Hallmark Countdown to Christmas: A Tale of Two Christmases Recap/Review

Time marches on and so does Hallmark, never letting up on telling us that Christmas is the most wonderful time to fall in love with some dude from your hometown. Next up on our Christmas Cavalcade of Horrors is A Tale of Two Christmases.


Before Christmas, Emma’s story splits into two possibilities. In one she goes home to reconnect with an old friend, in the other she explores a new crush in the city. Starring Kat Barrell, Chandler Massey and Evan Roderick.

I’ve never read A Tale of Two Cities, but my assumption is that it’s not a Sliding Doors story about a woman who figures out who she should marry.


We watch our Hallmark Heroine Emma precariously carry a diorama for the big school fair. She hopes to win first prize! Actually, it’s for her job at an architectural firm. What makes this moment particularly special is that we see it twice.

I’m seeing double! Four Hallmark Heroines!

She arrives at the office and chats about her cool Christmas building model to her co-worker. Her co-worker rightly questions why there is so much snow in the piece when it’s meant to reflect a golf clubhouse in Miami. Realizing that the earth is tilted on its axis, Emma panics and rushes to bathroom to get rid of the fake snow.

While running to save her model, some guy says hello in a suggestive way. Really inappropriate time for that, guy.

Sadly, for Emma, the hand dryer blows off most of the model from its base. It’s not ready in time for the client pitch, so her boss is displeased.

“Some of that snow you blew off got into my hair, giving me that salt and pepper Clooney look. I’m still close to firing you though.”

Emma gets a call from her dad, and he shows her an “aw shucks” type of man named Drew. Drew works with his hands and runs a ski lodge. Just as the call ends, the suggestive hello guy from earlier gets into an elevator with Emma and they engage in some overt eye-banging. It makes the elevator ride more unconformable than a normal one. She introduces herself, but Max sexily already knows who she is. He says his mom was also an architect who was “analytical, creative, and logical,” so he admires the profession. He neglects to mention that he has an Electra complex. This doesn’t faze Emma who is impressed that he’s an environmental lawyer, the most honorable of all lawyers.

From my understanding, environmental lawyers earn just fine but not crazy corporate money. This guy is looking for a sugar mommy.

Max invites Emma to his Christmas party, but she has to refuse because she’s flying home tomorrow. The flushed architect heads back home and bumps into a loud Santa. After she gives him some money, he asks her what her wish is. In Hallmark, Santas operate as pay as you go genies. Emma tells him that she simply wants something to work out in her life. Santa just tells her to believe and smiles at her.

“Wanna see my basement?”

While packing for her trip home, Emma and her co-worker talk about the hot environmental lawyer with the “kind heart.” They exchange Christmas gifts before ending the night. Emma sets her alarm for the flight.

Unfortunately for Emma, Santa controls the electricity and causes a power cut.

Realizing that something went wrong with the alarm, Emma hurries to O’Hare airport. We then see two Emmas run into some luggage. One Emma says, “Sorry, suckas!” and runs off to catch her flight. The other Emma stays to help load the suitcases. And who owns those suitcases? Santa! He’s a big duty-free guy. After another creepy exchange with the magical bearded man, Emma rushes to the gate. Because of Santa’s nonsense, she’s missed the flight and won’t make it to her dad’s Christmas Eve party. The other Emma makes it.

We will now refer to Emma as Big City Emma and Down Home Emma.

Upon landing, Down Home Emma sits on a pie and a child puts a candy cane in her hair. She calls her parents who let her know that someone special is picking her up. Drew arrives and sees that she pooped herself. Drew and Down Home Emma flirt antagonistically and catch up on small town life.

Big City Emma tells her family that she missed her flight. But not all is lost, she goes back to work to redo her model and runs into sexy Max who is working on Christmas Eve. Max re-invites her to his swank pad for Christmas and Emma has no excuse but to go.

Down Home Emma gets a haircut because of the candy cane and to make it easier for the audience to know who’s who.

Big City Emma tidies up her model and is interrupted by Max who I don’t trust. Max tells her the suspicious news that his caterer just canceled, and scams Big City Emma into helping him make his party into a last-minute success.

Down Home Emma teases Drew about his beard after he teases her about her hair. I’m getting brother-sister Folgers Coffee vibes here, so this movie is giving off some strange signals.

Big City Emma goes to a Christmas market with Max who supposedly already has a list of things they’re going to get. Big City Emma is going to get murked.

Max tells Big City Emma that he’s bamboozled her into a date. He starts singing O Christmas Tree and I pause the film because it’s a really hard scene to watch. He then goes on to explain the origins of the song and describe himself as a history buff. He says more insufferable things that are meant to be charming, and Big City Emma is falling for it. She even rebuffs a text from Drew who shows her his Yule log.

In a first-class transition, the film cuts between insufferable Max saying he loooooves Spanish chorizo and Drew offering Down Home Emma a bit of a gas station Slim Jim.

Back in Small Town USA, Down Home Emma and Drew go to his ski lodge. They meet a guy named Gordon who I think is the best person to ever come out of a Hallmark.

He’s positive, compliments Down Home Emma’s bow, and seems like a NORMAL person. Let’s just follow Gordon’s story instead.

Back at the sleety Christmas market, Max tells us about his journey to becoming a lawyer representing birds. He uses the phrase, “I love the law.” I hate this man. They spot a gingerbread house and Big City Emma tells her own family story about her journey to becoming an architect. They go their separate ways when Big City Emma spots a Christmas tree farm and says she has to do something.

These bags better be Mary Poppins bags or else Max is woefully unprepared for his party.

Down Home Emma and Drew meet a woman named Sarah who very clearly has the hots for Drew. I sense no familial vibes between these two. The two childhood friends then go to Drew’s room to discuss his managerial duties and help him put on a clip-on tie. They also talk about how disgustingly single they are.

Drew also can’t get out of his sweater and Down Home Emma has to help him. This is meant to be sort of sexy interaction, but it serves to make him look like a giant baby man.

Big City Emma arrives early to Max’s American Psycho pad to help him decorate. Big City Emma has a Big City reveal of her dress which Max remarks as beautiful. She says nothing nearly as nice in return because Max is dressed like it’s just another day at the legal bird office. Max reveals that he has a DEAD MOTHERTM, so he doesn’t see his family much anymore. Instead, he goes skiing with friends! I guess mom got in the way of that.

Big City Emma surprises Max with a tree, but the lawyer isn’t all that impressed. Despite her presumptuousness, they almost kiss because of mistletoe but thankfully for me, the doorbell rings and the party is ready to go.

Big City Emma mingles with boring people who say boring things and live boring lives. I hope the fake fireplace comes to life and burns it all down.

Down Home Emma talks to the lodge owner who offers up an architectural job. Down Home Emma becomes Big City Emma for a moment and refuses. She and Drew head to the family house to get the quaint party started. Sarah arrives dressed in a hot little number which makes Down Home Emma feel insecure.

Both parties involve gingerbread houses. In Big City Emma’s world, they stare at one she pre-made and Max invites her to go skiing. As a reminder, I must stress that they only met earlier this morning. She gets a call from Drew, and he tells her that the gingerbread making activity at the family party is garbage without her.

In Down Home Emma’s universe, she helps people make gingerbread houses and turns down the lodge owner’s offer of helping her make her own architect firm. She and Drew are sent on an errand to deliver pudding to some old relative. While putting on their snow clothes, Drew uses this time to say that Sarah’s not his type. He likes stubborn girls like Down Home Emma.

Big City Emma sucks at charades and when she loses, despondently says she sucks, showing some semblance of common sense.

Big City Emma gets a call from her boss who happily tells her that her cool model totally won the job and as a reward, she gets to work on the next project and not go to Miami. The junior architect is devastated that she’s not being sent to the Magic City. I’m not sure that’s how architecting works? Max tries to console her with a plain hot chocolate using ethically sourced cocoa. Apparently, fair trade chocolate is a turn off to Big City Emma. To console herself, she gets her Yule log out of the fridge and spills it onto the dress of one of the guests who is a big-time judge.

Yes, you can spill a Yule log.

Big City Emma tries to bail from the party after her charades and log disasters, but Max is adamant she stay. She refuses and Max sadly gets her coat. Whether he’s sad because he’s just missed out on a Christmas bang or he was looking forward to Patrick Bateman-ing her, we’ll never know. He gets a mistletoe kiss though.

Down Home Emma is having a much better time with her best bro Drew. While in the car, he divulges that he had a big crush on her in high school. She somehow didn’t get his hint earlier. Anyway, they somehow get past Drew’s big reveal, have another romantic moment at the ski lodge, and deliver some treats/sing some carols to Down Home Emma’s senile aunt Martha.

It’s a bad scene that not even this actor wants to be in.

The two return to the family party and get into a huge fight because Down Home Emma is bothered that Drew always changes himself for girls. Girls like that one from the ski lodge! She has very little to say when he declares that he learned skiing by watching her!

It’s kind of like this PSA. But with snow instead of weed.

Drew takes off after realizing that Down Home Emma down home sucks. Ah, the two worlds finally agree. Heartbroken over Drew, the young architect talks about blueprints and boys with her dad. He says some platitudes that only work in the movies.

With the party over, Big City Emma returns home and encounters the Santa yet again. He tells her that everything she wants is right in front of her. Presumably, he meant they should hook up, but this Emma is also bad at taking hints.

The next morning, Big City Emma and Down Home Emma are one. It turns out that Down Home Emma’s Adventures in Small Town, USA was all a dream! She receives a voicemail from Max telling her in his sexiest voice that he’ll be at Terminal 3 in an hour. Did he buy her a ticket? Is he expecting her to pay full price at the gate? Who knows! This is quickly followed by a message from Drew who tells her about what she missed on Christmas Eve. Emma rushes to the airport.

She immediately sees Max who is hotly staring into space.

Max is thrilled his next hostel victim is joining, however, Emma refuses. When he asks her out on a date in the new year, she also says no to this. Max, seething internally with rage, softly wishes her a wonderful time with her family.

This idiot makes his final appearance.

Emma arrives home and is picked up by her dad. She reveals that she quit her big city job to come back home and start a firm with him. Dad is so excited that, unprompted, he drops Emma off at the ski lodge to get a husband.

Emma is being super flirty with Drew who has no idea that she’s had the Hallmark version of a sex dream about him. She tells him she met the perfect guy in Chicago but would rather be with a guy who is Drew. They have moment in front of the ski lodge and kiss. FIN.

Or do they?!


Max was a murderer who hops from country to country, and you can’t convince me otherwise. It was only partway through the film that I realized that he was meant to be the “perfect” guy. The bar is on the ground, as they say. I couldn’t buy either guy but thankfully, I’m not Emma. I suppose of the two, Drew was the better option. Who knows, maybe one day she’ll have another horny dream and marry some guy who runs the local coffee shop. If I followed the whims of my dreams, I’d probably have no teeth. Anyway, Emma should cut down on the cheese to avoid having such vivid pictures at night.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Patrick Bateman knock-offs


  • Emma is an architect. Typically, in romcom world, men are usually architects because it shows that they’re MATH BASED but also CREATIVE. The perfect man.
  • I propose a Hallmark film called The Threesome.
  • Max is so “charming” that City Emma even offers to cook him dinner. No, girl! That’s the path to hell!
  • I’m not really rooting for anyone here. Jackass lawyer or brother-sister duo?
  • When Max leaves a message saying he hopes Emma can meet her in an hour, how did he know she would wake up and see his message at the right time? Why do I even bother asking that question in a film about a double person who dreamt stupid stuff?
  • This film is the polar opposite of when someone does something insulting to you in a dream and you’re mad at them for no reason the next day.
  • After kissing Drew, Emma says it was weird. Cool reaction.