Write Before Christmas

Write Before Christmas premiered on Sunday, November 17 on the Hallmark Channel. I’ve been waiting to see my BOY Chad Michael Murray all season. I think he was in one of these last year too but I can’t remember for sure. I actually only know Chad as “Tristan” from the Gilmore Girls. I never watched One Tree Hill. But he still reminds me of my youth so he remains my boy for the purposes of Hallmark cataloging. More on our beloved CMM later. Okay let’s dive in.

At first I think this is going to be a Santa movie because our leading lady, Jessica, wakes up to a Christmas song on her phone and her bedding and room are like a Balsam Hill commercial. I think her pajamas are Christmas too. She casually walks downstairs to her massive kitchen and I wonder if she lives in a department store display. She has all the time in the world to get a leisurely cup of coffee and sit on the couch. She opens up her computer and does the absolute worst photoshopping in the history of photo shop. She even photoshopped her own head! Why didn’t they just have those two actors take a normal photo together? She adds a bunch of Christmas clip art to the background and orders 30. Her boyfriend, Wes FaceTimes her. He is clearly already at work and she is lounging in her pajamas. He wants to meet for drinks at 7. Are they going to each eat dinner on their own? Her boyfriend is a grump about Christmas.

She stops into a card store and gets a bunch of cards. She seems to know the shop owner. Irrelevant to the rest of the plot. She then bumps into Chad Michael Murray but they both keep walking. This interaction is never mentioned again by either party.

Jessica is at work chatting with her friend and coworker about her boyfriend. She reminds her friend that Wes is an optician, not an optometrist. He did not go to medical school. She tells the friend that she is determined to get him in the Christmas spirit. She plans to send him a Christmas card every day that week and then overload him with all kinds of Christmas activities. Okay, well I would watch that movie. But I know that is not happening in THIS movie because Wes is not Chad Michael Murray. He will NEVER be Chad Michael Murray.

We learn that Jessica plays the cello and owns a music store. Her friend, Mimi tells her that she heard that the big “Heritage Symphony Orchestra” needs a cellist. Mimi can get her an audition somehow! She doesn’t want to do it because she hasn’t been practicing or playing at all. So far, I hate this character but I love her sweaters. Also, I want to live in her house.

Oh good. That guy from the album cover Jessica hugged is in this movie too. He is sleeping and his manager/brother Todd is trying to wake him up. He seems like a lazy, washed up celeb.

Oh! This movie will have some troops! A guy is fixing a car. A girl soldier comes in with a package. He accidentally gets grease on her hand. Are we going to have a troop love story too?

An older woman is looking at a photo on her wall with a dog tag hanging on it. Is it her husband? Did he pass away? Oh, it’s Aunt Lila. And Carter must be Jessica’s brother. Jessica is on the phone and asks if she is going to make her special fruitcake for Christmas. Come on you guys. Fruitcake isn’t good. She plans to bring Wes. Lila doesn’t feel like doing a tree this year. Outside, we see a cute older gentleman walking an embarrassingly small dog.

Chad Michael Murray is a photographer. His name is Luke. He is taking prom-esque photos of a newly engaged couple in front of a tree. He is seemingly at Primos. Why are they doing photo shoots at Primos? The bride wants to set him up with her bridesmaid and won’t take no for an answer. Primo seems to be his friend. He asks Luke to play Santa somewhere. Have they seen his face? And how old do they think he is? Why is Luke the person to play Santa? That is not working for me. Luke and Jessica barely pass by each other again.

Primos is famous for being the “proposal palace”. And this is where Jessica and Wes are scheduled to get drinks. Look, if you propose to me at a restaurant, I’m breaking up with you on the spot. She is waiting for him and her friend texts her to send a picture of the ring. She take the napkin holder and pretends it’s a ring and takes a picture. Kind of funny. Wes comes in with a bag. He hasn’t even sat down and she comes in HOT with the puns about his profession and Christmas generally. He is not prepared for any of this. But he has a mission. He starts to give a speech that by all accounts, appears to be leading towards a proposal. She blurts out NO! It’s only been 3 months. And he says he was going to break up with her. Well that sounds about right.

Back at her house, she wines down (high five!) with Mimi. Mimi gives her some good advice. And then, in a weird turn of events, Jessica decides she is going to take a holiday from men and Christmas. What? Mimi is like, what is happening right now? After Mimi leaves, Jessica puts exactly one box of Christmas decorations back in storage. In the process, she sees a box of Christmas cards. She reads through them and comes up with a better idea. She takes all the cards she bought for Wes and decides to send them to other people. Hey, did you know that Hallmark sells greeting cards? Check these out. They are three dimensional and have whimsical Christmas characters on them. There is a card for everyone on your list. She goes outside in the dead of night to drop her cards at the mail box.

The next morning, back at the music shop, Mimi’s card has already arrived. Yes, Jessica sent it to her own place of business instead of sending it to Mimi’s home. Jessica makes a bunch of inappropriate comments to Mimi about starting a family. Mimi is like, well we said we would wait three years. And Jessica was like, girl, I wouldn’t. You and I are both on the wrong side of 30. You don’t want to be in a geriatric pregnancy situation. Regardless, Mimi has a “gift” for Jessica too. She signed her up to audition for that orchestra. What? Like it’s hard? Jessica is mortified. That audition is in like, what, ten days or less? THAT’S NOT ENOUGH TIME MIMI.

Luke is playing hockey. Good for him. The hockey bros are chatting about blind dates and lost love. I remember wanting to chit chat on the bench as a young hockey player myself. And then my coach yelled at me to focus. But I don’t see any coaches here so maybe it’s fine.

The next day, Luke goes to his blinde date. She is practicing lines with no one. Luke knows he should run right back out the door but they need to fill time. So he sits down and she is really into trying to be an actress. She asks if he can do her headshots. Then she asks if he will run lines with her. She does one of those “How could you?!” scenes with him and storms off. He gets his coffee to go.

Back at home he sees there is a card for Mrs. Miller. He opens it and it’s from Jessica. It appears that Mrs. Miller was her music teacher and had a huge impact on her life. Did you know that Hallmark sells greeting cards? And they have the power to just change someone’s day. Find them wherever greeting cards are sold. Extra postage may be required.

Lila is out getting her mail. She drops a red envelope on her way back to the house which sets up a great meet cute opportunity with Tom and the little dog. When he hands her the envelope, he loses control of the leash of a 15 lb dog and the dog runs right into the house and jumps on the couch. Let me be clear, this dog is a GOOD BOY. They both pretend to have a conversation with the dog and then she offers to get them both a bowl of water. Hilarity. Oh, and both of their spouses passed away. THREE LOVE STORIES IN ONE MOVIE.

Carter, the solider also gets his card from Jessica. Wow, I didn’t realize how powerful a Hallmark card could be. The cute girl solider is waiting in life for mail but doesn’t have any letters. Carter shows her his letter and she is about to start crying and runs off.

Jax gets a card from Jessica. Somehow she has his home address. She sends Mimi’s to her work, but Jax gets his delivered to his home. Anyway, she writes that his music got her through a hard time. He seems very touched. But his card has a pop up Christmas tree in it so-how could he NOT be touched?

Luke is playing Santa for some kids. NO ONE is buying it. He’s got that belt cinched as tight as it can go! Come on guys. At least stuff a pillow under his jacket.

Jessica is walking home all alone at night. As soon as she opens the bottom door to her apartment complex, Luke gets out of his car and follows her in. It very much looks like he was waiting for her. Is this about to become a horror movie? Or an episode of Law and Order? He follows her up the stairs. She turns around and STUPIDLY says she has pepper spray. Just spray him girl! Luke does not help matters by not explaining himself right away. But like, he could have legitimately just murdered Jessica right in the hallway. He looks up at her apartment door and asks if she’s Jessica. He is still wearing his Santa pants and a few barbs are made at his expense. It’s too boring to relay exactly. He then explains he got the card meant for his mom. She is teaching in Kenya for a year.

Okay, Luke? Men in general? If you receive a card meant for your mom and your mom wants to thank the person, you should send a card in response. Do not show up in the dead of night with the intent of thanking someone in person for a CARD. I know these are magical, whimsical holiday cards designed with love by the good people at Hallmark. But send one back instead girlfriend!

So after all of this, he somehow follows her IN to her apartment. She drops her GIANT bag of apples and they bonk heads trying to pick them up. Then they both TOUCH THE SAME APPLE and I can’t do this with them right now. And then Luke doubles down on being creepy and says he remembers her from their childhood. He knows she played the cello. He says it was great seeing her again. I tell you what, you put different music to this series of scenes and it is a THRILLER. There is a 50/50 chance that CMM just murders her right now. Whew. He leaves. Crisis averted.

The next morning, I guess the nightmare is not over because Luke is standing outside her place of business with a giant case. This movie would like you to believe it is a musical instrument case but I know better. It is either a weapon or he is going to put her in the case. Oh, never mind. The cello was his mom’s and she wants to give it to Jessica for sending her that $10 card. It did need extra postage. Boy, those cards can really mean more than we could ever know. Mimi and Luke both pressure her to play. They are BLOWN AWAY by her rendition of Silent Night. He’s heard that cello before and it’s never sounded like that. So, is Jessica back on board with Christmas? Are we never going to mention that just a few days ago she said she wasn’t going to do any Christmas stuff? But here she is, playing Silent Night on the cello.

Chad asks who decorated their tree? Which one, asks Jessica? There are approximately 40 trees in this small music shop. Anyway, Jessica decorated it. He asks if she’s free for an hour later. She tells him she’s sworn off dating. Luke asks her to CHILL. He just needs someone to pick out a tree with him.

Lila is out and about and sees Blitzen and Tom. She asks how the owner search is going. She comments that he looks a little scruffy and Tom says the dog won’t sit still for a picture. Been there girl!. She offers to let them come inside to clean up the dog and try some pictures. We all know what is going to happen here. They presumably give him a bath or something but we don’t see that. And then, while the dog is sitting on the coach next to Lila, Tom tries to take some pictures of him. I’m not sure it’s possible to get a picture of the dog without Lila’s leg in it and well, that seems like a weird picture to post to find the dog a home. Tom then suggests a selfie with all three of them. Good luck Tom. There is no way my dad would be capable of that. Then she says what we’re all waiting for-why doesn’t the dog just stay with her? Tom is like really? Okay byeeee!

Back at the military base, Carter sees Angie again. She tells him she doesn’t have much family and her mom doesn’t talk to her anymore since she joined the military. So she doesn’t get any mail. She also talks about how she’s never built a snowman because she’s from Florida. But she HAS made little snowmen out of oranges, so that’s pretty dang close.

In the third, completely unnecessary storyline of this movie, Jax is working on some new music at the piano. He’s got the Hallmark card out and is writing on a napkin. He is a serious musician after all. Oh and he may want to get the boyz back together. Who knew a card could inspire all that?

Against my better judgment, Jessica is at the tree lot with Luke. I mean, I guess it is Chad Michael Murray. I might be willing to take the risk of being murdered too if Chad is the murderer. So at the tree lot, they both seem to kind of belittle the work of wedding photographers. He’s a freelance photographer. Is that not a creative enough job for a Hallmark lead? Are we really going to wade into the weeds of how creative someone gets to be in their creative job? Enough already. We all know Luke is barely paying the bills as it is. Jessica, in true Hallmark lead fashion, knows so much about trees. And Hallmark is all about that needle retention y’all.

Jessica gets in this guy’s car a second time to take the tree to an undisclosed location. So many red flags. She asks if he plays hockey because his bag is in the back seat. Okay you guys. For real, this is not okay. Hockey bags smell SO BAD; especially a dude’s hockey bag. They would need all the windows down. They would not be able to breathe. And is he like, perpetually storing this bag in his backseat? Because that would make the smell even worse. My parents wouldn’t even let us store our gear INSIDE the house. We left it in the garage and we would be just freezing to death putting our ice cold equipment on for practices. And they’re just riding casually in the car with that bag in the backseat. No.

They somehow overcome this component of the drive and talk about Christmas songs. Jessica loves that Jax hit Christmas song. Luke hates it. These crazy kids. I have a hard time with their conversation. They show up at…primos? No! Next door to the restaurant is a Children’s Home-St. Mary’s. And Luke spent time there before he was adopted by Mrs. Miller. Oh Yay! Another foster care shout out. In the state where we were fostering, there weren’t any young kids living in these types of homes. They were pretty much only for teens. So if this is actual situation for some kids across the country, that is really heart breaking. For real, if you are even slightly interested about foster care or just have questions, send me an email!

On the way in to St. Mary’s Luke quotes “It’s a Wonderful Life” to Jessica. Hey, that’s her favorite Christmas movie! When they go inside, he gets all dressed up like Santa and she has a Santa hat. He calls her Mrs. Kringle. None of the kids seem concerned that she’s wearing normal clothes. They make a bunch of weird passive agressive inside jokes about each other to these kids and I feel uncomfortable. Let’s just get that tree up, eh?

Lila is in her garage and Tom stops by. He starts drooling over her husband’s old car. He wants to take it out for a spin. Why don’t they go Christmas shopping? You drive, girlfriend. It’s your husband’s car and this is the nineties! Blitzen goes too.

Back at the military base, Carter is outside next to a military vehicle with reindeer antlers on the front. Is that allowed? Angie comes out and they apparently are supposed to go on a work related outing together. He asks if she got her orders yet. No, she hasn’t. While they are driving, they experience car trouble. Maybe those antlers messed up the engine. I think Carter says the engine overheated so they have to just wait for it to cool down. Angie says she wants to make a snowman. Boy, do those two have fun making a snowman. They laugh and laugh. And then have a snowball fight. These kids. Footloose and fancy free.

Ugh. Back to Jax, who is dressed in a button up and sweater to lounge around his house and play the piano. Did I miss a scene where he says he hasn’t left his home in ten years or what? The gig where he was supposed to open for some up and coming YouTube star fell through because they didn’t want him to play ANY NEW SONGS. Jax makes some comments about fans vs. follower and he takes that view pretty seriously. His brother says he’ll call the boys to get the band back together. Jax say, no. I’ll do it.

Back in the horror movie plot line, Jessica is held against her will at St. Mary’s for six hours. They sing carols with the kids that entire time so I guess it is a horror movie for all involved. On their way out, Luke says he knows within the first five minutes if someone is right for him. I think he probably says this because he is a serial killer and he’s just murdering all these women. Then, since St. Mary’s is literally next door to this restaurant which all looks to be in a residential area, they see Wes walking out of Primos. Luke holds Jessica’s hands to help make Wes jealous and then SHE SUGGESTS THAT THEY KISS AND THEY ACTUALLY KISS! And then she asks immediately if Wes saw. You idiot. Anyway, she’s overwhelmed so she says she’s going to take a cab. Luke is like, no I’ll drive you. And Jessica is like, in your stinky hockey bag car? No thanks. She basically throws herself onto a cab and high tails it home.

The next day…or maybe when she gets back? I can’t remember; she finds an evelope someone slid under her door. It is a group photo of Luke, her and all the St. Mary’s kids. That got developed quickly. Then she plays the cello in the store. While she plays, I notice there are approximately 44 Christmas trees in this store. How are the customers supposed to examine all the merch? Then she and Mimi talk about the audition. However, the conversation quickly switches to BOYS. Jessica says “We kissed and I forget the rest.” Oof. But then, a customer notices the St. Mary’s picture and asks about the photographer. Jessica tells her about Luke but doesn’t know his website. Good luck finding the right “Luke Miller” on the internet!!

Back in uninteresting Jax land, he is working on that Christmas jam. The BOYS show up at his door. They immediately start singing. And then Jax is like, why did we even break up you guys? And they were like, well you wanted to go solo so it’s actually your fault…? How could you forget. Anyway, that’s all in the past apparently. We’ve got a new Christmas song to sing!

Chad is at a wedding snapping pics. That one bridesmaid wants to make sure that he remembers to take her headshots. He says he has a hockey game on the one day she suggests. She says she loves hockey. What does that have to do with taking headshots?

Back at slightly more interesting Lila’s house, she is talking to the dog. She finds the card that Jessica sent. It got pushed behind some books or something when she brought it in the house. She reads it and just loses her mind. Tears are streaming. Who knew a card could warm someone’s heart like that? Who know a greeting card could be filled with such overwhelming whimsy? I didn’t. So she calls Jessica and is just a sobbing mess. Jessica meets Blitzen over the phone and he barks at her. My dog usually just wanders off when I try to get him to FaceTime with people.

Oh yikes. Luke is taking these headshots on the rink, apparently right before their game is about to start. Primo skates over and is like, dude wrap it up. But then he sees the headshot girl and recognizes her from a commercial. There seems to be a connection there. She asks for an action shot of her skating and immediately falls into Luke’s arms. Jessica walks in to apparently also skate around with him during the hockey game right at that moment. She walks right back out.

The next morning she is at the shop early with Mimi and her husband. They are talking about who the skating girl could be. Then they tell Jessica there is a special reason they asked her to come in early. Her card inspired them to talk about having a baby! Isn’t that great! I am not sure why deciding to try to have a baby is a meet-us-at-the-shop-early type of announcement. But who knew a greeting card could make such an impact on a marriage?

Back at Lila’s, she is about to walk Blitzen when Tom shows up. He sees a wrapped fruitcake being used as a doorstopper. Apparently, their tradition is to make the fruitcake; but as a joke. I liked this but it also seems like one extra thing I have to do during the holidays. Anyway, Tom found a potential home for the dog! Lila seems a little bummed. Well who knew that was coming?

Luke gets an email from that customer, who is apparently a reporter. Wants to hear all about St. Mary’s and stuff. Great!

Jax and the boyz do a radio interview. It’s always been about the music you guys. That’s why Jax abandoned his band boyz to have a solo career. But that’s all water under the bridge. They are here to just play the music of their hearts now, together.

Wes shows up at the music shop. Maybe he was wrong. They should give this another chance. Jessica is like, no thank you. I’m on a holiday from dating! What about that guy? No I’m not dating him either. Luke sees this from outside but DOESN’T LEAVE because he is a serial killer. Luke appropriately misinterprets Wes’s comment when he leaves. Jessica literally stands facing away from the door for way longer than would be natural. Luke finally leaves and then she turns around. Oy.

The next day, St. Mary’s is on the cover of the newspaper. The reporter was inspired to become a foster parent! That is great. That is apparently also front page news in this town. Whatever gets more people fostering, I guess.

Mimi and her husband are leaving for Michigan and I swear I saw her husband put a baby carrier in their car. The Frndly app’s rewind is pretty slow though so I didn’t bother to recheck.

It is audition time. Jessica is FREAKING OUT. I would be too. It’s the Heritage Symphony Orchestra after all. The stage is covered with Christmas trees. She gives a speech before she plays. The judging panel is like, just shut up and play the cello, girl. She plays Carol of the Bells. Is that a good cello song? I don’t know.

At the military base, another story line I’m bored with, Angie is on the phone seemingly talking to a family member. That’s great. Jessica calls her brother. She is SUBSTITUTE SECOND CHAIR. This is great. Way to keep it in perspective, Hallmark. This is the appropriate position for Jessica I think.

Wow. Tom has really leveled up. He is now driving Lila’s late husband’s car around town. They get to the prospective dog owner’s home and Lila doesnt want him to go. Well, duh. We all knew that 30 minutes ago. Why did we have to go through this little charade?

Primo and Luke bro down about Jessica. Single Primo lectures Luke while holding a stack of pizzas. They are headed to the group home. Luke is dressed like Santa again. One of the girls asks where Mrs. Kringle is. She asked because apparently Jessica came by earlier and dropped off a bunch of presents! I would have liked to see that. But no, instead we see Jessica at home in her ridiculous Santa bed watching It’s a Wonderful Life. Luke is home watching the same movie and looking through an old photo album. OMG, they were in a photo together when they were kids! That definitely doesn’t make this movie creepier.

The next day, Jessica is inexplicably back at the tree lot.

At the military base, Carter has something for Angie. His own Christmas card. He blacked out his sister’s message to give it to her. Why on earth couldn’t Jessica have just sent him a new card? This is so ridiculous but poor Angie is touched. And they’re both going to Germany next. And THEY KISS.

Jessica shows up at Lila’s with the tree. Tom and Blitzen are there. Lila says she has the card to thank for bringing Tom and Blitzen into her life. You never know what can happen when you send a Hallmark Holiday card this season! Miracles abound.

Luke is at a Christmas party at Primos I think. Primo is dancing with the headshot girl and Luke is just standing around. He doesnt really want to stay.

Jessica is eating dinner with her aunt and Tom. She gets a call from Mimi that Jax and the boyz are playing at some club locally. Jessica basically drops everything to go. Luke is driving and hears about the concert too. He tries to get in but the bouncer says they’re all full. He tries to make an impassioned Hallmark speech about how there is a woman inside he needs to talk to right now. The bouncer gives him a candy cane. It’s like that line from that 80s movie-“I poured out my heart to a bouncer, and he gave me a candy cane.” But he doesnt give up. He somehow sneaks in through another entrance.

Up on stage. Jax basically gives all the credit for restarting his career to Jessica because she sent him a Christmas card. She understandably freaks out. Again, these holiday cards are just CHANGING LIVES. Luke finds Jessica and they talk and then they KISS. Then we see a bunch of different holiday parties. Let’s see how we stacked up.

  • 6. Clumsy meet cute
  • 13. The troops had a snowball fight
  • 14. Christmas puns
  • 17. Fake dramatic conflict
  • 19. A sassy and wise best friend.

Total Score: 5/20

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Email me at: hallmarksthespotmovies@gmail.com; especially if you want to learn more about becoming a foster parent in your state. Or if you just have questions about our experience!

Leave a comment below! What is my checklist missing? Did you like this movie? What did I miss in my recap?

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