Christmas is over as of this writing BUT not for me. No, dear reader, my hell continues until my reviews of Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas films are complete. So we continue with Christmas in Rome. I watched this about three weeks ago and nothing stuck with me. (I’m also posting this at a bad time, so no one’s gonna read this!)
Lacey Chabert plays an independent-minded American tour guide named Angela, who is fired from her job in Rome just before Christmas. She crosses paths with an American executive named Oliver (Page), who wants to buy a high-end Italian ceramics company. Oliver hires Angela to be his tour guide around the Eternal City, as the owner of the ceramics company won’t sell it to him until he learns “the heart and soul of Rome.” But is there another heart and soul that he may win?
The film begins with all those classic shots of Rome what we’re used to seeing. It appears Rome is filled with Christmas trees on every corner. To the point that you wonder if the city single-handedly supports the Christmas tree industry.
We catch up with our Hallmark Heroine, Angela. She’s an American tour guide in Italy and is in the middle of showing a group of pasty people from Arkansas the authentic Italia. Angela is so into her work that she takes these Evangelicals off tour and into a bakery that is 400 years old.
There’s a reason why you don’t go off script. One of the tour attendees has an allergic reaction to the gluten in one of the baked goods. Do celiacs need allergy shots if they ingest gluten? Whatever the answer, Angela is stuck with the hospital bill. Not only that but thanks to this incident and multiple others (including a time where she lost a sword that belonged to the Colosseum), the useless tour guide is fired. This is a sound business decision.
We switch scenes to meet our Hallmark Hunk at work.
Our dude Oliver is in the middle of one of the traditional Hallmark deals. To seal it, he writes a number on a piece of paper and slips it to the client. Oliver thinks he’s in the mafia. Somehow this works and this amateur godfather clinches it.
Oliver visits his boss’s office to get some big news: he’s tasked to go to Rome to buy a high-end, family-owned ceramics company. I don’t know what his business does, but it seems they have the money to do random shit.
Oliver jets off to Rome only to be dropped off next to a bridge. He has no internet, so he has no idea where he’s going. Thankfully (though that depends on your view), he bumps into Angela. After some faffing about, Angela decides to tour guide Oliver to his meeting. Oliver, the consummate businessman, coordinated a meeting to take place as soon as he landed.
The couple arrives at the business meeting. Oliver tries to pay Angela for her services, but she refuses, stating that it’s a gift. He insists and she calls him rude because Italians don’t like it when you pay them for work or something. She gives Oliver more business advice, telling him that Italian meetings always start with small talk.
An old Italian gentleman named Luigi interrupts the lecture (presumably because he can’t stand hearing an American tell another American about the REAL Italy) and introduces himself as the guy who owns the ceramics company. In a twist that’s weird in the real world but normal in Hallmark, the man asks Angela to join this multi-million dollar negotiation.
The meeting is awkward for many reasons. It ends with Luigi telling Oliver that if he wants this valuable business, he’ll have to get to know the “spirit of Rome.” I somehow managed to NOT off myself at this line.
Although the meeting is over, Angela isn’t off the hook. Oliver asks her to be his tour guide. Angela accepts. She wants to start a business that shows people a “real Christmas tour of Rome.” I don’t know what that means and it sounds unsustainable.
At the hotel, the couple runs into some investors that Oliver knows. He mentions Angela’s non-business to them and they’re inexplicably intrigued. Oliver later tells Angela that these investors are crazy rich and might be her ticket into tour guide stardom.
The next day, Angela meets Oliver at his hotel and attaches a GPS to him.
Oliver brings out a tour book because he’s interested in seeing the most famous sites of Rome. Angela grabs it and throws it in the trash. Her reason? Tour books will not show him “the soul of Rome.” However, her cheap-ass tour will. This is not whimsical. Tour books are expensive.
They head over Luigi’s multi-million dollar factory.
After one other stop, the tour finishes up for the day. Instead of parting ways, the couple goes Christmas tree shopping for Angela’s apartment. Did I say apartment? I meant Angela’s MANSION.
Oliver meets Angela’s Italian neighbors who speak fluent English. They invite the two of them to make gingerbread houses, an Italian tradition. While Oliver makes a house with a child he doesn’t know, the mom and Angela gossip about how hot Oliver is.
Oliver and Angela head back to the hotel. He thanks her for the fun day by sending her a business plan template.
The next day, Angela continues Oliver’s journey through the nine circles of hell by taking him to that bakery that almost killed a person. They go into the kitchen to make a traditional panettone. Eventually their hands come together to simultaneously knead the bread. We also find out that Angela has DEAD PARENTS™.
That night, Angela puts on a red dress that floors Oliver. None of these Hallmark Hunks ever see women in dresses, so they always freak out. They go to Luigi’s for a private dinner with him and the investors.
Luigi is impressed that they made him some stale panettone. “Due!” he shouts to explain that there are two panettones.
The dinner goes pretty well. Luigi likes Oliver and Angela starts winning over the investors with talk of a business plan that doesn’t exist.
The couple even goes for a romantic walk in Luigi’s mini hedge maze to take a selfie and do some bonding. They bond so hard that Oliver asks Angela to a dinner date.
Breakfast through lunch is a busy time. Angela writes an entire business plan in three hours and pitches it to the investors. Oliver makes that sweet ornament and closes the deal. Things are looking up for these undeserving people.
At dinner, Oliver and Angela drink grape juice, talk about their hopes and dreams, and exchange gifts. Oliver declares his desire to hook up with Angela for more than a week.
They dance to music that magically starts out of nowhere. Just as they’re about to kiss, Oliver receives a call from his boss who tells him he needs to come back now that the deal has been closed. He’s also been promoted which is cool for him.
However, Angela is distraught. She states that they can’t make it work if he can’t even stay for Christmas. She leaves unexpectedly, stiffing Oliver with the bill.
A disappointed Oliver packs his bags. He tries to reach Angela’s phone, but is ghosted. Angela’s neighbor tries to convince her to just get with Oliver already. She’s over 30, after all.
Angela is inspired and tries to call Oliver, but he managed to drop his phone in the sink. She races to his hotel to tell him she loves him, I guess, but he’s already gone.
The investors just so happen to be there and they tell Angela that Oliver is on his way to a big Christmas concert and then off to the airport. Angela’s puppy dog eyes convince the investors to not just prop her sham business but to help her get to the piazza.
Angela finds Oliver and declares her deep week-long love to him. Oliver tells her that he’s going to run Luigi’s business directly from Rome. Angela is pleased. They kiss. FIN.
Angela was one of those Americans who knows soooooooooo much about their host country and constantly corrects everyone. It’s grating. Meanwhile, Oliver was generic.
I don’t have much else to say except I don’t want to experience Christmas in Rome if it’s anything like this film.
Rating: 1 out of 5 Christmas Vespas.
- The actor who plays Oliver is left-handed. He is of the devil.
- I watched this with a friend. She was not impressed.
- The color scheme is really muted. I would’ve enjoyed a warmer wash.
- “Do you think of anything other than business?!” is a legitimate quote from the film.
- I believe this film was made in the summer. The city looks like it’s boiling and I feel AWFUL that all of the actors have to wear giant winter coats.
- Does Angela still get paid? It must be weird to pay someone you’re banging.
- Hallmark had a New Year’s movie on their list, but it appears they removed it. BOO!
Christmas at Dollywood. DOLLY PARTON! YAAAAAAAY!