Well, Christmas is over and the month of December is drawing to a close. I really should be ending this year’s Holiday-Palooza with a bang. I should be reviewing some classic Christmas film like The Santa Clause, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Elf or a Charlie Brown Christmas. Or maybe end it with something more irreverent like Gremlins, Edward Scissorhands or Die Hard. I could do that… but I decided to do the opposite and totally lean into the more cheesy side of Christmas films. The cheesier and more schmaltzy, the better.
And what could be cheesier and schmaltzy than looking at Hallmark’s catalog of Christmas movies? I didn’t want to pick any random Hallmark Christmas movie, though. I wanted to pick something that I might actually enjoy! And I think I found the movie… because it both has Peter Gallagher and Bruce Campbell in it. I decided to watch the Hallmark made-for-TV film, One December Night.
One December Night basically is about a fictional musical duo, Bedford and Sullivan. They were one of the hottest music duos around a decade ago but they have since broke up. Flash forward to present day, the two have been booked for a special concert in front of Big Red, the home where they composed all their songs. However, Mike Sullivan, the owner of the home, is being difficult and not helping out with promoting the show, leading to the network threatening to cancel it. In order to try to save the show, the agency sends Quinn Allen, Mike’s estranged daughter, to convince him to play nice.
The story is really nothing to write home about. Right off the bat, I can see the by-the-numbers Hallmark movie set up. Send a girl to a small town on an assignment and she’ll fall in love with a guy in town. There’s also going to be the very wholesome comedic moments that never really illicit any genuine laughs. Things seem to be going great before some conflict arises but is resolved almost immediately by the end. Everything ends with everyone being all happy and joyful and the girl finds true love. Pretty standard stuff, honestly. That’s to be expected from a Hallmark movie, right?
I will say the film is pretty vanilla for the first half of its brisk 84-minute runtime. However, the movie does have a couple of saving graces: Bruce Campbell and Peter Gallagher. Maybe it’s because I enjoy them as actors but their performances in One December Night, while very Hallmark-ish, did manage to draw me in with their gravitas. Both Bruce Campbell and Peter Gallagher, especially when they’re in the same scene, just manage to make the film more lively.
The rest of the actors do a very standard performance all around. Brett Dalton, who plays the son and manager of Bruce Campbell’s character, is charming enough but is just really bland. He’s there to be nice and look pretty and that’s really it. Eloise Mumford plays Peter Gallagher’s character’s daughter and does fare a little better as she does get to flex her acting chops more as she has more emotional scenes. I do wish these characters were written better as they’re supposed to be a little damaged because of how Bedford and Sullivan’s success affected their lives growing up. While it’s mentioned and told with a lot of exposition, it’s never really shown how good or how bad they were screwed up by it. Then again, it’s a Hallmark movie and that would be expecting a little too much, wouldn’t it?
I would also say the pacing feels off-kilter. The film starts off feeling really slow as they spend a lot of time setting things up but then starts really picking up by the middle. The entire series of events depicted in the film is supposed to take place in a couple of weeks but it feels much shorter, like everything only happens over the weekend. The ending also comes off as kind of abrupt as the movie just seems to end without any real feeling of closure.
I also have to question how Bedford and Sullivan became some of the biggest musical duos in history because, well, their music isn’t all that great. Hallmark did go through the trouble of composing a couple of original songs for One December Night, including the titular song, I’ll give them that. They even got a vocal coach for Peter Gallagher to sing them! However, while I will say both the songs are good, I just can’t believe them ever reaching the top spot on the chart. Maybe they can break the Top Ten but that’s it. I might possibly like them a little bit more if they actually made the songs, specifically One December Night, really feel special. But even Hallmark couldn’t bother as they cut away from the performance instead of playing the entire thing without interruptions. I also find it weird Hallmark, after paying money to get these two songs composed and recorded, that they didn’t release them along with the movie. That’s just poor advertising!
However, with all of that being said, I will say I did find myself liking One December Night to a degree. It still has all of the same problems all Hallmark movies have. It has a very predictable story, dull and bland characters and conflict without any biting drama. The only reason why I think One December Night is, at the very least, watchable is because of Bruce Campbell and Peter Gallagher’s performances.
This does beg the question: should I recommend One December Night? Well, I wouldn’t say you go out and find a way to watch it or anything like that. Nor would I say you should avoid it like the plague. I say if it happens to catch it by chance, watch it all the way through. I can definitely think of more terrible ways to waste around an hour and a half.
Have you seen One December Night? How does it compare to other Hallmark Christmas films? Let me know in the comments section below!