A hearty welcome to you, dear reader! For today is the day that I announce the beginning of my recaps of Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas 2020.
Here’s this year’s lineup. Which are YOU most excited about?
And the film to kick off this year’s merry mess is Jingle Bell Bride. Synopsis:
Wedding planner Jessica Perez travels to a remote town in Alaska to find a rare flower for a celebrity client and is charmed by the small town during Christmas, as well as the handsome local helping her. Starring Julie Gonzalo and Ronnie Rowe Jr.
A wedding planner? I yearn for the day Hallmark features an accountant of a mid-size business.
Our work-a-day Hallmark Heroine Jessica is on a business call, presumably selling wedding stocks. She wraps up it up so that she can chat with her sister about how much work she does.
Unfortunately, Jessica is unable to attend a family Christmas dinner due to her job commitments. She’s planning a big wedding bash for a “famous” singer and if she nails it, she’ll nab the coveted London promotion. Sis is worried the family will never see Jessica again, but she calms her fears by saying that there’s always email.
The busy planner races to her client’s house with a wedding dress. While Jessica rattles off the progress of the wedding preparations, the client interrupts to ask for a last-minute change to the flower arrangements. Apparently, flowers picked from the side of a volcano in Ecuador aren’t enough. This lady wants some non-seasonal flowers that her grandmother had at her wedding.
Jessica has under two weeks to get it done. And, according to her boss, the London job is surely hers if she does it!
After calling up a bunch of shops, Jessica finally finds a little town named Tapeesa that can supply her with the flowers. It’s in Alaska, of course.
Cut to Seward’s Folly, where we catch up with the florists that cultivate the elusive flowers. They are a handsome young man named Matt and his peppy auntie. The mayor stops by their greenhouse to inform them that a bigwig wedding planning company will need some of their rare flowers. In exchange, the company will pay for the town’s music program. Bit weird, but whatever.
Back in bustling New York, Jessica packs for Alaska. She tells her boss not to worry and lets her sister know that she better for up those emails.
Jessica calls the mayor to whine that she can’t find her car collection service. Turns out the service is simply Matt and his truck.
Matt takes her to the flower shop and after some back and forth on the amount needed for the wedding, he sets her to cutting. Hope she doesn’t screw it up.
After gathering the flowers, the couple drives back to the mini airport so that Jessica can fly her haul back to New York. Unfortunately, the truck gets stuck in the snow, causing Jess to miss her flight.
Sadly, the woman must now stay in Tapeesa for an extra day. A town which insanely features not one hotel, motel, or inn. This place holds an annual flower festival that they’d like to grow, but offer no place for visitors to stay. Baffling. Just baffling. Anyway, Matt’s aunt offers Jessica their empty guest room.
While waiting, Jessica gets to know the residents and learns what takes place over the four days of events. She’s even entered into a draw for “Jingle Bell Princess”, a position that comes complete with tiara. Presumably, someone’s child came up with this prize. Either that, or we’ve got a Midsommar situation on our hands.
After collecting a Christmas tree, Matt and Jessica go home.
Jessica’s phone dies, so she heads downstairs to find a charger (HOW DOES SHE NOT HAVE A CHARGER?!). Auntie informs the stranded lady that she doesn’t own a cell phone and also has a DEAD HUSBAND™. Luckily for Matt, his parents aren’t dead; they’re just in Florida.
The next morning, Jessica heads to the airport hanger to skip town. Bad fortune strikes once again as the plane is under maintenance and won’t be functional for three days. Are the townspeople making up reasons to keep Jessica here?
Our despondent heroine heads back into town to buy a proper coat and snow boots. To take her mind off things, she watches some of the festival activities with Matt. One of the first events is the tiara-ing of the Jingle Bell Princess. In a twist that surprises no one, Jessica is made their pretty pretty princess.
Jessica continues her journey in the Christmas spirit by helping Matt’s family (who have just arrived) decorate the tree. While chatting with his sister, Jessica discovers that Matt once lived in the Big Apple. He’s not just some Alaskan rube, the film tells us.
The next day, Jessica overhears Matt and Auntie discuss event logistics. Apparently, there was an issue with the Jingle Bell dance venue and they need to improvise. As a professional event planner, Jessica helps sort out the mess.
The days drift by. Both Jessica and Matt are single. They bond over flowers, snow, and their lack of a love life.
It’s the final day of the festival (I think? Not many events take place during this festival). Jessica joins the Jingle Bell dance and fully embraces the wonder of Christmas in a barn. Unfortunately, her magical adventure gets a rude awakening. She receives a call from her boss saying that since she’s not yet back in New York, the nemesis will handle the awful client.
Matt finds Jessica outside, still in shock. She bemoans her situation and manages to insult Matt for good measure.
In spite of being pretty rude to him, Matt coordinates a flight for his potential lady love. She bids goodbye to all the townsfolk and profusely thanks Matt for being a super cool dude.
Back in New York, Jessica turns down the London job and surprises her family by making it in time for Christmas dinner. In Alaska, Auntie tells Matt that he should go to back to New York and get with Jessica.
On Christmas Day, Jessica shows up at the client’s wedding to swap her bouquet for the precious Jingle Bell flowers. It’s an incredibly last-minute move, but the bride is impressed anyway.
As the wedding planner watches the bride leave the chapel, Matt appears behind her. He tells her he’s got a teaching job “down the road” and plans to stay in New York. Good thing Jessica didn’t take that London job. They kiss. FIN.
I don’t have too much to say on this one. It didn’t seem all that prudent for Jessica to fly out to Alaska, but maybe you do that for overbearing clients. Matt was nice.
I’ll be honest, I just finished this and I can’t remember anyone.
Rating: 2 out of 5 Jingle Bell Princess tiaras.
- Behind-the-scenes, Hallmark hired a new CEO and I think we’ll be seeing more diversity in the film line ups this year. A mixed race couple is a pretty big leap for the conservative Hallmark.
- Matt has the smoothest skin in the world. For living in Alaska, he must really load up on the moisturizer.
- Lots of daily flights from that tiny airport, it seems.
- Jessica adds a snowman competition to the festival. Something that shocks and impresses these people from Alaska.
- Honestly, that was a dumpy festival. There were like two events.
- Everyone hooks up. The pilot and the mayor. Auntie and this one townsfella. Matt and Jessica.
- Jessica has a niece who looks really disappointed when she leaves for Alaska unexpectedly. She later bonds with Matt’s nephew who is then also disappointed when Jessica leaves unexpectedly for New York.
- The famous singer has two secret service agents. It’s a joy seeing them fakely hold their earpieces.
- Genuinely exclaimed “Jesus Christ” when I saw this wreath. There’s like five of them in the kitchen all similarly lit.
And that’s the first of Hallmark’s new crop of films! I’ll be onto the next one which looks the same, but that’s what I signed up for!