The Christmas Parade

the christmas parade

I’ve fallen about as low as Hallmark will take me in terms of my television choices. Thankfully, the Christmas season is drawing to a close, and I know this because the network has already started flogging its Valentine’s Day marathon. But for those who want to stretch the holidays to their natural conclusion, fluff like The Christmas Parade will do nicely.

With its Build-a-Bear-like assembly line of holiday movies, Hallmark manages to churn out the same cuddly product by the dozens, each dressed up to make it look one-of-a-kind. It all starts with a single woman who has some emotional detachment. In this case, it’s Hailee Anderson (AnnaLynne McCord), a New York City entertainment reporter who doesn’t like Christmas because of bad childhood experiences. To add to her seasonal distress, she finds out on air that her fiancé is shagging a reality star.

That’s when you throw in the handsome, well adjusted, if somewhat ordinary single guy – not the stud you’re never going to get but the attainable everyday bloke. He’s the one who will rescue her from her holiday doldrums and help everyone realize that Christmas is really about friends, family, and love, but mostly love. Beck (Jefferson Brown) gets that distinction, and he’s the ideal low-key beau. Not only is he a painter who’s lost his muse, he also works at a children’s arts center in a tiny Connecticut town.

This is especially important because no Christmas television movie is complete without some wacky plot device that will bring the two lovers together. And in this case, it’s – surprise! – the Christmas parade. With the arts center in danger of being bought out, the kids are banking on a $15,000 first place prize for best float, giving them just enough money to stave off property developers. Beck and the kids can’t build Carver Bend’s most amazing parade piece on their own though. So when city girl Hailee literally crashes into town, he asks her to spend her community service hours helping out their righteous cause.

If you like Hallmark’s other offerings, you can happily add this to your list. Brown makes a fine guy next door and McCord is eerily accurate at imitating an infotainment reporter. Still, I thought there was too much pontificating, even for a Christmas television movie. The characters shoot out their ideas in wordy bullet points, which detracts from an already cliched story. The one character that did spice up the formula was Beck’s mother (Chappelle Jaffe), who appears as a writer for the local paper. It’s a role one imagines Betty White would master, if she didn’t have actual movies to make.

Released: 2014
Prod: Robert Vaughn
Dir: Jonathan Wright
Writer: Carley Smale, Robert Vaughn
Cast: AnnaLynne McCord, Jefferson Brown, Jennifer Gibson, Drew Scott
Time: 90 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark
Reviewed: 2014