Countdown to Christmas!

The Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas is so important that there is actually a Countdown to the Countdown, with reminders throughout October of how close we’re getting to the momentous occasion. Immediately after Halloween, the Christmas movie marathons begin, with new entries every weekend until mid-December. I have a deep affection for many of these somewhat silly, sometimes charming, occasionally very funny movies. So did the first entry of the year start things off right? Let’s recap!

one starry christmas

Within the first 60 seconds of One Starry Christmas, here’s what we know: we’re in Chicago, our protagonist is named Holly (there is a development exec at Hallmark whose sole job is to insist female leads in their Christmas movies be named Holly), she’s fun because she rides a red scooter but also smart because she takes a call from an important professor, and she has a fancy boyfriend.

Of course, fancy boyfriend is obviously The Wrong Dude. We know this not just because he’s wearing a suit while she’s in jeans and a jaunty sweater, but because he bought a FAKE CHRISTMAS TREE. A FAKE WHITE PRE-DECORATED CHRISTMAS TREE. Because he LIKED it. What an ASSHOLE.

As if we don’t hate this dude enough, now he has to be away on business in New York City for Christmas. Which he calls “just a day on the calendar.” Then he kicks a puppy wearing a Santa hat (in our minds, because what a fucking Scrooge).

GOOD NEWS, THOUGH! Even though Holly is scared to fly (“She’ll never fly, not even on Santa’s sleigh!”), and only has a scooter, she decides to take a Greyhound bus to NYC to surprise Wrong Dude, and also her parents because they conveniently live there. Can you guess who she’s going to meet on the bus?

If you said Mr. Right, you get a sugar cookie.

Mr. Right is a cowboy named Luke Shetland. He’s literally cradling his saddle, which is named Dale, after Dale Evans. He talks about the joy of those eight seconds riding a bull. He finds out Holly just got her doctorate in astronomy and starts calling her “Doc.” He’s flipping adorable. HE DOESN’T HAVE A CELL PHONE BECAUSE HE’S A COUNTRY BOY AND SO SO REEEEAL.

Now, if you are on a Greyhound bus in a movie there is a 99% chance it will break down. I’m surprised they don’t sue or something. But it’s okay because while the bus is broken down, Luke plays “Silent Night” on his harmonica and they gaze at the stars and talk about their lives and start to fall in loooooove though she would NEVER ADMIT IT to herself just yet, because she is a nice girl and she totally has a boyfriend.

Holly calls Wrong Dude because the bus is seriously dead, but that cad can’t drive the six hours each way to pick her up because he has a big meeting the next morning WHAT A JERK. Luckily, Cowboy rents a truck (which is by no means a better idea than making someone drive so far to get you) and he and Holly roll into NYC together, where she then invites him to have dinner at her parents’ house. Did I mention that Mom already thinks Wrong Dude is the Wrong Dude? She’s about to insist that Cowboy stay with them, and invite his COWBOY BROTHER (two times the cowboys!!) to join them for Christmas Eve. Otherwise they have to go stay in Jersey, what a horror show.

Now we’re all set up for the good stuff: an hour of Wrong Dude being jealous but also BUSY WITH WORK like such a JERK while Holly and Cowboy have big city adventures: he teaches her to ride a horse in Central Park; she teaches him to ice skate (no men in Hallmark movies can ice skate, which results in pleasing scenes of them falling down, reversing a common rom-com trope). It all culminates in the gang attending the big Christmas Eve party for Wrong Dude’s client, where jealousy overflows as Cowboy wins hearts teaching everyone to line dance. (Yes.) Wrong Dude jumps on stage, takes the mic, and proposes to Holly in front of the crowd. She’s on the spot and says yes so as not to embarrass him in front of his client, breaking poor Cowboy’s golden American heart.

Luckily, Holly’s not an idiot. She knows that the proposal was preemptive and manipulative and she calls him on it. But, breaking up with the Wrong Dude doesn’t automatically mean running into Cowboy’s arms… because he’s taken the proposal as his cue to leave. After a patented Hallmark movie heart-to-heart with Dad, Holly wishes on a star for him to come back (as an astronomer this is a totally normal thing to do). AND HE DOES! IN SLO-MO! RIDING A HORSE AND CLUTCHING A WHITE BOUQUET! They kiss and we know that they will spend forever together even though they’ve known each other for literally two days.

All in all, One Starry Christmas is a strong opener for this Hallmark season. The leads are cute and the lady is neither dumped NOR fired (in fact, she wins a prestigious award from the female astronomer who inspired her to pursue science). It strings together an impressive number of staple holiday movie and rom-com scenes while still feeling reasonably fresh, as it indulges in a few weirder moments like letting the cowboy brother sing a full love song over dinner as Holly’s parents dance. For all the broad strokes, the characters are well-drawn, with even one-offs like the hoodie-wearing CEO at the Christmas party given a bit of off-beat personality. The acting is good enough to keep things flowing well during even the most predictable moments, maintaining the sincerity that’s crucial to making a Hallmark romance work.

Frankly, this is just a nice little movie. One Starry Christmas stars Sarah Carter and Damon Runyon and airs again Saturday November 8th at noon, and on Christmas Day.

Up next week: The Nine Lives of Christmas, starring Brandon Routh and a cat. Remember when he was Superman? Yeah.


4 Responses to “Countdown to Christmas!”

  1. 1 maliaann November 3, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    I so miss the Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. :( I wish you didn’t need cable to get that channel. Blah!

    • 2 Brandi Sperry November 3, 2014 at 1:43 pm

      Yeah, I don’t get why Hallmark doesn’t have a deal with Netflix. But along the same lines, there are a few good ABC Family Christmas movies on Netflix. I recommend Dear Santa starring Amy Acker. (Directed by Jason Priestly!)

      • 3 maliaann November 3, 2014 at 5:40 pm

        Awesome! I love Amy Acker! I’ll have to go on Netflix and search for any Christmas movies I haven’t seen, and ones I have, but wouldn’t mind watching again. :)

  2. 4 maliaann November 3, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Reblogged this on Writing for the Whole Darn Universe and commented:
    Bring on the Christmas movies! :)

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