Well, this is a fun little thing Hallmark is doing. Sunday’s movie was part 1 of a 2-part movie experience of a set of sisters. The sisters are played by REAL LIFE sisters, Ashley Williams and Kimberly Paisley-Williams; two queens of Hallmarkland. Let’s dive in to part 1!
The movie begins with Jen and her son, Simon, watching an old home video in front of her Uncle Dave’s old movie theatre in her home-town. Simon is now a teen. They are planning to head back to this hometown to help get the theatre ready for sale. However, first they have to head to Jen’s restaurant for something that I can’t remember.
At the restaurant, they learn they are going to be featured in some big Christmas promo. It is quite prestigious. But wait, Jen is supposed to be heading to see her parents. How can she possible go now? But her staff assures her that they can handle the prep work. Outside, they are surprised to see Jen’s sister Meg, playing the tuba with a band putting on a street performance. As the sisters walk and talk, the reminisce about their Uncle Dave, who recently passed away and Meg’s upcoming plans. She was originally planning to go with her Uncle Dave to Paris. She thinks she might still go and stay for a while. She is very much trying to figure out what is next for her.
Later, back at Jen’s house, Meg thinks she might hang out in Salt Lake and help with the restaurant prep while Meg heads on to their hometown to help their parents. This seems to work for all involved.
Jen and Simon head right to the theatre, “The Madison”. While standing outside, they run into Jen’s pal and former debate partner from high school, Eric. Guys, if Mark Deklin had been on MY debate team in high school? I would have maybe tried harder. I don’t know. I didn’t see any Mark Deklins on any debate team I ever participated in or competed against. Anyway, he’s planning to help do the necessary repairs on the theatre before it’s sold.
Inside, Jen meets their very peppy realtor, who assures her that she is in fact, the best in town and she’ll find them a buyer. The theatre has fallen into disrepair over the last six months that it’s been closed. I am not sure if it was like that before Uncle Dave died or not. But the heater doesn’t work and neither does the rickety old projector.
Jen’s parents own a bakery and are busy with their own Christmas prep. Jen’s mom is doing her best to hold it all together as this is her first Christmas without her brother. She tells Jen she wishes she had just one more Christmas at the Madison.
It doesn’t take long for their realtor to arrive with an offer to purchase the theatre! The only problem-it’s a chain that likely will modernize it and get rid of all that “old theatre” charm.
Later, Jen, Eric and Simon wonder if they can’t pull off one more movie showing at the Madison for Jen’s mom. The next morning, Simon is the only teen in all the land up before his mother and is busy chatting with his grandparents. Jen gives her mom a miniature Christmas village version of their bakery to put on the mantle. She is so pleased. Then, Simon almost spills the beans about hosting one more movie at the Madison. Jen pulls him aside and tells him she doesn’t want to get her parents’ hopes up about it if they can’t pull it off.
Jen and Eric start strategizing what they need to do to pull off such an event. They work on getting the projector up and running and plan to just supply blankets for the family in lieu of traditional heat. However, things get tricky that night at the snowman building competition outside of the theatre. Jen tells her mom that they are going to host a little family movie night there and she is thrilled. But when she asks a friend about fixing the projector, she essentially blabs to the whole town. So now the pressure really is on!
Meanwhile, Meg seems to be having an absolute blast helping at the restaurant and things seem to be going swimmingly. Eric and Jen continue to work closely together to get things ready for the movie night. While they scope out the work yet to be done, Jen realizes that the basement of the theatre is big enough for a restaurant. She daydreams about turning the theatre into a restaurant/theatre combo, but dismisses it several times because it would be too much work and money on top of running her existing restaurant.
It’s finally time for the show. The potential buyer is there, ready to see the theatre for himself. It seems like everything is going to go well! For about two seconds. Then, I think the projector or maybe the popcorn machine catches on fire and the power goes out. I’m not sure. Anyway, the whole theatre has to evacuate. Well, that sort of took a turn, didn’t it?
In spite of all the chaos involved in fixing the theatre, the Swift Family makes time for some fun Christmas traditions. They each get an ornament each year that reminds them of something that happened that year. Sometimes they’re homemade and sometimes they’re purchased. It is a cute little moment and Eric and his daughter participate as well. Debbie makes an ornament out of her brother’s watch. Her husband buys her an ornament that says “Hollywood” on it in anticipation of their upcoming trip. And I don’t remember what everyone else gets.
Meanwhile, Simon has gotten involved with some local kids who are involved in their school theatre program. He seems to be having a blast with them and has become really invested in this whole theatre business. By some miracle, they discover a brand new projector in a locked closet so movie night round 2 seems to be in order. Simon and the kids are playing some old home videos one afternoon when Eric and Jen arrive. While watching the home videos, they talk about coming to the theatre in high school and then, THEY KISS! Very unexpected.
Later, they decide they should probably talk things out. However, after a phone call from first her head chef Victoria (a little HIMYM easter egg?) and then her sister Meg, she realizes she needs to head back to SLC to find a new head chef for her restaurant. Simon is upset because he is really enjoying their time in her hometown. So, Jen heads to SLC alone. Much to her surprise, Meg and the restaurant manager Joe, really do have a handle on things. They taste test the work of a food truck owner near the restaurant and decide to offer him the job. Jen shares her silly dream of the theatre/restaurant with Meg and Meg offers to give Jen her Paris money to help. How much Paris money does she have?? Jen insists that she keep that money to find her “next thing.”
Since the restaurant matter is all settled, Jen makes it back in plenty of time for the next movie showing. It also seems like the wheels are really in motion for this theatre chain to buy the Madison. Unfortunately, they plan to completely renovate the place. They are apologetic about it though! So that’s something. Jen and Eric talk briefly about their relationship as well. Jen tells him she likes him and sort of pitches a “long distance” sort of relationship. Eric shuts that down pretty quickly, telling her that he and his daughter need stability. Basically, she’d have to commit to living there. Jen is a little taken aback but understands.
Okay, now it’s time for the second attempt at the movie. Meg has arrived just in time to watch it as well. The movie begins with a little clip of old family videos that makes Meg emotional. She steps out. Jen follows her to the lobby. They reminisce about the theatre again and are both sad that it’s going to be sold and renovated. Jen brings up the theatre/restaurant idea again. Then, at the same time, the girls both wonder if they shouldn’t just go into business together! I think this means that together, they’ll both run the restaurant and the theatre/ restaurant. Meg had already decided not to go to Paris because she loved being in Salt Lake so much. After the movie, the girls share the news with everyone. Eric is probably the most delighted of all. They chat again about their relationship and then kiss big time and that’s that! We will get to see Meg’s story this Sunday.
I really liked this movie. It was really fun to see Ashley and Kimberly together. My only complaint is that I wanted to see them together more. To pull this story off, there were a lot of facetime calls to connect them. I do love the idea of telling one big story from two perspectives. It will be fun to see that side of the story on Sunday. I loved the old theatre vibes as well. In the town where I grew up, the sign for “The Grand” theatre still says, “Our Screen Talks.” I love that they’ve kept that nod to the past for so long. I loved Kimberly and Mark together as well. Mark was absolutely WASTED in that boring old movie he was in last year and he was supposed to be falling in love with the most wet sandwich character of all time. And I HATED IT for him. So I was much happier to see him in this. Also, Kimberly Williams-Paisley has the audacity to pretend she’s 50 years old? FIFTY? No. 35? Maybe. So, anyway, yes I loved this one and I can’t wait for round 2! What did you think?