Hark the “Harold” Angels

Sometimes one wonders whether certain Hallmark films are conceived by pulling a couple of Christmas-related words from a bag and shaping a movie around whatever comes out. With a title like Angels and Ornaments, that could be the case. Luckily, I have a higher tolerance for angel-meddling stories than I do for Santa-meddling ones, probably because the plots are less likely to involve wide-eyed moppets who don’t even know how good their privileged little lives are.

Here we follow the story of New Yorkers Dave (Graham Abbey) and Corrine (Jessalyn Gilsig, usually seen playing mildly psychotic women on Ryan Murphy shows), two longtime friends who work together at Dave’s Music Shop and laughingly protest the idea of being anything more than friends, although they are both single and wanting more. Corrine in particular is having a rough holiday season, as she’s just broken up with her latest bad-boy-by-Hallmark-standards-beau, she’s feeling guilty about not wanting to go to Florida to spend Christmas with her mom, and she’s lost out on the solo in the upcoming Christmas concert for what sounds like not the first time.

One night, Corrine is drinking wine with an unnamed sassy lady pal when carolers show up on her doorstep, their Dickensian outfits bearing a striking resemblance to a special ornament her grandfather made many decades ago. One of the carolers in particular catches her eye — and she’ll be seeing him again soon.

The caroler is Harold, and it turns out he’s a rather cranky angel trying to carry out a mission to get Corrine and Dave to finally see that they’re meant for each other. He complains about everything to his liaison on the ground, a no-nonsense guy who runs a hot dog stand. Their conversation gives us the first sense that this movie is just a tiny bit self-aware, as Harold’s complaints about his assignment are met with Hot Dog Guys words of wisdom: “Clichés are important when forming a narrative; they tap into the universality of mankind.” He also has deep thoughts about relish.

Harold gets a seasonal job at the music shop and proceeds to inappropriately interrogate Dave and Corrine about their love lives. Pleasingly, we’re only at the thirty-minute mark when Dave admits to Harold that he DOES have feelings for Corrine. Suddenly I’m not quite sure where the twists of the story will take us, and I’m very happy to report that it does involve a Male Makeover Montage in which Harold, who is quite dapper, forces be-sweatered Dave to buy a decent suit.

Angels and Ornaments Final Photo Assets

Also to the film’s credit, Corrine is not an idiot, and she, too, quickly figures out the goal behind Harold’s meddling (which really is quite weird for a guy who’s know them for like two days). She tries to find out a bit more about this mysterious man, but all research based on what he’s told them leads to dead ends.

Eventually Harold’s maneuvering (Compliment her more! Notice the book he’s reading!) leads to Corrine and Dave having a lovely evening together out on the town, and we at home get to giggle whenever the movie shows the New York City skyline and then cuts to a scene that was clearly filmed in suburban Vancouver. (This is the most egregious setting-related nonsense I’ve seen in a Hallmark film in a while. At least most of them have the sense to pretend to be set in New Jersey or outside Seattle.) Just as everything seems to be set on the path for love… Corrine’s ex Tim shows up with a truly ridiculous amount of roses, saying he’s changed. Torn, she decides to give him another chance for one date to try to prove himself. Dave does himself no favors in this situation by letting Corrine believe that an ornament depicting a little girl caroler that he bought for her is from Tim. WHY DO PEOPLE DO THIS IN MOVIES? If there is anything I’ve learned from romances, it’s to include a damn card when you send someone a gift.

Meanwhile, a frustrated Harold talks to Hot Dog Guy about the human life he lived before becoming an angel… which sounds an awful lot like Corrine’s story about her grandfather, who wrote songs for her grandmother and mailed the sheet music home every week, but never made it home from The War. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat! And the next time Harold stops by Corrine’s place, he finally starts to put this together — but he’s so freaked out that all he does is yell at Corrine for going out with Tim instead of Dave. It’s really not a good look.

On her date, Corrine’s having a good time until she realizes Tim didn’t give her the ornament (girl, this neckbeard didn’t go into any store that sells cute glass ornaments, come on), and he insults Dave. Upset, she leaves the restaurant and finds Harold playing the piano at the music shop — a song she recognizes, because her grandfather wrote it. Now she’s freaked out, and he hastily claims his grandfather and hers were best friends in the war, and he was afraid to tell her that that’s why he’s here, because she might think he’s crazy. Though she (smartly) thinks he’s lying, he basically convinces her by showing her the scarf he’s wearing — with her grandmother’s embroidery. She invites him to drink tea and hear the story of her family, but he declines, secretly too sad to listen to the tale of his own cut-short life and the love that he lost. Awwwww.

Meanwhile, Dave has a plan to show his love for Corrine. With the promise of donated instruments and the puppy dog eyes of a desperate man, he finagles a spot in the Christmas concert for her to sing a song of her grandfather’s that he’s written lyrics for. The song is quite pretty, and catchy enough that it’s still sort of stuck in my head. Harold is touched to hear his music sung on stage, Dave and Corrine kiss, everyone claps, yay! (Also apparently they’re all on public access TV at this point.)

Now it’s time for Harold to say goodbye. Corrine asks if he is who she thinks he is, but he won’t give a straight answer, and says he’ll see her again in good time. Then, as his reward for succeeding in his mission, he’s off to finally be reunited with his wife, a beautiful silhouette wearing an old-timey hat.

In case we’re still not clear on the situation, later Corrine finds a photo she’s never seen before hidden in her scrapbook, and it’s not weathered and faded like the others — it’s Harold’s face for sure. So just at the moment your most aged and addled family member might be asking “So it WAS the same guy all along?” a character is going “WE WERE RIGHT, IT WAS HIM ALL ALONG.” Handy.

Angels and Ornaments is schmaltzy, but it’s such a genuinely nice movie that it’s hard to make fun of too much. It’s a bit serious, not half-farce like so many of Hallmark’s movies, and the undercurrent of Harold dealing with the loss of his human life pulls the second half of the film together and makes the end of the story, though very predictable, something more than just success in a matchmaking scheme. The actor Sergio Di Zio is also so likeable that you just kind of want to reach through the screen and hug him the whole time.

Y’all know I’m a softie underneath all the snark, but don’t worry: next up, we’ll find Lacey Chabert discovering she’s secretly engaged to a prince. Her Highness Gretchen Wieners, aw yeah!

Countdown to Christmas scorecard:
*female lead’s name is a Christmas reference: 3/5 films (Rare instance of a male character getting that treatment here.)
*female lead gets fired: 1/5 (We’re doing well on this trope this year!)
*male lead has sad childhood Christmas memories: 2/5
*romantic ice skating scene: 2/5
*romantic tree decorating scene: 3/5
*character comes to senses after heart-to-heart talk with father figure: 2/5
*dead parents: 2/5


1 Response to “Hark the “Harold” Angels”

  1. 1 maliaann November 23, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Reblogged this on Writing for the Whole Darn Universe and commented:
    Angels and Ornaments :)

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