Were you not aware of the Blake Shelton Extended Hallmark Universe? Well then, boy, do we have a holiday treat for you …
The Ringer’s 25 Days of Bingemas is a guide for people who love original holiday movies; it’s a guide for people who hate original holiday movies; it’s a guide for people who occasionally watch these movies and want more; its a guide for people who never hope to watch these movies but would like to watch one writer descend into madness as she attempts to differentiate between 25 unique forms of holiday magic, 12 different fake countries, and eight different male leads who make you wonder, Wait, is that the guy from Mean Girls? (It isn’t, except for the one time when it is.) Every day for the next 25 days, Jodi Walker will feature one of this season’s 169 original holiday movies, answering a curated series of questions in order to showcase the genre’s masterful formula, the dedication to chaos, and the commitment to consistently widowing lumberjacks that launched an entire genre of TV movie. On the eighth day of Bingemas, we turn our cheerful spirits to …
Time for Him to Come Home for Christmas, from Executive Producer Blake Shelton.
Hallmark, streaming on Peacock.
Because, per Hallmark, “Four days before Christmas, Elizabeth receives a voicemail from a number she doesn’t recognize. On the message, a man she doesn’t know makes one final plea to the love of his life … From executive producer Blake Shelton.”
Vanessa Hudgens does not come home in this movie, but you know who does? Tyler Hynes, the bad boy of Hallmark. Hynes is the type of Hallmark lead who calls other men “brother;” he wears henleys and tight white tees; sometimes, when he consummates the movie’s one contractually allowed mouth-kiss, you’re briefly unsure where his hands are. He just has a different energy than the other square-jaws, and I love him. I also love Holland Roden from Teen Wolf, whose 12-foot-long red hair should be in every single Hallmark movie.
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Let’s get this out of the way: this movie exists because of and only because of its eight-word-long title: Time for Him to Come Home for Christmas. What is this, a Fall Out Boy song? No! In fact, it is a Blake Shelton song that he has franchised into a five-movie series (and counting). Time for Him to Come Home for Christmas is the fifth installment of said franchise, preceded by Time for Me to Come Home for Christmas (2018), Time for You to Come Home for Christmas (2019), Time for Us to Come Home for Christmas (2020), and Time for Them to Come Home for Christmas (2021). If you’re playing along at home, that basically leaves Time for Her to Come Home for Christmas, Time for Thee to Come Home for Christmas if we can bring some 16th-century time travel into the mix, and Hallmark’s first non-binary meet-cute, Time for Them to Come Home for Christmas Redux.
By the end of the movie, whose time it was to come home for Christmas is not entirely clear, given the amount of parallel homecoming story lines happening here. My second most often repeated cry throughout this film was, “WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE TO EACH OTHER?!” But my most often repeated cry was, “IT’S TIME FOR HIM TO COME HOME FOR CHRISTMAS,” which I realized, if you try hard enough, can really be a response to anything. About to win a stuffed teddy bear at a Christmas market? It’s time for him to come home for Christmas. Misunderstanding that your best friend is in love with you, and not your other shared, now deceased best friend? It’s time for him to come home for Christmas. A second chance at love after years spent healing emotional trauma with the help of a therapist? IT’S TIME FOR HIM TO COME HOME FOR CHRISTMAS!
“You’ve chosen a field with very little financial security,” a random man at a party says after learning that Elizabeth is in her final year of journalism school, which is rude to Elizabeth and any number of Bingemas writers. Still, being a financially insecure journalist is a normal career—what’s actually strange is when we meet Elizabeth’s best friend from home, Josh. He’s surprising her with the presence of their other best friend from home, Andy, at which point Elizabeth delivers their good news: “We got an offer to work at The New York Times, we start after graduation.” Yes, they got an offer to work at The New York Times. Together! You just don’t hear a lot about journalism partners these days, especially not partners who are so established as college students that the newspaper of record wants to hire them as a unit.
You guys, Andy died. After meeting the Woodward and Bernstein of our generation, Josh and Elizabeth, the movie does a three-year flash-forward. Elizabeth is working as an assistant at her mom’s company instead of The New York Times, and Josh is gone. (It’s time for him to come home for Christmas.) As it turns out, on the night of their reunion, Josh disappeared from the party after overhearing what he thought was Elizabeth confessing her feelings for Andy—which was, of course, Elizabeth confessing to Andy that she had feelings for Josh—so Andy had to be the one to drive Elizabeth home, and he got into in a fatal car wreck after dropping her off. The grief over Andy’s death pushed Josh to leave town, still under the impression that Elizabeth was in love with their dead best friend. (My third most oft-repeated cry during this movie was, “HOW ARE THESE TWO CRAZY KIDS GONNA FIGURE THIS OUT?!”)
Three years later, it is time for everyone to come home for Christmas, and it is also time for everyone to stay in a hotel and weirdly make calls exclusively from the hotel phones instead of their cellphones. (Can you imagine touching a hotel phone for anything other than ordering a mediocre club sandwich?) Three Christmases after Andy’s death, Elizabeth gets a voicemail intended for a woman named Madelyn, from a man saying he’s still in love with her, and that if she feels the same they should meet at “their spot” on Christmas Eve. This is a terrible plan to actually reconnect with someone, but it is romantic. … And it is also a perfect mystery for two former journalism partners to try to solve together when Josh comes home for Christmas for the first time in three years and they run into each other at the hotel from which the voicemail came.
The titular “home” in this movie is the very real city of Seattle, which has been made to look like the smallest of Amy Sherman-Palladino towns. As Elizabeth and Josh attempt to track down the man who left the voicemail (Carter) and the woman he meant to leave it for (Madelyn), their investigation brings them to: a candy shop; a store that makes commemorative snow globes; and a quirky little record store with an owner who can identify any song, including “Time for Me to Come Home for Christmas” by [checks notes] the Christmas jazz trio the Blue Notes. “Welcome to the small village of Seattle, where everybody knows your name, and they’ll tell that name to Josh and Elizabeth the moment they ask.”
There’s so much singing for two reasons: (1.) Madelyn is back in Seattle because she’s singing in the Christmas Eve concert, and (2.) an actual hallmark of these Blake Shelton Hallmark movies is featuring a new mix of his song each year. So, when Tenille Townes (who I know for appearing as a musical act on The Bachelor franchise an unprecedented three times) sings “Time for Me to Come Home for Christmas” at the end of this movie, she is ultimately doing a cover of the Blue Notes’ 1986 song, which in and of itself is a fictional rendition of the real life 2012 song by Blake Shelton. Artistry!
This movie has a twist that I truly did not see coming. Maybe that’s on me, or maybe this movie is great and it quite simply is time for him to come home for Christmas. When Josh and Elizabeth finally track down Madelyn and play her Carter’s voicemail, she is moved to tears, and so was I. I was then moved to gasps when it turns out Madelyn has a voicemail for Elizabeth too. To this point, Elizabeth didn’t know the name of the man who left the voicemail, but when she hears Carter’s name on Madelyn’s voicemail, she starts crying: Carter was the driver of the other car in the wreck that killed Andy. He struggled with the guilt of the accident, which is why he broke up with Madelyn and left town. But after three years of working on himself, he’s back to make amends with all the people he hurt by leaving. Unfortunately, Carter’s healing journey didn’t involve any training in how to use a cellphone, or how to keep two women’s phone numbers straight … but thank goodness for intrepid reporters-in-love, Elizabeth and Josh. Someone’s gotta tell The New York Times about this.
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