‘You, Me & The Christmas Trees’: When Hallmark takes on Avon, Connecticut

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As a Connecticut resident, any sort of limelight upon the Nutmeg State usually becomes a subject of deep fascination to me because living in it is deeply unfascinating. So, when the stars align and Connecticut finally become the main character, and what other choice do I have other than to indulge? 

Back in October, UConn Today announced the premiere of “You, Me & the Christmas Trees,” a film courtesy of the Hallmark Channel. Having watched my very first Hallmark production last year, it certainly doesn’t beat “Christmas Wishes & Mistletoe Kisses” (and how can it?). However, it’s not everyday your hometown and institution are featured in a holiday movie, and for that reason alone, it’s proven to be the most memorable. 

“You, Me & the Christmas Trees” follows “Christmas tree whisperer” Olivia Arden (Danica McKellar), an arborist with a degree in forestry from the University of Connecticut, who gets a call from Avon resident Jack Connor (Benjamin Ayres). As owner of “Connor’s Connecticut Christmas Trees,” Jack requests Olivia’s help in figuring out why this year’s batch of trees are suddenly dying in an attempt to save the farm from what could very well be its last year in business. 

As with any Hallmark movie, I went in mentally prepared for the dry acting, low-budget production value and predictable plotlines that would emerge. It didn’t take long for me to grow tired after the third tree pun, and the most I laughed was during what was supposed to be a sentimental moment for Jack, when he explains the value behind his family’s ornaments. 

“This one is from the year I was born, 27 years ago,” said the 44-year-old actor. 

Within the movie’s 80-minute runtime, Jack and Olivia practically run in circles trying to solve the case of the mysterious tree illness. While Olivia advises Jack to start growing other crops, Jack remains adamant on selling trees as part of a promise he made to his late father. Eventually, Olivia manages to concoct the right remedy. But I, for one, believe in an alternate solution that was staring Jack right in the eye the entire time: expanding his business model into the artificial Christmas tree industry. 

Of course, what mainly motivated me to watch this movie was the little bit of stardom received by UConn and Avon. Knowing that everything was filmed in Vancouver, I didn’t actually expect any of it to resemble the two — and I ended up predicting correctly. 

UConn made its cameo in numerous ways. Panning shots of Olivia’s forestry degree and agricultural certificate displayed the school’s official logo, and a very obvious makeshift campus sign sported its iconic capitalized emblem. On the other hand, an aerial shot of random building grounds was used to represent campus, and the interior shots offered no likeness to UConn. According to my roommate, it more so looked like a modern nursing home. 

Compared to UConn, Avon suffered the most misrepresentation. Where was Dom’s Coffee? Where were the people flocking to West Hartford for entertainment? If anything, the most accurate reflection of reality was the lack of diversity in the town. Other than that, they could’ve chosen any other town name and it honestly wouldn’t have made a difference. 

Still, fame is fame. Does it really count as fame considering it’s through the Hallmark Channel? God only knows, but it’s probably the closest thing we’ll get to the Criterion Channel so I’ll take it. 

As a movie, “You, Me & the Christmas Trees” is less than stellar. Terrible, even. But I’ll admit, it’s also sparked feelings of an inherent appreciation for my surroundings, which I’ve always deemed boring and uneventful. Although I’ll probably never watch it again, “You, Me & the Christmas Trees” provides a rare occasion to see familiarity on the big screen — again, it’s Hallmark, but a screen nonetheless — an opportunity that is anything but deeply unfascinating. 

Rating: 2/5 

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