Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Sweater (2020 Hallmark)
Cast: Ashley Williams, Niall Matter, Calix Fraser, Brendon Zub, Jarrod Evanyshyn, Lisa MacFadden
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Synopsis (via Hallmark)
Single mom Maggie is facing Christmas alone until Lucas crashes into her life and becomes an unexpected houseguest. Together they overcome Christmas while finding comfort in their growing bond.
Divorced art teacher, Maggie, is on winter break and volunteers for event support around the holidays to keep herself busy. Maggie will be taking her tween daughter, Ellen, to say with her father for the holidays. It will be the first-holiday mother and daughter don’t spend together. On their way, they see a man in an ugly Christmas sweater. His name is Lucas, and he is visiting nephew Joey. They have a brief encounter.
They literally run into one another at a Christmas tree farm. Maggie hits him while he is jogging with her tree. She joins him at the hospital for surgery on his wrist. (He gets metal screws and everything.) Lucas has to wear a cast and is sedated in the hospital. Maggie apologizes to his family. They tell her that he was supposed to be skiing in Aspen but are happy he will be home for the holidays.
Alyssa, Maggies Friend, social media stalks Lucas and concludes that he is a good guy and probably won’t sue Maggie. (I like this BFF.) They invite Lucas to live in Maggie’s guest house for the holidays to make up for injuring him. Lucas has a BFF too; his name is Cameron, Brendon Zub Lifetime Hunky Bad Guy.
Lucas moves in and is prickly with Ellen and Maggie. His sister in law, Leah, warns them that he has had a tough year and will take a while to warm up. Thankfully, Maggie is relentless. She brings him enchiladas, forces him to decorate her tree, and banters with him about volunteering with her for a holiday.
Hallmark Hunk, Jarrod Evanyshyn, shows up as Ellen’s father, Alex. Alex takes Ellen to his house for Christmas. The child exchange is civil and only on screen for a second, but playing a divorced father on Hallmark is a first! Ashley Williams also does some excellent job showing the pain in this moment without words.
To help distract herself, Maggie takes Lucas to join her to decorate for the Christmas Lane holiday party. Then they have a snowball fight with the kids. Maggie attempts to bring back the beret. (She is obsessed with Paris, who is she, Carrie Bradshaw?) It doesn’t work, oh, and she also misses Ellen.
Alyssa shares a bunch of cliche dating advice and literally says she doesn’t watch the news because “it is too depressing.” (Which doesn’t stop the news from happening, BTW.) She pushes Maggie to give Lucas a chance even though he reminds Maggie of her ex-husband Alex. Alyssa works with the two on the event, which will help the troops. They work to make video calls happen for kids in the town for kids whose parents are away for active duty. (Something no one would have thought of year.) Lucas gets called away for an architectural job. He asks for more time to think about it.
Lucas and Maggie put on ugly Christmas sweaters. They go to an ugly Christmas sweater, and everyone sweaters look pretty trendy, except for Maggie, who is wearing Christmas lights. It is here where Maggie gets the video conferencing idea. Maggie and Lucas are excited to help families reunite for Christmas, even if it is non-conventional. Then they visit SANTA and go on a ride in a sleigh romantic sleigh ride. They kiss and celebrate happy accidents! Yay!
It is the night of the big event. Alex brings Ellen as a Christmas Eve surprise for Maggie, who is thankful and thrilled. She is less thrilled when she overhears Lucas talking to his BFF about his flight back to NYC. She doesn’t hear the part where he says he is quitting his job and getting his things to move to the town. Maggie overreacts and tells him they should be friends, leaving Lucas confused; they make a speech together and pull up the video screen with messages from the troops. It is very sweet and heartwarming.
Sad montage happens set to a sad Christmas song. Maggie drinks her coffee alone. Before Lucas leaves town, he stops by to say goodbye. He gives Ellen a Christmas present and Maggie one too. (An ugly Christmas sweater and… tickets to Paris!!!) Maggie realizes that she likes him. Like, really really likes him.
Lucas opens her gift; it is an architecture book, he turns the car around and goes back to Maggie’s doorstep. He shares that he quit his job and clears up the misunderstanding. They kiss on the door step while she wears an ugly Christmas sweater.
Hallmark, again, is breaking their own rules and focusing on inclusion of all types of stories. This time including a divorced couple navigating shared parenting during the holidays. Bravo!
Minority Report: Nurse, Alyssa, Joey, Leah, Christmas tree sales guy, Aaron,
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*Photo Credit: © 2020 Hallmark Crown Media