You guys! It’s here. A week earlier than last year. A week before Halloween. But of all the years to start celebrating Christmas BEFORE even Halloween, I think 2020 is the one, right? So this year, Hallmark is at it again; doing 23 movies on the Hallmark Channel and 17 movies on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. I am not going to commit to recapping/reviewing all of them because man, that was just ALOT. And you guys can’t/ don’t want to read 40 recaps, right? It’s too much. And Netflix seems really committed to occupying this space too. And I just have to watch them all. So, I’ll recap. Don’t worry. But it will be more manageable for ALL OF US, okay?
So here we are. In a world where there was no global pandemic that forced all of us to push pause on life as we know it. A world where a mega pop star is planning a GIGANTIC wedding around Christmas. It is truly a magical parallel universe. And I for one, was SO HAPPY TO LIVE IN IT for a brief hour and a half (fast forwarding through the commercials, obviously).
So, Jessica of “Christmas with the Kranks” fame is a busy workaholic wedding planner in New York. I imagine in New York, you can be a busy workaholic wedding planner. But it’s that same old Hallmark movie job and I am just so happy to be HERE FOR IT. Oh and guess what? She is up for a BIG PROMOTION that would take her to LONDON. Because this is a multinational wedding planning company.
Her nice bridezilla Renee, a mega pop star, decides she absolutely NEEDS this special flower-the Jingle Bell Flower in her bouquet, an arch, and every other detail of the ceremony. Her grandmother had it in her bouquet so it’s very important and very special and she just thought of it two weeks before the wedding. No big deal. Oh, and it only grows in this remote part of Alaska. And so begins my constant refrain throughout this film-How in the world did her grandparents use this flower 100 years ago if it’s only in Alaska? Renee never mentions some special relationship with this town and it doesn’t seem like they SELL this flower or are in any way prepared for tourists who are interested in this flower. But anyway, it all happened and I can’t think about it too much because this movie is just getting started.
Of course, the ONLY logical solution is for Jessica to fly to Alaska and pick up the necessary flowers and bring them back herself. Her boss is like, you know this is a Hallmark movie right? You’re going to get stuck there and ruin this wedding. Also, it’s going to cost like $10,000 for this whole endeavor? And what? In addition to PURCHASING the flowers, we’re also covering the cost of their music festival? Girl. GIRL.
Everyone seems to know what is going to happen besides Jessica though, because even her sister gives Jessica her Christmas present early before she leaves. We see that Jessica is constantly missing big holiday family activities for work. I wonder if she’ll ever learn?
She makes it to Alaska on a tiny plane. She is the only passenger and there is no one else in the airport when she arrives. She has her MEET CUTE with Matt. She tries to get some ancient cookies from the vending machine. It gets stuck. She does not realize that Matt is there to get her. There is a weird moment where we all wonder why else she thinks he might be the only other person hanging around the “airport”? She was expecting someone… (don’t say it)… with a sign! With her name on it. Oh. Okay. Relief.
So they load up and she lets him know she has exactly ONE HOUR to get all the flowers and get back on the plane out of there. Even under the best circumstances, this seems like poor planning. NY to AK and back in 24 hours? Needless. Oh and just one other thing? She needs a BUNCH more flowers than what she said on the phone. She forgot to mention that bit about the arch and the boutonnieres and all the bouquets or whatever. I can’t keep track. But it’s several crates full. Matt agrees if she lets him have those expired cookies from the vending machine. How did she not scarf those down on the ride into town though? 6o years old or not, I’m eating those cookies if we’re not stopping somewhere for lunch. Anyway, she gives them to him. He surprisingly does not die of food poisoning and they get to cutting. They get done in plenty of time and head back to the airport. Jessica heads back to NY and the wedding goes off without a hitch. The End.
Just kidding. They have to stop on the seemingly unplowed highway for a moose. That all adds up. We’re in Alaska, after all. However, then the truck can’t get going again! They’re stuck. Jessica suddenly becomes unfussy and offers to push the truck while Matt drives. No, she’s in jeans for heaven’s sake. That’s not truck pushing attire! So she drives and Matt pushes. No luck. Finally, the airport traffic control person/tree farm owner offers to dig them out. They make it to the airport but the plane JUST left. Did it leave empty? Was there no thought about holding on for a few minutes if they knew she’d be right back? No. So, she’s going to have to wait until tomorrow to leave. NO! Worst news ever!
She asks Matt to take her to a hotel. No hotels in this town of 112 people. Then she goes, okay well is there an Inn? A Lodge? a B&B? And Matt is like, don’t you think I knew what you meant? Like no, sorry, no hotels, but we do have a LODGE. Why didn’t you say so? So she asks to be taken to the mayor’s office. Luckily, Matt’s aunt Mary is there and she offers to let Jessica stay with them. Matt is pleased. Not really. He is tasked with getting her settled at the house. Poor sweet Jessica seems to know nothing about Alaska. She is AGHAST that the sun is setting already at 4 pm. Girl, just count your blessings.
Matt takes her to his aunt’s house and I award it a 10/10 for decorations. Jessica’s bed even has truly lovely evergreen boughs on the footrest. (Is that what the thing is on the end of the bed)? Anyway, it’s so impractical and I love it. She has a suitcase filled with everything she needs for a trip-her laptop and some very complicated looking toothbrush. She truly did not plan on changing her clothes at all.
Matt tells his aunt Mary that the tree lot owner/air traffic controller set aside a tree and some wreaths for her. We all agree he probably has a crush on her. Mary shrugs it off.
Mary lets Matt know he got a letter from Lexington University. He ignores it…MYSTERIOUS.
Later, Jessica comes out of her room and sees Mary making A BUNCH of fruitcake. She says she always makes it for the Jingle Bell Flower Festival volunteers. And they must all politely (and perhaps tearfully) choke it down each year. Can’t we just all agree it would be better for everyone if she made cookies? She says Matt used to come over and sneak tastes of the batter as a kid and now I know she’s lying. Mary shares that Matt’s parents retired to Florida. It seems that perhaps he is hiding out in Alaska for some reason. Also, why don’t they come back to AK for Christmas? Or vice versa? Then Matt comes home and says it is only going to snow 1-2 FT (!!) tonight. No problem.
The next morning, Jessica heads to the airport ready to fly out as planned. Jack, the pilot/mechanic says the plane is grounded until a part can come in…THREE DAYS from now. Well, well, well. Just as I suspected. We’ve got a busy workaholic city girl trapped in a small town. Giddy-up. Jessica understandably has a panic attack.
She and Matt head to the one store that sells clothes. After she gets all stocked up, they head to…I guess it’s the center of town? Where the mayor is announcing things related to the Jingle Bell Flower Festival. There will be a dance on the last night and then, of course there is a Flower Festival princess. Word must have gotten out that Jessica was stuck because she is crowned Festival Princess. The conditions of this title are that Jessica must keep Christmas in her heart all the days of the year. She agrees. After the coronation, Jessica meets Matt’s cousin Amanda. Amanda thinks they are dating. Unsurprisingly, considering Amanda likely knows everyone in this town and Jessica is a stranger. It gets awkward briefly.
Amanda tells Jessica that Matt used to live in New York. Well, what a coinky-dink. He used to be professor but he moved all the way back to AK to help his aunt after her husband died last year. Sounds like a real stand up guy, Jess. Jessica of course gets invited to decorate their Christmas tree with them.
Later, Jess contemplates the meaning of Christmas and FaceTimes her sister.
The next morning, Matt and Mary are chitchatting in the kitchen about the logistics for the festival dance. I notice a giant, impractical wreath hanging above the stove. Jessica cringes at every idea they have to troubleshoot their location problem. For example, how dare they serve lasagna??
The mayor arrives with a new location for the dance. BUT it is a mess. Jessica waltzes in and has a vision for it. And why shouldn’t she help? It’s not like she has anything better to do.
They start setting up and Jessica and Matt argue a little about floral arrangements. Jessica bounces around from person to person helping get the dance all set up. She offers to go get lights but they are too high for her. Matt comes in to help at just the right time. Okay now we’re cooking with oil. She sees there is a bunch of stuff from the kids’ Christmas pageant in there. That gives her an idea…but I don’t think we ever see it come to fruition. Jack the pilot reveals he kind of likes the mayor.
Later, Matt and Jessica make the most pathetic melty snowman. Was that her big idea? Are the snowmen supposed to be decorations? They are not gonna make it.
Back in NY, Rebecca, Jessica’s coworker, tries to undercut her with Renee the pop star bride. But THEN, Jessica’s princess obligations keep her from answering a phone call from Renee which confirms her worst fears-that Jessica is not at her beck and call every minute of the day.
Amanda has a heart to heart with Matt about moving on from his broken heart. He says he’s fine. He also calls pancakes flapjacks. Does anyone who doesn’t work at some old timey diner call them that?
Later, Matt and Jessica clip more flowers for her to take home and he asks about her job. She says she is a busy busy bee. Last year she was somewhere fancy for Christmas…working. Then she asks him about living in NY. He shares he WAS MARRIED! Edgy.
Then he comes out of somewhere in a suit so she can display the boutonniere. She is very surprised by how nice he looks. She takes a few pictures of him to send to Renee. Then the sun starts setting and she is worried about the contract she signed with the sea witch. Matt wants to show her something. Well, finally! They see the Northern Lights.
Back at home, Jessica helps Amanda’s son with the piano. Is there anything she can’t do? She shares that she used to help her niece with the piano but now she’s TOO BUSY with work. She feels nostalgic for home and opens her Christmas gift from her sister early. Then Matt takes her to make snow angels in jeans. It really bums me out.
Back in NY, Rebecca continues to try and undercut Jessica. This time though, it works!
At the house, Amanda loans Jessica a cute dress for the dance. Everyone looks so cute. Jessica runs into Jack the pilot/mechanic and he tells her they can leave tomorrow! She’s so pleased she plays wingman to him with the mayor. Then the Tree Farm Owner/air traffic control shoots his shot with Mary. Mary asks him to dance. Jessica and Matt dance too! But then, Jessica’s phone rings. Everyone seems to forget that NY is four hours AHEAD of Alaska so this is quite insane.
Anyway, her boss is like, nobody cares about those flowers anymore. We need someone physically here to get the wedding over the finish line. If you can’t get here tomorrow then Rebecca is going to be on the account. Jessica kind of goes on a ramble that doesn’t make much sense. she says she just needs more time but obviously the wedding is… like, on a specific day so there isn’t alot of flexibility.
Matt finds her outside and she is kind of melting down. She says she’s lost everything. I don’t really understand but Matt is there and he’s trying his best to be supportive. She takes her anger out on him and is like, I CAN’T HIDE OUT IN ALASKA LIKE YOU MATT!! He’s like, way harsh, Tai!! She runs off and FORGETS HER CROWN.
At home, Amanda tells her to get her stuff. Matt got the whole town to work together to get her a flight out tonight! Everyone worked together. Matt gives her some of those gross old cookies as a parting gift. We all wish it was a sandwich.
So, Jessica makes it to work the next day with the flowers! Rebecca is OUT and Jessica is back IN. But, she immediately turns down the promotion in London. She knows family is more important now.
Jessica celebrates Christmas with her family. And I guess Matt does too. Mary pushes him to get his life back on track and to get his butt back to New York.
It’s Renee’s wedding day. RIGHT as she is about to walk down the aisle, Jessica saves the day with the jingle bell flower bouquet and maybe the arch. She SAVES THE DAY.
Outside, after the ceremony, Renee gives Jessica the bouquet because she’s so grateful. But then… WE SEE MATT waiting there! He is all dressed and waiting to take her to the reception. He also got his teaching job back. But then Jessica ruins it by saying ” I guess wishes do come true.” So he changes his mind and goes back to Alaska. Just kidding. They kiss. They live happily ever after.
Overall, this movie was…fine. I would have liked more “will they or won’t they” moments. I would have liked to see better Christmas sweaters and seen more hot chocolate and Christmas cookies. But there was a lot of nice Christmas feels and some wonderfully over the top Christmas home decor. And I do love a small Christmas town. So I imagine this one will land in the middle of the back when this is all said and done.
And that’s it! We did okay on the checklist too! 8/10
- Lead is stranded in a small town
- Single parent (2!)
- Clumsy meet cute
- Christmas Festival
- Christmas Tree Lighting
- Christmas baking
- Do Snow Angels count as winter athletics?