Sappy Holiday Movies on Basic Cable: A User’s Guide

As unavoidable as Christmas music, you can find them on Lifetime, Hallmark, ABC Family, Ion and other basic cable stations. It’s the Made-For-TV Holiday movie, a unique artform unto itself.

Okay, so I might have watched a few, you know, just while I was wrapping presents:

Somebody’s Been Naughty
The Santa Suit
Hercules‘ Kevin Sorbo squeezes his muscles into Armani to play a cold-hearted toy store owner trapped in the body of Santa Claus. Wonder if he’ll learn to be nice just in time for Christmas?
2.5 out of 5 Jingle Bells


Cancel Christmas
Judd Nelson plays a hipster Santa Claus who has to teach messed up kids that there’s always someone more messed up than they are at the holidays. Wonder if he’ll melt their little juvey hearts in time for Christmas?
3.5 out of 5 Jingle Bells

Dead Spouses
Silver Bells
Tate Donovan and Anne Heche have to learn to love again in time for him to sell his final Christmas tree and stop being a jerk to his teenage son in this serious film.
4 out of 5 Jingle Bells

Debbie Macomber’s Mrs. Miracle
Dawson James Van Der Beek has to be taught how to love his bratty six-year-olds by angel/nanny Doris Roberts. Better him than me.
3 out of 5 Jingle Bells

Is That Mistletoe?
Undercover Christmas
Jami Gertz and some hunky FBI guy deal with sexual tension as he hides her from her mob boyfriend at his parent’s home. Scene-stealer Tyne Daly as his mom reminds us of how much we miss her being on TV every week.
3.5 out of 5 Jingle Bells

The Road to Christmas
Fashion photographer Baby Jennifer Grey gets trapped in the midwest on her way to her Aspen wedding. She manages to generate real sparks with Clark Gregg, the SHIELD agent guy from Iron Man. No, seriously. He’s kinda hot. It’s a Christmas miracle!
4 out of 5 Jingle Bells

12 Men of Christmas
Kristin Chenoweth plays a New York gal who gets fired and heads to Montana to … something something. The important thing is: naked Josh Hopkins!


4 out of 5 Jingle Bells


On the Second Day of Christmas
Department store security guard Mark Ruffalo and pickpocket Penelope Ann Miller make a cute mismatched couple in this fun movie. Doesn’t take itself too seriously and you shouldn’t either.
4.5 out of 5 Jingle Bells

Holiday in Handcuffs
This gets the Speed award for dumbest premise that actually generates a decent movie. Melissa Joan Hart kidnaps Mario Lopez so she can have a cute boyfriend at Christmas to placate her demanding parents. More importantly: shirtless Mario Lopez!
4 out of 5 Jingle Bells

Don’t Worry if You Get a Little Misty
A Season For Miracles
Carla Gugino steals her jailbird sister’s kids so they can be together for the holidays. She ends up in a town where luckily, no one is too bright and they all help her thwart Social Services.
4 out of 5 Jingle Bells

Finding John Christmas
Valerie Bertinelli is still cute as a bug’s ear as she tries to solve the mystery of why her firefighter brother disappeared years before. Peter Falk, may he rest in peace, steals the show as a tricksey angel.
3.5 out of 5 Jingle Bells

A Dad For Christmas
Cute teen Kristopher Turner steals his infant son to keep him from being illegally adopted by strangers. The plucky dad-wannabe heads to his cranky grandmother’s (Louise Fletcher) place to hide. I will admit to a little mistyness here and there.
4 out of 5 Jingle Bells
Okay, I showed you mine. Show me yours if you dare.

Happy Sappy Holidays!

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5 Responses to Sappy Holiday Movies on Basic Cable: A User’s Guide

  1. Annie Downs-Gabel says:

    I’m scared to say how many of these Duane and I have seen!
    My favorite of the new Lifetime/Hallmark fare this year? Debbie Macomber’s Trading Christmas on Hallmark. A Princess for Christmas wasn’t bad either, although it’s a little sad to see Roger Moore’s career come to this.


    • Chris Devlin says:

      I thought only women watched these movies, so I’m glad Duane is along for the ride! Some of them really are pretty good movies.

      Of the new ones this year, I liked Trading Christmas a lot. The movies that are based on novels seem to have a little more heft to them. A Princess for Christmas was kind of rough for me–I kept getting distracted by the British woman pretending to be American. (She: I’m from Buffalo. Me: No, you’re not.) Upside: the people who were playing British characters were, for the most part, actually British, so that was nice. 😉

      Yeah, the made-for-TV holiday movies are like SyFy original movies: It’s always good to see the actors they get but you also feel sort of sorry for them.

      Thanks for stopping by again!


  2. j.a. kazimer says:

    God, I love you! I am a sap for basic cable Christmas movies, the cheesier the better. I’ve seen all of the ones you have rated, and while I can’t disagree with the naked Josh Hopkins comment, you truly missed the mark on Judd Nelson’s return to the small screen. Only 3.5? Are you insane? That was a four reindeer performance if I’ve ever seen one…


    • Chris Devlin says:

      It’s awesome that we like the same sappy things. 😉

      Okay, Judd Nelson’s return might have merited 4 reindeers, you’re right. I’ll watch it again next year and reassess.

      Great to hear from you. Keep watching those sappy basic cable movies.


  3. Pingback: More Sappy Holiday Movies on Basic Cable | Chris Devlin's Blog

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