Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, it’s safe to say that it’s officially beginning to look (and feel) a lot like Christmas. The days are getting shorter, the temperature outside continues to dip, and the Hallmark Channel’s holiday movies are in heavy rotation. While the vast majority of these low-budget films follow the same predictable format, that doesn’t stop people from watching and it sure doesn’t stop the network from churning out a bunch of new titles every year.
In fact, Hallmark Channel went all out this year on a film called Christmas Everlasting, which features the most star-studded cast of any new release—sorry, Candace Cameron-Bure!—and has already been dubbed a “Hallmark Hall Of Fame” movie. Best yet, Christmas Everlasting is set in Wisconsin. We’d like to say we were aware of this and we made a point to tune in, but we were pretty much just watching Hallmark Channel last weekend and accidentally stumbled on this information. Anyway, here’s some background on this movie, along with some locally-pertinent details that help this “Hall Of Fame” film stand out from the rest.
Like so, so many of its Hallmark Channel counterparts, Christmas Everlasting finds a career-driven woman being forced to go from the hustle and bustle of her big city life and return to her small hometown. There, she bonds with a precocious kid and/or pet and unexpectedly falls in love with a handsome bachelor. They drink a non-alcoholic beverage, eat cookies, and the new couple kisses under a mistletoe while it snows. Sure, you’ve seen it before…but have seen it happen in a fictional Wisconsin town?! We think not.
This time around, an unexpected tragedy brings New York corporate lawyer Lucy Toomey (played wonderfully by Tatyana Ali of The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air fame) back to the sleepy and snowy lakeside village of Nilson’s Bay. When McHenry’s General Store, the longtime site of the town’s annual tree lighting celebration, is eyed for condo development in the so-called “seller’s market,” Toomey must join forces with her high school flame-turned-small town lawyer Peter Swinson (veteran TV actor Dondre Whitfield), her uncle Barney (Dennis Haysbert—a.k.a. the dude from the Allstate Insurance commercials, Major League, and 24), and her new group of weird quilting buddies to save the community landmark from demolition. Along the way, the protagonist meets a long lost relative, rekindles a romance with an old flame, and goes ice fishing. Oh yeah, and Patti LaBelle is in one scene for a total of, like, two minutes.
Other than the romantic scene in the “ice hut,” the Wisconsin ties in Christmas Everlasting are admittedly few an far between. There’s the obligatory shot of the “Welcome To Wisconsin” sign. At one point, Toomey says she’s flying out of the airport in Milwaukee. As the impending legal battle heats up, Toomey says she’s not licensed in Wisconsin, but that she know somebody who is. Peter’s assistant boasts a particularly grating and labored Midwestern accent. And, best yet, there’s this festive exchange between the love interests:
Lucy: Are you sure Kringle qualifies as dinner?
Peter: Only in Wisconsin and only at Christmastime.
So if you’re looking for a semi-localized new movie to get you in the holiday spirit this year, take a trip to the fake Wisconsin town of Nilson’s Bay with the Hallmark Channel’s Christmas Everlasting. Come for the regional references, stay for the quilting montage. The movie’s next airing is Thursday, November 29 at 7 p.m.