A Review of the Hallmark Channel’s “Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade”

When you watch a movie on the Hallmark Channel, especially a romantic comedy, the important thing isn’t the destination but the journey. In other words, you know the film will likely have a happy ending and the couple who doesn’t like each other at the beginning will fall in love by the end. Therefore it’s the execution of the story that matters most. Are the characters entertaining? Are the actors convincing? Does the dialogue have some sparkle?

Being a sucker for all things Christmas, I admit I’ve watched a good share of Hallmark Channel holiday-themed movies through the years. They range from ‘poor’ to ‘above average.’ One of their newest, “Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade” scores an “A” from me, with extra credit going to its star Autumn Reeser whose wit, charm and spunk as Emily Jones carries the story throughout.

Emily coordinates Chicago’s Thanksgiving Day parade every year, and is filled with all the youthful idealism you’d want someone in that position to have. She fondly remembers watching the parade as a child, and wants to give today’s families the same kinds of special memories. Enter Henry Williams (Antonio Cupo), a development consultant hired by the parade’s director to see if there are ways to save money on the parade and even make a profit. This doesn’t sit well with Emily who believes in preserving the purity of this annual tradition, not redesigning it for profitable ends.

At this point, I was a little worried that the movie would turn into a polemic against corporate greed with the hard-hearted Henry needing to have his grinchy heart grow three sizes through falling in love with Emily. To screenwriter Nancey Silvers’ credit, she doesn’t go the obvious route of turning the movie into a sermon. She simply tells a funny and engaging story with likable characters. And while Henry does need to grow and change in some ways over the course of the story, so does Emily who has been long-distance dating a non-committal marine biologist for five years.

One thing that threw me at first was Emily’s fashion sense. Though the story takes place in modern times, Emily dresses like a character from the 1960′s-era show “Mad Men” – and everybody just seems to accept it. It’s definitely a unique character quirk that kept me wondering, but the eventual explanation makes perfect emotional sense in the context of the character.

Again, I have to give credit to Reeser for pulling it off. She’s currently starring in the much more dramatic role of Kylie Sinclair on the ABC series “Last Resort,” though I first became familiar with her through her role as lovable uber-geek Katie Andrews on “No Ordinary Family” a couple of years ago. But in “Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade,” she shows she’s a natural at romantic comedy, combining the fashion of Elisabeth Moss in “Mad Men,” the charm of Doris Day during her 1960′s heyday, and the snappy dialogue delivery of Rosalind Russell in the classic “His Girl Friday.”

For that matter, the whole movie feels retro with an innocence you don’t see a lot of in stories nowadays. To me at least, it didn’t seem like the overly simplistic type of innocence which can cause you to roll your eyes at the screen. It just seems to be grounded in the values of a bygone era, and coupled with comedy and heart.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly TV movie this November that serves up a healthy serving of laughs, entertainment, and good old-fashioned storytelling, put “Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade” on your viewing menu.

(“Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade” airs on the Hallmark Channel on Wednesday Nov. 14 at 8:00pm Eastern; Nov. 17 at 10:00pm Eastern; Nov. 18 at Noon Eastern; Nov. 22 at 6:00pm Eastern; and Nov. 23 at Noon Eastern. Check local listings outside Eastern time zone.)

About Tony Rossi

After graduating from St. John's University in New York with degrees in Communications and English, Tony Rossi found a job at the Catholic media organization, The Christophers, that allowed him to indulge his interest in religion, media, and pop culture. He served as The Christophers' TV producer for 11 years, and is currently the host and producer of the organization's radio show/podcast Christopher Closeup, writer and editor of their syndicated Light One Candle column, and producer/scriptwriter of the annual Christopher Awards ceremony.

  • http://summerglauwiki.com chrisdvanne

    Christmas movies are not exactly my type of movies but i got interested when my favorite actress filmed one for Hallmark Channel.
    I came accrosss the Good Witch serie and it’s true you like them once you get into the story and characters.
    Can’t wait to see Summer Glau as an elf in ‘Help for the Holidays’, premiering on Hallmark Channel on December 9 at 8pm.

  • http://www.sailornot.blogspot.com Sandra

    We don’t get the Hallmark Channel here in Vancouver, BC but I worked on this film and have a question. Did the end credits play right through on the TV?

    • Tony Rossi

      I think they played, but were squeezed under promos for what was coming up next. Congrats on working on such an enjoyable film, Sandra.

  • Cathym

    I watched this movie the other day and I, too, thoroughly enjoyed it! I love to watch the Hallmark movies with my granddaughters – it seems to be the one channel on TV that I don’t have to worry about – unlike ABC’s “Family” channel which is totally appalling in its selection of what they consider appropriate for ‘families.’ Thanks for letting people know about this movie! God Bless!

  • Andrea

    I’m glad to hear that you liked this movie. I thought it looked cute in the commercials, so even though I couldn’t watch it when it premiered because I was working late at DISH, I made sure to record it. Now it’s saved on my DISH Hopper, which has enough memory that I can save Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade and all my regular shows on its 2 terabyte hard drive. So I’m planning to save the movie and watch it with my family on Thanksgiving. If it’s as good as it sounds in your review I’m sure we’ll all love it.

  • Bob

    What’s the name of the karaoke song in Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade?

    • Tricia

      The one she sings? Heart of Glass by Blondie

  • Kim

    The song that plays at the end of the movie, and into the credits? Anyone know what it is?

  • http://www.facebook.com/healthyskincare Penelope

    I have really enjoyed this movie. I agree that this movie was so much more than the typical story line, and the lead actors brought the film to life. I recorded the movie and watched it several times since Thanksgiving. I think I enjoyed the music as much as the movie itself.

  • callie

    i loved the music from the movie,
    can i get on a cd ?

  • Patricia

    I really enjoyed the music from this movie. Is it on CD yet?