I absolutely love Hallmark movies. Everything I say is out of this undying, appreciative, in awe type of love. Yes, I poke fun at them, but my husband and I poke fun at each other all of the time, and we are annoyingly in love.
Meet Joy Holbrook (Danielle Panabaker)! Not only does she have a Christmassy name, she is also going back to her Christmassy sounding home of Crystal Falls, North Carolina. But–I’m getting ahead of myself. Joy
- lives in Washington DC
- works in marketing research
- absolutely loves Weatherton’s department store
- is plagued by a clumsy aunt.
She also, miraculously, isn’t afraid of mannequins that have 2008 Lady Gaga platinum blonde hair with Sia bangs. I probably would’ve punched that mannequin and ran away. No shade to Lady Gaga or Sia, but much shade to terrifying mannequins with wigs on.
Meet Ben Andrews (Matt Long)! He does everything. I don’t think I am exaggerating, even though I am usually exaggerating. He
- is the hospital administrator in Crystal Falls
- competes in gingerbread competitions
- co-captains a Christmas Cookie Crawl team
- drives the most enormous truck I have ever seen.
Ben also has a problem with “city women.” Do spill the beans on that one, Benny!
So, I mentioned a clumsy aunt. After staring at her Christmas Cookie Crawl trophies, Joy’s Aunt Ruby is so mesmerized and blinded by her achievements that she stands on the top step of a ladder–even though the ladder all but begs her not to in bold, black letters.
Fast forward to the hospital! Let this be a lesson, #Hallmarkies: always listen to ladders. They are wise. They understand safety.
While visiting Aunt Ruby’s smashed ankle in the hospital, Joy is accidentally roped up in a strand of Christmas lights by Ben. They haven’t seen each other in years, but some sparks fly 😉
Joy also gets distracted by a song declaring oh oh oh it’s christmas oh oh oh!, and rams her Mini Cooper into Ben’s enormous truck. These Holbrook women need to learn a thing or two about safety!!!!!!!!!!
Aunt Ruby has to go to a rehab center 2 hours away–that is one intense ankle injury–and isn’t able to prepare for the Christmas Cookie Crawl that is in just 6 days! Because her aunt has done so much for her, Joy decides to stay in Crystal Falls to help prepare. She has vacation days and her laptop, so she can work from home.
As Aunt Ruby’s usual co-captain, Matt tries to help Joy, but she wants none of it! She has watched enough Hallmark Christmas movies to know that if you don’t want to fall in love you must not bake with an attractive male. Even if you’re engaged and you bake with someone, you WILL fall in love with your baking partner immediately. It can’t be undone.
But, Matt spouts off the numbers to Joy. She’ll need to make
- 7,000 lemon bars
- Eleventy hundred chocolate chip cookies
- 5 gallons of peppermint fudge
- dozens and dozens of other ‘zerts.
So, if I did my math correctly, Joy has to prepare one million delectable desserts. I hate the word delectable. I hate myself for just using it.
How much does this all cost?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
After looking through boxes and binders even Leslie Knope would think were overdoing it, Joy tries to balance the Christmas Cookie Crawl and her nagging boss’ demands.
She also offers to pay Ben for CCC (I’ve gotta shorten it, my fingers are gonna fall off) advice, but he gets oddly offended by it. We soon learn that it’s something his city slickin’ EX WIFE would’ve done, and he was just trying to help because that’s what country folk do for each other. He’s got way too much product in his hair to be like not around these them here parts, partner, but, hey, at least we now know he’s single 😉 Once again, no shade to Matt Long’s hair, but his hair screams city boy.
Oh, and Joy is going to judge Crystal Fall’s gingerbread competition so Matt can compete on a team with his mom. How will she survive all of this? How will I survive watching her juggle all of these things? I am easily stressed out.
But, at least, Joy has finally accepted Ben’s help. If I’m going to be semi-stressed out, at least I’ll be watching people fall in love.
Every CCC needs a darn good theme! Ben wants a classic theme while Joy wants to put a twist on it. Kinda like when someone competing on Food Network Star is like My style is Southern Comfort Food Japanese Greek Fusion.
While arguing about the theme, Matt trips and breaks one of Joy’s most treasured possessions from her mom who passed away: a beautiful green ornament. She, somehow, doesn’t melt into a puddle of tears on the floor.
After a long day of planning,
- they go out for dinner
- run into Ben’s parents.
Ben’s mother (Susan Hogan–who played the matriarch of the good Mitchums in A Very Merry Mix-Up) asks her son if the two are on a date. He denies this because he can’t date a city girl because he can’t get burned by one again.
- Joy’s boss is insufferable.
- Ben tries to fix Joy’s shattered ornament.
- Joy visits Aunt Ruby with Ben’s mom and the two women judge her lack of progress. No theme?! No good!
But, this is where I gasped like a super duper goofball. Like, it was a noise I cannot describe. I was in awe of how romantic and how lovely and how beautiful it was. The pair go for a walk in the woods. AND
because it makes him feel more connected. Now, I don’t believe I’ve ever connected more to a moment in a Hallmark movie than this one. If you think that is dumb, do not tell me. It was super beautiful to me, and I don’t want it tainted by your bad opinion.
Also, their theme is going to be Mother Nature and how we’re all connected by it at Christmas time–the magic of the trees, the snow, Jack Frost dancing in the chill of the frosty air. So rustic winter wonderland chic, I’m supposin’.
This beautiful moment is followed by the most brutal near-kiss of all time. I am still not over it. She is left standing there, her eyes closed, in the soft glow of white twinkling light wrapped trees. Ben just stops. Ben just leaves.
So, ole’ Joy eats some cookie dough.
That, I understand.
Oh, but the freezer lid pops open and some of the dough is ruined?
Let’s throw out some more bullet points! My husband has already gone to bed, and I’m tired!
- They all come together to help remake the dough that was ruined.
- The super serious gingerbread competition happens and Matt and his mom win (In a surprise twist, the carousel that took first prize from The Sweetest Christmas last year got 2nd place)!
- Everyone wears amazing sweaters.
Before Joy goes to her company’s Christmas Gala in the dress she got off of the Lady Gaga/Sia mannequin, she opens a Christmas present from Ben.
He has repurposed the ornament he broke!!!!!!!! It is actually beautiful. She, somehow, doesn’t cry for an hour over this. I would’ve been a wreck about how thoughtful this was.
Meanwhile, Ben listens to the trees and his father. They both tell him to take a risk and to go get the girl! Which he does by driving to DC to surprise her at the gala. Unfortunately, he is dressed just like the waiters. So, he leaves? He should’ve pulled a Michael Scott and made Dwight Schrute switch shirts with him like he did before David Wallace’s party. Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute should’ve been in this movie. Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute should be in everything.
Oh, and the company Joy works for lost Weatherton’s as a client. Oh, and Joy quit her job. Oh, and she’s staying in Crystal Falls. Oh, and she talks to Poppy Weatherton, the head honcho at Weatherton’s–who I should’ve mentioned before this moment.
Aunt Ruby approves of the CCC decor, as do I!! It is probably the classiest decor I’ve seen in a Hallmark movie. And there actually seem to be a bunch of people there, as opposed to the usual 5 that are at the big events at the end of these movies.
Poppy Weatherton shows up at the CCC. She reveals that she is opening a new store and corporate offices in Charlotte, and wants to hire Joy! This is good and great!
Ben shows up to the CCC after his hella weird behavior in DC. He tells Joy that he got scared because he saw her at the party and saw how much she fit into that fancy schmancy city world. Once he learned that she is staying, he feels that the relationship could work soooooo
They kiss and probably live happily ever after as Mariah Carey belts Joy to the World. The End!
I rate Christmas Joy Milk Chocolate Milanos which is a 3.75/5 on my scale of Cookies!
- No cookies at all
- Those pink sugar wafer cookies
- Cookies made out of Funfetti Cake Mix (look it up, you won’t be disappointed)
- My Grandma’s Mexican Wedding Cakes ❤
I’ve been excited about Christmas Joy ever since I saw sneak peeks of it in the first of the 800 Countdown to Christmas Preview Specials. Danielle Panabaker and Matt Long had such great chemistry in it, and thankfully that translated into the movie as well!
Susan Hogan is wonderful. She is my favorite Hallmark movie mom, and she is always welcome.
There were two major highlights of the movie for me:
- The extremely touching moment in the woods
- How Matt turned the broken ornament into something beautiful
Also, I love the idea of a Christmas Cookie Crawl–but only attending. Making that many baked goods and spending thousands of dollars on sugar and trees sounds terrible. Bless the people who do it. I will leave you a $5 bill at the door for your trouble.
Thank you so much for reading! Let me know what you thought of Christmas Joy!