christmas at graceland home for the holidays header

Hallmark Countdown to Christmas: Christmas at Graceland: Home for the Holidays Recap/Review

Before we begin, I want to call out Adrian Grenier. What the hell is going on with his hair? Who said to give him the Lego Man Special? It’s a disaster and Hallmark needs to explain itself.

“Let’s get BIZZAY!”

Anyway, nothing says Christmas like Elvis’s house, so Hallmark brings us back to visit the dead singer’s estate. Last year, Kelly Pickler broke into Graceland to play his piano. I expect Hallmark male lead and former Entourage-er Adrian Grenier to commit some light fraud in this film.

Synopsis:

World-traveler Harper returns to Memphis for the holidays and nannies for wealthy widower Owen while awaiting news about a job overseas. As they grow close, Harper encourages Owen to break out of his routine and spend more time with his children, while Owen encourages Harper to have confidence. Harper and Owen prepare for a joint event at Graceland featuring a fundraiser for Owen’s company and an Elvis at Christmas exhibit Harper is producing. They develop feelings for each other, Harper realizes how much she enjoys living near family and must decide if her home for the holidays will be her forever home. Starring: Kaitlin Doubleday, Adrian Grenier and Priscilla Presley.

RECAP

A plane lands in Memphis, dropping off our Hallmark heroine Harper. She pulls a suitcase with tons of traveling stickers behind her. It appears she’s been around the world ay yi yi yi and she can’t find her baby. She instead finds her sister waiting for her and the two blondes embrace in familial joy.

They head to their lovely Christmas home.

The lighting is pretty dim. Looks like a Folger’s commercial.

Harper regales her sister’s daughters with tales of the far off lands she’s seen thanks to her job as a museum curator. She’s back home to not just celebrate Christmas, but to also interview for the position as the International Curator at the Brooks Museum. It would be based in Europe, but she would be able to come home more. Harper detracts from the heavy job conversation by presenting a crap souvenir snowglobe of London which the girls absolutely go ape over.

This must be one of those houses where they only let the kids watch TV from 3-4pm.

We move on from this idyllic scene to a huge mansion that houses Adrian Grenier, a wealthy businessman. He’s in the middle of a business Skype conversation while preparing lunch for his three kids. He’s the modern man and truly has it all.

Hear that ladies? You can juggle kids, business, and have an immaculate mansion. Stop all that complaining!

Adrian is in the middle of schooling his business partner when all three of his kids come barging in. Each one has their own issue and Adrian struggles to keep things in order. He even has a cheesy calendar on a TV in the kitchen to help him keep track of his responsibilities.

Meanwhile, Harper is dazzling her interviewer at the museum. The woman has worked in Graceland, London, Munich, Wales, and Barcelona, so we can surely assume she speaks all the languages. Unfortunately, Harper doesn’t have a doctorate which is a serious mark against her. She’ll probably get the job, so who cares.

After the interview, Harper takes the girls to Graceland AND MEETS PRISCILLA PRESLEY!

I’m as surprised as Priscilla that she’s in this.

Harper says bye to the Priscilla cameo and speaks to her former boss Regina. She wangles a job as an ad hoc tour guide for the Christmas season. Her first job? Tour a rich man’s kids (and her nieces) around the estate.

After meeting with Regina about organizing his big fundraiser, Adrian catches up with his kids and Harper. Regina suggests to Adrian that Harper should be his nanny, wink wink. He gives the would-be museum curator his card and trots off, kids in tow. Regina forlornly watches the lonely CEO and informs Harper that he has a DEAD WIFE™.

Back at sis’s home, Harper is told she’s gotta sleep on the couch. Harper thinks “hell, naw!” and calls Adrian to offer her services as a live-in nanny.

The next morning, Harper visits Adrian and, after finding out that he has a weird militant schedule for his children, hopes to fly out on an umbrella à la Mary Poppins. However, the kids arrive and she can’t say no to a group of kids with no mom.

“We need a new mommy! Daddy is terrible at it!”

Adrian hands the stranger his keys and lets her set up shop in the guest house.

Harper then meets with Regina, so that she can be tricked into doing even more work planning an event for Graceland.

The unqualified nanny then initiates a baking montage with the kids. It’s not on their schedule, so Mr. CEO is pissed when he arrives home. He sets Harper straight.

Harper juggles working on a Graceland exhibit, nannying, and bonding with her nieces. Everyone is using this poor woman.

Anyway, Harper gets roped into buying a Christmas tree with Adrian and his kids. The children are clearly starving for a female figure as they constantly ask her to be involved in everything. Ah, there’s that underlying sadness that accompanies every “cheery” Hallmark film.

Back at the mansion, the family and nanny decorate the tree, except Adrian. He has work to do. The kids go on a decorating montage intercut with a few shots of the dad on the computer.

They then gather round the piano and sing “O Christmas Tree.” Harper’s voice is autotuned which, frankly, is hilarious.

The makeshift family visits Graceland where they (and we the lucky viewers) get a taste of who Elvis was and how he lived. The pre-teen children are simply riveted.

Harper has a second interview which goes well, but she’s now somewhat hesitant about the idea of leaving Graceland. Adrian also experiences a slight change of heart, leaving his office a little early to go sledding with his kids.

Adrian invites Harper to a fancy event. She puts on a dress and Adrian is shocked because she’s only worn sweatpants the whole time. They fumble over whether or not they’re on a date. Harper explains she was dumped, so she doesn’t date anymore. Thankfully, this whole “I’m single” schtick is interrupted by Adrian’s realization that this fancy gala is exactly like the fundraiser he’s planning – decorations, guests, the whole shebang. Harper says it’s no big deal.

They continue their non-date by decorating cookies alone in the kitchen at like 11pm.

While gettin’ them cookies, Harper hatches a plan to fix Adrian’s fundraising gala woes (no thanks to Regina). The whole family engages in a “decorating to fundraising gala” montage. Does Regina not have an events team? What kind of rinky-dink operation is Graceland?

Later, Priscilla Presley lets Adrian and his kids have a decorating montage with her tree.

Adrian asks Harper to be his date for his fundraiser. He picks her up from her home and once again freaks out over her ability to wear a dress.

At the gala, Harper is offered the curating job, but is told that she’d have to leave on the 28th to London. She is conflicted. Adrian gives a boring heartfelt speech at his event. He even thanks Regina and her “team” who are non-existent.

Adrian meets with Harper after she and the children do an impromptu song on stage and tells her that he’s totally into her. She interrupts by saying that she’s got the job and is probably gonna go. Adrian is embarrassed. He congratulates her and walks off.

Harper has a chat with her sister who reveals to her that it is her heart that will tell her what she should do. Harper is blown away by this greeting card comment and calls the museum. She leaves the estate.

Adrian follows. They have a moment outside. Harper decides to stay. Adrian finally has a new wife. They kiss. FIN.

The kids watch. Sigh, not a joke.

REVIEW

Well, once again, there’s no ghost of Elvis. And once again I’m terribly disappointed.

Adrian Grenier is phoning it in. You could tell by the way he said a line about how much he changed or something like that. Good money though, so I don’t blame him.

Adrian’s kids were strange. They did the whole peek around the corner thing with the youngest at the bottom and the oldest on top and happily watched their dad make out with their nanny. They were desperate for a mom. That’s the only explanation for it.

As for Harper, the woman is a jack of all trades. Nanny, tour guide, event planner, curator, stepmom. She needed a work intervention.

All in all, Elvis would be chill with the whole thing. I think. I don’t know.

RATING: 2 out 5 decorating montages.

STRAY THOUGHTS

  • The film kicks off with 15 seconds Elvis’s version of Here Comes Santa Claus. I suspect the rights to play that were costly.
  • I know nothing of museum curators. Is this normal to travel so much?
  • The actress that plays Harper looks like Kelly Ripa.
  • Way too many of the actors put on Southern accents at the start of a sentence and then drop them a quarter of the way through.
  • They actually play a few Elvis songs. Hallmark musta really sweetened up Priscilla for permission.
  • So the kids sing repeatedly throughout this film. It appears they got a choir to overdub because the kids know all the words to some of the more complicated Christmas songs and the sound really echoes.
  • Adrian has an app that helps hospitals and he’s giving it away for free. Dunno what the business sense is here but considering the state of American healthcare, anything helps.
  • I think the musical act at Adrian’s fundraiser is meant to be someone.

NEXT UP

A Gift to Remember 2: Cherished Memories. What kind of cockamamie title is this??