I switched things up and watched the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries movie on Sunday night. I had seen more previews and the premise looked “novel”. But, I gotta say, by the end of the movie, I did miss the classic format. But let’s get in to it, shall we?
I need to disclose right at the top that the opening credits announce that this movie was made “In Association with Build a Bear Entertainment.” Say what now? Build a Bear now has what…an entertainment arm? A production studio? Is this going to be a 2 hour Build a Bear commercial? Let’s find out, shall we?
This movie begins in a BAKERY! ALL DECORATED FOR CHRISTMAS. So I’m ready. We’ve got a quirky baker who uses post its to organize her holiday orders because she is an old fashioned millennial who doesn’t believe in websites or other silly modern advances that would make running her business easier. At first I think her name is Holly and I am very pleased. In fact, I SWEAR TO YOU her niece does call her Holly. But nevertheless, her name is Molly. Molly’s sister Jane hopes Molly isn’t SO BUSY with her bakery that she doesn’t have time for the most important thing of all-LOVE.
Then we meet Josh, who has just finished decorating his giant house and front lawn for Christmas with his son Charlie. I sincerely hope he finds a new hat for the rest of this movie. (Spoiler alert: he DOES NOT). Josh’s brother and sister in law stop by and heckle him so much he and Charlie start pelting them with snowballs. Well deserved, I’d say.
Josh and Charlie are working on a “Best Christmas Ever” Checklist. I can’t even be snarky about it because it is a very cute and reasonable list of activities. I think my kids might like to do something like that too. Josh’s brother and sister in law, Jim and Amy stop by with an early gift-UGLY CHRISTMAS SWEATERS. They are throwing them a “Welcome to Town Ugly Sweater Party.” Josh looks STOKED. But really? A Party? With tons of people? In this economy? I don’t think so, pal. Amy laments that she is so stressed with all the prep for the Christmas Tree Lighting Festival. I honestly don’t know how these people spend the entire month of December volunteering for these very elaborate events. Speaking of which, Josh volunteers to help her bake cookies for this party she is throwing for him against his will.
It’s time for the next item on the Christmas activity list-getting a Christmas Tree. HERE WE GO. As luck would have it, Molly and her niece Zoey are shopping for a tree as well. Their meet-cute takes place when they both reach for the same tree. Josh shares his totally useless tree trivia and Molly politely pretends to be impressed rather than weirded out. Is he still wearing that hat? I blocked it out. Josh and Charlie offer to let the girls take the tree, but unfortunately they’re BOTH out of luck because it’s already been sold. TWIST. Molly shakes Josh off and heads in the other direction to find her tree.
Back at home, Charlie and Josh decorate their new tree. Charlie reflects that Molly was quite a nice lady. He is very glad they moved home. Charlie unwraps a photo of his first picture with Santa. It is neither Hallmark nor Balsam Hill brand. GASP. A careful observer will notice Hallmark took painstaking effort to photoshop a women in military uniform into this picture. It is not a natural/traditional posed Santa photo whatsoever. And it is certainly not one I would put in an ornament frame. But it is important we know RIGHT NOW that this mother was a solider and must have died in the line of duty.
Molly and Zoey are also decorating their tree in her bakery. She puts cranberries on the tree. Zoey asks what we’re ALL thinking. WHY? Does anyone actually do this? Does anyone actually put popcorn on their tree? If you do, for real, let me know. Because I don’t think anyone does.
Josh and Charlie are at once decorating their tree and baking cookies but Josh seemingly does not know how to set an oven timer and he burns those cookies so bad the smoke detector goes off.
The next day, Molly apparently blushes while talking about the guy from the tree lot while talking to her sister. People always say these actors are blushing and they never are. I wonder, can you make it appear like they are? Also, little PSA-TELLING SOMEONE THEY ARE BLUSHING IS UNHELPFUL. They know. They know YOU KNOW. They are just trying to calm down enough to make it go away. Oy.
Anyway, Jane asks for some undecorated cookies. Her friend Amy has a cookie emergency. Oh, I wonder what that could be about.
Now it’s time for the big welcome home party. What a parallel universe. This introvert would kill to go to an ugly sweater party right now. Just kidding. That idea still sounds terrible. Anyway, Jim and Amy are working over time to find Josh a new lady. They introduce him to Jessica and she is REAL INTO IT. She is seconds away from water boarding him to get his phone number so she can invite him caroling. Listen, Jessica. Even if you WERE the female lead in this movie, Josh would not want to go caroling with you. NO ONE WANTS TO GO CAROLLING. For real. Josh is every introvert when pressured to commit to future plans while at a social gathering.
After the party, Josh politely asks Jim and Amy to chill. They’re like, no, we won’t. We truly don’t have anything else to do besides find you a new wife. As a consequence for his bad attitude, Amy makes Josh contact all the vendors for the festival and arrange the pick ups and deliveries of the wares.
At bedtime that night, Josh and Charlie participate in a casual Build a Bear ad. Josh suggests Charlie may need a SECOND bear so the first bear has a friend. I guess Josh just has $60 burning a hole in his pocket or something.
At 3:30 or so, Josh finally gives up on being asleep. He goes all in and makes himself a French press of coffee. Look, you knew from the first MINUTE he put on that newsboy cap that he would be drinking French press. Let’s not act surprised. He decides to get to work on his vendor assignment. He starts with the baker. With no other info about the particulars for each vendor, Josh sends an email asking about pick up times. To his surprise, she responds right away. They decide to talk on the phone instead. Josh has no idea what Amy wants from this person and neither does Molly. They have a lovely little chat and Josh agrees to follow up tomorrow. I genuinely like the idea of a cookie decorating booth. It is a fun activity, takes very little up front prep work and everyone still walks away with a sugar cookie. WIN WIN WIN.
The next day, Charlie and Josh go get ice cream. This is not something I am going to put on my Best Christmas Ever list. There are too many Christmas specific treats to waste time with ice cream. (I know, I know.) Look, there is a time and place for ice cream and WINTER TIME IS NOT IT. Even Dairy Queen agrees, okay? Anyway, Charlie is upset that his dad might choose the flavor Rum Raisin. And I am totally with him. Please, Josh, don’t pick that flavor. But CHARLIE IS NO BETTER. This dum dum is wrestling between gingerbread and candy cane? No. NO! I refuse to allow it. You may get peppermint chocolate or you may get NOTHING. Okay? Anyway, Molly and Zoey walk in and Molly is touched that Josh is willing to forgo Rum Raisin so that he and Charlie can share both his selections. She mistakes this conversation to mean that Josh is a good dad. When in fact, he is enabling a lifetime of poor ice cream flavor selection.
That night, Molly eats dinner with her sister and her family. Jane wears the heck out of a glittery white sweater. They gab a little about her run in with Josh. Zoey demonstrates she has zero chill when it comes to Molly’s love life. She is just blabbing all over town. Then Josh calls.
Josh appears to have come straight from a shift on a Norwegian fishing boat given the oversized sweater he’s wearing. He has a cookie emergency. He humble brags that he knows how to turn an oven on to cook Lasagna. Molly is impressed. Molly asks him how long he chilled his cookie dough. He did not chill it at all. BUT YET, without chilling the dough, he managed to ROLL OUT said cookie dough and make shapes. Those things must be absolutely COVERED in flour to make that happen. Just start over Josh. And read the GD recipe. No doubt it includes instructions for dough chilling. But anyway, he puts the whole pan in the fridge and later he sends a pic of finished cookies to Molly.
The next day, all of these adults are working on unraveling lights for the festival instead of their day jobs. Jessica continues to be at an 11/10 for Josh. Meanwhile, I wonder if Josh shouldn’t run a comb through his hair.
Jim pulls Josh aside and expresses concern that his light was on in the middle of the night. Josh is like, why don’t you mind your own beeswax? And then he pronounces “croissants” like “Quasons,” and my eyes nearly roll out of my head.
Charlie and his grandma are wrapping presents for deployed soldiers. He notices Molly helping make videos to send to them as well. Charlie, a seven year old boy, begins to devise a plan to set his father up. This is where the story kind of falls off the rails for Ol Cal. I find it very difficult to believe that first of all, this boy is seven. And second of all, that he would be perceptive enough to be like, my dad is lonely, he needs to get back out there. No sorry. I am not here for any young children setting up their parents. They just don’t notice. But Charlie is scheming to set up Molly with his dad. And his plan is quite good. He is going to bring his dad back to film a Christmas video for the troops and he can meet Molly.
Later, while they are all waiting in line for Santa, Amy and Josh chat about the cookie booth. Josh is back on his newsboy cap nonsense. Josh calls Molly and asks her about gingerbread. She is pro gingerbread. They both wonder if it wouldn’t be more fun to build gingerbread houses. I jump through the screen and knock the phones out of their hands. NO IT WOULD NOT BE MORE FUN TO MAKE GINGERBREAD HOUSES. Are you insane? I DON’T HAVE TIME to explain why. But apparently in this parallel universe the additional hassle of baking individual gingerbread house pieces and standing over children (and ultimately being forced to step in) while they construct and decorate these houses is called “fun.” So here we are. Molly is so on board, she agrees to help. Good grief you guys. Can we compromise and decorate gingerbread cookies? No?
Molly then realizes that she and ice cream/tree lot guy are both in line for Santa, but she mistakes Amy for his wife. Oh you silly!
While Josh and Charlie do more festival set up instead of school or work, Charlie begins to put his plan in motion. He asks about making the video and Josh is just so touched that he wants to do that. Luckily he doesn’t realize that Charlie couldn’t care less about the troops and is focused on getting Josh to meet Molly.
Molly calls Josh to talk shop. He is wearing a Bluetooth earpiece from the early ’00s. And still committed to that newsboy cap lewk. She lists the grossest candy she can think of to use for gingerbread house decorations. But guess what, that’s gingerbread house decorating for you; a bunch of gross candy from 1950 on a cookie house you can’t eat.
They are just strolling around town, chitchatting the day away and just miss each other at every opportunity. She drops a huge personal bomb about being left at the alter and he talks about his deceased wife. Just casual, work chat with a total stranger. They end the call by randomly talking about how dating is too complicated.
The next day, Josh takes Charlie ice skating but he does not participate. So poor Charlie just has to skate by himself. Jane and Molly arrive to watch Zoey too. Why are these adults not skating? They JUST MISS each other as they walk out. The girls are headed to get ice cream. But is clear that NO ONE in this movie has ever actually eaten ice cream because Molly says she is going to get bubblegum flavored ice cream. I die a little inside.
Sometime later, maybe that day, maybe tomorrow, who knows; Molly and Jane talk more about Josh. Jane convinces Molly to sneak a peek of him and they stake out the candy store where Josh is picking up decorations for the gingerbread houses. This “store” is about the size of a bedroom and has about 5 things on the shelves. There has just GOT to be a better way. Jessica runs the store. She and Josh chit chat. Jessica is still at an 11/10. Molly finally sneaks a peek and is so confused…that is the guy she thought had a wife. Jane the Super Sleuth solves that mystery in two seconds because she knows Amy. So now we’re all very excited. Jane offers to buy Molly a dress for when she “meets” Josh for the first time. My sister “borrows” my clothes and doesn’t return them for three years. Josh stops by the bakery but that dum dum closed it to spy on him.
At bedtime we see that Charlie is up to TWO build a bears now. Molly is making all those gingerbread pieces from scratch at her bakery. TO WHAT END MOLLY?!!! She thinks of an excuse to call Josh and they chit chat for a little bit.
The next day, the boys head to record their video message. BUT Jessica is there to record it. Charlie is visibly disappointed. Jessica basically forces Josh to go to dinner THAT VERY NIGHT. Josh is like, girl. Just take a breath! My wife JUST DIED five years ago okay?
Snow fort construction is on the schedule that afternoon and those boys do a bang up job. I would totally hang out in there. Josh runs inside to get Charlie’s Reindeer periscope and picks up his build a bear from the ground. To Josh’s horror, the recording in the bear goes off. It is Charlie’s voice making a Christmas wish? Again, this seven year old boy chooses to record FOR TIME AND ALL ETERNITY that his Dad will find a wife. No, sorry. My kids would be asking for a gamma ray machine so they could turn into the Hulk….or maybe a jet pack. They’re lovely boys but they’re not wasting their Christmas wishes on my happiness. But anyway, Josh decides that he better give Jessica the old college try and agrees to dinner.
Molly calls while Josh and Jessica are out to dinner. Jessica is like, you’re not taking a phone call in the middle of this date are you?!! He’s like no, I would never.
At the bakery, Molly realizes she forgot to deliver like 5 loaves of bread to Mr. Blanchard…the owner of the restaurant Josh and Jessica are at!! She runs over with the bread and is so sorry she forgot. But earlier, Blanchard picks up his own bread and wouldn’t he just send someone to get them? But this is such a serious oversight that Molly doesn’t charge him for it. But obviously this is all to make sure Molly sees Josh and Jessica in the restaurant and she is DEVASTATED.
After the date, Josh calls Molly back but she ignores it.
So it’s festival day and Molly tells Jane she needs to deliver everything which, spoiler alert: is like 3 small cake boxes of gingerbread. She tells Jane she saw Josh on a date, and he told her he wasn’t interested in dating so she is understandably a little hurt and embarrassed for reading into their conversations. Jane continues to be the best sister in the universe (Sorry mace) and agrees to handle it.
Poor newsboy cap Josh is so eager to meet Molly and is so disappointed to realize he’s meeting Jane. Jane comes up with a great cover story but Josh wants Molly to know he still wants to meet her. I think Jane suspects that Molly was probably right in the first place. Throughout the festival, Josh is calling Molly and checking his messages. She continues to ignore him. Meanwhile, she makes her own killer gingerbread house alone. WHY. This brings up a good point though. She was supposed to like… run this booth right? Like any other adult there knows how to make a gingerbread house with homemade gingerbread pieces? But instead she just makes her own for…surely not for fun?
Josh and Charlie take a break from the festivities. Charlie inexplicably is wearing a stocking hat with his name on it. No one says anything about it. He reveals his top secret plan to Josh.
Meanwhile, Jane catches up with Amy. Jane discovers through her top notch and discreet sleuthing that JOSH ACTUALLY LIKES MOLLY. She RUNS back to the bakery and makes Molly get all ready to go in her cute new dress.
Back at the festival, it’s time for the tree lighting. Molly arrives as they start the count down. Josh sees her and walks towards her, not yet realizing she is Molly the baker. They remain standing about 20 feet apart from each other (Which is too far even in “these times”). She sends him a text to reveal that she and Molly are ONE AND THE SAME. They have one of those gross end of the movie conversations and Josh closes by saying “this is one of the simplest things in the world.” I promptly throw up. They kiss and live happily ever after. And then we see Charlie’s video message to the troops and it is very cute. And THAT’s IT.
So, overall, I liked this one. ALOT of good Christmas decorations and lots of Christmas baked goods. There were some cute sweaters. And I appreciated the novel concept of them only chatting by phone. BUT I did miss not getting to really see them together for most of the movie. It is hard to show a relationship growing through texts posted on screen. But I did enjoy it. Definitely one to watch!
Let’s see how it ranks on the Checklist; with two half points, the total score is 7/20.
- Single parent
- Clumsy meet-cute
- Christmas Festival
- Christmas Tree Lighting
- Christmas Baking
- Winter athletics (a half point because neither adult participated)
- Snowball fight (another half because only one lead participated)
- A sassy and wise best friend