Lifetime Christmas Movie Review: Jingle Belle (dir by Peter Sullivan)


As our longtime readers know, I’ve never been one for false modesty.  I know that there are things that I do well and I don’t see any reason not to brag about my natural talents.  On occasion, I’ve been told that it can be a little off-putting but so what?  As long as its justified, what’s wrong with a little arrogance?

That said, part of knowing what I can do means being honest about what I can’t do.  And if there’s any job that I would absolutely suck at, it would be writing advertising jingles.  I mean, there’s a reason why none of my poems ever rhyme.  Coming up with pithy one-liners that will make you want to “buy!  buy!  buy!,” just isn’t my specialty.  Fortunately, jingles themselves are no longer as important as they were back in the Mad Men era.  In fact, off the top of my head, I can only think of one current jingle and that’s the “Liberty Liberty Liberty Lib-er-ty!” song.

(And everyone hates that!)

Fortunately, Belle Williams (Tatyana Ali), the main protagonist of Jingle Belle, doesn’t have that problem.  Long ago, she abandoned New York for Ohio and she’s established herself as one of the best jingle writers around.  Unfortunately, it appears that she might be losing that magic touch.  As this film begins, she’s suffering from a terrible case of writer’s block.  In fact, when the mayor of her hometown calls and asks her to return home and help write the annual Christmas pageant, her initial reaction is to say no.  However, her boss (Loretta Devine) insists that Belle take the assignment.  Perhaps a trip back home is just what Belle needs to break through her writer’s block.

Belle returns home, planning on helping the town out.  What she doesn’t know is that the Christmas pageant is being directed by her ex-boyfriend and former performing partner, Michael Hill (Cornelius Smith, Jr).  Can Belle and Michael set aside their differences and their complicated personal history long enough to put on a successful Christmas pageant?  And how will Michael the purist react when Belle’s boss tries to turn one of their songs into an advertising jingle?

Of course, you already know the answer to all those questions.  Jingle Belle is predictable even by the standards of a Lifetime Christmas movie.  As I’ve said quite a bit this month, how much you enjoy this film will depend on how much tolerance you have for Lifetime and Hallmark Christmas films in general.  (That’s kind of become my mantra this month.)  Anyway, there’s no surprises to be found in this one but Cornelius Smith, Jr. is appropriately charismatic as Michael and the great Loretta Devine mines a lot of humor out of the role of the demanding boss.

The film’s final message is that small towns are better than big cities and you can write jingles anywhere.  It’s a nice little message but, then again, it does seem like, if you work in advertising, it would be a good idea to live near the hub of the advertising industry.  That said, I’ve never written a jingle in my life so I could be wrong.  All I know is that, wherever Belle lives, she’ll come up with something better than the Liberty Mutual jingle and really, that’s the most important thing of all.

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