Hallmark Christmas: Entertaining Christmas Recap/Review

In today’s episode, Jodie Sweetin entertains Christmas. I don’t really see her as a Hallmark heroine. Maybe because I’ve heard her cuss and I couldn’t imagine any of the other actresses doing so without it being SCANDALOSO. So, yes, Entertaining Christmas:

Liz is a cookbook author, crafting expert, and television personality whose name is synonymous with perfection. As she contemplates retirement, her daughter Candace (Jodie Sweetin) is poised to become the new face of the Livingston brand. The only trouble is, she can’t cook. Or sew. Or do any of the signature things her mother is known for. When a young girl posts a video online requesting Liz help welcome her deployed father home for Christmas, Candace is sent in her place in an effort to prove herself a worthy successor to the board of directors and win the job. As Candace does her best to make a good impression, she gets more than she bargained for. Starring Jodie Sweetin and Brendan Fehr.

This bit of the synopsis “As Candace does her best to make a good impression, she gets more than she bargained for” sounds strikingly similar to a horror movie. We can only hope.

We begin with our Hallmark heroine, Candace, watching a TV show featuring her mother Liz Livingstone, a WASPY woman who does all the things women should do. Candace is trying to make a gingerbread house, but it’s not going well. We’ve all been there, amiright, ladies?

As evidenced by the captive gingerbread man. He actually goes through a lot in this scene.

Candace heads to the office Christmas party where she introduces her mother to the stage. Mommy dearest takes this opportunity to make a surprise announcement: she’s stepping down as CEO in the new year. Liz also privately tells Candace that she wants her to carry on the brand. She truly believes in her daughter’s ability to bake and sew. A board member approaches Candace to air his concerns. Was he bamboozled by this announcement? Is that something a CEO does? Quits before telling the exec board? This company is off the rails.

The mother-daughter duo tries to allay the board’s fears but after they mistakenly see Candace’s gingerbread house, they are concerned.

“You can’t bake a gingerbread house?? You are not qualified to run this business.”

After the disastrous meeting, Candace is pulled aside by her PA. She’s excited to show a “viral” video of a little girl hawking the Livingstone brand online. The little girl asks for Liz to help with welcoming her army dad home for Christmas. It’s like those prom videos except you’re inviting an 80 year old woman to surprise your 30 to 40-something year old dad.

“And whenever we send him a care package, we ALWAYS include Livingstone Gingersnaps.” Actual line. Gotta get them YouTube views.

The child actor does a job of being a child actor which is enough to convince Candace to tell her mom. Unfortunately, mom is in Aspen on that date. Liz tells Candace that she should go instead and show the board she can bake cookies just as good as Liz.

Candace and the PA visit Cedar Falls, the home of the child actor, Harper. They squander the reaction to her surprise visit by not bringing a camera crew. The PA Instagram lives it. It’s underwhelming. They essentially record an old woman opening the door and talking about her granddaughter for about 15 seconds, then the livestream is abandoned. They need a social media manager.

Candace finally meets the budding YouTube star to plan her daddy’s surprise. When Candace steps out to get some boxes from the car, she meets her future husband John. Unfortunately, she mistakes him for the army dad and tries to stuff him back in his car. Harper clarifies the situation by shouting “Uncle John!” Apparently, he looks very similar to the dad so I expect the two actors to look nothing alike.

The family tells Candace that army dad’s plane is delayed so he won’t be coming until Christmas Eve. The mayor comes in to drop off a gift and is starstruck by Candace. The mayor then bullies Candace (under the guise of “small town hospitality) into staying.

“Thanks for making that decision for me, Candace. I don’t have any plans during Christmastime, after all.”

Candace checks into a hotel and the woman behind the counter pees herself. After some awkwardness, Candace and the PA get a room.

“Please, let me have your babies.”

At the newspaper office, John (he’s a newspaper man) is trying to get the next big scoop, but his boss isn’t giving him a shot. Probably because he doesn’t believe he has enough gumption. He spills that Candace Livingstone is in town which gets the boss’s attention. He’s assigned the Livingstone story.

Candace isn’t happy that she’s being forced into being the town’s guest of honor. She’s also upset that she can’t live up to her mom. She tells the PA a story about burning pancakes which means that she can’t run a lifestyle business. PA tells Candace to simply fake it ‘til she makes it.

John finds Candace to ask her for an interview. They do an impromptu version while walking around the town. While they get to know each other, an old woman interrupts by dropping a bunch of boxes on their feet. I believe Cedar Falls is a retirement home as there have been an abundance of old people.

At a breakfast with the family (why Candace is spending all her waking hours with the family is beyond me), she’s asked to make pancakes. The same type from her traumatic pancake story. Her nightmares are coming true. The PA bails her out.

It’s not a Hallmark film without a baking competition of some sort, so the group heads to the town’s Gingerbread Competition. It’s a great opportunity for Candace and John to flirt.

“Quick, put on these glasses so we can start falling in love.”

Unfortunately for Candace, she has to make a gingerbread house for the audience. It’s as though she’s experiencing some series of Grecian trials designed to prove that she can be the head of a lifestyle brand. She blags her way through it. John takes notes. His keen reporter eye should tell him that she doesn’t know how to craft or bake.

At the newspaper mill, the news is buzzing and John’s boss is suspicious that Candace doesn’t know how to craft. After all, his instincts are “never wrong.” Small towns have very little newsworthy stories, so reporter instincts get squandered on whether or not a woman can bake.

To continue her trials so that she may enter Olympus, Candace is thrown into an impromptu knitting session. PA helps cover up that the lifestyle brand heiress can’t knit.

Guess that MBA was a waste of money, wasn’t it, Candace?

The next morning, PA leaves Candace to fend for herself so that she can spend time with her “fiancé.” I don’t believe this for a second. Candace tries to make a great escape as well but can’t tell child actor Harper that she wants to leave. Instead, they go to the Christmas festival where Candace and John develop more feelings. They agree to an awkward date.

That night, Candace slowly walks down the stairs which impresses John. They use this date to walk down streets, see the Christmas tree lighting, and develop more feelings. John even sends her an anemic looking plant the next day.

It has meaning but looks awful.

The fun ends though. Candace’s Olympian trials must continue. She is roped into cooking a huge Christmas meal. This town is full of bullies.

While shopping for the dinner-against-her-will, John mysteriously appears to help Candace out of making the meal. He knows she’s a lifestyle fraud and is worried for her. That’s kind of nice. We are then treated to a bad Christmas dinner preparation montage. Candace has a mini breakdown in front of the hotel woman and gets a nice pep talk from her, building her confidence up.

A shame the turkey had to die twice.

Candace gets a surprise visit from her mother. She’s astonishingly not a total control freak and lets Candace plan the menu for the dinner. Child actor Harper’s family has a heart attack at Liz’s appearance. The family gets the house ready for army dad’s arrival.

In an idiotic turn, one of the board members and his wife invite themselves to this fairly personal family event. It’s hours before the actual dinner, so not only are they crashing, they’re also dead early.

“Candace, not only do I want to verify that you’re capable of handling this brand, but I also want a free meal.”

It’s the night of the meal. Candace swings by John’s place of work to make sure he attends the dinner. She sees him at his computer, penning his next Pulitzer Prize winning article. When John steps away, Candace sees his betrayal: he appears to be writing an article outing her inability to bake. She storms out.

“Scarf. Price tag?” “Fraud!” “The Real Candace Livingstone” Some of the notes John has on his computer. Candace is going DOWN.

Unfortunately, when she arrives at the family’s house, she runs into army dad, spoiling the surprise. He does a great job of acting surprised by the party. Instead of army dad giving a speech, Candace uses this family dinner opportunity to come clean. She is not good at baking or crafting nor is she perfect. This is possibly the biggest bombshell in a Hallmark movie.

The board member approaches Candace to tell her he likes her moxie and she’ll be in charge of the Livingstone brand.

John also confronts Candace. He shows her his article which wasn’t a takedown and tells her she’s just totally the best. They kiss. FIN.

Maybe he can get a job writing for the Livingstone magazine.

Jodie Sweetin has a particular acting style which I don’t think is overly suitable to Hallmark. I think they need to be a bit blander and earnest. She’s got more of a sarcastic streak which comes out every now and then. The romance did not feel nearly as developed as in the other films. John competed with the lifestyle heir storyline. An unusual balance in a film like this.

Next film: A Gingerbread Romance starring another ‘90s child actor!

STRAY THOUGHTS

  • I would watch a movie about that gingerbread man from the beginning. I felt he had a whole storyline going and even a sense of pathos.
  • The synopsis spelt it Livingston instead of Livingstone. Got pretty confused there for a second when writing this thing.
  • The child actor belongs on a Disney Channel show.
  • Hallmark wants me to embrace the small town life, but I’m having trouble accepting how nosy everyone is.
  • I think the mayor is on a different set during the Gingerbread competition. It looked really strange.
  • @SadClown, Candace and PA are the gay couple of the film.
  • There’s a strange storyline that Candace likes photography, but they didn’t fully commit to it. I just kind of limps along there.
  • Find the rest of the recap/reviews here.