Christmas in Graceland: Home for the Holidays premiered on the Hallmark Channel on Saturday, November 23. This is a “sequel” to the Kellie Pickler Graceland movie from last year. I can understand why they didn’t ask Kellie Pickler back but they put her in a different movie so I’d call the whole thing a wash. So, this is the same setting as last year’s movie but a different universe, I think? Anyway, we’ve also got that one guy who starred opposite Melissa Joan Hart in “Drive me Crazy”. I forget though, was this a movie inspired by Britney Spears’ song of the same name or did she “write” that song for the movie? Anyway, good for him. Oh and he was also in Entourage so I guess he’s doing alright. I don’t know. I never watched that show. But here he is in a Hallmark movie. Alright, enough about Adrian. Let’s dive in.
The movie begins by showing snowy scenes in Memphis, TN. This is a city that is well known for it’s winter wonderland Christmases. Tons of snow, icy roads-you know, typical Southeast winters! Our lead, Harper, is getting picked up from the airport. Her sister and her husband have made signs and are just elated that she is here. My siblings don’t even put the car in park when they pick me up from the airport.
They head home and she regales their family with stories of her travels. She has been on the road for three years, taking any museum job she can find in Europe. Because well, it turns out, there is not much work for art history majors. I believe this to be a scathing indictment of career counselors at liberal arts universities. Let’s make all students do a cost benefit analysis before committing to a major. You want a degree in general studies? That is a very expensive way to earn $15 an hour as an executive assistant. You want to major in art history? Great! But the jobs in that field versus qualified graduates with that degree is marked. Plus, they almost always require post graduate degrees. Also, let’s talk salaries and the rate of return on that education! But not even Harper is going to learn any lessons about this in this movie so we’ve just got to move on.
Harper is partially in town to visit with her family but also is interviewing with a local museum to be their “international curator.” This means she’d be based in London. Great news for this Nomad!
At the interview, the museum..director? CEO? Someone at the museum interviews Harper. Anyway, they tell her that most of the other applicants have their doctorate and she just has a masters degree. I try not to collapse. How much could the international curator at a museum in Memphis possibly make? 40k? And they’re going to encourage a doctorate? She’s never pay off her student loans at that rate. Hallmark, could we have more movies that encourage trades and marketable college degrees? We have an entire generation of jobless liberal arts graduates. So anyway, good luck Harper!
Owen is a single dad of three kids. He lives in a gigantic house. In fact, whenever they do exterior shots in this movie, I can’t tell which one is Graceland and which one is his house. He runs a pretty tight ship at home. He has a schedule and has no time for nonsense. He is FaceTiming his business partner while trying to get the kids out the door for school. Seems inefficient. He’s scrambling because both his nanny and his back up nanny are on Christmas break. Again, seems like the time when you MOST NEED CHILDCARE.
Harper takes her nieces to the Graceland Museum. At the museum, she asks the girls to tell her the first thing they notice when they turn around. I think they say the lion statutes on the stairs. Great. Then they run into Priscilla Presley herself with a museum employee. Harper used to be a tour guide here as a teen.
Owen and his three kids show up. I think he has a meeting with that employee and had nowhere else to drop his kids. Somehow, Harper agrees to give all five kids a tour while Owen meets with this employee. She is trying to help him plan his big Christmas Eve work party. I’m not sure why this museum employee is helping Owen plan this party but I wouldn’t call her very good at it. He says he wants a classy, timeless party that encourages people to donate to his project. She’s like, how about GIGANTIC presents, nutcrackers on each table and then Santa and his reindeer off to the side? Owen’s response is “this the season.” And I think they are having two different conversations. Regardless, they both feel pleased about this.
Outside, the kids and Harper just finished their tour. Owen tells them he’s juggling the kids because his nanny is on vacation. This very helpful museum employee is like, hey, Harper is a single woman in her thirties on vacation here for the next couple weeks. How about she stay in your guest house and be your nanny instead of spending time with her own family! Harper, surprisingly does not storm off in disgust. Owen is like, yeah, this is not your job and I’ve never met you but you’re blonde so here’s my business card! Think about staying in my guest house and watching my children.
Later, back at her sister’s house, her sister tells her that her in-laws are coming a whole week early. Does she mind sleeping on the couch? I know our house looks like a castle but it’s actually only three bedrooms. Nary a bonus room or office in sight. Faced with sleeping on the couch and under the same roof as her sister’s family and in laws, Harper digs out Owen’s business card. Anything is better than sleeping on your siste’s couch, after all!
The next morning, Owen is captaining his ship once again and his children take every attempt to veer them off course. One of them can’t find her shoes! And she only has that one pair! Even though they live in a gigantic mansion. Harper shows up…late. Not a good start for your vacation job missy! Owen hands her a tablet and shows her how he has their days all scheduled. Everything is very structured so they can have a great Christmas. Instead of being relieved, she kind of pushes back. But like, how great is it that all she has to do is follow this list?
He gets the kids out the door and I don’t know what she’s supposed to do now. She snoops around and then moves her stuff into the guest house. The museum employee, Regina calls her and wants to show her what she’s thinking for the Graceland Christmas exhibit. She wants to get Harper’s insight on their plan. Then Regina asks her to just help. Harper is like yes! I’m all about doing stuff for free while I’m on vacation.
At work, Owen and his business partner are just doing so much fundraising prep and technology things. I’m not sure what they’re working on but they plan to give the technology to hospitals for free so it must be noble. Owen calls Harper “frustratingly likeable”. Her? The business partner says Owen’s wife would be proud of him. That’s nice.
When the kids get home, Harper looks at the schedule. They are supposed to get their homework done and do their chores first. They also need to organize some presents for their grandparents so they get mailed on time. Harper is like, screw all that. Let’s make a Yule log instead! Cue baking montage and more frosting painting. Harper asks the boy child about his art project. It sound SUPER COMPLICATED. What is this school thinking having these kids do a complicated craft at HOME the last week before break? What is happening in this town? He has to make an elf town out of sugar cubes? For heaven’s sake.
Owen gets home before they are finished and is a little surprised at the scene. No chores finished, no gifts made. BUT this Yule log is here if you want to eat it? If I was Owen, I would be SO FURIOUS. And he is, kind of. Like, I’m not asking you to entertain the kids. Also, if you are making a Yule log, there is arguably a lag time with the cake part bakes-so great chance to do a chore or start on a homemade gift. And then, again, the baked cake needs to cool before rolling it so, get another chore done. You can have it both ways Harper! How much more helpful would it be to have helped this worn out dad get through the hard stuff. Now, instead of the Dad getting to hang out with his kids, they have to do all their work from earlier. So glad this stranger got all that quality time with his kids though! She says her mom used to always embrace the chaos of the holidays which is total nonsense because this is a recipe to basically just waste your entire holiday season. He is like, yeah my wife was like that too. And then this single woman who has spent the last three years in Europe, accountable to no one, tries to tell him to lighten up with the kids. Oy. I guess we should all be lucky she’s doing this for free?
Back in her room, she agrees to help out at her nieces’ school the next day. We witness a sketch montage to Elvis Christmas music. I try not to fall asleep.
The next day, it’s…wreath making at the kids’ school? What is this for again? Or just for fun. The sisters deconstruct the night before. Harper is like, the kids just want to hang with their dad. Well, that’s true.
Harper is meeting with Regina again. Harper’s got a whole pitch for the museum. I honestly don’t care about this. It sounds boring. Regina seems to be doing zero work for someone who’s actually getting paid to do this.
Back at home, Owen and the kids are trying to get out the door to get a tree. They have EXACTLY ONE HOUR to get the tree. Harper gets roped in to going because she needs one for her room too. The kids are too old to be fighting about who picks the tree. Harper makes a joke about liking gingerbread cookies but not Yule logs….Harper, that is too soon. Harper gives more parenting advice. He’s like, this is how I’ve figured out how to manage after three years of doing this alone so you can just chill.
Back at home, Owen did not budget any time to help decorate the tree apparently. He’s like, okay I got the tree in the stand! Have fun decorating with the babysitter. I’ve got to do some emails. Harper is like, do you have any more ornaments? No, just the one box. But it’s Balsam Hill so what more do you need? KBYE! Then Harper rustles up some craft items and we’ve got ourselves a Christmas ornament making montage! Oh the fun these guys are having. Then they decide to sing around the piano. I feel a little uncomfortable. Owen creeps on them from an interior window in their house and then goes back to work. The kids all pass out on the couch with Harper so she’s trapped under a pile of sleeping kids until Owen rescues her. He invites her to go Christmas shopping with them and back to Graceland.
The next day, Harper shows up at her sister’s with an absurd amount of wrapped gifts. She allegedly purchased all of these in Europe and brought them all back. It would have filled like two checked bags. What a sister she is.
Back at Graceland, Harper gives all the kids another tour. Owen has agree to loosen his schedule a little to allow his kids to go again. Back at the house, they are having a Christmas present wrapping party. Wait, I thought parents put all the gifts into nondescript department store garment boxes so you could wrap your own presents on Christmas Eve afternoon? Was that just my parents? Well they are having a grand old time. And then Harper gives them a fancy advent calendar; the significance of which I must have missed. The kids sing “Up on the ROOFTOP”. Why is Hallmark doing this? It’s HOUSETOP. Do they not own the rights? What is happening. This is the second movie where they’ve sung it this way. Harper gets a call from the museum. They want her for a second interview!
The next day, Harper asks if she can take the kids sledding with her nieces instead of ice skating. You know-those famous sledding hills in Memphis? Just the best snow around. So, they get to the sledding hill and well, no one is dressed appropriately for sledding, including the adults. But it’s August in Memphis so I am going to try to be understanding. If they were really sledding they would obviously need some warm, water resistant clothing and footwear. The moms sit at some cocktail tables? What? Is this like a designated sledding hill with a snack shack or something? Great job, Memphis.
At work, Owen is just hustling away, trying to get donations for his big technology thing. He also has a work dinner tonight where he plans to hustle even harder. But then, he decides to take Harper’s words to heart and reschedules a meeting to meet the gang at the sledding hill. Again, he is not participating in the sledding, but the kids are excited to see him nonetheless. Harper’s sister invites them all over for cookie making and Christmas movies. Oh but Owen has to go to this work dinner so they’ll all need to stay home. Wait, no. The sister offers to take in the kids and then offers Harper up as a sacrifice. Harper is like, no I can’t go to the work dinner. Owen is like, no you should come. Harper is like, no I would literally rather die than go to someone else’s work dinner where I know absolutely zero people and thus would end up standing awkwardly alone stuffing my face with shrimp while my date works the room. Oh, is that just me? But then she’s like, oh wait no I love shrimp so yes I’ll go.
At some point, Harper has her second interview. Only, this time she’s not sure if she wants a job with so much travel!
They go to the party and they have one of those scenes where he is just blown away by how nice she looks in her fancy outfit. Like, hello, she looks nice in her regular clothes. Why are you so surprised? Isn’t there a moment like that in Drive Me Crazy too? I don’t know. I can’t remember the premise of that one.
So they go to the party. Owen is chatting with people about investing in this project. One guy makes a joke like-you really think I’d just give my money away for free? Hahaha silly plebeian. Actually I was just joking about THAT. I WILL give my money away! And I’m so happy to do it. Harper shows up and instead of being charming and helpful to Owen, she is an awkward oversharer and the guy politely leaves. They go to sit down and Owen has a small panick attack. The theme of this party is the EXACT SAME AS HIS PARTY on Christmas Eve! What is he going to do. Harper is way too chill about this. Also, what are the odds the decorations would be the exact same? So weird.
When they get back to Owen’s, Harper’s sister says the kids left them something. Oh it’s unfrosted cookies and frosting and sprinkles. Just what I want to do at 11 pm! Frost cookies. For some reason, they decide to like full on frost the cookies with piping bags and everything. They chat about the party and they decide to combine her museum show with Owen’s party. Why not? Elvis loved charity I guess.
The next day is one big Christmas montage. They are planning both parties, they are decorating, they are working, they are making school art projects. We are covering it all and we’re doing it wordlessly to Christmas movie. We have to cover some ground and we only have 30 minutes left y’all!
That night, Harper has a surprise for them. They are pretending to be cold as they walk to Graceland. Inside, they are met by Priscilla Presley! Since Owen was working instead of decorating their tree at home, maybe he’d like to help Priscilla with hers. Does she live there? Priscilla shares about decorating the tree with Elvis and it is kind of sweet. But didn’t they have kind of a rough time? I don’t know. Anyway, Owen freaks out about this opportunity.
After they are done decorating, they decide to go to their party together.
The next day, while getting ready for the party, Harper freaks out about what their relationship is. How can it be anything if she is going to leave as part of her job?
He picks her up and they head to the party. Everything looks great but Harper is stressed. Oh no! Those darn icy roads coming in to Memphis have delayed their musical guest. Can Owen give his presentation instead?
Owen leaves and the museum curator approaches Harper. The job is hers if she wants it. She just has to leave Memphis by the 28th because they want someone fully settled by the new year. Well, lady, you should have started your search sooner. No one can start a job that fast except well, someone like Harper who seemingly does not have a permanent address. But lol to being fully settled after living somewhere for four days. The museum person tells her to think about it for day (Christmas Day). FUN!
Owen stumbles through his presentation because he decides he’s just got to speak from the heart. I still don’t know what his technology does but it sounds like it will help people.
So, the musician is still not there. The kids want to sing with Harper. Okay, twist my arm she says. I panic for them. She settles on one of the worst Christmas songs in existence and I fast forward this part. Oh and then the musician shows up so they only needed to stall for five more minutes? Okay.
Owen pulls Harper aside and shares his feelings. She blurts out that she got the job and doesnt know how she can turn it down. He’s like, oh sorry for saying all that then. They shake hands and agree their week together has been pleasant and professional.
And now Chase Bryant sings an entire song. Boy they were really hurting to fill that two hour time slot. Harper makes a phone call.
Owen and his partner debrief. They are so jazzed about the success of the night. A guy comes up and tells them he’ll double the amount invested so far. They’re so excited but then they start talking about Harper. The business partner gives Owen some good advice. I didn’t write that down. But it was relevant and helpful. Trust me.
Harper is walking home in the hot August night. Snow covers the ground. Owen is waiting for her like a real creep. He tries again to share his feelings. She says she’s going to stay in Memphis. She pitched being based locally to the museum and they are going to pray about it. Owen is like, we’ll figure it out no matter what! And well, this seems pretty unresolved. I kind of figured she’d just work at Graceland instead. But okay. I guess we’ll see if the museum lets her be based there? They kiss and then the kids come out from their hiding place and hug them. To the kids, Owen is like, did the timer you set run out already? So he made them hide for a certain number of minutes so he could talk to Harper. That’s great. Okay, let’s tall this bad boy up.
- Single parent
- Christmas Gala
- Christmas Baking
- Winter Athletics
- Christmas puns
- Sassy and wise sister
- Christmas montages all over the place!
Total score: 8/20