Christmas is a time to give, receive and eat a ton of delicious food. It is also a holiday full of nostalgia. While you probably have your vacation viewing favorites, there is an unexpected avenue for this warm vacation. Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas movies may not seem like top of your list, but this season the original holiday movies are stacked with nostalgic stars from television’s past. So if you want to watch something new and catch up with some of the actors who shaped your childhood then you are in luck!
From Christmas cops to unexpected roommates and hard-hitting holiday contests, 2021 has’ 90s stars dotted across all types of holiday movies. So consider this as your introduction, not only to the nostalgic talent that will be there, but also the tropes, quirks, and lore that make holiday movies made for TV so much fun. So buckle up, you’re ready for a peppermint and cocoa sleigh ride through the Christmas movie offerings of the season.
Tamera Mowry-Housley – Sister Sister
If just reading the words Sister Sister hasn’t given you that iconic opening theme, we can’t get it. In the 90s, Tamera, alongside her sister Tia, directed this hilarious teenage comedy about twin sisters who were born separated and unexpectedly reunited. Aside from that earworm of an opening, Sister Sister also featured some truly memorable ’90s fashion. The hilarious Fish Out of Water comedy was a children’s TV classic for many of us and syndication has helped it entertain generations after us too! More importantly, however, it kicked off the long careers of the Mowery sisters, both of whom are now mainstays of the Hallmark holiday movie. While Tia has moved on to Lifetime this year, Tamera has a brand new Hallmark movie for the 2021 snowy season and it has a rather unique setup.
In The implantation of Santa Claus, Mowry-Housley plays a cop sent undercover with an annoying new partner. Because this is a Hallmark movie, they have to pretend to be lovebirds moving to a fantastic Christmas town. Their goal is to uncover the mastermind behind a series of holiday heists, and their biggest suspect is their new next door neighbor played by none other than iconic actor Joe Pantoliano. If the sweet and sweet Christmas movies don’t seem right up your alley, the comedic crime twist and all-star cast here might sell you off.
Lacey Chabert – Part of Five
Known best for his outrageous comedies like The Simpsons and Married with the Children, Fox surprised 90s viewers when the network launched the teenage family drama Party of Five in 1994. Lacey Chabert took on the difficult task of grow in front of the world as Claudia Salinger. , a teenage violist raised by her older siblings following the untimely death of their parents. As her older television sister, Neve Campbell, has become an iconic horror character in the Scream franchise, Lacey has found her niche with more comfortable dishes, becoming one of Hallmark’s main women. And she’s back with yet another holiday cheer in 2021.
Chabert’s latest addition to his impressive made-for-television catalog is Christmas in the heart of the castle. Like many of his more recent films, it’s set in a beautiful location – honestly, get those free trips, Lacey! – this time in Ireland. Traveling to the Emerald Isle to connect with her own Irish roots, Brooke (Chabert) finds herself embroiled in a classic Christmas mix. When she bumps into Aiden Hart, Earl of Glaslough, she is mistaken for a prestigious party planner and suddenly has to take on the colossal task of planning the castle’s annual Christmas celebration! Of course, she could just tell him the truth. But where would be the fun in that? And, of course, as she plans the party, she begins to fall for the dashing Aiden.
Danicka McKeller – The Wonderful Years
We have layers of nostalgia with this Hallmark Holiday mainstay! Launched in 1988, The Wonder Years took place 20 years earlier in the late 1960s. Danicka McKellar left her mark on America as Winnie Cooper, a young girl of age at a time that is sure to be remembered. ‘inspire nostalgic memories in audiences across the country. Playing the show’s star crush Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage), McKellar even shared his first kiss in front of the audience with Savage in the show’s pilot. Now, over 30 years later, McKellar’s career has become so synonymous with Hallmark films that his very presence in a new movie will likely spark nostalgia in those who watched some of his previous vacation offerings.
In a new unique bowstring from the holiday movie, You, me and the Christmas trees stars McKeller as Olivia, who is “Connecticut’s resident expert on conifers.” It’s a nice continuation of the made-for-television trope of jobs you’ve never really heard of that lack specificity or are far too specific to exist. She is called in to help the handsome Christmas tree grower Jack, whose trees are suffering from a mysterious disease that is ravaging their farm. Intrigued by the problem, Olivia decides to stay and begins to get closer to Jack. It’s an eco-friendly version of Hallmark’s classic setup that definitely sets it apart from the crowd. In addition it is McKeller’s latest Hallmark movie in a while so even more reason to look.
Candace Cameron Bure – Full House
Although he started in the late ’80s, Full House was still in the’ 90s. Bob Saget plays Danny Tanner, a recently widowed father of three who enlists his best friend (Dave Coulier) and his brother-in-law ( John Stamos) to help him raise his children. You know, that classic setup. Overall sprawling, a young Cameron Bure played the eldest of the Tanner children, DJ AKA Donna Jo. Deej, as she was often kindly referred to by her family, was very much in the mold of every 90s girl next door. She was a bit of a tomboy but also regularly had a crush on local boys. In addition, as the eldest, she often assumed a mothering role vis-Ã -vis her younger siblings. Since then, Cameron Bure has become a regular on TV movies and recently returned to the role of DJ in Fuller House. But that hasn’t stopped her from making her mark on the holiday movie season.
Cameron Bure is nothing less than a Hallmark legend. Each year she offers a selection of seasonal dishes and this year is no different. Its big Christmas 2021 release is Christmas contest, who pits him against his ex in a Christmas battle of the spirits in order to win a cash prize for their favorite charity. Of course, things are never that simple, and as the couple spend more time together, they realize that they could rekindle more than an old rivalry. If you’re a new student of the Hallmark Holiday Movies, this is a good place to start to understand the formula that has made it such a cultural phenomenon. And if you’re a Full House fan, even better.
Lifetime Christmas Movie Double Bill: Bonus Nostalgia
Tatyana Ali – The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
She was the coolest little sister you could dream of and growing up the first kid’s crush of the 90s! Hi Tatiana Ali. Although she is best known for her role in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, she was already a seasoned performer when she joined the series, cutting her teeth on the iconic children’s show Sesame Street. It was as Banks’ younger brother, Ashley, that Ali became a household name. Funny, sweet and intelligent, she was Will’s only real ally in Bel-Air and admired him deeply as well. Post the Fresh Prince, Ali pursued a career as an RnB singer, but in recent years she has become a regular at holiday movies.
Continuing her charm streak at Lifetime, this year Ali stars in Perfect vacation. The film centers on fashion photographer Gaby (Ali) heading to a small town – you might notice a pattern here – for Christmas. What inspires the choice? Well, she was shortlisted for the famous annual Christmas Photography Retreat, of course! Gaby doesn’t like Christmas, but when she arrives and has to share her cabin with a beautiful wildlife photographer, she might end up discovering the magic of Christmas. But it will take a bit of learning and collaboration with her unexpected vacation roommate. Lifetime vacation pricing tends to be a bit more modern and realistic while still remaining magical, so it’s a good first step into the snowy world of vacation movies made for TV.
Monique Coleman & Corbin Bleu – Musical High School
While this is definitely more 2000s nostalgia than the 90s, we couldn’t fail to mention this incredible reunion. If you’ve ever watched an original Disney Channel movie, you’re probably familiar with Monique Coleman and Corbin Bleu from High School Musical. The comedic version of Romeo and Juliet launched the careers of Zac Efron (Troy) and Vanessa Hudgens (Gabriella), but was an ensemble piece about the warring factions of high school kids to geeks, sportsmen, and musical kids. Coleman and Bleu played Gabriella and Troy’s best friends, respectively, and have had impressive careers since. But in this clever and savvy nod to their most famous roles, they return in A Christmas dance reunion.
It’s a direct attack on the millennials who grew up on DCOMs and a very smart marketing technique from Lifetime. The story follows Lucy (Coleman), a successful lawyer from a big city who returns to the Christmas station where she spent her time as a child. Accompanied by her mother, she is shocked to find the owner’s nephew, who was her former Christmas dance partner. In order to save the resort they loved so much as children, the couple team up to create and restore traditions, including a Christmas dance! This one hits a ton of classic holiday movie tropes with a smart meta twist, so check it out.