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Hallmark Countdown to Christmas: Christmas Town Recap/Review

Welcome to Christmas Town! I think all small towns in Hallmark could qualify for “Christmas Town,” but it appears they have selected a very special place to take the moniker. And who better to star than their top Hallmark Heroine actress, Candace Cameron Bure? I believe this is the first film of the Christmas season that she’s starred in.

Synopsis:

Lauren Gabriel leaves everything behind in Boston to embark on a new chapter in her life and career. But an unforeseen detour to the charming town of Grandon Falls has her discover unexpected new chapters – of the heart and of family – helping her to embrace, once again, the magic of Christmas.

RECAP

The film starts via flashback. We see a little girl and her father handling an angel tree topper. While putting it up, he cracks the wing off and complains about dizziness.

Flash forward. The little girl is all grown up and is now Candace Cameron Bure or Lauren as she’s known in this film. Lauren is in the midst of packing. She’s gotten a new job in Springfield and must vacate the little city of Boston. This is good timing as she and her boyfriend Eric have broken up. He didn’t want kids and she’s a teacher.

For now, she has a bag which she pretends houses a cat.

She meets her ex-boyfriend. Turns out he doesn’t know he’s her ex-boyfriend. He was travelling for three weeks, so she just Dear John-ed him and left him a letter on his table! What an absolute coward! Imagine coming back from a great work trip to find your girlfriend just old school texted you “We r not 2gether nemore.” She tells him she’s leaving today and already has an apartment in the new city.

Eric comments that this is all very rash and she responds, “Not if you’ve been paying attention.” Based on her behavior, she probably never openly said anything to him and just dropped “hints.”

While on the train to Springfield because America always takes trains to everywhere, Lauren is informed that they need to make an unexpected overnight stop at Grandon Falls. The friendly train conductor tells her that she’ll receive a voucher for a “charming little inn.” Show don’t tell, Hallmark. I’LL decide if it’s charming or not.

She hops off the train and immediately runs into a handsome man named Travis. She asks the stranger for a ride into town. Did she do this in Boston? How did she not get murdered?

Lauren then bullies the guy into carrying her luggage. I can see why her previous boyfriend took a three-week vacation away from her.

Lauren is confused when he starts loading her things onto his truck. For some godforsaken reason, she thought he was a cab driver. Nothing about this man said cab driver, so there’s no conceivable reason why she would think this.

Once she realizes that he is a random stranger, Lauren tries to get her luggage back, but Travis is just so gosh darn nice that he can’t let a lady stay stranded. She hops into the vehicle with him. Not even the stereotypical promiscuous blonde in a horror movie would be this stupid.

The flatbed of that truck has seen many a dead body.

Travis tells her that this dumb place is called “Christmas Town” and that a nearby town recently had a disaster, so everyone is taking care of them. He has a foster son named Dylan who constantly gives away all his coats to the needy.

He also informs Lauren that the charming inn she’s meant to be housed in is full up thanks to the refugees. He suggests another location. She stays in the attic of an antique shop. Lauren is a soon-to-be missing person.

By the way, her HUGE cat Sassy has just been stuck in a bag and tossed around the back of a truck all day.

After dropping off her luggage in the makeshift room, Lauren decides to check out the nearby café. She is given a free gingerbread cookie as soon as she steps in. Small-town America is generally bad about commerce. She looks around the place and spies a photo of her DEAD DAD™ on the wall with the angel.

Has anyone ever seen Silent Hill? All of this feels very Silent Hill.

She leaves the cafe and runs into Travis who is putting up Christmas decorations in the middle of town. She tells him about the dad picture with the angel and he chalks it up to fate. They sent off the angel for repair 25 years ago and it never came back. Could it be here?!

Meanwhile, Eric doesn’t think the relationship is over.

She gets some intel that maybe the owner of the antique shop would know about the angel, so she heads over to ask him. The man thinks that he might have it amongst all the clutter; she’ll just have to find it.

With this mystery in play, Lauren decides to stay more than one night. She starts helping out at the café. While waiting tables, Lauren meets all the characters of the town including Travis again. Meanwhile, the café owner gets a box of goodies from her friend.

One of the items is Lauren’s broken angel. It eventually ends up with Dylan. This is a whole rigamarole.

Later, Candace sees a Salvation Army sign and decides that instead of one child interminably giving away coats, the town should hold a charity drive for the refugees. She tells Travis who thinks it’s a great idea. He thanks Lauren for her idea by inviting her to go Christmas tree chopping.

They end up alone in the woods with an axe.

They kill a tree, drag it back to Travis’s home, and decorate its corpse with shiny baubles. Eric calls and she hangs up on him. (She calls him later and tells him she’s in Christmas Town.) Travis continues to use his foster child to get cozy with Lauren. He convinces her to decorate his house, go caroling, and skate on ice.

Random townsfolk come to decorate Lauren’s attic. They then share cookies and dance to no music.

Lauren has enjoyed her three days in Christmas Town so much that she asks a teacher if the school has any openings. Basically, she’s planning on bailing on the kids she’s meant to teach in Springfield in a few weeks. Lauren is a monster.

One night, Travis is busy, so Lauren offers to take care of Dylan. The two discuss foster care as Lauren was one of those kids as well. When she tucks him in, she tells him that God opens doors or something like that. The child, now converted to Christianity, prays to God that Lauren won’t leave and that he can be part of a family with her and Travis. Heartbreaking stuff.

Trust me, kid. Lauren is awful. You don’t want her.

After thinking about it for a night, Lauren approaches Dylan’s caseworker and verbally applies to be his mother. The social worker, probably drowning in cases, accepts this as a formal application.

Later, Lauren gets an interview with the Christmas Town school, thanks to the help of that teacher she asked. Seeing as she practically has the job, she dumps the other one. However, she discovers that the teacher resigned from her position to make way for Lauren. Lauren is shocked. She has a problem with THIS rather than the fact that she left a school teacher-less a few weeks before the school year begins.

Later, she dances with Travis at some other cockamamie Christmas event.

At the Christmas dance, she tells Travis that she’s applying to adopt Dylan. Travis is crushed. He tells her that it’s too soon and she should be mindful of the child’s feelings. This is sound advice. However, Lauren goes on the warpath and defends her decision, saying that SHE was a foster child! She manages get offended and flip this on Travis.

“Whoopsiedoodle!”

The next day, Travis apologizes to Lauren. Later, they even get into a playful snowball fight! But who should be hit by a snowball? It’s Eric! He has come to sweep his girlfriend/ex-girlfriend off her feet. Everything is really awkward, especially when he sees how attractive Travis is.

Eric tries his best to get Lauren back. It verges on pathetic. He asks for another chance because, let’s face it, what she did was a pretty scummy way to leave the relationship. We are left with a cliffhanger. Does Lauren say yes or no?

At home, Dylan is scared that his new daddy might not be Travis. He asks Travis to fix this whole mess. For once, the handyman hasn’t the tools to solve the problem. Dylan prays to Jesus once again.

“Please get me out of this film.”

Lauren tries to work out the whole issue with Eric. She even meets him at the gazebo. But instead of it being the place where the romantic final kiss takes place, it’s the place where they amicably break up.

Lauren moves on, right into the arms of Travis. She tells him that the adoption agency has said she can have Dylan. Travis is happy this time. In fact, they both are, so they kiss.

The only way to celebrate the adoption of a little boy.

The family comes together in Travis’s mansion. It is here that they reveal to Dylan that he has a new mommy: Lauren.

“Nooooooooo!”

As a thank you, Dylan gives Lauren her angel. It’s still broken which is kind of a crummy gift. Lauren has the other wing and puts it on. The plop it on the tree. No one gets dizzy or has a heart attack. They are now a family. FIN.

Looks like Lauren won’t need that apartment in Springfield anymore.

REVIEW

My God. Lauren is a rotten person. I’ve never encountered such an awful Hallmark Heroine. She just blanks her boyfriend, leaves her job, spontaneously adopts a kid without knowing all the details, essentially forces a teacher into early retirement? And we’re supposed to LIKE her?

Travis didn’t really play much of a role. This was just the story of an impetuous jerk who only cared about herself.

Rating: 1 out of 5 scorned boyfriends

STRAY THOUGHTS

  • I don’t think I’ll ever get over how Hallmark concocted this breakup. Lauren is a top contender for worst Hallmark Heroine 2019.
  • Trains are a common form of travel in the Hallmark universe.
  • I think the male lead is from Schitt’s Creek! A show you should watch if you like Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy.
  • Every time they show the angel topper it plays some magical noise. It’s a bit on the nose, shall we say.
  • Travis is a handy man but he has a degree in architectural engineering. He can’t just be a handyman.
  • Throughout the film, Lauren reads notes from her DEAD FATHER™ to her at milestones in her life (graduation, 21st birthday, etc.). She loves letters. This is supposed to explain away her breakup letter with Eric.
  • The Salvation Army gets the coveted product placement in this film.
  • No one ever really explains why the dad’s photo was up in the cafe.

NEXT UP

Christmas in Rome. I watched this with a friend. It’s boring.