I even smiled at any of them. As I mentioned earlier, Emily kept encountering obstacles most of which came from rude customer service people and that just isn't funny to me no matter how you do it.

All these movies need a conflict to set up the climax and this one came out of nowhere and seemed a bit strange.

I think anyone viewing this who gets the humor better than I did might enjoy this movie quite a bit.

The Angel Tree

Subtly good
I hate this premise. Reporter is sent to town to do an expose on something or someone and either a promotion or even a job depends on it. In this case, as is often true, the hit piece is aimed at a selfless and generous enterprise. Often there is a betrayal involved. This is not intended to necessarily describe this movie, but it is the pattern most movies with this premise follow. In this movie, the reporter is Jill Wagner whom I can't imagine having a ruthless bone in her body.

This movie has some nice banter. There's some funny moments even beyond the dialogue.

Wagner and Lucas Bryant have instant chemistry. Cassidy Nugent also does a great job as Cassie, Rebecca's daughter.

There's a sub-plot based on what has usually been a surefire heart warmer. This device is becoming very common and predictable to the point where I fear the impact is becoming diluted. I won't say what it is, but you should probably recognize it when you see it. I did like the way it was handled and it still got a tear or two.

Rebecca's backstory develops into an interesting theme. I love the lesson about Christmas magic. Again, I don't want to spoil it and it's well explained by Rebecca.

In the end, it wasn't as predictable as I expected. As I already said, there are a lot of sentimental moments even if some of them are predictable. You might even call it sappy, but I like sappy.

A Nashville Christmas Carol

Predictable Christmas Carol romance
Most of us have seen many takes on the Christmas Carol originally by Dickens. There is nothing that unusual about this one except possibly that it is definitely a romance story.

There are some good songs performed in this mainly by Sara Evans and RaeLynn, including two duets. I think at least one is an original.

Jessy Schram and Wes Brown have chemistry.

Unfortunately for me, I am a huge fan of the energetic and cheerful Jessy Schram. I just couldn't buy into her as a Scrooge. The efforts to make her look like one seemed weak to me. She is just too likeable. Schram has a varied resume, so it is probably just me and my perception. I'm disappointed that she didn't get a chance to feature her singing because she is talented there as well.

This is a pleasant enough rendition of the Christmas Carol but lacking any real tension nor surprises, highs, or lows.

Christmas on Wheels

Warmhearted Christmas
This movie is a bit like a secret Santa plot and a bit like a hometown-girl-comes-home-to-throw-a pageant. Maybe add a little pay it forward or random acts of Christmas. Really this story is mostly unique.

The story is heartwarming as major characters join together to bring back a tradition of giving to the needy. Several sentimental stories are remembered in the process. Still, the story is pretty simple with no great highs or low, or surprises. Likewise there is almost no tension other than the pull on Ashley back to the big city.

Michael Xavier and Tiya Sircar has modest chemistry. It's there, but it isn't overwhelming. Likewise, most of the acting is good.

Don't start on plot holes because there are a lot, but they really don't matter. For example, Ashley gives away dozens of her the items she was saving to sell, but she is supposed to be seriously considering a lease on her first store. Not the mention the value of what both she and Duncan donate to the auction. And my experience with car parts is that there are volumes of listings with lines of specific items by year for them and that would be magnified going back to the sixties and Ashley never even takes not of a part number. Like I said - the plot holes don't matter.

It's a sweet romantic story with warm feelings of a generous Christmas spirit.

A Taste of Christmas

Anni Krueger
I can't believe how much I enjoyed this movie. I never heard of most of these actors, certainly not Anni Krueger. Her list of credits for acting is incredibly short to have a lead even in a two hour movie.

This movie is proof to me that a movie can be good even when it follows all the formulas for a Rom/Com, and with leads I haven't grown familiar with.

When I watch one of these movies, if I smile a few times, I consider the humor good. In this movie I was laughing. Yes, out loud. Krueger is a natural. Her timing is good. She's self-effacing yet also with an inner confidence. She can be a total klutz and yet not take it to the point of being silly.

Krueger and Gilles Marini have instant chemistry. Emma Myers and Andrew Brodeur do also, as the secondary romance. They are so cute.

The dialogue is good. It's funny when it needs to be, sometimes with one liners. It can get serious or romantic. It never goes overboard.

I said it follows the formulas. It that way it is a little too cliché. Some of the situations are boarding on too silly. Still, I enjoyed it immensely.

Christmas Cupid's Arrow

Just seems off
The story is obviously a take on Cyrano de Bergerac. Even Holly mentions that in the movie. There are a few of the common Rom/com tropes, but a lot of the common Christmas ones are not in this movie. The general outcome is predictable.

For me, two things were noticeable on the negative side. The audio sounded like it was cut in a busy area like a bar because background conversations were distracting. Very annoying! And many of the conversations between Holly and either of the two male opposites were awkward. Strange dialogue. Those with Josh might have been meant that way, but it was even true with David on too many occasions. As a result it was hard to see chemistry with Elisabeth Harnois and Jonathan Togo, but there was some.

There are a couple of funny moments. The confrontation between Josh and the recruiter with what followed was a good one. David's "date" to the prom is a nice touch also.

According to this website, the filming location is Lafayette LA. That's interesting because snow on the ground is prominent throughout the movie. A web search confirms that snow is rare, even problematic, in Louisiana.

A Firehouse Christmas

It's pretty bad
This is supposed to be a com/rom (yes I reversed it) based on exaggeration. From the first scene, there is nothing about this that is believable. The solution to Tom's problems were pretty obvious but he lets himself be cowed. And the last couple of scenes are even more ridiculous again because it's not in any way believable and such an inexplicable reversal by nearly everyone.

But this kind of comedy can't be measured the same as a typical romance movie. So is it funny? I didn't laugh. Up until the last 10-15 minutes of screen time it is a constant downer. Everything that happens is negative. The grandfather is emotionally abusive of his granddaughter, Sadie, and daughter, Mary, and constantly threatens the ex-husband, Tom. The ex-wife, Mary, makes constant threats also, and in both cases these threats would hurt Sadie most which is why they have power over the dad. Is emotional child abuse funny? Sadie finally says "I wish I could divorce all of you" and it was long overdue.

The writers apparently think that abuse of political power is funny also because that's a running threat against Tom and Jenny. There's barely any romance in the movie until the very end.

I can't judge the acting in a mess like this, but I didn't see anything good. There's no chance to build chemistry between the leads either. The only remotely positive thing in the movie was the relationship between Sadie and Jenny.

Note by way of explanation - I recently started to become sensitive to reviews that use words like "the worst ever" and such. I believe if you are going to say anything close to that, you need to back it up and if you quit the movie after 15 minutes, anything you say goes with a grain of salt. Also, it's often pointed out that reviews that are extreme on either end are often by people with ulterior motives and you can tell something by number of reviews by that reviewer. I have over 1400 ratings and nearly 800 reviews. Many are Christmas movies and/or Rom/Coms. Check my stats.

Last Chance for Christmas

Severe ethics problem but otherwise a cute story
First off, this is fantasy. It's just as real as the Grinch and Tinkerbell and yes Santa Claus.

This is a different Christmas story from any that I can remember. Trouble is there is a major ethics problem right smack in the middle of it and unmitigated theft is involved. Just so we're clear, the problem is that one of the good guys does it. But that's OK because that person later asks forgiveness and it's for a good cause, right? Soon after that, there's another theft and this is by the bad guys. Oh that's terrible! We have to fix that.

I would have loved this story, silly as some of the things in it were if it had not been for this double standard. Once again, our world teaches us that the end justifies the means and the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

Stop being lazy and do some creative writing and take out the double standard and this is a good story. Yes some of the things in it appeal at a child's level, but it's cute. There's some funny things in it. There is a precocious kid with the wisdom of a grandmother in a little girl's body. There's a sweet romance.

Hilarie Burton and Gabriel Hogan have chemistry even though their screen time to show that is limited.

Merry Kissmas

Horrible start
Exaggeration is usually intended for humor, but in this case I didn't laugh at any of it. The acting and the situations are ridiculous. The lady in the elevator, the shop keeper, and Carlton are all far too stupid. And the accents. Some of it is insulting. And all in the first quarter of the movie. The second half of the movie drops a lot of this junk.

The bright spot is Karissa Lee Staples. Her appearance and cheerful attitude are appealing. There is chemistry with Brant Daugherty but far too little screen time to see it. Even in the second half, there is too little of the story I want to see - Dustin and Kayla. There are two musical montages which eliminate the need for dialogue and story.

The Spirit of Christmas

A romance with a real ghost
This is a ghost story and the ghost is purported to be real. If you believe in ghosts, fine. If, like most people, you don't believe in ghosts then either suspend reality or watch something else. I don't usually watch ghost stories, but I think this one is a bit unusual. For one thing, the "ghost" is corporeal for 12 days up to Christmas. About a third of the way in after Daniel and Kate reach a peace of sorts, we find that there is another ghost.

We know from the first scene that Daniel was struck on the head by an unknow person. He doesn't remember that at all until a little over half way and we immediately get two suspects. Then suddenly, that mystery gets put in the background. Actually, it turns out there's more than one mystery.

It's too bad that Kate's boss kept interfering with her relationship with Daniel, because that just took away from their time together and Jen Lilly and Thomas Beaudoin had chemistry. That was the story I wanted to see.

The climax and the ending are a bit confusing. The rules of the situation seem to change without explanation. That's probably enough of a spoiler to figure out the outcome, but then we pretty much expected this outcome would occur somehow.

Chicago P.D.: Silence of the Night
Episode 20, Season 7

Look at the episode date
If you saw this episode before the summer of 2020, then you need to watch it again. If you've seen it since summer, then look at the air date. This episode is scarily prescient. It is about as real to current events as you can get.

Chicago PD is not for the faint of heart and this episode certainly fits right in. The quality is excellent. There is a definite message.

The Christmas Edition

Good cast, nicely done typical story
If you want realism, your in the wrong place. Actually, it's pretty easy to ignore the unrealistic parts unless one of them pushes personal buttons. I won't list them, but there's several.

The premise is actually a combination of some other Christmas themes. Jackie goes to Alaska as almost a last job resort. There's never really a deadline, but the idea is still to save Finn's family business (newspaper). The newcomer makes an immediate, somewhat unrealistic impact. A small town changes a city girl.

The story is thin. I thought there was going to be some tension from a certain quarter, but it didn't turn out that way and as a result, the only tension was the future for the newspaper and Jackie. There's no great highs or lows and no real surprises. What might have been a twist was telegraphed clearly before it happened. The ending was pretty typical.

The appeal is a combination of chemistry between Carly Hughes and Rob Mayes plus the small town charm. Most of the cast, if not all, performed well. Movies where residents go out of their way to help their neighbors always appeal to me. Throw in a couple of nice BFF's and I'm hooked. One note about chemistry: the movie diluted Jackie and Finn's screen time with too much of the rest of the story. The time they had was good and there's some interesting activities - not just the formula ones in all Christmas movies.

Hughes sings a beautiful Christmas song, but it's short and embedded in the middle of the movie.

Pet peeve that doesn't affect my review or rating: please make phone texts large enough for anyone who doesn't have great vision or a huge screen. This one may be one of the hardest to read I've ever seen.

A Royal Christmas Ball

Enjoyable story but bad acting
Yes Tara Reid is not good as an actor. I thought Ingo Rademacher was even worse. His presence distracted me in almost every scene he was in. Reid was distracting but not as much or as often. Together, there was no chemistry. Do I need to beat that dead horse?

The joy of the movie was Haley Pullos as Lilly. Certainly she was sweet enough to cause cavities, but I kind of like that. I saw the story as being about Lilly and finding her dad. And this teenager had a good relationship with her mom. Sure there was some occasional anger and defiance, but that's the default state for a teenager. This story is Cinderella in a whole new way. We don't see the poverty which would have been inevitable for a single mom finishing college, and by the time we first see Allison and Lilly, they are living a nice life. But Lilly always wanted two things. She wanted to know her father, and she had the same princess dreams my granddaughter has. I enjoyed the ride as Lilly went from the shock of actually seeing the man she had once seen in old photo, to trying to meet him, to the joy of finding her father, and the cherry on top was becoming "Her Royal Highness". Stupid and sappy? Oh yeah. Of course it could never happen along with fifty other things in this movie. But it's fun.

I love the scene where Lilly is trying to figure out what to say to this man she serendipitously finds in the hotel lobby. "I'm taking a survey." But so many emotions running under the surface in that scene. There's also some humor in this scene and several other times throughout the movie.

Rosa is a villain you really want to hate. It's almost too bad she changed in the end.

The actors playing Allison's friend and Sam were almost OK. Both almost seemed natural, at least at times.

Christmas is not a real part of the story except to allow the ball.

The one premise that I would say I'm least likely to enjoy is the "royal" romance. But this one was different, and the romance story was secondary. It's just too bad they didn't cast the king and Allison better. I watch these movies as a guilty pleasure and to forget what's going on in the real world. This movie fills those roles.

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