In 2020’s The Christmas House the Mitchell family dealt with the stress of divorce, adoption and potential unemployment. All while decorating their house for the holidays. Hallmark strayed from their romcom formula and audiences approved. In The Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls the Mitchell brothers (Robert Buckley and Jonathan Bennett) compete on a holiday decorating show. This forces them to face insecurities and resentments. I enjoyed their prickly dynamic.
Let’s break it down with a spoiler filled recap.
Cain and Abel
Scene One: Front Yard
STRAIGHT BROTHER: My show, Handsome Justice, is done filming. I’m ready for a relaxing holiday with the family.
AGENT: I’ve booked you on the decorating show Deck Those Halls. We’ll pit you against your jealous gay brother.
STRAIGHT BROTHER: That sounds like a bad idea.
GAY BROTHER: What’s the matter Mr. TV star? Afraid I’ll humiliate you on national television?
STRAIGHT BROTHER: I’ll crush you bro. Let’s do this!
Scene Two: Jewelry Store
STRAIGHT BROTHER: I’m ready to propose to my girlfriend. But I need the perfect ring.
MYSTERIOUS MAN: Something like thiiis? (Shows him the perfect ring.)
GIRLFRIEND: Who are you talking to?
(The Mysterious Man vanishes.)
STRAIGHT BROTHER: I was… where’d he go? Was he Santa? Or Beelzebub?
Scene Three: Carnival
STRAIGHT BROTHER: Anything you can do, I can do better. (They play ski ball. It’s a tie.)
GAY BROTHER: I can do anything better than you. (They play darts. It’s a tie.)
STRAIGHT BROTHER: No you can’t! (They race through an ice maze. Deadbeat Birth Dad interrupts.)
GIRLFRIEND’s SON: Mom! It’s my birth dad!
GIRLFRIEND: You can’t show up unannounced.
DEADBEAT BIRTH DAD: Sorry babe. I’d have called but I’ve been making vegan sweaters for llamas on a mountain in Peru. Namaste.
Scene Four: Front Yard
GAY BROTHER: Your fan club is helping you decorate!? That’s cheating!
STRAIGHT BROTHER: It’s not my fault you don’t have any friends.
GAY BROTHER: I’M GOING TO DESTROY YOU!
HUSBAND: Calm down. This was supposed to be fun.
GAY BROTHER: Don’t act like you don’t get it. We have to be perfect. These middle-class breeders are looking for any excuse to look down their noses at us.
HUSBAND: You’re not wrong… but you’re ruining Christmas.
Scene Five: Community Theater
DAD (as Santa Claus): Ho Ho Ho! Where’s my little candy cane?
MOM (as Mrs. Claus): It’s time to clean your chimney!
(The Brothers squabble in the audience. The usher kicks them out.)
STRAIGHT BROTHER: Why can’t you treat me like I would be treated by any stranger on the street?
GAY BROTHER: Because I am not one of your FAAANS! You’re everyone’s favorite! Our parents, my first boyfriend, maybe my kids! They all love you!
STRAIGHT BROTHER: Well, I love you. You came out so young and survived so much. You’re the bravest man I know.
GAY BROTHER: You’re so stupid. (They hug and cry.)
Scene Six: Christmas Eve
TV HOST: It’s the big night folks! Will Straight Brother propose to his girlfriend? Will her son approve? Will the Mysterious Santa/Demon guy return with the wedding ring?
BROTHERS: They can guess. Who won the Christmas House contest?
TV HOST: I won’t spoil that while the film’s still airing. Watch The Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls on the Hallmark Channel!
The Best Little Boy in the World
In the 2005 book The Velvet Rage psychologist Alan Downs wrote of the pressure some gay men feel to be “perfect.” He called this a response to the shame pushed on them by a homophobic society. Jonathan Bennett’s character is a classic example. I never thought I’d see a Hallmark film explore this theme with nuance and respect. Someday they may produce a queer romance. But The Christmas House 2 captured an aspect of the queer experience that resonated with me in a way romcoms do not.
A special thanks to Afropig for passing this to me. Be sure to read their fantastic Hallmark Countdown to Christmas series. You can find more of my reviews on The Avocado and Letterboxd. My podcast, Rainbow Colored Glasses, can be found here.