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Hallmark Countdown to Christmas: Write Before Christmas Recap/Review

I’m in a jolly mood today because I heard a bit of a Christmas song which made me feel nice. Whether or not this will carry through the recap, I cannot tell you. What I CAN tell you is that this film has Chad Michael Murray of Road to Christmas fame. He’s not a terrible actor from what I recall and should be in another WB-CW show. Maybe playing a dad now!

Here’s what the punny titled Write Before Christmas is about:

The movie centers around a recently single Jessica who sends Christmas cards to people who have impacted her life — the aunt who raised her, her younger brother in the military, a popstar who was part of the soundtrack of her life, the music teacher who inspired her, and the best friend who always tells the truth.

A blurb from Hallmark that doesn’t tell us the entire plot in one go? Color me surprised.

RECAP

Our Hallmark Heroine Jessie wakes from her uncomfortable slumber. She has three full sized pillows under her head. Her neck must be royally f***ed.

She also lives in the Christmas Grotto section of Pier 1.

Jessie begins the day doing a terrible Photoshop hack job of a Christmas card featuring her and her optician boyfriend. Optician Boyfriend calls to lament the awful card idea and invite her to dinner.

Jessie is starry-eyed, smiling everywhere she goes. She’s just SO in love with Christmas! She banters with an old man in his shop and picks up a simply enchanting Christmas card made by Hallmark.

Be sure to grab one for you and your loved ones at a store near you!

She exits the shop and drops a shoulder into Chad Michael Murray. Nothing happens. They merrily say sorry and move on.

Former cellist Jessie begins the work day at her music shop. She shoots the breeze with her friend Mimi and shares her plan of sending five Christmas cards to her boyfriend in an effort to get him into the holiday spirit.


We switch gears to a guy named Jax (?!) in what appears to be an expensive house. He used to be a famous boy bander, but it seems as though his star has fallen. Jax is set to sing his most popular Christmas song at a social media influencer kid’s party much to his chagrin. Jax’s brother-slash-manager shows him a tabloid that convinces him to take whatever job he can get.

Jax’s house is filled with pictures of himself by the way. I think it’s meant to show how self-absorbed he is, but he doesn’t showcase this characterization in the film at all.

The film scoots on to another character and this one is in fatigues — army fatigues. Anyway, the military fella fumbles his words around a girl he likes.


Because time is money, we move onto ANOTHER character. The woman receives a call from her niece…Jessie! Jessie plans to bring her optician boyfriend over to Aunt Lila’s house for Christmas.


We’re almost done with the intro of this version of 22 Short Films About Springfield and finally catch up with Chad Michael Murray at a swank restaurant. He’s a photographer who takes pictures of soon-to-be Bridezillas. The Bridezilla he’s in the midst of shooting tries to hook him up with one of her bridesmaids. Chad is unimpressed.

His cousin then arrives to tell him that he’ll be playing Santa at his kid’s birthday party. Dunno which job is worse.

As Chad exits the Bridezilla restaurant photoshoot, Jessie arrives for dinner with Optician Boyfriend.

No pressure on this date.

Optician Boyfriend takes a swig of wine and tells her that she’s earned herself a one-way ticket to Dumptown. He even hands over her stuff in a shopping bag. Jessie storms out.

Back at the Christmas Grotto…

I call this Nightmare in Tinsel.

Jessie has a glass of “I’m single now” wine with Mimi, her totally rational friend. Mimi tells her not keep picking the wrong guys just because she grew up with DEAD PARENTS™. How it’s related, I don’t know. Jessie overreacts and cancels Christmas.

While putting roughly three decorations away, Jessie comes across a bunch of old Hallmark Christmas cards. This gives her an idea. After writing some platitudes in the new greeting cards she bought, she mails them off to their recipients.

Mimi is the first to receive a card from Hallmark’s 2019 holiday series.

We’re back in the loving embrace of Chad Michael Murray who is in the middle of playing pee-wee hockey with his cousin. The cousin talks about how Chad is a lonely spinster who needs to find his true love. You know, typical locker room talk.

Chad decides to go on the blind date set up by the Bridezilla which turns out to be a disaster. He returns home to find his very own Hallmark card in the mail. But it’s not actually for him. It’s for his mother and Jessie’s old music teacher who isn’t living there at the moment.


Back at Aunt Lila’s, the older woman meets an age-appropriate man with a dog. The dog races into her home, giving them an opportunity to flirt. And you know what that means. They both talk about their DEAD SPOUSES™. Aunt Lila offers to foster the dog while he finds it a proper home.


We flip the channel over to the army guy. He screws it up around the girl again, but recoups thanks to a Hallmark card from his sister Jessie.

Just gonna note that I don’t think that’s regulation hair.

Have you forgotten about Jax? Wonder no more! He’s in his cheaply interior designed mansion when he receives a Hallmark card from you-know-who. Jax is touched that an old fan wrote him a letter.


Meanwhile, Chad tracks Jessie to her house and gives back the Hallmark card.

This retails at $5.99. A total steal.

They have a nice moment. So much so that Chad visits her at work the next day and takes her Christmas tree shopping. They take the tree to a foster home that Chad often visits dressed as Santa.


Let’s swing back to Aunt Lila and Army guy. Both people start getting chummy with their respective love interests. Lila takes a group photo with her beau and his dog and Army guy builds a snowman with Army gal.


At Jax’s mansion, the musician is writing a new song. His brother somberly interrupts to inform him that the kid’s party gig fell through. Jax sees this as an opportunity to get the boy band back together.


Jessie and Chad finish up cheering up the orphans and head to the car. But GASP! Optician Boyfriend is there! Jessie and Chad decide to kiss to avoid making eye contact with him.

Now this optician doesn’t need glasses to see how this particular storyline is going to end.

At the music shop, Mimi tells Jessie that she should marry Chad Michael Murray.

Moving right along, Aunt Lila opens her Hallmark card and cries. Here’s her foster dog.

While Jessie is getting visions of five golden rings on her fingers, Chad is bamboozled into taking the disastrous blind date to his hockey match. She predictably slips on him just as Jessie arrives. Seeing that Chad has women falling all over him, she leaves.


Jax teams up with his old man boy band. 2019 has arrived.


Optician Boyfriend returns to Jessie to ask her back. She rejects him. As he walks out the door, he bumps into Chad and kindly informs him that he shouldn’t bother trying with Jessie.


Army guy speaks to his sister to tell her about his Christmas plans with his lonely Army gal. Aunt Lila and her beau take the foster dog to a potential new family, but she decides that she’d rather keep the little dude.


So basically, Jessie and Chad are still in the misunderstanding phase while everyone is closing in on securing their Christmas honeys.

Army guy even engages in PDA on base while in uniform. I can say on good authority that this is totally not allowed.

Jessie spends Christmas Eve with her aunt, her beau, and the dog. Chad spends it alone at a bar. Both star-crossed lovers get word that Jax and his boys are playing a concert in town and race over to attend a show that takes place on Christmas Eve. I believe that’s weird planning.

Chad isn’t allowed in, so he sneaks into the venue. Jessie, an attractive woman, walks in normally.

Chad finds Jessie and hands her a Hallmark card. They clear up everything and kiss to boy band music. We then get a little montage of everyone’s happy endings. FIN.

Please enjoy this gif of Jax’s after gig party where they play instruments and dance.

REVIEW

I gotta say it’s about time Hallmark created a film that’s a love story to its own cards. Each character even goes so far to attribute their good fortune in love to those cards. I’m here for the unabashed product placement.

This film is a knock-off Love, Actually. Jax even gives a grand appreciative shout out to his brother/manager at the end. I can appreciate the step change in concept although most of the stories were rail thin in terms of plot.

Jessie started off starry eyed and ended slightly more normally which was also a welcome transition. I couldn’t handle how “I love Christmas” she was at the start. Chad was nice. The dog needed more airtime.

Rating: 4 out of 5 pop up Hallmark cards starting at only $5.99.

STRAY THOUGHTS

  • Jessica explains the difference between an optician and an ophthalmologist to her friend. She loudly declares that her boyfriend is “not a doctor.” What a takedown.
  • Mimi asks Jessica if her boyfriend is going to propose. They’ve only been going out three months. A normal question.
  • Jax pronounces it as “expresso.”
  • Fun Fact: 22 Short Films About Springfield is a parody of Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould.
  • Chad is a former foster kid.
  • I just discovered that the female lead and male lead were in One Tree Hill together. Cosmic.
  • Jessie auditions for a place in an orchestra and gets the job. I just kinda shucked that plotline from the recap.
  • Jax’s band is called Jax and All in Motion.

NEXT UP

Christmas at Graceland: Home for the Holidays. Not to be confused with Christmas at Graceland, the original.