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Hallmark for the Holidays: 'Family for Christmas'

We have reached a glorious time in which Hallmark literally has so many Christmas movies starring Lacey Chabert that they are airing new movies in July, and I AM HERE FOR THAT. Technically, Family for Christmas is part of the Christmas Keepsake Holiday Preview, but really, it’s Christmas in July (my favorite part of summer).

My fondness for made-for-TV holiday films is inexplicable. Is it because of my deep and passionate love for Christmas? The happiness I get from snow and long scarves? Or is it because, as a single New York professional hailing from a crazy family in the Midwest, my life is just one delayed flight home from becoming a literal Hallmark movie? Regardless, it has become my goal to provide EW Community readers with recaps of (almost) all of these quality Hallmark Christmas classics in the making. And, as is only right, we start with the newest Lacey Chabert masterpiece.

Lacey Chabert in

Family for Christmas
Starring Lacey Chabert, Tyron Leitso, Matthew Kevin Anderson

CHRISTMAS CHEAT SHEET

Hannah Dunbar (Queen of Hallmark, Lacey Chabert) is getting ready to leave for an internship in San Francisco. Her boyfriend, Ben (Tyron Leitso), is going to spend their six months apart writing his novel. Ben gives her a box with a key inside—the key to his heart. THIS IS LITERALLY WHAT HE CALLS IT, and I am sold on this movie one minute in.

Hannah gets on the plane, and NEVER COMES BACK. It’s 10 years later, and Hannah is a successful news reporter with bus ads who plans on spending the holidays catching up on work. She is just nailing the whole career thing. Her boss, Harold, tells her she’s getting a promotion to the New York office. Life is pretty great, so Hannah donates some money to a kind of weird street-corner Santa who compliments her on her latest story.

The next day, Hannah decides to use her assistant Carrie’s pitch as her follow-up story. She gives Carrie the credit, but says that she, Hannah, will be doing the actual reporting. Carrie is not ready, they make a great team, blah, blah.

Hannah receives a random friend request from Ben, as she sits in her pathetic, decoration-less apartment. (That tiny tinsel tree does not count, Hannah.) At the office holiday party, Harold announces Hannah’s promotion, and it’s pretty awkward since she hasn’t told her coworker/boyfriend, Grant (Matthew Kevin Anderson), that she’s moving yet. But Grant is totally chill about it. He’s jealous, but will also miss her, I guess? He’s all “career comes first,” and Hannah goes to hide in her office.

Then Street-Corner Santa barges in and says it looks like she has a Christmas wish, and Hannah (and also me) is all like, “Why are we having this convo, creepy stranger?” Hannah goes home and longingly pulls out the key to Ben’s heart from the back of her closet and falls asleep.

And then she wakes up in the suburbs married to Ben with two kids and a dog. What is going on? Hannah does what any sane person would do and runs. She hops in her minivan (complete with antlers and family stickers) and drives to her apartment. But the doorman doesn’t recognize her, and neither do the people at work.

She finds Street-Corner Santa, and he agrees the situation is weird (DUH). Hannah wants her old life back, but Santa says her what-if moment turned into a powerful Christmas wish. It’ll sort itself out. (Not helpful, Santa. Are you even Santa? Your facial hair is not convincing.)

Lacey Chabert and Tyron Leitso in

Hannah realizes her what-if moment: What if she never got on the plane? Now, Carrie, her assistant, is living her life as the award-winning reporter, and Hannah forgot to pick up her kids, Caitlin and Hailie, from school. Whoops. The kids are supes disappointed in her. They’re late for ballet and they had to have pizza for dinner. (Ben reminds Hannah they only have pizza on birthdays and family-movie nights. What kind of life are you living?)

So Hannah tries harder to adjust to her new life as a stay-at-home mom. She takes the dog (who is the same size as Lacey Chabert) for walks, burns cookies for the class party, and looks through family photos. Then the whole family goes to decorate for the Christmas pageant at school, and Hannah finally gets the mom seal of approval. At the Christmas festival, the kids get a photo with Street-Corner Santa. He tells the kids about the power of Christmas wishes, then winks at Hannah (and Ben notices Santa is a creeper.)

Life-stealing Carrie is there for a report on the festival when a huge candy cane falls on her. Hannah jumps into action, giving Carrie’s report, and the video goes viral. Alternate-Universe Grant calls to interview her, but Hannah asks for a job instead. She pitches a segment where she interviews local people from viral videos.

Hannah is excited about the opportunity, but Ben is very 1950s husband about it. A job in the city? When are you going to see the kids? Why do they need a new beginning? Ben later realizes he was being a jerk and apologizes. He just wanted their family to grow old in this house, but she’s more important. They’ll figure it out.

Grant calls and tells Hannah that Harold loves her pitch. They want to talk about it over dinner, but it has to be tonight—the night of the Christmas pageant. Grant thinks they could make a good team, but he also basically tells her she’ll have to ditch her family, which is pretty rude and untrue. WOMEN CAN WORK AND HAVE KIDS, FELLAS. Hannah tells him she’s not interested and shows up to the pageant instead.

Hannah has embraced her new life, so naturally she wakes up in her fancy apartment, without her new family. Hannah drives to their house looking for Ben and the kids, but someone else lives there, and her neighborhood friends don’t recognize her either. (Hannah does not really understand how alternate timelines work. THESE PEOPLE DON’T KNOW YOU.)

Then Boyfriend Grant calls her with a big follow-up story. But when she arrives, she sees Street-Corner Santa. She wants her other life back, but he says that’s not how it works. He can’t change the past; this was about changing the future. WHAT.

Hannah gives her big story to Assistant Carrie and goes to find Ben. They meet up and he says he’s been thinking about her a lot lately. It starts to snow, they go try to find a place to get coffee on Christmas Eve, and Hannah and Ben start their new beginning.

QUINTESSENTIAL QUOTES

  •  “I’ve got nothing against Christmas as long as it looks good on camera.” —Hannah
  • “If someone from your past contacts you on the Internet, and it’s really out of the blue, what do you do?” ­—Hannah, asking important questions for the 21st century
  • “People like you and I, the only thing we’re ever really in love with is our career.” —Grant
  • “It’s pancake Sunday and we just go crazy. Woooo!” —Suburban-Dad Ben
  •  “You have to try harder! Being a mom is an important job.” —Hailie

HALLMARK CHRISTMAS MOVIE CHECKLIST

How many of the “29 signs that you are watching a Hallmark Christmas movie” does this movie check off?

  • Musical performance
  • Santa-like character/Santa is real (it’s unclear which)
  • Christmas magic (literal)
  • Rediscovering the joy of Christmas
  • Family bonding
  • Workaholic
  • Falling in love in approximately three days
  • Decorating montage
  • Lacey Chabert

TOTAL: 9

FINAL THOUGHTS

Wait, we’re all actually cool with just ABANDONING the children? Seriously? It’s been a day since I watched this movie, and I still can’t believe it didn’t end with her back at the airport getting off the plane, Friends-style. WOW. Sorry, Caitlin and Hailie.

Family for Christmas 7

Also, Family for Christmas is literally The Family Man, but starring Lacey Chabert instead of Nicolas Cage (a sentence I never thought I’d write). Hallmark, you didn’t even try.

We’ll continue this series when Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas officially starts ON HALLOWEEN. Hallmark gets me.

Lacey and I will see you then.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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