Holiday Date (2019 Hallmark)
Cast: Brittany Bristow and Matt Cohen
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Synopsis (via Hallmark)
When Brooke’s boyfriend, Ethan, breaks up with her just before the holidays, she agrees to go home with Joel, an actor who will pose as her boyfriend. She’s built up the ex-boyfriend to be the perfect guy and ‘Mr. Christmas’ but discovers Joel is Jewish and has never celebrated the holiday. What he lacks in experience, he makes up for in enthusiasm and happily participates in yuletide festivities. When his secret is revealed, the family is eager to add Joel’s Hanukkah traditions into their holiday celebration but soon become suspicious about his true identity
Brooke works as a tailor in a high fashion New York boutique. She has aspirations to become a designer one day and hopes to impress her mean British boss (who is trying to be Meryl Streep in Devil Wears Prada but failing.) The boss says things like, “We don’t stay ahead of the curve, we create the curve.” and has a posh/stuck up attitude.
Brooke is bringing her boyfriend home for the holidays and is very excited about it. The woman has no perception because her boyfriend, Ethan, breaks up with her because she is moving too fast. He doesn’t want to meet her family and will be focusing on his career.
Without a boyfriend to bring home, Brooke goes to a friend’s Christmas party on her own before heading out of town. Outside the party, she meets a handsome (Jewish) man named Joel. He is an actor and very, very attractive. Joel is up for a part about a Hardware worker from a smalltown. His agent tells him to go with Brooke home to her smalltown “for research.” Brooke agrees to help him out as long as he pretends to be Ethan and meet her family.
Once in town, Brooke and Joel get to know one another and start the charade of introducing Joel as Ethan, the architect. The family is welcoming, and Joel/Ethan does his best to answer the questions they throw at him. He offers to help Brooke’s niece practice for her play, forgetting he isn’t supposed to be a professional actor. He helps Brooke’s father with Christmas lights, and for some reason, he is supposed to be good at decorating because he is an architect? To impress the family, he buys the biggest Christmas tree he can find. (It doesn’t even fit into the house.)
Brooke is confused as to why Joel is so bad at Christmas; It turns out he is Jewish. Brooke tells him that Ethan is Mr. Christmas, and he will need to be better, which he doesn’t. When the niece gets the part in the play, he screams, “MAZEL TOV!” (This actor is so freak charming and adorable.) He also can’t decorate gingerbread houses or decorate a Christmas tree. When it is time to sing Christmas carols, the jig is up. Joel/Ethan comes out as Jewish, and everyone looks at him like he is an alien. (Has this family never met a Jew before?)
Brooke and Joel are growing closer, while more obstacles are thrown their way. The biggest one of all is Brooke’s dad Walter who is very skeptical of their relationship. In one of the best scenes I’ve seen in quite a while on Hallmark, Joel is cleaning Walter’s glasses to distract him from his commercial airing on TV during a football game. (Very funny.)
The family thinks that Brooke and Joel are engaged. Everyone is thrilled, except for Walter. To welcome him to the family, Brooke’s mom makes a Hanukkah section of the house, give him a menorah, and even change the words to “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” (It is as cringeworthy as it sounds.) Joel explains some Jewish traditions and teaches the family, “Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah!” They all sing along as the REAL Ethan shows up.
Brooke makes up a lie and says he is a friend from fashion school. She rushes the real Ethan out of the house and breaks up with him in a cafe. They hug goodbye as Joel comes in and sees them. He is disappointed and calls his agent to see what is going on with the movie role. A flirty snowball fight breaks the tension. They are falling in love. Later, they kiss under the mistletoe.
Walter finds Jole’s acting profile on IMDB and shows his wife and son in law who says: “Oy Vey Indeed.” (Yikes. No.) The family confronts Joel, and Brooke comes clean. She tells them the truth. The family is disappointed, but they like Joel!!!!!
The play happens, featuring Joel in the lead role when the actor falls ill and Brooke’s costume designs. The play is a huge success. Brooke’s boss is at the play for some reason and asks her to become part of the senior design team. Brooke turns her down to be a costume designer. (Which is the wrong choice, this coming from a former costume designer myself.) Joel doesn’t get the part and decides to do theatre also. He gives Brooke a necklace with a Christmas tree and Menorah on it. They will be spending next year with his family. I doubt Hallmark will follow through on that.
Minority Report: Brooke’s friend and the wedding shop attendant.
Hallmark will be self-congratulatory for featuring Hanukkah in one of their movies. However, having the family shoehorning some Hanukkah traditions into their Christmas and then having the Jewish character learn from the nice Christians is problematic.
Hallmark’s depiction of Jewish people as clueless to Christmas traditions is offensive and stupid. Here is a well-written article about why.
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*Photo Credit: © 2019 Crown Media United States, LLC