You thought you were rid of me, eh? I rise from the dead to provide you with Christmas content by way of Hallmark. That’s right. Countdown to Christmas returns!
Last year was a little spotty for me on these recaps and I will say that this year is (clearly) also going to be spotty. Hallmark is set to release THIRTY-ONE films this year and I’m afraid my fragile brain can’t take that amount of Balsam Hill. So, the aim is to cover the worst titled films this year. Which do you think is best of the worst?
With that set out, let’s check out the very first Countdown to Christmas film: You, Me & The Christmas Trees. Will Hallmark satisfy viewer demand and make this about a woman’s tree fetish?
Olivia is Connecticut’s resident expert on evergreens who, just days before the holiday, agrees to help Jack, a fourth generation Christmas tree farmer in Avon. A mysterious illness has befallen their firs, causing them to die out and threatening his family’s 100-year business. As Olivia tries to get to the root of the problem and extends her stay in town, she and Jack spend more time together and feelings begin to develop. Starring Danica McKellar, Benjamin Ayres and Jason Hervey.
The film kicks off with a flashback of a girl groping a tree. Her bougie mother is displeased, but lets the girl continue caressing the tree.
Fast-forward to the future and Olivia (a.k.a Hallmark staple Danica McKellar) has not stopped molesting Christmas trees. In fact, she’s made it her profession so that she can be with her trees without judgment. Olivia is known as the “Christmas Tree Whisperer” because she specializes in evergreens. I don’t know anything about forestry, so I’m gonna have to accept that this is common practice in the field.
Now that we’ve been properly introduced to the Hallmark Heroine, we gotta meet the Hallmark Hunk (I use that phrasing loosely as your mileage my vary). His name is Jack and he runs a tree farm.
Jack is selling some bum trees and has to refund everyone. He implores his customers to buy a tree from anywhere else, but Jack has such an insanely loyal customer base that they promise to wait until his trees heal or something.
Back at tree lady HQ, Olivia gets a call from her hoidy-toidy mumsy who tells her to get ready for the big Christmas gala. Olivia has to go now that she canceled her wedding. Imagine booking and then CALLING OFF a Christmas Eve wedding. It’s ok because she’s a protagonist and no one else matters in this.
While Olivia has a pretentious family, Jack has more of a home fried, salt-of-the-earth, aw shucks mom. She tells her eligible bachelor son to get married because that is a necessary line to be spoken in this film. If a mother is alive in a Hallmark movie, she is going to berate her son into marriage.
Jack’s friends come for a visit and bring him a massive jug of alcoholic cider to drink away his dying tree woes.
Having tried nothing and all out of ideas, Jack decides to call a Christmas tree expert to save his ailing farm. This expert just so happens to be Olivia! She doesn’t want to go home, so she drives straight over to Jack’s farm. And then he drives straight into her.
They have a little moment and after some back and forth realize that they’re supposed to hook up about the dying trees. With her car now totaled, Olivia has to stay overnight at the local hotel. And she’s arrived just in time for the big Christmas Open House.
The two leads catch up to have a disgusting hot cocoa that’s 10% cocoa, 90% whipped cream.
The next morning, Olivia reveals to Jack and his childhood friends that her Christmases were full of galas and not barn dances like the rest of society. Woe is Olivia! The group jams some cider down her throat which inspires the evergreen expert to offer some unsolicited business advice to Jack. Why not sell a variety of trees ALL YEAR rather than just evergreens during Christmas?
Jack gets pretty uptight at the suggestion, telling Olivia that his grandfather never sold trees outside of winter. We won’t have product diversification ruin tradition, goddammit!
Anyway, Olivia meets Jack’s mom who is excited to meet a fertile woman of marrying age. She invites Olivia to the Christmas Cocktail Competition so that the two single people can do some serious bonding. The tree enthusiast uses a sprig of pine to make a winning cocktail. I don’t think everything needs to have tree in it, but I’m no cocktail champion.
The next day, Jack is approached by a rival tree salesman named Dwyane Colson who boasts that HIS sales are booming. How unexpected for the Christmas season.
That evening, Olivia shares that her Christmases are total downers and don’t have that country-fried feel. She also mentions that she canceled a wedding. Jack is a bit unimpressed by the idea of a last-minute cancelation. Olivia calls it one of her “quirks.” One of my quirks is spitting on people I don’t like. It’s the quirkiest!
Having not solved the dying Christmas tree mystery and secretly loving this aw-shucks-simple-townie life, Olivia opts to stay another night.
After getting some evergreen samples, Jack and Olivia head back to the lab (never thought I’d write that in a Hallmark) to find out why the trees are crapping out. It’ll take a day or two for the results.
The couple is quickly distracted by a box of mistletoe ornaments from Olivia’s non-wedding that were never returned. The bride-to-wasn’t-be gives the expensive wedding favors to Jack to sell at the local crafts fair. Hearts of gold, these two.
While making cookies at a local event (I dunno what the event is, there are too many), they discuss the future of Jack’s diseased trees. Olivia pleads for him to start planting new things, but Jack is steadfast in his dream of running a failing business.
The mayor visits Jack to personally tell him that he’s going to take one of Dwayne’s trees for the annual lighting ceremony. Jack is devastated and begs the mayor to give him more time! The mayor concedes and gives him three days to find out the biological reason behind the tree deaths, solve the problem, get a brand-new tree for the lighting ceremony, and then give that to the town. Bingo-bango.
Olivia gets the results from the lab which are…inconclusive. Much to Jack’s dismay, she’ll need to do “DNA sequencing” which can take weeks.
Jack decides to believe in her because he doesn’t really have many other options, so why not?
After looking at bag of cough drops, Olivia discovers the answer to the dead tree mystery. She says they need to create those packet flower food things to feed to the trees. She brings a microscope to the local barn (they establish that it’s just as good as the lab) to make the first flower food for trees. In roughly six hours, they discover that the food works and the tree problem is solved.
With the trees fixed, Jack decides to tell Olivia that he’d like to get it on. Olivia needs a tree to make this relationship work. They kiss. FIN.
It’s not FIN, though because we haven’t encountered the third act issue! Turns out that the trees suck again. Olivia and Jack rush to the Christmas Tree Lighting tree’s side to figure out what might be the matter.
Olivia and Jack have a falling out where Jack yells at her for deigning to suggest that he have the family business sell trees beyond the Christmas season. Olivia has a minor mental breakdown and decides to go home to her awful family. Jack talks to his mom who tells him that he’s kinda dumb for not diversifying his plant business and for dumping Olivia.
As Olivia leaves town, she’s stopped by her parents who decided to come down from on high to see what their daughter has been doing for the last few days. They patch things up. Turns out her parents are just not great listeners and they’re ok with their daughter being a tomboy. I genuinely don’t know how I should be interpreting this scene.
Olivia’s parents’ scene is over and they leave the town. Olivia then runs into two…idiots? The film really paints them in the broadest way. One even has that classic dumb laugh. Anyway, the two dudes are Dwayne’s lackeys and they loudly say to each other that they’ve poisoned Jack’s new trees. Olivia manages to snap a selfie with them (what??) and gets an image of a big tub of herbicide.
She runs back to the center of town and shouts to the mayor that Dwayne is killing the trees. Her proof is a selfie which would be enough to convict in a court of law. The mayor calls the town cop to take the rival tree seller away. As he is hauled to the station, Dwayne looks at Olivia and says, “Well-played.”
The mayor decides to keep Jack’s crappy looking tree up for the 100th lighting ceremony and asks the townspeople to bring decorations to cover up the sickly parts. They even bring fake branches.
Olivia’s parents arrive for the lighting and are introduced to Jack. Relationships in Hallmark move really fast; there’s a schedule to keep. They have their quick scene and leave. Jack and Olivia agree that Jack should sell more trees. The mayor turns on the tree which, in turn, turns on the couple. They kiss. FIN.
Well, that’s the first Countdown to Christmas film down. It was generic. I can’t really say much more about it. I loved Olivia’s parents. They truly gave us nothing.
Rating: 3 out of 5 failed business ideas
- Hallmark has always had intrusive banners for upcoming movies that appear during their films. They decided to up the interruption game by including a bell ringing noise every time they wanted to promote another film. It was so distracting that people made a fuss and Hallmark had to get rid of it. Harassment works!
- Olivia definitely wishes that she had a DEAD MOMTM in this.
- One of the characters tells Jack, “For the first time in what seems like a thousand years, you have a chance…at love!” My face grimaced and I involuntarily said, “Oh no” out loud at this.
- There’s a subplot where Jack is weirded out by his mom liking another dude and not forever pining over his DEAD FATHERTM. They do nothing with this subplot and appear to forget about it by film’s end.
- Dwayne looks remarkably like a youth pastor.
- Just to be clear, the initial tree issue was solved by Olivia’s plant food. The second wave of dying trees was sabotage via Dwayne.
- By the way, I thought Jack’s first name was Connor (which would’ve made his full name Connor Connor) the whole time and had to go back through the recap and fix any mention of Connor.