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Hallmark made historical past final yr with the debut of The Christmas House, the community’s first vacation film with a homosexual couple in main roles. The movie was successful and one of the best Hallmark film of the 2020 season, if I do say so myself. Now the Mitchell household is again in The Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls. Does Hallmark have a success new vacation franchise? Or is that this household reunion as awkward as actual life ones? 

The Gist: It’s been a number of years since we final noticed the Mitchells and the household has grown. Brandon (Jonathan Bennett) and Jake (Brad Harder) have adopted a second baby and at the moment are a household of 4. TV star Mike (Robert Buckley) remains to be with Andi (Ana Ayora) and he’s nearer than ever to her son Noah (Mattia Castrillo). And as an alternative of getting only one Christmas home this yr, the Mitchells are gonna double down and double their variety of vacation houses!

The Christmas House 2 castPhoto: Hallmark/Allister Foster

This all comes about as a part of a stay, televised, movie star vacation decorations contest known as Deck Those Halls (assume The Great Christmas Light Fight, however starring the households of the celebrities of America’s favourite crime procedurals). But when Mike Mitchell’s competitors—the peerlessly named Finn Rockland of Brooklyn Medical—drops out of Deck Those Halls, the producers determine to pit brother in opposition to brother. Yep—it’s Handsome Justice star Mike Mitchell versus his baker brother Brandon Mitchell, and this Christmas competitors has by no means been harder!

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The ornament of dueling Christmas homes serves because the backdrop for lots of recent issues within the prolonged Mitchell household. Bill (Treat Williams) and Phylis (Sharon Lawrence) are studying their traces for an area theater’s Christmas play; Mike needs to seek out the proper option to suggest to Andi, however the shock return of Andi’s ex-husband has Mike all up in his feels about his place in Noah’s life; and Brandon and Jake are attempting to make distinctive Christmas recollections for his or her youngsters, which is tough when the vacation season entails redecorating houses from the bottom flooring as much as the attic with nothing however yuletide cheer. It’s one other Christmas with the Mitchell household, so it’s going to be eventful.

The Christmas House 2 - Jake, Brandon, Phylis, BillPhoto: Hallmark

What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: There’s 2006’s Deck the Halls, clearly, besides I’d argue that this Hallmark film is infinitely extra watchable (sorry Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick). And due to the present inside a TV film nature of Deck Those Halls, the sequel will get so as to add in some to-camera confessional moments that solely make the Mitchells really feel extra like Hallmark’s Modern Family.

Performance Worth Watching: Now that Bill and Phylis’ relationship is firing on all cylinders once more, Treat Williams and Sharon Lawrence get to spend the sequel letting their youngsters provide all of the emotional moments. These two are so nice collectively and have such a enjoyable, pure chemistry, so it’s nice to look at them simply have enjoyable. Casting Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell because the leads in a weird little Christmas play was an impressed selection.

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The Christmas House 2 - Sharon Lawrence, Treat WilliamsPhoto: Hallmark/Allister Foster

Memorable Dialogue: The Christmas House franchise continues to be one of many funniest on Hallmark. Here’s how a frazzled Mike sums up his vacation blues: “I’ve already got my girlfriend’s shark-punching ex making Colombian food with Noah. I don’t need you trying to outdo me too!”

A Holiday Tradition: Like all the opposite seasonal actuality competitors exhibits which have turn out to be a TV custom, the occupants of Hallmark’s vacation universe get to look at Deck Those Halls yearly. And in fact there’s the Christmas home, which is firstly about making recollections with the household. Will that get misplaced now that Mike and Brandon are competing on tv? Of course it’s going to.

The Christmas House 2 - brothersPhoto: Hallmark/Allister Foster

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Does the Title Make Any Sense?: It makes essentially the most sense—not solely as a result of the present throughout the film is titled Deck Those Halls, however as a result of the sequel’s giving us two Christmas homes. If the franchise continues for a number of extra years, they could have to vary the title to The Christmas Cul-De-Sac.

Our Take: How do you do a sequel to a vacation romcom? Once the lead couple have kissed and professed their love, the place is there to go? Netflix has this downside with its franchises. The sequels to A Christmas Prince simply wandered aimlessly into the politics of a fictional European nation. The Princess Switch franchise discovered success by leaping genres with every new sequel; this yr’s The Princess Switch 3 is a romance/heist film. Could The Christmas House determine a approach ahead now that Mike and Andi are collectively? This is a tough downside to resolve!

The Christmas House 2 - Mike, Noah, AndiPhoto: Hallmark/Allister Foster

That’s why I’m so happy to report that The Christmas House 2 discovered a unique and narratively rewarding approach ahead. Instead of introducing new characters to arrange on blind dates or breaking apart one in all our fave {couples} or having the Mitchells, I don’t know, kind a ragtag hockey workforce and struggle their option to regionals, The Christmas House 2 does what I not often see Hallmark films do: it places very actual household points on the forefront whereas concurrently recapturing all the vacation enjoyable from the primary movie.

It seems that Hallmark characters can do greater than fall in love! Instead, the characters in The Christmas House 2 take care of the issues that come up after a contented ending. How will Mike suggest to Andi and, extra importantly, how can he be a father to Noah if Andi’s ex is again on the town? And what’s driving Brandon to be so aggressive along with his brother? They’re two grown males—shouldn’t they have the ability to get alongside? Does one of the best Christmas need to be an ideal Christmas? And most significantly, how does a household unit keep a steadiness because it grows to incorporate increasingly more individuals?

Most importantly, although, The Christmas House 2 touches upon a number of issues which can be completely particular to the homosexual vacation expertise. Once once more, The Christmas House doesn’t deal with Brandon and Jake as simply any Hallmark couple. They are a homosexual Hallmark couple, and a lot of their actions as a pair and their relationships with the bigger Mitchell household middle that truth. It’s lovely to see, too, as a result of it’s vital to indicate that homosexual {couples} have far more points to take care of than simply popping out. I by no means thought {that a} Hallmark film would so precisely contact upon the pressures of performative homosexual excellence however I’m actually glad one is!

The Christmas House 2 - Jake and BrandonPhoto: Hallmark/Allister Foster

But you’re not simply tuning into this film to see what issues the Mitchells will overcome earlier than the sunshine swap is flipped on the Christmas homes. You’re additionally tuning in to spend time with these characters and, most significantly, have enjoyable with them. There is a lot enjoyable available, primarily as a result of Hallmark struck gold once they put this particular solid of actors collectively. Buckley and Bennett have such a brotherly vibe to them, and so they promote it within the aggressive scenes and the dramatic scenes. The similar goes for any mixture of actors, too—like Jake and Andi, who need to take care of their vital others reverting to comically infantile habits. Just like final yr, The Christmas House 2 will provide you with all of the Christmas funnies and Christmas feels you want.

Overall, The Christmas House 2 is the precise proper form of sequel. It pushes the franchise ahead whereas bringing alongside—and constructing upon—every thing we beloved in regards to the first movie. Fingers crossed we get to go to the Mitchells yearly any further. It’s a practice!

Our Call: STREAM IT. The sequel proves that The Christmas House is constructed to final.

Watch The Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls on Hallmark

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