Gaiam // 2012 // 87 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker (Retired) // November 30th, 2013
They were a match made for the holidays.
I am so old -- How old are you? -- I am so old, that I remember when the Christmas season "officially" started when Santa's sleigh turned up at the end of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Times sure have changed; now it seems like the Christmas season starts while you're firing up the grill on the Fourth of July.
Since 2013 has a late Thanksgiving, it means there's a shorter Christmas shopping window, so retailers have been hysterically mounting Yuletide displays since before Halloween. On TV, one place where the merrys, happys, and ho-ho-hos never seem to dim is the Hallmark Channel, which has a seemingly endless stockpile of bland and predictable made-for-Noel movies.
Hitched for the Holidays is part of Hallmark's Countdown to Christmas, which I think might start in February. OK, actually it starts in the beginning of November, but if you determine to sit through all of Hallmark's holiday offerings, you might find yourself rotting from treacle.
In Hitched for the Holidays, swingerish womanizer Rob (Joey Lawrence, Melissa and Joey) finds himself single on Thanksgiving -- again! Evidently, this is a pattern for Rob. Could he be commitment phobic? Or is he just uneasy exposing women to his voracious Italian family, whose holiday meals look like cut scenes from The Walking Dead?
Also single is Julie (Emily Hampshire, It's a Boy Girl Thing). Unlike the lusty Rob, Julie is something of a pill. She's also Jewish, which means her mother (Marilu Henner, Taxi) is constantly beating the bushes for unmarried doctors to squire her daughter.
Because both Rob and Julie have overbearing families -- Rob even has a terminally ill grandmother who refuses to die until he's married! -- they turn to the Internet for comfort. Since neither can afford to pay a prostitute to pretend to be their significant others over the long holiday haul, they place ads on a website looking for non-charging holiday escorts and find each other.
But will their phony relationship blossom -- get it? Joey Lawrence? Blossom? Whoa! -- or will this be a Blue Christmas and a Mauve Hanukah?
Look, you don't exactly need a tour guide to know how this is going to turn out. You can tell how a Hallmark Channel holiday movie is going to turn out just by reading the title; scratch that: you can tell how a Hallmark Channel holiday movie is going to turn out simply because it's a Hallmark Channel holiday movie.
Hitched for the Holidays is pretty boilerplate, but you know what you're getting into before the credits roll. The humor is largely silly -- not only has Julie never trimmed a Christmas tree, she seems baffled by the mechanics of hanging a ball on a branch; Julie also inexplicably tries to pass Rob off as Jewish, leading to an expected mess of scene in which he's put on Menorah duty; and meeting Julie is so therapeutically enriching for Rob's grandmother that she actually rises from her deathbed, dresses up, and hops in a cab to celebrate Christmas with her family. Oh, and Rob's mother has visions.
But Lawrence and Hampshire are appealing, and the supporting players are game. The expected manufactured crisis that kicks off the film's final third is just that -- manufactured -- and seems only there because that's what the recipe calls for. The film would have actually worked better if they'd scrapped all the forced "drama," cut it by 10 or 15 minutes (for a 90-minute slot rather than a two-hour one) and just weirded it up a bit more.
But as far as these things go, it's not bad. It's the kind of movie you can have on during a holiday gathering and just check in on when the conversations slow down.
The disc has a TV-ready clean transfer and audio. There are no supplements.
Standard Hallmark holiday, perfectly acceptable and inoffensive.
Review content copyright © 2013 Tom Becker; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated