Hallmark Madness: Small Towns, Big Holiday Spirit
By Erin Phelps
Welcome back, everybody! It’s time for the second big round of ‘Mark Madness, the competition that pits 2018 Hallmark holiday movies against each other until we find the absolute best (in my opinion, anyway).
The last post was all about people with unique jobs, or careers that were seriously tied to the plot. This round is all about what I call, “Small Towns, Big Holiday Spirit.” Though there are some interesting jobs here, there’s a lot more holiday cheer spread though the magic of small towns and tight-knit families.
Small Town Romance Readers, this one’s for you!
Feel free to catch up on part one, read up on this year’s crop of Hallmark Movies, and tweet to @onfrolic to share your views on the competition!
Without further ado, let’s dive into this week’s competition!
Christmas at Pemberley Manor vs. Pride, Prejudice and Mistletoe
You may have clicked on this piece thinking, “Hallmark movies? Sounds tame!” But we are kicking it off with a legitimate barn burner, ladies and gentleman!
It’s the Darcy Duel! The Austen Avalanche! The Shades-Of-Pemberley-To-Be-Thus-Polluted Shakeup!
Okay, okay, before all my regency romance fans get too fired up, these two films are actually updated takes on the classic that forms the bedrock of many romance tropes!
Christmas at Pemberley Manor is about a big-city event planner named Elizabeth Bennet who comes to a small town to plan a festival at the manor owned by William Darcy. This one is bound to score big with fans of the big city character who finds home in a charming small-town aesthetic.
Pride, Prejudice and Mistletoe fits in the small town category because it’s an enemies-to-lovers type story in which the heroine plans a charity event with her old rival in her hometown. It may get some bonus points, because it is based on a book by Melissa de la Cruz.
Both of these are bound to dazzle romance fans, but there can only be one winner! For this round, I just have to go with my gut and give it to Christmas at Pemberley Manor!
Christmas in Love vs. Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa
Small town charm abounds in the descriptions for both of these films!
Christmas in Love combines small-town schmaltz with one of the other most beloved Hallmark Movie traditions: baking plotlines! In this story, the heroine is passionate about her town’s bakery, which makes famous Kringles. Side note: I honestly don’t know what a Kringle is, but I am imagining something delicious. But surprise, surprise! The hero has hopes of automating the cutesy business practices! What’s going to happen? We must tune in to find out…
Sure, Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa is a mouthful. But the plot sounds legitimately adorable, with efforts to re-open the town’s historical general store. The letters to Santa program also reminds me of a movie from the 90’s that I inexplicably watched a zillion times called Dear God, so that’s something I take to heart.
Even though Christmas in Love follows the time-honored baking plotline tradition, it reminds me just a little too much of one of my favorite Hallmark movies EVER called Christmas Cookies. And since I don’t know if it can top that classic in my heart, this match-up ends in a surprise upset with Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa winning at the last second!
A Majestic Christmas vs. It’s Christmas, Eve
Both of these were really close to ending up in the jobs round, but their descriptions were infused with tropes that define “Small Towns, Big Holiday Spirit.”
The description of A Majestic Christmas reminds me of that moment in the holiday classic It’s A Wonderful Life when Jimmy Stewart discovers that his adorable town of Bedford Falls has turned into a capitalist nightmare named Pottersville. The heroine of A Majestic Christmas has been tasked with turning her hometown’s historic theater into a multiplex, which would also stomp on Christmas traditions.
It’s Christmas, Eve also revolves around a woman who comes back to her small town, but this time she’s been tasked with slashing programs to keep the school district’s budget balanced. However, she starts to fall for the local music teacher, so the two of them must work to save the school’s arts program. It’s like when Ben Wyatt rode into Pawnee on Parks and Recreation, but mixed with the “let’s put on a show!” theme of musicals like 42nd Street.
Both plotlines are strong, but there’s something about the theme of an old-timey theater that I find fun! So, in this case, the win goes to A Majestic Christmas.
Homegrown Christmas vs. Welcome to Christmas
Homegrown Christmas is a lovely option for fans of “reunited lovers” or “second chance romance.” As she plans a high school dance in her hometown, Lori Laughlin (a star of many Hallmark productions) ends up spending a lot of time with her high school sweetheart!
Welcome to Christmas sounds just a bit wackier, with a heroine who is tasked with finding a spot for a resort, and a town called Christmas that is hellbent on getting her to put a ski resort in their backyard. The romantic hero is also the local sheriff!
Both movies seem sweet, but the description for Welcome to Christmas makes me think it will better embody the small-town themes with a cast of interesting characters who love their town called Christmas so darn much!
Christmas at Pemberley Manor vs. Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa
The first round featured fierce competition between the two Pride and Prejudice themed movies. However, this one won’t be a nail-biter. As much as Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa sounds sweet, it can’t compete with a small town romance that is inspired by aspects of a romancelandia favorite! Christmas at Pemberley Manor wins, hands down!
A Majestic Christmas vs. Welcome to Christmas
Honestly, this one is a tough call! On paper, Welcome to Christmas should be the perfect choice because it is allllll about the small town, and it has the added bonus of Eric Mabius, who played Daniel on Ugly Betty.
However, this is another one that is not called by logic, but by my heart. Something about the setting and love story of A Majestic Christmas just sounds more intriguing to me. And hey, these competitions wouldn’t be any fun if they were 100% predictable, right?!
So, our winning movies for this big round of competition are Christmas at Pemberley Manor and A Majestic Christmas!
Check back soon for the final round of ‘Mark Madness, in which the top two job-themed movies and top two small town-themed movies go head to head. Will Pemberley be the runaway winner? Will there be another stunning upset? Tweet to @onfrolic with all your thoughts and theories!
All photos from Hallmark
About the Author
Erin Phelps just recently celebrated her first year anniversary as a romance reader! By day she works in a cool customer service job. By night she is a writer, pub trivia player and cat mom. Erin also loves a great new show on Netflix and any podcast that makes her feel like she’s hanging out with smart friends.
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