“Everything works out at Christmas. All you have to do is have a little hope.”

Surprised after being fired from his job as an investment banker, Nick gets an unexpected job offer from Clem, the owner of a Christmas tree lot. There, Nick meets Julie and her son Matt.

Julie is going through some hard times – as is Clem – and Nick may be just the man who can help them this Christmas. It’s the Hallmark movie, “Christmas Under the Stars,” (2019).

Our Review: Christmas Under the Stars

“Christmas Under the Stars” is one of those movies that could have been so much better.

There’s a good cast who all turned in solid performances, deeper than usual characters, a fairly original concept (by Hallmark standards) – plus, the movie with LOTS of feels, but never got super sad.

Yet somehow it never all came together, due mostly to the uneven writing.

So why wasn’t it better?

For one, there’s the romance between Nick (Jesse Metcalfe) and Julie (Autumn Reeser). It starts out promising (see: that scene at the tree lighting where Julie gets emotional, and Nick holds her hand), but then fizzles with Julie’s wild overreaction to finding out Nick’s former job – as if he’s to blame for her debt situation.

The chemistry between the romantic leads was average, if we’re generous – and for so much of the movie their romance was more off than on anyway, so that didn’t help.

Julie’s “situation” is another of the big issues with this movie. Somehow, Julie is on the hook for her father’s medical debt. In the real world, this just would not happen.

Now, if her son, Matt (Anthony Bolognese), has been sick and survived, we’d be talking a far more realistic situation. But then again, we’d probably be in similar territory as “A Bramble House Christmas” (which just so happened to star Reeser).

And then there’s Nick. We couldn’t get past the idea that a guy making at least six figures would lower himself to taking $1 over minimum wage, especially not so soon after being fired.

This might have been more realistic, had Nick perhaps gone on a few job interviews and flopped badly. It’s definitely one of those situations that will only happen in a Hallmark movie.

Despite all these significant flaws in the set up, this movie managed to pull out just enough magic in the main trio of characters – Nick, Julie & Clem (Clarke Peters) – and helping other people (or letting them help you).

Clem’s story – as the struggling widower who may be selling Christmas trees for the last time this year – is essentially the emotional glue that holds this movie together.

Let’s break down the rest.

The Nice List

Our Favorite Scenes

In a scene in Clem’s trailer, Clem at one point tells Nick, “If you think you love a woman, don’t waste time. Even 41 years wasn’t enough.”

In a later scene, Clem is mad at Nick for passing up a job opportunity. Nick starts talking about how low he was when he met Clem and how Nick thought his job was the most important thing in life. But working on the lot changed him.

“If you hadn’t been here this year to show me how to get back, I would’ve lived a life that was all about me. This Christmas it’s all about helping other people. That’s the best gift anyone’s ever given me.”

Nice & Christmasy Visuals & Sound

Like most all of Hallmark’s movies this year “Christmas Under the Stars” looked nice.

Everything was decorated nicely – and there were plenty of great visuals to enjoy.

Plus there were some of the typical Christmas activities you’d expect, such as the town tree lighting, tree decorating, and opening of presents.

The music was also good. Nick and Julie even did some caroling while decorating their tree.

You’ll Laugh…

When Clem sends Nick multiple trees. When Clem sends the second tree, there’s a note explaining that he sent it so first tree wouldn’t be lonely.

By the end of the movie, Nick has FOUR trees.

The Naughty List

Cranky Julie

Julie used his old job and her financial situation as an excuse to break off the budding romance with Nick. And she never really even let him explain or get a word in as she did so.

They never really got over that. Or resolved it.

The whole conflict was sort of just dropped and forgotten. Or was that all forgiven because Clem got hurt?

The Ending

What didn’t we like about the ending? Well, yes, the Chicago skyline was obviously green-screened and super fake looking.

But the real issue is what happened before we saw that.

The kiss. Specifically the lead up to it. There wasn’t any.

Nick and Julie didn’t share any feelings. Or say much of anything. There was no build up. So it feel totally flat (which goes back to the whole “lack of chemistry” problem).

Unanswered Questions

  • Whatever happened the model airplane Matt was making? Did he figure it out and finish it? Maybe Nick could have helped him? Or maybe Matt could have gotten a Christmas present that was just the right tool he needed to finish making it?
  • Why didn’t Clem send Julie her tree after the first time she came to the lot? Or the other time (they went multiple times). Clem gave Matt tree clippings so they would smell good. Then he sent a tree anyway?
  • How many trees did Clem give away? It’s that typical bad business model you’ll find in nearly every Hallmark movie.
  • Did you notice how many breaks they took to sit and chat? Maybe if they worked more, they’d have more customers and sell more trees!
  • How did a building going up at all impact Clem’s 500 sales per year? Maybe it was more people buying artificial trees?
  • When was Nick buying ornaments for all four of his trees? He didn’t have any (because he hadn’t had a tree in 25 years). Plus, he was out of work (or making minimum wage).


How did they get the star tree topper on, when it was just Julie, Matt, and Mia in the house? No one in that room was tall enough! Earlier, Nick was the only one tall enough to do it, but Julie wasn’t ready then. It was just magically upon the tree, despite her being short and being with two shorter children.

If You Liked “Christmas Under the Stars” You Should Watch

  • Fir Crazy
  • A Boyfriend for Christmas
  • Family Man
Christmas Under the Stars


If you’re looking for a movie that has good characters and lots of feels, then you should enjoy “Christmas Under the Stars”. You’ll just have to ignore a lot of its flaws in the storytelling and setup.

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