Merry and Bright premiered on the Hallmark Channel on November 2. Just as a refresher, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries “Miracles Of Christmas” are on Thursdays and Fridays and Hallmark’s 10th Annual “Countdown to Christmas” is on Saturdays and Sundays. Keep up, girl!
The movie begins in Britewell, Ohio which is the Candy Cane capital of the world! Who knew? Kate, played by my girl Jodie Sweetin, is the CEO of Merry and Bright Candy Canes (Hey! That’s the name of this movie!!). She is new to the biz, taking it over from her grandma Carol (note, the Christmas-y name) a year ago. She is stressed out and takes a candy cane off the production line to console herself. Her friend and coworker Sophie is hoping her boyfriend will propose to her. She says thinks Christmas is the perfect time, which totally bums Kate out for some reason. She also announces that a corporate recovery company was hired by the Board because the company hasn’t turned a profit for a few years.
Over in NYC we get a glimpse of “Empire Corporate Recovery”. I’ve never heard of a business like this but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Gabe is going to Ohio to help Merry and Bright. He is…less than stoked about it. He is too big a deal for such a small project. His boss tells him he has a particular set of skills for this job. So, now I’m wondering if he is going to track down whoever kidnapped his daughter and kill them? No, that’s not this movie. Anyway, he recognizes the flattery and says she must be “pulling out the big ‘tools’”. Can you not say “gun” anymore? Regardless, he’s headed to Britewell. Maybe for two weeks. “Maybe he’ll get some holiday spirit while he’s at it!!!” His boss inappropriately shouts at him as he flees her office.
In Britewell, Kate is on a horrible date at a fancy restaurant. He is ignoring her and the waitress is ignoring him. Irony. Kate is actually trying super hard. So, good for her. She heads home and starts making cute little chocolates for…EVERY EMPLOYEE IN THE COMPANY. It looks like they only get one each though, so I think I’d rather get a gift card. Her mom is there and has plenty more available men to choose from. What about Gary? From Akron? He’ll be in town this week! Kate is not interested. She thinks maybe she’d rather get a dog. Her mom is not stoked about the idea though. Kate stopped by the shelter and the one she liked was gone anyway.
When Kate’s mom gets home, we realize she is talking to THE DOG KATE WAS TALKING ABOUT. She must have picked him up from the shelter. It is going to be a gift for Kate. She is laying down the house rules for her new house guest and the dog is like, yeah I’m not doing any of that. Oh, this is exciting. The mom is not a dog person though so she speak at him from a considerable distance and throws a treat in his general direction. Let me be clear. This dog is a GOOD BOY.
Gabe checks in at the hotel. Well, he goes to the desk and no one is there. Suddenly, a man pops up from under the desk. He was just plugging in his computer. This man, Pete, is my new favorite person. Gabe is down for one week…maybe two! If that’s the case, maybe he should take in some of the holiday events? Hard pass, says Gabe.
Later, Kate comes by to pick up her dinner order and Gabe sees her. He recognizes her from her company’s website. He introduces himself as her greatest gift and the man that’s going to solve all of her problems. This is not great. She understandably is confused and thinks he’s Gary from Akron and that he’s hitting on her. She is super grossed out. I think I’d be fine with it actually. Eventually, they realize he is talking about WORK and Kate is embarrassed. But really, Gabe should be embarrassed because he should have just said from the beginning that he was there from Empire. But then we wouldn’t have had that lovely little meet cute and that’s why I’m not writing these movies.
The next morning at the factory, they try to forget about their awkward encounter. Gabe is giving Kate helpful suggestions and she is shooting them down right and left. She tries to shut him up by giving him a candy cane to try. She’s good though. She eats them all the time. She dismisses him because she just has so many meetings and maybe they can try again tomorrow? Back in her office, Kate realizes that Gabe actually did have a bunch of good ideas and she even thought of some of them herself. She’s only been here a year though! Give the girl a MINUTE! Sheesh. She decides to go apologize to Gabe but then hears him ranting about her and the company right in the common area of the offices. I feel this was unwise. Perhaps he should have made that call in his hotel room.
Back at Kate’s house, she and her mom are decorating her tree. We learn that this was really not what Kate wanted to do with her life. Wait, was she in a Hallmark movie already? One where she decided to take over the failing candy cane company and we are now reckoning with the fallout? Well, it was very important for Grandma Carol to keep it in the family. Why? It sounds like Kate is going to have to make big changes either way so it probably doesn’t make much difference who is running it.
Kate asks her mom if she recognizes the star on top of the tree. Her mom is like, oh did your dad make that? And Kate is like, yeah I talked to him yesterday. Oh… a divorced parent situation? Pretty edgy for Hallmark. By the way, this is really NEVER mentioned again. Then Kate’s mom realizes she’s left the dog inside too long and of course can’t tell Kate so she frantically comes up with an excuse to leave. She settles on needing to meet a friend at the house because she is picking up a fruitcake. Come on, girl. Nobody is ever picking up fruitcake. Don’t they just show up at your house? Kate is not buying it, but her mom is not a prisoner so she leaves.
Back at home, she has another discussion with the dog and throws a treat across the room to appease him. The dog, thus far, appears to be a VERY GOOD BOY.
Kate and Gabe both must have gotten a good night’s sleep because they both return to work with better attitudes the next morning. Gabe has picked up hot chocolate for everyone but couldn’t find any candy canes? Oh man. This guy. Gabe tries a new tact-he focuses on the company’s strengths and points out that if they sold more stuff besides candy canes, people would probably buy it. I think Ol Bill from Nostalgic Christmas needs to hire this guy. Or maybe I should be doing this job? Anyway, Kate is like yeah we do already sell other candy! Come see these peppermint sticks that don’t have hooks! See how different this is? I think they also have different flavors of peppermint which seems…unnecessary. Gabe is like, no that’s not what I’m talking about. What about chocolate? and OMG I HAVE AN IDEA. I’ll wait.
Kate is like, what? I have literally never thought about that. Let me take you to our museum so I can show you how dumb you are to mess with traditions. She and the rest of the factory then perform “Tradition” from “Fiddler on the Roof”. Gabe really enjoys the museum and recognizes that Carol is a stern no nonsense business woman. Which is a Hallmark nice way to say what he’s really thinking. Gabe is probably way too busy to go to the Christmas Tree lighting or…? Cut to him at the hotel and he is just pouring over graphs and spreadsheets. But, he can’t take it and decides to go to the Tree Lighting.
Mom is trying to tell the dog that she will right back. She just has to go to the tree lighting real quick. The dog is so pathetic and he’s being SUCH A GOOD BOY that she decides to bring him along. She has to hide him from Kate though, so she shoves him in a duffel bag.
Kate is all set to push the button to light the tree for the second time! Right before she’s about to push the button to turn on the lights, she changes her mind and calls Gabe up to do it. If I was a townsperson just grinding away and never getting the recognition I deserve, I would be furious. Here, this beautiful stranger just waltzes in and gets to push the button…after no vetting?! Unfair. But Gabe seems truly touched so I have to stop grumbling.
We learn that Pete, the front desk person at the hotel, is dating Sophie and is horrible at buying gifts. He is thinking of buying her a mountain bike for Christmas after three years of dating. Kate tries her best to drop subtle hints but Pete is NOT GETTING IT. He smiles, but bless his sweet, red-haired heart. He’s not getting it. He puts some sunscreen on to shield his fair skin from the glaring moonlight. Gabe and Kate get hot chocolate and candy canes in adorable mugs. How much do those cost or do they have to return them when they’re done? They decide that maybe they need to catch up about “work”. Over dinner? These guys.
Gabe calls his boss and is struggling with this assignment. His head is fuzzy. He pushed the button! His cold, business minded heart is melting. He asks our favorite front desk clerk, Pete, for a restaurant recommendation. Poor clueless Pete unhelpfully suggests the restaurant where last year, Kate rejected a marriage proposal. Why didn’t he suggest “The Elegant Elk”?
At the restaurant, Kate and Gabe are dressed super fancy. I feel like people wouldn’t actually dress super fancy in this town. Oh well.
They are having a great time. But uh oh, the conversation takes a turn towards serious. They both share about past relationships and we get the scoop on the failed proposal from Josh. This dude is already engaged to SOMEONE ELSE after being rejected by Kate less than a year ago. Then Kate says, the heart knows better than spreadsheets and graphs. I find that to be very bad advice. Especially if we’re talking about actual business. To thank Gabe for the lovely evening, she gives him a box of homemade chocolate. Will he figure it out first or will she? He tries it. Does he hate it or is he getting an idea? Can’t tell based on the face he’s making.
The next day, they are setting up for the Christmas Jubilee, which seems to be put on by Merry and Bright. Is it a party? Has it been 7 years so everyone’s debts are forgiven? I know everyone loves a good Old Testament joke. Regardless of its purpose, the decorations are fab. Kate’s mom, Joy flees to go “pick up some snickerdoodles”. Seriously, since when are snickerdoodles considered a Christmas cookie? Gabe shows up and asks if she’d be interested in selling chocolate. But, they’re a candy cane company! Gabe has an investor. But they’re not for sale! Gabe is like, girl chill. It’s just an investor. Then Kate starts getting on board. She could make other flavors even!
Kate drops by her mom’s house. Her mom is fantastic here. She refuses to let her in. Kate is like, hey could I get Grandma’s cookbook? And her mom is like Yeah, yeah. Just wait here. And slams the door in her face. All in the name of not letting her see the dog. It is hilarious and Kate is just standing on the front porch scratching her head.
Alright, Kate and Gabe are back at her house with the recipe book. Kate is rocking a turtleneck. They must be back in style. I’m definitely getting one. Her grandma even drew pictures in the cookbook.
Joy seems to be warming up to the dog. And why shouldn’t she? He is SUCH A GOOD BOY.
Okay excellent. A chocolate baking montage with Christmas jazz music. I am HERE.FOR.THIS. Gabe takes tastes more often than my three year old. These chocolates better be good because the investor and his wife are chocolate snobs. After they’re done with the chocolates, they sit on the couch with hot chocolate, a fire and Kate is wearing reindeer socks. They chat away about dogs and relationships. Kate feels too many feelings and then basically shoos him out. He casually drops the fact that he got them a meeting with Royce Rutherford, a major investor in the food industry. Kate starts to spiral. Gabe says, you can’t win if you don’t play. And then I realize I don’t have enough Christmas decorations.
Kate stops by the hotel again and sees Pete unpacking a big box. She panics thinking that poor dumb Pete actually did buy that mountain bike. You silly Kate, it’s just a big box of sunscreen. No, actually it’s pillows for the hotel. He shows her a necklace he bought. Kate slaps him across the face. Pete spirals about proposing and Kate talks him down.
She then walks into the lobby area and tells Gabe she’s in for the NYC meeting with Royce. Back at home, Joy micromanages Kate’s packing. Kate tells her mom she knows what’s been going on with her and she’s just so happy that her mom’s…been going to the gym again. And Joy is stealing every scene she’s in.
In NYC for the big meeting. Kate corrects Gabe’s grammar. High Five! They’ve settled on the name “Merry and Bright’s Cocoa Confections” so I throw up in my mouth. But Kate is wearing a great suit but with a trouser leg pant. I am not on board.
Royce is a tough, no nonsense business man. He asks her some tough questions but Kate keeps knocking all the answers RIGHT OUT OF THE PARK. Just crushing it. GET IT GIRL. And after all that, Royce says the chocolate is just okay. Well, that was underwhelming.
Gabe says they should have a fun day in the city. He takes her to a cluttered, junky looking place he says is a toy store. He talks about his mom working three jobs before starting EMPIRE! His mom is his boss. Why does she make him work on Christmas then? He casually drops that they have a party to attend. WHAT? Does she even have the right clothes?
They somehow end up meeting at the party instead of arriving together. That doesn’t make any sense to me. They dance and then Gabe says he has something to show her. They walk over to a painting. Kate seems disappointed. We learn that his dad painted it and the scene reminds him of Britewell. OMG what if they have the same dad and he had two families and they never knew? Gabe KISSES HER and we aren’t even at the end of the movie! She starts yapping away about being so busy and it will never work and he says he’ll walk her out. Just quit talking Kate! She says she has an early flight. Why aren’t they on the same flight?
Royce calls Gabe and we learn that he AND his wife are stoked about the chocolate. They want to invest in the company and focus on chocolate. They are like, you can still do the candy canes if you want, but we don’t really care about that. Kate is like, but we’re a candy cane company! Gabe is like, enough with the candy canes already.
Back at home, Kate talks it over with Joy. What about Grandma’s traditions? Joy is like, well she’s dead now. This is your company. Candy canes are seasonal. Also, let’s not forget that they haven’t turned a profit in several years? Maybe Grandma’s traditions are just a surefire way to run this whole place into the ground. Joy gives me all the encouragement I need to get to chocolating.
Well, Kate has a different take away from the conversation. She is struggling with the decision. Gabe is wearing a T-shirt under a suit jacket for this meeting. Kate and Gabe have a very personal conversation in front of an administrative assistant. Ultimately, Kate wastes everyone’s time and decides not to sign the papers.
Gabe calls his mom and says he wants to focus on helping small companies. He and his mom have a nice phone call.
Kate comes up with an idea to make flavored candy canes from her grandma’s cookbook. She sends Royce a box of them. Royce doesn’t seem to hate them.
Back at the hotel, Peter leads Sophie to the fireplace. It is where they first kissed! He gets down on one knee and the front desk bell dings. Wait, he is proposing while he’s still on the clock? Oh sweet, delicate, fair skinned Pete. Sophie says yes and Pete gets back to work apparently.
Joy gets the puppy all ready for the Jubilee. He has a sweet little red bow around his neck and he is being SUCH A GOOD BOY. He doesn’t understand what Joy is saying. Joy shoves him in a duffle bag.
At the Jubilee we see all the new candy cane flavors on display. Wait, GABE shows up. Kate is surprised to see him but has something to say. She loves candy canes so much she wants to marry them and that thing with the chocolates didn’t mean anything. Gabe is like, dude I get it okay? Royce is on the phone and he wants to marry these candy canes too. Royce is so over chocolate and wants to distribute the candy canes around the world. I am so disappointed that chocolate is now out of the picture.
Joy arrives with the duffle bag. She hands Kate the dog but bursts into tears and so does the dog. Joy promises to come visit but the poor puppy doesn’t understand. He is just being SUCH A GOOD BOY. Kate says the dog belongs to her mom. And Joy is so happy to have the dog back. She shoves him back in the duffle bag. Gabe says he feels at home now.
One year later, Kate is giving tours of the museum and they are just selling the different flavored candy canes. They all sound really gross. I had an M&M flavored candy cane once that wasn’t too bad. But Key Lime Pie? Yuck. I’m just going to make my own chocolate I guess. Sophie asks Kate to just check on those sugar plum mint samples real quick. What? Sick. Yeah, they’re in that velvet bag over there. Wait, that’s not a mint! That’s a velvet box. Gabe comes out and proposes! At work! So Everything worked out for everyone. Except me.