“Always leave them with something sweet.”

When Cate, the CEO of Merry & Bright Candy Cane Co., meets Gabe, she thinks he is the latest man her mother has tried to set her up with. But it turns out, Gabe has actually been sent to help turn around her struggling company and make it more profitable.

Will Cate and Gabe find the recipe they need for success – and perhaps love? It’s the Hallmark movie, “Merry & Bright” (2019).

Our Review: Merry & Bright

The meet cute is easily the highlight of “Merry & Bright.” When Gabe tells Cate “I’m your guy,” “your problems are over,” and “I’m your last chance to turn your ship around,” she thinks he means from a romantic perspective.

But, as we already know, he’s talking business. This was one of the more inspired and cutest meet cutes we’ve seen in a while.

Unfortunately, the movie is unable to maintain the high level this scene establishes. While the movie is full of plenty sweet and enjoyable moments, it also feels a bit scattered at times and fails to hit its full potential.

If you’ve ever seen a Christmas movie where someone from big corporate comes to turn around a struggling small town business, you pretty much know what you’re in for here with your main story.

Luckily, there are some supporting stories. They’re all easy to follow and it never gets too convoluted.

Cate’s mom, Joy, has bought a dog for Cate and tries to keep the Christmas gift secret. And, in the process, Joy ends up falling in love with the dog. (If you’re a dog lover, you’ll also fall in love with the dog in this movie.)

At times, it felt like Joy and the dog had more chemistry and moments than the romantic leads, which is never a good thing.

Plus, we’ve also got a second love story Cate gets involved with, between her co-worker Sophie and her boyfriend Pete. Cate tries to help push Pete, who is quite entertaining throughout the film, toward proposing to Sophie – with some funny results.

Also, we liked the main theme, which was essentially to be true to yourself and always listen to your heart.

As for the rest? Let’s break it down.

The Nice List

Very Festive Visuals

Much like “Two Turtle Doves”, “Merry & Bright” had the perfect amount of Christmas in every scene. Nothing was too over the top and quite a few scenes were visually stunning.

The only brief moment that failed to look Christmasy was when they went to an overhead shot of a street that looked like the same street we’ve seen in plenty of other Christmas movies – the one that usually had zig-zag Christmas lights. But in this scene, it was just dark.

One great detail throughout the movie was the usage of candy canes.

There were giant candy cane decorations on the street; lots of candy canes hanging on the Christmas tree in Cate’s house; ornaments that were angels holding candy canes; and candy canes in a big jar at the inn.

You’ll Laugh…

  • At how clueless Pete is about proposing to Sophie.
  • At the interactions between Joy and the dog, especially when she tries to keep the dog a secret to surprise Cate with on Christmas as a present. In one scene, she acts super suspicious, keeping Cate out of her house, even shutting the door in her face a couple of times. And again when she tries to conceal the dog in a bag during the tree lighting. All of the scenes with the mom and dog were super cute, and were some of our favorites.

A Christmas Connection

It was a nice touch that Gabe and Cate had in interesting connection and made us wonder if there is something more to the story.

When Cate was a kid, she had a poster of the New York skyline in her room (where Gabe is from). And when Gabe was a kid, he had a painting of a barn that looked like it was painted by his father in Britewell (where Cate is from).

The Naughty List

Not Enough Christmas Music

The opening credits featured a carol. But beyond that, we didn’t hear much else in the way of Christmas music.

Just imagine if this movie could have equaled the great visuals with some equally great sounds?

Not Your Typical Hallmark Ending

The proposal at the end wasn’t all that awesome. A ring box in a bag?

Why have Gabe propose that way rather than doing something more meaningful at a place that is more meaningful. Like, maybe, in the place they met? Or even shared their first kiss?

Also, not that it was necessarily a bad thing, but it was interesting that Gabe and Cate didn’t have an almost kiss – and the moment-killer came afterward. Maybe Hallmark is trying to get away from some of the typical Christmas movie checklist staples.

The WORST List

Your Christmas Event Ad Here

The whole green-screening of billboards on the side of the barn was pretty weird and obvious.

First, there was the billboard for the tree lighting. Then it became the jubilee. And they looked exactly the same. Pretty elaborate (and expensive) for a small town to pull off so quickly.

They even had the signs for both of those event at the inn in Gabe’s room – and you could just by looking that it was done with a green-screen. They weren’t legit signs or billboards.

Talk Business to Me

There was a lot of business talk in this one.

Cutbacks. Business models. Revenue streams. Pitching an investor.

Most if failed to be very interesting or Christmasy.

Also, at times it felt like you had gone on a tour at a factory, getting the whole history of the company.

This movie could have benefited from more of a focus on Christmas feels than business.

If You Liked Merry & Bright, You Might Like:

  • Christmas Cookies (2016)
  • Wish Upon a Christmas (2015)
Merry & Bright
6/10

Enjoyable

We loved the meet cute, the visuals, and that adorable dog in “Merry & Bright”. Plus it’s got Andrew Walker so how can you go wrong? While the movie had a few flaws, it’s still an enjoyable watch.

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