The Hallmark Channel is already a month into its annual Countdown to Christmas lineup and they’ve predictably been churning out some of the best Christmas movies every weekend. I am behind schedule on watching everything that's debuted so far, but thankfully my old reliable DVR hasn’t failed me yet! This week I sat down and watched Never Been Chris'd, and I’m happy to report that it checks most of the boxes as far as cheesy but heartwarming holiday movies are concerned, though not all of them.
Janel Parrish, of Pretty Little Liars fame, co-stars opposite Pascal Lamothe-Kipness, who is making her Hallmark debut, in Never Been Chris’d as two best friends returning to their hometown for the holiday season. Now successful owners of a dating app, Naomi and Liz are now welcomed by their formerly popular classmates who'd previously ignored them throughout high school. In addition to suddenly being cool, the duo reconnect with their mutual high school crush, Chris Silver (Tyler Hynes).
Never Been Chris’d is full of love and holiday joy. In fact, there's more of an emphasis on Hanukkah celebrations than there is on Christmas festivities. A nice change for the cable network. The movie really shines though in its ability to not just center around finding romantic happily ever afters. Its focus on different kinds of love was a unique spin on Hallmark Christmas movies. While I’m definitely a fan of this modern holiday movie, I did have one issue with it. But let’s start with the positives first.
Several Forms Of Love Were On Display
All too often these projects follow the perfect Hallmark Christmas movie formula, putting all the attention on finding and keeping romantic love. Characters aren’t fulfilled until they’ve found their perfect match and have an earth-shattering first kiss. It’s entertaining television, but it also fails to account for the other kinds of love that are in our lives.
Never Been Chris’d is a perfect example of a Hallmark Christmas movie that promises a romantic love story, but also showcases other types of strong emotional connections. I’d even argue the romance is the b-plot to the authentic platonic love story between Naomi and Liz. We might not get their meet cute, but we do get to see them go through the growing pains that come with established relationships. Plus the climactic moment of the movie is definitely when these two friends get into a fight and seemingly break up. Thankfully, they work it out and reunite proving that platonic love is just as strong as anything romantic.
In addition to friendship, Never Been Chris’d also explores familial love. Naomi spends much of the movie dealing with her slightly overbearing and doting mother, who just wants to be close with her daughter. Whereas, Liz struggles to connect with her own mother who has created a new family without her. Though it takes a bit of work, both ladies end up working things out with their mothers. The resolutions might not look the same, but it does show how different maternal love can look within families.
But The Ending Doesn’t Feel Finished
The love stories are definitely the strongest aspect of Never Been Chris’d. Unfortunately, I had a problem with the ending -- or lack thereof. As the movie winds down, our best friends and their former classmates find themselves recreating their Snow Ball from all those years ago. They gather for a night of fun and dancing. After a few apologies and a round of kisses, the movie ends with everyone celebrating on stage together.
While cute, it felt like it sidled past an actual conclusion. I was definitely hoping for one more scene to tie up loose ends, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, I’m left wondering what Liz’s next move is going to be now that she’s agreed to sell their company. Is Naomi going to move home to be closer to her mom and Chris? And what was up with the weird Chris lying about being a vegan running joke? Unfortunately, I’ll never know, because none of these questions were answered.
Admittedly, this is bigger than just Never Been Chris’d. In my opinion, The Hallmark Channel Christmas movies have a tendency to end prematurely. I’m not suggesting they be three hours long or anything, but I wish a bit more effort went into wrapping up all the storylines when it comes to the formulaic Hallmark storytelling. It’s aesthetically pleasing to end on a first kiss, but not when it leaves us with more questions than answers. Which is possibly a way to build up interest for follow-up features, but for those whose sequels never arrive, it's a bit of a bummer.
You can catch reruns of Never Been Chris’d on The Hallmark Channel or with a fuboTV subscription. Stay up to date on all things holiday movie-related by checking out our upcoming Hallmark movies list and 2023 Christmas movie schedule.