- Release Date: November 28, 2019. Part of the 2019 Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas.
- Director: Sam Irvin
- Writer: Anna White
- Film Location: Ogden, UT
- Runtime: 1 hr 24 min
Rachel Boston is one of the most popular Hallmark Movie actresses. And for good reason, she is adorable, has a great smile, and has the acting chops to pull off leading a movie. As Julia Crawley in Check Inn to Christmas she doesn’t disappoint. She brings all the charm to the role while portraying a strong, confident, and successful woman.
One of my complaints with Hallmark movies is too often the leading female character has a little too much of a 1950’s influence that the woman needs a relationship versus wanting it. This is not a trap that Boston falls in.
Rachel Boston plays Julia Crawley, a corporate lawyer from New York. Julia has come home to spend time with her family while she awaits news of a well-deserved promotion at her law firm.
One thing I love about her character is she is able to constantly carry a smile without seeming insincere. And of course, as great as her smile is, her hair deserves a nod as a scene stealer throughout the movie.
Wes Brown is the leading man in this charming holiday movie. Wes Brown is the leading man in this charming holiday movie. While Wes Brown has starred in almost ten romantic Hallmark movies, he may best be known for his roles in anything but romantic flicks like Glory Road, We are Marshall, and Call of the Wild.
The handsome Brown brings his Louisiana charm to his roles. In fact, many fans think he is underutilized and should be in more Hallmark movies.
In Check Inn to Christmas, Wes Brown stars as Ryan Mason. The high school football star went on to earn his MBA and worked for a large firm in Denver before deciding his passion was helping his family run their inn.
Brown brings the perfect blend of masculinity and vulnerability to the role. Throughout the movie you can see his feelings for Julia in his eyes every time he looks at her.
Richard Karn stars as Julia’s father, Tim Crawley. This is kind of ironic since Karn was first seen on Tim Allen’s Home Improvement sitcom back in the 90’s.
Richard Karn was born Richard Karn Wilson but there was already a Richard Wilson registered in the Screen Actors Guild so he lost the Wilson. He has been a supporting
actor in dozens of movies but he is best known for his role as Al on Home Improvement and hosting The Family Feud for several years.
This leads to another dose of irony, as Tim Crawley is entangled in a multigenerational family feud with the Masons.
As expected Karn comes across as likable and relatable as Tim Crawley. He contributes to his scenes without ever dominating.
The Crawley’s and Mason’s have each had their own quaint inns for four generations in the mountain town of Crestridge. In addition to being competitors in the hospitality area, the two families are engaged in a family feud that goes back to when their ancestors first claimed the land to build their inns.
If you listen to the Julia Crawley version she was told, her great grandfather worked hard for many years to earn money to buy the premium land by the railroad to build an inn. However, before he was able to complete his purchase, the Mason’s swept in and sneakily bought the land first and built his own inn.
However, Ryan Mason was told another story. His great grandfather won a bidding war for the property fair and square and then the Crawley’s built their own inn out of spite.
Julia Crawley is a successful lawyer on the verge of being made partner at a prestigious New York law firm. When the holidays roll around and the partners are waiting to vote, she decides it is a good time to head home to Crestridge and visit her family.
Ryan Mason helps his father run the family inn. While he has received a prestigious business education, Ryan is frustrated by his dad’s refusal to implement any of his ideas to modernize the inn. Despite this, Ryan loves living in Crestfield and continues pitching his father new ideas.
After arriving home, Julia bumps into Ryan during the vacation town’s holiday festivities. While they were not close in high school, Ryan was captain of the football team while Julia was on the debate team, they immediately connected.
They share a laugh about how they are supposed to be sworn enemies but make plans to meet again.
As the movie progresses, Julia and Ryan are constantly being pulled into competing against each other during the town’s holiday contests. There is a snowball toss, holiday light contest, and a baking contest.
The whole while, Julia and Ryan are becoming more attracted to each other. They find as many occasions as they can to spend time together.
While they can’t deny their attraction for each other, they also acknowledge the limitations of any relationship since Julia will be heading back to New York after the holidays. Despite this, they continue developing feelings for each other.
When a big developer sets its sites on developing a state-of-the-art resort in Crestridge that would most likely put both the Masons and the Crawleys out of business, Julia and Ryan decide it is time for the families to put aside the silly feud and work together.
They come up with a plan to have the two families invest together in a new resort that would block the outsider.
While the crisis was averted, the big problems in their relationship remained. Julia’s firm offers her the partnership and wants her to return as soon as possible to New York. When she breaks the news to Ryan he is obviously disappointed but also knows it is a great career move for her, and encourages her to go for it.
As we have all known in true Hallmark movie fashion, Julia decides to turn down the promotion and instead move back home to Crestridge and open a private practice.
And of course it ends with a kiss.
One of my critiques of Hallmark movies is that too often the female lead views a relationship as the pinnacle of her existence. It is almost a 1950’s mentality of the dream of a successful husband to take care of her.
But in Check Inn to Christmas, Julia deciding to give up her high-powered career isn’t that at all. Instead she makes the decision solely as a way of personal growth based on what she finds important and it isn’t driven by her feelings for Ryan. Julia’s decision makes her more powerful versus throwing it away for the boy like Rachel in the finale of Friends.
Since the stories in Hallmark movies are slightly predictable and formulaic, it is often the chemistry between the two stars that determines how good the movie is.
Since the stories in Hallmark movies are slightly predictable and formulaic, the chemistry between the two stars often determines how good the movie is. Rachel Boston and Wes Brown do a masterful job of creating characters that have a believable attraction for each other.
Julia and Ryan’s romance starts as a piqued curiosity that evolves throughout the movie into a deep connection. The trajectory of their relationship remains believable in the simple fact that the movie ends with them simply wanting to continue the relationship versus falling “in love” after a week or so.
In every scene, Boston and Brown show why they are fan favorites by capturing all the little nuances of a budding relationship. The way they look at each other, their facial expressions (did I mention Rachel Boston has an adorable smile?), and of course their conversations.
Check Inn at Christmas is a cute story, but the chemistry between Julia and Ryan is what makes this a top tier Hallmark Channel Christmas movie.
Check Inn at Christmas follows all the Hallmark rules without feeling trite and formulaic. The casting of Rachel Boston and Wes Brown works perfectly as they combine authenticity with cuteness.
We all come to the Hallmark Channel for some cheesy romantic escapism, and while the basic plot of girl comes home to help her parents struggling business and find love with an high school classmate is not the most original, These two are able to pull it off.
Also, Anna White crafts a story that follows the traditional Hallmark theme while providing a freshness that makes it unique and fun.
I highly recommend scanning your cable guide and making Check Inn at Christmas part of your holiday season.