It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, it’s not Christmas, yet. But it is Countdown to Christmas which means we’re getting all of the movies. And this writer here, well, I am here for all the Christmas movies.
Countdown to Christmas kicked off tonight with Noel Next Door which is about, “A hard-working, single mom gets into a war of words with an irritable neighbor who is ruining Christmas, only to find that this misunderstood grinch is the man who’s stolen her heart.”
Now, I love a play on Scrooge. I am one. It’s kind of weird that I look forward to Christmas movies all year long, but I am not a Christmas person at all. I avoid it at all costs. Yet, with as much as I may not like it, part of what melts a little bit of my Scrooge heart, is Countdown to Christmas.
Every year, I am not sure what to expect with Countdown to Christmas, because Hallmark continues to evolve their slate every year. That’s part of what I love about the channel. With Noel Next Door, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I have to admit that I was a little disappointed.
It was the holes in the storyline.
In the movie, Natalie plays Noelle, a single mom, doing everything that she can to give her son a stable life as she goes through a divorce. Her husband has moved his mistress (her words, not mine) into their home and she’s moved into a condo with Henry, her son. Henry is doing his best to be a strong kid, trying to navigate his relationship with his Mom and his Dad. However, we don’t really get to see a lot of that.
What we see is Henry, practicing soccer, by kicking the ball against a wall, which happens to be the wall of one of the crankiest Scrooge’s we’ve seen. The grumpy man in 224 is not having it and becomes angry at the noise that Henry makes. However, this isn’t going to stop Henry.
Which, I don’t get. See, the complex is quite large, and logically I am not sure why it is that Henry can’t just kick the ball somewhere else. However, I do know that it is a plot point in order to cause the inevitable drama that will exist between the cranky man in 224 and Noelle.
Did I forget to mention that Noelle actually knows the cranky man in 224? Granted, she doesn’t know that he’s the cranky man that her son complains about. She knows him as Jeremy (played by Corey Sevier) the man she met at work, who she feels sparks with. Sparks are a big deal, because she didn’t think that she was ready to move on, at all.
With Jeremy and Noelle life seems easy. She is excited by the time that she gets to spend with him and he lets down his walls. He’s no longer angry, he’s hopeful. Hope is something that I think equally scares him and excites him.
Jeremy had a stroke two years prior and it turned his world upside down. He felt alone, angry, bitter – all of the things that are perfectly normal to feel. Yet, people don’t get that and no one is really asking him about what is going on with him. However, devils advocate, Jeremy isn’t really letting anyone in.
Yet, with Noelle, it is easy to let her in. She’s not afraid of what happened to him, she wants to get to know him. And after a particularly bad first blind date that his friends set him up on, I can see why he’s hesitant and a little insecure.
Through a few twists and turns Noelle finds out that Jeremy is the cranky man in 224. She doesn’t like the way that he’s treated her son, and closes the door in his face, before the two are due to go out on a date.
Jeremy and Noelle are both devastated, as they really liked each other. Inevitably, it’s Henry that brings the two of them back together. Henry knows that he caused a rift, but he also knows that he lied to his Mom and made things worse.
But even more than that, he knows that Jeremy makes his Mom happy. He knows that he likes to see his Mom smiling. And that is enough for him.
So Henry asks Jeremy to ask his Mom out again. Jeremy thinks that she deserves better. And yes, it’s a line that frustrates me, but it’s also a good line, so I will let it go.
So what is it about the movie that fell flat for me? It was that I felt like things were introduced but they felt so weird and awkward and some felt not followed up on. So what was the use of having them?
For instance, Noelle and her ex have a contentious relationship. One that her son often overhears on calls. It would have been nice to see the family come together for his sake, in order to tell him that they love him and will always be there for him.
Or when Jeremy runs into his ex and she’s had a baby. It really feels oddly placed and as if it didn’t need to be there.
The blind dates, I get why they are there, but it could have been a montage or something.
What I wanted was more of the family dynamics for Henry. What I wanted was more of Christmas morning. What I wanted was more moments between Jeremy and Noelle.
Overall Rating: 🎄🎄🎄
Christmas Factor: 🎄🎄🎄🎄