“Cranberry Christmas” aired on October 31, 2020. It starred Nikki Deloach and Benjamin Ayres, with principal photography taking place this past summer in British Columbia, Canada. The screenplay was provided by Joie Botkin, who has been writing Hallmark screenplays since 2017, including “Miss Christmas” (which I like a lot), “Christmas at the Palace” and last year’s My One and Only. She also wrote the upcoming “Christmas in Vienna.” “Cranberry” is director Linda-Lisa Hayter’s first foray into Hallmark land, having previously been a script supervisor for TV shows like “Stargate” and “iZombie.”
In a nutshell
I read from several that they felt this movie was TOO serious and didn’t have enough Christmas for their liking. While this wasn’t my favorite movie thus far, I really enjoyed the dynamic between Deloach and Ayres, so this was a win for me.
Plot (from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel website)
A separated couple feigns marital bliss on national television to help their town’s Christmas festival – and their business. But what will be when rekindled love is complicated by new opportunities?
I’ll admit I love when Nikki Deloach co-stars with Andrew Walker or Michael Rady. Those pairs work really well together. And given how little I liked “A Blue Ridge Mountain Christmas” last year, I was a bit worried about how the Deloach-Ayres pairing would be. Alas, all my fears subsided very quickly since Deloach and Ayres were a great pair together and clearly worked well against each other. I wish I had gotten the name of the actress that played Deloach’s sister because I also like when those two actresses had scenes together.
Six Degrees of Polaha: It’s impossible to do a six degrees link for anything Nikki Deloach stars in since she worked with Polaha on “North Shore,” and therefore anyone who works with her is automatically only 2 degrees away!
The thing I loved about the chemistry in this movie was how comfortable and yet awkward it all felt. Our characters Gabe and Dawn are a married couple that has drifted apart due to the jobs. She’s focused on Cranberry Lane, he’s focused on the farm. The result is that she has left to go pursue her career, even as they remain married. And this is why I appreciated the movie. The chemistry was not a snap-crackle-pop of instant connection, but a slow burn that snakes past that awkwardness these two have with each other to rebuild the fire that they had together. Result? So good.
I know some viewers felt that the separated couple never really seemed to have any ill-will against each other (as so many contentious marriage separations IRL can be), and therefore wasn’t necessarily true to life. However, Gabe and Dawn didn’t separate because they had grown to hate each other, or because they disliked each other and just didn’t want to be married to each other. They separated because life got in the way and they just were never together. They separated because Dawn, in her determination to grow Cranberry Lane, was not around.
In their case, absence did not make the heart go fonder. It made the heart think about moving on. I didn’t mind that these characters still loved each other in their own way when the movie started and just had to figure out if they were going to stay together. After all, much like engagement is a time for couples to figure out if they are prepared to be married, separation is a time for couples to figure out if they really want to get divorced.
For a movie that didn’t feel quite as Christmas-y as I hoped, it did still have plenty of tropes. Their house had a front porch, and Dawn’s sister had a cute kid. I saw a couple of big scarves. They cut down the Christmas tree and decorated it. They drank some fancy looking hot cocoa that never seemed to move in the glass even as the characters moved their hands around while holding them. We had a festival that was capped off by a tree lighting that only took place after festival-goers were encouraged to get crafty and make an ornament for the tree. We also had cookie baking and an interrupted kiss (which I loved in this movie), with the final scene featuring a kiss and snow falling.
Bingo Card Score for “Cranberry Christmas”
I only covered a paltry 8 spots on my card with this movie. Oh well. Feel free to download my free bingo cards and play along!
Did I Hear/See That Right?
You know, at some point I got so involved with the movie that I forgot to take notes. That speaks to how engaged I became in this couple’s story. My one note was a nitpick so slight that it almost isn’t even worth mentioning. At some point, Pamela Franks, the lifestyle guru, is staying at Gabe and Dawn’s home for a few days. Dawn gets up early and makes a cup of cappuccino for Pamela, complete with sprinkled decoration on top. Pamela takes one sip, then puts the cup down so she and Dawn can go out to the barn to check out the cranberry syrup-making process. If I went to all that trouble to make someone a fancy cappuccino, I’d be a bit ticked that they didn’t just take it with them to the barn. *lol*
I had one main takeaway that I loved from this movie: the independent grandmother. I had a fiercely independent grandmother that lived on her own until she passed away at the age of 98. In the last year, she lived at a retirement community near my house, so while she lived alone and independently, I was still spending a lot of time with her and checking in on her. But she still lived independently.
As such, I appreciated that the grandmother in this family was content to do her own thing and live her own life, AND didn’t want to move in with Dawn’s sister for fear of keeping the sister from living a fulfilling life of her own.
I can definitely see myself watching this movie again even though it has a much more serious tone compared to other Christmas movies. Serious Christmas movies have a place in the pantheon if they can show characters and stories that are different from the Hallmark norm.
The Christmas movies are doing really well for the most part. “Cranberry Christmas” currently sits in the Top 5. I don’t know if that will last since four points separate “Cranberry” from “Deliver” which sits in third. A lot of movies can sneak into that sweet spot if they play their cards right. But I did like “Cranberry” very, very much.
- One Royal Holiday (air date: Oct 31) – 722 pts – weighted score: 121.8 (85.5%)
- Sweet Autumn (air date: Oct 17) – 693 pts – weighted score: 118.5 (83.1%)
- Deliver by Christmas (air date: Oct 25) – 697 pts – weighted score: 117.4 (82.4%)
- Cranberry Christmas (air date: Oct 31) – 650 pts – weighted score: 112.1 (78.6%)
- Matching Hearts (air date: Feb 8) – 640 pts – weighted score: 109.0 (76.5%)
- Winter in Vail (air date: Jan 4) – 623 pts – weighted score: 108.8 (76.4%)
- Wedding Every Weekend (air date: Aug 15) – 639 pts – weighted score: 108.3 (76.0%)
- Love in Store (air date: Feb 22) – 637 pts – weighted score: 108.2 (75.9%)
- Hello, It’s Me (air date: Sept 27) – 628 pts – weighted score: 107.8% (75.6%)
- Love on Harbor Island (air date: Aug 8) – 634 pts – weighted score: 106.9 (75.0%)
- The Secret Ingredient (air date: Feb 15) – 617 pts – weighted score: 105.2 (73.8%)
- Country at Heart (air date: Oct 3) – 611 pts – weighted score: 104.1 (73.1%)
- You’re Bacon Me Crazy (air date: Apr 4) – 591 pts – weighted score: 104.0 (72.9%)
- My Best Friend’s Bouquet (air date: Oct 10) – 599 pts – weighted score: 103.4 (72.5%)
- Fashionably Yours (air date: Apr 11) – 594 pts – weighted score: 102.6 (72.0%)
- Follow Your Heart (air date: Oct 4) – 585 pts – weighted score: 101.6 (71.3%)
- Christmas Tree Lane (air date: Oct 24) – 574 pts – weighted score: 100.3 (70.4%)
- A Valentine’s Match (air date: Feb 1) – 562 pts – weighted score: 99.8 (70.0%)
- Love On Iceland (air date: Jan 18) – 563 pts – weighted score: 99.4 (69.7%)
- Hearts of Winter (air date: Jan 25) – 561 pts – weighted score: 98.2 (68.9%)
- Jingle Bell Bride (air date: Oct 24) – 558 pts – weighted score: 97.9 (68.7%)
- Just My Type (air date: Mar 28) – 565 pts – weighted score: 95.4% (66.9%)
- Bad Date Chronicles (air date: Feb 28) – 520 pts – weighted score: 91.0 (63.9%)
- Love in Winterland (air date: Jan 11) – 508 pts – weighted score: 90.7 (63.6%)
- Nature of Love (air date: Apr 18) – 520 pts – weighted score: 90.3 (63.3%)
- Chateau Christmas (air date: Oct 25) – 502 pts – weighted score: 87.3 (61.3%)
- Amazing Winter Romance (air date: Jan 20) – 487 pts – weighted score: 85.6 (60.1%)
- Love Under the Olive Tree (air date: June 20) – 473 pts – weighted score: 85.0 (59.6%)
- In the Key of Love (air date: Mar 14) – 470 pts – weighted score: 82.5 (57.9%)
- Love in the Forecast (air date: Jun 13) – 440 pts – weighted score: 72.5 (50.8%)
- Midway to Love (air date: June 26) – 410 pts – weighted score: 69.0 (48.4%)
- Falling at Look Lodge (air date: Sept 26) – 350 pts – weighted score: 64.0 (44.9%)
- Romance in the Air (air date: Aug 1) – 367 pts – weighted score: 63.2 (44.3%)
- Follow Me to Daisy Hills (air date: Sept 19) – 337 pts – weighted score: 62.8 (44.1%)
- How to Train Your Husband (air date: May 16) – 350 pts – weighted score: 62.5 (43.9%)
To see where this movie lands in my overall rankings of Hallmark movies, visit my Hallmark Movie Rankings page!
What did you think of “Cranberry Christmas”? Comment below and let me know!