Stream It or Skip It?


Hallmark Movies Now is getting inventive with their latest feature-length holiday venture, Rescuing Christmas. A true feat of world-building, this romantic comedy-drama thinks long and hard about what the world would be like if we were trying out Christmas customs and traditions for the first time in a world that has never heard of the holiday before, with hilarious and thoughtful results. Led by Rachael Leigh Cook (She’s All That, The Baby-Sitters Club) and Sam Page (The Bold Type), Rescuing Christmas is a fun twist on some of the tried and true holiday movie tropes. But is it enough to be worth saving for your seasonal streaming queue this year?

The Gist: Debbie (Bailey Stender) and Chuck (Patrick O’Brien) are North Pole elves hoping to bring the Christmas spirit back up in human beings with their new project, “Operation: Wish,” which entails granting one lucky randomly selected person three wishes to help them have their Merriest Christmas yet. Santa Claus (T. Mychael Rambo) loves the idea, which leads to the selection of Duluth, Minnesota-based freelance photographer Erin Smithson (Rachael Leigh Cook). Erin is a very tough nut to crack. She’s particularly Scrooge-like this year after her narcissistic boyfriend Archie (Ahmad Mawas) dumped her last year on the holiday. She wants no part in Operation: Wish, and bats away all of Debbie and Chuck’s covert attempts at putting it on her radar (the elves have to be discreet about their magic).

Even if she doesn’t care for the season herself, Erin just wants to help her niece and nephew have a Merry Christmas. Her holidays are further complicated, however, when her sister Maria (Kathryn Fumie) and brother-in-law Taylor (Rod Kasal) try setting Erin up with an old law school buddy of Taylor’s named Sam Collins (Sam Page). Erin feels blindsided by this sudden set-up, causing her and Christmas-loving Sam to get off on the wrong foot. However, her icy attitude towards him begins to thaw when he enlists her help in developing some old family photos. And then once Erin has finally used up her wishes culminating in the complete disappearance of Christmas, Sam becomes her lifeline in helping to convince her community to buy into this holiday they’ve never heard of before.

Rescuing Christmas
Photo: Hallmark

What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: The aspect of everyone collectively forgetting that one very popular thing exists is reminiscent of It’s A Wonderful Life or Yesterday. And the whole three wishes of it all will likely remind you of Aladdin.

Performance Worth Watching: Honestly, everyone’s pretty darn delightful in Rescuing Christmas. It’s hard to pick a single standout out of such a strong and likable ensemble cast, but leads Rachael Leigh Cook, Sam Page, Bailey Stender, T. Mychael Rambo, and Kathryn Fumie are especially charming in each of their roles.

Memorable Dialogue: “Being a human has never been harder. Social media. Superstorms. Mac and cheese ice cream.” So true, Chuck, life is hard!

A Holiday Tradition: Rescuing Christmas does a great job of showing us some classic holiday traditions in a fresh and silly way, like using Halloween pumpkin and ghost string lights as festive decorations or tying string on tennis balls to make ornaments. There’s no wrong way to Christmas (even though hardcore holiday fanatic elf Debbie would possibly disagree).

Rescuing Christmas
Photo: Hallmark

Does the Title Make Any Sense?: You bet! After Erin puts the holiday in danger, she spends the rest of the movie, well, rescuing Christmas. There ya go!

Our Take: I love that Rescuing Christmas absolutely does not take itself too seriously, and I think that’s a large part of why it works. For example, Erin finally throwing Archie out of her house and life because he ate all of her mom’s treasure pizzelle cookies is simultaneously so silly and yet also very relatable and respectable (seriously, pizzelles are amazing). Also, the filmmakers clearly understand the world they’ve created very well (no matter how fantastical or goofy it may be), as they address questions and concerns regarding the rules of Operation: Christmas’s wishes quite thoroughly (even bringing the North Pole legal team into it to discuss loopholes!), letting you just sit back and enjoy the wild ride they’ve set up for you.

Let’s talk story. Erin uses her third wish to make Christmas disappear. Even though Erin doesn’t love Christmas these days, she still loves all the joy it brought her niece and nephew and feels a lot of guilt over what she’s done. I like that even though the holiday brings complicated conflicted emotions into play for her, Erin still wants to bring it back for everyone else’s benefit and she’s determined to rope Sam into helping her convince people that Christmas is real.

I think it’s sweet that Sam is willing to help her even for something he’s convinced doesn’t exist, like now that’s romance (by the way, I thought Erin and Sam’s burgeoning relationship was a total success and very easy to root for). It was so heartwarming to see all of Erin’s family get into this holiday they don’t even think exists just to support their loved one, even when they thought she was kind of losing her mind. Heck, Santa even ropes the mayor (Sarah Agnew) of Duluth into it. No one can resist Christmas cheer, even when they don’t know what it is!

It’s funny to hear Erin explain the ideas of Christmas and Santa Claus to a world that has never heard of it because parts of the lore do sound pretty insane and sinister (he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, I mean come on). Rescuing Christmas really nails the spirit of the season in this regard. Even though there are so many weird or illogical things about the holiday, we all love it for the sense of magic, community, and cheer that it brings. And it’s a nice reminder that no matter how you celebrate Christmas, there’s no real right or wrong way. Whatever brings people together and makes ’em feel holiday cheer is more than enough.

Our Call: STREAM IT! Rescuing Christmas is an entertaining, silly, and sweet movie that, much like everyone around Erin who has forgotten that Christmas exists, will make you fall in love with the holiday all over again.

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