Y’all. Our Christmas movies are BACK! I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. I’m thisclose to decorating my house for Christmas (full disclosure: all of our decorations have been brought into their holding area (the living room) and are waiting for me to have enough downtime to put them all up – my HOPE is this weekend). But enough about me – let’s talk about “Jingle Bell Bride!”
The movie originally aired on October 24 on Hallmark Channel, starring Julie Gonzalo and Ronnie Rowe, Jr. Rowe is new to Hallmark but I suspect a lot of people already knew who he was from his stint as Lt. Bryce on “Star Trek: Discovery” since it began in 2017. “Jingle Bell Bride” was filmed in Vancouver, Canada, while the wedding at the end of the movie was filmed at Holy Rosary Cathedral.
Allan Harmon served as director (he also directed “Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Sweater” which debuts later in the Hallmark season. Hallmark stuck to the east coast of Canada again, choosing to film another movie in Ottawa. The script was by Marcy Holland, who has the distinction of having written or helped write no less than 7 Hallmark movies in 2018 alone. Her second Christmas movie this year will be “Time for Us to Come Home for Christmas.” The script was based on the book of the same name by Scarlett Wilson.
In a nutshell
I liked the movie, but not as much as I hoped I would considering this was the first movie of the Hallmark Christmas season. Yes, it had an interesting story, a good cast, and looked beautiful on my TV, it still felt a bit stodgy at times.
Plot (from Hallmark Channel website)
Wedding planner Jessica Perez (Gonzalo) travels to a remote town in Alaska to find a rare flower for a celebrity client and is charmed by the small town during Christmas, as well as Matt, the handsome local helping her (Rowe).
Let me take a moment to gush about Ronnie Rowe first. Hallmark movies focus on the leading ladies, but I feel it should be said that Ronnie Rowe is a GREAT new addition to the Hallmark family. I really appreciated his low-key understated take on Matt, while still playing him as smooth and approachable at the same time. With any luck, Hallmark casts him as a leading man again! Julie Gonzalo was solid in her role as Jessica, and posted on her social media last week about how pleased she was that after all these years she finally gets to play someone with her own Latina background.
I thought these two worked well together on screen. This was a slower paced movie, and I really appreciated how they got to know each other during the course of the movie. The result is that their chemistry was a nice slow burn and I liked how Gonzalo and Rowe reacted to each other during the movie. It felt organic and real. I also thought Rowe was great in all his scenes with BJ Harrison, who played his Aunt Mary.
This movie did not have the overwhelming feel of Christmas to me, but it managed to get in a lot of tropes nonetheless. Jessica was a Big City Girl going to a small town (albeit not her own hometown), there were more than a couple homes with front porches, Jessica’s career was on the line if she didn’t get the flower, she wore a big scarf, she was stuck in town and unable to get out, and there was a cute kid.
But that’s not all. There was a Christmas festival complete with a tree lighting, some hot cocoa (in empty coffee cups to boot), and they built snowmen. Lastly, one character could be spotted wearing the circle necklace that has grown popular in these movies.
Bingo Card Score for “Jingle Bell Bride”
It was fun dusting off my bingo cards for the new Christmas movie season. I’m hopeful that I’ll score some bingos this year. As for “Jingle Bell Bride,” despite all the tropes I was never close to a bingo – I only covered 7 spots.
Did I Hear/See That Right?
There were a few nitpicky clunkers in the movie. First of all, the town in Alaska has a population of 112 people AND an airport, and yet has no hotels? My grandmother lived in a town of 400 people and they had no airport but did have a hotel – and her town in the middle of nowhere in central Virginia. Secondly, the Big City Girl didn’t bring a phone charger with her? Did she really think that she wouldn’t need to charge her phone EVER on this trip?
At the town festival, somehow Jessica is crowned the Princess. And it seemed like the way to win was to have your name randomly picked out of a bowl?
The fake snowmen during the snowman build scene were just as atrocious as last year. I get it – they film these movies in warm weather. But for the love of Pete, someone needs to figure out how to make fake snowmen that look like actual snowmen built with real snow.
Matt’s nephew is trying to learn how to play a song on the piano. When he plays he’s playing the melody only, but with both hands. He’s clearly a true beginner. And yet when they showed the book from which he was playing the song, it clearly was much more difficult than the beginner level at which he was playing.
I won’t go into the whole notion of people in Alaska not using chains or really good snow tires to drive around in the snow, thereby trapping Jessica in town, but let’s talk about the weird bouquet of blessings thing. I know Aunt Mary talked about what it was, but even with her description I was completely confused. Are people making wishes and putting them in mason jars at the dance? Are they writing down nice things about other people and they are getting passed out at the end (thus it being a blessing)? It was a weird bit that didn’t really make sense in the story other than to have a way to create a really interesting prop piece. What did Jessica write? Did her dream come true? Did she give or receive the blessing she wished for? We’ll never know.
My one big feel was seeing Rockefeller Center at the beginning of the movie. I used to work in the Rock Center part of NYC and loved Christmas time when the whole plaza would get decked out, and the tree would go up. As such, whenever I see it, I remember with much fondness all my years working in that part of NYC.
I’m not sure I’d watch this movie again, if only because it isn’t a whimsical, fun Hallmark movie, and that’s typically what I go for when it comes to rewatchable Hallmark Christmas movies.
“Jingle Bell Bride” couldn’t quite make it into the upper half of movies thus far. I suspect as more and more Christmas movies get release this will slide lower in the overall rankings. And that’s not an indication that it’s a bad movie – because I did enjoy it.
- Sweet Autumn (air date: Oct 17) – 693 pts – weighted score: 118.5 (83.1%)
- 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%)
- 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%)
- 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!
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