It’s finally the most wonderful time of the year! With October comes visions of gingerbread houses, overdecorated fir trees, and Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas. And as is tradition, I will watch some of them and tell you what horrors can be found in films like My Southern Family Christmas or Three Wise Men and a Baby. This year, Hallmark has lined up a whopping 31 new films to watch every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night until Christmas. Here’s what’s ahead:
The first one up in the countdown is Noel Next Door. Someone better be named Noel in this.
A hard-working, single mom gets into a war of words with a neighbor who she feels is ruining Christmas, only to find that this misunderstood grouch just may steal her heart. Starring Natalie Hall and Corey Sevier.
Single mom meets the grinch. Sounds promising. Oh, wait she meets a grouch? Just some rude guy? Well, this is off to a terrible start.
We begin with our Hallmark Heroine Noelle lovingly decorating her house with one wreath per door and a garland on every banister. She receives a voice message from Greg, her ex, who has requested that their son, Henry, spends Christmas with him and his new wife because their home “provides a more family-like atmosphere”; something that their son “needs.” Sorry, single moms. You’re just not family enough. We’re only one minute into the film and we’ve clearly established the bad guy.
Henry overhears his dad being a terrible man but ignores it by complimenting his mother’s decorating abilities. Noelle tells her son that they’re going to have the best Christmas ever.
We cut to a dude named Jeremy tending to his arm and getting irritable that his 1940s radio is playing Christmas music during the Christmas season. He grabs his cane and walks downstairs to turn off the radio and instead play some peaceful classical music on his record player. Sophisticated or snobbish? You be the judge. His relaxation is interrupted by the sound of a soccer ball hitting his wall. It’s Henry just kicking a ball into his wall for shits and giggles.
Henry races off with the ball while the clearly injured man makes chase. He almost falls, loses the kid, and berates a man who asks him if he’s ok.
After the soccer ball incident, Jeremy tries to play the piano with one hand. However, he is interrupted by a phone call and a ring at the doorbell at the same time. The people at the door are three annoying children and Noelle’s sister doing some off-key caroling. Jeremy slams the door in their faces which was the only appropriate response.
We cut to Henry telling his mother (unprompted, mind you) that the guy in condo 224 tried to chase him for no reason. Perturbed, Noelle says that she’s going to talk to this man, but Henry convinces her not to do it. This is a great outcome for Henry considering he didn’t even need to inform his mother about the incident at all.
Noelle and Henry meet the child whose face was door slammed by Jeremy. Noelle’s sister consoles her traumatized child while the kid relays the harrowing story of the mean man.
To make the kid feel better, Noelle requests that she carols in her face later. The sister then asks the single mom if she’s ready to start dating. Noelle nods and heads to her job as a small-town diner waitress. She is approached by Jeremy who is seeking his takeout order. He compliments her name and leaves her a $32 tip.
Back at the condo, a friend approaches Jeremy to try to set him up with a woman. While trying to bat away the request, Jeremy slips and falls to the floor.
He fell due to an unmarked extension cord used to light up the community Christmas tree. The community organizer Lewis apologizes and tries to placate Jeremy by pointing out that the tree is real purty despite the hazards required to light it up. The injured man isn’t impressed and tells the guy to take it down. When Lewis protests, Jeremy launches into a War on Christmas by saying that featuring JUST Christmas decorations is unfair to all the other religions. Hoo boy. Anyway, Jeremy gets his wish.
Once the argument is over, the friend asks if they can talk about Jeremy’s love life again. Jeremy opens up and explains that he’s still mentally recovering from his stroke, so he’s not very into the jolliness of Christmas right now. Although he says that he gets it, the friend continues to push the blind date. Hallmark friends continue to be the worst friends.
The next day, our justifiably grumpy hero bumps into Noelle. They have a moment over some tampons and cereal.
The moment is ruined by a child who runs away from Jeremy’s cane and loudly asks what is wrong with him. Why is Hallmark doing this to Jeremy?!
Noelle comes across Lewis and asks why the tree has been felled. The frazzled organizer explains that there was an incident and a certain character requested for its removal. Noelle guesses that it’s the “jerk” from 224 but doesn’t realize he’s also the guy that suggested the Tiny O’s.
The single mom heads to meet her sister who has set up a blind date. Before introducing Noelle to her potential new beau Bert, her sister reveals that the guy has been banned from all social media for “spreading misinformation.” Even Hallmark isn’t immune to Facebook posts about voter fraud. We discover that Bert hates movies, loves filtered water, and believes the earth is flat.
After a normal date extolling the virtues of castor oil, Noelle heads home to answer a call from her ex-husband. Henry overhears the argument which includes the fun fact that his dad cheated on his mom. Festive!
Jeremy heads to his own blind date with a lady who appears to be normal, but she probably won’t be. The restaurant they chose is booked out, so they head to a diner instead. Of course, Noelle is on call and witnesses that the dude she’s been flirting with is out on the town with another woman.
However, Noelle shouldn’t be too concerned. The woman tells Jeremy that he’s making a scene when he slightly struggles to take off his glove due to his disability. Christ, Hallmark. Why are you hurting Jeremy like this? He’s not even that bad! Jeremy, taking no guff, tells the woman that he’s done with the date. She storms off.
With the witch banished, Noelle and J-town do some serious flirting. They share a pie and the stories of their bad dates. We may soon find ourselves in montage territory!
The next day, Jeremy puts on his record player and sits silently on the couch. Once again, Henry bashes his wall with a soccer ball. The adult confronts the child, and Henry lobs a snowball at the guy before taking off. Kid’s a piece of work.
Noelle is getting chatted up by a guy who is trying his hardest to neg her into a date. Thankfully for our heroine (but unfortunately for me because I want to see more of his approach to dating), Jeremy embarrasses the guy out of the diner.
High on humiliating a guy, Jeremy asks for and gets Noelle’s number. He calls her and they engage in Hallmark’s version of phone sex. They then go on an ice-skating date where they tell each other that one had a stroke and the other is a divorced single mother. Jeremy drops a bomb that he, too, is divorced! But who cares? He’s a hot dude who used be a conductor-slash-composer. They set up a second date.
The next morning while eating some Tiny O’s, Henry and Noelle discover that their bunny Edgar has broken loose. This is not known by Jeremy who has found the rogue Edgar in his house, ready to deposit some Christmas pellets on his carpet. Lewis arrives to help Jeremy apprehend the rabbit and explains that it belongs to Henry. This sends Jeremy into a frenzy. He writes a strongly worded letter to the dumb kid’s parent.
The dumb kid races over to Jeremy’s house to kick some balls on the wall. Jeremy threatens to kill the rabbit. In response, Henry kicks the ball directly at the man’s head. To Henry’s shock, Jeremy manages to catch the ball and takes it directly into the house. The boy goes home to tell his mother to clean up his mess.
Speaking of Greg, he shows up at Noelle’s work to threaten her with legal action because he can’t have his son at Christmas. He could’ve dressed up as a nanny to be closer to his son, but some fathers just won’t commit to this bit.
Later that evening, while Noelle prepares for her date, Jeremy panics because the lock to his front door is mysteriously jammed. He’s convinced that Henry is responsible for this sabotage and marches to confront the kid’s mother…who just so happens to be Noelle.
Jeremy, while absolutely right, handles this situation terribly and accuses the brat of being a lying jerk. Noelle takes her son’s side and cancels the date. After ruining his mother’s night, Henry goes off to hang out with a friend. Frustrated with the evening, Jeremy pops open a bottle and lets her rip. Noelle eats ice cream.
The next morning, a not-very-hungover-looking Jeremy laments to his friend that he screwed up the best thing he never actually had. He resolves to like Henry.
Henry surprises Jeremy by arriving at his doorstop and apologizing. Apparently, his parents’ arguments have caused him to take it out on Jeremy’s wall. Doesn’t explain him jamming the guy’s lock, though. Jeremy also apologizes. Now that everything is cool between the boyz, Henry requests that Jeremy ask Noelle out on a date. J-dawg says naw…because she deserves better than him.
Back at home, Henry confesses to his mother that he’s been a total tool. He makes a promise that he’ll never act like that again in his whole life. A promise that, I assure you, he will not be able to keep.
Jeremy attempts to mend things with the hot single mom. He lies to Noelle by telling her that Henry is a really special kid. Just as he’s about to leave to his condo, Noelle asks why he hates Christmas. Jeremy reveals that he had the stroke on Christmas morning and then, six months later, his wife left him. So, Christmas comes with baggage for old J-bone. Noelle intends to change all that by inviting Jeremy over for Christmas morning.
The next morning, Jeremy pops by to see Henry open presents because Santa is slacking in the list management department. Henry and Edgar cockblock another potential kiss between our couple.
Jeremy says he has a gift for the mother-son duo. He had Lewis put the tree up. The two finally do the Hallmark deed in front of Henry.
The new family then goes to hear Jeremy’s newly composed song at the orchestra. They kiss again. FIN.
The only good people in this film were Noelle, Jeremy, and Lewis. Everyone else sucked as human beings. Henry may have time to grow out of it, but with HIS dad, I doubt it. There was definitely chemistry between the two leads, so it made the film bearable. However, there was no need to pile wrongdoing after wrongdoing onto Jeremy. The man just wanted a little peace and quiet because he was trying to adjust to his personal traumas. Leave Jeremy alone! At least Hallmark didn’t magically try to cure him, so that’s positive.
- Couldn’t they have called this Noelle Next Door? That would’ve accomplished the same thing as Noel.
- The kids call Jeremy variations of Scrooge, Grinch, etc. We gotta get the point across that this man is grumpy as hell.
- I don’t know exactly how branding works but when they discuss cereals, they refer to Sugar Pops and Frozen Flakes. However, they also say the slogans “Gotta have my Pops” and “They’re grrrreat!” Is this a workaround??
- I like the nervous community organizer.
- Jeremy looks like a North American Colin Farrell.
- Jeremy has the saddest eyes in the world.
- Noelle slightly insults classical music, but Jeremy convinces her that it is cool. Jeremy is right about classical music.
- We need more Edgar in this film.
- There were no montages or DEAD FAMILY MEMBERS. I’m not certain this was actually a Hallmark movie.