It’s the most wonderful time of the year: cheesy holiday TV movie season. The cozy sweaters! The C-list actors! The perfect teeth and predictable plot lines! Tuning in to these Hanukkah flicks on Hallmark Channel and Lifetime is like wrapping yourself in a warm fleece blanket. Better still, they’re family-friendly; you won’t find anyone removing their turtleneck sweaters or L.L.Bean boots in a fit of passion.
Here’s your quick guide to the five (!) big Hanukkah movies this week:
“Holiday Date” on Hallmark Channel
Tale as old as time: Brooke looks forward to showing off her boyfriend to her family—except he dumps her before they can even make small talk over clam dip. So she enlists Joel, an actor, as a stand-in. Just one problem: He’s Jewish! (In real life, he’s Matt Cohen, a one-time regular on “General Hospital.”) Brooke is played by Brittany Bristow, whose most recent credits include “The Marijuana Conspiracy,” about a group of women in 1970s Canada paid to test out the effects of cannabis while in isolation. This 2019 foray is much more wholesome. “Talk about a Christmas to remember,” she whispers during one magical moment.
Catch a rerun on Wednesday, Dec. 1, at 2 p.m., with an additional showtime next week (mind-altering substances optional).
“Double Holiday” on Hallmark Channel
In this 2019 throwback, Rebecca (a wide-eyed Carly Pope from “Suits”) is a corporate-climbing opportunist paired with a competitive office-mate, Chris (Hallmark vet Kristoffer Polaha, featuring a super-styled ‘do), to plan a company Christmas party. Despite a lack of chemistry, tensions melt over Christmas cookie decorating and cashmere sweaters; after some awkward banter, they learn about one another’s traditions—and, perhaps, about their capacity for romance.
Watch an encore over coffee on Thursday, Dec. 2, at 8 a.m., with an additional showtime later in the month.
“Eight Gifts of Hanukkah” on Hallmark Channel
Affable everyman Jake Epstein, who is basically the Hugh Grant of Hanukkah movies (see Lifetime’s “Mistletoe & Menorahs” below), tests out his dramatic chops in this quasi-thriller. An anonymous paramour sends Sara, an optometrist, a surprise gift for every night of Hanukkah. Is it a sultry chef? A creepy man with lots of stuffed animals stashed in his car? Will she discover her true admirer, and who could it be?
“Love, Lights, Hanukkah!” on Hallmark Channel
I reviewed this 2020 effort last year, when I was pleasantly surprised by the not-terrible acting, cute love story and surprising star turn from Fred Savage’s cherubic all-grown-up brother, Ben, as well as family matriarch Marilu Henner. What will Christina (Mia Kirshner) discover when she takes an impromptu DNA test? Perhaps a whole new family—not to mention true romance.
Check out of work early for an encore on Friday, Dec. 3, at 2 p.m.
“Mistletoe & Menorahs” on Lifetime
This 2019 movie follows a steely toy company executive, Christy, on her quest to learn about Hanukkah, all to land a big account. (What better reason to discover other cultures than pure, unbridled capitalism?) She befriends Jonathan, her coworker’s friend, who needs to decorate his apartment for Christmas to impress his girlfriend’s family, because most parents judge a potential son-in-law on seasonal home decor. But infidelity and sparks fly, literally, as the duo lovingly lights a menorah together and fall in love. No big stars here except for made-for-TV stalwart Jake Epstein (also in Hallmark’s new “Eight Gifts of Hanukkah“) in the leading role.
Though the rerun was the first night of Hanukkah, you can still watch it on demand.
Happy viewing, and let me know your favorite in the comments!