When it comes to Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas movies, I consider myself somewhat of an expert. I feel like I have seen them all (I know I haven’t), but in the past five years, I have watched hundreds. While some may find that to be a sad fact of life, I think that in the midst of the chaos of life, it’s taught me something. It has offered me such inspiration in a season where, typically, I am just not inspired.
It’s a season where typically I am scared. It’s a season where typically I am reminded of the bad times in my life.
But Countdown to Christmas is a reminder that no matter the fear, there is hope. There is joy.
There is Christmas.
Christmas Island wasn’t what I was expecting, but it is what I needed. It’s a reminder of making the best of situations and spreading joy not matter what happens. Christmas Island is the reminder of what the power of Christmas can be.
Can’t we all use a little bit of that right now?
WHAT IT IS ABOUT: Kate Gabriel (Skarsten), a talented commercial pilot, is excited for the opportunity to spend her holiday break flying the Sharpe family on a luxurious vacation to Switzerland and hopes this gig will turn into a full-time job as their private pilot. During the flight, a snowstorm forces her to make an unexpected landing at a small airport in the Maritimes, Canada. Kate is hesitant to divert the plane, however Oliver Macleod (Walker), the pragmatic Air Traffic Control Officer in charge of guiding them to safety, insists it’s the only option. Kate and the Sharpes are all taken in by host families in the nearby community of Christmas Island, where the locals are known for their Maritime hospitality. In order to keep her hopes for a full-time job alive, Kate must ensure the increasingly anxious Sharpes find their holiday spirit and embrace the local holiday traditions. Much to Kate’s chagrin, it just so happens that Oliver and his family are the community organizers of these beloved festivities. They’re forced to team up, and together help the Sharpes discover the joys of the Maritimes, such as the Lobster Trap Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony honoring local fishermen who have fallen. Through their experiences on Christmas Island, can Kate’s efforts – aided by Oliver and the local traditions – help bring the holiday spirit to the Sharpes and perhaps discover for Kate that romance can be found in unexpected places?
WHAT IT’S GIVING: Christmas Cheer and Family Love.
STANDOUT PERFORMANCE: Honestly, hard to pick one, because this entire cast makes this movie so special and worth all of the feels that you will be feeling. What a fantastic cast and what great portrayals of their characters.
MY SCROOGE HEART THOUGHTS: We’ve talked through out the years and we all know that I hate/dislike/cringe Christmas. There aren’t many things that make me reconsider that. But this movie… consider my Scrooge heart melted and feeling all of the things.
When it comes to Hallmark movies, I always watch ones that have Rachel Skarsten is in and well Andrew Walker ones are a given. So seeing the two of them in a movie together, I was excited. You make it a Countdown to Christmas movie and well, I am 1000% perfect in.
When Kate (Skarsten) gets to be a pilot on a private flight for the Sharpe family. The family is so disconnected, not really knowing how to speak to each other. The kids want their parents attention and the parents want to please the kids. But none of them know how to relate. Even at Christmas.
The parents think that they are doing this amazing thing but taking the kids to Switzerland. However, all the kids want is for their parents to see them. They want their parents to put work aside and really just spend time with them. Though both child actors are great, Britt Loder shines. She’s the best angsty teenager, who is screaming for her parents to see her and for her mother to support her. Britt’s character of Cali, is most of us at 15 and we can’t help but respect that.
Over the course of the movie, the Sharpe family is forced to find ways to change their lives, but it all comes apart naturally. The way that the movie shows this families natural progression to finding their way back to being a family, is part of what makes this movie so great. It doesn’t feel forced. It doesn’t feel fake. It feels natural.
With that I will say that is part of what I am loving about this Countdown to Christmas season – the fact that Hallmark feels familiar, but it also feels like something that is brand new. It’s showing us that things are changing, but in the most positive way. Hallmark isn’t afraid to grow and be part of the times. Instead they are embracing evolution of ways of telling stories, progressing with scripts that feel natural and relatable. This movie – yes, you have the predictability – but that’s okay. It’s okay because the movie, the actors, and the production that make this movie great.
Now, the tropeishness of the enemies to lovers part of this movie is what I am living for. Andrew Walkers character of Oliver, TBH, at the beginning, I am like what a douche. Oliver is an air traffic controller and seems to HATE life. But as the viewer, you get it. I mean, what air traffic controller have you ever met that doesn’t seem to hate life?
But the truth is, he doesn’t. He doesn’t hate life that is. He’s actually the spirit of Christmas personified. Kate and Oliver are as different as can be, but the two of them fit. When Kate volunteers to help with the kids, she enlists his help to make them have a great Christmas.
Kate (like me, which is probably part of the reason that I love her so much) doesn’t seem to like Christmas. She doesn’t celebrate it and that’s in part because of the trauma that is around the holiday for her. But her, being around Oliver and experiencing the love for the holiday on Christmas Island, finds her way to see the spirit of Christmas. She is able to see that other people experience pain and are able to remember the spirit of Christmas.
While it is rare that something reminds me that even in pain, Christmas can and will be a road to finding and remembering joy. Did this movie melt my Scrooge heart? Well, yes.
Yes it did.
CHRISTMAS JOY FACTOR: 🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄