“We’re uncovering a lot on this scavenger hunt.”
Belinda returns to her hometown to close a real estate deal and spend the holidays with her father. When she arrives, she runs into Dustin – her ex-boyfriend again and again.
But that’s only the beginning, as Belinda and Dustin wind up being teamed up for the town’s annual scavenger hunt in the Hallmark movie, “Christmas Scavenger Hunt” (2019).
Our Review: Christmas Scavenger Hunt
In a word: boring. It’s too bad one of the items on the scavenger hunt list wasn’t to find a better script.
What you get here in “Christmas Scavenger Hunt” is your paint-by-numbers tale of a woman who is dating a jerk, but she only realizes it after she is reunited with her old small town boyfriend (who she still isn’t over). Oh, and there’s a perfectly good excuse for why the relationship ended mysteriously, though it took several years to get that simple explanation.
“Christmas Scavenger Hunt” has little in the way of a compelling story or characters we can invest in. The writing is terrible. The dialogue is dull.
The pace of the film is so slow you may fall asleep by the halfway point of the movie while you wait for something interesting to happen. And it doesn’t get any better in the second half.
The character feel stuck in the past. There’s so much reminiscing – about high school memories, and prom, and retreading of their failed relationship.
Were there any positives?
Well, we can at least give them credit for not resorting to contrived mixup or misunderstanding to set up a conflict and grand gesture at the end. The stories resolved naturally – for what they were.
It was surprising that Belinda revealed that she was involved with the sale of the mill because usually some third party reveals it at some crucial moment to create conflict. And they didn’t do think where Dustin sees B and Logan doing something, like a fake proposal or hugging or doing something he misinterprets and then storms off in a huff.
As for the rest?
The Naughty List
The Scavenger Hunt Is Meaningless
A lot was wrong with the scavenger hunt.
To start with, the rules of the scavenger hunt made no sense.
They went to the trouble of laying out the rules. One of those “rules” was that all the clues would given to teams in different order.
Yet, people kept running into each other. And, at one point, two of the teams seemed to get the same clue for the snow globe at the same time.
Also, why did Belinda and Dustin (and that other team that was there before them) have to drive what seemed like a good distance just to build a snow man? Is there only one part of Deerfield designated for snowman building?
Also, they had from 8 a.m. until midnight to complete all the tasks. But it seemed like if Belinda and Dustin didn’t spend so much time walking and talking about the past (and doing it all so slowly), and actually trying to complete any of the tasks with any amount of urgency, they could have finished much earlier.
This all just combined to kill the pacing and wrecked what could have been a really cool concept to build a movie around.
In the end, it seemed arbitrary who won the scavenger hunt anyway. Isn’t the goal of a scavenger hunt be first to complete all the objectives? It didn’t seem to matter. If the characters didn’t care about winning, how could we?
Also, they got $15,000 for this from sponsors? In a small town? For such a tiny event. That gets zero press coverage.
If there were sponsors, why did the teams have to do all the things on this scavenger hunt?
It’s not like people were backing certain teams to win or anything. Typically in a competition, like say a race, you ask people to support you financially and they pay based on your performance.
But you couldn’t do that here because the teams (it seemed like there may have been 4 but there were only 2 that mattered) were randomly chosen. For a reason that’s never explained.
Why not just do a fund-raiser and save everyone a whole bunch of time?
Plus, it seemed like the teams had to keep buying supplies to complete their tasks. They had to buy toys to donate and ingredients for baking cookies and making gingerbread houses.
We could rant more, but let’s move on…
In the end, James pledges to donate whatever is needed to keep the mill running for years to come.
Nobody in the main cast worked at the mill. They never showed how important it was to the community – the whole “story” of the mill was a case of telling instead of showing.
As for the romantic ending? Well, instead of one ending (ending on their kiss outside) we get a second ending (when she gets the locket and they kiss), and then a THIRD ending, at the covered bridge (where they kiss, yet again).
They should have picked one ending. The locket would have been fine. We don’t need to have every Hallmark movie end with a zoom out to the sky overhead shot.
In this one that shot was so pointless anyway, as it wasn’t snowing and the scenery was so generic. Why bother?
No Chemistry Here
If you’re looking for a movie where two leads have great chemistry, look elsewhere. Belinda and Dustin are just bland together.
In particular, Tom Arnold is painful. Was he sick? He was so hard to understand most of his dialogue. He always seemed out of breath.
The rest of the cast was just there. Nobody stood out.
Visuals & Sound
Decorations weren’t as good as the other Hallmark movies so far this season. Everything felt low budget. The movie would have benefited from better scenery.
But, let’s be honest, the visuals were just one of many problems here.
As for the sounds, well, the karaoke was pretty terrible. We were seriously worried Belinda and Dustin were going to sing all 12 verses of the the “12 Days of Christmas”.
Otherwise, the music and effects were just there. The one place they went a bit overboard with the sleigh bell sound effects.
Yes, Hallmark Channel gets on the naughty list? Why?
Because during the live airing of this, they were blocking the on-screen text messages with pop-ups for the 10th anniversary of Countdown to Christmas and for an upcoming movie.
If you have a movie with clues that are meant to be read on screen by viewers, don’t block them! Very naughty, Hallmark.
So… is Belinda going to give up her job and move back to the small town?
Why in the world can’t Dustin tell the difference between a horse and a reindeer?
Logan’s headlights were left on for a really long time. He arrives and chats with Belinda and Dustin in his truck. Then everyone goes inside to bake.
After that scene, they cut outside and the headlights of his car were still on. Good way to kill the battery, Logan!
The WORST List
Tom was so bad he deserves a second mention. Did we mention how bad he was enough?
As the dad, he failed to say anything inspirational or insightful. Let’s hope this was the last Hallmark film we’ll see him in.
The Military Mom Coming Home
This felt more like a checklist item that the writers felt like they needed to include to have some sort of feel-good moment.
Except, the kid, Dex, was not part of the main cast. And the reunion with his mom just so happened to coincide with a scavenger hunt item to help Belinda and Dustin. Really?
This reunion felt super contrived. As a result, it had little to no emotional impact (versus, say “The Christmas Note” or “A Veteran’s Christmas” where you were actually invested in the characters and could truly feel it).
This was similar to how “Christmas Camp” tacked on a military family reunion involving a fringe character.
This is one trend Hallmark needs to stop.
If You Didn’t Like This, You May Like:
If you’re into checklists:
- Two Turtle Doves (2019)
- Christmas List (2016)
If you’re into uncomfortable reunions of high school boyfriends and girlfriends 10-20 years later:
- Catch a Christmas Star (2013)
- The Christmas Cottage (2017)
Christmas Scavenger Hunt
The promise of a “Christmas Scavenger Hunt” movie gave us hope. But nope. Tom Arnold spoke, but we didn’t understand a peep. And the whole scavenger hunt concept was so forgettable it put us to sleep. We’ll be adding this movie to our “never watch again” list. For this is one movie that can easily be missed.