Christmas at Dollywood (2019 Hallmark)

Christmas at Dollywood (2019 Hallmark)

Cast: Danica McKellar, Niall Matter and Dolly Parton

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Synopsis (via Hallmark)

In the film, Rachel Lewis (McKellar) is a single mom and award-winning Broadway producer who learns investors have mismanaged her latest theatrical — a holiday extravaganza — into bankruptcy, forcing the show to close before it even opens. Dismayed, Rachel’s friend calls from Tennessee to tell her about an opportunity to produce a show for the 20th anniversary of the Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival at Dollywood. The only caveat? Rachel will have to work with Luke Hakman, Dollywood’s entertainment director who sees the holiday show as a stepping stone to become the park’s new general manager. As the pair make compromises to please their boss, Rachel and Luke realize love can come in the most unexpected of places.


Danica McKelle plays Rachel, who is an event coordinator in NYC! She talks into an earpiece and impresses her boss, Gail. The event goes so well that Gail gives Rachel the holiday season off. (Which Rachel looks bummed about.) Which is strange because she has a daughter. 

Rachel wasted no time finding a job for the holiday; she will be interviewing for a job at Dollywood, where she will be helping with Christmas in the park. Plus, she will get to meet Dolly! (Oh, and spend time with her family in Tennesse.) 

At Dollywood, Rachel is on her way to her interview and critiques the event set up and decor to a man named Luke, who is the General Manager of Dollywood. (He thinks she is a spy from a competitor.) They both make their pitches and get called in for a second interview. The board wants to team them up on 30th Anniversary Party, IN SIX DAYS! He knows the park, and she knows events, they make a perfect partnership. (Too bad they hate each other and will end up falling in love.) 

Luke and Rachel keep coming up with ideas! This movie should be called, “I have an idea!” Event logistics talk and longing annoyance happen for the next 20 mins. Then Dolly comes to the park, and Rachel tries to act cool, but she REALLY wants to meet her. 

It turns out Rachel has a dream of writing Children’s books, and event planning is her “Plan B.” She tells Luke about her past dreams while building the strangest looking snowman! (Haha!) Luke is a workaholic to take care of his low-income family. They spend more time together with Rachel’s family. (They bake Yule Logs, Likes looks like crap.)

Then we get a Christmas clothing montage and line dance (or Electric Slide.) to country music. Because we are in the south, remember? I forgot since no one has accents. Luke and Rachel slow dance and talk about her daughter. (Rachel is widowed, Luke encourages her to go for her dream to be a writer.) Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas” plays while Rachel reads an old journal with her teen writing.

Luke gets approached by a rival theme park owner who wants him to be the general manager of his park. Rachel gets an offer from Gail to be partners and her business. We know they will stay at Dollywood, but let’s pretend this adds stakes. 

It is the night of the party, and we finally get to see Dolly! She doesn’t sing? We get to see other artists perform. Then it is the Parade of Many Colors and I and thrilled to report that it is incredible. The Christmas tree lighting happens, and it goes awry. (Love the reaction shots on Dolly here. Dolly even winks at Rachel.)  

Rachel realizes that Pigeon Forge and rushes to find Luke. Instead, she finds Dolly (in a Christmas space outfit), who sits her down and talks it through. She tells Rachel that Luke is going to be the new General Manager. 

Rachel breaks the good news to Luke about his new job and that she is staying in town to show her daughter and herself that you can live your dreams. Then they kiss by some beautiful Christmas lights. Dolly watches on and says, “Now that is what I call a happy ending.”

One year later, Rachel writes a children’s book, and it gets selected to be part of Dolly’s Imagination Library. More kissing happens, and NOW it is the end.  

Side Note

Minority Report: The chef, Manager from a rival theme park, and that is it. 

No one in this movie has southern accents. Isn’t that weird? Even Dolly spoke without and accents. (JK.)

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Overall rating

🎄🎄🎄 (3 Christmas Trees)

🍷🍷🍷 (3 glasses of wine required)

*Photo Credit: © 2019 Crown Media United States, LLC

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