Review: The Hallmark movie “Winter In Vail” is fantastic in its own way
If you didn’t catch the #worldpremiere of “Winter In Vail” on the Hallmark Channel on Saturday, Jan. 4, head straight to hallmarkchannel.com, and start streaming, buddy.
Perhaps one of the best features of “Winter In Vail,” which stars Lacey Chabert – if you’re wondering how you know that name, she played Gretchen Weiner in “Mean Girls” – is all the local name-drops. Chabert’s Chelsea packs up from her truly terrible job in Los Angeles – ha, that’s accurate – and comes “north” – shouldn’t it be East, though, like, directionally? Right away, she and Owen, the contractor that’s renovating the house she inherited from recently deceased Uncle Grady, develop a playfully antagonistic flirtationship.
Together, they change the valley and their own lives in a number of real, fictional and semi-fictional Vail landmarks. They save Owen’s father’s Bavarian restaurant which obviously nods to places like Pepi’s. They explore the streets of Vail and ride the gondola up for tubing at Adventure Ridge. Owen takes her to Lionshead Square and they ice skate by Arrabelle. They even have a fake hotel with modern architecture called the Sebastian.
There are also tons of beauty drone shots of Vail Village and Lionshead Square. In some you can see the Solaris light sculpture, the bold faces of Vail Mountain and instantly recognizable buildings, especially for locals. Since the movie was shot literally a month ago, all the businesses in the background are exactly the same as they are currently, which is fun. The depth of field isn’t too shallow on those shots either, and you can actually read what’s on the signs in some cases.
Some of it’s pretty accurate, too. Owen references “celebrity chefs,” twice in the movie with much disdain, and wishes old family businesses like his father’s could attract the same crowds as those places. That’s not the whole story in actual Vail, of course, but some longtime locals definitely would agree, at least partially, with that mindset.
A few cringeworthy moments come sometimes from the cheesy, overdone plot line. For reference, the movie playing immediately after “Winter in Vail” on the Hallmark Channel started with a woman in an office setting complaining about her tiresome job, and by the looks of it, was made in the early ’00s.
The local cringe came in when set designers set skis face up on the racks, rather than on their sides. My former ski racer friend was pretty upset about that. Also, watching Chelsea’s legitimate fear of something as harmless as tubing was kind of rough, even if it makes sense for her character. I mean, who comes to Vail and doesn’t have an adventurous side?
Also, another cringe: a big point of the movie is Chelsea’s supposedly unique ability to revitalize a declining fictional business that’s considered part of tried-and-true Vail. Even as someone that has lived here just for 6 months, that rubbed me the wrong way. Uh, we don’t like people (mostly drivers) from California here, and all of a sudden, you’re telling us that they can swoop in here and save us from ourselves? No. Sorry.
Also, when Chelsea drives her Toyota crossover, all the shots look like car commercials. That reminded me of “Jurassic World”’s shameless product placement and I don’t like that movie.
I mean, it is a Hallmark movie, so of course it’s not going to be 100% accurate. Don’t go calling up the Academy or anything. But if you keep your eyes and ears open for Vail things and insert your own blend of satire into it, it’s great and you won’t stop laughing.
Highly recommend. Sort of.
One thing to note: if you go to stream “Winter in Vail” on hallmarkchannel.com, the movie expires on Wednesday, Jan. 8 and you have to sign in with a cable provider to view it. Here is a link to the full movie. You can also check the schedule of when it’s playing on the cable station. Right now, those dates are:
- Wednesday, Jan. 8, 8 p.m.
- Saturday, Jan. 11, 7 p.m.
- Sunday, Jan. 12, 2 p.m.
- Saturday Feb. 29, 5 p.m.
Another thing to note: This article is heavy on sarcasm; nothing is intended literally or in a malicious way. That sentence is for you, California.