I forgot to mention this in a previous post, but according to some stats, Christmas at Pemberley Manor was “Marked Highest-Rated and Most-Watched Cable Program on Saturday.” People truly tune into this stuff. Also, Hallmark calls its viewers “Hallmarkies” on its social media channels, so that’s something I’m disappointed to know.
As per usual, here’s the short version of our next film, It’s Christmas Eve:
As interim school superintendent Eve trims budgets, and now she’s in her hometown where it’s personal. Her handsome neighbor Liam is a music teacher and Eve feels his program must be cut. But luckily her friend is married to an IT guy, who’s created a website for donations directly to save the Arts program. Launched during the tree lighting ceremony, where Liam’s students will perform, the website could provide the Christmas miracle the town needs. Already the Universe is cooperating. Eve is back home and she, Liam and his daughter look like they might be celebrating many a future Christmas. Starring LeAnn Rimes and Tyler Hynes.
Before we begin, it took me five times to finally understand what the first sentence of that synopsis was saying. Now join me for the long version. The film does not start off on my good books because of this font and color.
LeAnn Rimes is in this film and I believe she’s done the titular song of the film. We see LeAnn’s character Eve drive into a quaint Christmas town. She arrives at her destination and is greeted warmly by her mom and stepdad.
At the house next door, Liam is getting his daughter, Abby, ready for a sleep over. This house also happens to be excessively decorated. He’s very chummy with his daughter, so this means he’s a single father.
While the daddy-daughter duo continues prepping for the sleep over, the mommy-daughter pair catch up on Eve’s life. Mom is disappointed that Eve travels a lot and hasn’t yet found true love. Eve doesn’t mind her life as it is and her mom contemplatively points out that she’s just like her dad (this means the dad is dead). Eve’s job as an interim school superintendent has brought her to her hometown, and she needs to get busy slashing the school’s budget.
The next morning, Eve almost bumps into a guy holding coffee. A close call. But the dude ends up bumping and spilling coffee all over another woman! Eve just stands and stares at the mishap, and Liam sidles up to her to comment on the unfortunate display. He goes meta and tells Eve that what they’re currently witnessing is a “classic meet-cute.” What he doesn’t know is that he’s in a meet-cute of his own! Hallmark, you wily dastard.
Liam and Eve enter Eve’s mother’s bakery. Liam continues to talk about how the universe brings people together via meet-cutes until Eve excuses herself to meet with her friend. Better work on that chat, Liam. He also meets with a friend who is disappointed that Liam did not do a better job hitting on Eve. Liam says his brain isn’t working properly as most of it is occupied planning the school’s Christmas program. Liam’s friend mentions the rumor going around town that an interim school superintendent has arrived. This concerns Liam as these people are usually brought in to balance the budget, which often spells doom for music programs.
Back at Eve’s table, Eve’s friend re-opens old wounds by bringing up Eve’s dead father and the fact that she gave up music after his death. Merry Christmas, everyone.
At a skating rink, Eve meets with a school administrator to discuss the budget. The school has already slashed so many things, so Eve is left suggesting that they get rid of “nonessential” jobs and programs. Eve is the bad guy in an ‘80s movie.
It’s closing time at the bakery. Eve’s mother isn’t happy that Eve suggested killing the art and music program, but her daughter is sticking to her guns. It’s not a fun job like baking cookies. Eve’s mother reminds Eve that she’s a musician and mentions the dead dad, saying that he wouldn’t be happy with this. Eve rebuffs her mom’s guilting. She’s no longer a musician, she’s an interim school superintendent, MOM.
At school, Eve is met with more resistance from the faculty. They know why she’s here. This woman has a tough job. Meanwhile, Liam is in the classroom spending quality time with his daughter, making new Christmas music. The cute scene is interrupted by a faculty member telling Liam the superintendent is here. Liam takes off to speak with this mysterious superintendent. However, his target has gone on a walkabout of the school. Eve hears some piano playing and shares a tender moment with the pianist, Abby. In case you missed it, we are told again that Eve was once a musician, but now she’s not. It’s now Liam’s turn to interrupt a cute scene. Once he finds out Eve is the superintendent he’s been looking for, he grills her on what she plans to do. Eve makes a hasty exit. Liam is as good at making impressions as that ugly fonted title card.
After visiting her friend for some fun reminiscing, Eve comes back home and bumps into her stepdad. She saw him sneak into the next-door neighbor’s house and asks him why he was there. The stepdad gets weirdly cagey so this means he’s hiding some incredibly innocuous secret.
The next morning, Eve goes Christmas tree shopping with her mom. She grabs a tree she likes and, wouldn’t you know it, Liam is grabbing the same tree! It’s like everyday is a meet-cute for Eve. They lightly bicker over who should get the tree, and Liam wins out by saying Eve would be denying a child (Abby) a tree. Might as well go nuclear if you want something.
While waiting to pay, Liam is approached by his students. One girl nerdily asks if Eve is his girlfriend which is a socially awkward thing to ask out loud. She’s in high school. She should know better. After that dumb question, Liam and Eve get to know each other a little better. Liam was in a rock band called Bingo Jones before he was a teacher. Like Jesus Jones, but crappier.
Eve decides to be neighborly and help Liam unload and decorate his new tree. They do a bad job. It’s too much stuff. Deck the Halls starts playing (from where I don’t know) and they all start singing.
Abby excuses herself to find an ornament. Eve and Liam use this time to talk more about themselves. Liam is a divorcee. He and his ex-wife had Abby, but soon after, the ex-wife’s career “took off.” It was then that the ex-couple realized that they had different priorities in life. I’m sorry, but what does that even mean? Eve receives a work-related call and is told that the school is taking her advice to do away with the music and arts department.
Eve calls her friend to lament her situation. Her friend tries to lend a friendly ear but ends up saying stuff like “If I wasn’t your friend, I’d be furious about this” and “I’m forever grateful for music class.” If Eve ends up moving back home, she needs to find new friends.
Eve finds her mother looking for ornaments in the garage. While chatting, Eve stumbles into a box full of old mementos from the father, including an unfinished song called It’s Christmas, Eve. Mom and daughter have a heart-to-heart about the deceased dad. Once they’ve collected the necessary ornaments, Eve begins to decorate her second tree in the film. Mom starts talking about stepdaddy. Apparently, he’s a big romantic.
Speaking of stepdaddy, Eve spies him walking into the next-door neighbor’s house again. She follows. Turns out Liam is teaching stepdad how to play the guitar so he can surprise Eve’s mom. Liam senses the awkwardness between stepdad and stepdaughter and quickly takes Abby to go ice-skating. Kind of a cumbersome excuse to get out of a potentially weird encounter, but at least Abby gets to have some fun. Stepdad asks if Eve could give him some pointers since she used to be musician. Eve refuses and leaves her stepdad to keep playing the guitar alone.
Eve meets Liam at the skating rink to tell him that his job is going to get cut. She feels bad about this and presents a new option to save music and art: a Christmas concert fundraiser. Liam likes the idea but is worried that nine days is not enough to gather all the schools in the district and plan a big event. It’s huge challenge, but the couple decides to go for it. A shame Eve couldn’t have come up with something like this for the other schools that she’s gutted.
Eve and Liam begin planning but struggle to find a way to make it all happen. A lightning bolt hits Eve. Earlier, her friend told her that her husband made a Christmas list website for the family. They can use this idea for the fundraiser. The schools can put how many clarinets they need, and people can donate towards each item. They present this idea to Eve’s friend’s husband (who works in IT) and he agrees to it like a big nerd. After this win, Eve and Liam visit the mayor to get it to the Christmas program rolling. She’s onboard only if her nephew gets a to sing a solo at the event. Bribes are different in small towns.
The next day, Eve presents the idea to the school board. They’re skeptical, but the Christmas spirit wins out. Commence the setting-up-the-Christmas-program montage! Eve takes a break from organizing to look at her dad’s old sheet music.
She pops by Liam’s place to use his piano. She wants to hear her dad’s song. After Abby and Liam play the tune, they pressure Liam to play one of his originals at the newly titled “Christmas Under the Stars” program. The three then go off to watch a Christmas movie. Like some sort of family. Liam tucks Abby into bed, and secretly goes to the piano to finish Eve’s dad’s song.
The next evening, stepdad woos Eve’s mom with a hazardous number of candles and a song at the bakery. His voice is pre-recorded because there’s an odd echo sound to it. This is a pointless storyline and I should have edited it out of this recap/review.
It’s the day of the Christmas program. Eve is handling everything from press to talking with her friend about stuff. Liam is concerned about the mayor’s very quiet nephew’s solo. Lots of activity and excitement, etc etc etc….
To kick off the Christmas show, the mayor starts a rather short countdown and then lights the tree’s star.
In the midst of the activity, Eve gets a call from the San Diego School District, her next job. She doesn’t look very excited. Is she ready to stop traveling and settle down? Only time will tell. And seeing as there’s only 18 minutes left, she better make a life decision quickly.
“Christmas Under the Stars” isn’t doing so hot. The website is only showing 58 visits and $150 in donations. Imagine an extended version of your kid’s Christmas pageant. If that’s what they were using to get me to donate money to the music and arts program, I’d say thanks for the memories and buy my kid a recorder instead.
Suddenly, they start getting visitors. I guess people felt guilty holding back. Next up in the program is the mayor’s nephew. Liam didn’t really practice with him, so we have no idea if he deserves a solo. But this is Hallmark. They wouldn’t have a kid sing off key, even if it would’ve been pretty funny. The mayor’s nephew has the voice of an angel. While he sings silent night, Liam and Eve almost kiss. Instead of kissing though, he asks her if she’s moving to San Diego. She doesn’t give a definitive answer. Liam leaves to play the piano on stage.
Abby is up next in the program, but she’s nowhere to be found. Eve finds her immediately. Abby has got pre-show jitters and tells Eve she can’t do it. Our heroine gives the girl a pep talk which is enough to get her onstage. Abby asks LeAnn Rimes, I mean Eve, to sing with her. Eve knocks it out of the park. (You can barely hear Abby, actually.)
The fundraiser is a success. They ended up raising $162,000. The school administrator is pleased with Eve’s work and offers her a permanent job in case she wants to stay. Eve is torn. She expresses this to her mother. Her mother is biased and tells her that since Eve has been home, she’s been more like the girl used to be. Don’t know what that means. Her words make Eve cry. She looks up to the cruddy star for hope.
Eve goes back home and finds some letters. They’re from Abby and Liam. Abby’s letter is just a drawing and a Merry Christmas. Very little effort put into it. But Liam’s is a doozy. As despondent music plays, we hear Liam’s voice tell Eve that he’s sorry he didn’t get to meet her dad, he hopes the program made her papa proud, and he’s grateful that she pushed him to write a song. She opens a gift box and in it is her dad’s song finished by Liam. That’s actually very thoughtful, Liam. Eve sings the song softly to herself.
She runs to Liam’s house and watches them put more decorations on their over-stuffed tree. She throws coffee on him. She tells him she’s staying. They kiss. FIN
This one was kind of boring. I expected MUCH more singing from LeAnn so that was a disappointment. LeAnn Rimes is low energy compared to the typical Hallmark heroine. They’re usually too earnest, too chipper, too saucy, or too wistful about something. Her mother seemed to fill that role best. LeAnn could actually be an interim superintendent. Liam was pleasant enough.
Next on the docket: Christmas in Love. Sounds like they gave up on Christmas movie titles.
- I’ve never heard the phrase “interim superintendent” so much in my life before.
- During the film, I couldn’t figure out who Liam reminded me of. Then it hit me. The dude looks like David Cameron. It made watching him as the romantic lead very strange.
- Don’t become a hot shot heart surgeon like Liam’s wife if you want a family.
- The little girl says the name of the film right at the end. If you like that sort of thing, you’ll love this film.
- As a general note, I’ll be updating Mondays and Thursdays!