The Christmas Train (2017 Hallmark Channel)


The Christmas Train

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Stars: Dermot Mulroney, Danny Glover, Joan Cusack, Kimberly Williams-Paisley

Synopsis (via Hallmark)

From Hallmark Hall of Fame, a journalist embarks on a cross-country train ride at Christmas having no idea this journey will take him into the rugged terrain of his own heart.

In “The Christmas Train,” disillusioned, globetrotting journalist Tom Langdon (Mulroney) must get from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles in time for Christmas. Forced to take the intercontinental trip by train, and determined to chronicle his adventure, Tom finds himself westbound with a variety of characters. On the train is renowned movie producer Max (Glover), Max’s script doctor and protégé Eleanor (Paisley), and Agnes (Cusack) who occupies the cabin opposite Tom’s and seems to know his business better than he does. While all passengers on the Christmas train appear to be headed for the same destination, Tom has no idea that the rugged locomotives taking him across America will instead detour straight into his heart – into rude awakenings, his wildest hopes and dreams, and toward the opportunity for love Tom thought was lost forever.


Tom (Dermot Mulroney) lives is a town with REAL snow! (Finally) he is a writer about furniture and has a controlling girlfriend, Lelia (not a famous actor). Max Powers (Danny Glover) is a famous director. Eleanore (Kimberly Williams Paisley) is a script doctor or an assistant/writing consultant. Joan Cusack is Agnes, a nosey passenger on the train, who is just riding the train to pass the time alone at Christmas. All these moderately famous people are in the train traveling 3000 miles, four days, on the Christmas train!

We meet a young attractive couple getting married on the train, a fortune teller, a bartender who makes “The Grinch” (which looks very similar to the Candy Cane martinis in Marry Me at Christmas), and a old guy with a dead wife. Max Powers invites Tom to have dinner and work on his movie script! Later at dinner, Tom meets Ellie (or Eleanor), and they have a past which leads to an awkward dinner situation. They are sassy to each other and have a contentious and terse conversation. Turns out, they dated for six years and travelled around the world in war-torn countries trying to save the world.

At the first stop, Tom and Eleanor (NOT Ellie) connect to talk about their past and can’t come to an understanding, but you know… there’s a romantic tension. She would get a flight out if she could, but all the flights are booked for Christmas; they are stuck riding the Christmas Train together.

When the young couple’s minister misses the train, the young attractive couple is in need of a replacement. Lucky for them, Danny Glover is willing to help out! He offers to pay for the wedding and do they ceremony because he happens to be an ordained minister.

In Chicago’s “Union Station” (but not really) we learn that a thief is on the trainfirst Tom’s pen and now Eleanor’s earrings! Then the attractive young couple fight because Steve’s parents won’t let him marry Julie and threatened to take away his inheritance. Steve out looking for a cab and Tom talks him down. Eleanor comforts Julie. They are both so good with words that Steve & Julie get back together and ask Tom and Eleanor to be the best man and maid of honor, respectively.

To celebrate, Eleanor and Tom crash a wedding (in jeans and a winter coat!). They dance around and have all the romance, but right when they are about to kiss under the holly (because that was the original mistletoe) TOM’S BITCHY BROWN-HAIRED GIRLFRIEND SHOWS UP!!!!!! She decides to ride the train so they can be closer together and she wants to get married! She is tired of being causal, she wants the whole package.

Discouraged, Eleanor goes to Danny Glover tor advice. He tells her that you only get one true love and encourages her to follow her heart. At a another arranged dinner we learn that Tom’s girlfriend and potential fiancee (if Tom says yes) is more interested in being in Danny Glover’s movie. She drops VERY heavy handed hints that she could audition on the train.  

On Christmas Eve, at the next stop in La Junta,  we learn a lot about the B-Story line characters. Joan Cusack has a son in LA, the young attractive couple are getting married, and the fortune teller tells Eleanor, unprompted, about Israel and how she ran away from everything (Including Tom). Cue Tom coming from around the corner and they have another dramatic conversation.

Then we are at the wedding which is VERY elaborate for a shotgun wedding; I guess Danny Glover has a really good assistant and a lot of money. Apparently not enough to cover the reception, which is back on the Christmas Train. Eleanor catches the bouquet! Lelia wants a Max Powers wedding, but not if it interferes with her filming schedule. (If she gets cast!) Tom breaks up with her instead.

But their relationship isn’t the only thing to hit frigid temperatures. Due to an avalanche the train is stranded! With no cell phone service and the generator running low, the train conductor suggests they build a pillow fort!  

Things get all action movie, when Tom and Eleanor decide to put their war travels to use and put on skis and winter coats (But not hat for Eleanor, her hair and all) to try and get to the nearest town. While on their expedition, they realize they are perfect together and kiss right outside a house, whose occupants have a horse drawn carriage that somehow saves the train???

In the next shot, the snow is gone and train is back on track. In the last half hour we have to wrap up these storylines with very heavy handed dialogue and off camera Carrie Bradshaw inner monologues. I couldn’t help but wonder, is this movie done yet?

Turns out Max Powell orchestrated the whole thing to bring Tom and Eleanor back together. He hired the attractive young couple, the fortune teller, and Lelia. Why? Max Powell loves love and can’t help but write a romantic story! Unfazed, Tom proposes to Eleanor at the final train station in front of all the people who lied to them. But, you know there is something about a train….

Side Note

Joan Cusack can do no wrong! She is the best part of this movie.

The men in this movie all talk in hushed whispers.

The train was PRETTY NICE!

We played a drinking game with this one. Every time “The Christmas Train” was said we drink.

It was unclear who was fake actors helping Mr. Powell and who were just people on the train. Joan Cusack was the train Marshall, but everyone else. IDK.

POC Alert: Thankful that Danny Glover was a successful Hollywood director and not some old wise Christmas ghost. Also featuring a few minor roles like the bartender, and passengers, but the fortune teller played by Karen Holness was also in Finding Santa this weekend!  

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Overall rating

🎄🎄 (2 Christmas Trees)

🍷🍷🍷🍷(4 glasses of wine required)

*Photo Credit: © 2017 Crown Media United States, LLC

1 Comment

  1. Everything about this movie said I ought to love it. It used to be a book. It had famous actors. It was about Christmas. It was about a train. …. But I didn’t. I couldn’t stand it. In fact, it took me three evenings to get through it, because I kept turning it off out of boredom. I didn’t like it UNTIL I saw that script in the trash revealing the whole thing was a “Max Powers Production” — at which point I screamed at the tv, “HA! YOU IDIOTS!” Then I liked it … but only for a minute. After that I started questioning how it could have been scripted. You can’t script what actors will say in conversation with interactive non-participants, because you don’t know what THEY will say. At best it had to be a loosely interpreted improv, right? All the type had me believing this was some new holiday classic. Ugh. Soooooo not.

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