Welcome once again to the latest recap/review of Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas extravaganza. Today’s film: Christmas in Love.
Ellie Hartman is an aspiring crafter working in her small town’s bakery making famous Christmas Kringles. When the new, big-city CEO Nick Carlingson visits the bakery, he arrives filled with modernization ideas destined to lay off many employees. During his visit, Ellie is to teach Nick how to make a Kringle, and determined to show him it’s the people who make the business a success, not machines. Nick meets more of the employees and townspeople, visits the food bank and begins to see all the kindness that is shared, and he begins to soften — though not convinced automation isn’t better. Struggling with chasing her own entrepreneurial dreams, Ellie begins to fall for Nick but not before feeling betrayed when she inadvertently sees Nick’s laptop filled with automation plans. When Nick finally tells the employees his future ideas for the company, Ellie must decide if she should trust him, but more importantly, whether to take a leap of faith in making her own dreams come true. Starring Brooke D’Orsay and Daniel Lissing.
The film opens with our heroine making a big ass wreath. “Not bad, Ellie! Not bad at all,” she says as she proudly looks upon her wreath. This scene not only shows that she’s crafty but also that her name is Ellie.
She pops by her mother’s store to drop off the big ass wreath. Mom drops a heavy hint that she wants her daughter to make these things full-time. It seems like Ellie has heard this nag before and bats her mom’s comments away. Off in the distance, we see Ellie’s ex who is running this year’s Christmas festival. She broke up with him a year ago and she’s worried he’s still into her. Slim pickings in the small town.
Ellie leaves her mom’s shop to go to her job at the bakery. What? A bakery? How unusual for a film of this sort! Anyway, big things are happening. Her father informs her that a “suit from corporate” is coming to visit the bakery so Ellie is going to have to train/babysit him. She is the HR person, after all.
After a few establishing shots of what appears to be San Francisco, we get to see who this “suit from corporate” is. The suit is our suitor (Nick) and he’s whining to his CEO father that he doesn’t want to go to a bakery in White Deer, USA. Dad tells his son that since he will soon be taking over the company, it is imperative that he goes to this bakery. I’m not sure how visiting one bakery is going to set him up as CEO, but father knows best.
Nick protests again, saying that since the handover will be happening on the first of January, they need to make big decisions now. “Automation is the key,” Nick says as he hands his father a proposal. Nick is all business, throwing out words like maximizing, efficiency, and overhead. Dad says nope and forces him to White Deer’s bakery. Nick pouts and says he’ll be keeping the fact that he’s the CEO’s son a secret. It’s Undercover Boss Christmas style.
Nick reluctantly arrives in White Deer. Donning shoes that are not built for the snow, Nick ineptly makes his way to the bakery. If you only watch portions of Hallmark movies, please make it this one. He slips on the snow, landing with a wallop on his back. He sits up, dazed and confused. A car door swings open and hits him in the face.
The car owner is Ellie. She apologizes profusely and helps the battered Nick up. He almost slips again and Ellie comments that the snow doesn’t care about his favorite Italian shoes. Nick tries to leave, but Ellie won’t stop trying to help him. Her reason? “We don’t leave strangers hurt on the street without at least offering them a Kringle or an ice pack.” Who is this we, Ellie? Let the small town / big city language commence. Also, I’m interested in these Kringles. They sound like they could be a nice baked good.
Ellie leaves Nick to meet her firefighter gal-pal and give her one of them sweet sweet Kringles. Carl, Ellie’s ex, stops by their table to say hello. Everybody acts awkwardly. Carl says he bumped into Ellie’s mother and she wouldn’t stop talking about wreaths. He offers Ellie a booth at the Christmas festival to sell her crafts. Ellie politely turns him down (kinda like she did to their relationship). Carl leaves and gal-pal asks if Ellie is happy. Ellie gives a half-hearted yes which prompts gal-pal to remind her that she’s not because she didn’t get a job in San Francisco. Smooth way of rubbing it in. Hallmark friends are awful people. As they leave the café, we see Nick bought boots. The town is changing him already.
At the bakery, Ellie is introduced to Nick. Nick mentions he didn’t get great sleep at the local lodge and Ellie’s dad offers him a room in the house because “we take care of our own.” Ellie takes Nick away from that indecent proposal to show him bakery operations. He’s in a suit which won’t do for the dough room. We see Nick in a “dough friendly” uniform.
The bakery does everything by hand which makes Nick wince. He brings up robots and automation. Ellie isn’t convinced. “Some of us care about people more than the bottom line,” Ellie says sharply. She doesn’t trust Nick. Ellie takes a break to make a wreath. This film is a shill for Big Wreath.
Nick and Ellie head to the local food bank for some time away from the bakery. The crap Kringles go there. The food bank people say that there’s a greater need for an operation like theirs since people in the neighboring counties recently lost their jobs due to factory closure. Ellie reassures the food bank that their will be enough donations this year. “We show up for each other,” she comments to Nick. She then makes fun of the toy donation drive that Nick does in the corporate office because, I don’t know, it’s not homespun enough.
Ellie drops Nick off at the lodge so she can collect some ribbons from her mother’s shop. Mom goes on again about Ellie making wreaths for a living. Ellie should get a new supplier. Ellie grabs her ribbon and goes to her next stop: the café from earlier. There are about four sets in this film.
Nick is also at the café. The nosey cashier pushes Ellie to join him, even though she knows nothing of their relationship. They talk about their lives. Ellie goes for the jugular and asks if Nick is happy. Nick slings the question back at her and notices she hesitates. She opens up to him and tells him that she wants to make crafts. He supports her dream. She should go on Etsy.
They rush out of the café to visit the Christmas festival. After initially refusing his offer, Ellie asks hunky firefighter Carl if she can have the booth for her wreaths. Carl’s alright with it as long as she gets the booth filled with stuff in time. She introduces Nick to Carl and they all start talking about how great San Francisco is. Ellie is obsessed with San Francisco. Once Carl leaves the scene for no reason, she tells Nick all about the break-up with Carl. TMI, Ellie. This is a dude from “corporate.” It’s inappropriate.
We’re at the bakery again and Ellie is teaching Nick how to put frosting on a Kringle.
“Take that machines!” she happily shouts after finishing like an eighth of one Kringle’s frosting. Nick says robots can do it faster, which is completely true. Ellie begins to gush about the CEO and how he once spent a month in this bakery. He would never automate the bakery! What is a CEO doing spending a month in a bakery? Also, is this company made up of one bakery?? Nick frosts a Kringle and sucks at it.
Nick steps away to give his dad a call. After making a few Kringles, he really wants robots. People are just too slow. Dad shuts him down by saying that the company is doing well financially, and Nick should concentrate on truly understanding the company culture (read: bakery). Ouch.
Ellie’s dad invites Nick to dinner at the house. Ellie and Nick get to know each other while Nick bakes and Ellie makes another wreath. The family moves Nick from baking duties to decorating the tree. It’s like elf slave labor. Dad takes Nick away into another room which lets Mom and Ellie gab about Nick. Mom says that it must be tough to be working over Christmas and that Ellie should give him slack.
Mom: “What he needs is a big dose of White Deer Christmas spirit.”
Ellie: “Mmm. And you’re gonna be the one to give it to him. Is that what you’re saying?”
Mom: “No. WE’RE gonna be the ones to give it to him.”
Ellie walks Nick home and they talk about San Francisco. It’s got “this energy” and a “mystique” about it. Could anyone who lives in San Francisco corroborate this for me? Ellie is sad that she doesn’t live there. Nick tells Ellie to try selling her crafts. Etsy, Ellie. Etsy!
Back at the bakery, Ellie’s dad begins to collect money for the food bank. Nick nonchalantly drops a $50 in the hat. Ellie takes notice. Smooth move, Nick. Ellie and Nick visit the food bank to give them the cash. They’re delighted and happily inform Ellie that they received a mysterious $5000 donation. I’m calling it. It’s Nick. Take the $50 back, Nick.
Continuing his newly-found giving spirit, he offers to help Ellie make more wreaths for her booth. While teaching him the fine art of wreathing, Ellie gets a call from Carl, but chooses to ignore it. This gives her an opportunity to ask Nick if he’s available. Nick says he’s married to work. He’s single, ladies!
Later that day, Ellie goes to café to present the biggest wreath the film has seen to her friend.
Nick misses working so he’s taking it out on the bakery. For the last few days, he’s been arriving far too early and staying far too late. He takes a break to have lunch with Ellie and surprise her with…a powerpoint presentation! Apparently, seasonal crafts and “online” are big in the consumer market.
While she appreciates Nick’s powerpoint, Ellie is afraid. And with good reason. The wreath business can only take you so far. Nick then says the most romantic line in the film, nay in all Hallmark films: “I’m gonna build you a sample website.”
After setting up her booth at the Christmas festival, Ellie realizes she doesn’t have enough wreaths and such to fill it up. And there’s not much time until the festival opens! You know what would solve this problem? Robots. But Ellie decides to rope in Nick and her family to spend their whole evening making wreaths. You know what this means? Christmas montage time!
Once the montage is over, Nick and Ellie take some time to chat one on one. Nick tells her that the town is special and Ellie tells him he goes to work on a cable car. He gives her a kiss on the cheek as he leaves. This sexual tension can only last so long.
The next evening, Nick works on his next blockbuster powerpoint. (That’s good!) It’s about the robots taking over the bakery. (That’s bad.) But Nick is about to delete the robot portion of the proposal altogether. (That’s good!) But he is interrupted by a knock on the door and must leave his computer. (That’s bad.) Have we a Chekov’s gun?
Who interrupts him but small-town Ellie to tell him she’s sold all of her wreaths at the festival! She then tells him the second most romantic line in the film: “Will you help me write a business plan?” This sends their loins into a sexual frenzy and they kiss.
The next day at the Christmas festival, Ellie’s dad gives Ellie his blessing on Nick. They love this corporate guy and it’s only been a week. Yes, a week! Carl gives a speech and brings on a special guest: Nick’s dad! Yes, the bakery CEO is here to say whaddup and wish everyone a Merry Christmas. He certainly has money to blow.
Ellie sells out of wreaths again which is cool for her. Her dad drops her a few orders from interested clients saying that they want Valentine’s wreaths and a graduation wreath…who are these people??
To thank him for all of his hard work, Ellie decides to give Nick a free wreath. Nick isn’t home so she just lets herself in. It looks like Nick doesn’t use a screensaver because Ellie sees her brand-spanking new website on the screen. She smiles and minimizes the browser. Underneath is…the deadly robot powerpoint with Nick’s real name. She looks at the screen in disgust and rushes out the door. Take back the wreath, Ellie!
Ellie bawls to her family that Nick isn’t who he says he is. Nick returns home from a dinner with his dad, sees the wreath, and suddenly realizes he forgot to put a screensaver on his computer. He heads to Ellie’s place to set things right. Ellie’s dad shows Nick the door.
We’re back at the Christmas festival. Nick tries to make it up to Ellie, but she’s not biting. He goes for broke and gives an impromptu speech to the hostile town. Santa shouts that Nick is planning to replace the people with robots. There should be some tomato throwing. Nick refutes this accusation and says that the company will be hiring more people…because they’re going to make Kringles all year round! Valentine’s Kringles, St Patrick’s Day Kringles, Hanukkah Kringles, Columbus Day Kringles! The crowd cheers. Ellie likes Nick again. They kiss. FIN.
Right. I have some thoughts on the Christmas in Love title. That is WILDLY generic. There was so much bakery, kringle, and wreath chat. So many options for titles! Baking Christmas. A Wreath for Christmas. Kringle all the Way. These are just a few. Christmas in Love? That is unforgivable.
As for the film itself, it was fine. There was the small-town undercurrent as usual and a secondary love storyline that could’ve been dumped. Ellie was back to our standard wide-eyed Hallmark heroine after LeAnn Rimes’ low-key leading lady in the last film. I think the dude is from another Hallmark show. He’s a staple guy so I suspect we’ll be seeing him again.
Next film on the list: Christmas at Graceland! Starring Kelly Pickler and, if I’m lucky, Ghost Elvis!
- In a tweak in the Hallmark formula, the girl breaks up with the small-town fireman to hook up with the CEO.
- “We don’t lock our doors at night.” This is like the American Dream or something.
- “You get to leave here and go back to your wonderful life in San Francisco.” Carl confronts Nick in the film to tell him to not lead Ellie on. This is how he does it.
- “We let him into our homes, into our lives, into our hearts!” THE MAN WAS ONLY IN TOWN FOR A WEEK!
- “Honesty and integrity are things we take very seriously around here.” Big cities just don’t get it.
- There was a small love story between gal-pal firefighter and Carl. Didn’t bother.