After Ellie King loses her husband and daughter in a strange tornado, she decides the visit her brother, Aaron Davis, for Christmas. When she arrives in the generic-looking Western small town that looks like all the others in this series, she meets all the stereotypical characters, including Sean Astin the sheriff. Of course, what would this Love Comes Softly movie be without a replacement romance for the poor widow Ellie? But even Christmas is threatened when Aaron hits his head on a rock (hmm, sounds familiar…) and is lost to the wilderness. What will they ever do?
Note: This two-part film has been reviewed as one because we cannot differentiate the two parts
Production Quality (.5 point)
As the Love Comes Softly series endlessly drags on with more and more sequels, prequels, and specials that have long since departed from the original novels, we have to wonder at this point what Janette Oke thinks of Hallmark’s total dismantling of her work. In keeping with usual Hallmark style, Love’s Christmas Journey has some good production qualities, such as clear video quality and good camera work. The sets and locations are okay, but as previously mentioned, are clearly recycled from past films, but this time with Christmas decorations! The soundtrack is as stock as it comes. The editing is designed to drag this movie out into a nearly three-hour runtime, so there are plenty of wasted scenes. In short, this is what you can expect from a Hallmark Christmas film—some money spent on production, but otherwise very empty.
Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)
Whoever is in charge of letting these movies get on television decided that since they needed to force a Christmas Love Comes Softly film to happen, then they needed to recycle the old standby plot of the saga: a young widow moves to a new place to start a new life and meets a new man. Seriously, how many times are they going to do this one? First it was Marty, then Missy, then Belinda, and now some sister of Missy’s named Ellie. Besides this nonsense, the characters are extremely empty-headed and mindless, fueled by forced and awkward dialogue. The first half of the movie (the original first part), is a huge waste of time, spent on preparing for the next half by introducing trite and petty conflicts that have no consequence whatsoever. Throughout the movie, there are many factually unrealistic elements (what else is new?), such as the audacity of including Santa Clause in this plot. No, seriously: Santa is a character. And nothing can beat the cheesiest Christmas end in the world: snowing on Christmas Eve. Essentially, Hallmark just phoned this one in because they can.
Acting Quality (0 points)
This is just more of the same garbage. The cast members are extremely fake and plastic. Natalie Hall in particular acts like she’s had a lobotomy most of the movie, taking forever to recite her lines, like she keeps forgetting what she’s supposed to do. The emotions of the cast members are equally plastic. In typical Love Comes Softly style, costuming and makeup are overdone and unrealistic for the time period. But what else can we say without constantly repeating ourselves?
Love’s Christmas Journey is a textbook case from that all important manual from the executive offices of Hallmark: How to Make Another Hallmark Christmas Film. First, find a plot to rip off; it can be a stock plot or it can be a loose idea stolen from an unsuspecting Christian author. Second, find the most plastic cast members available and shower them with makeup and costuming. Third, find a reusable set that fits the genre and inundate it with Christmas cheer. Now just film the movie as fast as possible to get it ready for television! Once again, with the resources and platform they have at their disposal, Hallmark squanders opportunity after opportunity to make a real difference in the film world. But we doubt they will ever learn.
Final Rating: .5 out of 10 points