Movie Review: Haul out the Holly (2022)

Synopsis: Emily finally ends things with her jerk of a boyfriend only to discover he changed the lease on their apartment, so it was under just his name. Needing a place to stay, she visits her parents, who live in a Christmas-obsessed community, only to discover they are going to Florida to look for a new home. She stays at their house anyway, hoping to at least get a chance to rest and reset following her breakup. However, her former childhood friend and current homeowner's association president, Jared, insists she live up to her parents' HOA obligations regarding the holiday.

Who's in it? The movie stars Lacey Chabert, Wes Brown, Melissa Peterman, Peter Jacobson and Eliza Hayes Maher.

Review: It's not the Christmas season unless my wife and I take the time to watch the latest Lacey Chabert Hallmark Christmas movie and, since we had some free time yesterday evening, we finally did. Unfortunately, while we do enjoy most Hallmark Christmas films, even ones that don't star her, this one just wasn't as good as we'd hoped.

The movie, frankly, felt a little like a Christmas with the Kranks rip off. The premise was basically the same. Much like the Kranks, Emily (Chabert) doesn't decorate her house and doesn't want to take part in the neighborhood Christmas festivities. Probably the only differences were her reasons for not doing it and her HOA required a nutcracker decoration on her porch rather than a Frosty the Snowman on the roof.

The subplot of the whole community (or at least the most obsessed members) secretly trying to set her up with Jared (Brown) seemed more than a little farfetched. I'm also somewhat confused about whether or not Jared was in on that plan. The movie hints that her parents decorated for the holiday then undecorated and went to Florida when they heard she was coming home. That, along with the need for "Santa's helpers" to complete the task seems like something the HOA president would notice, especially since he is one of those helpers. If he was in on it, then it would make him somewhat creepy.

I also wasn't a huge fan of the whole Emily/Jared thing in general. Jared seemed like an OK guy, but she basically broke up with a guy who didn't care about Christmas enough only to start a relationship with one who was obsessed with it. Even with her rekindling her Christmas spirit, it just feels like something that will eventually get on her nerves, along with her neighbors. Heck, I like Christmas as much as the next guy, but I'd never be able to live in that neighborhood. It's the kind of neighborhood that makes it easy to understand why the Grinch hated the Whos.

In fact, my wife and I kind of got the feeling a lot of the actors in this movie felt the same way because it really seemed like they were phoning in their performances. Chabert was awesome, as always and I kind of liked Melissa Peterman's performance as well but some of those lines were overacted to the point it felt like the supporting actors were trying to get fired, especially Peter Jacobson, who seemed like he was questioning his life's choices at times.

Final Opinion: Hallmark has some good Christmas movies, which is why we give them a try. And Lacey Chabert usually stars in the best ones. Unfortunately, this was one of the few exceptions to that. It's not terrible but it's also not at the same level as many others.

My Grade: C-


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