The brand history is made with Christmas house! This is the first Hallmark film to feature LGBTQ characters in lead roles, although it is one of many Hallmark Christmas films of 2020 to have diverse casts. The film, co-written by star Robert Buckley, features a cast that includes Jonathan Bennett, Treat Williams and Sharon Lawrence. As far as Hallmark goes, it’s about as striking as it gets, but Christmas house answer to the expectations?
The essential: Robert Buckley plays Mike Mitchell, the star of a TV show called Beau Justice. After completing another season of his moderately successful procedure, he learns that this Christmas will not be like any recent Christmas, because it will be like the Christmases of his childhood! Mike’s parents, Phyllis (Lawrence) and Bill (Williams), give the old Christmas house tradition one last chance, meaning they literally move everything out of their house and turn it into a wall to wall, floor to ceiling winter wonders!
The entire Mitchell clan is called upon to spread the Christmas House tradition in style, including Mike, his brother Brandon (Bennett) and Brandon’s husband Jake (Brad Harder). Mike’s high school crush (and former magic partner!) Andi (Ana Ayora) is also in the game.
However, there’s a lot more going on with the Mitchell family than this latest Christmas House extravaganza! Brandon and Jake are keeping a secret: They are trying to adopt and are unwilling to give the family hope if it fails. To complicate matters, Andi is a real estate agent and Bill and Phyllis are putting the house up for sale! Not only is it the last year for Maison de Noël, it’s the last Christmas in this house! But why are they selling the house and why are Mike’s parents acting so strangely? There’s more going on here—but what?!
What movies will this remind you of? : While there is a classic romcom Hallmark storyline to follow between Mike and Andi, Christmas house in fact follows another classic vacation trajectory. This is a great family Christmas comedy drama in the style of The family stone Where I love coopers. All three scenarios – will Mike and Andi / won’t they, Bill and Phyllis go ahead and the adoption of Brandon and Jake – all have more or less equal weight.
Performances to watch: It’s really, really hard to choose just one performance because every actor is exceptional! The Mitchell family dynamics are so real, so emotional and so familiar. And Ana Ayora is playing a romantic role that’s so… costs. She’s outside of the perky / clutzy / Type-A lineup that we love so much about these movies and so many other actors do so well. It’s just Andi, a down to earth straight shooter who knows what she wants and plays her cool.
But of all the performances in the film, you have to leave it to Sharon Lawrence who, as matriarch Mitchell, is the emotional center of the film. She sells the seriousness of Phyllis’ inner struggle long before you know what’s going on, and that gives the film some weight.
Memorable dialogue: Love this online delivery from Lawrence: “It’s not just a teapot. It is part of our family history. Maybe I’m the only one who thinks it’s important, but I think so. Ultimately, the memory of one thing is all you have.
A holiday tradition: Duh, the Christmas House! The Mitchell family supported a moving truck and emptied their house every November and filled it with holiday cheer. We’re talking multi-themed trees, a toy room, a train room, indoor fake snow—! There was even a magic show in front with Mike and Andi. And then… it all stopped 20 years ago.
Does the title make sense? : While Christmas house seemed like one of the more vague Hallmark holiday movie titles (but nothing beats the It’s time for me / you / us to come home for Christmas franchise when it comes to vagueness), it becomes incredibly specific when you learn that the Christmas house is a literal Christmas house and is called that in the movie.
Our opinion : History has been written and this Hallmark movie is absoutely one for the history books. It’s just a good – no, a great – Christmas movie, period. No other qualifier needed. Everything on Christmas house, from the legitimately funny script (each Beau Justice joke landed for me) to warm performances (I want Treat Williams and Sharon Lawrence to be the parents in every movie!) to the performance. And not just the LGBTQ representation, but the Lantix representation. Christmas house has a large Christmas table, and everyone is welcome!
I have to admit that I walked in Christmas house while waiting for much, much less than what he finally delivered. This isn’t the first Hallmark movie featuring gay characters this year; this honor probably goes to Christmas with the darlings, although I haven’t watched all of the 127 Hallmark movies that have aired in the past 3 weeks. But all the same, this film (along with one that will be released soon) features homosexual characters in supporting roles. They are the best friends. They have romance, but it’s the C plot and they sure never kiss. You get a grip or a nudge.
Christmas house makes history as its gay characters are part of a six-person lead role; their adoption story is as emotionally resonant as the straight romance. It’s here that Christmas house lived up to my expectations, and here’s where he exceeded them: Brandon and Jake are affectionate. They kiss, they hold hands, they are generally affectionate, and they hug each other.
It’s something that may be lost on straight audiences, but seeing a married gay couple kissing in a Hallmark Christmas movie, a movie in which their struggle does not imply going out– the effect that this moment will have on a whole generation of homosexual children will be felt for decades. I’m speaking from personal experience – to throw my review hat of the little Santa Claus movie completely to the side – when I say that for gay people kissing on the holidays is a major statement. Personally, I have never kissed my husband in front of anyone in my family, and certainly not on Christmas. The warm Christmas intimacy that heterosexual couples take for granted can be a difficult ordeal for same-sex couples. See Brandon and Jake sit on the couch with their arms entwined as Mama Mitchell walks through an elaborate CG game plan on how they’re going to decorate their home? It is transcendent.
If watching Jake and Brandon be an engaged, loving, fun, and healthy couple makes one couple express their genuine, unfiltered love in front of their family this time of year, then it was worth it.
Alright, I put my review hat on the little Santa Claus movie back on, because I can say some glowing things about the straight parts of that movie as well. Mike and Andi are a lovely couple and watch their romance unfold via Rashomon the styling flashbacks had me fully invested in the straights. And, oh my god, the whole thing with parents put me in real suspense, to a degree that I absolutely never felt watching a Hallmark movie. The film is a delight from start to finish and, as if that weren’t enough, it’s a film that will truly change the world for the better.
Our call: Stream it. This is a Hallmark movie that paid for the musical rights to Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” and the money spent was absolutely worth it.
Christmas house Premieres on Hallmark Channel Sunday, Nov.22 at 8 p.m. ET
To concern Christmas house on the Hallmark channel